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October 30, 2019

SVSU student inspired to pursue her passions and a future legal career

As a first-generation college studentLindsey Mead’s parents instilled in her that it’s best to pursue a career that inspired passion within her. The Saginaw Valley State University student followed that advice, leading her 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,” Mead said. That has been the most motivating factor for me; knowing that failure was an option and okay.”  

Mead, an English major and pre-law student from Saginaw, became involved with two groups her sophomore year that put her on the path to studying law: SVSU's Alternative Breaks program and the moot court team. 

When Mead 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 — she knew it was a risk because she 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,” Mead said. “When I got selected as a site leader, it made me want to rise up to the occasion.  

Mead’s 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,” Mead said. 

A late start to her first season as a competitor for moot court could have been her excuse to not do as well ... or to quit. But Mead rose to the challenge and has 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 Mead's 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, she said. 

As a member of the 20th class of Roberts Fellows, one of SVSU's most prestigious student leadership development initiatives, Mead traveled to China, Taiwan, and Japan with her cohort last summer. The Roberts Fellows program focuses on fostering students with a strong interest in community engagement, and Mead used this program to help a local non-profit she already had ties to. Mead and other Roberts Fellows 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,” Mead said. “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, Mead continues to set high goals for herself. She is in the process of selecting a law school to attend. 

October 30, 2019

Student resiliency expert to discuss neuroscience and education during SVSU talk

A leader in the field of education will visit Saginaw Valley State University in November to discuss the role of neuroscience in education.

Horacio Sanchez, an SVSU Foundation Visiting Scholar, will examine the subject in front of an SVSU audience Monday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m., in Gilbertson Hall's Ott Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public.

Sanchez is one of the nation’s prominent experts on promoting student resiliency and using neuroscience to improve school outcomes. As a clinician, he has helped students with severe emotional issues become resilient so they can cope and thrive academically while facing challenges and adversity.

His Monday presentation will focus on how to use neuroscience to improve instruction, behavior and school climate, which are topics Sanchez explores in his best-selling book, “The Education Revolution."

His book focuses on what he identifies as the keys to academic success — maximizing student capacity to learn in the classroom and motivating the student. His talk will discuss how educators can achieve these goals.

He has served as a teacher, administrator, clinician, mental health director and education consultant across the nation. His diverse educational experience has helped him to merge research, science, and practice.

Sanchez is the president and CEO of Resiliency Inc. The organization is a leader in helping institutions improve school climate, instruction, and discipline. He also serves on the True Health Initiative Council of Directors, a coalition of over 500 world-renowned health experts seeking to educate others on evidence-based pillars of lifestyle as medicine while also fighting fake medical facts.

Sanchez has published several articles and books about resiliency, closing the achievement gap and using neuroscience to improve educational practices and outcomes.

His appearance is part of SVSU's annual Visiting Scholars and Artists program. 

October 30, 2019

SVSU social work student dedicated to empowering her community

Helping others comes naturally for Jessalyn Gaskin. The second-year Saginaw Valley State University social work major and youth services minor has always possessed a clear vision of what she wants her future to be: serving others and helping them navigate their futures.

She found this same selfless nature and caring spirit at SVSU. Her compassion for others guided her degree path and influenced her career objectives. The support Gaskin has received from her campus community and the connections she has built have set her up for success and helped her take strides toward realizing her goals.

After she completes her bachelor’s degree at SVSU, she wants to work in a juvenile delinquency center to make a positive impact on youth, and then she plans to pursue a master’s degree to become a licensed clinical social worker in a hospital.

The Detroit native’s ultimate career goal is to empower and encourage all members of her community by opening her own Boys and Girls Club of America-style establishment. She is passionate about finding ways to help others one-on-one, as well as addressing the root causes of a variety of social issues.

“I just have the itch to help everyone regardless of their ethnicity, their background, or what they’re going through,” Gaskin said. “Being a social worker is not just about helping people, it’s about correcting social injustice.”

Although Gaskin knew she needed to go to college and earn a four-year degree to achieve these goals, she wasn’t always sure that she would begin college immediately after high school. She attended Chandler Park Academy in Harper Woods, a charter school authorized by SVSU. Her teachers encouraged her to pursue a college education and her parents were supportive of this path as well.

But no one in her family had gone to college before her and she was worried about the change in environment.

“I felt nervous but also excited,” Gaskin said. “I’m a family person and I’ve never spent that much time away from home.”

A dedicated sister and daughter, Gaskin knew that college was the right choice, for her and her family. As a role model to her younger siblings, she knew that, if she went to college, she would open the door for them to pursue higher education as well. She wants to empower them to set their goals high and know that they can achieve them with hard work and determination.

“I thought going to college was important because I have young people that look up to me and I knew that me going to college would inspire them to go too,” Gaskin said. 

Gaskin was also concerned about the financial cost of her education. She originally considered staying home and working while pursuing a degree, but she knew this would not provide her with all of the opportunities she needed to make her dreams a reality. 

Scholarships played a big role in Gaskin’s decision to pursue a four-year degree, and she discovered that financial assistance is much more accessible than students often think.

“There’s a lot of scholarships. Students just don’t apply because they don’t know the resources available to help them get to college,” Gaskin said.

These opportunities for scholarships became one of the main reasons Gaskin chose to pursue her education at SVSU. Access to scholarships, one of the best social work programs in the state, and the proximity from home all led to SVSU being the perfect fit, Gaskin said. 

Part of this financial assistance from SVSU included the Public School Academy (PSA) scholarship, which also provides recipients with support— in and out of the classroom— as they transition into college. As a mentee in the PSA Transition Program, Gaskin had the resources and guidance she needed to thrive during her freshman year, including access to one-on-one tutoring, volunteer and leadership experience, and academic advising. Her devoted and friendly mentors helped her feel welcomed on campus and prepared her to take on any challenge.

“For my first year, we had coaches and mentors that kept us on track,” Gaskin said of the program. 

The unwavering care and dedication she received as a mentee inspired her to find ways to give back and support other students like herself. She now serves as a mentor in the King Chavez Parks (KCP) program to provide support and tutoring to first-generation college students in their freshman year. Her mentors guided her during a challenging time and now she wants to do the same for others. 

Many of these students are facing the same struggles Gaskin encountered when starting college, including financial obstacles, difficulty with time management, and learning how to adjust to a college mindset. Gaskin loves to connect with them and share her own experiences in order to help them succeed.

“I like the experience because I understand how they feel,” Gaskin said of being a mentor. “I like to tell them that I went through the same thing and I understand.”

The guidance Gaskin received at SVSU has allowed her to excel academically— earning her a spot on the Dean’s List as a freshman— and has helped her grow and thrive on a social and personal level as well. Prior to starting college, Gaskin was very reserved and had been in school with the same small graduating class for years. She worried about feeling like she wouldn’t belong in college but soon met many welcoming and friendly individuals that dissolved her concerns. Joining organizations like the Organization of Black Unity and Impact, a campus ministry organization, helped her build a community on campus that broke her out of her shell.

“My favorite part of being in college is meeting new people,” Gaskin said. “It opened me up more and helped me experience a lot of new things and opportunities.”

As Gaskin reflects on how much she has learned and the genuine relationships she has built since starting college, she wants all high school students considering pursuing higher education, especially minority and first-generation college students, to know that it is okay to step outside of their comfort zone and embrace something new. Although there may be challenges, if they open themselves up to new experiences and opportunities, they will have the support and resources they need to succeed, she said.

“I learned that if you stay you won’t get anywhere,” Gaskin said. “In order to have opportunities and actually experience college, you have to open up.” 

October 30, 2019

First-generation college student determined to continue her education at SVSU

Talia Pruiett had the grades, the dream, and the drive to attend college, but she wasn’t sure she would make it. With hard work, perseverance, and endless support she made her goal a reality.

A first-generation college student at Saginaw Valley State University, her parents were encouraging of this dream but had little experience navigating the college admission and selection process.

Pruiett had little prior exposure to different types of careers and was unsure of what she wanted to study, but her high school pushed going to college and she was determined that it was the was the right path for her. While much of her future was uncertain, going to college was one thing she knew she needed to strive for.

“I had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do,” the Bay City native said. “I just knew I needed to go to college.”  

Now, as a second-year student at SVSU, Pruiett is sure she made the right choice and is proud of what she’s achieved.

Throughout high school, Pruiett pushed her limits and was a disciplined student, always trying to put herself in the best position for success. She challenged herself by dual-enrolling to earn college credit while still in high school to prepare herself for the next step in her education, knowing how many opportunities this would provide to her.

Since Pruiett knew she would be paying for her own college education, her financial situation was the biggest obstacle she faced when deciding where she wanted to pursue her degree. She was determined to find ways to reduce costs and avoid debt. She wanted to determine which schools were most affordable, while also providing her with the best opportunities.

She found this combination at SVSU.

“It was deciding what was best for me and what was financially the best,” Pruiett said. “SVSU had the most opportunities.”

As part of her commitment to financial success, Pruiett diligently completed her Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It was an exercise critical to her ability to afford college, she said.

“I would highly encourage every single person to do that,” Pruiett said of filling out the FAFSA.

Pruiett also applied for a multitude of scholarships and was awarded two from SVSU, as well as an opportunity grant. Her hard work and dedication to completing these applications paid off and kept her from having to take out any loans during her first year of school. To help offset costs even more, Pruiett continued to push herself and gain on-campus employment. While balancing her coursework and a demanding schedule, she also works as an orientation leader, a tour guide, and in the counseling center. 

A college degree was the ultimate end goal for Pruiett, and when she arrived on campus, she felt that dream becoming a reality.

“It was really just surreal,” Pruiett said of coming to SVSU. “You go to school for 12 years and college is the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Pruiett was excited to start college and begin the next chapter of her life, but she had her reservations as well not knowing what to expect. She soon encountered many friendly and devoted individuals who welcomed her and provided her with the support she needed to adjust to such a big transition. This empowered her to take on more challenges and opportunities.

Pruiett was part of a first-year transition program at SVSU, and her supportive coordinator, Sarah Ward, was dedicated to making sure she had all the resources she needed to succeed. Ward was always approachable and there to help whenever Pruiett had questions about her class schedule and major, or needed advice on acclimating to college. She was grateful to have someone that genuinely cared about her success.

“She always reassured me that everything was going to be okay and pointed me in the right direction,” Pruiett said. “She’s helped guide me in a lot of ways and I’m so appreciative of that.”

Knowing that she had a support system already in place at SVSU before she had even started her classes made Pruiett feel more confident as she began college.

“I was a little nervous but very driven and determined,” Pruiett said. “I was excited to come here. I wanted to get involved and make the best of it.”

She translated her nervousness to excitement and was dedicated to immersing herself in all that a college experience has to offer. Coming from a small high school, Pruiett was concerned about making new friends and being overwhelmed by her new environment. However, getting involved on campus made her feel welcomed and at home. Having a community helped her open up to her new surroundings.

“I love being involved. I think all the events and clubs helped me find my best friends and break out of my shell,” Pruiett said. “You don’t realize how much you learn about yourself until you get involved in things.”

A vibrant campus life and the programs she committed herself to soon become Pruiett’s favorite parts of being at SVSU. She was inducted into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, an honors organization that promotes leadership and service. She also dedicates her time to volunteering for the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and Cardinal Volunteers, has joined a competitive intramural basketball team, and will be participating in a study abroad trip to Mexico as part of her Spanish minor. Pruiett also devoted herself to alternative breaks, an SVSU program that sends students to volunteer for nonprofits across the country during the university’s holiday breaks.

Her involvement in the latter program helped her find her career path. Pruiett traveled to South Carolina to work with youth in the juvenile justice system. She returned to SVSU with an enthusiasm for social work and made it her major.

“I realized I had a passion for helping others,” Pruiett said of her experience on the trip. “That really solidified it for me.”

Pruiett is now taking all that she’s learned in college so far and offering guidance to empower other students like herself. She serves as a dedicated mentor in the King Chavez Parks (KCP) grant program, which helps first-generation college students adjust during their freshman year.

She is determined to use her own experiences to help the students she coaches successfully acclimate to college, develop study habits, learn about all the resources available to them, and ensure they are keeping up with their classwork.

“I absolutely love working with them and learning from them,” Pruiett said.

Pruiett knows that going to college can be very intimidating, especially for individuals who are the first in their family to pursue a four-year degree. She wants to encourage others that, even though they may face challenges, they are not alone. With hard work and perseverance there are support systems in place to help them excel and achieve their goals.

“There are resources and people who are there to help,” Pruiett said. “If you do what you’re supposed to do and do it right, then good things will happen.”  

October 30, 2019

Leading role in 'Proof' showcases SVSU student's acting

Audiences familiar with Abigail Burgess' on-stage performance earlier this year as a Dolly Parton-inspired spitfire may have a hard time recognizing her as she takes center stage again — this time playing the troubled young woman leading Saginaw Valley State University's production of "Proof," a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about a mourning family in crisis.

Performances for "Proof" are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 30-Nov. 2; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, in SVSU’s Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased online at

Burgess, a theatre major, will play the drama's lead, Catherine. The role is the follow-up to her performance in SVSU's production of the musical version of "9 to 5" in April, when the Commerce Township native played a gregarious role made famous in film by Parton.

The shift from playing a larger-than-life character in a musical to a character grounded in a harsh reality was a challenge Burgess was excited to accept.

"The role of Catherine is very different from other roles I’ve played, purely because this show is so set in reality, and every detail must be incredibly specific," she said.

“Proof” follows the story of Catherine as she struggles with her late father’s legacy as a brilliant mathematician. Following his death, Catherine must deal with her volatile emotions; the arrival of her estranged sister, Claire; and the attentions of Hal, a former student of her father's who hopes to find valuable work in the 103 notebooks that her father left behind. Over the course of one weekend, a burgeoning romance and the discovery of a mysterious notebook draw Catherine into the most difficult problem of all: How much of her father's madness — or genius — will she inherit?

Burgess said the play’s family dynamic — and how it explores issues such as grief and mental health — will make a memorable experience for audiences.

“The play is set in 1999; During this time, mental health carried even more of a stigma than it does today,” she said. “However, I think that the journey of these characters shows that struggles with mental health are still prominent here and now.”

Burgess’ favorite part of acting — especially in “Proof” — involves the relationships formed with cast and crew members, she said.

“It takes so many working pieces to make theatre happen,” Burgess said. “As both an actor and the costume designer for the production, I am so grateful for such an amazing and hardworking cast and crew.”

David Rzeszutek, SVSU associate professor of theatre, will serve as director of "Proof."

Like "9 to 5," the story of "Proof" also was featured on the big screen. A 2005 film starred Gwyneth Paltrow in the role of Catherine.

For more information about the SVSU production of "Proof," please contact the SVSU Box Office at (989) 964-4261.

October 30, 2019

Trombone performance to put SVSU band director in musical spotlight

A Saginaw Valley State University educator perhaps most publicly known for directing SVSU’s marching band will share one of his other musical talents in an upcoming concert on campus.

The trombone skills of Norman Wika, SVSU associate professor of music, will be on display Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 pm in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall. The performance is free and open to the public. 

In addition to teaching classes in the music department, Wika serves as director or bands. He leads the university’s wind ensemble, concert band and Cardinal Marching Band groups.

Wika began playing the trombone in the fourth grade after joining his school band in Kansas City. He continues to play today, holding recitals and participating in ensembles such as the Saginaw Bay Symphony Orchestra. 

Amanda Stamper will accompany Wika on the piano during the Tuesday concert. Musical pieces for the performance include "Cortège” by Pierre Max Dubois, "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen" by Gustav Mahler, and "Mystic with a Credit Card” by Michael Colgrass. 

Wika earned a doctorate degree in musical arts and a master's degree in music education, both at the University of Connecticut.  

For more information about the performance, call the SVSU Department of Music at (989) 964-4159 or visit

October 30, 2019

Kochville Township's Cardinal Square street signage to feature SVSU branding

After decades spent as neighborly partners, Saginaw Valley State University and Kochville Township will continue to empower each other this week when crews install street signage — featuring the logo of SVSU’s cardinal mascot — in a developing commercial district known as Cardinal Square.

The new signage will be installed beginning Thursday, Oct. 31, on the mast arms of 10-foot street signs at three intersections: Towne Center and Tittabawassee; Cardinal Square and Tittabawassee; and Cardinal Square and Trautner. The installation effort could span several days, potentially extending into the following week. 

Crews plan to begin installing the SVSU cardinal logo-branded signage between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday. Poor weather conditions could delay the effort.

The signage was arranged thanks to a collaboration between SVSU leaders and officials with the Kochville Township Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

“SVSU appreciates Kochville DDA’s leadership in strengthening our university community partnership,” said Donald J. Bachand, SVSU president.

Lyle Davis, chairman of Kochville’s DDA, said university and township officials plan to pursue other opportunities to add SVSU branding within Cardinal Square.

“The Cardinal Square district is a unique partnership that we are happy to be enhancing with the new signs and years of future plans,” Davis said. “I would like to extend a special thanks to SVSU and Saginaw County Road Commission for bringing this project to fruition.”

The signage installation marks the latest symbol of unity between SVSU and Kochville Township. That union was first formed when SVSU’s first leaders chose Kochville Township as the campus home of the institution founded in 1963. SVSU hosted its first classes in the community in 1967. Largely an agricultural community at the time, Kochville Township in the decades since developed a neighboring commercial district.

A portion of that district in 2006 was labeled Cardinal Square, in honor of SVSU. It’s a district that spans both Kochville and Saginaw townships. It features parks, walking paths and 500 retailers housed where the townships border near Bay and Tittabawassee, one of the busiest traffic intersections in the region. Cardinal Square is situated north of McCarty, west of Mackinaw, south of Freeland, and east of Davis.

October 29, 2019

SVSU Board approves renovations to student housing, lease for downtown Saginaw location

The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved spending up to $4.6 million to renovate a residence hall and some on-campus apartments during the Board’s regular meeting Monday, Oct. 28.

SVSU plans to renovate Living Center South and a portion of Pine Grove Apartments next summer, in advance of the 2020-21 academic year. For two consecutive years, SVSU has placed No. 1 in the nation among all U.S. public universities in the website Niche’s “Best College Dorms” ranking, which uses a weighted formula where 70 percent of a school’s score comes from student satisfaction surveys.

The university has sufficient funds in existing reserves for capital projects and the auxiliary system to finance the renovations.

The Board also agreed to proceed with leasing a building in downtown Saginaw to offer academic programs and community outreach. The Board approved spending up to $275,000 to renovate the building at 208 S. Washington for university use.

The Board also authorized the sale of SVSU’s Regional Education Center - Macomb, located in Macomb County’s Chesterfield Township. SVSU has offered distance education and graduate courses for the College of Education at the facility, but the emergence of online classes allows for more modern methods to deliver course content. Classes taught at the center this fall will not be affected, as the sale of the property is not expected to be finalized until January.

In other action, the Board:

  • Approved changes to the Student Association charter, as requested by Student Association.
  • Recommended a liquor license for the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum.
  • Received and accepted the annual financial audit and federal awards audit for fiscal year 2018-19, as prepared by Andrews Hooper Pavlik PLC.
  • Approved SVSU’s capital outlay request plan for the 2021 fiscal year.

October 24, 2019

SVSU students victorious in 'Battle,' raising $20K for Midland nonprofit

The persevering spirit of Saginaw Valley State University students will improve the lives of young people in the Great Lakes Bay Region, as SVSU students insisted on continuing a fundraising tradition, resulting in a donation of at least $20,302 for a Midland-based nonprofit.

The total was raised during SVSU’s “Battle of the Valley” week-long fundraiser from Oct. 6-11, benefiting The ROCK Center for Youth Development, an organization that provides after-school programs and development initiatives for teenagers across the region.

The fundraiser nearly didn’t happen. Formerly known as “Battle of the Valleys,” the tradition from 2003 to 2018 involved students from SVSU and Grand Valley State University competing to raise the most amount of money for their respective nonprofit beneficiaries. GVSU students backed out of the event this year. But SVSU student leaders rallied to save the tradition, re-imagining it as a fundraising campaign organized exclusively at SVSU.

Nora Lipetzky, one of the student leaders involved in creating “Battle of the Valley” this year, said the $20,302 raised was a success — especially considering there were some who were skeptical the fundraiser would find much success without the added motivation of a competing university.

“We’re ecstatic and elated that we raised so much for such a deserving nonprofit,” said Lipetzky, a native of Palos Heights, Illinois who earned a bachelor's degree in political science in May and is pursuing a master's degree in public administration.

“There were some naysayers who didn’t think we would raise $10,000.”

Kylie Anderson, The ROCK Center for Youth Development’s director of development, said she was “thrilled” when she learned about the total funds raised.

“We know it was a new venture — with the solo ‘Battle of the Valley’ — and it was great to see the students and the SVSU community do such an amazing job, rallying together like that. We are very grateful.”

Anderson was able to attend some of the activities organized as part of the week-long fundraiser. Those events included sponsored gatherings at nearby businesses — including Buffalo Wild Wings and Stardust Lanes — as well as on-campus events that allowed participants to contribute funds in exchange for petting puppies, throwing pies at professors and smashing a car with a bat.

“It was awesome to see all of that going on,” she said. “I loved the creativity.”

Representatives from The ROCK Center for Youth Development plan to accept a ceremonial check during SVSU’s next home football game scheduled Saturday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m. SVSU students continue to sell the remaining inventory of T-shirts and sweatshirts, so the final fundraising total is likely to increase.

Meanwhile, SVSU student leaders already are planning next year’s “Battle.” Lipetzky said they hope to recruit another university — replacing GVSU — to insert a competitive element back into the tradition for 2020.

Lipetzky said SVSU’s student government, known as Student Association, already has begun reaching out to gauge the interest of some peer institutions. A decision could be announced by the end of the year, she said.

“We want ‘Battle of the Valley’ to remain a quality philanthropic event,” Lipetzky said, “so we hope to find a compatible match that will ensure that.”

October 24, 2019

Sound 'Proof': Student's talent adds depth to SVSU production of Pulitzer Prize-winning play

A sophomore’s passion for theatre sound and lighting design — along with his quickly-growing résumé of experience and training in the field — will be on display during a Saginaw Valley State University production of “Proof” later this month.

Hot off both summer courses taught at a Las Vegas institute and a key behind-the-scenes role for a hit musical produced across the Great Lakes Bay Region, Lucas Inman next will design an “ultra-real” soundscape aimed at transporting audiences deep into the world of the David Auburn-penned Pulitzer Prize-winning drama.

Performances of "Proof" are at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 30-Nov. 2; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, in SVSU’s Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. Tickets cost $15.

The story of “Proof” — about a troubled woman struggling with her late father’s legacy as a brilliant mathematician — takes place in a single setting: the backyard of a house. In his role as sound designer, Inman will record and edit audio from real outdoor environments that later will be used to simulate the setting of the play on SVSU's stage via speakers.

David Rzeszutek, the associate professor of theatre serving as the play's director, said Inman’s work will create a rich and immersive environment that will better connect audiences with the characters of "Proof."

"This whole show has a sound design underlying throughout the whole thing, almost like you might hear in a movie,” Rzeszutek said.

“From the moment the audience walks in, they're going to be in the neighborhood. Certain areas will have a dog barking; music playing from a neighboring house. The audience is always going to feel like they're sitting in the neighborhood, being surrounded by the neighborhood itself."

Creating an engaging theatrical experience requires a skill Inman has been fine-tuning since childhood, when he discovered a passion for behind-the-scenes work managing sound design for events at his church and vacation Bible school. Later, as a student at Heritage High School, he was involved in theatre productions there as an audio engineer.

The Saginaw native enrolled at SVSU last year, providing sound and lighting design as a freshman for the university’s theatre productions. The theatre major's talent and enthusiasm for the work at the collegiate level earned him invitations to national conferences offering training as well as opportunities to learn from some of the top professionals working in the entertainment industry today.

While attending the annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region III Festival in Madison, Wisconsin in January 2019, Inman met Jane Childs, director of the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas. He accepted her invitation to attend the organization’s summer courses. There, Inman trained with professionals to learn more about digital drafting, rigging, audio, and lighting technology. He also witnessed and studied behind-the-scenes work of beloved Las Vegas productions such as Cirque du Soleil’s “The Beatles LOVE.”

“Every single second we were there, we were learning something, even if it wasn't a skill for technical theater — like how to keep yourself motivated, how to keep your confidence, and how to keep your integrity,” Inman said.

For his next role back in Michigan, he applied many of the lessons learned in Las Vegas.

Inman worked as an LED (light-emitting diode) tape electrician during the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance’s fall production of “Mamma Mia!” The experience involved complex planning for the play's two stages set at the Midland Center for the Arts as well as Pit and Balcony Theatre in Saginaw. The student soldered over 75 pieces of LED tape to various set pieces. Each light was individually added to a circuit that was remotely controlled and programmed by the production's crew to coordinate with — and compliment — the performances of the musical's massive cast of 38 actors.

Rzeszutek said it's impressive for a second-year student to possess as much skill as Inman wields in sound and lighting design. The director said he was excited to see those talents at work for "Proof."

“Usually, at this point, a sophomore is under someone’s wing or working as an assistant on a production,” Rzeszutek said. “As a sophomore, this is an extremely nice opportunity for Lucas.”

Tickets for “Proof” can be purchased online at

For more information, please contact the SVSU Box Office at (989) 964-4261.

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