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October 14, 2019

At SVSU event, former MIT president to discuss ‘living machines,’ technology of the future

‘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.

October 14, 2019

More than 130 businesses, organizations to seek prospective employees at SVSU fair

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

October 11, 2019

For empowering peers, SVSU student named statewide ‘Tutor of the Year’

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.

October 11, 2019

SVSU student's leadership earns her state Hispanic Latino Commission scholarship

With the support of her family — and now a statewide organization that recognizes her strong leadership qualities — a Saginaw Valley State University senior soon will follow in her older sister’s footsteps as a first-generation college graduate.

Paloma Barba, a business management major from Detroit, recently earned the Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan's Future Leaders Scholarship. She was one of nine Michigan college students to earn the $1,000 scholarship.

"I was surprised because I honestly did not expect to receive the scholarship since it was very competitive," she said.

To apply for the scholarship, Barba wrote an essay explaining why she believed she deserved the scholarship as well as why it was important for Hispanic students to earn higher education degrees. Barba said she wanted to apply so she could help finance her education.

"I come from a large family, and therefore my parents cannot support me financially," she said. "I saw an opportunity, and I seized it."

The scholarship will help her pursue an ambition her family supports.

"My parents have always encouraged my siblings and I to go to college and learn because knowledge is power,” Barba said.

She said her older sister, Berenice Barba, inspired her to attend college. Berenice is a graduate student at SVSU and works as a graduate assistant in SVSU’s President's Office. She received her bachelor's degree in business administration earlier this year.

"My older sister was the first one in the family to graduate with a bachelor's," Paloma Barba said. "I feel like she deserves most of the credit for my success because she basically paved the way for everyone in our family and, most importantly, for my siblings and me. I just hope that, after I graduate, I can offer the same support that has been offered to me."

The younger Barba graduates in May 2020. She said next she may pursue a master's degree or a career in sports management.

"I would like to go back to my hometown — Detroit — and hopefully work for the Pistons basketball team," she said of the NBA franchise.

The Future Leaders Scholarship awards will be presented to the recipients during a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration organized by the Hispanic Latino Commission in Grand Rapids on Thursday, Oct 10.

October 9, 2019

Ford Motor Company selects SVSU alumna for prestigious philanthropic leadership program

A Saginaw Valley State University alumna’s community-minded values helped her become selected for an innovative corporate leadership course associated with one of the world’s largest automotive companies.

Claire Gembrowski, who works in purchasing at Ford Motor Company’s Dearborn campus, was named to the latest Ford Thirty Under 30 Fellowship class. She was one of 30 people selected from a national pool of 300 applicants.

The honor means Gembrowski, who received a bachelor’s degree in management from SVSU in 2011 and later an M.B.A. from University of Michigan-Flint, will participate in a year-long philanthropic-driven leadership development initiative. The fellowship pairs the company's employees with nonprofits from their local communities.

The Freeland native said the opportunity fits with the values she learned growing up.

“I was raised Catholic and was taught that volunteering is something you should do,” she said. “If you have the means to volunteer your time, money or talent, you should.”

Rene Palileo, manager of employee engagement for The Ford Fund, said employees turn in a written application for the fellowship. If their application is chosen to continue in the process, a committee consisting of Ford and Ford Fund executives as well as former Thirty Under 30 fellows rate the applicants. The committee rates them based off how strongly each applicant represents Ford's seven cultural “truths:” "putting people first, doing the right thing, being curious, creating tomorrow, building Ford tough, playing to win and exemplifying the 'one Ford' philosophy."

Palileo said Gembrowski represented each of these “truths,” and helped bring them out in her fellow employees.

"Claire’s volunteer experience and genuine interest in helping the community was a strong point," Palileo said. "Being an SVSU Cardinal, Claire embraces the innovation and transformational work Ford Motor Company Fund provides and, as a Thirty Under 30 fellow, will help broaden our reach in the future."

Gembrowski and her Thirty Under 30 team will work with The Grandmont-Rosedale Development Corporation (GRDC). The organization focuses on preserving and enriching Grandmont-Rosedale — a Detroit neighborhood — and its economy.

"A problem GRDC continues to come back to is millennial engagement in their group,” Gembrowski said. “They have a senior citizen group that is extremely passionate, but the population in that area is very diverse. There are young families, new residents, renters and the like.”

Gembrowski said her team hopes to solve this problem by creating a junior society that supports the larger organization.

"I think, generally, millennials want to give,” she said. “I would say they are even a bit more passionate than other generations about helping and leaving some kind of impact. The tricky part is that millennials have the desire for something immediate and for instant gratification. The long game is not part of the vocabulary.”

Millennial lifestyles are a problem for more established organizations, Gembrowski said. These organizations want long weekly meetings and volunteers who are coming in for longer periods of time. She said this structure does not appeal to younger generations.

“You need to find ways that fit into the over-committed lifestyles of many millennials that still make an impact,” she said.

Gembrowski’s team will canvass for like-minded individuals within and near the neighborhood. She said some younger people have already expressed interest in volunteering for the Grandmont-Rosedale neighborhood group.

She hopes her team can find enough junior society participants for it to continue on its own after the Ford Thirty Under 30 Fellowship cohort leaves.

“The fear I have is that there are certain people who are the doers and people who are not,” she said. “So, we need to find the passionate people and give them some sort of power and freedom to help.”

Gembrowski’s work at Ford has exposed her to communities from across the world. She said she has worked with several departments within Ford and had the opportunity to spend last year in Valencia, Spain working with Ford suppliers in lean manufacturing.

“Ford has something called an ADP, an accelerated development program,” she said. “You do a job swap, so I was able to work in the same job function, which was a supplier coaching of lean, but I got to do it from another region.”

Gembrowski enjoyed the experience and Spain’s culture.

“It was difficult coming back from Spain because you get used to a certain lifestyle,” she said.  “I loved the culture. I feel like I fit right in. I come from a big family, and our culture is quite close. We really value doing things together, and that is what is valued in the Mediterranean culture.”

After returning from Spain, Gembrowski worked to bring some of the Spanish culture back to her American co-workers, such as meeting up for coffee outside of work.

She has also continued her local volunteer work since returning. She said she felt the need to help children who were not fortunate enough to have the warm childhood she experienced. She volunteers as an English tutor regularly with Mercy Education Project, a Detroit-based nonprofit that helps girls and women receive an education.

Gembrowski’s motivation to volunteer was a major reason she applied for Thirty Under 30.

“Having that giving sort of mindset, I was excited about this project,” she said. “It combines business and philanthropic endeavors, which is a perfect fit for me.”

While she hopes to learn more about business from the fellowship, Gembrowski said she does not have definitive career goals. Rather, she simply wants to avoid being stagnate.

“I haven’t loved every assignment I have had, but I have tried to be self-aware so that, whenever I get to a point where I think I have learned all I can from a job, I say, ‘Give me more or give me something different,’” she said. “I am lucky to have worked at two different companies — Nexteer and Ford — that have allowed me to do that.”

Gembrowski said current SVSU Scott L. Carmona College of Business students can set themselves up for success now by taking advantage of their coursework in real-world settings, such as co-ops or work experiences.

“What served me well was the co-op opportunity,” she said. “While everyone has a different capacity, I would say try to work while you’re in school. It doesn’t matter if it’s at a restaurant or the bookstore on campus — try to get some work experience to connect to your schooling.”

She also said students should take the time to build up their soft skills before graduating.

“It’s the soft skills — like time management, organization, having high expectations for people, expecting people to do their part and keeping people motivated — that lead to success,” she said. “As easy as that is to say, when you’re working in a corporate environment or a non-profit, when people get stressed, that can be hard to actually do.”

Gembrowski said she is thankful for the groundwork for success SVSU provided her.

“SVSU has played a big role in my life,” she said. “I am very thankful financially, and I went to a great university. I walked away with no debt, I received a great education, made great friends and had work experience through my co-op. It was a great foundation for me.”

October 3, 2019

SVSU alumnus in national spotlight with inspirational story about marching band's supportive performance

A Saginaw Valley State University alumnus' neighborly nature was music to the ears of one northern Michigan high school last week. Now the support the school marching band director offered has attracted the attention of media outlets across the country.


Brandon Deike, who received a bachelor's degree in music education at SVSU in 2009, made national news when his school's marching band performed during a football game at another high school, which lacked a band. Deike brought the Forest Area Schools marching band he directs to Maple City Glen Lake for its Friday, Sept. 27 home game. The arrangement was made after Glen Lake Athletic Director Mark Mattson called Deike the same week the band director's high school lost its football team due to a lack of players.


"We had a news team come in about our football team being shut down," Deike said. "They talked to the band and asked them how that affected them. I think the athletic director saw that story, so he called me and said, 'Hey, we don't have a high school band right now, and you don't have a football team, so do you want to make something happen?'"


Deike said he put the offer to a vote among his band students who would have to travel to Glen Lake, about 45 miles from Deike's school, which is near Traverse City.


"When I talked to the band, I said, 'This is quick. We've got a three-day turnaround. You have to make an adult decision on whether you want to do this or not. We can haul all our stuff up there, arrange everything and help these kids out,'" Deike said. "All the band raised their hands."


Deike said he believes his students made the leap of faith to go because Forest Area had lost its band program a few years prior.


"Our story is, we were worse off than Glen Lake was," Deike said. "We've been rebuilding since 2011. I think a lot of the kids remembered where we come from and what we had to face, and they really wanted to help these kids."


Deike said Forest Lake features 11 middle school students in band and one high schooler who performs with the middle school. He hoped his high school band students showed the Glen Lake middle schoolers that they can be successful in band. He said Forest Area was a great example of this because its high school band, jazz band and choir received high marks during last year's local band festival.


"Rebuilding can be done if you put yourself in the right place," Deike said. "I think the kids were coming off that awesome year, and we see Glen Lake is missing out without band. So we wanted to show them how successful they can be in band."


Shortly after the Forest Area band decided to play at Glen Lake, the story was picked up nationally by outlets such as The Associated Press, Detroit Free Press, Miami Herald and CNN. Deike said he was surprised by the attention the story received.


"We're in northern Michigan, in the woods, and we're removed from the country," he said. "You never go into something thinking, 'Well, let's hope this makes the national news.'"


While Deike was happy the story was circulated, he said there was "one thing missing" from most of the articles.


"Our program was basically born out of the ashes of nothing," he said. "For our kids to turn around and do this seven or eight years later is a testament to the work they put in. It's just really cool."


He said the band's decision to play at Glen Lake would be an inspiring story for more outlets to share. A social media campaign has begun, attempting to get the story told on NBC's The Ellen DeGeneres Show.


"Basically, our school is low-income, low-socioeconomic status," he said. "We have nothing in the way of money, budget or instruments. We're working with chicken wire and duct tape here. From what we've come from and where we've gone, for another school an hour away to call us and say, 'Hey, come be our band,' why wouldn't you want to share that story?"


Deike said his students enjoyed their experience at Glen Lake and would return if asked.


"We're looking at schedules to see about returning," he said. "If we can line it up, we will return. I know the music director there is trying to rebuild their band, so I don't want to step on their toes. If they've got their vision to get this thing going again, that's great."


He said the Forest Area band would be more than willing to lend their support as Glen Lake rebuilds.


"I think the bigger story is that you can go to rags to —not riches — but 'rags to successful,' and turn it all around so you can be someone who helps others take risks and support them," he said.

October 3, 2019

SVSU fundraising tradition to boost Midland nonprofit's educational programs across region

Saginaw Valley State University students’ commitment to support the community remains as strong as ever. They are inspired to compete — now only against themselves — during a fundraiser next week that will support a nonprofit’s expansion of a developmental educational program already positively impacting Great Lakes Bay Region teens.


SVSU’s “Battle of the Valley” fundraiser from Oct. 6-11 will benefit The ROCK Center for Youth Development, a Midland-based nonprofit that provides after-school programs as well as educational development initiatives at 30 middle and high schools in Bay, Midland and Saginaw counties. SVSU students will spend the week collecting funds that will be used to expand the nonprofit’s programs across the region.


From Battle of the Valley's conception in 2003 until last year, the annual event was a fundraising competition between SVSU and Grand Valley State University students. The two sides raised $652,385 for various nonprofits and organizations over the years. But GVSU students backed out of the event this year. Regardless, SVSU student leaders decided to continue the tradition minus the competition.


The re-imagined effort will maintain many of its hallmarks. The public can continue to contribute to the cause. Off-campus events benefiting the fundraiser are planned at establishments in Kochville and Saginaw townships such as Buffalo Wild Wings all day Monday, Oct. 7; Pierce Road Bar and Grill all day Wednesday, Oct. 9; and Stardust Lanes all day Friday, Oct. 11. For more information about the week’s Battle of the Valley-related events, visit


Madeline Lowry, the chairperson of the fundraiser organized by SVSU’s student government, said she and her peers selected The ROCK Center for Youth Development from 50 applicants because of its offerings to teens — and, by extension, their families — in need of support.


“Their programs are designed to enhance students’ ability to work in the professional world as well as in the college environment after high school,” said Lowry, an exercise science major from Lake Orion.


Kylie Anderson, The ROCK Center for Youth Development’s director of development, said the nonprofit started small in 2001 in Midland, where it offered after-school programs for teens there. Those after-school initiatives still exist — now housed at Jefferson and Northeast middle schools as well as the nonprofit’s headquarters in the Greater Midland Community Center — but the organization has evolved to include other initiatives with the help of eight full-time and 20 part-time staff members.


“The spirit of how we started remains, but we’ve grown and added so much since then,” Anderson said. “We’ve learned a lot about youth development over the years.”


One of its most popular programs is Discover You, a curriculum-based initiative that provides middle and high school students with life skills meant to prepare them better for adulthood. Through partnerships with about 30 organizations and schools in the Great Lakes Bay Region, Discover You involves the nonprofit’s staff hosting weekly hour-long sessions at each client's site including at campuses during school hours, when they work with teens in group settings.


“Discover You deals with a lot of problem-solving and resiliency-building skills that help with self-esteem and self-image,” Anderson said. “We find that kids also build stronger relationships with their classmates as a result of Discover You.”


She said about 5,000 teenagers in the region were impacted by the program last year alone. Among the Discover You clients are Swan Valley middle and high schools. Mat McRae, superintendent of the Swan Valley School District, said the initiative made a positive difference in the lives of his students.


“We now consider this a valuable piece of our multi-tiered systems of support and look forward to its continuation,” McRae said. “This program benefits not only our students and schools, but also our families and the Swan Valley community.”


Anderson said she expects much of the funds collected through the Battle of the Valley initiative will enable the Discover You program to expand across more schools across the region. More schools will necessitate more staff, staff hours and training — all of which will require budget investments, she said.


“We’ve been in Midland since the beginning, but we’re newer in Bay and Saginaw counties, so that financial support will help us become better established there,” she said. “There’s a lot of interest out there, but there’s only so much we can do in terms of our capacity to meet those needs.”


If Battle of the Valley 2019 matches the performance of the fundraiser's previous five years, The ROCK Center for Youth Development could receive somewhere between $25,000 to $35,000. Last year, SVSU raised $36,210 for The Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network.


Lowry said she doesn’t expect the change in the fundraiser’s format will impact the final tally this time around. She said the spirit of giving among SVSU students will endure regardless of the absence of a competing university.


“We’re all broke college students, yet we still manage to come up with $30-something-thousand dollars every year,” Lowry said. “It’s really cool to see all the students come together just to support another organization. It’s just amazing.”

October 3, 2019

Season-opening winning streak continues for SVSU forensics program

Hard work and dedication helped Saginaw Valley State University's forensics team experience its fifth consecutive year winning the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League season-opening tournament.

Five SVSU students qualified for a national tournament spot in April as a result of their individual performances during the team's victory Friday, Sept. 27, at Oakland Community College's Orchard Ridge campus.

Amy Pierce, an SVSU associate professor of communication serving as co-adviser for the forensics group, said a forensics-focused communication class offered at the university allowed students to prepare early in the semester for the competition.

"While most of the students in the class had no previous experience with forensics, the class introduces them to the norms and culture of competitive speaking," she said, "which sets us apart from other schools."

Friday's competition featured students competing in categories such as prose, dramatic interpretation, impromptu, and informative.

These students placed in the following categories during individual competition:

  • Jessica Carpenter, a communication major from Saginaw, placed fourth in the prose category.
  • Imani Clark, a communication major from Saginaw, earned second place in the impromptu category.
  • Monae Colvin, a criminal justice major from Detroit, received third place in the prose category.
  • Savannah Senyk, a communication and theatre education major from Smiths Creek, earned second place in the prose category.
  • Simone Vaughn, a communication major from Saginaw, placed second in the informative category.

The SVSU team will compete in a Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League tournament at its own campus in December. The National Forensics Association Championship Tournament, meanwhile, will be hosted by University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in April.


Along with Pierce, the SVSU team is advised by Ryan Rigda, a lecturer of communication at the university.

October 1, 2019

Record-high number of SVSU students admitted early to medical school

Saginaw Valley State University students passionate about pursuing health care professions combined their outstanding academic preparation with exemplary community service commitment to be accepted early into medical school. They did so using a program that networks talent from SVSU to other institutions.

A record-high 10 seniors applied to various medical schools that have Early Assurance Program (EAP) agreements with SVSU. All 10 were accepted. The program allows SVSU students to apply to medical schools the summer before their senior year. Currently, SVSU has partnerships with the medical schools at Central Michigan University, Michigan State University and Wayne State University.

Heidi Lang, SVSU's pre-health professions adviser, said the 10-for-10 feat is no small accomplishment, especially considering the overall acceptance rate for medical schools in the U.S. is about 40 percent.

While SVSU has had 100 percent acceptance in the past, this is the first year 10 students applied. Usually, three or four students apply, Lang said.

“This year’s class is exceptionally strong, and I am not at all surprised to see 100 percent acceptance,” she said. “Among the 10 students, we have individuals who have volunteered and worked in local hospitals and clinics, but they have all gone a step further to truly make an impact on the community, especially serving those who are from under-served communities.”

Lang said each student who applied this year is dedicated to helping others and will succeed in their careers.

“One thing they all have in common is a genuine desire to serve others through health care,” she said. “They will be a great addition to their respective medical school classes and, perhaps more importantly, the communities where they eventually practice.”  

Several of the SVSU students — including Darby Richards — cited Lang’s help as a key reason for their success.

“Heidi is a great asset to have,” said Richards, a biology major from West Branch. “She really advocates for us and gets us prepared. She does mock interviews in the fall to get us ready. I think having that preparation really helps.”

Richards performs community service through Standing in the Gap, a Christian-based student organization; she also pushes herself academically through SVSU’s Honors program. She will be the first SVSU student to attend Wayne State University under the EAP program, as the university joined the partnership this year.

“I’m really interested in working with under-served populations in lower income areas,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I was so interested in Wayne. They’re right in the heart of Detroit, and they do a lot outreach in the region with the homeless population and the low-income population.”

Cailtin Coulter will be attending CMU next fall. She also is in SVSU’s Honors program, and she is a past president of SVSU's student government, Student Association. Coulter was thankful for the opportunities afforded her by attending a university where faculty and staff know her personally. 

“At a lot of schools, there’s so many people that you can get lost in the mix,” said Coulter, a biology major from Mount Morris. “Here, I think I’ve had opportunities I wouldn’t have had other places.”

Among other opportunities, Coulter works as a medical scribe at Covenant Medical Center. She said Central Michigan University College of Medicine's commitment to philanthropy was a key reason for wanting to attend the medical school there.


“My ultimate goal down the road is to serve on a nonprofit board in the community I am working in,” she said. “Their model of curriculum is based around philanthropy, as well as every year, you are required to do a service project." 


Below is a list of each SVSU student accepted into medical school for 2020 under EAP agreements, organized by university. 


Wayne State University School of Medicine 

Darby Richards, a biology major from West Branch


Michigan State University College of Human Medicine 

Emily Beardsley, a biochemistry major from Bay City

Katelyn Hartupee-Malett, a biology major from Mount Pleasant

Bayley Pfau, a biology major from Bay City

Tyler Sadilek, a biology major from Chesaning


Central Michigan University College of Medicine 

Caitlin Coulter, a biology major from Mount Morris

Anh (Wendy) Pham, a biology major from Bay City

Kathleen Murphy, a biochemistry major from Bay City

Garrett Richardson, a biology major from Gaylord

Aiden Van Loo, a biology major from Freeland

October 1, 2019

Bay City third graders to visit 'the world' — and many of its cultures — at SVSU

A group of third grade students from Bay City will drive a few miles from their school to take a tour of the world.

Saginaw Valley State University's English Language Program will host its Passport to the World event Friday, Oct. 4. Nearly 100 third grade students from Kolb Elementary School in Bay City will visit campus, where they will learn about different countries and cultures through a series of performances and activities organized by SVSU staff and students.

The day-long event begins with cultural performances hosted by SVSU international students.

SVSU staff and students later will read the book, “Same, Same But Different" by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw, to the children. The children's book follows the relationship between two pen pals on opposite sides of the globe.

The day of international exploration also includes yoga sessions led by SVSU students, a tour of the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum on campus, and clay-sculpting activities.

The third grade attendees will then have the opportunity to "visit" 13 different countries at educational tables staffed by international students with information about other cultures. During the event, the visitors will learn about Japan, Vietnam, Panama, Taiwan, China, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, India, Armenia, Italy, Peru, Rwanda, and Guatemala.

For more information on Passport to the World, contact Amy Cook, assistant director of SVSU’s English Language Program, at or (989) 964-2733.

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