Empowered by a Saginaw Valley State University program aimed at enriching STEM education regionally, a Millington High School teacher gave his students a taste of life as an engineer during a project that spanned the 2018-19 academic year.
Mark Ratza was an enthusiastic member of the latest group of K-12 teachers participating in the Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership, a professional development program that equips educators with training and resources to generate interest in the sciences among the region's youth.
Ratza said the program led him to task 25 students in his 10th, 11th and 12th grade Principles of Engineering classes to spend the 2018-19 academic year building a biodiesel processor. The effort, he said, exposed the teenagers to many different engineering-based sciences and their associated professions.
“At the beginning of the project, many students could only list the work done by one or two types of engineers,” he said. “By the end, most could tell the type of work done by five or six engineers. They now understand the collaboration that takes place between engineers such as mechanical, manufacturing and industrial design.”
Along with building the processor, Ratza's students also collected waste vegetable oil and created biodiesel fuel.
“My goal was to expose students to engineering as a viable career option and help them understand the role of different engineers in the development of a project,” he said.
For Ratza, the project began even before he was selected as a member of the Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership 2018-19 class. His passion for STEM began when he was a K-12 student. While attending Davison High School, a chemistry teacher piqued his interest in the sciences. “I remember having a lot of fun in the class and enjoying all of the labs and demonstrations,” he said.
His professional life began in biochemistry research. “I found the work interesting, but lonely and independent,” he said.
Remembering a positive experience helping others understand STEM while serving as a teacher's assistant during his undergraduate years, Ratza decided to pursue a career in teaching. His first job as an educator arrived in 1989 at Adrian Public Schools before he moved to Beaverton Rural Schools. He next joined Millington Community Schools, where he has worked for 28 of his 30 years in the education industry.
After two of his school district colleagues raved about their experience in the Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership initiative, Ratza applied to participate last year. The opportunity began with a two-week professional development program on SVSU's campus. Ratza and his peers partnered with SVSU faculty and staff as well as Dow Corning representatives to develop strategies for improving STEM education in the region. Aside from inspiring the biodiesel fuel project, the program was valuable for educating Ratza on tips for seeking and securing grants for similar school projects, he said.
The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership was established in 2013. For more information about the program, go to www.svsu.edu/dowcorningfoundationfellows.
Family, friends and colleagues recalled how former Saginaw Valley State University President Jack M. Ryder used grit and determination to mold an institution that stands stronger today because of his hard work during a ceremony honoring the late president. Ryder, who led the institution from 1974-89, died in April at the age of 90.
In a tribute to Ryder that filled SVSU’s Founders Hall Tuesday, June 4, attendees listened to stories about the former president's tireless efforts to seek support both for developing outstanding academic programs and for funding many of the buildings that form the campus' structural backbone today.
Among former colleagues who paid tribute was current SVSU President Donald Bachand, who began his career at SVSU as a criminal justice professor when Ryder served as president. Bachand said Ryder's commitment in the 1970s and ’80s to developing strong academic programs by hiring top-talent faculty continues to impact the university in 2019. Under Ryder's guidance, SVSU added highly-regarded academic programs in engineering and nursing, among others.
"I couldn't imagine what this institution would look like today if we hadn't created those programs back then," Bachand said. "He brought everyone into this dream for a stronger campus; a better community. He was a man of great vision, character and kindness - and he was a great friend to me."
Robert Yien, a retired SVSU administrator who served alongside Ryder, recalled how his former colleague was determined to change the name of Saginaw Valley College to Saginaw Valley State College in 1974 because of the frequent public confusion with nearby Delta College at that time. In 1987, Ryder went a step further in strengthening SVSU's identity as a baccalaureate institution when he mobilized several state colleges in a successful campaign to become known as state universities.
“I learned a lot from him,” Yien said. “I learned how to be a dreamer, a risk-taker, a gentleman and how to get things done.”
Under Ryder's leadership, a number of buildings were constructed that remain part of SVSU's central campus. During his first years as president, Ryder's administration struggled to secure funding from state politicians for those structures.
Eugene Hamilton, a retired SVSU administrator who worked with Ryder, recalled how the former president's determined efforts - despite several failed meetings with seemingly inconvincible legislators - eventually swayed Lansing to support the projects.
“He was a man of true grit,” Hamilton said. “Jack M. Ryder was wise, humble, considerate, relentless and persevering. His legacy is clearly evidenced at this university.”
Among the buildings erected during his presidency were Pioneer Hall, Brown Hall, Zahnow Library, the Arbury Fine Arts Center, the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum and the athletics facility named after him, the Ryder Center.
Ryder spent his last years living in North Carolina with his wife, Lila, who attended Tuesday's ceremony. Her son – Ryder's stepson – told those in attendance how the former president continued to advocate for higher education in his later years. Ryder sought support for an initiative that would allow students to exchange time spent performing public services for tuition savings.
“He wanted to figure out a way to get education to more people,” said Thomas Owens, Ryder's stepson. “This was what he was thinking about until his last day.”
Tuesday's memorial was captured on video. To watch the 40-minute ceremony, visit:
Saginaw Valley State University students inspired to continue supporting community-engaged nonprofits today selected a Midland-based organization to serve as the beneficiary of a week-long annual fundraising tradition in October.
Enthusiastic student leaders organizing SVSU's Battle of The Valley – formerly known as Battle of the Valleys – selected The ROCK Center for Youth Development as the tradition's next benefactor during a live online announcement Monday, June 3. (Video link: https://bit.ly/2IlzVrg)
The center provides after-school programs and community-based activities for middle and high school students in Bay, Midland, Isabella and Saginaw counties.
Nora Lipetzky, one of the student leaders involved in the selection, said the nonprofit's focus on engaging and empowering teens heavily influenced her decision.
“It is my hope that our partnership this year with The ROCK will help shift a focus on investing in our youth” 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.
“The youth are the future of the world we live in, and by providing positive activities and programs to students in the Great Lakes Bay Region – just like The ROCK has for so many years – we are investing in the futures and well-beings of our young people.”
The ROCK Center for Youth Development's activities include summer camps, opportunities to connect with mentors, pool parties, experiential learning initiatives and a variety of social events aimed at connecting the region's youth to the community while also promoting a healthy lifestyle.
“These activities provide alternative avenues for teens, rather than engaging in harmful and detrimental activities,” said Lipetzky, who serves as speaker of the house for SVSU's student government, known as Student Association.
Lipetzky and her Student Association peers picked The ROCK Center for Youth Development from among 56 regional nonprofit organizations whose representatives applied for Battle of the Valley.
Teresa Gwizdala, director of programs at The ROCK, said she was honored her organization was selected from such a large pool of applicants.
“We were so excited to hear the news,” she said. “It's a great thing to forge this kind of connection with SVSU.”
Beyond receiving the proceeds, the relationship is valuable because of the network it will strengthen between The ROCK's teenage participants and the SVSU community, she said.
“We are trying to promote college attainment among our kids,” Gwizdala said. “Partnering with a university can help with that.”
The age group for much of The ROCK's staff is about the age of the typical college undergraduate. Because of those demographic similarities, Gwizdala said she anticipates – and hopes – the Battle of the Valley experience also will lead to SVSU students establishing mentor relationships with The ROCK's teens.
“There are so many benefits to this,” Gwizdala said of her organization becoming this year's charity partner.
Many nonprofit organizations have reaped the benefits of SVSU students’ commitment to improving their community. SVSU students have raised $425,657 for organizations since the first Battle of the Valleys in 2003. Last year, they collected $36,000 for the Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network.
When students host Battle of the Valley during the week spanning Oct. 6-11, the event will take on a slightly different form than in the past. The tradition began as a fundraising competition involving Grand Valley State University. Through last year, the institutions combined to raise $652,385 for nonprofits and organizations. But GVSU student leaders withdrew from their role in March.
SVSU students - passionate about philanthropy - acted quickly to keep the tradition alive despite the absence of a partnering university. Now the fundraising will be championed exclusively by SVSU students. Student Association representatives, though, say they hope to identify a partnering university in time to reinsert the tradition's competitive elements for the 2020 fundraiser.
For more information about The ROCK Center for Youth Development, go to therockc4yd.org.
For more information about Battle of the Valley, go to svsu.edu/battleofthevalleys.
Friends, family and former colleagues will pay tribute to the late Jack Ryder, Saginaw Valley State University's president from 1974-89, during a memorial service on campus Tuesday, June 4.
Ryder, who died in April at the age of 90, helped establish SVSU's value academically and culturally to the region during some the institution's most formative years.
The June 4 service is scheduled at 3 p.m. in SVSU's Founders Hall, and a reception will follow inside the university's Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum. The ceremony will feature tributes from Donald Bachand, SVSU's current president; as well as Eugene Hamilton and Robert Yien, who each served in leadership roles during Ryder's administration before they retired. SVSU’s Cardinal Singers vocal ensemble will perform at the ceremony.
The SVSU Board of Control appointed Ryder as SVSU's second president on Oct. 17, 1974. He came to SVSU from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis where he served as vice chancellor and dean for administrative affairs. When he arrived as president, he noted that many people mistakenly perceived SVSU – then Saginaw Valley College – as a junior college, in part because the institution was founded a decade earlier by many individuals once associated with nearby Delta College. During Ryder's 15 years as president, he worked tirelessly to create a strong identity for SVSU as a baccalaureate institution. Many considered him successful in that mission.
Under Ryder's guidance, SVSU grew substantially in terms of campus size, student enrollment and academic stature, adding highly regarded programs in engineering and nursing, among others. The evolving name of the institution also was a product of Ryder's effort to change public perception. Shortly after his arrival, the school changed its name to Saginaw Valley State College, and in 1987 became Saginaw Valley State University.
Under his leadership, SVSU constructed many of the buildings that form the campus' structural backbone today. Among the buildings erected during his presidency were Pioneer Hall, Brown Hall, Zahnow Library, the Arbury Fine Arts Center, the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum and the athletics facility named after him, the Ryder Center.
Enrollment more than doubled during his tenure. In 1974, 2,638 students were enrolled at SVSU. During his final academic year in office, 5,915 students took classes at the university.
Ryder retired in May 1989 and spent his later years in North Carolina with his wife, Lila, who survives him. He was a frequent guest at SVSU over the years. Visiting with his wife during SVSU's 50th anniversary ceremony in 2013, Ryder spoke fondly about his time as president.
“Our experience with all of you has enriched our lives immeasurably,” he told a room of former colleagues and friends during that visit. “Just as Lila and I love the United States of America as the greatest nation the world has ever seen, we love Saginaw Valley State University for all it has been and for all it will become in service of this state, our nation and the world.”
The full text of Ryder’s remarks at SVSU’s 50th anniversary celebration in November 2013 can be found at www.svsu.edu/50/historyofsvsu/ryderera/
Or watch the video of Ryder's visit here: https://youtu.be/16VCLsZCORc?t=1626
A two-time alumnus and former staff member of Saginaw Valley State University will pursue his passion for providing leadership in the health care industry after earning a spot in a prestigious program at Beaumont Health centers in southeast Michigan.
Brandon Fjerstad was one of a select few chosen from a highly-competitive field of candidates from across the nation to participate in the health care system's two-year Administrative Fellowship program. The initiative pairs individuals with senior-level Beaumont Health administrators eager to mentor the next generation of health care leaders.
“I was ecstatic. Blown away,” Fjerstad said about learning of his selection. “It's a coveted fellowship with many qualified candidates applying. To know I made it through those tiers of selection, it was humbling.”
Fjerstad began his fellowship earlier this month. He was paired with Dr. James Lynch, the interim president for Beaumont Health's Troy and Grosse Pointe acute care campuses. Over the next 24 months, Fjerstad will participate in executive-level meetings, present to leadership, and participate in initiatives that will involve data analysis, business planning, and project-based work involving staff at all levels of Beaumont Health.
Marilyn Skrocki, SVSU professor of health sciences and a mentor to Fjerstad, called the fellowship “a pinnacle” opportunity for an individual at Fjerstad's current stage in his health administration career.
“This is an opportunity you dream of,” Skrocki said. “Having the opportunity to work side-by-side with administrators will allow an unparalleled mentorship.”
Fjerstad's journey to the fellowship predates his two degrees earned at SVSU and his most recent roles as the university's Human Performance Lab coordinator as well as an adjunct instructor in the Department of Kinesiology. A Hemlock native, his interest in the health care industry began more than a decade ago when he became a patient rehabilitating from a fractured femur and collarbone sustained while playing linebacker for Hemlock High School's football team.
“That experience gave me an appreciation for how health care can positively impact someone's life,” he said of his experience working with physical therapists and personal trainers while recovering from the injuries.
After graduating in 2009, Fjerstad enrolled at SVSU, where he played two years on the football team while eyeing a career in rehabilitative therapies. He earned a bachelor's degree in exercise science from the university in 2014, and after realizing his passion for leading projects related to health care initiatives, he pursued and added a master's degree in health administration and leadership to his résumé last year. He also recently earned the Healthcare Financial Management Association's Certified Healthcare Financial Professional Certification.
While Skrocki was impressed with Fjerstad's selection to Beaumont Health's Administrative Fellowship, she was not surprised by it based on his remarkable early career accomplishments and his engaging personality.
“What likely impressed Beaumont was his professional demeanor and obvious strong emotional intelligence,” she said. “Brandon is the type of student all professors would be proud of. I certainly am.”
Fjerstad, who recently moved to Sterling Heights because of his fellowship opportunity, said he will continue teaching online courses at SVSU while working with Beaumont Health.
For more information on SVSU’s Master of Science in Health Administration and Leadership program, visit www.svsu.edu/healthleadership.
For more information about the Beaumont Health Administrative Fellowship program, go to www.beaumont.org/careers/administrative-fellowship.
Their dedication to supporting communities — and, in some cases, communities on the other side of the globe — helped two Saginaw Valley State University students win awards from a writing center-centric organization covering Midwest states.
The East Central Writing Centers Association presented its Tutor Leadership Award to Emma Kirsch and its Tutor Of The Year Award to Sam Geffert for their roles working as student-tutors in SVSU’s Writing Center, which provides writing-based support to the university and other select communities.
The East Central Writing Centers Association encompasses states including Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
“To win either of these awards is a significant accomplishment,” said Helen Raica-Klotz, director of the SVSU Writing Center.
It was one of the student’s work in another continent, though, that helped earn her the honor from The East Central Writing Centers Association. Geffert, an English education and English literature double major from Farmington Hills, won her award in part for serving as an English writing tutor at Tokushima, Japan-based Shikoku University. Her visit and service was part of an exchange program with its sister school, SVSU.
“It was a culture shock at first, but it was a perfect fit for what I wanted to go into,” Geffert, a prospective teacher, said of spending summer 2015 in Japan. “Overcoming language barriers is a huge challenge, and it allowed me to apply so many of the skills I was learning at SVSU.”
Geffert also volunteered to participate in the Writing Center’s 10-week workshop program for individuals incarcerated at the Saginaw Correctional Facility in Freeland.
“It’s a great classroom environment,” Geffert said of the 90-minute writing sessions often involving between six to 12 men from the facility. “Once you engage with them, they start generating content together and showing support for each other’s work. They’re grateful for us being there.”
Kirsch, an elementary education major from Saginaw, received her award in part for her work as the student coordinator of the Writing Center community centers established for Bay and Saginaw county residents. At both Butman-Fish Branch Library in Saginaw as well as Alice and Jack Wirt Public Library in Bay City, SVSU Writing Center student-tutors such as Kirsch offer writing-based workshops on a regular basis.
“Because of her dedication and commitment, we have helped over 500 community members of all ages, providing them with workshops and tutorial sessions designed to improve their writing,” Raica-Klotz said.
Kirch said serving the community keeps her motivated to continue working hard as a tutor.
“The roles I hold as a tutor and coordinator of the community writing centers give me opportunities for immense personal and professional growth, but more importantly, they give me a chance to help others,” Kirsch said. “Connecting with and helping writers and community members is what makes my positions truly important to me.”
For more information about the SVSU Writing Center, its student-tutors and many services, visit svsu.edu/writingcenter.
(LIVONIA) - Storch Magnetics is working closely with a group of hard-working senior mechanical engineering students finishing their engineering capstone class at Saginaw Valley State University to aid Storch in the manufacturing process of the SuperMag, one of its signature products.
This first half of this two-semester project was completed this spring with an emphasis on research and development and engineering. In the fall, the students will build out a design of their choosing at Storch's office in Livonia to complete the manufacturing of the product.
Five students are dedicated to the project: Jacob Bowden of Flushing, Haley Delestowicz of Bay City, Zachary Maszatics of Garden City, Anthony Sainz of Mason, and Adam Tebbe of Lebanon, Ohio. The team selected Storch over other, larger companies. They collectively believed that working on a project of this caliber for a smaller Michigan company creates more engagement and excitement throughout the entire business, which has a greater overall impact on the company as a whole.
Simplicity and safety are two of the intended outcomes of this joint project. Currently the magnets that comprise the SuperMag are hand assembled, which is costly and time consuming to build. The students have successfully increased the production rate of the SuperMag, while ensuring an even higher level of safety and efficiency for employees at Storch.
“It's been a great honor for us to work with these really smart young men and women,” said Storch CEO Matt Carr. “They are so creative and have really opened our eyes to some improved processes that will have a positive, long-term impact on our company.”
“Storch is so great to work with, I love the entire company's enthusiasm behind the whole project,” said Delestowicz.
Sainz said the type of experience he and his classmates has received while working with Storch can't be easily replicated in just a classroom setting.
“I am excited for the opportunity to be working with a great company to solve this challenging problem,” he said.
Brooks Byam, SVSU professor of mechanical engineering, is the project advisor, working with both the students and the team from Storch.
The device that was designed by the students this spring will help expedite the time that it takes to build a magnet for the SuperMag to less than half, at an approximate factor of 4 to 1.
About the SuperMag:
Developed by Storch Magnetics, the SuperMag is the first magnet if its kind that can be towed or front mounted. The permanent magnet is hydraulically actuated, hinging upward and away from your working surface. This separates the magnetic field from the debris you've collected and allows the material to drop away from the unit into your desired location.
Unlike traditional electromagnets, the solid state SuperMag magnetic systems requires no maintenance, has no wires or coils, ad does not require a generator or an electrical source to activate.
Photo Caption: Haley Delestowicz, Jacob Bowden, Storch CEO Matt Carr, Anthony Sainz, Zachary Maszatics, and Adam Tebbe are pictured behind the SuperMag at Saginaw Valley State University.
Saginaw Valley State University is a comprehensive university with more than 90 programs of study for its nearly 9,000 students. Located on a suburban campus in Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region, SVSU is committed to a supportive and empowering environment for students.
SVSU emphasizes undergraduate teaching and learning, and community-based research. In 2015, SVSU received the Community Engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a distinction achieved by only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities. By their senior year, 84 percent of students have engaged with community employers and agencies in internships, field placements or some other component of their academic preparation.
SVSU is establishing itself as a leader in STEM education for the Great Lakes Bay Region, partnering with businesses, foundations and school districts to improve students’ performance in math and science at the middle school, high school and university levels.
Individuals who have helped high school students in Michigan seek a college education are eligible for reduced costs when enrolling in Saginaw Valley State University's graduate programs.
Beginning in the fall semester, SVSU will offer a 15 percent savings on tuition and fees to graduate students who served as college advisers for Michigan College Access Network (MCAN), Michigan State University College Advising Corps and Michigan College Advising Corps. MCAN is a statewide nonprofit organization that assists students pursuing a college education - particularly among low-income students, first-generation college students and students of color.
The SVSU graduate program benefit has been created as part of a partnership between the university and MCAN established four years ago.
“This is a way to say, ‘Thank you’ to those people who are dedicating themselves, and their professional work to ensuring that all high school students in Michigan have equal access to higher education,’” said Jenna Briggs, SVSU's senior director of advanced studies and international student services.
“As they look to grow as professionals, we understand the important role of continuing their education; a graduate degree will be a great option for many of the advisers and we want to ensure that they have the opportunity to pursue a high-quality program at as affordable of a rate as possible.”
As part of its mission, Michigan College Access Network has connected recent graduates of SVSU and other state higher education institutions with high school students across the state.
“SVSU has been a long-term partner of MCAN and this announcement is another sign of their commitment to the college access movement in Michigan,” said Ryan Fewins-Bliss, interim executive director at MCAN. “We look forward to college advisers benefiting from the graduate programs at SVSU.”
While the savings apply to all of SVSU's graduate programs, Briggs said she anticipates the students eligible for this particular discount most likely will seek a master's degree in public administration - specifically the University and Student Affairs concentration that students can pursue.
SVSU's graduate programs include variety of degrees and certificates that prepare students seeking an education in the industries of business, computer science, education, health and human services as well as social justice.
For more information on SVSU's graduate program offerings and benefits, visit svsu.edu/graduateprograms.
For more information on the Michigan College Access Network, visit micollegeaccess.org.
Saginaw Valley State University recognized the excellence, dedicated care and leadership delivered by six registered nurses in the Great Lakes Bay Region during the ninth annual Carleen K. Moore R.N. Nursing Excellence awards ceremony Thursday, May 16.
Recognized as one of the top nursing programs in the Midwest, SVSU's Department of Nursing annually honors exceptional nurses in multiple career paths, including clinical bedside nurses, nurse educators, nurses in the community and nurses in long-term care and rehabilitation facilities. The awards were established through generous support provided by Terry Moore and his wife Carleen K. Moore
The 2019 recipients include:
Carleen K. Moore worked as a licensed practical nurse for almost 15 years before returning to nursing school to become a registered nurse. She then worked in the critical care units at MidMichigan Medical Center-Midland for the next 11 years before retiring from full-time nursing in 2001. Moore and her husband, Terry, believe in the importance of recognizing and encouraging nurses who demonstrate excellence in their field.
For more information on SVSU's nursing program, please visit www.svsu.edu/nursing/.
A Saginaw Valley State University alumna with a handle on several world languages recently was honored for her mastery of French.
Alexis Chavarria, who earned an SVSU bachelor’s degree in Spanish earlier this month, received the French Award from The American Association of Teachers of French.
The award is presented annually to a graduating senior who demonstrated excellence in the study of French as well as exceptional commitment to French language and the many cultures where it is spoken.
Recipients must have completed at least three years of French study at the time of graduation and be non-native speakers of French.
The American Association of Teachers of French was founded in 1927 and has its mission as “the promotion of the study of French language and French-speaking literature and cultures of all levels.”
For more information on the organization, go to www.frenchteachers.org.