The persevering spirit of Saginaw Valley State University students will improve the lives of young people in the Great Lakes Bay Region, as SVSU students insisted on continuing a fundraising tradition, resulting in a donation of at least $20,302 for a Midland-based nonprofit.
The total was raised during SVSU’s “Battle of the Valley” week-long fundraiser from Oct. 6-11, benefiting The ROCK Center for Youth Development, an organization that provides after-school programs and development initiatives for teenagers across the region.
The fundraiser nearly didn’t happen. Formerly known as “Battle of the Valleys,” the tradition from 2003 to 2018 involved students from SVSU and Grand Valley State University competing to raise the most amount of money for their respective nonprofit beneficiaries. GVSU students backed out of the event this year. But SVSU student leaders rallied to save the tradition, re-imagining it as a fundraising campaign organized exclusively at SVSU.
Nora Lipetzky, one of the student leaders involved in creating “Battle of the Valley” this year, said the $20,302 raised was a success — especially considering there were some who were skeptical the fundraiser would find much success without the added motivation of a competing university.
“We’re ecstatic and elated that we raised so much for such a deserving nonprofit,” said Lipetzky, a native of Palos Heights, Illinois who earned a bachelor's degree in political science in May and is pursuing a master's degree in public administration.
“There were some naysayers who didn’t think we would raise $10,000.”
Kylie Anderson, The ROCK Center for Youth Development’s director of development, said she was “thrilled” when she learned about the total funds raised.
“We know it was a new venture — with the solo ‘Battle of the Valley’ — and it was great to see the students and the SVSU community do such an amazing job, rallying together like that. We are very grateful.”
Anderson was able to attend some of the activities organized as part of the week-long fundraiser. Those events included sponsored gatherings at nearby businesses — including Buffalo Wild Wings and Stardust Lanes — as well as on-campus events that allowed participants to contribute funds in exchange for petting puppies, throwing pies at professors and smashing a car with a bat.
“It was awesome to see all of that going on,” she said. “I loved the creativity.”
Representatives from The ROCK Center for Youth Development plan to accept a ceremonial check during SVSU’s next home football game scheduled Saturday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m. SVSU students continue to sell the remaining inventory of T-shirts and sweatshirts, so the final fundraising total is likely to increase.
Meanwhile, SVSU student leaders already are planning next year’s “Battle.” Lipetzky said they hope to recruit another university — replacing GVSU — to insert a competitive element back into the tradition for 2020.
Lipetzky said SVSU’s student government, known as Student Association, already has begun reaching out to gauge the interest of some peer institutions. A decision could be announced by the end of the year, she said.
“We want ‘Battle of the Valley’ to remain a quality philanthropic event,” Lipetzky said, “so we hope to find a compatible match that will ensure that.”
A sophomore’s passion for theatre sound and lighting design — along with his quickly-growing résumé of experience and training in the field — will be on display during a Saginaw Valley State University production of “Proof” later this month.
Hot off both summer courses taught at a Las Vegas institute and a key behind-the-scenes role for a hit musical produced across the Great Lakes Bay Region, Lucas Inman next will design an “ultra-real” soundscape aimed at transporting audiences deep into the world of the David Auburn-penned Pulitzer Prize-winning drama.
Performances of "Proof" are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 30-Nov. 2; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, in SVSU’s Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. Tickets cost $15.
The story of “Proof” — about a troubled woman struggling with her late father’s legacy as a brilliant mathematician — takes place in a single setting: the backyard of a house. In his role as sound designer, Inman will record and edit audio from real outdoor environments that later will be used to simulate the setting of the play on SVSU's stage via speakers.
David Rzeszutek, the associate professor of theatre serving as the play's director, said Inman’s work will create a rich and immersive environment that will better connect audiences with the characters of "Proof."
"This whole show has a sound design underlying throughout the whole thing, almost like you might hear in a movie,” Rzeszutek said.
“From the moment the audience walks in, they're going to be in the neighborhood. Certain areas will have a dog barking; music playing from a neighboring house. The audience is always going to feel like they're sitting in the neighborhood, being surrounded by the neighborhood itself."
Creating an engaging theatrical experience requires a skill Inman has been fine-tuning since childhood, when he discovered a passion for behind-the-scenes work managing sound design for events at his church and vacation Bible school. Later, as a student at Heritage High School, he was involved in theatre productions there as an audio engineer.
The Saginaw native enrolled at SVSU last year, providing sound and lighting design as a freshman for the university’s theatre productions. The theatre major's talent and enthusiasm for the work at the collegiate level earned him invitations to national conferences offering training as well as opportunities to learn from some of the top professionals working in the entertainment industry today.
While attending the annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region III Festival in Madison, Wisconsin in January 2019, Inman met Jane Childs, director of the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas. He accepted her invitation to attend the organization’s summer courses. There, Inman trained with professionals to learn more about digital drafting, rigging, audio, and lighting technology. He also witnessed and studied behind-the-scenes work of beloved Las Vegas productions such as Cirque du Soleil’s “The Beatles LOVE.”
“Every single second we were there, we were learning something, even if it wasn't a skill for technical theater — like how to keep yourself motivated, how to keep your confidence, and how to keep your integrity,” Inman said.
For his next role back in Michigan, he applied many of the lessons learned in Las Vegas.
Inman worked as an LED (light-emitting diode) tape electrician during the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance’s fall production of “Mamma Mia!” The experience involved complex planning for the play's two stages set at the Midland Center for the Arts as well as Pit and Balcony Theatre in Saginaw. The student soldered over 75 pieces of LED tape to various set pieces. Each light was individually added to a circuit that was remotely controlled and programmed by the production's crew to coordinate with — and compliment — the performances of the musical's massive cast of 38 actors.
Rzeszutek said it's impressive for a second-year student to possess as much skill as Inman wields in sound and lighting design. The director said he was excited to see those talents at work for "Proof."
“Usually, at this point, a sophomore is under someone’s wing or working as an assistant on a production,” Rzeszutek said. “As a sophomore, this is an extremely nice opportunity for Lucas.”
Tickets for “Proof” can be purchased online at www.etix.com/ticket/v/14187.
For more information, please contact the SVSU Box Office at (989) 964-4261.
A Saginaw Valley State University alumna's passion for basketball helped her land a role as the sixth female referee hired in NBA history.
Jenna Schroeder, a Clio native who received a bachelor’s degree in communications from SVSU in 2009, was hired by the NBA after years spent refereeing college, the WNBA and the NBA developmental league known as the G League.
“I was shocked by the timing of it,” Schroeder told the Associated Press. “But I was obviously hoping this was my year. Nobody’s ever truly ready, but I’m as ready as I can be.”
She is scheduled to referee her first regular season NBA game tonight — Wednesday, Oct. 23 — when the New York Knicks travel to play the San Antonio Spurs in Texas. The game tips off at 8:30 p.m. EST. Viewers can watch it via NBA League Pass, a subscription service that is offering a free preview of the start of the season through Oct. 29. Click here to access the San Antonio game after it begins.
She will serve as one of four female referees this season.
Schroeder was a player herself. As a guard for SVSU’s women’s basketball team from 2006-07, she averaged 14.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2 steals over the course of 25 games played as a Cardinal.
She recalled her own experiences with referees when she was a player. Schroeder told the AP she fouled out of her first three games at SVSU, also picking up a technical foul “for a colorful comment.”
Before enrolling at SVSU, she played for the women’s basketball team at Oakland University.
Schroeder told the AP she began refereeing while in high school, and later, after she graduated from SVSU: “Someone looked at me one day and asked why I didn’t just do it as a profession, and I said, ‘You can do that?’”
Schroeder joins the relatively small class of female NBA referees that formed when Violet Palmer and Dee Kantner officiated their first league games during the 1997 season.
Fans can learn which games Schroeder officiates by accessing the NBA’s referee assignment webpage. Assignments are announced at 9 a.m. on the day of each game at https://official.nba.com/referee-assignments/.
A critically-acclaimed author will read from his work in nonfiction and poetry during a visit next week to Saginaw Valley State University.
Matthew Gavin Frank will visit campus Tuesday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. in the Emeriti Room — located in SVSU’s Curtiss Hall — to share selections of his work. Admission is free and open to the public.
The Chicago-born author's nonfiction books include “The Mad Feast: An Ecstatic Tour Through America’s Food," an illustrated writing that offers insight on popular food items in each of the nation's 50 states.
Christopher Kimball of The Wall Street Journal reviewed "The Mad Feast" in November 2015: "Mr. Frank is not ‘mad’ as the title might imply, nor is he perversely calculating," Kimball wrote. "He feels his way along his travels and connects one notion to another until he develops a literary skein that vibrates with passion. That, I suppose, is a pretty good definition of writing, the good kind."
Frank's other work includes “Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and its First Photographer,” “Pot Farm,” and “Barolo." His work has been showcased by media outlets and magazines including The Chicago Tribune, HuffPost, The Poetry Foundation, North American Review, and Creative Nonfiction.
Frank teaches creative writing in the Master of Fine Arts program at Northern Michigan University, after spending 17 years working in the restaurant industry across the U.S. and internationally. He received his master’s degree in poetry and creative nonfiction from Arizona State University.
For more information about the author, visit his website at https://matthewgfrank.com/.
Frank's appearance is the latest in the Voices in the Valley Reading Series presented by SVSU’s Department of English. The program invites award-winning writers to SVSU, where they provide public readings as well as visit English and creative writing classrooms at the campus.
An expert in education will discuss concepts aimed at engaging learners in new ways during her visit to Saginaw Valley State University later this month.
Elizabeth Wardle — director of the Howe Center for Writing Excellence at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio — will explain the roles of liminal spaces and threshold concepts in education during her SVSU presentation Thursday, Oct. 24, at 6:30 p.m., in Gilbertson Hall, room GS 202. The event is free and open to the public.
Threshold concepts are critical topics to master in order for continued learning and participation to occur within a classroom. Wardle's presentation, titled "Engaging Learners in Liminal Spaces," will examine how these concepts work in liminal spaces, which are educational settings — including classrooms — designed to help students learn through collaborating with peers and teachers.
She will explain threshold concepts, discuss the nature of student learning blocks — as described through the threshold concepts framework — as well as explore the role of liminality in the learning process. She also will explain how to use these concepts to better engage students.
Wardle will focus on topics from her award-winning collection of insights, a book titled "Naming What We Know." Part of the book defines 37 threshold concepts, each of which are written by researchers and teachers who participated in a collaborative online discussion led by the book’s editors, including Wardle.
Wardle is a distinguished professor of written communication at Miami University. Her research focuses on first-year composition, knowledge transfer, threshold concepts and writing in the disciplines. She has also co-authored four editions of the textbook "Writing about Writing" with Doug Downs, a Montana State University educator.
Wardle's appearance is part of SVSU's annual Visiting Scholars and Artists speaker series. She will serve as an SVSU Dow Visiting Scholar.
With women-led businesses on the rise, the need for role models, mentors and real-world training for female entrepreneurs is a demand that Rebecca Cox recognized clearly.
“Women interested in becoming an entrepreneur are five times more likely to start a business when they have a mentor,” said Cox, president and owner of the Midland-based Savant Group.
The need for more more female role models in business is a demand Cox plans to meet — along with three of her peers from the Great Lakes Bay Region — when they serve as panelists at Saginaw Valley State University's upcoming Women Entrepreneurship Week event.
“Life Lessons from Successful Women Entrepreneurs” is a panel discussion scheduled Monday, Oct. 21, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in SVSU's Curtiss Hall Banquet Room A. Hosted by the Dow Entrepreneurship Institute at SVSU, the event is free and open to the public.
Along with Cox, panelists include Mary Draves, chief sustainability officer and vice president of environment, health and safety for Dow; Kathie Fuce-Hobohm, founder and president of Midland-based SPACE, Inc.; and Wendy Traschen, owner of Bolger and Battle Marketing Communications as well as Whine, a Midland restaurant.
Cox said Monday's event will reinforce the importance of female-led businesses in advancing the region's economy.
“Continuing to highlight women business owners will break down gender stereotypes and biases, grow a greater support network and positively impact on our economy,” she said. “It’s not just good for women — it’s good for everyone.”
Draves, an SVSU alumna, said mid-Michigan remains a ripe environment for women ambitious to serve as leaders in business.
“The Great Lakes Bay Region is home to many examples of female entrepreneurs who are doing stellar work,” Draves said. “Their businesses are strong contributors to our region’s economic engine.”
Cox has participated as a board member for the Midland Chamber of Commerce, Midland Tomorrow, Midland Business Alliance, the Local Development Finance Authority Board of Midland, and the Small Business Association of Michigan. She is a Leadership Midland 2006 Class graduate, a member of the Midland 100 Club, and a founding member of the Women's Executive Round Table. Her business, The Savant Group, tests oils and lubrications for various industries. Cox received a bachelor's degree in business from Western Michigan University and a master's degree in business from Indiana University.
In her role at Dow, Draves leads corporate environment, health, and safety-related governance as well as the organization's 2025 Sustainability Goals. She joined Dow in 1989 and has served in several leadership roles since then. Draves has built a reputation for being an effective and collaborative leader who inspires commitment in her teams while also attaining results. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in technological processes from SVSU.
Fuce-Hobohm started SPACE, Inc. in 1995 and has over 30 years of experience in the office interior industry. As president, she oversees the sales and financial strategies along with the overall operations for the company. Fuce-Hobohm has received honors for her work including the Midland Area Chamber of Commerce's ATHENA award, Girl Scouts Women of Distinction recognition, the MidMichigan Innovation Center Innovation Award, Corp! Magazine’s Entrepreneur of Distinction recognition, and Leadership Midland’s Leader of the Year. She also was named a Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Laureate.
For more than 20 years, Traschen has served as a fierce advocate for the power of strong branding and integrated marketing communications to move organizations to the next level of their industries. In addition to her well-earned agency credentials — including leading a diverse team of writers, designers and account executives in support of about 150 clients — she brings a strong business background in retail, hospitality, nonprofits and education.
For more information or to register to attend this event, visit www.svsu.edu/entrepreneurshipinstitute/.
‘Living machines’ and their role in the future of humanity will be the focus of a guest speaker’s talk this week at Saginaw Valley State University.
Susan Hockfield, a neuroscientist and former Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) president, will discuss “convergence” — a term referring to the merging of technologies — during her SVSU visit Thursday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. in the Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. The event is free and open to the public.
Her presentation will examine how convergence and “living machines” can combine technology and biology to solve problems plaguing the 21st century. Hockfield’s address, titled “Welcome to the Age of Living Machines," will feature material covered in her latest book, "The Age of Living Machines: How Biology Will Build the Next Technology Revolution." Published in May, the book is available on Amazon and other online bookstores.
A “living machine” is biological matter — such as a cell — that scientists can repurpose to solve human problems. In the book, Hockfield wrote that “living machines” could shape the future of humanity in the same way inventions such as computers and nuclear power defined modern society.
Among the examples of potential "living machine"-related technological breakthroughs she discussed in the book: scientists using viruses to build batteries without toxic waste. Hockfield wrote that, as the world population increases, scientists will seek sustainable solutions to rising temperatures, rising sea levels, drought, famine and drug-resistant diseases.
Hockfield served as MIT’s first female president from 2004-12. She also served on the faculty at both Yale and Harvard universities.
Her appearance at SVSU is part of its annual Visiting Scholars and Artists speakers series and is the university’s 2019 James E. O’Neill Jr. Memorial Lecture.
Saginaw Valley State University will host its annual Fall University-wide Employment & Networking Fair later this week.
More than 130 employers are registered to attend the event Friday, Oct. 18, from noon to 3 p.m. on the second floor of SVSU's Curtiss Hall.
This employment fair — along with the other seven employment fairs hosted annually by SVSU's Career Services office — is free and open to the public.
Businesses and organizations such as Chemical Bank, Dow, MidMichigan Health, Nexteer Automotive, and the U.S. Army will be in attendance to offer co-ops, internships, seasonal, part-time and full-time employment opportunities.
Tom Barnikow, interim associate director of SVSU Career Services, said attendees hoping to make an impression on employers there should memorize a 30-second pitch tailored for specific organizations.
“Describe yourself in terms of your experiences, your stories, the anecdotes that you’ve been able to build on over the course of your time in the professional field,” Barnikow said. “Specifically, looking at experience that’s directly related to the company that you’re talking with.”
Dynamic Focus Photography will be at the fair, offering free services for photography that attendees can use for their LinkedIn social media profiles. The free service will be available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information about the event, visit www.svsu.edu/careerservices/events/falluniversity-wideemploymentfair/.
Dedicated tutors enhance a student’s experience in the classroom, and Aranya “Ron” Biswas is making sure Saginaw Valley State University students are given every chance to succeed, say professionals in the tutoring industry.
Biswas, an SVSU economics major from Dhaka, Bangladesh, recently was selected as the recipient of the Michigan Tutorial Association "Tutor of the Year" award.
Biswas has served as a tutor at SVSU's Center for Academic Achievement for three years. There, he helps students enrolled in accounting, economics and statistics courses.
“I wanted to be a tutor to improve my skill as an effective communicator as well as to build my interpersonal skills,” Biswas said.
Elaine Hunyadi, director of Social Sciences & Business Tutoring Services in SVSU’s Center for Academic Achievement, nominated Biswas in part because of his leadership during tutor training meetings, she said. With the help of faculty and fellow student-tutors specializing in economics, Biswas devised and shared specific strategies for tutoring an especially-challenging economics course.
“His outreach to faculty in the economics department helped us to create an online learning space for all of our tutors who tutor this course, which we have now been using successfully for over two years,” Hunyadi said.
Biswas also takes the time to connect and mentor less-experienced tutors at the Center for Academic Achievement, Hunyadi said.
“His calm and patient persona draws people to him,” she said. “They openly seek his advice and expertise.”
With plans to attend graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in either economics or data sciences, Biswas said serving as a tutor helped him gain skills that are useful when pursuing such academic degrees.
“Tutoring is a great résumé builder for someone who wants to go to grad school and potentially would search for teaching assistantships,” he said.
Biswas will be recognized Friday, Nov. 1 at Michigan State University during the annual Michigan Tutorial Association conference. He will receive $500 and a plaque.
Along with his work in the Center for Academic Achievement, Biswas serves as treasurer for the SVSU Economics Club. He also has been involved in SVSU’s student government, cricket club, Bangladeshi Student Association, International Student Club, and the university's chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity. He was selected for two of SVSU's most prestigious student leadership development initiatives: The Vitito Global Leadership Institute in 2017 and the Roberts Fellowship Program in 2018.