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February 15, 2019

A ‘Curious’ mystery — and an inclusive performance — part of SVSU's latest theatre production

Saginaw Valley State University's theatre department will stage its production of Simon Stephens' play, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” from Wednesday to Sunday, Feb. 20-24, in SVSU's Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts.

Based on Mark Haddon’s best-selling 2003 novel of the same name, the play follows 15-year-old Christopher Boone (played by freshman Jared Kaufman, a communication and theatre education double major from Bay City), who has been accused of killing the neighbor’s dog. Throughout the production, Christopher overcomes his fears and embarks on an unforgettable journey to solve the mystery of the real killer. The adventure changes his life forever.

Tommy Wedge, the play's director and an SVSU assistant professor of theatre, says "Curious Incident" will be unlike any other production audiences have witnessed at SVSU

“Not only is this a very technically-challenging play — with 400-plus light cues, rear projection, a raked stage, and student-created soundtrack — but, for the first time in our department, we are offering a sensory-friendly performance,” Wedge says.

That sensory-friendly version of the play — slated for the Sunday, Feb. 24 performance at 3 p.m. — will dampen the intensity of the sound and lighting elements for the sake of audience members sensitive to such elements, including individuals with autism. This more inclusive version will feature warnings for jarring lighting and sound effects, make the main floor open to audience members who want to move around (the balcony level will be reserved for attendees seeking a more traditional theatre experience), and open an "activity room" near the theatre. The activity room — open before, during and after the production — will feature staff and activities for attendees who want to take a break from watching the production while it's underway.

Wedge, the father of two children on the autism spectrum, says handling the subject of autism has been a rewarding challenge for the student-actors.

“The spectrum is so wide, and its manifestations so varied, that it has made this process a very educational one, especially for our actors," he says. "I think what they’ve developed is thoughtful and truthful, and I’m proud of what they’ve built.”

Hannah Ducolon, an elementary education major who plays the role of Judy – Christopher’s mother — says the unique presentation of the play makes "Curious Incident" an important production.

“This play shows that those who may be 'atypical' are just as capable as any other human being,” the Bay City native says. “They just process things differently, which is displayed in every aspect of this production.”

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. performances Wednesday through Saturday, Feb. 20-23, and a 3 p.m. performance Sunday, Feb. 24. The production is recommended for audiences 13 and older due to mild adult themes and language.

Tickets are $13 for general admission, and $10 for senior citizens and students. Tickets can be purchased online now.

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

February 15, 2019

SVSU student lands scholarship to top dental school through hard work, alumni support

Saginaw Valley State University student Brianna Kosecki's future is looking as bright as a freshly polished smile after being accepted into the nation's top dentistry school.

Kosecki, a pre-dental biology major and first-generation college student from Standish who will graduate in May 2019, received acceptance letters from three dental schools before choosing to study at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

“It felt really good, because that was my number one choice,” Kosecki said. “They have an interesting program for their fourth year where they send students out into actual clinics to work at, which is really unique.”

Part of what makes Kosecki's story so impressive is that U-M offered her a scholarship of $20,000 per year while she studies there, which will cover a significant portion of the yearly attendance costs that range between $40,000 and $49,000 per year, not including living expenses.

Such scholarships are rare, said Heidi Lang, SVSU's pre-health professions advisor, adding it is a testament to Kosecki's talent and work ethic.

“This is an incredibly rare opportunity reserved for the best and brightest across the nation,” Lang said.

Kosecki is a driven student who has served as an employee in the university's STEM Mobile Research Lab, as a Mission of Mercy volunteer with the Michigan Dental Association, and as the current president of SVSU's Health Professions Association, among other extracurricular activities.

Kosecki is also the first recipient of SVSU's Jessica Bentoski Pre-Dental scholarship, which paid for $1,000 worth of dental school applications and testing fees. Bentoski is an SVSU alumna who graduated with her D.D.S. from the U-M dental school and now has a pediatric dentistry practice in Saginaw Township; she established the scholarship in 2016.

SVSU offered much additional support, as well, and Kosecki credits the caring faculty and staff for much of her undergraduate success.

“Heidi Lang was super helpful,” Kosecki said. “I went in and talked to her, and she gave me tons of contacts for people who I could go in and shadow, information on courses to take and what was expected for how many shadowing hours are needed to be competitive.”

Kosecki said she was inspired to pursue dentistry by her mother's work in the field as a dental hygienist. Kosecki was able to shadow dental professionals while they worked, a requirement for dental school applications.

“I got a lot of mentorship,” Kosecki said. “People really love to help and give access to resources.”

As for advice to other students, Kosecki suggests they get involved with organizations like the Health Professionals Association, both for the networking opportunities and the ability to learn from others in their field.

“Start early, and definitely shadow and make sure it's something you enjoy," Kosecki said. "Find good opportunities, because there are so many around here.”

Even as an undergraduate, Kosecki already finds her involvement in dentistry to be a worthwhile experience.

“Even just going in and volunteering ... just being able to help set up clinics and do that kind of work is really fulfilling,” Kosecki said.


February 15, 2019

Grant boosts SVSU efforts to turn military education into college credits for vets

Saginaw Valley State University was one of seven institutions state-wide to receive Military Credit Equivalency grants that will bolster credit transfer programs that empower veterans to complete their education.

During their military service, service members receive extensive education and training that can translate directly into academic and professional skills, but these skills have not always transferred easily into college credits. SVSU hopes to support its veteran students and make sure they receive credit for previous education through this grant program, organizers say.

SVSU’s award, granted by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency, totals $12,897.

“The funds will primarily be used to bring American Council of Education representatives and two faculty reviewers from other institutions to discuss credit recommendation processes with our faculty and staff,” said Bethany Alford, director of SVSU’s Military Student Affairs office.

SVSU is dedicated to serving its veteran students, and its staff will use the remaining funds to travel to other Michigan colleges and universities to review their processes and best practices, Alford said.

The one-time funding boost was received through a competitive grant process open to Michigan higher education institutions. Grant proposals from six other institutions in Michigan were also accepted, with the funded programs ranging from similar equivalency programs to bridge programs aimed at applying military training to academic degree programs.

According to Alford, military transcripts appear distinctly different from those in higher education and require more training to properly analyze and apply to a student’s academic degree program.

“Providing direct equivalencies for military students shows them that SVSU has taken the time to understand and value the training and education they have received in the military,” Alford said. “The team and I are looking forward to working with faculty in creating equivalencies from military education so SVSU can continue to be a top choice for veterans in Michigan.”

SVSU has been repeatedly recognized for its support of military-affiliated students and their concerns, recently earning a place in the Best for Vets: Colleges 2019 rankings by Military Times as well as a designation as a Military Friendly university by VIQTORY.


February 13, 2019

SVSU alumna with passion for world languages interning in D.C.

Saginaw Valley State University alumna Alissa Rutkowski recently began an internship as a communications and policy intern with the Joint National Committee for Languages and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The committee represents language education advocacy organizations across the nation.


The Birch Run native assists in planning congressional meetings and performs policy research. Her most recent responsibilities include helping to coordinate the committee's Language Advocacy Day events scheduled Thursday to Friday, Feb. 14-15, in Washington, D.C.


“Right now, my focus is organizing Language Advocacy Day so that members of the language community from all over the country have the opportunity to meet with federal policymakers and discuss the state of language learning in the U.S.," she said.


Rutkowski received a bachelor's degree in psychology from SVSU in May 2018. While at SVSU, she served as an orientation leader for international students; was selected as a member of the Roberts Fellowship Program, a student leadership development initiative that concludes with a trip to several nations in Asia; and participated in SVSU’s Study Abroad program. 


“Because of SVSU, I was able to discover and develop my passion for world languages, international relations and advocacy,” she said. “I was also able to build great relationships with my professors along the way, which opened the door to multiple research and conference opportunities.”


These experiences grew her ambition as an advocate for foreign language education and inclusion, Rutkowski said.


“When I was working on a faculty-led linguistic research project, I was constantly confronted by people outside of the field asking questions like, ‘Why is this relevant to me?,’ or, ‘Why is language study so important?,'" she said. "I realized that I wanted to be able to share the benefits of language education with others and offer support to those who work in the field."

February 6, 2019

SVSU’s Relay For Life fundraiser will feature survivor of rare bone cancer from Bay City

Haley Charbonneau doesn’t like to plan too many days in advance. A four-year battle against a rare form of bone cancer taught the Saginaw Valley State University senior that each day is best lived one at a time.


Still, the Bay City woman a few weeks ago was quick to accept an invitation to speak to the cancer survivors, caretakers and supporters that will gather at SVSU’s annual Relay For Life event Friday, Feb. 8.


“I couldn’t miss it,” Charbonneau said of the fundraiser that supports cancer research via the American Cancer Society. “There’s a real sense of community and support that happens at Relay For Life, and I want to be there for that.”


SVSU’s Relay For Life is scheduled from 2 p.m. to midnight Friday in SVSU’s Ryder Center, where teams of students will gather to raise money. The public is invited to attend the event, which will honor cancer survivors while also featuring entertainment and raffle giveaways. Supporters also can contribute to the fundraiser online at SVSU’s Relay For Life webpage.


Last year, the SVSU event raised $25,750. This year, student organizers hope to raise as much as $30,000.


Sabrina Bellante, the lead student coordinator this year and last, said her motivation for supporting Relay For Life became especially personal after her uncle, Edward “Bob” Pressel, died of brain cancer in October 2018.


“Brain cancer is such a tough cancer to come back from,” she said. “For me, I want to raise money to find some kind of research to help people diagnosed with brain cancer.”


The exercise science major from Clinton Township said her uncle’s fight to stay alive continues to motivate her to help others suffering from cancer. He survived more than a year beyond an initial six- to eight-month life expectancy diagnosis from doctors.


“He made a huge impact on my life,” said Bellante, president of the SVSU chapter of Colleges Against Cancer that organizes SVSU's Relay For Life event.


Bellante said she also is inspired by cancer survivors such as Charbonneau, who will serve as the “survivor speaker” at this year's fundraiser.


Charbonneau said she plans to tell Friday's attendees how, two days after her 18th birthday in 2012, doctors discovered a tumor growing on her left tibia. A later diagnosis revealed it was caused by a rare form of bone cancer known as adamantinoma, which makes up less than 1 percent of all bone cancer diagnoses.


“My doctor had only seen one other case of it in her 25 years of practice,” Charbonneau said. “Chemo and radiation don’t work on it.”


Doctors performed six surgeries on Charbonneau from 2012-16, until eventually her entire left tibia was replaced with cadaver bones reinforced by metal plates and rods.


Her long fight against cancer began shortly after she first arrived at SVSU as a communication major. There were times when she could not walk without the aid of wheelchairs, canes or walking boots, yet she remained enrolled at the university in pursuit of her education. Now she is on course to walk alongside fellow graduating classmates during SVSU's commencement ceremonies in December 2019.


“Cancer took away a lot of my independence when it first happened,” she said. “I had friends who were enjoying a carefree first year of college while I was loading up the car to travel to Royal Oak for medical appointments. Fortunately, I had a great support system of friends and family who helped me along the way.”


This year represents her third since doctors last detected any trace of the cancer.


“I continue to be thankful just to be here,” she said. “That’s what I want to say on Friday: There was a point in time when I wasn’t sure if I would have another day. You never know how short life is, so I now appreciate every day that I’m given.”

February 5, 2019

Musical duo to delight audiences at SVSU with euphonium, piano performances

A performance inspired in part by a steampunk superhero comic book series will be on the program for a classical music concert scheduled this week at Saginaw Valley State University.

Musicians William Sutton and Ling Lo will perform Friday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU’s Rhea Miller Recital Hall. The concert is free and open to the public.

The duo arrives at SVSU with résumés featuring both local and international accolades.

Sutton, who will be playing the euphonium alongside Lo’s piano performance Friday, won the Midwest Regional Tuba-Euphonium Conference’s euphonium solo competition in 2015. Sutton also advanced to the semifinal round four times at the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival. Sutton, an adjunct faculty member in SVSU’s Department of Music, has performed with groups such as the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, Lansing Symphony Orchestra as well as the Orchestra of Northern New York.

As a soloist, Lo has performed in global competitions including the International Bohemia Metro Cup and Taiwan Cultural Cup Music Competition. She carries degrees in piano performance from both Boston University and Soochow University in Jiangsu, China. Lo is currently completing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance and a Master of Music degree in collaborative piano from Michigan State University.

Friday’s performance will include selections such as “In League with Extraordinary Gentlemen,” a Peter Graham-composed musical piece inspired in part by a comic book series and 2003 film about a group of steampunk-themed superheroes known as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Other musical selections planned for Friday include work from 19th century Austrian composer Franz Schubert and 20th century American composer William Grant Still.

For more information about Friday’s concert, contact the SVSU Department of Music at or (989) 964-4159.

February 5, 2019

SVSU to host more than 100 employers for Summer Job and Internship Fair

Saginaw Valley State University will host its Summer Job and Internship Fair on Wednesday, Feb. 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second floor of SVSU's Curtiss Hall in the banquet and seminar rooms. 

More than 100 employers will be looking to interview and potentially hire prospective workers. This event is free and open to the public.

The employment fair will offer opportunities to visit with representatives from companies and agencies based locally and across the nation. Dow Bay Area Family YMCA, Detroit Police Department, Auto-Owners Insurance, Bavarian Inn Lodge & Restaurant, Chippewa Nature Center, and Apple Mountain are among the wide range of employers expected to attend Tuesday.

Bill Stec, interim director of Career Services, advises that all who are seeking valuable work experience attend.

Stec also offered his best tips for those who want to make a good impression at the fair. Attendees should consider preparing for the event by doing the following:

  • Researching the list of companies who will be in attendance by going to and clicking on the events tab.
  • Highlighting the top 15 companies you would like to network with at the fair
  • Printing 15-20 copies of your resume
  • Preparing questions to ask employers to show interest in their specific organization.

The Summer Job and Internship Fair was originally scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 29, but was postponed due to inclement weather.

For more information about the Summer Job and Internship Fair, visit

February 1, 2019

SVSU to host STEM activities, games for Girl Scouts Saturday

Saginaw Valley State University will introduce a group of Girl Scouts to the wonders of science during an all-day event Saturday, Feb. 2.


About 90 girls — from kindergarten to fifth grade students — will participate in SVSU’s third annual STEMapalooza from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Kochville Township campus.


With the help of SVSU faculty, staff and students as well as community partners from Nexteer Automotive, STEMapalooza will engage the girls in a series of science-based exercises and games. Activities will include exploring SVSU’s Gertrude Boutell Greenhouse, investigating the different phases of matter with SVSU’s Biology Club, and building toy roller coasters out of marbles.


“STEMapalooza is a fantastic way to introduce the girls to STEM concepts,” said Adrianne Cole, SVSU’s director of STEM and the event’s coordinator.


“With the gender imbalance in STEM careers, we want to encourage girls to get excited about STEM by visiting campus and working with strong STEM role models, including our own SVSU students.”


The activities largely will take place in SVSU’s Doan Science East building as well as the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum.


STEMapalooza is funded in part by a $3,120 Nexteer Steering the Future Fund, first established at the Saginaw Community Foundation in 2013.

January 29, 2019

Quintasonic Brass to perform at SVSU

A professional brass musical group will perform at Saginaw Valley State University later this week.


Quintasonic Brass will visit campus Saturday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in SVSU's Rhea Miller Recital Hall. The performance is free and open to the public.


The group features trumpeters Vincent DiMartino and Jason Dovel, horn player Matthew Haislip, trombonist Alex van Duuren and tuba player Alex Lapins.


Saturday’s planned program features musical selections composed as early as the 18th century and as recent as this century. 


The quintet began performing together in 2016, but the musicians began collaborating with each other for years prior to the group's formation. All five players also work as educators at colleges and universities across the U.S.: DiMartino at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky; Dovel at University of Kentucky; Haislip at Mississippi State University; Duuren at University of Tennessee; and Lapins at University of Tennessee.


More information about Quintasonic Brass is available on its website at


For more information about Saturday’s concert, contact the SVSU Department of Music at or (989) 964-4159.

January 25, 2019

SVSU named Military-Friendly University for eighth year

Saginaw Valley State University has earned continued recognition for the committed support it provides to military-affiliated students.

VIQTORY has designated SVSU as a Military Friendly® university for the 2019-20 school year. This marks the eighth time the school has been honored with this recognition.

This designation is due in part to the dedicated staff in SVSU's Military Student Affairs Office. They assist military-affiliated students with everything from admissions counseling to a veteran peer support group.

Bethany Alford, director of Military Student Affairs at SVSU, said that their staff works hard to be sure that military-connected students feel valued and receive exceptional service from SVSU.

“We take much pride in serving those who have served for us,” she said. “This national designation demonstrates, once again, SVSU's commitment to serving student veterans and their families.”

Along with this designation, SVSU has also been recognized by Military Times for its Best for Vets national honor and the gold level Veteran Friendly honor by the Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency earlier in the school year.

VIQTORY is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business founded in 2001. VIQTORY's free, data-driven Military Friendly® lists can be found online. VIQTORY's lists are also published in G.I. Jobs, Military Spouse and Military Friendly® brands.

Colleges and universities are selected for this designation based on public data and surveys completed by veterans.

For more information on SVSU's Military Affairs Office, visit

The Military Friendly® list and more information on the selection process can be found at

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