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."
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (989) 964-4159.
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:
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 www.svsu.edu/careerservices.
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.
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 http://quintasonic.myartsonline.com/.
For more information about Saturday’s concert, contact the SVSU Department of Music at email@example.com or (989) 964-4159.
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 www.svsu.edu/militarystudentaffairs/.
The Military Friendly® list and more information on the selection process can be found at www.militaryfriendly.com.
Saginaw Valley State University works hard to maintain a high-quality education at relatively low tuition rates for its students. That commitment recently resulted in a top credit rating service praising SVSU for its fiscal responsibility and strength.
New York City-based Moody’s Investors Service in a Jan. 14 report announced an A1 rating for SVSU’s $102 million in existing debt, citing the university’s “prudent fiscal discipline.”
SVSU’s high rating is especially impressive considering Moody’s less-optimistic analysis and forecast for the higher education industry as a whole, said James G. Muladore, executive vice president for administration and business affairs.
“They have issued a negative outlook for higher education based on demographic and enrollment trends and what is seen as declining net tuition revenue,” he said. “We’re pleased we have this positive affirmation as well as a stable outlook for the future. We’re fortunate we’re in a relatively good place at this time.”
In its recent report, Moody’s stated “the A1 rating reflects SVSU's consistently well managed operations that continue to generate very good cash flow and debt service coverage.”
The positive rating — along with a similarly high A credit rating recently issued by New York City-based Standard and Poor’s Financial Services — will allow SVSU to seek low interest rates for potential future projects, Muladore said. The $102 million in existing debt largely represents campus construction projects that supported SVSU’s academic programs and student housing in recent decades.
Muladore said he expects SVSU will remain on solid footing relating to its debt, which he projects will fall to $70 million — a 31 percent reduction — by 2023.
He said the university’s fiscal strength was in part the result of following conservative budgeting practices over the years.
The Moody’s report is available online at www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-affirms-Saginaw-Valley-State-Universitys-MI-A1-outlook-stable--PR_905669736.
During the 2019 national tournament, a pair of Saginaw Valley State University students demonstrated the hard work and tireless commitment that continues to make the institution's moot court program among the best in the United States.
SVSU teammates Lindsey Mead and Justin Weller advanced to the round of 32 at the American Moot Court Association national tournament Jan. 12-13 at Florida A&M College of Law in Orlando. They qualified for the second day of the competition and won their opening match of the day before being eliminated; 80 teams from across the U.S. qualified for the annual contest.
“It was a great showing for the team,” said Julie Keil, the program's founder and adviser as well as an SVSU associate professor of political science. “We expect to have both students back next season, which bodes well for us.”
Mead, an English major from Saginaw who also competed in the 2018 national tournament, is a junior at SVSU. Weller, a political science major from Bay City, is a sophomore.
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.
Mead and Weller were among 160 of the nation's most elite moot court competitors who qualified for this month's national tournament based on their performances in regional tournaments. In total, 878 students participated in the American Moot Court Association's 2018-19 season.
The SVSU moot court program has competed at the highest level over the years, and SVSU consistently has been ranked among the nation's top programs. Its current ranking by the American Moot Court Association at No. 19 is its highest yet, ahead of larger institutions such as Texas A&M University (ranked no. 21) and University of Louisville (No. 23).
A Saginaw Valley State University student's vocal talents earned him a prestigious honor while several of his classmates were praised at a recent theater festival featuring the best collegiate performing artists in the Midwest.
Over the winter break, 22 SVSU students displayed their acting skills, production expertise and more when they competed in several performing-arts related categories at the 2019 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region III Festival (KCACTF) in Madison, Wisconsin, from Jan. 8 - 13.
Three SVSU students made it to the final round in their respective categories, and a fourth advanced to the national finals.
Theatre major Joshua Lloyd of Bay City and his partner Clay Singer, a psychology major from Frankenmuth, advanced from just under 300 students competing in the acting category to the final 16. This is the first time since 2014 that SVSU has had a student in the Acting finals.
Lloyd was also honored with the prestigious Voice and Speech Trainers Association's Vocal Excellence Award.
“It's a tremendous honor to be recognized by the American College Theatre Festival,” Lloyd said. “Attending the festival has always been a highlight of my winter semester, and to have finally made it through to finals and receiving the vocal excellence award only confirms that I must be on the right track. I'm incredibly thankful for family and friends rooting me on, and our superb faculty in the SVSU theatre department for their continued support.”
Olivia Greanias, a theatre major from Saginaw, competed in the musical theatre category and advanced to the final 16, marking the second consecutive year that SVSU was represented by a musical theatre finalist.
Arianna Whisman, a special education major and theatre minor from Bay City, made the national finals in the unrealized production costume design category.
Jennifer Lothian of Linwood, who graduated in December 2018 as a double major in communications and theatre, presented her costumes from the recent SVSU production of “The Servant of Two Masters” in the festival's costume parade. This is Lothian's second consecutive invitation to present her impeccable costume design work in the parade, which highlights costume design work by students and faculty members from across the region.
“The 2019 KCACTF Festival was a complete success,” said Ric Roberts, SVSU professor of theatre. “The theatre faculty, who traveled and coached with these 22 students, could not be prouder of all of their work.”
The Kennedy Center America College Theatre Region III covers colleges and universities in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.