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February 7, 2020

SVSU Recognizes National School Counselor Week

As part of National School Counselor Week, we are recognizing some of our stellar SVSU alumni. Samantha Brunnschweiler is a 2005 Cardinal alumna who inspires and empowers her students at Haslett High School. She earned her B.A. in Special Education from SVSU and then went on to earn her M.A. in School Counseling from CMU. “SVSU’s holistic education program allowed me to gain experiences K-12, which helped to shape the direction that led me to school counseling,” she said.

Her dedication to fostering student success and development fuels her passion for counseling. “One of the many things I enjoy about the school counseling realm is that each day presents itself with a different way to impact students. While a school counselor doesn’t see students on a regular basis like a classroom teacher, the opportunity to celebrate the small successes that can go unnoticed is second to none,” she said.

Brunnschweiler remains connected with her alma mater and continues the legacy of Red Pride. “As a school counselor, my district continues to partner with SVSU. We are grateful for the admission representatives that take the time to help our students,” she said. As a former SVSU student-athlete on the women’s tennis team, her engagement with Cardinal athletics has come full circle as well. Brunnschweiler and her husband coach Haslett’s tennis teams, and one of their former players is a standout 2019 graduate of the current SVSU tennis team.

The ability to help students grow and the challenge of finding the best way to support each individual student keeps Brunnschweiler inspired in her career. “Working as a school counselor requires great flexibility in thinking and approach. There are countless solutions for any given question in this field; however, the challenge is finding which combination of solutions provides the greatest amount of academic and socioeconomic support for a student,” she said. This week we celebrate the hard work and commitment of our dedicated school counselors, especially alumni like Brunnschweiler.  

February 5, 2020

SVSU Black History Month event showcases history of racism and ‘Hateful Things’

The painful and racist legacy of Jim Crow-era America will be on display as part of Saginaw Valley State University Black History Month-themed events featuring historians sharing with the community about the “hateful things” from the nation’s past. 
At the center of that series of events will be guest speaker David Pilgrim, founder of the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University. Elements of that museum will be on display as part of a traveling exhibition at SVSU’s Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum that opens prior to Pilgrim’s keynote presentation — titled “Hateful Things” — scheduled Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m. in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall.
This presentation , sponsored by the SVSU Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum, is free and open to the public. 
Jim Crow laws were segregation laws, rules and customs applied after Reconstruction ended in 1877 and continued until the mid-1960s to restrict African-Americans' freedom and wages. The segregation — between blacks and whites — was enforced with signage in parks, public transportation, cemeteries, theaters and restaurants. 
The traveling exhibition at SVSU will be open to the public during a kick-off event Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 8 p.m. in the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum. Ken Jolly, SVSU professor of history, will present a brief history of the "Hateful Things" exhibit there. This event also is free and open to the public.  
Then there will be an exhibition reception — titled “Hateful Things: An Evening with Dr. Pilgrim, founder of the Jim Crow Museum” — on Wednesday, Feb. 5, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum. There, Pilgrim will sign his book, “Understanding Jim Crow: Using Racist Memorabilia to Teach Tolerance and Promote Social Justice.” Free refreshments and a cash bar will be provided. This event, co-sponsored by the SVSU Office of Diversity Programs, is free and open to the public. 
Pilgrim is the founder and director of the Jim Crow Museum, the nation’s largest, publicly accessible collection of racist objects, located at Ferris State University. There, he serves as vice president for diversity and inclusion.
Pilgrim has been featured by media outlets such as NPR, Time, BBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times.
For more information about the “Hateful Things” traveling exhibit, go to
A TEDx Talk video featuring Pilgrim discussing the origins of the museum is available at the following URL:

February 3, 2020

On eve of Mardi Gras, SVSU concert to feature New Orleans music influence

Less than three weeks before Mardi Gras, audiences at Saginaw Valley State University concert will hear New Orleans jazz-inspired music when Kanola Band performs on campus.
The group will be performing Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU's Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. The concert is free and open to the public.
The first part of the band's name — “Ka-” — represents its city of origin, Kalamazoo. The rest of the band's name — "-nola" — references New Orleans, Louisiana, a community known for music associated with Mardi Gras.
Knowledgeable in a diverse range of jazz music, Kanola Band engages in styles such as "traditional dixieland," "soulful funk" and "blasting brass band" music.
The Feb. 5 program will feature familiar sounds associated with New Orleans including songs such as “Do You Know What It Mean to Miss New Orleans,” “Bourbon St. Parade” and “Tootie Ma.”
One of Kanola Band's members, woodwind musician Seth Ebersole, is an SVSU artist in residence.
Kanola Band has performed worldwide at venues such as Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York, Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York, Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
The group has recorded and toured with musicians such as Doc Severinsen & His Big Band, Etienne Charles Big Band, Curtis Stigers, The Henry Mancini Institute Jazz Orchestra, Tri-Fi, and Knee Deep Shag.
For more information on the concert and SVSU's music program, call (989) 964-4159 or visit

January 29, 2020

SVSU Braun Fellowship to support research re-examining century-old math theory, stereotypes in environmentalism

Each year, two Saginaw Valley State University faculty members are empowered by the SVSU Braun Fellowship to develop their research and support scholarly pursuits that benefit communities across the globe.
This year, Olivier Heubo-Kwegna, professor of mathematics, and Ross Singer, associate professor of communication, received these grants to help further their respective research projects that explore a nearly century-old math theory as well as gender-based stereotypes in environmentalism.
The Braun Fellowship program awards $37,500 over three years in funding for a research project for each recipient; support that includes funding for research tools, expenses, equipment, and travel.
Heubo-Kwegna’s research will attempt to address a solution within an algebraic theory that has eluded his mathematician peers. That theory, known as “multiplicative ideal theory,” began to take shape in 1930 when well-known German mathematicians Wolfgang Krull, Heinz Prüfer and Emmy Noether first began to work on the ideal systems at the core of the theory. Heubo-Kwegna hopes to address one of the mathematical problems within that theory that concerns complex arrangements of mathematical “rings,” which are structures used in abstract algebra. He hopes his work will help bring an end to a decades-old “open problem.”
"In mathematics, an open problem is any challenging problem that can be stated clearly and unambiguously — and that the research community believes there is a clear solution — but after some years, no one has found the solution," Heubo Kwegna said.
He received his Ph.D. in mathematics at New Mexico State University in 2009.
He joined the SVSU faculty later that year and became an assistant professor of mathematics. Throughout the years, he has published over 19 articles and has been an invited speaker at nine conferences.
Singer’s research will examine the relationship between gender and environmentalism. He plans to explore the ways in which grassroots advocates of environmentalism view the role of gender and feminism in the work they perform. He will utilize his earlier research and pursue new interviews with Midwest environmentalists. With the results, he plans to examine how gender-centric stereotypes about environmentalists — particularly the stereotype that leads some to consider environmentalism as a feminine cause — impacts environmentalism. His study will also examine how environmentalists are challenging such stereotypes.
“One of my goals is to identify communication strategies that nonprofit environmental organizations can use to get people of different gender identities to get involved and work together on societal problems,” Singer said.
Singer received his Ph.D. in communication studies at Bowling Green State University in 2008.
Later that year, he became an assistant professor in the Department of Speech Communication at Southern Illinois University Carbondale up until 2012. He joined SVSU the following year and has been featured in peer-reviewed academic journals and edited scholarly chapters 14 times over the last decade.
His research specialty involves public environmental communication strategies and effects; he expects to release a book on the topic this year. Singer also serves as associate editor of Environmental Communication, an international academic journal. Singer’s studies typically explore modern environmentalism’s relationship with other social movements, and how they might best work together.
Both Singer and Heubo-Kwegna plan to present their findings by authoring articles submitted in peer-reviewed academic journals while also presenting the material at scholarly conferences.
Established in 2005, the Braun Fellowship program was created through a $1.5 million endowment from the Saginaw-based Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation. Administered by the Saginaw Community Foundation, the program's purpose is to recognize the exceptional accomplishments and potential of select SVSU faculty and staff. It is named in honor of Ruth and Ted Braun.

January 28, 2020

Book-sharing program set for Saginaw's SVRC Marketplace thanks to SVSU groups

Dedicated to bettering the community, Saginaw Valley State University students and staff will bring a growing-in-popularity book exchange program to a downtown Saginaw destination beginning this week.
The group will unveil a Little Free Library book-sharing box at Saginaw’s SVRC Marketplace, 203 S. Washington, during a ceremony Wednesday, Jan. 29, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The box and event will be located in the building’s first-floor lobby facing South Washington. Light refreshments and food from City Café as well as Makin’ Bacon will be served at the ceremony.
The box — which organizers say resembles a bird house with a window — will feature space where patrons can both leave and take books at no cost.
Members of SVSU’s Saginaw Community Writing Center as well as the university’s Richard V. Wolohan Fellowship in Leadership and Service program teamed to organize the installation of the box from Little Free Library, a nonprofit organization created in 2009 that has facilitated the sharing of millions of books globally.
Vincent Flores, a chemistry major from Saginaw and a member of the Wolohan fellowship, said the book-exchange initiative advances the SVSU group’s determination to promote literacy in the community. The Richard V. Wolohan Fellowship in Leadership and Service was established at SVSU to encourage students to demonstrate community leadership.
“Our group is very excited to be doing this project,” Flores said. “It’s nice to take a step back and help others. That’s why I joined the fellowship.”
SVSU’s Saginaw Community Writing Center is operated by the same staff and students that oversee the university’s Bay Community Writing Center, which opened a Little Free Library box in Wenonah Park in Bay City in April 2019. Both community writing centers promote reading and writing across the region.
Students from the Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy provided artwork that decorates the Little Free Library box. Members of St. Dominic Parish in Saginaw were among those who donated the first books that will be available in the Little Free Library box.
For more information about Little Free Library, go to
A Facebook page dedicated to Wednesday’s event is available at

January 28, 2020

SVSU professor's book to focus on 'understudied' figure in black history in U.S.

Backed by a prestigious national fellowship, a Saginaw Valley State University educator hopes to inspire a new appreciation for a 19th century African-American activist whose influence touched many aspects of American culture during the Civil War and Reconstruction eras.
Eric Gardner, an SVSU professor of English, recently was awarded a highly-competitive National Endowment for the Humanities research fellowship for the second time. The opportunity this time will allow him to complete research needed for a planned book about the life of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, an activist, orator and writer.
“Harper’s career — especially the critical period between 1861 and 1877 — remains surprisingly understudied, even though her efforts shaped African-American literature, abolitionism, suffrage and civil rights struggles, the temperance movement, the black press, and American lyceum culture,” Gardner said.
He said the book ideally will expand conversations on a broad range of subjects such as American literature and history, African-American literature, women’s literature and history, civil rights, print culture and public speech.
“Harper was amazing,” he said. “In an era dominated by discrimination against both African-Americans and women, she fashioned a public career as a black woman writer and activist that lasted for decades.”
Her work included poems, novels, speeches, and sketches that remain ripe for discussion in the fields of history and politics as well as literature, he said.
“Harper’s work has been the basis for rich discussions in a number of my courses, and students have asked tough questions that have pushed me to dig further into the archive and to think hard about what I’ve found,” Gardner said.
That archival research has allowed students in Gardner’s classes to be among the first in the nation to read rediscovered literary texts by early African-American writers, he said. It has also given Gardner opportunities to remind his students that he is also "always learning."
“Curiosity, research, and dialogue are at the core of good learning,” he said. “That’s why we have classrooms, libraries, and colleges — to help us work together to build communities of learners.”
He said the National Endowment for the Humanities funds will allow him to focus full-time on research and writing for the project in 2021.
Out of 1,220 people who applied for the fellowship nationally, Gardner was one of 99 people — or about 8 percent of all applicants — in the nation to receive it.
His status as a two-time recipient of the fellowship is an even more rare accomplishment.
Gardner’s first fellowship with the organization was awarded eight years ago to support the book that followed, titled “Black Print Unbound: The Christian Recorder, African American Literature, and Periodical Culture.” Published by Oxford University Press in 2015, the text can be purchased in a variety of formats from outlets such as Amazon. In 2017, the book received the Book Prize from the Research Society of American Periodicals.
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at
Gardner joined SVSU’s faculty in 1996. He received a Ph.D. in English from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign earlier that year.

January 24, 2020

SVSU hires new dean of Education to tackle Michigan’s growing teacher shortage and other challenges

Saginaw Valley State University has hired an experienced educator – with a passion both for preparing the next generation of teachers and developing individuals already leading classrooms – to serve as the new dean of the institution's College of Education.

James Tarr will join SVSU after more than three decades spent working as a teacher, researcher and faculty leader at the K-12 and higher education levels, including most recently at the University of Missouri.

Tarr said he was excited for the opportunity to join an institution with SVSU's strong reputation for empowering individuals in the education sector.

“As dean, I will support SVSU's outstanding faculty and staff in delivering high-quality programs, engaging with local communities, and producing scholarship that informs practice and addresses important societal challenges,” Tarr said.

“One of my favorite sayings is, ‘To teach is to touch the future.’ Today's college students are passionate about making a difference in the world, and a career in teaching is an essential way to cultivate a new and brighter future.”

Deborah Huntley, SVSU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said she was impressed by Tarr's experience as an administrator and his strong record of research and teaching.

“We are looking for a strong leader as we work to respond to the current and looming teacher shortage across Michigan, as well as other changes in the educational landscape,” Huntley said.

“Our College of Education has been growing in enrollment, and we want that momentum to build. We are confident Dr. Tarr has the qualities and experience we need, and we welcome him to SVSU.” 

Tarr served in various roles at the University of Missouri, which he joined as an assistant professor in 2000 and was promoted to associate professor in 2006. After earning his status as a professor of mathematics education in 2013, he served first as the associate director and later as chair of the university's Department of Learning, Teaching & Curriculum. In those roles, he oversaw expansion of online education; developed graduate programs; and advocated for policies that favored diversity and inclusion among students, faculty and staff.

He served in leadership roles for several University of Missouri programs exploring the influence of various math education approaches on students. Among those programs was a research initiative known as the COSMIC (Comparing Options in Secondary Mathematics: Investigating Curricula) project, which examined how different math education curriculums impacted teaching and learning in U.S. high schools.

As an educator, Tarr also demonstrated a passion for studying the influence of math education. He authored 65 scholarly papers and presentations that appeared in professional journals, books and academic conferences. He also served as chairperson of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics research committee from 2012-13.

Prior to joining the University of Missouri, he worked as an educator at Illinois State University, Middle Tennessee State University and as a visiting scholar at the University of Minnesota. Earlier, he gained experience in the K-12 system as a middle school and high school math teacher in Lincoln, Nebraska and St. Paul, Minnesota from 1987-1993.

Tarr received a Ph.D. in mathematics education from Illinois State University in 1997. He earned a master's degree in educational psychology and measurement from University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1993; and both a bachelor's degree in mathematical sciences as well as a teaching license in math from University of Iowa in 1986 and 1987, respectively. He will join SVSU on July 1.

January 22, 2020

SVSU moot court finishes 'best year' in program's well-decorated history

The hard work and dedication of Saginaw Valley State University students culminated in the “best year ever” for the institution’s esteemed moot court program — ranked No. 17 in the U.S. — during the group’s national tournament over the weekend.
Six SVSU students were among the 160 individuals who qualified to compete in the American Moot Court Association national tournament Jan. 17-18 at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The group collected the highest number of accolades in the program’s 10-year history at the nationals, including a fourth-place finish in one of the competition’s categories.
"This was our best year ever,” said Julie Keil, the program’s co-adviser and an associate professor of political science.
Acting as teams of two attorneys, students competing in the moot court tournament are tasked with arguing both sides of hypothetical legal cases based on real-life courtroom battles. The competition was judged based on the clarity of the students' argument, their public speaking skills, their ability to answer questions, and how well they know the law and the case.
The team of SVSU students Lindsey Mead and Justin Weller earned a fourth-place finish in the category of appellate brief writing at the national tournament. The contest involved students writing and submitting appellate briefs without the assistance of advisers.
“Justin Weller spent hours polishing the brief and formatting it to the exacting standards of the competition,” Keil said. “His hard work paid off.”
Mead also earned high praise in one of the competitions that honors individual students. She earned a 17th-place finish in the oration category, which recognizes students’ verbal argument abilities. It marked the second time she placed among the nation’s top 20 in the category at the nationals.
In the overall competition, the duo advanced deeper into the tournament than their SVSU peers. They eventually were eliminated in the round of 49.
The weekend tournament marked the third consecutive year Mead qualified for the nationals. No other students in SVSU’s moot court history had qualified more than twice. Among the few in program history who qualified twice was Weller, who served as Mead’s partner in 2019 as well.
All six SVSU students in the 2020 tournament contributed to the moot court program’s collection of accolades. In the nationals, competitors advance deeper into the tournament rounds by earning ballots, which are awarded by judges. Participants can earn up to two ballots per round. Mead and Weller received four ballots while the other two SVSU teams earned two ballots each. The eight ballots collected marks the highest total earned by SVSU in 10 consecutive appearances at the nationals.
Mead is an English major from Saginaw. Weller is a political science major from Bay City. 
The other SVSU teams featured students Justine Brabaw and Erik Byron; and Ashley French and Joshua High.
French is a political science major from Bay City. High is an accounting major from Traverse City. Brabaw is a political science major from Breckenridge. Byron is a political science major from Birch Run.
Keil gave credit to the team’s co-adviser Amy Hendrickson and supporting coaches that include SVSU moot court alumni as well as Robert Dunn, a Bay City attorney who volunteered to help the program. Hendrickson is an SVSU associate professor of law.
“All of our coaches contributed to the success of the teams,” Keil said.
The American Moot Court Association will release its latest rankings later this winter, she said. Keil is hopeful the program’s performance in the nationals will keep SVSU ranked high among the competition. The rankings are calculated based upon each program’s performance in the national championship over a three-year period. SVSU’s record number of ballots collected this year could lift the program’s status as the No. 17-ranked team, depending on how other universities shift within the rankings.
A list of the top 25-ranked teams is available online here:

January 21, 2020

SVSU Career Services to host over 100 employers at January job fair

Saginaw Valley State University will host its annual Summer Job and Internship Fair on Tuesday, Jan. 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the second floor banquet hall rooms of SVSU’s Curtiss Hall. More than 100 employers are expected to seek prospective workers in a variety of industries.
The event is free and open to the public.
Tom Barnikow, interim associate director of Career Services, said he expects the companies will be in search of “enthusiastic” workers hoping to develop through the experiential learning typically gained from the jobs offered at this particular job fair. Barnikow said, while college students typically are hired as a result of the Summer Job and Internship Fair, the public will be welcomed to attend as well.
Barnikow also encouraged all attendees to prepare for the event by:
  • Researching the list of companies who will be in attendance
  • Highlighting the top eight to 10 companies they would like to visit
  • Practicing a 30-second “elevator pitch” that best represents the attendee’s personal background, skills, and employment history
  • Printing 15 to 20 résumés
With a diverse selection of employers attending the event, Barnikow said he hopes all qualified candidates will seek employment opportunities at the Summer Job and Internship fair. Seven of over 100 employers expected in attendance include the Bavarian Inn Lodge & Restaurant, Consumers Energy, Covenant Healthcare, Independent Bank, Dow, Nexteer Automotive, and Walmart.
SVSU’s Career Services office reported that, in the last two years of SVSU job fairs, 81% of attendees that spoke with at least one company were interviewed after the job fair, and 59% of attendees that spoke with at least one company were eventually offered a job.
For more information, go to A complete list of attending employers is available there.

January 21, 2020

SVSU theatre students shine at regional competition

A group of 17 Saginaw Valley State University students and theatre faculty members took their passion for theater to the annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region III Festival (KCACTF) Jan. 7-12 in Madison, Wisconsin.
The event included colleges and universities from Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin participating in workshops and competitions. Numerous SVSU students walked away with awards, internship offers, valuable networks established with industry leaders as well as advice on improving their performances and theater craft.
At her first regional conference, student Jaden O’Berry won a lighting design competition for her work on the fall 2017 SVSU production of “She Kills Monsters.” The theatre major from Flint also received second place in the Tech Olympics. In Tech Olympics, five events such as lights, sound, knots, wardrobe, and scenery/carpentry are judged on time with reductions for errors and omissions.
For the second year in a row, Joshua Lloyd, a communication major from Bay City, was a recipient of the Irene Ryan Scholarship, worth up to $500. Out of 270 auditionees, Lloyd — with the help of his partner in the competition, Clayton Singer, a psychology major from Frankenmuth — advanced to the final 16 auditionees in the region.
“Attending this conference has always been a highlight of my year and has graced me with fond memories to last a lifetime,” Lloyd said. “Without it, I would not be who I am today.”
Rhiannon Hall, a theatre major from Bay City, was the recipient of the Regional Dramaturgy Award for her work on the fall 2019 SVSU production of “Proof.” Hall’s materials will be reviewed and four dramaturges from the nation will be invited to Washington D.C. to participate at the national level for the Kennedy Center.
Jessica Hurley, a theatre major from Essexvile, interviewed with seven theater companies and received valuable feedback on how to better market her work. Hurley already possesses experience in producing shows. In summer 2019, Hurley received a grant from SVSU’s Undergraduate Research Program to produce performances of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” under Rebel Theatre Co., a theatre ensemble she founded with a mission statement promising to “enact social awareness and change.”
“Besides receiving great responses and advice regarding my work, I also gained more confidence in myself, my beliefs and my ability to express those,” Hurley said. “This festival also allowed both myself and others to expand our professional network within the field.”
Abby Burgess, a theatre major from Commerce, auditioned at the Next Step auditions and received callback auditions at several theaters. Melanie Frasca, a theatre major from Waterford, also auditioned for eight theatrical companies through the Next Step auditions. The Next Steps program allows students to audition and interview at the festival with casting directors and artistic representatives of theatre companies, potential summer employers and graduate schools in the region.
Natasha Nash, a December 2019 graduate, also participated in the festival.
“The overall experience of KCACTF has further increased my drive to be a part of this industry and has aided in my pathway for which direction I want to take,” Nash said.
SVSU students participated in workshops taught by professional artists and faculty from five different states.
The following is a complete list of SVSU students who attended the festival:
  • Abby Burgess, a theatre major from Commerce
  • Joshua Lloyd, a communication major from Bay City
  • Jessica Hurley, a theatre major from Essexvile
  • Melanie Frasca, a theatre major from Waterford
  • Conner Wieland, a theatre major from Essexvile
  • Holly Houck, an international studies major from Saginaw
  • Erica Close, a theatre major from Essexvile
  • Jaden O’Berry, a theatre major from Flint
  • Rhiannon Hall, a theatre major from Bay City
  • Lucas Inman, a theatre major from Saginaw
  • Natasha Nash, a theatre major from Saginaw
  • Jared Kaufman, a communication and theatre education major from Bay City
  • Alexandra “Lexie” Schultz, a music major from Saginaw
  • Hannah Ducolon, an elementary education major from Bay City
  • Indigo Dudley, a music major from Saginaw
  • Olivia Greanias, a theatre major from Saginaw
  • Clayton Singer, a psychology major from Frankenmuth
KCACTF is a national theater program involving college students across the nation dedicated to improving the quality of theater. The festival honors excellence of overall production and presents student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in the categories of playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design.

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