There is life in the machinery for John Leonard.
The Saginaw Valley State University laboratory support coordinator has enjoyed working with electronics in machine shop environments for as long as he can remember. What really brings him joy, though, is working alongside – and teaching – others who share the sentiment.
Now the Midland resident is being recognized for his work leading a group of high school students set to compete as one of 160 teams that qualified for the FIRST Robotics state championships hosted by SVSU Thursday to Saturday, April 12-14. Leonard is a finalist for the Woodie Flowers Award dedicated annually to one outstanding mentor advising a team involved in the worldwide competition.
“I was surprised but honored when I heard about that,” said Leonard, an adviser to the Bullock Creek High School FIRST Robotics team known as BlitzCreek Robotics.
“It's a nomination completely submitted by students, which makes it even more of an honor.”
Eden Hackett, a Bullock Creek High School student and member of BlitzCreek Robotics, wrote a letter to nominate Leonard on behalf of the team.
“If there is one thing for sure, Mr. Leonard has a burning passion for BlitzCreek Robotics,” she wrote.
“He brings smiles, laughs, and innovation to our team. Being without Mr. Leonard would be like having a heart without arteries. He is an inspiration, a teacher, a friend, but most importantly, a mentor that keeps our team strong and on their toes.”
Leonard first became involved with the team when his daughter, Alex, was a senior at the high school. That was seven years ago. Since then, she graduated – and is now a history major at SVSU – but he decided to stay with BitzCreek Robotics after discovering his affection for empowering others passionate about working with technology.
“These are all students who want to be there,” Leonard said. “They're willing to spend as much time as is necessary because they're having fun doing it. They come in on Saturdays and Sundays, and near the end of the Robotics season, sometimes we have to kick them out of the building because the rules stipulate you can only work on the project for so many hours ahead of each competition.”
Leonard can relate to that fondness for working with gadgetry.
“I enjoy doing all of that: electronics, design work, machine shop work, restoring cars, building musical instruments,” he said. “I've always been involved in that kind of work. I love tinkering with technology.”
And while his role with BlitzCreek Robotics involves teaching others, the nature of the work sometimes results in a role reversal.
“These students bring things to the table that I don't know about,” he said. “I'm always learning things from them too.”
The theme for the 2018 FIRST Robotics competition is “Power Up.” It features two alliances of video game characters and their human operators who are trapped in a 1980s-style arcade game. Both alliances are working to defeat the boss in order to escape.
In each round, three teams compete using autonomous and remote-controlled robots piloted by students, battling to earn points during a two-minute round.
Each FIRST Robotics season kicks off in January, when teams worldwide are presented with a multi-faceted game challenge that will be used in face-off matches against competing teams. Students square off at regional events, then advance to district championships like the one hosted at SVSU later this month. Top-ranking teams from each district then match up in the world championships at the end of April, hosted this year both in Detroit and Houston.
Likewise, the pool of finalists for the Woodie Flowers Award will shrink after each round of competition. Leonard will learn if his nomination advances to the international level during the competition at SVSU.
About 5,000 high school students from 160 teams will be involved in the state championships at SVSU. In total, more than 8,000 people will visit the Great Lakes Bay Region for the competition, including mentors, family members and FIRST volunteers.
For more information about FIRST Robotics, visit www.svsu.edu/firstatsvsu.
Saginaw Valley State University students and faculty — along with musicians from the community — will perform a flute concert this week for audiences.
The SVSU Flute Choir will take the stage Friday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Founders Hall. The concert is free and open to the public.
Musical selections for the concert include work composed by both historical and contemporary musicians, from 18th century Austrian composer Joseph Haydn to Gary Schocker, a flutist who has worked alongside some of today’s most respected orchestras and symphonies in the world.
The choir is directed by Townes Osborn Miller, an instructor of music at SVSU.
The SVSU Flute Choir is open to adding musicians from outside of the campus population, including high school junior and senior flute players as well as members of the community.
For more information about Friday’s concert, please visit svsu.edu/music or call the SVSU Department of Music at (989) 964-4159.
Born in the Motown era of Detroit, award-winning jazz vocalist Kathy Kosins expands the rich history of jazz and soul with her diverse musical taste. She will join the SVSU Jazz Ensemble for a must-see musical performance Thursday, April 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.
Kosins began singing in the early 1980s when she sang and arranged the background vocals for producer Don Was, which led her to becoming one of the most sought after session singers. She has released five critically-acclaimed solo albums and has recorded with popular jazz artists such as Terell Stafford, Randy Brecker, and Michael Henderson.
Beyond her personal performances, Kosins has traveled to colleges and universities across the United States to support independent artists by teaching them performance skills and business strategies.
Singing is not her only art form. Kosins also excels as a painter and sells her work at art galleries and concert performances. During her visit to SVSU, she will meet with students and explore the intersection between jazz and painting as well as her live performance.
Her concert is free and open to the public. It is supported by the Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists program at SVSU, which was established through an endowment from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation to enrich our regional cultural and intellectual opportunities.
A group of Saginaw Valley State University students have been honored at a national level for inspiring their peers to embrace school spirit and to give back to their campus and surrounding community.
SVSU's Forever Red received the Outstanding Student Organization award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for District 5, which encompasses colleges and universities in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Forever Red's goals are based on three pillars: connecting with SVSU alumni, enhancing the student experience on campus, and promoting “Red Pride,” a phrase associated with SVSU school spirit.
“There are student advancement organizations all over the country doing some amazing things,” said Bryan Crainer, the group's adviser and SVSU's associate dean for student life and leadership programs.
“I think what really separates Forever Red among its peer organizations is that they are doing it all. They aren't just a student-alumni organization, or a student-foundation organization, or an ambassador group. They are all of those things.”
Forever Red has quickly established itself as an elite student organization in the Midwest. Formed in 2011, it has won the Outstanding Student Organization award twice in the past three years.
The organization's president, Morgan Seeley, a history education major from Breckenridge, won the 2018 CASE District 5 Outstanding Student Leader award two years after Kim Salwey, the Forever Red president in 2016, received the same award.
Forever Red's growing legacy is a testament to the development of programs geared to engage with alumni and organize fundraising campaigns that support student scholarships. One of those successful initiative is the Cardinal Forever Initiative. Forever Red sells SVSU t-shirts for $1 during Fresh Start, an event aimed at acclimating freshman to life at SVSU during the beginning of the academic year.
“From that first day on campus, when Forever Red sells a freshman a t-shirt, their goal is to share their ‘Red Pride’ in hopes that the feeling rubs off on other,” said Crainer.
Forever Red also generates school spirit through events on campus including a 5K competition during the days leading up to the football Homecoming game as well as "I Heart SV Week," another scholarship fundraising drive that collected $4,200 recently.
“Forever Red understands that the university is at its strongest – and will be into the future – when its constituents have a deep sense of pride in the institution,” Crainer said.
A Saginaw Valley State University student known across campus for enthusiastically promoting school spirit has earned a coveted honor for her passionate advocacy.
Morgan Seeley, a history education major from Breckenridge, received the Outstanding Student Leader award from The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for District 5, which includes colleges and universities in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota and Wisconsin..
Seeley, who will graduate in May, earned the award largely based on her engaging work with Forever Red, an SVSU student organization. Forever Red's goals are based on three pillars: connecting with SVSU alumni, enhancing the student experience on campus, and promoting "Red Pride," a phrase associated with SVSU school spirit.
“Usually a student will find that one or two of those pillars really resonates with them,” said Bryan Crainer, Forever Red’s adviser. “Morgan is a unique case where she fully buys into each of the organization's pillars and strives to see the organization excel in each of those areas.”
When she was appointed president of Forever Red for this academic year, Seeley continued to build upon the foundation set by her predecessors, Crainer said.
“She challenged the organization to improve the programs that have become traditions, and explore new ways to reach students, faculty, staff and alumni,” said Crainer, SVSU's associate dean for student life and leadership programs.
In addition to her individual award, Seeley learned that the organization she leads also earned recognition from CASE District 5. Forever Red received the Outstanding Organization award.
“For me, it's more exciting that Forever Red won this tremendous award,” Seeley said. “I am so grateful to have been named the Outstanding Student Leader, but the biggest reward has been seeing the organization get the recognition it deserves.”
Forever Red organizes fundraising events throughout the year to support student scholarships. One scholarship drive, "I Heart SV Week," collected $4,200 recently. Another successful endeavor is the Cardinal Forever Initiative where Forever Red sells SVSU t-shirts for $1 during Fresh Start, an event that introduces freshmen to life at SVSU.
Seeley may have recognized a hint of the support from CASE during the beginning of her term as Forever Red president. In August 2017, she attended a CASE national conference where she presented on Forever Red to an audience of peers from similar organizations at other higher education institutions. Attendees watching the presentation were given blank comment cards and encouraged to provide written feedback to the conference's presenters.
When she finished speaking, Seeley collected the response cards.
“There were stacks of them,” she said. “There was so much positive reaction to what I was telling them about Forever Red. So many people told me they wanted to implement what Forever Red is doing at SVSU in their own colleges”
Seeley and Forever Red are continuing a tradition where CASE District 5 recognizes student passion and dedication at SVSU. In 2016, Kim Salwey, Forever Red's president at the time, earned the Outstanding Student Leader award while her organization simultaneously received the Outstanding Organization honor.
Saginaw Valley State University’s annual Spring University-Wide Employment & Networking Fair will be the institution’s largest career fair ever, officials say.
More than 170 employers will seek job candidates during the gathering Friday, April 6, from noon to 3 p.m. in SVSU’s Curtiss Hall. The previous record number of employers to attend an SVSU career fair was 158.
“Attracting over 170 organizations to the employment fair is a win, not only for SVSU, but our entire region,” said Mike Major, director of SVSU’s Career Services, which organizes eight career fairs annually on campus.
“As SVSU continues to draw students from around the state, the Great Lakes Bay Region has an opportunity to keep them here to live, work and play. Participating organizations play a huge part in talent retention, so the growth of the employment fairs demonstrates growth throughout our region.”
The lineup of employers expected to attend the event include companies and organizations at both the local and national level. Among the participants are American Red Cross, Bavarian Inn Restaurant, Covenant HealthCare, The Dow Chemical Co., the FBI, Garber Management Group, Independent Bank, Morley Companies Inc., Nexteer Automotive and Quicken Loans.
A full list of participants is available at www.svsu.edu/careerservices.
Among recruiters, employment fairs continue to grow in popularity as an efficient way to scout talent, Major said.
“Organizations want face-to-face interaction with candidates,” he said. “In addition to reviewing résumés and cover letters, recruiters can learn more about candidates in a conversation. Employers report communication as the No. 1 skill that is lacking in new hires. Employment fairs enable recruiters to measure this important skill, even during a brief interview.”
For more information about the event, contact SVSU Career Services at (989) 964-4954 or email@example.com.
Saginaw Valley State University honored businesses, entrepreneurs, faculty and alumni dedicated to enriching the business climate of Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region during SVSU's 5th annual Academia Awards Best in Business ceremony Friday, March 23.
Recipients of the business and alumni awards were chosen by an advisory board for SVSU's College of Business & Management. The faculty award honorees were selected by SVSU students.
The recipients of the business awards include the following:
• Star of the West Milling Co. received the Outstanding Business Award, presented to a company with a record of steady employment and strong corporate citizenship. Star of the West Milling Co., founded in Frankenmuth, is the 12th-largest flour milling company in the United States.
• Rowleys Wholesale earned the Outstanding Family Business Award, which is given to a family-owned company that demonstrates a commitment to community-minded business practices. The Bay City-based business distributes automotive equipment such as tires and car wash chemicals.
• Dick Garber, president of Garber Management Group, received the Outstanding Business Leader award, presented to an individual whose interests and actions contribute to the cultural and economic growth of the region. Garber is a third-generation owner of the company, with operations that include automotive dealerships in four states as well as the Saginaw Spirit hockey franchise.
• The Outstanding Entrepreneur Award was presented both to Al Thieme, founder and chairman of Amigo Mobility International, and Beth Thieme, vice president and chief executive officer of the company. The award honors individuals whose successes include both sales as well as support for the surrounding community. The Bridgeport Township-based business produces mobility scooters that better the lives of individuals with physical disabilities.
The SVSU faculty members recognized at the ceremony include the following:
• Amy Hendrickson, assistant professor of law, who received the Excellence in Teaching for Full-Time Faculty Award
• Mazen Jaber, associate professor of marketing, who received the Excellence in Service Award
• Shiva Nadavulakere, associate professor of management, who received the Excellence in Research Award
• L. Mark St. Clair, an adjunct instructor of economics, who received the Excellence in Teaching for Adjunct Faculty Award
Alumni recognized at the event include the following:
• Tammy Bernier, the co-owner and CEO of Duperon Corp. who earned a bachelor's degree in management in 1993, for the Outstanding Alumna Award
• Kylie Bos, who earned a bachelor's degree in management in 2016, for the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award
• Patrick Dolan, who earned a master's degree in business administration in 2017, for the Outstanding Graduate Student Award
SVSU's College of Business and Management is among the 5 percent of business schools worldwide who are accredited by AACSB International; this is widely considered to be the gold standard for business school accreditation.
For more information, visit www.svsu.edu/cbm.
A Saginaw Valley State University student has been honored for the care and concern she shows for her fellow students in helping them learn to write more effectively.
Sara Houser, an elementary education major from Carrollton and a tutor in SVSU’s Writing Center, received the Outstanding Tutor of the Year award from the East Central Writing Centers Association.
The association represents 100 writing centers - where students mentor their peers on writing assignments - across five states in the Midwest and selects one outstanding tutor each year.
“Sara has the ability to be warm, engaging, and genuine while asking probing questions, offering counterarguments and providing insights that make the writers re-think, re-focus and even re-imagine their original work,” said Helen Raica-Klotz, director of the SVSU Writing Center.
Raica-Klotz has seen Houser’s strong work ethic firsthand, saying Houser has tutored hundreds of writers between her work at SVSU and in community writing centers in Bay City and Saginaw that serve the public. Beyond tutoring, Houser edits and writes for the publication Writing@SVSU, which displays a variety of writing pieces from SVSU students.
For Houser, tutoring is much more than helping a student achieve a higher grade.
“Just to get someone an ‘A’ on a paper is not good enough, you have to be willing to go the extra mile,” she said.
In addition to her degree, Houser is working to achieve an endorsement to teach English as a second language.
Houser received her award during the 40th annual East Central Writing Centers Association conference at Ohio State University March 23-25.
For more information on SVSU's Writing Center please visit, www.svsu.edu/writingcenter/.