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November 5, 2015

SVSU raises funds for Get Outside For A Healthy Inside in 13th annual Battle of the Valleys competition

Saginaw Valley State University will begin its 13th annual student-led “Battle of the Valleys” fundraising competition with rival Grand Valley State University Sunday, Nov. 8. The campaign will conclude Friday, Nov. 13, with the winner announced during the football game Saturday, Nov. 14 at 1 p.m. at GVSU.

SVSU students selected Get Outside For A Healthy Inside, an affiliate of the Saginaw Community Foundation, as the charity partner for this year's competition.  All proceeds will go to the second-year organization, whose goal is to increase physical activity in Saginaw, focusing specifically on building parks and maintaining trails.

Get Outside For A Healthy Inside coordinator Sharon Dinse said that she is excited for the possibilities that could come from being this year's charity partner.

“I can't tell you how excited we are,” she said. “We're thrilled because the amount that can be done through this can be amazing.”

SVSU Battle of the Valleys chair Natalie Schneider, a business management major from Saginaw Township, said that she is excited for the opportunity to help build the young organization while aiding the community.

“They are definitely a growing organization, which we're really excited to work with because that means we can work a lot with their foundation,” she said. “They're really focused on creating a family environment within Saginaw through these parks.”

Schneider added that Get Outside For A Healthy Inside was chosen because it relates to students who might not have been as involved in "Battle" in the past.

“We noticed there's a huge direct impact between Saginaw and their organization,” she said. “We haven't done anything lately with physical activity and exercise, and that's what they're about.”

Various events will take place throughout the week to raise money for the competition.

The events will include: a 5k run and kickoff party on Sunday, Nov. 8; a date auction Monday, Nov. 9; the opportunity to throw a pie at an resident assistant on Tuesday, Nov. 10; an intramural sports night on Wednesday, Nov. 11; camping on campus on Thursday, Nov. 12 and a concert headlined by Michigan native and Americas Got Talent finalist Olivia Millerschin at the Dow Event Center at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13 before culminating with Saturday's football game against GVSU.

For more details on each event, visit‌. You also may donate online from the website.

SVSU Battle of the Valleys-themed T-shirts and sweatshirts will be sold at each of the events for $10 and $20, respectively, or for $25 if purchased together.

Scheider said that students get excited for “Battle” not only because of the competition with GVSU, but because of the opportunities presented to them throughout the week.

“It's definitely a competition between us and Grand Valley, and that's what drives much of the motivation, but it's also about getting a service learning experience,” she said. “It's definitely about activism and getting involved. One thing that not many students get to do is be a part of a school that raises this much money. It can be extremely rewarding, not just for you but for the organization.”

Since 2003, Battle of the Valleys fundraising has raised $470,257 for various charities and foundations. SVSU has raised $306,792, or about 65 percent of the total, and has out-raised GVSU during nine of the 12 years.

Last year, SVSU raised $32,294 for the Cory Rivard Jr. Promise Foundation, an organization that educates college students on preventative measures for suicide, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.

November 5, 2015

SVSU welcomes couple working to improve life in Nepal

A couple who is helping to rebuild lives in Nepal following a devastating earthquake that struck the country in April will share their story at Saginaw Valley State University. Scott and Sunita MacLennan, founders and executive director of The Mountain Fund, will be part of an event titled “Empowering Women & Children in Nepal.”

The MacLennans have done considerable work to help the Nepali Community get back on its feet after the earthquake. Their accomplishments include: the rehabilitation of two monasteries, staffing of a public school, foundation of a school for HIV-affected children, two clinics and a training hospital.

All of their work is volunteered; they have set up volunteerism programs, and mentored new NGOs (Non-government Organizations) around the world. Scott and Sunita MacLennan are currently involved in the start-up of a new leadership program for Nepali girls and women.

There will be two public presentations at SVSU. “Children and Women's Rights in Nepal” is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 5 p.m. in Founders Hall, and “Developing a Meaningful Non-profit Organization” is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 10:30 a.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

The MacLennans’ visit is sponsored by SVSU’s College of Health and Human Services. For more information on The Mountain Fund, visit

November 5, 2015

SVSU jazz concert features music of Wayne Shorter

Saginaw Valley State University jazz artist-in-residence Jeff Hall and five visiting musicians will join in concert to play the music of Wayne Shorter Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU's Rhea Miller Recital Hall. Admission is $12 for the general public and $5 for students and senior citizens.

A renowned jazz musician, Shorter is noted for his ability with both the saxophone and as a composer. He has been nicknamed “The Newark Flash” for his style of play. Shorter has played with artists such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. He also co-founded the jazz fusion group Weather Report.

A nine-time Grammy Award winner, Shorter has worked on various award-winning compositions, such as “Pinocchio” and “Nefertiti and Footprints.”

Hall is a Saginaw native and served as an adjunct instructor at SVSU from 1974-2005 when he accepted the artist-in-residence appointment. He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston before returning home. He has toured with groups such as the Great Lakes Express and Method, while performing along with renowned jazz artists such as Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt, Joe Henderson and the J.C. Heard Orchestra.

For this concert, Hall will be joined by five supporting musicians. They are:
•    Paul Finkbeiner, a trumpet player from Western Michigan University. He has performed around the world, from the Orange County Jazz Festival in Los Angeles and the Evergreen Jazz Festival in Colorado, to the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and the symphonic hall of the Auditorio Nacional de Música in Madrid, Spain.
•    Ron Kischuk, a trombonist in his sixth year as the artistic director of the Toledo Jazz Orchestra who teaches at Wayne State University and Oakland University. He heads The Masters of Music Big Band and owns both Brassworks Entertainment in Detroit and The Master of Music Conservatory in Royal Oak.
•    Randy Marsh, a drummer from Grand Rapids who has been regarded as one of the best in the state at his field. He comes from a musical family, as both his mother and father were musicians. Marsh has been drumming for almost 40 years. He currently plays in the organ-based trio, Organissimo.
•    Terry Newman, a bass player and Durand native who has performed at the Montreux-Detroit Jazz Festival, Greenwich Village Jazz Festival and the Texaco-New York Jazz Festival. Newman moved to New York in 1984 where he attended the Juilliard School of Music. He returned to Durand in 2002, and now performs with the Lansing-based Salsa Band Ritmo as well as the Detroit-based big band, Eddie Nuccilli.
•    Michael Zaporski, a pianist who has performed and taught internationally and locally for more than 30 years. He has served as an artist-in-residence and guest lecturer at the University of Dakar in Senegal West Africa, Albion College, Oakland University and many other institutions. Most recently, Zaporski performed a concert lecture tour in Poland.

For more information, call the SVSU Department of Music at 989-964-4159, or the SVSU box office at (989) 964-4261.

November 3, 2015

How to Handle Suspicious Emails

By Jennifer Paradise

Every morning Monday through Friday, what's more than likely the first thing you do when you arrive at work? Hang up your coat? Pour yourself a cup of coffee? Talk about last night's episode of Game of Thrones with your coworker? Okay, maybe not everyone does that. Checking email is probably high up on everyone's list.

Let's pretend that today you received an email from someone that you didn't know. That's not uncommon, right? We work at a university and people that we don't know email us questions all of the time. However you get a creeping suspicion that this email is different. This person wants to transfer $100,000 into your bank account. While this might be an amazing opportunity for you to finally buy that sleek red convertible you've been eyeing for years, you know it's a scam. It's too good to be true.

What are your next steps?

  1. Don't reply. Don't click any links in the email. If something from the email tries to run on your computer, don't allow it.
  2. Forward a copy of the email to and to let ITS know what's going on. There is a chance that others have received this email as well.
  3. Delete the email.

While you may not have saved the world in a grand fashion, you have done your part to keep yourself and others in the SVSU community a bit safer. Email phishing is not a joke. While the word "phishing" looks and sounds rather humorous, it is a real threat that we take very seriously in ITS. No one should be asking for information that could compromise your identity, job, or safety.

Sophos, the manufacturer of our anti-virus software, has a series of short videos that talk about security tips for the workplace including this one about suspicious emails.

Also, here is a poster that you can print and post in your office to remind yourself and others to be cautious with suspicious emails. While we could all benefit from a few extra dollars in our pockets courtesy of a generous stranger, it's too good to be true and we shouldn't fall for it.

Suspicious Emails (302KB)

A smaller image linking to the suspicious emails poster.

November 2, 2015

Grad’s program teaches at-risk and homeless youths in Denver

Somewhere in Denver, Colorado, a teenager is on a computer and he is smiling. He’s learned things he never thought he would, accomplished things he never thought he could, and now can see a future that once was only a dream.

And he has SVSU alum Dave Bobrowski, 2010, B.S., to thank for that.

Bobrowski is the founder of a program called TechBridge, which focuses on teaching technical skills to at-risk and homeless Denver youths, ages 15 to 24.

The program gives students the opportunity to learn basic skills in Microsoft Office and Internet usage before expanding into more complex topics like Web development and eventually business analysis and database management. Founded just over a year ago, Bobrowski said nearly 40 students have worked with TechBridge.

“I want to give these youths the skill sets and knowledge to help place them in a job and work through that culture shock of getting into work for the first time,” he said.

By day a business analysis team leader for the city and county of Denver, Bobrowski had the idea for TechBridge for some time but needed additional resources and support to get it off the ground.

He partnered with a local organization called Arts Street, which has a similar mission but focuses on visual arts, music and theater. Together, the two organizations partnered with Urban Peak, an established shelter and educational facility for homeless youth that has been serving the Denver area for more than 25 years.

“I aim to shape TechBridge into an end-to-end service for these youth,” Bobrowski said. “Starting from mentorships all the way to job placement and coaching through the first six months of employment.”

Bobrowski said his passion for serving the community really blossomed during his time as a student at SVSU. During his capstone computer information systems course, Scott James, professor of computer science and information systems, talked to the class about the value of using their skills to work on community projects.

Bobrowski said those “life lessons” stuck with him. “He [James] was the one who really started talking about finding projects that could benefit the community,” Bobrowski said. “We talked a lot in that class about working with schools, organizations or businesses that just couldn’t afford the kinds of services we were able to provide.”

After graduation, Bobrowski served as a volunteer police officer in the Coleman Police Department reserves. There, he started to recognize the importance of proactive programs and opportunities to keep kids out of trouble. That experience, coupled with the birth of his own daughter, helped him appreciate the value of working with young people.

And now that he’s founded TechBridge in Denver, he has aspirations to grow the program to help even more kids.

“Some of these kids are really struggling and I don’t want to see that,” he said. “I want to be proactive in helping them stay out of the criminal justice system and help them find success in the future.”

October 29, 2015

Showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show Leads to Riot 1979

A collage of fingerprints, I survived the SVSC riot Tshirt, newspaper article.It has almost become tradition for theatres to run the 1975 movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show around Halloween. With the holiday two days away, the following is an excerpt of a story from the Spring 2010 Reflections magazine, titled "Snowballed at SVSU, 12-04-79." 

Freshman Liz Virgin had seen the flyers. Papers were all over campus about the film to be shown that night, offering a dose of escape with crimson floating lips and the words:

“A different set of jaws”–The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

By 10:15 that night, more than 250 people had flocked to the cafeteria to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The film was a low-budget cult classic based on an often-run musical, and, over the years, audiences had spawned a series of rituals. When a wedding scene came, for example, viewers were expected to toss rice; when a man at a dinner mentioned giving a toast, viewers lobbed burnt bread.

That night, a fraternity made a fundraiser of it and sold both rice and toast to the masses.

Billy Dexter, a freshman, had joined his friends for the movie. The lights dimmed and the movie began, but things didn’t play out how he’d thought they would.

What played was pandemonium. Rice that was supposed to be pulled from its bags instead shot across the room as plastic-wrapped missiles. And people lacked the patience to await an onscreen toast before casting what they had on their classmates. Soon many items were fired through the air: food, drinks, salt shakers, pepper containers and, according to reports, even chairs.

Organizers repeatedly stopped the film, asking viewers to please calm down. But students’ mischief couldn’t be caged, and ultimately the affair lasted just 22 minutes.

All involved were asked to return to their rooms.

By the time Campus Safety showed up, the floor was coated with debris. Seats and tables had been toppled. A Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity brother named Steve Umphrey had assisted in planning the event and was consequently cleaning it up.

The students had gone outside, many of them gathering in the clearing between the dorms.

That’s where the real trouble would soon begin.

The Real Trouble Begins

Sometime after midnight, a telephone rang in the darkened home of a county sheriff. The man would awaken and be told of the reports. Some 150 Iranian students had “taken over” part of Saginaw Valley’s campus, the caller said, and they had “destroyed a building.”

In the snow-covered clearing flanked by brown-brick dormitories, about 75 students were running around, squirting water guns at each other, throwing snowballs.

Officers tried to reason with them. After much coaxing, the students complied; within an hour, all had retreated to their dorms. Officers, satisfied that order had been restored, left the courtyard to find warmth. And within two minutes of the solace, a dorm door reopened. A young man shot outside and began to yell. Suddenly, other doors popped open, and students rushed out and joined in.

Soon the snowball fight began anew.

Mike DuCharme, a sophomore, was in his room working on a paper. Looking out the window, he noticed in the distance a quickly moving line of blue lights. Wondering if there had been an accident at the airport, he kept his eyes on them. Then he realized they were coming closer.

Police Lose Control

He went downstairs and reached a window in time to see one of the patrol cars skidding on icy pavement. The cruiser slammed into a lamppost, knocking it to the ground.

Out in the courtyard, more police officers had arrived in riot helmets, carrying nightsticks. Some students ran away from the cops; others just hurled snowballs at them.

From somewhere in the melee, Billy Dexter and three roommates made it back to their suite. Still giddy from the experience, one pulled open the window and jeered at the cops on the ground below. Instantly, five officers looked up and raced for the stairs.

Students Jailed

Later that night when Billy called his mother, she thought his story was a practical joke. Billy had grown up in inner city Detroit and kept his record clean before coming to Saginaw Valley, a school in the middle of cornfields — and now he was calling her from jail?

But inside two locked cells at the Saginaw County jail were the 53 people arrested — 44 males and nine females — one non-student, two commuters and 50 dorm residents. (And rumor had it that the young women shared their seven hours in the cell with an accused murderer.)

Apparently, many made the best of it. While in jail, students started singing; and they sang so loudly that the jail staff threatened to hose them down.

Steve Zott, star quarterback on the football team, used his call to phone “Muddy” Waters. The football coach and athletic director had recently returned from a game in South Carolina. With the leftover money on hand from the trip, he ventured down to the jail himself.

By then, eight students had parents come to bail them out. The bond for the other 45 — a $1,025 price tag — would be covered by the university.

By 7:45 Wednesday morning, the last students were being transported in vans back to campus.

In its next issue, The Valley Vanguard published an editorial interpreting what factors had contributed to the events that night: overloaded dorms, pent-up frustrations, looming exams and cafeteria food. The movie, according to the piece, provided a fun outlet for students’ energy.  When it prematurely ended, they sought an alternative.

Later, T-shirts sprang up around campus that read, “I SURVIVED THE SVSC RIOT” — thanks to the pluck of a budding entrepreneur. Billy remembers the way people treated the 53 jailed survivors: “We were pretty popular around campus after that,” he says now, laughing.

Radio Reports Inaccurate

Inquiries later resulted in the radio transmissions from that night being made public. At 11:43, an officer called in to Central Dispatch: “Situation we have is about 150 ‘disorderlies.’ They literally destroyed one building, and we’re waiting for help before we take any other of them.”

Word was passed along. Central told Saginaw Police, “They totally destroyed one building.” Eight cars were sent, including a vehicle with lieutenant and a sergeant. At 11:51, Central told its Bay County counterpart “they totally demolished one building.”

Media agencies would descend on the campus. The Saginaw News called the incident SVSC’s “own horror show,” adding that “officers swept onto the campus amid rumors of Iranian involvement and calls picturing a building under siege.”

Subsequent hearings would find reason to suspend two students from the dorms and one from the college. Many others would receive letters of apology from the school’s administration.

SVSU’s crisis that night would compel the Board of Control at its May 7, 1982, meeting to pen a resolution that allowed the college to deputize the officers in its public safety department.

October 28, 2015

19th century Midwest African-Americans remembered in SVSU lecture

Photo of Jennifer StinsonThe Saginaw Valley State University history department will host the 13th annual Hoffmann/Willertz Lecture Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 4 p.m. in the Rhea Miller Recital Hall. Jennifer Stinson, SVSU associate professor of history, will present “Laboring in Bondage in a Free Land: Remembering the 19th-Century Midwest’s Enslaved and Indentured African-Americans.”

Stinson will present an excerpt from her book manuscript on African-Americans and those whose lives bridged African, Indian and Euro-American identities in the rural Midwest. Her presentation will examine antebellum lead diggings, farms, and forts of Wisconsin and Illinois.

There, amid mixture and contestation between Indian, French, British and U.S. American peoples, Stinson will address the following questions: What was it like to live in bondage in ostensibly free states and territories? What purposes did unfree labor serve, and what meanings did masters and mistresses assign to it? What forms did unfree people's resistance take? And how has unfree labor and resistance been remembered and forgotten in our region?

Stinson has presented at several national conventions, including those hosted by the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, the American Historical Association, and the Organization of American Historians. She also has spoken at international events such as the International Inclusive Museum, Slaving Zones, and Many Faces of Slavery conferences. She co-led a seminar on race and the U.S. constitution at the SRH Hochschule/University in Heidelberg, Germany.

Stinson completed a bachelor's degree at Oberlin College and a Ph.D. at Indiana University. Her talk is part of SVSU’s Fall Focus lecture series; all lectures in the series are open to the public and free of charge. For more information on the series, visit

October 27, 2015

SVSU Announces 2015 Homecoming Court

Photo of SVSU students Charnae Keith, left, and Brandon Jones immediately following their coronation as 2015 Homecoming king and queen. (Photo courtesy Mike Randolph, SVSU)Saginaw Valley State University students elected Brandon Jones, a business management major from Saginaw; and Charnae Keith, a social work major from Redford Township, as the university’s 2015 Homecoming king and queen. They were crowned Saturday, Oct. 17, during halftime of SVSU’s home football game against Lake Erie College.

Students initially elected Jones and Keith to the 10-student Homecoming Court earlier in the month. Then Jones and Keith, who are friends, campaigned for the Homecoming king and queen titles as a tandem.

“We were pushing each other,” Keith said. “So, when they called his name, I was scared that they weren’t going to call my name. That was another fear – we wanted to win together because we did the race together.”

Keith said she felt relieved after hearing her name announced. She and Jones represented SVSU’s Office of Multicultural Services.

A graduate of Saginaw High School, Jones said he was honored to be selected, but what really caught the public’s attention was his mother Tonya Jones’ reaction when she heard her son’s name announced as Homecoming king.

“My mom’s reaction was priceless,” Brandon Jones said. “The announcer didn’t even finish my name before she started screaming and shouting.”

Jones said he “never expected to win.”

“Each candidate was amazing and could have received the crowns and I would have been just as happy,” he said. “I am so grateful and so humbled.”

The two were joined on the Homecoming Court by:
•    Marianna Cuevas, a social work major from Tecumseh
•    Kevin Finley, an accounting major from Flint
•    Sam Hudson, an English major from Port Hope
•    Samantha Hull, a management major from Clinton Township
•    Riley Hupfer, a communication major from Freeland
•    Keshara Mumford, a social work major from Eastpointe
•    Kimberly Salwey, a marketing major from East Tawas
•    Grant Voisinet, a nursing major from Laingsburg

Jones is actively involved on campus, and currently serves as president of Valley Voices Gospel Choir; as a senior orientation leader, assisting new students acclimate to college; and as a member of the Organization of Black Unity. Jones also has been selected for SVSU’s Vitito Global Business Leadership Institute, an in-depth leadership development program for business students that includes an international travel experience; only 12 students per year are chosen for the program. He remains connected to his community, as well, serving as a mentor for students at Saginaw High School.

Keith also is active on campus. She is a founding member of Pretty Brown Girls, a registered student organization for female minority students; she also is a member of Valley Voices Gospel Choir and the Student Social Work Organization.  Keith also serves as a mentor to other SVSU students through the King-Chavez-Parks 4-S P.A.S.S. grant, a program designed to increase graduation rates through effective instruction, counseling strategies, tutoring, and mentoring programs.

October 27, 2015

Faculty Profile: Izabela Szymanska, assistant professor of management College of Business & Management

Born in 1980 in Poland, Izabela Szymanska witnessed the birth of the country’s Solidarity movement, and though young during its flourishing decade, was awestruck by its impact. She saw this movement transform her country’s peoples as it empowered them to take responsibility for their lives. Notable were economic changes, as citizens went from being government-supported to owning businesses.

Family business and entrepreneurship were fledgling opportunities that motivated a young Szymanska to dream that one day she would study business and entrepreneurship in the U.S. because, as she asks, “Who does it better?”  

So it is no wonder that the assistant professor of management chose a case study of family business and innovative changes for her recently-defended doctoral dissertation.

And it’s equally no wonder that Szymanska felt that when she arrived at SVSU in fall 2014, she had found a “perfect fit.” That’s because she is teaching entrepreneurship classes as well as working with the Dow Entrepreneurship Institute at SVSU, the Stevens Center for Family Business, and SVSU students.

She is quick to point out that SVSU’s focus on family business was not only very attractive to her, but that such a program affiliated with a university is not very common. That, she says, is great for both students and the region.

It is in the role of teacher that Szymanska makes her greatest impact. “I work with students on independent studies, take them to business events, and bring speakers into the classroom, all to enrich the student experience. “ 

And in the very brief time she has been at the university, she has led a student team to the University of Vermont’s Family Enterprise Case Competitions held each winter. She is already planning a return trip in 2015-16, noting the value of this competitive experiential learning for her academic college’s students.

Szymanska especially enjoys teaching Introduction to Entrepreneurship, a semester-long course where students create a comprehensive business plan. “Some love it and some learn that entrepreneurship is not for them. That’s not a bad thing; rather it’s invaluable for students to participate in that discovery process,” Szymanska said. 

And some students are excited about becoming an “intrapreneur,” an employee within a company charged with bringing new products or innovations to market. “This can be very appealing to students who don’t necessarily want to start a business, yet who want to bring that entrepreneurial energy to a company.”

Szymanska’s enthusiasm and efforts must be paying off, as an influx of student interest in entrepreneurship has led to adding another section of the course this academic year.

October 27, 2015

SVSU research making Midland healthier, students smarter

Leaders in Midland County have always been serious about improving health outcomes for county residents. In 2014, they enlisted a serious research partner to better understand where they stand and what it would take to be a healthier county. The SVSU team of five faculty and 15 students — all undergraduates — spent nearly a year gathering, analyzing and sharing data. Those who selected SVSU for the project were seriously impressed when the team submitted its final report.

“We are extremely pleased with the quality of the work performed by SVSU students and faculty,” Sharon Mortensen, president and CEO of the Midland Area Community Foundation, said after the report was made available in May 2015. The foundation joined with the Health and Human Services Council of Midland County and other agencies on the study.

“The faculty team met numerous times with our small planning group. They adapted their work to the needs of our community and provided a finished product that will greatly benefit Midland County.”

Based on a successful prior study by SVSU — and an exemplary record of community engagement — the Midland County consortium approached the university to lead the research.

“We were very satisfied with the work SVSU did on the Midland County needs assessment and the corresponding Midland County Dashboard,” Mortensen said. “The responsiveness of the staff and faculty to our community needs has been outstanding. When it was time to again conduct the health survey, we thought this provided another great opportunity to work with our local university.”

“I’m well ahead of my peers”

While Midland County leaders are pleased with the final product, SVSU faculty and students are thrilled with the learning experience.

Nathan Peters, 2015, B.S., worked extensively on the research. County-wide health surveys are typically conducted by phone, but SVSU was committed to going into the community. The exercise science major from Deckerville was among those on the front lines asking people to complete surveys.

“It’s amazing to shake the hands of the people you know will benefit from what you’re doing,” he said. “Once families responded, that would make me even more proud, because not only are we trying to help the adult population, it’s really all about the children, how they’re raised and continuing those positive health behaviors.”

Peters has begun his graduate program at the University of South Carolina. He received a research and teaching assistantship (full tuition, plus stipend) and plans to complete his Ph.D. in exercise science there. His involvement on this study and other research projects has prepared him well for the demands of graduate school.

“Every conference I attend to present research,” he said, “I get asked, ‘Are you doing this for your dissertation?’ SVSU and our kinesiology department have given me every possible tool to be successful. I am very confident that I’m going to be well ahead of my peers.”

More work, more reward

Playing a role in stories such as Peters’ is why Josh Ode, 2001, B.A., professor of kinesiology at the time of the study, returned to his alma mater.

In July, Ode accepted an appointment to oversee SVSU’s community engagement activities as associate vice president for academic affairs. He noted that the team on the Midland study was interdisciplinary, and in his estimation, a prime example of community-based research.

“We said, ‘We can do this another way,’ and that’s exactly what we did. We included multiple students in a service-learning project to get data that was requested, and we personalized it for Midland. We asked the kind of questions — above the traditional survey that’s done on a regular basis — they wanted to know.”

The research process also included meetings every two weeks where students reflected upon what they had learned.

“That’s really what service-learning is,” Ode said. “You take what you learn in the classroom; put it into practice, and then you go further. You have students talk and reflect about what works and what doesn’t, identify the challenges, and determine how to move forward.”

Putting the research to work

Many of the students have completed their SVSU degrees and have started careers or graduate school. Faculty will evaluate their research work for scholarly publications and move on to other projects, but they remain in the Great Lakes Bay Region community. That should assist with an important next step: using the research to improve the health of Midland County’s people.

Leslie Perry, 2007, M.A., already has submitted grant proposals based on the study’s findings. More Midland-area physicians are writing prescriptions requiring patients to exercise, and she sees a need for these patients to have a dedicated liaison to keep them informed, encouraged and held accountable.

The study identified significant health differences among population groups. For example, 49 percent of respondents with a high school diploma engaged in no physical activity regularly; the same was true for just 11.6 percent of respondents with a bachelor’s degree.

As engagement director for Greater Midland, a non-profit group that includes popular facilities such as the Midland Community Center and Tennis Center, Perry wants to see more people take advantage of community assets — many of which are free of charge — for health and wellness.

“We have enough programs and resources, but not enough people are using them,” she said.

Lasting benefits

More recommendations and action items will be developed, and eventually a new health study will be needed, but bonds forged between professors and students will continue for many years to come.

Peters praised SVSU’s exercise science faculty, especially Becca Schlaaf, B.S., 2008, assistant professor of kinesiology, for how he was mentored.

“Faculty want students to be successful,” he said. They encourage students to get outside of the classroom and participate in these community-based research projects.

“You can’t get any closer with a faculty member than I have at SVSU. If I would have gone somewhere else, there is no way I could have had the experience I did. I would not be where I am today if I had gone anywhere besides SVSU, and I'm really confident in saying that.”

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