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May 30, 2019

Beaumont Health selects grad of SVSU master’s program for prestigious fellowship

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

For more information about the Beaumont Health Administrative Fellowship program, go to

May 28, 2019

SVSU writing tutors receive award from Midwest organization

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


May 23, 2019

SVSU students apply engineering expertise in capstone project for Storch's SuperMag

(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.


About SVSU:

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.

May 23, 2019

SVSU partnership offers financial help for students who helped Michigan College Access Network

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


For more information on the Michigan College Access Network, visit

May 21, 2019

SVSU honors outstanding nurses from the Great Lakes Bay Region

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:

  • Renee Dittmar is a house supervisor at Ascension St. Mary's Hospital. She is the 2019 recipient of the Nurse Educator Award. Her nomination letter read, "Renee is known for coaching, mentoring, and listening. She has taken a lead role in implementing bedside report and modeling behaviors."
  • Kelly Jo Foster, works at the medical intensive care unit (MICU) department at MidMichigan Medical Center-Midland. She is one of the two recipients of the Nursing in the Acute Care award. Her nomination letter read, "She is a very special, heartfelt nurse. We say in the MICU that there is no one who has a bigger heart than KJ. I believe we would all want this type of nurse if we had a loved one in the ICU."
  • Sue Gatza, who is a registered nurse at Ascension St. Mary's Hospital, is the recipient of the Nursing in the Community Award. Her nomination letter read, "She loves to learn and transform her practice to meet the challenges of today's healthcare environment while firmly holding her patients at the center of her practice."
  • Lisa Kukla works as a labor and delivery nurse at McLaren Bay Region. Her nomination letter read, "Lisa has established a nursing career that she can be proud of. She has been described in patient 'Thank You' notes as 'nice, friendly, great, very informative, concerned, knowledgeable, wonderful, and excellent.'
  • Cathy Lelo, works at Ascension St. Mary's Hospital and is receiving the award for nursing excellence as a staff nurse. Her nomination letter read, "Cathy exemplifies what 'nursing' is. She takes time to listen and explain things with patients and their families in a very patient and empathetic manner."
  • Nicholas Seliskar, who works in Covenant HealthCare and is one of the two recipients of the Nursing in the Acute Care award. His nomination letter read, "Nicholas is an extraordinary nurse. He is an asset to his unit and an asset to the entire Covenant HealthCare organization and his community."

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

May 17, 2019

SVSU student recognized for study of French language, culture

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

May 17, 2019

United Way event to send SVSU staff ‘Over the Edge’ of a building for a good cause

Heights don’t bother Riley Hupfer much. Growing up, he helped out at his family business, Freeland Bean and Grain Inc., which sometimes meant climbing ladders to the top of nearly 100-foot-tall grain silos.


So the prospect of rappelling 85 feet down the side of a 6-story building is no cause for concern for the assistant director of Saginaw Valley State University’s Center for Community Engagement, he said. In fact, considering it’s a stunt meant to benefit and celebrate one of the region’s most supportive nonprofit organizations, Hupfer can’t wait to get his bird’s eye view of the community he himself loves to bolster.


“It’s going to be a thrill,” Hupfer said of his planned participation in the United Way of Saginaw County’s Over The Edge fundraising event Saturday, June 8, at Covenant HealthCare’s Mackinaw facility in Saginaw Township.


There, participants such as Hupfer — along with two others representing SVSU — plan to rappel down one of Saginaw Township’s tallest structures to raise awareness and funds for United Way of Saginaw County as part of a celebration of the nonprofit’s 100th year as a community booster.


“The opportunity to support such an incredible organization that is celebrating 100 years is something I do not want to miss,” Hupfer said. “We are proud to stand together to support the United Way of Saginaw County’s message. That change does not happen alone.”


Hupfer will represent SVSU along with Bethany Alford; the director of Military Student Affairs at SVSU; and Coop the Cardinal, the university’s mascot. SVSU’s team fundraising goal is $10,000.


Alford, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, said she is looking forward to supporting the fundraiser, particularly because of United Way of Saginaw County’s efforts to connect military veterans with resources in the community.


“Having been on three deployments myself, I know that transitions back into community, higher education or even back into your family can be difficult to navigate,” she said. “When the opportunity arose for me to do something to help the United Way’s cause, I was immediately onboard.”


Over The Edge will feature games and family-friendly entertainment in addition to the rappelling. For more information about the fundraising event or to register to rappel, go to United Way of Saginaw County’s website at


Those interested in supporting SVSU’s team at the fundraiser can click here.

May 16, 2019

SVSU graphic design grad's 'pet' project up for national award

Shayla Krygier’s passion for graphic design soon could earn her accolades from the nation’s oldest advertising trade association.


Krygier, who earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Saginaw Valley State University last Saturday, recently turned a pet project into a contender at the American Advertising Federation’s American Advertising Awards scheduled June 7 in Hollywood.


The Bay City native months ago created a mock marketing campaign proposal for a faux company called "Gray Dog Grooming,” which appears to cater to animal lovers looking to keep their canines clean. While both the business and the marketing materials were products of Krygier’s mind, the passion for graphic design work that inspired those creations was very real, she said. Krygier began the project for fun from home and later utilized the work in a portfolio assignment for one of her final SVSU classes earlier this year. She eventually entered "Gray Dog Grooming" into the American Advertising Federation’s awards circuit, skeptical of its chances at success.


Its chances for success turned out to be excellent.


The entry was honored first by the American Advertising Federation’s Great Lakes Bay chapter, winning a top prize in February at the regional organization's event known as The ADDY Awards. That successful turn advanced the entry to the awards competition for American Advertising Federation’s District 6, which covers 13 regional chapters from Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. Krygier received accolades at that level too, moving her creation into contention for the organization’s final contest featuring the best work from across the U.S.


Krygier’s project will be among 22 entries up for the top prize in the Integrated Brand Identity Campaign category at the American Advertising Federation’s American Advertising Awards. 


"Making it to the national level in the competition was something I never imagined when I was developing this campaign,” she said. “I am excited for what the future holds and grateful for such an amazing platform and opportunity to showcase my work.”


The “Gray Dog Grooming” entry features several graphic design elements including a company logo, marketing language and layouts for a proposed pamphlet — all of which are punctuated by images of dogs being groomed. Krygier's inspiration for the project was simple, she said.


"I'm a big dog person,” she said. “I was trying to think of a business I could create that would cater to dogs. I decided to pick a grooming company and then chose a name that was fun. I thought that the incorporation of a color into the title would give me a good basis for creating a cohesive feel."


Krygier was a marketing minor at SVSU. She said the skills learned in those classes worked hand-in-hand with her graphic design abilities while creating the marketing campaign.


"Marketing is something that can simultaneously flow with design,” she said. “With graphic design in particular, a brand that one creates does not mean much if can't be marketed toward an audience. You need the two — working together — to make a campaign successful.”


A website featuring some of Krygier's work is available at


For more information about the American Advertising Federation’s American Advertising Awards, click here.

May 15, 2019

SVSU student’s dodgeball skills earn him All-American status

A strong arm and a passion for competition helped a Saginaw Valley State University student recently earn a spot on the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association’s All-American Team.


Kyle Bruce, a mechanical engineering major from Macomb Township, said the All-American distinction was among his favorite highlights since joining SVSU’s dodgeball club in 2015.


“Playing on this team, you become like a family,” said Bruce, who plans to graduate in August. “I made a lot of friends in dodgeball, and this was a great way to end it.”


Bruce said he joined the team four years ago as a fun distraction from studies but quickly found joy in the highly-competitive nature of the National Collegiate Dodgeball Association.


“I remember traveling to our first tournament at Grand Valley State University, and realizing how seriously these teams approach the game,” he said. “I loved that competitiveness.”


Prior to his joining the club, Bruce’s experience with the sport involved a handful of games played in high school gym classes. His lack of familiarity with dodgeball was balanced out by his experience as a baseball pitcher in high school, though, and he quickly developed into a valuable player after joining SVSU's club sport.


“Having that baseball background gives you an advantage in dodgeball,” he said, pointing out that both sports rely heavily on throwing and catching. “There are a lot of other skills you need for dodgeball, but you can pick those up over the years.”


The National Collegiate Dodgeball Association plays its season over the course of the college academic year, spanning fall to spring. In total, 39 teams from universities and colleges across the nation compete in the association. Each roster features between 12 to 18 people.


While the league is not affiliated with the NCAA, SVSU lines up against students from much larger schools such as Michigan State University, University of Nebraska, Ohio State University, and University of Kentucky.


SVSU’s dodgeball club finished its 2018-19 season in April after placing sixth in the national tournament hosted at GVSU.


The tournament marked Bruce’s last appearance in an SVSU dodgeball club uniform, but he isn’t finished with the sport. Already, he has joined the Detroit City Notorious, one of more than 100 teams that constitute the league known as Elite Dodgeball.

May 15, 2019

‘Stubborn’ SVSU Cardinal Formula Racing finishes among top 15 in the world

An unyielding desire to excel by the students on Saginaw Valley State University's Cardinal Formula Racing rocketed the team to a top 15 against the top college and university race teams from around the world.

“It blows me away, the amount of work this team puts in,” said Brooks Byam, an SVSU professor of mechanical engineering and the team's adviser since 1998. “They earned this.”

SVSU’s Indy-style race car placed 15th overall at the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) Collegiate Design Series May 8-11 at Michigan International Speedway. They finished ahead of institutions such as Michigan Tech, Penn State and Purdue.

For the fifth consecutive year, the program placed highest among teams that exclusively featured undergraduate students.

Over the last two decades, increased participation from teams with graduate students as well as institutions outside the U.S. have gradually raised the level of competition at the Collegiate Design Series, making a high finish for SVSU more difficult with each passing year, Byam said.

But a determined core of students - and a history of success - helped boost Cardinal Formula Racing to its best performance in more than a decade. Before last weekend, the program's top four finishes of all-time were 6th place in 2002, 8th in 2005, 14th in 2008 and 18th in 2010.

This year's team finished 15th overall both because of the students' strong work ethic and Cardinal Formula Racing's legacy of success, Byam said.

“We've been developing and carrying over a checklist of items – for over a decade now – that helps our students prepare for some of the goofy things that have happened to our teams over the years,” he said.

The failure of a 10-cent oil line part considerably dropped Cardinal Formula Racing's overall placement in the 2015 Collegiate Design Series. A blown backup engine that nearly cost the team dearly on the eve of the 2018 competition. Experiences such as these became entries in the checklist – now nearly four pages in length – that students utilize to ensure they are better prepared to overcome the challenges faced by their predecessors.

While the checklist helped avoid potential setbacks last weekend, this year's team likely will add some items for future generations of Cardinal Formula Racing team members, said Jared Greshow, a mechanical engineering major and team captain. One month before the Collegiate Design series, the car experienced engine problems. Then, about one week before the competition, a vital sprocket broke.

“For some teams, these problems would have been reason to call it quits,” Greshow said. “We were prepared for these problems and had solutions ready to go when they happened.”

The Bay City native said his teammates were stubborn... in a positive way.

“Nothing could have happened which would have made us quit,” he said. “This year couldn't have gone better.”

This year's team was sponsored by a number of companies and organizations including the Alro Steel, the SVSU chapter of the American Foundry Society, DeWitts Radiator, Fullerton Tool Co., General Machine Service Inc., Means Industries, Merrill Technologies Group, MolyKote, Nexteer Automotive, and PF Markey. Other supporters include R&M Machine Tool, Rowleys Tires and Automotive Services, Teamtech Motorsports, TNT EDM Inc., Saginaw Welding Supply Co., and the William Parth Endowment for Cardinal Formula Racing.

For more information on SVSU's Cardinal Formula Racing program, please visit

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