When Kimberly Salwey arrived at Saginaw Valley State University as a freshman in 2012, she was admittedly shy and timid.
Now, just months shy of graduation, the marketing major from East Tawas has experienced a dramatic transformation. Her enthusiasm for her school and her fellow students, and her engaging leadership style has resulted in Salwey receiving the Outstanding Student Leader award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for a six-state region.
“I was really surprised and shocked to win this,” Salwey said. “I'm thankful because I wouldn't be who I am without my SVSU experience; I have been blessed to be surrounded and empowered by influential and strong leaders who have continuously pushed me to better myself.”
Salwey serves as president of the student organization Forever Red, which was created in 2011 to promote SVSU school spirit, support student scholarships through fundraising, and connect students with alumni. In addition to Salwey's individual award, Forever Red received the Outstanding Student Organization award for CASE District V, which encompasses Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Both Salwey and Forever Red - with its 130 student members - will be eligible for the same awards at the national level. Winners will be announced during a CASE conference in Atlanta in August.
Bryan Crainer, Forever Red adviser, praised Salwey in his letter nominating her for the award.
“Kim is extraordinarily forward-thinking,” said Crainer, SVSU associate dean of student life and leadership programs. “What has made her such a dynamic student leader on our campus and such an extreme benefit to Forever Red is that she is constantly looking for ways in which the organization can improve.”
Crainer described her as an unselfish leader.
“Kim is the rare student leader that is not the least bit concerned about getting credit or receiving any kind of accolades or recognition for her work,” he said. “She very humbly goes about her business and works very diligently to ensure that Forever Red is the best organization that it can be for the university, for its members, and for the community.”
Salwey said she arrived at SVSU “shy,” but with a desire to become involved in the campus community. She joined Forever Red as a freshman and developed as a leader.
“Throughout the past four years, I have learned what it takes to be a leader by having a mentor like Bryan,” she said. “I've grown so much as a person because of Bryan's guidance and I'm grateful to have met him the beginning of my freshmen year.”
The experience also helped Salwey discover a love for philanthropy.
“I always knew about the importance of giving back,” she said. “but I didn't realize it was going to be something I was so passionate about.”
Salwey was able to channel that newfound passion into initiatives that benefited SVSU and its students. One of the most recent accomplishments involved Forever Red's contributions to I Heart SV Week, a campaign in early February that raised both scholarship money and awareness about the importance of philanthropy. The effort resulted in $27,500 raised by Forever Red and the SVSU Foundation.
“Enhancing the student experience through scholarship is one of Forever Red's pillars,” she said. “I Heart SV Week was a big accomplishment and I'm very proud of our members for putting this on.”
Salwey said the campaign encompassed the community engagement spirit that she has grown to love as a member of Forever Red and SVSU.
“I wanted to be part of something bigger than I am,” Salwey said. “I know I can say I was part of something bigger here at SVSU.”