Tamara (Tammy) Arizola Barrientos, 1995, B.A.; 2002, M.A.T., is a success story on many levels. A self-described “nerd” at Arthur Hill High School in Saginaw, she spent a year at Central Michigan University and another year at Delta College before transferring to SVSU. Even as a commuter student, the elementary education major felt connected and supported, due in great part to the assistance she received from the Office of Multicultural Services. “We would go there just to hang out,” Barrientos said. “One time, I wanted to drop a course because I didn’t think I would get an ‘A’ for the semester, but my mentors encouraged me to stick it out. And I’m glad I did because I ended up doing better than I thought I would.”
As a Cardinal, Barrientos used her connections with other students she met in Multicultural Services to get involved in campus organizations. She founded a campus chapter of a sorority, Sigma Lambda Gamma, for Latina students. “When I attended the national conference, I was so excited to be among so many high-achieving women,” Barrientos said. “At that moment, I felt proud I had made the most of my opportunities to be successful in life.”
A graduate of the Master of Arts in Teaching program at SVSU, Barrientos at first hesitated to pursue an advanced degree. She was already working as a middle school teacher and had good experiences with parents and students at Ricker Middle School. In addition, she pointed out, “a lot of the time [school] teachers are reluctant [to earn a graduate degree] because they don’t see the value it will hold in their classroom, how it will directly affect them on a day-to-day basis.” But Barrientos said that in earning her MAT, she learned that her work with research made her a better teacher.
She now advocates for all teachers to learn more theory through graduate studies, adding that it will markedly increase their success with students.
Barrientos joined SVSU’s professional staff in 1997, working first as a coordinator of the Regional Mathematics and Science Center and, since 2010, as its director. The Center, which is housed in the College of Education, is part of a network of 33 such regional centers; Barrientos designs curricula for local schools and helps educators improve their teaching.
Barrientos takes as her philosophy the importance of doing everything to help students who are challenged by math and science and supporting math and science teachers who wish to improve. “It’s all about seeing the students be successful,” Barrientos said. “Even now, as director of this center, if I can help one teacher, I know that ultimately I’m helping a lot of students learn that it is possible to enjoy math and science.”
There are many reasons why someone who has never been to SVSU would find it appealing.
For Anthony Bowrin, associate dean of the College of Business & Management, it all started with a coat.
Some 2,700 miles from his native Trinidad and Tobago, Bowrin came to campus for an interview in early March 2009 and stepped of the plane without a winter jacket. Meeting him at the airport was his future colleague, Professor of Accounting Mark McCartney, who immediately took of his own jacket and offered it to Bowrin — and, luckily, it was the right fit. That type of hospitality, Bowrin says, is exactly the type of interaction he was looking for when he decided to relocate from the University of the West Indies in search of an institution that also was “just the right fit.”
Bowrin was hired as an associate professor of accounting and wasted no time introducing his students to a teaching philosophy he admits is predicated on tough love.
“My belief is that every student who is willing to work hard can succeed,” he said. “I ask them what are their strengths and weaknesses, and their likes and dislikes. If they answer honestly, they can craft a plan that will almost guarantee their success.“
Last year, Bowrin took that same philosophy to a new administrative position when he was named associate dean.
“Honestly, an administrative role wasn’t a goal when I came to SVSU,” he said. “But I can still help students as associate dean — I can still mentor them, and I can still help them navigate a plan that will help them be successful.”
Bowrin has also taken his desire to help others to a new field of sorts — the soccer field. For the last three years he has served as a youth soccer coach for recreational soccer teams at the Midland Soccer Club, where he says working with the children is “the highlight of my week.”
Still, he says, there is no greater joy than watching one of his own students find success after graduation.
“I especially enjoy getting a phone call from a student or employer commenting on the quality of what we do in the college or the quality of a student,” Bowrin said. “Thankfully I’ve received quite a few of those calls.”
Monika Dix hadn’t planned to study the Japanese language, much less teach it.
As an undergraduate student at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, the native of Germany was an Asian art history major, developing a deep appreciation for Japanese art. When she continued in graduate school at UBC, she had to learn — really learn — Japanese to better understand the art she was studying. In time, she earned a Ph.D. in Japanese literature through UBC’s Department of Asian Studies.
After spending three years in Tokyo, Dix joined SVSU’s Department of Modern Foreign Languages in 2010. At the time, the university didn’t have a Japanese program, so she was able to shape it from the beginning. Now there are eight courses that contribute to a minor in Japanese, including first-, second- and third-year Japanese.
“Some students are interested in Japanese because they are interested in Japanese pop culture, including manga [Japanese comic books] and anime,” Dix explained. “I use elements of culture in my classes. We see films, read and create manga and sample Japanese food. Language is more than language study, so I try to bring in the cultural aspects.”
Japanese culture has a growing following in the United States. SVSU students can share their love of all things Japanese through the Japanese Culture Club. Dix advises the group, which discusses a variety of topics, including Japanese history and mythology as well as media and art.
“The students pick their topics for meetings each week, invite faculty to talk and help at the annual Japanese Festival [at the Japanese Tea House and Cultural Center in Saginaw]. It helps nurture their interest and understanding.”
Bringing East to West, Monika Dix helps broaden the horizons of SVSU students.
Saginaw Valley State University's Cardinal Marching Band will perform its 39th annual indoor concert for audiences next week.
Bill Wollner, SVSU associate professor of music, will direct an ensemble of 114 student musicians Monday, Nov. 24 at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU's Malcolm Field Theatre for the Performing Arts. Comprised of students from a variety of academic backgrounds, the marching band performs at all home football games and other fall events on campus.
The program lineup will include renditions of Billboard hits such as Pharrell Williams' "Happy," Randy Newman's "You've Got A Friend In Me," Elton John's "I Just Can't Wait To Be King," and Styx's "Mr. Roboto" and "Come Sail Away," along with "Let It Go" from the popular Disney movie, "Frozen."
The concert is free and open to the public. For more information on the concert, visit SVSU's Department of Music online at www.svsu.edu/music.
Saginaw Valley State University theatre students and faculty will team with Buffalo-based Road Less Traveled Productions as SVSU produces the new play “Safe” one year before the New York theatre group puts on the show.
The collaboration will allow the playwright Donna Hoke and Road Less Traveled Productions staff to see the work at SVSU in November 2015 before it opens in New York in 2016. David Rzeszutek, SVSU assistant professor of theatre, will direct the SVSU production.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for us,” he said. “We're working with a new script and having direct contact with the playwright.”
Hoke will visit SVSU during the pre-production phase – possibly revising the text and exchanging ideas about the play's other elements – and plans to be in the audience for opening night at the campus.
After their production is done, SVSU theatre students won't be finished with the project. As part of the collaboration, they will be invited to Buffalo to watch the Road Less Traveled Productions version of “Safe,” which examines social tolerance and high school bullying.
“We'll meet the professional cast and design team,” Rzeszutek said. “This project will offer a whole slew of learning opportunities for our students.”
Road Less Traveled Productions was founded in 2002, and has hosted productions that have included Hollywood actors such as Alec Baldwin and James Rebhorn. The company largely produces new plays not seen before on professional stages.
The company's collaboration with SVSU began when Scott Behrend, Road Less Traveled Productions' executive director, participated in a January symposium as part of SVSU's B.A.T. Project: Business, Art and Theatre Reinvent Urban Communities program.
The initiative involved efforts to establish arts in downtown spaces in cities along Michigan’s I-75 corridor. Road Less Traveled Productions was involved in a similar renaissance effort in Buffalo, and Behrend offered his expertise to SVSU's initiative. At the symposium, Rzeszutek and Behrend first discussed utilizing SVSU's theatre resources for a Road Less Traveled Productions play.
Wow! Can you believe that the Fall Semester is nearly over? Winter is fast-approaching, and soon the holidays will be upon us. While change is inevitable, some things still remain the same in the world of technology. Here are a few notes from us in IT that you should always be aware of at SVSU.
Phishing can cost you. There is a new phishing attempt swirling around out in cyberspace where would-be hackers are sending emails in hopes of gaining financial information. SVSU has not been affected by this threat and rest-assured, there are preventative measures in place protecting us, many of which are outlined in the article. However, the threat of someone asking for your information is always out there and we wanted to take a moment to remind you to be vigilant of such efforts. If you receive email that is a phishing attempt, or you're unsure, please let the IT Support Center know. Also don't reply to the email, and don't click the links in the message body.
Of course, if you have ANY technology questions or concerns, we're here to help. Drop us a line or stop by and visit us in Curtiss 150.
The Saginaw Valley State University theatre department will present a play about a writer who is haunted by the ghost of his late wife in producing Noël Coward’s “Blithe Spirit.”
The SVSU production opens Wednesday, Nov. 19 with 7:30 p.m. performances through Saturday, Nov. 22. It concludes with a matinee Sunday, Nov. 23 at 3 p.m. All shows are held in the Malcolm Field Theatre for the Performing Arts.
In the play, while researching for his new novel, the character Charles Condomine invites the implausible medium Madame Arcati to his house for a séance. In a trance, Madame Arcati unwittingly summons the ghost of Charles’ dead wife Elvira. Appearing only to Charles, Elvira soon makes a play to reclaim her husband, much to the chagrin of Charles’ new wife Ruth.
Ric Roberts, SVSU professor of theatre, directs the play about one husband, two feuding wives and a whisper of mischief in the air.
Tickets for the play are $13 for the general public and $10 for seniors and students. For more information, please contact the SVSU Box Office at (989) 964-4261.
Saginaw Valley State University's student-led Battle of the Valleys competition last week resulted in raised $32,294 for the Cory Rivard Jr. Promise Foundation, a group based in Algonac, Mich. that educates college students on preventative measures for suicide, depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.
Emily VanFleteren, a physical education major from Troy and SVSU’s 2014 Battle of the Valleys chair, said she was proud of the volunteers and supporters who contributed to the cause.
“It was a wonderful feeling to be out on the field with the Rivard family to hand them the check from SVSU,” VanFleteren said. “I could not be happier with how the week turned out, and I am definitely proud to be a part of such a wonderful student body who is so dedicated to and passionate about giving back through Battle of the Valleys.”
Begun in 2003, the annual fundraising competition pits SVSU against Grand Valley State University. This year’s contest concluded Saturday, Nov. 15 when the rival football teams played each other at SVSU. The Battle of the Valleys results were announced at halftime of the game. GVSU students collected about $7,000 this year for the Grand Valley Children’s Fund.
SVSU now has bested GVSU for nine out of the 12 Battle of the Valleys competitions. During the past 12 years, SVSU students have raised $306,789 for a variety of charitable causes.