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October 8, 2020

'I had a great support system': Student reflects on quarantine experience in SVSU apartment

When she got the call with orders to quarantine at her on-campus apartment at Saginaw Valley State University, Paige Dejohn initially felt frustrated by the prospect of spending so much time by herself. 
Looking back now — only days after her required quarantine period expired — the sophomore from Kimball, Michigan said she never felt alone. In fact, she was delighted that she made a few new friends because of her circumstances. 
“It was a good experience, even though the reasons I had the experience weren’t so good,” she said. 
One of Dejohn’s roommates tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, all four women in the four-bedroom residential housing unit were required to quarantine for two weeks until Tuesday, Oct. 6. 
Dejohn spent the duration of that quarantine period in the two-story apartment. The roommate who tested positive was moved to a different on-campus apartment, where she was separated from others. The other two women left campus to live with family during their quarantine period. 
Dejohn spent her two weeks alone attending classes via her laptop, playing video games with her family remotely, cooking meals, streaming shows on Netflix, tending to a plant, and enjoying the company of SVSU staff members who checked on her regularly over the phone. 
She said she likely enjoyed the quarantine more than her peers at other colleges, where some students have reported a lack of assistance from staff coupled with intense feelings of isolation. 
“I had a great support system of people here at SVSU,” Dejohn said. “I missed being able to see people, but I also met people I wouldn’t have otherwise met.” 
Dejohn never felt completely alone without her human roommates. She spoke regularly with SVSU Residential Life staff members, and she also was kept company by the contact tracing staff member assigned to the case, Moregan LaMarr, a two-time SVSU alumna. LaMarr is one of SVSU’s contact tracers; her duties involve mapping human exposure to the COVID-19 virus within the university community while offering mental health support to people who need it. 
“She was super sweet and relatable,” Dejohn said of LaMarr. “When she checked in with me, I thought we would only be on the phone for a short time, but then 25 minutes would go by. She brightened up my days.” 
LaMarr and SVSU staff monitored Dejohn from afar. She was instructed how to recognize potential symptoms. Daily, she took her own body temperature. 
“I was always at 98.3, which is normal,” said Dejohn, who never experienced symptoms during the quarantine period and was not tested for the virus. 
Dejohn never stepped beyond the front and back entrances outside her apartment, which is part of SVSU’s nationally-renowned student housing facilities. The rare times she opened her doors happened either when she picked up the food and supplies SVSU staff left on her welcome mat or when she placed the celosia plant outside the apartment’s back entrance to collect sunlight and air. 
While isolating, Dejohn ordered fresh food from SVSU’s Dining Services delivered to her front door. Her go-to food item was a plate featuring delivered fried rice and broccoli mixed with jasmine rice she kept stored in a kitchen cabinet. 
Other SVSU offices provided her arts and craft supplies that kept her busy. For instance, she built a stuffed bear during the quarantine using materials provided to her. 
Dejohn also spoke regularly with family members over the phone. A few members of that family played video games with her from afar. A Nintendo Switch owner, Dejohn teamed up with an uncle in Germany and an aunt in Illinois as they together navigated the survival thriller, “Dead By Daylight.” Her boyfriend in the region also occasionally joined the games remotely.
Dejohn watched plenty of Netflix and YouTube during her time alone, including many episodes of “The Walking Dead.” 
After the quarantine period ended late Tuesday, her three roommates returned. 
“It felt good for the quarantine to be over,” Dejohn said. “I said to myself, ‘I want to go get myself some Panda Express and do all the laundry that’s been building up in here.’” 
And she did. Dejohn woke up early Wednesday and filled three washing machines with clothes and blankets that piled up over the 2-week span. 
“When I was there, a few of my neighbors walked in to do their laundry,” Dejohn said. “It was nice to see people. I missed being able to say, ‘Hi.’” 

October 6, 2020

Meijer teams up with SVSU to offer flu vaccinations for campus community

To promote community health, Saginaw Valley State University this week is partnering with Meijer to offer flu vaccinations to students, faculty and staff at SVSU. The 3-day program began Monday and concludes Wednesday. 
Members of the media are invited to the Wednesday session, which spans 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the SVSU Fieldhouse located in the Ryder Center facility on campus. 
Twelve pharmacists from Meijer have been administering the vaccinations this week. SVSU students – including 20 students studying nursing at the university – are assisting with a health screening process. 
“Getting vaccinated for the flu has always been important, but it is especially important this year,” said Susan Brasseur, SVSU’s director of continuing education and external project management. 
“The flu and COVID-19 share many of the same symptoms. By vaccinating people for the flu, it will keep them from getting sick with an illness that could be mistaken for COVID-19. It will keep people healthier.” 
Brasseur is serving as a coordinator of the campus flu vaccination program. 
For each day of this week’s program, more than 200 people were signed up to receive the vaccination. Walk-in appointments also are encouraged. The entire vaccination process spans about 10 minutes on average, Brasseur said. 
The flu vaccination program is not open to the general public. 
Campus staff members have worked with students to help pay for the flu vaccination if they do not possess health insurance that covers costs. 
As with all visitors, members of the media entering SVSU facilities must wear a protective face mask, practice social distancing of at least 6 feet, and complete and pass an online health screening form. The form is available at the following URL:

September 28, 2020

SVSU-based Michigan Small Business Development Center gets CARES Act boost to help region's economy

Great Lakes Bay Region communities will be among 83 Michigan counties where small business owners challenged by the pandemic will benefit from expanded support offered by the Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which operates a regional office at Saginaw Valley State University. 
With support from CARES Act funding, resources are allocated to help boost the region's economics. Those resources include the following: 
  • 46 additional business consultants to meet the increase in demand for one-on-one consulting support
  • New partnerships with service providers (website development, marketing, accounting, etc.) that can help businesses weather the effects of COVID-19 
“As small businesses begin to restart, recover and launch, they will be required to have a heightened awareness and response to our ever-changing economic environment,” said Beth Roszatycki, regional director of the SBDC operations housed within the Business Excellence Centers in SVSU's Scott L. Carmona College of Business building. 
“This shift will also require modifications to how they previously operated, including their social norms. Being able to equip business owners and future entrepreneurs with the resources, tools and knowledge to respond to these evolving requirements and best practices will be critical. I see the SBDC being the support network to help with these necessary changes.” 
The expanded services will be available through March 2021. 
“We were able to add consulting staff to meet increased demands and extend our service offerings into key areas that we know will expedite small business recovery,” said J.D. Collins, state director of the Michigan Small Business Development Center. “This tangible support will aid in business recovery from the immediate effects of COVID-19 while building resilience for the future.” 
Michigan Small Business Development Center offices – including the operations housed at SVSU – provide no-cost consulting, training, market research, and technology commercialization services to assist Michigan businesses to launch, grow, transition and innovate. 
Assistance includes business plans, marketing plans, applying for financing, budgeting, hiring, business forms, feasibility, and strategic planning. 
Small businesses owners can access free business consulting, on-demand and online training, and market research at

September 21, 2020

SVSU to host virtual panel featuring women entrepreneurs

The Saginaw Valley State University-based Dow Entrepreneurship Institute will host an empowering virtual panel discussion featuring successful women entrepreneurs. 
“Life Lessons from Successful Women Entrepreneurs” – scheduled Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 5:30 p.m. – is the institution’s third annual panel discussion featuring women entrepreneurs. The public is invited to attend the virtual session.
“The speakers are from a variety of different backgrounds and fields, and show that people from any field can be successful in starting their own business,” said Izabela Szymanska, interim director of the SVSU Dow Entrepreneurship Institute and an SVSU associate professor of management. 
The panel will include the following guests: 
Gina Adams is the founder and CEO of Wareologie, a clothing innovation company. A social entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in the apparel industry and social sector, Adams creates adaptive clothing for people with dexterity issues. 
Wendy Bloembergen is vice president of clinical affairs at GreenMark Biomedical Inc. Through its regenerative treatment technology, GreenMark is developing treatment products for the diagnosis and treatment of tooth decay. 
Stacey Feeley is the founder of GoSili Inc., a silicone tableware company that provides an alternative to single-use plastics in the kitchen. She regularly serves as a guest speaker for Marshall School of Business at University of Southern California in Los Angeles and Northern Michigan College in Traverse City. 
Julia Winter is the founder and CEO of Alchemie, Inc., a company creating digital learning tools that provide an intuitive learning experience that encourages students to explore and experiment with concepts in chemistry. Winter taught college-level chemistry courses for over 20 years at Detroit Country Day School. 
Interested participants can join the meeting on Lifesize, a video- and audio-conferencing program, using one of two methods: 
  • In Google Chrome, enter the URL address
  • Or call in to the meeting via telephone (audio available only) at 1-(312) 584-2401, then use meeting extension 5345023# 
For more information or to register to attend this event, visit

September 21, 2020

SVSU Writing Center project allows community members to address future president

Saginaw Valley State University’s Writing Center will host its third postcard writing campaign allowing community members to address their future elected leaders in 200 words or less. This time, participants can write the leader elected president of the United States in November.

The nonpartisan project — also sponsored by the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region and the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture Saginaw Outpost — collects the postcards prior to the election, with the promise of mailing the messages to the winning candidate in January. The approach allows community members to focus on issues that are important to them when writing the postcard messages, organizers say.

“We believe people’s individual voices matter,” said Helen Raica-Klotz, director of SVSU’s Writing Center. “We’re pleased to support this project, which allows people to share their hope, concerns, and goals for our country with our future leader.”

The SVSU Writing Center previously coordinated similar postcard-writing campaigns prior to the 2016 election of the U.S. president and the 2018 election of Michigan’s governor. Over 200 postcards were collected in 2016 and more than 1,500 postcards were collected in 2018.

Community members can participate in the “Dear Future President” postcard project in several ways. Postcards will be available throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region at Midland, Saginaw, and Bay county public libraries, including multiple coffee shops throughout the area. Residents can also fill out an electronic postcard online at

Teachers can request postcards for their students by emailing

All postcards must be received no later than Sunday, Nov. 1.

“We’re excited to be a part of the postcard campaign,” said Moira Branigan, executive director of the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region. “Our hope is everyone who participates is motivated to vote in November. For students – our future voters – it’s an introduction to civic engagement.”

For more information, please contact the SVSU Writing Center at (989) 964-6062.

September 17, 2020

$300K grant boosts SVSU researchers studying wastewater for traces of COVID-19

A research team at Saginaw Valley State University secured an approximately $300,000 grant to continue its work searching for traces of the COVID-19 virus in wastewater samples collected from sites in Arenac, Bay, Huron, Iosco, Gladwin, Tawas and Saginaw counties. That testing – which includes sampling on the SVSU campus – could help alert health officials about potential outbreaks days before individuals display symptoms. The research also detects the virus in waste of people without symptoms. 
Since April, Tami Sivy, SVSU professor of chemistry, and two of her students have been developing methods for tracking existing and potential COVID-19 outbreaks by examining wastewater samples from across the region. With the support of a $300,000 grant from the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), the research team’s work will continue. 
EGLE and the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services today announced the grant as part of a larger $10 million project that funds SVSU and other research teams monitoring wastewater for traces of COVID-19. 
“There are a lot of universities scrambling to figure out how to do this research right now, and we are fortunate that we have been doing this for months,” Sivy said. “We’ve been ready.” 
Among the communities benefiting from the SVSU research team’s work: Au Gres, Bad Axe, Bay City, Beaverton, Billings Township, Frankenmuth, Gladwin, Kochville Township, Midland, Saginaw Township, Standish, Sugar Springs and Tawas. The group also collects samples from wastewater at the Saginaw Correctional Facility in Freeland and Saganing Eagles Landing Casino in Standish. 
Measuring communities’ COVID-19 levels via wastewater sampling is a method gaining demand nationally. SVSU is one of two universities in Michigan offering the cutting-edge research to communities, although other institutions are pursuing similar research offerings. 
“This is a complimentary testing method,” Sivy said. “It isn’t meant to replace other methods like nasal swab testing, but when integrated into a community’s plan for monitoring the virus, it can perhaps help identify a potential outbreak before it spreads.” 
Now that early detection could benefit the campus where she and her team perform their cutting-edge research. They began collecting samples on SVSU’s campus one week before students began moving into the university’s residential facilities in late August. The early sample allowed them to establish a baseline level that will help them better understand if more virus becomes present. The group is collecting new samples about three times per week. 
Sivy said studies show tracing the COVID-19 virus through wastewater could reveal positive cases days before a person displays symptoms. That early detection in some scenarios could provide critical information earlier than other testing methods available to the general public. For instance, many individuals who experience COVID-19 symptoms seek nasal swab tests provided by health care professionals. SVSU usually receives nasal swab test results in 24 to 48 hours, but in other settings, the waiting period for nasal swab test results can be several days. 
There already are examples where scientists credit wastewater research for preventing the spread of the virus, including at college campuses. After a wastewater sample at the University of Arizona indicated the presence of the virus, officials there individually tested 311 people living in a dorm suspected as the source, later identifying two asymptomatic students. Researchers at The University of Colorado Boulder also detected the virus early in wastewater samples. 
The detective work is fascinating but not for weak stomachs, she said. Sivy’s team analyzes about 100 milliliters of wastewater – roughly one-third of a can of pop – collected from raw sewage outputs. Those small samples could contain traces of SARS-CoV-2 RNA –  a result of the novel coronavirus – that may be present in the wastewater of the campus community. 
If Sivy and her team discover an increase in traces of the virus, they could take measures to track the source to a more specific site. In the case of their research on campus, a rise in SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels could lead them to take samples from wastewater sites originating from specific buildings housing residential students, allowing them to narrow the potential source from thousands of students down to the hundreds or less. 
“We can open a manhole from near the source and take a sample to see where it’s coming from,” Sivy said. 
Information from the findings will be shared with local health departments including the Saginaw County Health Department, she said. 
In performing the research, Sivy is supported by biochemistry majors Marc Dean of Port Huron; and Caleb Whittaker of Bay City. Since mid-April, the trio have worked in a Biosafety Level 2-certified, state-of-the art laboratory in the east wing of SVSU’s Herbert Dow Doan Science Building. Some of the grittier elements of the research process involve collecting wastewater samples. Bruce Hart, a lab technician at the university, performs that duty. 
“He deserves recognition for this, too,” Sivy said. 
She said SVSU’s status as one of the few institutions in the U.S. to perform the cutting-edge research – research that involves students in the process – shows the university’s commitment and value to the surrounding region. 
“Through our work testing water quality at public beaches and other initiatives, we have been applying our expertise to protect public health for several years,” Sivy said. 
“This is a natural extension of what we’ve been doing, and it’s something we at SVSU should be proud of.”

September 15, 2020

SVSU partners with OpenStax to develop affordable college textbook program

Dedicated to providing an affordable education and accessible resources, Saginaw Valley State University recently joined the OpenStax Institutional Partner Network, a group of more than 60 U.S. colleges and universities dedicated to expanding the use of open educational resources (OER) on campuses.
“Access to affordable textbooks is a major obstacle to academic success for many SVSU students and we are committed to decreasing barriers to student success,” said Deborah Huntley, SVSU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.
“We are excited about partnership with OpenStax, which will help us expand OER usage through increased awareness and support for faculty adoption. The partnership’s goals address the issues of cost and equity by shifting to course materials that are free and accessible.”
Twelve colleges from across the country in the first-year program – including SVSU – will develop and execute high-impact OER advocacy and adoption programs on their campuses. Dedicated to expanding access to free and flexible materials for students and instructors, these schools were selected from a competitive group of applicants, say OpenStax organizers. In selecting new partner schools for the 2020-21 academic year, OpenStax gave special consideration to those institutions with high numbers of Pell grant-eligible students as well as minority-serving institutions.
“By reconsidering not only who gets admitted but also how to maintain program efficacy while increasing flexibility, we hope to ensure that the OpenStax Institutional Partner Network accelerates more paths to truly equitable educational materials,” said Daniel Williamson, managing director of OpenStax.
“Our goal is to put these resources in the hands of more people, not to narrow the scope of who gets access and exposure to them.”
OpenStax is part of Rice University and supported by philanthropic foundations, provides free college and Advanced Placement textbooks that are developed and peer-reviewed by educators. The initiative also provides low-cost, personalized courseware that helps students learn.
For more information regarding SVSU's partnership with OpenStax, please contact Tina Mullins, the university's research and open education resources librarian, at Those interested may also visit

September 11, 2020

Community invited to attend SVSU virtual session addressing 2020 election voting processes

Building on the success of various voting initiatives, Saginaw Valley State University leaders will continue to empower the Great Lakes Bay Region community and SVSU students to vote. SVSU's political science department will host a Zoom-based virtual presentation detailing the voting process in the 2020 presidential election Monday, Sept. 14, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Jesse Donahue, a professor of political science at SVSU, will be joined by representatives from the Saginaw County Clerk's Office, the Bay City Clerk's Office and the Midland County Clerk's Office to discuss the voting process in the upcoming election. The panel will be covering information about voting in the Great Lakes Bay Region, focusing on topics such as mail-in ballots, polling places, ballot drop boxes and important election dates.
Donahue was inspired to create the presentation after helping friends understand the voting process.
“There is a lot of misinformation among the voting public about elections right now,” she said. “Some people don't completely understand how mail-in voting will work, the differences between an application and actual ballot, fears about their ballots being destroyed or thrown out, and deadlines. I want to host a factual presentation about all of this.”
Riley Hupfer, director of SVSU’s Center for Community Engagement, is helping publicize the event.
“With changes to the laws in recent years and voting already being a complex process, it's always helpful to hear from the experts and ask specific questions,” he said.
The public is invited to attend the virtual session Monday. Interested participants can join the meeting on Zoom using three different methods:
  • In a web browser, enter the URL address
  • Or go to Zoom and enter the meeting ID "599 857 3121" and password “svsu”
  • Or call in to the meeting via telephone (audio available only). Find your local number using, call that number, use the meeting ID "599 857 3121," and enter the passcode “516704”
SVSU's Center for Community Engagement has helped spread voting information to the campus community in recent years, earning national recognition as a “Voter Friendly Campus.” The Cardinals Vote initiative, based in the Center for Community Engagement, helped double SVSU student election participation from 2014 to 2018.
Hupfer said the center hopes to offer table sits and transportation on election day this year if it is safe to do so.
“In the meantime, we're working to develop short videos that will be specific to SVSU students and can help walk them through the processes of voter registration, absentee voting/vote by mail and voting on election day,” he said.

September 4, 2020

SVSU faculty trains Midland educators on use of online teaching tool

A connection between personal friends kick-started a professional network between Saginaw Valley State University and Midland Public Schools that organizers say will benefit education at all levels in the region.
SVSU faculty in early August began training Midland educators on how to use Canvas, a learning management software program. Utilized by SVSU for years, 14 members of the university faculty hosted group training sessions for nearly 80 middle school and high school educators.
“Our teachers were able to ask professionals who use it in their teaching daily what the best practical uses of Canvas would be to them,” said Steven Poole, curriculum specialist for auxiliary education at Midland Public Schools.
“The value to Midland Public Schools teachers is their knowledge growth in Canvas and gaining a network for future questions that they could ask the professors. Our teachers will be using this knowledge with their Canvas development this school year.”
Both Midland Public Schools and SVSU returned to in-classroom teaching this week for the first time since March, when the COVID-19 pandemic reached Michigan. The experience in the months since then underlined a need to strengthen educators’ knowledge of online teaching tools such as Canvas, say organizers of the collaboration.
The origins of that collaboration began with a friendship between Matthew Vannette, an SVSU professor of physics, and Ana Geib, a Spanish teacher at Midland High School. Geib asked Vannette to help her better understand Canvas. The request began a series of events that led to a collaborative learning experience involving nearly 100 educators from both institutions.
“That is how society functions, or at least it is how I would like society to function: do what you can, when you can,” Vannette said. “Education across all levels is a social good, and it only works if we support it.”
The participating faculty from SVSU hosted a series of seven training sessions for Midland educators teaching in subjects related to business, engineering, English, kinesiology, math and science, music, and social studies. Up to 24 Midland teachers attended each session.
While those sessions took place in early August, organizers say educators formed a network they will maintain moving forward, including when questions arise throughout the school year.
Participating SVSU faculty members enjoyed empowering fellow educators in navigating a new learning system, which strengthened their own curriculum-building skills.
“Throughout the pandemic, scholars and musicians have come together like never before, sharing ideas and trying to solve problems so that we could all move forward in our teaching and music making,” said Norman Wika, an SVSU associate professor of music who provided Canvas training.
“I personally benefited from knowledge and ideas that I collected throughout the summer. Without that open interaction, I'm not sure I would have as good a plan as I do for this fall.”

September 3, 2020

SVSU, STARS collaboration inspires bus mural featuring Saginaw poet Theodore Roethke

A mural celebrating Saginaw and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Theodore Roethke will be painted on a local bus, thanks to a partnership with Saginaw Valley State University’s Community Writing Center and the Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services (STARS). 
Pauly Everett, a professional muralist and Flint native, plans to paint a mural which covers an entire STARS bus on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 2-3. Everett expects the painting session to extend from about 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. both days in the parking lot of the Saginaw Art Museum, 1126 N. Michigan. There, community members can watch the creation of the mural from start to finish, he said.
This mural – funded by STARS, the Michigan Humanities Council and Eastern Michigan Council of Governments – is part of the Theodore Roethke Poetry and Arts Festival, tentatively scheduled for March 19-22, 2021. 
“STARS Executive Director Glenn Steffens had the idea to bring art to our riders through a bus mural a year or two ago, and we are thrilled to see this project take shape,” said Jamie Forbes, STARS director of external affairs. 
“This week also marks the return of bus routes since closing due to COVID concerns in March, so this is an exciting week for us.” 
The mural will feature a quote from one of Roethke’s poems along with an image of the Saginaw-born poet, who lived from 1908 to 1963. Other images will include wildlife and iconic locations of the city of Saginaw. 
“Theodore Roethke was a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who grew up in Saginaw, right on Gratiot Avenue,” said Helen Raica-Klotz, SVSU Community Writing Center co-director and chair of the Theodore Roethke Poetry and Arts Festival. “Much of his early work centers on this city and his life here.” 
Everett said he was fascinated by the concept of creating a mobile mural. 
“I’m excited to bring the Roethke lines to visual fruition here in the City of Saginaw,” Everett said. “I’m beyond thrilled to bring my talents to create something in memory of the great American poet for the people of Saginaw to experience on a daily basis.” 
When completed, the bus will be put back on its regular route and can be viewed driving throughout the city. 
In addition, the bus will be on display at the “Poetry in the Garden” event taking place Thursday, Sept. 17 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Saginaw Art Museum. 
For more information about this mural project or the Theodore Roethke Poetry and Arts Festival, please contact Helen Raica-Klotz at or (989) 964-6062. 

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