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December 18, 2019

First-person perspectives from first-generation college students: Paloma Barba, of SVSU

The following is a part of a series of first-person narratives from SVSU students who are part of the first generation of their families to attend college. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find links to additional student stories.

The following is a first-person perspective from SVSU student Paloma Barba:

With the support of my family — and now a statewide organization that recognizes my leadership qualities — I am hoping to follow in my older sister’s footsteps as a first-generation college graduate.

My name is Paloma Barba. I am a senior business management major from Detroit. I recently earned the Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan's Future Leaders Scholarship. I 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.

To apply for the scholarship, I wrote an essay explaining why I believe I deserved the scholarship as well as why it was important for Hispanic students to earn higher education degrees.

I wanted to apply so I could help finance my college education. I come from a large family, and therefore my parents cannot support me financially. I saw an opportunity, and I seized it.

The scholarship will help me pursue my dreams, along with the support of my family. My parents have always encouraged my siblings and I to go to college and learn because knowledge is power.

My older sister, Berenice, inspired me to attend college. Berenice is a graduate student at SVSU now, and 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. 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 following are links to additional first-person perspectives from first-generation college students:

Talia Pruiett

Jessalyn Gaskin

Lindsey Mead

Mitch Hughes


December 18, 2019

First-person perspectives from first-generation college students: Lindsey Mead, of SVSU

The following is a part of a series of first-person narratives from SVSU students who are part of the first generation of their families to attend college. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find links to additional student stories.

The following is a first-person perspective from SVSU student Lindsey Mead:

As a first-generation college student, my parents instilled in me that it’s best to pursue a career that inspired passion within me. At Saginaw Valley State University, I followed that advice and it has led me both on the path to study law and to help communities in need.

My parents always pushed me at least to follow my passions. As long as they knew I was trying my best, they were proud of me. That has been the most motivating factor for me; knowing that failure was an option and okay.

As an English major and pre-law student from Saginaw, I became involved with two groups my sophomore year that put me on the path to studying law: SVSU's Alternative Breaks program and the moot court team. When I applied to be a site leader for Alternative Breaks — an initiative that sends SVSU students to volunteer for national nonprofits during the university’s holiday breaks — I knew it was a risk because I had less experience with the program than most site leaders.

It was the first time I’d applied for something that was a stretch; where there was an opportunity to fail. When I got selected as a site leader, it made me want to rise up to the occasion. My passion for helping disadvantaged communities was enhanced by the experience. Alternative Breaks exposed me to communities outside of my own, struggling and prospering in ways that Saginaw isn’t.

A late start to my first season as a competitor for moot court could have been my excuse to not do as well ... or to quit. But I rose to the challenge and have qualified and competed in nationals for the past two years.

Acting as teams of two attorneys, students competing in moot court tournament are tasked with arguing two hypothetical legal cases based on real-life courtroom battles. The competition is judged based on the clarity of the students' argument, their public speaking skills, their ability to answer questions, and how well they know the law and the case.

The competition fit my passion for fighting to help others in need. What I want to do is advocate for people, and so moot court was the perfect stepping stone not only to my friend group – the people I’m closest with – but to my career path.

As a member of the 20th class of Roberts Fellows, one of SVSU's most prestigious student leadership development initiatives, I traveled to China, Taiwan, and Japan with my cohort last summer. The Roberts Fellows program focuses on fostering students with a strong interest in community engagement, and I used this program to help a local non-profit I already had ties to. Other Roberts Fellows and I organized a fundraiser to help pay for renovations at Community Village, a local assisted living facility, by inviting people to participate in a bowling tournament to raise funds for the cause. It was the first time I’d been placed in a room with that many leaders. It was the first time where I had to know when I needed to step down and follow.

After taking the LSAT in the fall, I continue to set high goals for myself. I am in the process of selecting a law school to attend.

The following are links to additional first-person perspectives from first-generation college students: 

Paloma Barba

Talia Pruiett

Jessalyn Gaskin

Mitch Hughes

December 16, 2019

SVSU Board approves room and board rates, faculty sabbaticals

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved room and board rates for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years during the Board’s regular meeting Friday, Dec. 13. 

Overall, rates are increasing by less than 2 percent each of the next two years, and some rates will see a minor reduction.

For freshmen who choose a shared bedroom unit in one of the Living Centers, rates will drop from $10,030 to $9,990 for each of the next two years, including their meal plan. Freshmen who choose a single bedroom unit will see rates rise next year from $10,440 to $10,850 in the First Year Suites, and in the Living Centers, rates will increase from $11,156 to $11,378 for single bedroom units.

Similarly, returning students in some shared bedroom units will see slight decreases in their rates, while most other rates will rise modestly. The total weighted increase for 2020-21 is 1.87% and the total weighted increase for 2021-22 is 1.74%.

The Board also approved 11 faculty sabbaticals for faculty members who will pursue a variety of research projects in their respective disciplines during the 2020-21academic year. Those who were approved for sabbaticals were:

  • Arundhati Bagchi Misra, mathematical sciences
  • Emily Beard-Bohn, English
  • Ranjana Dutta, psychology
  • Andrea Frederick, nursing
  • Rosina Hassoun, sociology
  • Julie Lynch, psychology
  • Jennifer McCullough, communication
  • Rhett Mohler, geography
  • Travis Pashak, psychology
  • Khandaker Abir Rahman, computer science
  • Peter Rose-Barry, philosophy 

In other action, the Board:

  • Passed a resolution of appreciation for Jenee Velasquez, who completed her 8-year term on the Board in August.
  • Passed a resolution of appreciation for Scott Carmona, who completed his 8-year term on the Board in August.
  • Passed a resolution to grant undergraduate and graduate degrees.
  • Approved confirmation of board members for previously authorized public school academies.
  • Authorized the establishment of a new public school academy, iLead Academy, to be located in Canton, Michigan.
  • Approved a revised Code of Student Conduct for 2019-20.
  • Approved a revised Academic Integrity Policy for 2019-20.
  • Approved a revised Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy for 2019-20.
  • Approved 1.75 percent raises for the 2020 calendar year for executive staff. President Bachand’s salary was set at 298,500; Deb Huntley, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, will receive a salary of $238,700; and James G. Muladore, Executive Vice President for Administration and Business Affairs, will be paid $227,000.

December 16, 2019

State budget expert to visit SVSU

An expert on the subject will discuss the state budget and policy plans in Lansing during a presentation at Saginaw Valley State University on Monday, Dec. 16.
Jeffrey M. Donofrio, the director of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity at Michigan Economic Development Corporation, will visit as part of a Great Lakes Bay Economic Club luncheon event scheduled in SVSU’s Curtiss Hall banquet rooms.
The program begins at noon. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. Attendance costs $35 for guests or $25 for members of the Great Lakes Bay Economic Club.
Donofrio was appointed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s transition team as special advisor for jobs and economic development in 2018. He previously served as district director for U.S. Rep. Sander Levin as well as U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell.
Donofrio also worked as transportation policy advisor to Gov. Jennifer Granholm as well as the executive director of workforce development for Detroit.
For more information about this event and to register, go to this link:

December 11, 2019

SVSU forensics team places first in home tournament, students qualify for national championship

The Saginaw Valley State University forensics team won first place at the fall Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 7. This is the first time SVSU has hosted or won this tournament.

“We could not have been successful without the hard work of each and every student," said Ryan Rigda, co-adviser of the SVSU team and a lecturer of communications. 

"This was largely a team effort and demonstrates the start of a very promising future for the SVSU forensics team."

As a result of their performance at the SVSU-based tournament, six SVSU students qualified to compete in the National Forensics Association Championship Tournament, which will be hosted by University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in April. Those students and their Dec. 7 tournament performances are as follows:

  • Hannah Ducolon, an elementary education major from Bay City, placed first in the programmed oral interpretation category.
  • Lydia Greania, a psychology major from Essexville, placed second in the programmed oral interpretation category.
  • Mikayla Rigda, a communication major from Birch Run, placed first in the informative speaking category.
  • Justin Russell, a marketing major from Kimball, placed second in the duo interpretation category and fourth in the dramatic interpretation category.
  • Austin Teeple, a communication major from Bay Mills, placed first in the impromptu speaking category and fourth in the persuasive speaking category.
  • Sara Vasquez, a political science major from Alma, placed third in the extemporaneous speaking category.

Four additional students — who earned invitations to the national championship as a result of their performance at a September tournament — also earned top awards at the Dec. 7 contest. Those students and their Dec. 7 tournament performances are as follows:

  • Jessica Carpenter, a communication major from Saginaw, placed fourth in rhetorical criticism.
  • Imani Clark, a communication major from Saginaw, placed third in poetry interpretation and programmed oral interpretation.
  • Savannah Senyk, a communication and theatre education major from Smiths Creek, placed second in duo interpretation and dramatic interpretation as well as fourth in prose.
  • Simone Vaughn, a communication major from Saginaw, placed second in persuasive speaking.

In total, 11 SVSU students are qualified to participate in the April national championship. Monae Colvin, a criminal justice major from Detroit, qualified after a strong showing during the September tournament.

The next tournament the SVSU forensics team will compete in is at Northwood University in February.

Amy Pierce, an SVSU associate professor of communication, serves as co-adviser for the forensics group along with Rigda.

December 11, 2019

SVSU to collaborate on restoration effort to preserve historic Saginaw mansion

A collaboration between historical preservationists and the Saginaw Valley State University-operated Saginaw Community Writing Center aims to raise awareness and money for transforming one of Saginaw’s most iconic homes into a multi-use community space.

SVSU's Saginaw Community Writing Center, the Saginaw Art Museum and the group preserving the historic Charles Lee Mansion structure in Saginaw will host a poetry slam contest — with cash prizes to the top three winners — Thursday, Dec. 12, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Charles Lee Mansion site at 633 S. Washington in Saginaw. The poetry contest coincides with an open house at the mansion from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. the same day.

While there is no cost to attend either event, a free-will donation will be held to support the renovation of Charles Lee Mansion.

Built by lumber baron Charles Lee in the late 1800s, the historic site was saved from demolition in 2018 when Ann Arbor Builders, Inc. agreed to a development deal with the City of Saginaw, which owned the property. The preservation effort involves restoring the mansion and creating within it a community meeting space and a shop selling Saginaw-centric items.

Helen Raica-Klotz, co-director of SVSU's Saginaw Community Writing Center, took a tour of Charles Lee Mansion and immediately wanted to collaborate.

“Saginaw is a city that’s rich with history, and I think that any community writing center needs to work to recognize and honor the history of that particular community, as well as the efforts of individuals who are trying to improve the region as a whole,” she said.

Alex Mixter, the project manager for the Lee Mansion Restoration Project, has indicated he wants the site to serve as a "front door to Saginaw" for visitors.

“Alex and all the volunteers that have worked at the Lee Mansion have done a marvelous job over the years of fundraising, of putting in time and labor to preserve this space,” Raica-Klotz said. “For us to come and celebrate through a poetry reading — particularly in Saginaw itself — is a really nice way of supporting their work.”

To learn more about the restoration project or to donate to the Lee Mansion Restoration Project, go to

The Saginaw Community Writing Center is operated by SVSU staff and student tutors, who help residents with writing-based activities during scheduled sessions throughout the Saginaw community. The community writing center was established in part through a partnership with the Saginaw Community Foundation.

December 11, 2019

SVSU student named to fellowship program for nation's top collegiate journalists

With a drive to keep a community informed and a talented way with words, Saginaw Valley State University senior Kaitlyn Farley earned a spot in a program designed to develop some of the nation’s top college journalists.

The Warren native was selected to the National Newspaper Association Foundation's News Fellows Program. The opportunity will send her to a paid-for community journalism workshop in Washington, D.C. from March 18-21.

“I’ve never flown before,” she said. “I’m excited about the whole experience.”

During the workshop, Farley and her peers will work with veteran journalists to develop skills that allow community newspaper reporters to pursue hot button issues impacting readers. Farley — a double major in history as well as professional and technical writing — also will learn more about reporting in politics as part of the National Newspaper Association Foundation program. It's an opportunity that will connect her with lawmakers and legislative staff working in Congress.

Jodi McFarland Friedman, the staff adviser for the SVSU student newspaper where Farley serves as editor-in-chief, said Farley's spirit of determination is reflected in the quality of journalism she produces.

“When a student is on fire for the free flow of information, speaking truth to power and journalism that shines a light on her campus, it shows,” said Friedman, the former editor of The Saginaw News. “These qualities shine in Kaitlyn Farley.”

A first-generation college student in her family, Farley during her freshman year began writing stories about SVSU-hosted musical performances for the student newspaper, The Valley Vanguard. It was her first-ever journalistic endeavor. Informed by her own experiences as a musician — she even played bassoon for a short time with the SVSU Concert Band — Farley approached each assignment with a desire to bring an expertise and authenticity to the publication’s coverage of musical performances.

“I knew the jargon for music, and so I liked bringing that kind of writing to The Vanguard,” she said.

Farley’s pursuit of authentic coverage helped elevate her from niche writer to newsroom leader. As a sophomore, she earned a spot as editor of the arts and entertainment section. By her junior year, she was named editor-in-chief, a role she retained as a senior.

With an ambition to diversify her reporter portfolio, Farley has ventured outside of music journalism. Her byline often has appeared on The Vanguard’s front page, sometimes attached to the publication’s most in-depth reporting about news items impacting her campus readers. Her growing savvy for investigative journalism inspired her to share those experiences with her staff, passing along lessons learned about reporting tactics including how best to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

“We know a lot more about journalism this year than we did last year,” she said of her staff of 23 students.

Farley’s fondness for the newsroom environment extends beyond her growing love of journalism. She said her staff’s camaraderie makes for a fun, relaxed atmosphere that offsets the seriousness sometimes associated with reporting. To lighten the mood, the group attends movies and visits cider mills together. In The Vanguard newsroom, Farley and her co-workers pause weekend production shifts to feed an office betta fish they named Gil Finley.

“We say he’s our HR rep,” Farley said, jokingly.

Friedman said she was impressed with Farley’s ability to excel as both a journalist and a leader — all while seeking a university education.

“Having been a first-generation college student myself, I can relate to the drive, passion and self-direction that pursuing a college degree in those circumstances requires,” Friedman said.

“Kaitlyn’s college career is self-financed through well-earned scholarships and many side jobs. She juggles the demands of multiple employers, a full course load and The Vanguard with aplomb. It isn’t, but she makes it look easy.”

The 2020 winter semester will be Farley’s last at The Vanguard and SVSU. She anticipates earning her bachelor’s degree in May. She recently accepted a reporter internship position with The Saginaw News/MLive for next summer. She plans eventually to chase a full-time job in journalism or another industry that could benefit from her writing skills and leadership abilities.

December 6, 2019

SVSU staff, faculty art highlighted in Midland Center for the Arts exhibition

Saginaw Valley State University staff and faculty members are showcased as part of a Midland Center for the Arts art exhibition open to the public now until early January.

The exhibition — which also features artwork from faculty from Delta College and Mott Community College — was organized in part by Tisch M. Lewis, coordinator of the SVSU University Art Gallery, along with museum staff.

“My goal was to highlight the hard-working artists from SVSU, Delta College and Mott Community College, as they are normally seen as educators first,” Lewis said.

The exhibition ends Sunday, Jan. 5. Admission costs $10 for adults, $7 for individuals aged 4 to 14, and free for children under the age of 4. For more information about tickets and the museum, go to

Art displayed in the exhibition includes ceramics, photography, paintings, sculptures, and printmaking, among other mediums.

“The works vary in style and content, varying from social justice issues to mere appreciation of the media the artist works in,” said Lewis, whose work also is displayed in the exhibition.

Among the other SVSU staff and faculty members on display at the Midland Center for the Arts exhibition are the following:

  • Tamar Aldrich, an adjunct faculty member with the SVSU Department of Art
  • Sherri Archer, an adjunct faculty member with the SVSU Department of Art
  • Shaun E. Bangert, professor of art
  • Sanford Buchalter, an adjunct faculty member with the SVSU Department of Art
  • Thomas Canale, professor of art
  • Sara Brooks Clark, studio art technician
  • Phillip Hanson, lecturer of art
  • J. Blake Johnson, professor of art
  • Hideki Kihata, professor of art
  • David J. Littell, an adjunct faculty member with the SVSU Department of Art
  • Michael Mosher, professor of art/communication and multimedia
  • Andrea Ondish, curator of education at SVSU’s Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum

December 5, 2019

SVSU students display exceptional representation at Model United Nations Conference

Two Saginaw Valley State University students’ enthusiasm for international diplomacy earned them an award at a recent conference and an opportunity to advance to international competition. 

The Saginaw Valley Model United Nations club represented Sri Lanka during the 12th American Model United Nations Conference in Chicago Nov. 23-26.

Model United Nations is an organization for students with an active interest in international affairs, policy and diplomacy. Through participation in simulations and regional/national conferences members gain valuable skills in research, communication, and conflict resolution.

Kone’ Bowman, a political science major from Pontiac, and Joseph Shepherd, a political science major from Harper Woods, won the award for Exceptional Representation for the General Assembly Third Committee as Sri Lanka. As part of the Third Committee, Bowman and Shepherd represented Sri Lanka on topics such as the promotion and protection of the rights of children and rights of indigenous peoples.

Stewart French, SVSU associate professor of political science and team adviser, said that winning the Exceptional Representation award was remarkable and speaks to the students' preparation.

“This is one of the larger committees, and accomplishing this with such a small country is quite impressive,” French said.

French said the university's Model U.N. club has cumulatively won over 40 awards in 12 years at national and international conferences.

At the most recent conference, SVSU students competed against their peers representing 110 countries from 77 schools from around the world, including the University of Chicago, University of Arizona, Purdue University, University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin among others.

The SVSU team will travel to Toronto in February to compete at the North American Model United Nations Conference.

December 3, 2019

Community leader, alumnus to serve as SVSU commencement speaker

Saginaw Valley State University graduates will hear from one of the institution’s most generous alumni during December commencement exercises.

Scott L. Carmona will offer words of support and inspiration at the two ceremonies, Friday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 14 at 11 a.m. Both ceremonies are held in O’Neill Arena of SVSU's Ryder Center.

Carmona completed his eight-year term on SVSU’s Board of Control in July. He committed to be the lead donor for the fundraising campaign to support the building addition for the SVSU College of Business now named for him; his generosity and philanthropy also include granting over 25 scholarships annually. The $25 million building addition for the Scott L. Carmona College of Business will open during the 2020 winter semester.

After the 2019 fall semester concludes later this month, 511 SVSU students are expected to complete degree requirements. Of those, 425 students are expected to complete bachelor’s degrees and 86 are expected to receive master’s or other advanced degrees. In total, 453 individuals have indicated they plan to don regalia and participate in the commencement ceremonies Dec. 13-14.

The Friday gathering will honor graduates from the Crystal M. Lange College of Health & Human Services; and the Scott L. Carmona College of Business. The Saturday ceremony will recognize graduates from the College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences; the College of Education; and the College of Science, Engineering & Technology.

Carmona’s first time being recognized at an SVSU commencement ceremony came in 1981, when the Bay City native was a graduate being honored for receiving a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. His son, Ryan, completed a bachelor's degree in finance in 2008.

While still attending classes at SVSU, Scott Carmona began planting the seeds of his entrepreneurial career. In the late 1970s, he developed a swimming pool maintenance company. By his senior year, he was contracted to perform service work for Coca-Cola USA.

The opportunity allowed him to create a small business that specialized in repairing and re-manufacturing dispensing equipment used in restaurants across the nation. Carmona's company, National Equipment Refurbishers Inc., found success, employing up to 50 people at one point.

Fifteen years later, he sold the business to create and develop other companies, largely in the commercial real estate and automotive aftermarket distribution industries. His business interests eventually reached beyond Michigan. He developed businesses in states such as Texas, New Hampshire and Florida, where he developed an industrial park in the 2000s.

Today, Carmona is the principal owner of Sunrise National Distributors Inc., a Bay City-based distributor of automotive aftermarket products. He owns and manages several real estate developments in Michigan and Florida. He also has remained active in community organizations including the Bay County Growth Alliance, the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA and the McLaren Bay Special Care Hospital board of directors.

When the 38,500-square-foot expansion for the Scott L. Carmona College of Business opens next year, the facility will house state-of-the-art technology as well as classrooms, faculty offices and office space for business programs. Planners say the new space will provide an inviting environment for business leaders and successful alumni to visit campus, benefit from the resources, and work with the next generation of business students studying at the campus.

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