Skip to main content Skip to footer

All News/Archive: Recent News

All News/Archive - Newsroom

May 11, 2022

SVSU graduating seniors: Alejandra Fulgencio

From: Saginaw

High school: Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy; Great Lakes Bay Early College

Major: Biology

Future: Has applied to Officer Candidates School with the Marine Corps


A Saginaw Valley State University graduate has followed in her mother’s and older sister’s footsteps by walking across the graduation stage.

Alejandra Fulgencio, a biology major from Saginaw, has been familiar with campus since she was a little girl.

“I came to SVSU because I grew up here. My mom graduated from here herself many years ago and would bring my siblings and I with her to her classes. Being a single mother was difficult for her but through it all, it rooted the idea of college for me very early on. My sister also graduated from here in 2020, so I knew I too would one day walk across the stage.”

Alejandra’s mother, Lucia Vargas, graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in social work. Marcelina Fulgencio, an SVSU admissions representative and Alejandra’s sister, also studied social work, earning her bachelor’s degree in 2020.

Alejandra attended Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy, then entered Great Lakes Bay Early College, which set her up for financial success.

“What makes me proud that I am graduating is the fact that I finished this achievement at 20 years old, debt-free. My parents have always stressed the importance of college, and I can finally pat myself on the back for successfully getting through it.”

While at SVSU, Alejandra made the academic dean’s list multiple semesters while participating in student organizations.

“I truly enjoyed volunteering at Special Olympics for a few years. I also held an executive position in Health Professions Association and was a part of the 2020-2021 cohort of the Wolohan Fellowship in Leadership and Service.”

Through the Wolohan Fellowship, Alejandra and nine other SVSU students rehabilitated the exterior of a 127-year-old home in Saginaw as part of a neighborhood revitalization effort in the summer of 2021.

For a long time, Alejandra thought she knew what she wanted to be when she grew up.

“When the time came for me to make a few choices it was a lot harder than I anticipated. Health Professions Association is the reason I discovered that my true purpose isn't what I thought it was. To this day I continue to search for the exact purpose of mine, yet I am one step closer in the right direction.”

The people at SVSU are Alejandra’s favorite attribute of the university — specifically, Heidi Lang, SVSU pre-health professions advisor; Michael Coote, SVSU assistant professor of chemistry; Patrick Pan, SVSU professor of mathematics; Jim Dwyer, special assistant to the president for professional development, and the entire SVSU Office of Admissions.

“Each of these individuals are the reason I will be graduating; all have helped in big or small ways. The small words of encouragement, tutoring in my classes, getting me in connections with the right person, everything has led me to this day.”

Alejandra has applied to the Officer Candidates School to become a Marine Corps officer.

“Twenty years from now I will tell people how much I loved SVSU. The fact that campus is small was such a blessing. All the opportunities and support I had here was unlike any other place. I am proud to be an alumnus from here.”


May 6, 2022

SVSU Board approves investments to nursing simulation and advanced automation lab

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved spending up to $2 million to fund enhancements to the university’s nursing simulation center and its advanced automation and technology laboratory during the Board’s regular meeting Friday, May 6.

Much of the funding – $1.75 million – comes from a Michigan Enhancement Grant to support workforce and talent development projects in critical areas. SVSU will contribute $250,000 toward the project from existing reserves for capital projects.

The Board also approved spending $460,000 to make needed improvements to network infrastructure in Pioneer Hall, Gilbertson Hall and the Health & Human Services building.

The Board also approved adding new bachelor’s degree programs in computer engineering, and in environmental studies and sustainability. Both programs will begin with the 2022 fall semester.

In other action, the Board:

  • Approved granting undergraduate and graduate degrees.
  • Approved granting an honorary degree to Weiju Chen, director of the First Affiliated Hospital of Jinan University in China; SVSU and Jinan have longstanding partnerships in the nursing field.
  • Extended SVSU’s existing strategic plan through 2022.
  • Approved a revised Code of Student Conduct for the 2022-23 academic year.
  • Approved a revised alcohol and other drugs policy for the 2022-23 academic year.
  • Approved the reauthorization of four public school academies: Branch Line School, Charlevoix Montessori Academy for the Arts; Faxon Academy and Saginaw Preparatory Academy.
  • Approved the sale of property at 7371 Glen Eagle Drive.
  • Elected Board officers for 2022-23, as follows: Vicki Rupp, chair; Raj Wiener, vice chair; Bhushan Kulkarni, secretary; Lindsay Eggers, treasurer.
  • Passed a resolution thanking Thomas Metiva, president, and members of the SVSU Student Association for their service during the 2021-22 academic year.

May 6, 2022

SVSU adds new degree program in environmental studies and sustainability

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved adding a degree program in environmental studies and sustainability Friday, May 6. The new Bachelor of Arts program will be beginning with the fall 2022 semester. 

“We’re excited to offer this new degree program because it will satisfy employer demand and student interest,” said Marty Arford, professor of geography and chair of the new department. “The environmental studies and sustainability major is based in social sciences and will complement SVSU’s environmental science program, which was approved by the Board of Control in 2020.”

The interdisciplinary environmental studies and sustainability major covers a broad range of knowledge and skills. Students in the program will take courses in the departments of biology, chemistry, communications, economics, history, mathematics, philosophy, political science, rhetorical and professional writing and sociology. No new courses are needed to support this major.

Arford explained that the environmental studies and sustainability program provides a pathway to environmental careers for students who are oriented toward the social sciences more than the physical sciences.

“This program links social sciences and natural sciences, which is the very nature of geography,” he said.

SVSU students who earn a degree in environmental studies and sustainability will be prepared for careers in the environmental field, such as planning, policy, geospatial analysis and conservation in the governmental, nonprofit and private sectors.

Many students in the new program and the existing environmental science major will have opportunities through the Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute at SVSU. Both programs will collaborate on research projects and share resources, especially those involving water quality in the Saginaw Bay.

For more information on the environmental studies and sustainability program at SVSU, visit

May 6, 2022

SVSU adds degree program in computer engineering

A new degree program at Saginaw Valley State University will prepare students for the growing field of computer engineering. The SVSU Board of Control Friday approved adding a new Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering degree during its regular meeting Friday, May 6. Students may begin enrolling in the program, offered through SVSU’s College of Science, Engineering & Technology, for the fall 2022 semester.   

“The computer engineering field continues to be stable, and qualified employees are consistently in high demand,” said Rajani Muraleedharan, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.  

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an average of roughly 4,500 job openings each year over the next 10 years. Computer engineers work in a variety of fields, including analysis, design, manufacturing, testing, and research and development. 

Muraleedharan said employers in Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region support the creation of a computer engineering major.  

“Our electrical and computer engineering advisory board unanimously supported the program initiative and provided valuable feedback on its design,” she said.

The advisory board includes professionals from a number of regional companies, including Consumers Energy, General Motors, Halla Mechatronics, Hemlock Semiconductor, Magna International, Means Industries, Nexteer Automotive, Savant Group and Wineman Technology Inc. 

Muraleedharan added that community need also factored into the decision to offer the new major.  

“By adding the new program, we can offer a computer engineering degree to students who prefer the size, proximity and cost of SVSU,” she said. “Increasing demand for computer engineers is driven, in part, by growth in the automotive, electric aviation, Industry 4.0 (the industrial internet of things) and health care sectors, which are well-represented in the region.”

National accreditors also encouraged SVSU to develop the new program.

“During the 2017 accreditation visit by ABET, the chair of the committee recommended that SVSU consider a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering degree program,” said Andrew Chubb, dean of the College of Science, Engineering & Technology. “The ABET committee recognized that SVSU already had the courses and faculty in place – including faculty who perform research in emerging technologies – making this degree program a natural fit. This new program will open up a whole new sector of industry for SVSU graduates.”  

The computer engineering curriculum is supported by the departments of Chemistry, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, Physics and Philosophy. Nearly all of the courses required for a major in computer engineering are already offered at SVSU through the electrical engineering and computer science departments. One new course ― a modification of a course previously offered in the electrical engineering program ― is being added to SVSU’s course offering. 

For more information about the computer engineering program at SVSU, visit

May 5, 2022

SVSU anticipates joyous commencement ceremonies

When Alejandra Fulgencio participates in one of two commencement ceremonies at Saginaw Valley State University on Friday, May 6, she will join the ranks of Cardinal alumni that include her mother and sister.

“I came to SVSU because I grew up here,” said the biology major from Saginaw. “My mom graduated from here herself many years ago and would bring my siblings and me with her to her classes. Being a single mother was difficult for her but through it all, it rooted the idea of college for me very early on. My sister also graduated from here in 2020 so I knew I too would one day walk across the stage.”

Fulgencio’s mother, Lucia Vargas, graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in social work. Her sister, Marcelina Fulgencio, also studied social work, earning her bachelor’s degree in 2020.

Fulgencio is one of more than 900 SVSU students who have registered to participate in the two commencement ceremonies. Nearly 1,080 students are expected to complete degree requirements.

Graduates in the College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences, College of Education and College of Science, Engineering & Technology will participate in commencement exercises at 12:00 p.m. The second ceremony – for graduates of the Carmona College of Business and College of Health & Human Services – begins at 4:30 p.m. Both events will take place in SVSU’s Ryder Center.

In keeping with tradition, President Donald J. Bachand will congratulate each graduate as he or she crosses the stage.
“Our graduates have worked hard to complete their degrees, and Commencement is a truly joyous occasion for them and their families,” said Donald Bachand, SVSU president. “We look forward to celebrating with them.”

During the 4:30 p.m. ceremony, an honorary Doctorate in Nursing Practice degree will be conferred upon Weiju Chen for her decades of work to support nursing and nursing education in China and the longstanding partnership between Jinan University in Guangzhou, China, and Saginaw Valley State University.

Chen serves as the director of the First Affiliated Hospital of Jinan University, chairman and vice dean of the Nursing College of Jinan University, and president of the Guangdong Province Nursing Association. In 1993 she was appointed to serve as a visiting scholar at SVSU for one year and has since worked tirelessly to support the partnership between Jinan University and SVSU.

SVSU’s Director of Career Services Teresa George is optimistic about the employment prospects for this year’s SVSU graduates.

“SVSU offers degree programs that align with 40 of the high-demand, high-wage careers identified on the Michigan’s Hot 50 list published by the Department of Technology, Management & Budget,” she said. “Our graduates are well-prepared to fill critical jobs in the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond. The companies we partner with appreciate our alumni for the essential skills they bring to the table – skills like teamwork, communication, critical thinking and problem solving.”

SVSU also will provide a live video-stream of each ceremony.

April 22, 2022

SVSU celebrates excellence in student writing

The University Writing Program at Saginaw Valley State University celebrated the writing achievements of student writers with 2022 University Writing awards on Wednesday, April 20.

“In the nearly 25 years that the University Writing Awards have been presented, we have recognized almost 400 excellent student writers,” said Kimberly Lacey, associate professor of English and coordinator of the awards program. “These students ― and all who were nominated ― should be commended for their commitment to expressing themselves clearly through the written word.”

The Ruth and Ted Braun Awards for Writing Excellence at SVSU were established through a gift from Hugo E. “Ted” and Ruth Braun to create incentives for outstanding student writing and opportunities for student writers to be recognized and published. Ruth Braun, a former member of the SVSU Board of Control, attended the ceremony to recognize the student writers.

Seven students won Ruth and Ted Braun Awards for Writing Excellence:

  • Graduate winner ― Dylan North, a master’s-level occupational therapy major from Flint
  • College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences, Category 1 ― Garrett Lewis, a history major from Marquette
  • College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences, Category 2 ― Brianna Vanderstelt, a psychology major from Middleville
  • Scott L. Carmona College of Business ― Luke Rambo, a finance major from Marquette
  • College of Health and Human Services, Category 1 ― John DeOpsomer, a nursing major from Bay City
  • College of Science, Engineering & Technology ― Megan Thiravong, a mechanical engineering major from Rochelle, Illinois.
  • General Education Category ― Madison Swiger, a psychology major from Cadillac

Diane Boehm Writing Awards for e-Portfolios are presented annually to outstanding to recognize the creative and effective integration of writing and multimedia. Diane Boehm, director emerita of the SVSU Writing Center, established and funds the award. Boehm was on hand to address the participants.

  • The graduate-level award was presented to Spencer Morris of Flint. He is pursuing his Master of Social Work degree.
  • Madelene Cifrulak, a nursing major from Midland, won the undergraduate award.

Megan Draper, a creative writing major from Marne, east of Grand Haven, won the Seitz Creative Writing Scholarship, which is awarded to juniors or seniors with a major or minor in creative writing. The scholarship was established and is supported through gifts from Jim and Melissa Seitz. Submissions were judged by Tim Kenyon and Tamara Migan, lecturers of English, and Vincent Samarco, professor of English.

Tyner Prizes are presented annually in three categories ― fiction, poetry and nonfiction ― to work nominated by faculty in the humanities: art, communication, English, modern foreign languages, music and theatre. Judges for the Tyner Awards were Daniel Cook, professor of English, and Tim Kenyon and Tamara Migan, lecturers of English.

This year’s winners are:

  • Matthew Chappel, an English major from Marlette, won in two categories – creative nonfiction and poetry.
  • Megan Draper, a creative writing major from Marne, east of Grand Haven, was awarded the prize for fiction.

Two students received honorable mention recognition for analytical nonfiction:

  • Hannah Mose, a rhetoric and professional writing major from Chesaning
  • Christiana Welter, and English major from Bay City

The Robert S.P. Yien First Year Writing Awards showcase outstanding work by first year composition students in ENGL 080 and 111. Yien served as SVSU’s vice president for Academic Affairs for 27 years prior to his retirement. Papers were judged by Emily Beard-Bohn, associate professor of English; William DeHerder, director of the Writing Center; Sherrin Frances, professor of English; and Tim Kenyon, lecturer of English.

Awards were presented in six categories:

  • ENGL 080 ― Emily Lavoie of St. Clair Shores, a biology major
  • ENGL 111 Research ― Robert P. Powers, a psychology major from Unionville
  • ENGL 111 Analysis ― Miranda Smith, a finance major from Sanford
  • ENGL 111 Narrative ― Stephanie Strong of Howell, a nursing major
  • ENGL 111 Multimodal ― Madolyn Glocksine, a biology major from Essexville
  • ENGL 111 Wolff-Harmon Award ― Krzysztof Hejno a computer science major from Frankenmuth

Honorable mention recognition in the ENGL 111 Analysis category went to five students:

  • Lutor Abwa, a nursing major from Nigeria
  • Alexia Batayeh, a biology major from St. Clair Shores
  • Alexis Gohr, a nursing major from Saginaw
  • Jaidyn Short of Bridgeport
  • Chester Surles, a finance major from Saginaw

Ryan Schott, an accounting major from Flushing, won honorable mention in the ENGL 111 Narrative category.

In addition to the students who were recognized, Vincent Samarco, professor of English, was presented with the Innovative Writing in Teaching Award, which recognizes faculty whose work has made a significant contribution to the development of student writers at SVSU.

The University Writing Program at SVSU provides students with the resources to develop their writing and critical thinking skills, supports faculty engagement in best practices in the teaching of writing, and encourages all members of the university community to value writing by coordinating various activities and programs across campus.

Additional judges for this year’s awards included Professor of Nursing Sally Decker; Associate Professor of English Veronika Drake; Associate Professor of Biology Sylvia Fromherz; Professor of Social Work Mark Giesler; Professor of English Chris Giroux; Associate Professor of Mathematics Amy Hlavacek; Assistant Professor of Nursing Sherry Kaufman; Associate Professor of English Kimberly Lacey; and Assistant Professor of Nursing Emily Larocque. Two students also served as judges: Sydney Cheney, a professional and technical writing major from Saginaw, and Amelia Corne, an education major from Newport.

April 21, 2022

SVSU B.A.T.S. Project tackles difficult community challenges

Saginaw Valley State University is celebrating the 10th anniversary of a unique research initiative designed to involve students from different academic disciplines in identifying collaborative solutions to community challenges in Saginaw and other urban settings. The 2022 B.A.T.S. Project ― Business, Art, Theatre and Social Work Reinvent Urban Communities ― is designed to foster creative thinking and problem solving through a community and leadership development project.

Students and faculty from the academic programs involved will hold a presentation program on Thursday, April 21 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public. 

Forty-two students will present the results of their research during the event, which includes poster presentations, skits, and the unveiling of murals that will be hung in SVSU’s College of Health and Human Services building. The presentations will be judged on teamwork, creativity, audience engagement, and research and clarity of message. The judges are Dominic Monastiere, Boutell/First Merit Bank Executive in Residence at SVSU’s Scott L. Carmona College of Business, and Sammy Brobbey, supply chain specialist at Microsoft.

Launched in 2012, the B.A.T.S. Project began as a means to promote collaboration across different curricula at SVSU. That year, the project involved students from business, art and theatre; this year, social work students are included, as well.  

“BATS began in conversations between faculty about our very focused majors interacting and learning from each other's disciplines,” explained Mike Mosher, professor of art/communication and multimedia and one of the SVSU faculty involved in the creation of the project. 

This year’s semester-long research project had four teams of students analyzing and addressing different community challenges: 

  • Transportation in the Saginaw area, including access and accommodations for persons with disabilities 
  • Food insecurity in Saginaw, including food deserts and temporary food assistance 
  • Abuse and neglect 
  • K-12 schools and student success 

Abigail Walk, a business management major from Saginaw, said, “This collaborative research project has taught me the importance of synthesizing information, clear deadlines and communication, the impact of a positive attitude, and being a team player to help out whenever it is needed regardless of my experience on the subject. I learned to step up even if I am not an actor, artist or a social worker.” 

Alexis T. Krzeminski, a finance major from Warren, said her team hopes to increase awareness of sensitive topics facing the community and to inspire change. 

“I was assigned the study focus area of transportation. I have learned how fortunate myself and others are to have a car but realizing that not everyone is as fortunate as us. We must be grateful for the things we take for granted." 

Students involved in the B.A.T.S. Project include business students who are part of the Vitito Global Leadership Institute, students in Mosher’s Art 433 Community Murals class, social work students in the SW316 – Social Welfare Policy I class, and students in the Theatre 336 – Intermediate Acting class.

Mosher said the project helps art students make connections between their work and the needs of the communities where their art will be displayed. 

“It's important for Art 433 Community Murals students to learn to develop and produce themes and imagery with and for other ‘neighborhoods.’ This year, the B.A.T.S. teams participated in developing painted panels for the Social Work suite in the Health and Human Services building.”

Joseph Ofori-Dankwa, the Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Professor in the Carmona College of Business and one of the architects of the B.A.T.S. Project, said SVSU students have gained a lot of exposure to and a greater understanding of community operations through the project. 

“In the past, B.A.T.S. participants have worked with community organizations such as United Way of Saginaw County, First Ward Community Center, Pets Angels Adoption and Rescue, Autism Center of Michigan, Edgewood Assisted Living Center and the Yellow Ribbon Guard,” he said. “Work with First Ward Community Center, for example, has included helping mentor and place some young leaders from Saginaw on boards of corporations and organizations such as the Saginaw Community Foundation.” 

Associate Professor of Social Work Catherine Macomber added that the social work students worked with mentors from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at SVSU.

“These older adults have worked with the social work students to frame these policy issues in terms of impact,” Macomber said. “The OLLI mentors are able to help the social work students understand the broader implications of policies and how the reach goes well beyond the immediacy of a tax payment or a ride on a bus designed to meet the needs of persons with disabilities.  The collaboration with OLLI mentors has been an integral part of the broader understanding of policy advocacy toward social justice.”

In addition to the team presentations, the B.A.T.S. presentation program will include performances by the Saginaw High School Drumline, remarks by SVSU President Donald Bachand and Provost Deborah Huntley, and an update on the future of the B.A.T.S. Project by SVSU faculty.  

Registration is not required for this free public event. 

A list of participating students accompanies this release.

April 12, 2022

FIRST Robotics state championship returns to SVSU, bringing $1 million in economic impact

Saginaw Valley State University will welcome 160 high school robotics teams from across the state for the FIRST in Michigan state championships. The robotics event is expected to draw about 5,000 high school students and 8,000 total visitors to campus each day of the competition, which begins Thursday, April 14 and runs through Saturday, April 16. Teams will arrive and set up their “pits” to work on their robots Wednesday, April 13.  

This marks the fourth year SVSU has hosted the state competition. The Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau has estimated economic impact of at least $1 million for previous events.  

As an organization, FIRST in Michigan seeks to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators. FIRST in Michigan’s mission is to establish a sustainable robotics competition team at every high school in the state. Teams compete in qualifying district events, with the winners determined by a point system. The 160 top-ranked teams advance to the state championship. Winners at the state level will advance to the FIRST championship in Houston. 

Current SVSU student Brooke Olesen, a secondary education major from St. Joseph, Michigan, learned much through her participation in FIRST Robotics.

“Being able to communicate with people at various levels was essential with FIRST,” she said. “Using fancy language to show off how much you knew didn't benefit anyone--just like in education. Being able to use language with my students that they will understand is essential for them to learn.” 

“The skill of time management is something all FIRST Robotics students know,” Olesen added. “Only having six weeks to prepare for a competition is not a lot of time, but we made it work every year. Preparing lessons and making sure those lessons are the appropriate time length is vital for teaching. I don't get more time than my allotted class time, so time management is huge.” 

SVSU faculty, staff and students volunteer their time to support local schools and education programs, and more than 300 individuals  faculty, staff, students and alumni  have volunteered during previous championships on campus. 

During competition, three teams compete using autonomous and remote-controlled robots piloted by students, battling to earn points during a two-minute round. 

The theme for the 2022 FIRST Robotics competition is “RAPID REACTSM,” sponsored by Boeing. In the game, teams compete to score “cargo” balls into upper and lower hubs. As a final challenge, the robots traverse the rungs of their hangar. 

The anticipated daily schedule is as follows: 

Wednesday, April 13: Teams will begin arriving to unload their robots and set up their pits (workspaces for making adjustments to the robots) around 2 p.m. and may work on their robots in the SVSU Fieldhouse until 9 p.m. 

Thursday, April 14: Practice matches will be held in the O’Neill Arena of SVSU’s Ryder Center from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Opening ceremonies will begin at 1 p.m., and competition matches will run from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. 

Friday, April 15: Matches are scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Teams that qualified for the playoffs will form alliances that evening to prepare to compete on Saturday. 

Saturday, April 16: Opening ceremonies will be held at 9 a.m. Playoff matches are scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The teams that qualify for the finals will calibrate their robots at 2 p.m., and the final playoff rounds will begin at 2:30 p.m. The awards presentations will follow, staring sometime after 4 p.m.  

For up-to-date information, visit

April 8, 2022

SVSU Theatre Department offers students a chance to improve their skills at the Southeastern Theatre Conference

Ten students from Saginaw Valley State University’s Theatre Department honed their skills at the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) annual convention from March 9-13 in Memphis.  

The convention offered theatre practitioners a wide variety of sessions, including workshops, design competitions, networking, auditions and interviews, and more. Workshops covered a wide range of topics from costume design and stage directing to musical theatre coaching and acting.  

The students in attendance included: 

  • Olivia Greanias, a theatre major from Saginaw 
  • Abbey Kuhns, a theatre major from North Street, Michigan
  • Adam Coggins, a theatre major from Swartz Creek 
  • Brielle Myles-Williams, a Spanish major from Saginaw 
  • Trinity Caldwell, a theatre major from Saginaw 
  • Dale Peters, a communications major from Bay City 
  • Zoe Gilbert, a theatre major from Hemlock 
  • Scout McCulloch, an education major from Port Huron 

This is the first time the school has organized an official group to attend the conference. Assistant Professor of Theatre Peggy Mead Finizio described some reasons students wanted to attend. 

“There are some students went to develop their acting training and skills, some went to gain information about theatre design and technology, and some went  seeking internships and jobs,” she said.  

“This year, there was funding through the SVSU Foundation Resource grant I received for USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology) and SETC,” Mead said. “This funding only covers a portion of the cost of the trips.” 

The students were able to apply to the student association for additional funding to cover the rest of the trip. 

In addition to the workshops, participants were able to attend an address by two keynote speakers, Jim LeBrecht and Sally Cade Holmes.  

LeBrecht, a sound designer, filmmaker, and disability rights activist, co-directed and co-produced the Oscar-nominated documentary “Crip Camp.” He began his theatre career in 1978. 

Holmes is a two-time Tony Award-winning producer. She has worked on shows such as “Hadestown,” “The Inheritance” and “Frankie and Johnny in Clair de Lune.”  

“Distinguished Designers,” such as Oana Botez and Narelle Sissons, were also featured during the convention. 

In the past, students who have attended the convention have found auditioning workshops to be the most helpful.  

“The last time SVSU students attended SETC, they attended workshops on acting and audition skills,” Mead Finizio said. “They found this very beneficial.” 

Kuhns attended as a media designer. 

“I was interested in the projections-related sessions,” she said. “The most important thing I learned from these sessions was how to troubleshoot projections in an outdoor theatre.” 

Her favorite part was getting to meet new people. 

“My favorite part was meeting new people through the networking events,” she said. “Theatre is a very collaborative industry, so the relationships you build now might become a future job opportunity.” 

The conference gave Kuhns confidence in her abilities.  

“I attended the conference mainly because I felt that I needed to gain more experience in my field,” she said. “Coming out of my first production as a designer, I was struggling with imposter syndrome. Meeting other emerging artists helped me feel more confident in my abilities.” 

SETC is a nationwide organization that helps connect theatre practitioners with training and resources. 


April 6, 2022

SVSU students present research at national geography conference

Three Saginaw Valley State University students recently virtually presented their faculty-led research studies at the 2022 American Association of Geographers annual meeting. They were among the more than 4,500 presentations, posters and workshops at this year’s conference 

“When a student presents their research at a national conference, they are presenting to experts in their field of study. It is a prestigious opportunity, because the student’s work gets seen and evaluated by people who know the field really well,” said Julie Commerford, SVSU assistant professor of geography. 

Colton Bragg, an ecology, evolution and organismal biology major from West Branch, worked on a project with Rhett Mohler, SVSU associate professor of geography. The project, “Using Drone Imagery of Leaf Phenology to Identify Tree Species,” was funded through a Bay Area Community Foundation Grant

“Our study was a proof of concept to test whether drone imagery of leaf change could be used to identify tree species. While there is still room for improvement, I believe we demonstrated that this method could be a viable option for tree identification in forest management,” said Bragg. 

Bragg found the research process challenging at some points but overall very rewarding.  

“Physically collecting the GPS data was fairly straightforward; however, the analysis of the data was more complicated. It was cool to see the project develop from an idea to a final outcome.” 

Bragg plans to graduate in 2024 and attend graduate school. 

Haley Mueller, a biology major from Bridgeport, worked on a project with Commerford. The project, “Using Pollen Ratios as Indicators of Precipitation in the Eastern Deciduous Forests of North America,” was funded by SVSU’s Undergraduate Research Program. 

Mueller found working on a faculty-led study inspiring. 

“It was a great way to get your feet wet in research because you had guidance and someone who always supported you,” she said. “Additionally, the faculty member is an expert in their field, so they understand all the different ways to test different hypothesis and can introduce you to their field of study quite well.” 

Mueller was nervous to present at a national conference, but her fears were eased when other researchers asked questions about her research. 

 “It was great meeting some of the other names I have heard mentioned in that field of study and the exciting conversations we had about my research and pollen research in general. I really liked how their questions made me think about my study in different ways, and they offered different techniques to use to improve my study.” 

Commerford said presenting research at any conference as an undergraduate helps students develop their communication and critical thinking skills.  

“This is because they have to be able to explain the deeper details of their study, as well as how the study fits within the bigger picture. In other words, one person might ask them how they conducted some specific part of their analysis, while another person may ask why their study is relevant or important to society as a whole. When students present research at a conference, they often are asked both types of questions.” 

Mueller plans to graduate in December 2023. 

“Presenting at this national conference gives me ideas for additional studies, as well as introduces me to the way conferences work,” Mueller said. 

Charlotte Schulz, a biology major from Deckerville, also worked on a project with Mohler. The project, “Using UAV Imagery to Examine the Spread of the Invasive Phragmites australis in the Crow Island State Game Area in Saginaw, Michigan, USA,” was funded by an SVSU Faculty-Led Research Grant. 

Schulz was drawn to the research project because of her love of wetlands and being outdoors.  

“I love our Michigan environment and wanted to learn more about the flora that makes up a wetland here in Saginaw. My research study will be used locally to better understand and manage Phragmites australis, an invasive species at Crow Island.” 

Schulz liked working on a faculty-led study. 

“Dr. Mohler helped me set daily or weekly goals for my research project and helped guide me through any obstacles that I came by.” 

Schulz plans to graduate in May 2022 and pursue a career in teaching. 

“Presenting at a national conference has given me the opportunity to communicate geographical findings to others, and I can use these communication skills in my future classroom to help educate and inspire students.” 

Go to page: