“There’s a saying that the top two fears are death and public speaking,” Amy Pierce said. “What would be worse is to die while delivering a speech.”
It’s a joke, but the associate professor of communication is aware of the trepidation students feel before enrolling in her public speaking course. Their initial apprehension is why it’s especially gratifying for Pierce to watch those same students persevere.
“It’s satisfying to see a student who can barely deliver their first presentation, and by the end of the semester, they’re confident and well organized,” she said.
Pierce has built a career on those success stories. Along with her classroom achievements, she founded a forensics competition program 15 years ago that since has traveled the nation to compete in tournaments as well as took on oversight of the annual Sims Public Speaking Competition, first offered in 1989. Success in both competitions demands strong public speaking skills, measured by clear articulation, critical thinking and confident argument.
She founded the forensics team in winter 2001. The program experienced success immediately when it earned second place at that year’s Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League’s Annual Novice Forensics Tournament.
The forensics team continues to experience success today. During the last academic year, the program saw more of its students qualify for a national tournament than ever in its history.
“Although winning is always exciting, I strongly believe that forensics is an academic activity that provides students with the confidence to succeed and the ability to develop a work ethic that demands excellence,” Pierce said.
The program also teaches students to cope with and appreciate diversity. Students develop personal character and values by leading and participating within the context of the team, social, academic and competitive environments, she said.
“This is what I love most about directing and coaching the forensics team,” Pierce said. “I get the opportunity to see students applying the material they learn in the classroom in a real world setting.”
She also is proud of her students’ work with the Sims Public Speaking Competition.
“Students tell me again and again that the day of competition is one of the most exhausting, meaningful and fun of their college careers,” she said.
Her two main goals as an educator are to teach students how to become more competent and responsible communicators, as well as instill in students an appreciation for the importance of communication in their daily lives.
“I want students to be confident in their abilities when they leave my classroom and know they possess the tools necessary to succeed in their lives,” Pierce said.
Six Saginaw Valley State University students took honors for their research and speaking skills during the 26th annual Sims Public Speaking Competition at SVSU Friday, Nov. 6.
Eric Breidinger, a communication major from Auburn, took home top honors for his speech, “Ground Water Chuck: The Cost of Beef Addiction.” He received a $400 prize.
Jaeleen Davis, a criminal justice major from Burt, finished in second place after her speech, “Wigs 4 Kids: Servicing Children with Hair Loss.” She received a $200 prize.
Third place went to Austin Bauer, a communication major from Linwood, for his speech titled, “The Harms of Pornography.” He won a $100 prize.
Three students took home finalist honors. Each received $50 prizes. They were:
• Natalie Currie, a pre-occupational therapy major from Greenwood Township in St. Clair County, for her speech, “‘22 Until None.’ Suicide in the Military.”
• Melinda Dinninger, a communication major from Saginaw, for her speech, “Essure.”
• Megan Hillman, a social work major from Port Huron, for her speech, “Why We Need Life Skills Classes in High School.”
The Sims Public Speaking Competition began in 1981; it is co-sponsored by SVSU’s Department of Communication and is open to all SVSU students. The competition is endowed by Larry and Linda Sims, long-time donors to the university; Linda recently was appointed senior executive assistant to the president/executive director for communications and external affairs at SVSU. Contestants are required to write an original persuasive speech of 5 to 8 minutes in length.
A photo of the winners and finalists is attached. From left: SVSU students Natalie Currie, Melinda Dinninger, Megan Hillman, Austin Bauer, Jaeleen Davis, and Erik Breidinger.
Military Times recognized Saginaw Valley State University as the highest-ranking college or university in Michigan as part of its Best for Vets: Colleges 2016 rankings announced Monday, Nov. 9.
SVSU ranked No. 38 nationally among 125 institutions in the 4-year schools category by the independent media organization dedicated to news and information about the military. SVSU was ranked No. 1 in the state of Michigan. Last year, SVSU was ranked No. 60 nationally.
The Best for Vets: Colleges 2016 rankings evaluate many factors that make an organization a good fit for service members, military veterans and their families.
The survey-based initiative is the most comprehensive school-by-school assessment of veteran and military student services and rates of academic achievement. It requires schools to document services, special rules, accommodations and financial incentives offered to military and veteran students. It also considers the institution's culture for veterans on campus.
“Over the past six years of our surveys, we've seen so many schools first begin to foster - through new policies, services and dedicated facilities - and then nurture these wonderful communities,” said Amanda Miller, editor of Best for Vets.
SVSU provides a Military Student Affairs office for students, located in Curtiss Hall. It offers services and support to SVSU’s 375 military-affiliated students.
“We work very hard to provide quality service and meet our students’ needs,” said Denise Berry, SVSU director of military student affairs. “I think our one-stop shop concept where our department handles most things for these students is a big plus.”
Military Times also factors in data from the Veterans Affairs and Defense Departments, as well as three Education Department sources: the IPEDS Data Center, College Scorecard data and the Cohort Default Rate Database.
“We award the Best for Vets designation to the very best - the colleges that really are setting the example,” Miller said.
The rankings are published in full in the issues of Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times on newsstands the week of Nov. 9; and online at MilitaryTimes.com, as well as ArmyTimes.com, NavyTimes.com, AirForceTimes.com and MarineCorpsTimes.com.
The rankings also are available at www.militarytimes.com/bestforvets-colleges2016.
News of SVSU's ranking arrives about one month after the university was recognized by being named to the Military Friendly® list of schools for the fifth consecutive year. Selected by Victory Media, the list honors the top 15 percent of colleges, universities and trade schools that are doing the most to embrace America's military service members, veterans, spouses and dependents as students, and ensure their success on campus.
About SVSU: Saginaw Valley State University is a comprehensive university with more than 90 programs of study for its nearly 10,000 students. Located on a suburban campus in Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region, SVSU is committed to quality teaching in the classroom, field-based learning outside, NCAA Division II athletics and a broad range of academic and extracurricular opportunities for students to excel. In 2015, SVSU received the Community Engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a distinction achieved by only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities.
About Military Times:
The Military Times digital platforms and newsweeklies are the trusted source for independent news and information for service members and their families. The military community relies on Air Force Times, Army Times, Marine Corps Times, and Navy Times for reporting on everything important to their lives, including: pay, benefits, finance, education, health care, recreational resources, retirement, promotions, product reviews, and entertainment. Military Times is published by Sightline Media Group. To learn more, visit www.militarytimes.com.
Saginaw Valley State University's Flute Choir will perform in concert Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU's Founders Hall; it is free and open to the public.
Townes Osborn Miller, an adjunct instructor of music, will direct the choir, which includes SVSU students and faculty.
The concert will feature selections by 19th century French composers such as Charles François Gounod and Leo Delibes, as well as modern musicians including Diane Whitacre and James Christensen.
For more information, contact Townes Osborn Miller at email@example.com or the SVSU Department of Music at 989-964-4159.
Writer Joni Tevis will speak at Saginaw Valley State University as part of the school's “Voices in the Valley” reading series Monday, Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. in SVSU's Founders Hall. This event is free and open to the public.
Formerly a park ranger, factory worker and seller of cemetery plots, Tevis is the author of two books of essays. “The Wet Collection” is a collection of 40 lyric essays that interweave religion, memory, nature, women's history, wry humor, found objects, and art. Her most recent book is “The World is on Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse.”
Tevis’ non-fiction work has been published in Oxford American, the Bellingham Review, Shenandoah, the Pushcart Prize anthology, and Orion.
Tevis currently teaches creative writing and literature in Furman University; she also served as the Kenan Visiting Writer at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2008. In addition, Tevis is an affiliate faculty member with the Shi Center for Sustainability.
An English and history major, Tevis completed a bachelor’s degree at Florida State University, and an M.F.A and Ph.D. in creative writing at the University of Houston.
The Saginaw Valley State University International Student Club is hosting its annual International Food Festival Tuesday, Nov. 10 in the Marketplace at Doan cafeteria on the campus of SVSU.
Twenty-five countries from five continents will vie for the title of world's best cuisine as students from those nations prepare dishes from their native cultures. Based on past attendance, some 2,000 diners are expected to attend. The cafeteria will be decorated with flags and banners from the different cultures represented.
Students, faculty, and staff from across the globe will partner with SVSU Dining Services to cook for the public. Among the nations represented will be China, India, Nepal, South Korea, Switzerland and Taiwan.
The number of international students attending SVSU is at an all-time high, with 919 attending this year, up from 630 last fall. In total, there are students from 42 nations attending SVSU this year.
The International Food Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The public is invited. The cost is $8.50 per person. For more information, contact Zach Myers, marketing manager for SVSU Dining Services, at (989) 964-2118 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Kate Cardinali, 2004, B.F.A., talks about design, you can tell she loves it. But when she starts talking about teaching others, having fun and giving back to the community, that’s when she really gets excited.
Cardinali is the owner of Innovative Media Design, a marketing solutions firm located in her hometown of Bay City.
IMD is approaching nearly a decade in business and Cardinali is as passionate about it today as the day it was founded. One big reason for that, she said, is because IMD employs interns from SVSU and local high schools. She enjoys working with them to help grow their skill set.
“One thing I’ve always focused on is the constant education of students in our area,” she said. “Looking into the future, I hope to continue to build those relationships with local universities like SVSU to help young people.”
When Cardinali was a student at SVSU, she held two different internships and studied abroad for a semester in Italy. She said that experiential learning allowed her to gain valuable experience and confidence.
Using that momentum, she launched IMD, and hasn’t looked back since. “I love what I do,” she said. “When you own your own business, you have the ability to do what you want and have fun doing it.”
Recently, Cardinali worked with one of her employees — an SVSU student — to design a new logo for the SVSU Alumni Association. She said it was a satisfying experience getting a chance — as an alumna — to work with a current student to create the design.
“I’m very proud to work with someone who is in the same program I was 15 years ago,” she said. “It’s pretty awesome to have that connection back to the university.”
And it’s an ironic connection, some would say, for a person who can’t spell her last name without the word “Cardinal.”
“I received a lot of good direction from faculty and staff when I was at the university,” Cardinali said. “I still remain in touch with several of the faculty and really enjoy working with SVSU.”
Flutist Townes Osborn Miller and the Michigan State String Quartet will perform at Saginaw Valley State University's Rhea Miller Recital Hall Monday, Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. The concert will feature the work of musicians such as Joseph Haydn, Francois Devienne, Amy Beach and Mozart.
Miller, a flute instructor at SVSU, has an extensive background both teaching and playing music. She is currently an instructor at SVSU and Mott Community College, and has taught at various universities such as Northwest Missouri State University and Washburn University.
As a musician, Miller has traveled across the United States, performing as a soloist with the St. Matthias Chamber Orchestra in North Carolina, the Oak Ridge Civic Music Association Guild in Tennessee and with the Midland Adventist Academy in Kansas. She has been featured with groups such as the St. Joseph Symphony, the Overland Park Orchestra and the Kansas City Civic Orchestra.
The Michigan State String Quartet is made up of four musicians. They are:
• Oleg Bezuglov, an award winning violinist from Russia. He has won prizes at numerous international competitions, including the First Prize and the Special Prize "For the Best Performance of Shostakovich's Piece" at the First International Chamber Music Competition in 2008. In 2013, Bezuglov won awards at the Michigan State University College of Music Honors Concerto Competition and the Highly Commended Award at The World Competition in Australia. He currently holds positions in six symphony orchestras across Michigan, including the Kalamazoo and Flint Symphony Orchestras.
• Samvel Arakelyan, a violinist from Armenia. He has performed at famous venues such as Carnegie Hall and Merkin Hall in New York. Arakelyan is currently a part of the International Chamber Soloists, and is pursuing a Ph.D. degree at Michigan State University.
• Yuri Ozhegov, an award winning violist from Russia. In 2006, he was the second prize winner of the International Festival "Flowers of Saxony" in Prague, Czech Republic. He served as a member of the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra from 2010 to 2013. Ozhegov is currently the principal violist in the Battle Creek Symphony Orchestra.
• Igor Cetkovic, an internationally acclaimed cellist from Belgrade, Serbia. He has played with numerous orchestras across Europe and the United States, such as the Bergen Philharmonic, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and the Belgrade Philharmonic. He has also served as the principal cellist of the Serbian chamber orchestra and the St. George Strings. Cetkovic is currently an assistant principal cellist with the West Michigan Symphony, and is finishing his doctoral studies at Michigan State University.
The concert is open to the public; admission is free of charge.
Sharon Dinse first came to the Saginaw area to study nursing at Saginaw Valley State University and became one of its first nursing graduates, completing her bachelor’s degree in 1979.
A Saginaw city resident, Dinse is seeking to improve the health of her community. She serves as a part-time nursing instructor at SVSU, and as a coordinator for Get Outside for a Healthy Inside, a nonprofit organization that became an affiliate of the Saginaw Community Foundation in March. The group seeks to increase physical activity in Saginaw, focusing specifically on building parks and maintaining trails.
“I started getting interested in this when I had a community health clinical with students based on the east side of Saginaw,” Dinse said. “One thing that was striking was when I'd give the students a tour of the city and they'd ask, ‘Where are the parks? Why aren't there kids outside,’ even when it was a beautiful day. We decided that a bunch of us needed to get together and do this for the city.”
The SVSU Student Association selected Dinse’s organization as its charity partner for the 2015 fundraising competition with Grand Valley State University. SVSU students will raise funds for the charity from Sunday, Nov. 8 to Friday, Nov. 13. Since the competition began in 2003, SVSU has raised over $300,000 for various charitable causes.
“We're trying to provide lots of nature and lots of outside opportunities for physical activity,” Dinse said. “Saginaw County is the most obese county in the state. We'd like to see a park in every neighborhood in Saginaw.”
This year’s Battle of the Valleys chair at SVSU is Natalie Schneider, a business management major from Saginaw Township. She said that this year is special because the fundraising campaign can help both the community and a young organization in Get Outside For A Healthy Inside.
“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.
Adding parks to the city of Saginaw could benefit everyone from young children needing a place to play to adults looking to stay fit.
“We need to start where we feel the greatest need is,” Dinse said, “and for us, that is having some place to go for physical activity. We believe it can change communities.”
With the money raised through the Battle of the Valleys competition, Get Outside For A Healthy Inside will look to build the foundation for the future of the organization. This includes interviewing children to see what they would want in a park, putting together focus groups and then building a park that will be accessible for everyone.
“We're trying to be realistic and we're trying to do basic things to make the city wonderful,” Dinse said. “The neighborhoods and the citizens are important.”
For more information on the Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition, visit www.svsu.edu/bov. You also may donate online from the website.
For more than 20 years, Dottie Millar’s research has focused on guardianship alternatives for those with developmental disabilities.
“It’s about dignity, self-determination and respect,” she said. It’s a modest statement about an issue that affects hundreds of thousands if not millions of people — those disabled or “exceptional” — as well as those who raise, care for, educate and support them.
A Braun Fellow from 2011 to 2014, the professor of education used that program’s research stipend to ramp up her research. The efforts paid off. Though humble about admitting it, Millar is considered an expert in this area of research.
She will continue her research and publishing, but Millar is now tackling another project, this one closer to home. From asking the question, “can we do more?” was born C of IDEAS. It is an interdisciplinary program involving every SVSU college and partners throughout the region, all with a goal of answering “yes.”
IDEAS is an acronym for “Ingenuity and Discovery through Education, Alliances and Scholarship.” The “C” stands for collaboration and also represents the intent that with multiple partners and bright and engaged people working together, a “sea” of ideas and projects will result.
Planning for C of IDEAS began in summer of 2014. In January 2015, an exploratory meeting took place, followed by a strategic planning meeting in April 2015. There, SVSU, four ISDs (Genesee County, Bay-Arenac, Midland and Saginaw), community mental health agencies (Midland, Bay, Saginaw), The ARC (Midland), Disability Network, special education teachers and parents of kids with developmental disabilities came together to talk about what they could do. Millar says the resulting goals are aggressive, but do-able.
For starters, C of IDEAS will collect, share and exchange information that enables the community to access and improve existing services. In other words, “communication” will be paramount. Additional goals include research, creating support to further educate those involved with disability and, gathering input in order to develop new opportunities, including a survey to help determine needs in the region and a policy summit, hosted on the SVSU campus.
When asked how SVSU students benefit from C of IDEAS, Millar smiles.
“Where do I start?” she muses. “Perhaps engineering students will help adapt a bike for a kid who wants to ride a bike. Occupation Therapy students can work on ways to offer independent living options. Special education majors will benefit from field experiences. Marketing majors can write plans for agencies, political science majors can explore policy issues, and so on.”
Complicated and layered, and yet simple, too: honoring dignity, self-determination, respect. And a university and education professor leading the way.