Matthew Walla impressed national judges, but only because others looked past his timidity three years earlier.
The Saginaw Valley State University senior recently was named one of six students nationally to receive the Outstanding Student of 2014 award from BACCHUS Initiatives of NASPA, a collegiate peer education organization with members from more than 340 colleges and universities nationally.
“I get a smile every time I think about winning that,” said the biology major from Washington, Mich. “That's not what I do the work for, but it's nice to be recognized for it.”
But he nearly wasn't recognized for it. Not just because of the stiff competition nationally. Three years ago, Walla almost missed the cut when he applied for a spot on SVSU's Peer Health Education team, the organization that provided Walla the opportunity to win the award.
Sara Martinez, director of SVSU's Student Wellness Programs, has served as Walla's supervisor since he joined her Peer Health Education team in 2011. She remembers his shaky start well.
“He was the most nervous candidate we have ever had, and I have seen hundreds of interviews,” Martinez said. “We even brought him in to do a second interview because he seemed endearing, but we weren't quite sure why he wanted to be a volunteer in Peer Health Education.”
Martinez said the second impression convinced her and her board to bring him aboard. From that point, Walla's confidence and leadership skills grew rapidly and remarkably.
In his first year, he was instrumental in founding Greeks Advocating the Mature Management of Alcohol, which provides leadership opportunities for students in fraternities and sororities to educate peers about alcohol.
By year two, he joined the campus-wide advisory group overseeing peer health education for alcohol. There, he organized several campus events raising awareness on the subject.
This year, his Peer Health Education focus topic is environmental sustainability, a new initiative within Martinez's programs.
“Matt has taken on this charge and hit the ground running by creating a new group called the Eco Cardinals,” said Martinez, who nominated Walla for the BACCHUS Initiatives award. “This group already has 10 members and put on three programs during the fall semester.”
Walla said he may pursue the environmental sustainability focus as a career after SVSU, where he plans to graduate in May.
“Up until last semester, I was thinking I would attend medical school,” the Romeo High School graduate said. “I took the summer to rethink everything and I came back with a fresh mind. Environmental sustainability has really piqued my interests, and I can apply my biology degree to the environmental world.”
Walla said he plans to eventually pursue a postgraduate degree. That pursuit will most likely come after another summer at the Boy Scouts of America's Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, where he has spent three years teaching both amateur adventurers and scouts how to navigate the Rocky Mountains there.
The job involves one of Walla's strengths: working with people. It's an asset Martinez hopes he utilizes in whatever career he pursues.
“Matt is a peer educator to his core,” she said. “I'm proud that Matt has come this far and I know that this is only the beginning for what will be an amazing journey of helping people, educating people, and trying to leave the world a better place.”
• Marlena Bravender, assistant professor of education technology, presented a workshop on using simulations in education leadership preparation, as well as a paper titled “Technology Innovation in Leadership Preparation” at the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration annual conference, Aug. 5-6 in Camarillo, Calif.
• Michael Busch, ESL specialist, had his article titled “Do adult ESL learners and teacher goals for improving grammar-in-writing correspond?” published in Language Awareness, Vol. 23, Issue 3, Pages 234-254.
• Professor of Modern Foreign Language Anna Dadlez’s three-part series, titled “Women and War,” has been accepted for publication by the Profiles in Diversity Journal. The series describes three women of different countries involved in different ways in World War II. The first part will appear in the journal this year. Two other parts will appear in 2015.
• Monika Dix, assistant professor of Japanese, published an article titled “A Mother’s Voice: The Potency of a Woman in the Jojin Ajari no haha no shu” in the Journal of Japanese Language and Literature, Vol. 48, No. 1, 2014.
• Julie Foss, assistant professor of modern foreign languages, presented the workshop “Speaking Activities for Oral Proficiency Development” at MSU’s Center for Language Education and Research, July 21-23.
• Jason Pagano, assistant professor of chemistry, presented a poster titled “Tubular precipitation patterns from reactant-loaded pellets” at international conferences: Gordon Research Seminars and Gordon Research Conferences in Oscillations and Dynamic Instabilities in Chemical Systems, Melia Golf Vichy Catalan Business and Convention Center, Girona, Spain, July 12 and July 16-17, respectively. SVSU students Patrick Fryfogle and Eric Nelson were Pagano’s co-authors.
• Hong Y. Park, professor of economics, presented three papers based on his research supported by a Braun Fellowship. First, Park co-authored “Knowledge creation structure and new competence creation” with Heyjung Chang and Yong-Seoung Park (both at Kyung Hee University); the paper was presented at the 9th International Forum on Knowledge Asset Dynamics, June 11-13 in Matera, Italy. The paper was included in the conference proceedings.
Also, Park and Il-Hyung Cho, associate professor of computer science & information systems, co-authored “Information technology and user knowledge-driven innovation” with Sook Jung and Dorrie Main (both at Washington State University); the paper was presented at the 2014 Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organization Conference, Aug. 3-4 at the University of Oxford, Oxford, U.K. In addition, Park presented “Knowledge, entrepreneurship and creation of new competence: Foundations of the creative economy,” presented at the 2014 Korea Development Institute Economic Policy Conference, Aug. 8 in Sejong City, Korea. The paper was included in the conference proceedings. The KDI is the top government sponsored policy research institute in Korea.
• Khandaker A. Rahman, assistant professor of computer science & information systems, presented at three conferences. First, in August Rahman presented “Exploring Movement Pattern Based Authentication for Mobile Platform” at the 23rd USENIX Security Symposium, San Diego, Calif. Also, in May he presented “Proposing a Novel Defense Mechanism to Spoof Attacks Targeting Keystroke Dynamics based Cyber-behavioral Biometric Systems” at the 13th Annual Security Conference, Las Vegas. In February, Rahman presented “A Study on Defending Synthetic Spoof Attacks Against Keystroke Dynamics Based Continuous Verification Systems” at the Annual Conference of Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters.
• Scott M. Youngstedt, professor of anthropology, co-edited a book, Saharan Crossroads: Exploring Historical, Cultural, and Artistic Linkages between North and West Africa (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014). This trilingual book (English, French, and Arabic) includes 19 chapters written by authors based in Algeria, Cameroon, France, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa and the U.S.
• Matthew Zivich, professor of art, has a work accepted for showing at the Bottom Feeders and The Distant Self: Alternative Approaches to Self-Portraiture show at Slusser Gallery in the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design, Ann Arbor. Zivich’s photographic work, 30 Croatian Cravats, was accepted by the curator of the show, Trevor King. The show was open to all media and runs through Oct. 8.
• Gladys Zubulake, professor of modern foreign languages, presented a paper titled “Coffee as the universal language to teach culture” at the ASTSP International Conference, Panama City, Panama, July 8-12.
• James Bowers, assistant professor of criminal justice, presented two papers at the annual Midwest Criminal Justice Association meeting, Sept. 25-27 in Chicago. The first paper, which was presented by Bowers and coauthored with SVSU students Sarah Perry, Jon Sand and Michela Andrus, was titled “Michigan Diversion Program Evaluation.” The second paper, which Bowers presented, was titled “Techniques of Neutralization Used by Michigan Sex Offenders.”
• Marlena Bravender, assistant professor of education technology, co-authored an article titled “The Construction of Simulations as an Instructional Activity for Graduate Students in an Education Leadership Program,” published in Leadership and Research in Education: The Journal of the OCPEA, Fall 2014.
• Ann Coburn-Collins, director of the Center for Academic Achievement, led a workshop on “Successful Aging with High Self- Efficacy,” Sept. 25 at Creative 360 in Midland.
Also, Coburn-Collins and adjunct instructors Lester Altevogt, Anne Acker and Lisa Tsay presented “An Adjunct Faculty Learning Community to Increase Intentional Learning,” Oct. 16 at the Lilly Conference in Traverse City.
• Fenobia I. Dallas, associate professor of rhetoric & professional writing, had a book review on The Meaning of Freedom: And Other Difficult Dialogs, by Angela Y. Davis, published in the Journal of African American History, vol. 99, issue 3 (summer 2014), pp. 343-45.
Dallas also presented a paper titled “What is a Citizen Without Civil Rights?: Ignoring the Voices in the ‘Redlined’ Areas” at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History conference, Sept. 26 in Memphis, Tenn.
• Julie Foss, assistant professor of modern foreign languages, presented two sessions, “What Can You Do with the Can-Do Statements?” with Emily Spinelli of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, and “Engage with Your State, Regional and National Professional Organizations” with Viviana Muriel de Bonafede of Detroit Public Schools, at the 50th annual Michigan World Language Association Conference, Oct. 23-24 in Lansing. Foss will serve as MIWLA president in 2015.
• Tim Kenyon, lecturer of English, presented a lecture titled “Words & Pictures: In Defense of Comics” at the Toledo Public Library, Sanger Branch in Toledo, Ohio, Sept. 27. His talk and presentation was part of the library system’s annual celebration of Banned Books Week.
• Edward C. Meisel III, lecturer of chemistry, announced that SVSU’s greenhouse is now certified by the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program. MAEAP was developed by a coalition of agriculture farmers, commodity groups, state and federal agencies and conservation and environmental groups.
Marlena Bravender, a Saginaw Valley State University assistant professor of teacher education, has received a $5,000 grant recently from the National Education Association Foundation to research ways to integrate online language simulations into Spanish foreign language lessons.
She and co-applicant Virginia Martin, a Spanish teacher at Grand Blanc West Middle School in Grand Blanc, this fall began using the funds to design and share lessons for middle school students. The lessons will help students understand authentic situations in which Spanish is spoken, Bravender said.
“I want the students to learn and retain the content,” she said of the project's goal. “What drives me is that they're motivated to learn, and this gives them motivation.”
The simulations - using text, photos, art and audio - set up situations that involve the use of Spanish language, then quizzes students on those situations in English.
“If you respond incorrectly, you might see someone on screen looking at you funny,” Bravender said. “It's kind of like a choose-your-own adventure game. At the end, it produces a score and says which objectives the students are not hitting.”
Students can access the simulations on computers and smart phones alike.
Bravender said other colleagues in education have inquired about the program. As a result, three more classes in K-12 schools in Michigan are in the early stages of using the simulation.
Saginaw's Nouvel Catholic Central High School, Reese Middle School and Holly Academy all have students using the program. Students from grades 4 through 9 are involved.
Bravender and Martin received $5,000 of the $168,000 in NEA Foundation grants recently awarded to 42 educators nationally.
This year, 11 outstanding Michigan educators have been selected for the Gerstacker Fellowship at Saginaw Valley State University. They will receive concentrated leadership training over a one-year period, including a capstone international experience that will send the Fellows to Poland in April.
Previous overseas trips have included Finland, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. These trips involve visits to educational institutions, where participants learn about international educational systems and corporate settings, where they discover how leadership plays out in different cultural and economic settings.
Established in 2005 and funded by an endowment from the Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation of Midland, the participants are known as Gerstacker Fellows and meet monthly on weekends. SVSU faculty from various disciplines instruct the Fellows on subjects dealing with organizational leadership, ethics, finances, communication, human resources, entrepreneurship and education with a global perspective.
Those selected for the Gerstacker Fellowship class of 2015 are:
• Lara J. Dixon, the principal at Troy Athens High School of the Troy School District
• Jennifer E. Egan, an adapted physical/health education teacher at the Woodland Developmental Center in the St. Clair County Regional Education Service Agency
• Erin Eastman, the director of Secondary Programs in the Port Huron Area Schools
• Lisa M. Fosnaugh, the assistant principal at Van Hoosen Middle School in the Rochester Community Schools
• Suzanne M. Grambush, the principal of Riverside Elementary School in the Waterford School District
• Dawn Linden, the executive director of elementary education for Ann Arbor Public Schools
• Kevin E. Moore, the assistant principal at Swan Valley High School in the Swan Valley School District
• Christian Mueller, the assistant principal at Jeannette Junior High School in the Utica Community Schools
• Laurie Pritchard, the principal at Jack Harvey Elementary School in the Utica Community Schools
• Eric Rutherford, the director of Hartley Outdoor Education Center, operated by the Saginaw Intermediate School District
• Vikki Wandmacher, the principal at White Pine Middle School in the Saginaw Township Community Schools
The participants were selected based on past academic and service accomplishments, along with outside recommendations. Each was nominated by a supervisor.
As a result of the Gerstacker endowment, there is no charge to program participants unless they elect to have the educational experience considered for graduate credit.
As a reminder of the diverse and extraordinary talents of our students, please enjoy this SVSU holiday video featuring the vocals of Madalyn McHugh, a music major from Caro, and a few familiar faces of faculty, staff and students.
Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, president at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and noted thought leader on STEM education, will be the keynote speaker for the Great Lakes Bay Regional Martin Luther King, Jr. event at Saginaw Valley State University. He will speak Wednesday, Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.
In addition to serving as president of UMBC since 1992, Hrabowski is a consultant on science and math education to national agencies, universities and school systems. Recently, he was named by President Obama to chair the newly created President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
Time magazine named Hrabowski one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012 and one of American's 10 Best College Presidents in 2008. He was awarded the Heinz Award in 2012 for contributions to improving the “Human Condition,” and holds honorary degrees from more than 20 institutions.
Hrabowski chaired the National Academies' committee that produced the recent report, “Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America's Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads.” He has authored many articles and co-authored two books; his research and publications have a special emphasis on minority participation and performance in science and math.
Born in Birmingham, Ala., Hrabowski was a child leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He completed his doctorate in higher education administration/statistics at age 24.
In addition to Hrabowski’s talk, the program will include the presentation of regional scholarship awards by the Bay Area, Midland Area and Saginaw community foundations to high school seniors who have embodied Martin Luther King's ideals.
The event is free and open to the public. SVSU’s partner hosts include the Bay Area, Midland Area and Saginaw community foundations and chambers of commerce, as well as the Bridge Center for Racial Harmony and the local chapters of the NAACP.
For more information, including a full list of sponsors, visit svsu.edu/mlk.
Wednesday, Dec. 17, 4 to 6 p.m.
First Ward Community Center, 1410 North 12th Street, Saginaw
Students from high schools across the Great Lakes Bay Region and from Saginaw Valley State University will make the holidays a little brighter for children who participate in after school programs at Saginaw’s First Ward Community Center.
The students in the Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute have been volunteering at First Ward during the school year. They will present gifts to their younger counterparts during a holiday celebration Wednesday, Dec. 16 from 4 to 6 p.m. SVSU President Donald Bachand is expected to attend.
“Since its inception, the Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute has partnered with United Way of Saginaw County to help provide others a happier holiday season,” said United Way President/CEO, Cherrie J. Benchley.
“This year the students attending the institute were able to volunteer as mentors and work firsthand with the students at First Ward prior to the holiday season. Not only will the students appreciate the generosity of others, they have enjoyed the time spent working together and getting to know these young leaders. United Way is thankful for each of these volunteers who have learned what it means to ‘Live United’ and have given their time and resources to help others in the Saginaw County community.”
In years past, Youth Leadership Institute students have wrapped and delivered gifts to families selected through United Way’s adopt-a-family program.
The Great Lakes Bay Regional Youth Leadership Institute is a year-long community outreach program facilitated by SVSU's Office of Diversity Programs, in partnership with the Bridge Center for Racial Harmony. The initiative pairs 96 high school students from the region with 35 SVSU mentors. The program provides leadership development experience for youth focused on issues related to the intersection of diversity and leadership.
The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved granting degrees to some 521 students during the Board’s regular meeting Friday, Dec. 12.
The graduating class consists of 399 students who are expected to complete bachelor’s degrees and 122 students expected to receive master's or education specialist degrees. A total of 437 students have indicated that they intend to don regalia and participate in commencement exercises Friday, Dec. 12 and Saturday, Dec. 13.
David E. Kepler, executive vice president, chief sustainability officer and chief information officer for The Dow Chemical Company, will address graduates at both ceremonies.
In other action, the Board:
• Passed a resolution congratulating the SVSU Student Association for their leadership in this year's “Battle of the Valleys” fundraising competition. In one week, SVSU raised more than $32,000 for the Cory Rivard Jr. Promise Foundation, which seeks to educate college students about depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses by working directly with college campuses to increase suicide awareness and prevention.
• Passed a resolution to congratulate the 2014 SVSU women’s soccer team which qualified for the NCAA Division II national tournament and recorded the first NCAA playoff victory in program history.
• Passed a resolution to congratulate the 2014 SVSU men’s soccer team which qualified for the NCAA Division II national tournament and advanced to the “sweet sixteen” for the second time in three years.
• Granted emeritus status to Drew Hinderer, professor of philosophy.
• Approved sabbatical proposals for 15 faculty: Cyrus Aryana, mathematical sciences; John Baesler, history; Vanessa Brooks Herd, social work; Thomas Canale, art; Fenobia Dallas, rhetoric and professional writing; Sally Decker, nursing; Stewart French, political science; Olivier Heubo-Kwenga, mathematical sciences; Beth Jorgensen, rhetoric and professional writing; Emily Kelley, art; Yu Liu, management; Nameeta Mathur, history; Vincent Samarco, English; Steven Sherlock, sociology; James Sullivan, English
• Approved the appointment of board members for previously authorized charter schools.
• Approved the authorization of borrowing funds to meet temporary cash flow deficits.
• Approved compensation for the 2015 calendar year for executive staff.
“The Board has been favorably impressed with the work of President Bachand and his leadership team since Don took office in February,” said Board chair Jeff Martin. “In that short time, SVSU has reached new milestones in fundraising, created new opportunities for students, and continued to strengthen relationships within the Great Lakes Bay Region.”
President Bachand's salary was set at $256,250. Deb Huntley, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will receive a salary of $211,000, and James G. Muladore, executive vice president for administration and business affairs, will receive a salary of $205,373.
Posted Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 6:40 PM EST
We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Seth Thomas, a biology major from Dryden, whose body was discovered in First Year Suites shortly before 1 p.m. today. President Bachand personally spoke with Seth’s mother and father this afternoon and extended condolences to them on behalf of the university.
There were no obvious signs of foul play. University Police continue to investigate. The Saginaw County medical examiner has tentatively scheduled an autopsy for Thursday, Dec. 4.
Students have organized a candlelight vigil for 10 p.m. (Tuesday, Dec. 2) in the courtyard of First Year Suites. All members of the campus community are welcome to attend.
The Student Counseling Center has been offering grief counseling to students and staff today and their staff will remain on campus until they have met with all students requesting their services.
Posted Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 2:42 PM EST
We regret to inform you that a student died on campus today. His body was discovered by his roommate shortly before 1 p.m. in the First Year Suites, where the student resided on campus. There were no obvious signs of foul play. University Police are investigating.
The Student Counseling Center is open and available for students who may find their services of use.
We will provide additional information on this page as it becomes available.