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October 18, 2018

SVSU receives research grant aimed at reducing Saginaw Bay Watershed contamination

Saginaw Valley State University has received additional resources to study environmental conditions in the Saginaw Bay Watershed and improve public health for people living in and visiting communities in the watershed. SVSU faculty, staff and students are performing research aimed at identifying and reducing contamination in regional waterways.

SVSU recently received a $200,000 grant from the Office of Great Lakes, which is a division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, to perform molecular source tracking in the watershed. The research involves tracing the origin of fecal contamination found in the environment to determine whether it originated from humans, cows or other sources.

“This information can potentially be used to eliminate the contamination before it even occurs, which could result in fewer beach closings and safer recreational water,” said Tami Sivy, SVSU professor of chemistry.

Sivy and other SVSU researchers have studied water quality in the Saginaw Bay Watershed for several years. She said finding the answers will involve examining DNA markers extracted from bacteria in water samples.

SVSU is home to one of only two laboratories at higher education institutions in Michigan capable of performing such research.

“The Saginaw Bay Watershed has proven to be a bit difficult to do some types of water quality analysis, so they wanted someone to do this who was committed and familiar with the region,” Sivy said. 

The study began in August and is expected to extend into February 2019. SVSU faculty and students will test hundreds of water samples collected during summer 2018.

The project is a continuation of earlier SVSU-led research projects examining bacterial contamination in Michigan waterways. The previous research was supported in part by partners including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and is a collaboration with health departments from Bay, Huron and Iosco counties.

October 18, 2018

SVSU students empowered to grow as leaders through Roberts Fellowship

Ten Saginaw Valley State University students are engaged in a year-long leadership development initiative following their selection for the highly competitive Roberts Fellowship.

The program annually challenges SVSU students in both academic course work and extracurricular activities designed to enhance their potential as future political, economic and civic leaders. The program culminates in a trip to Asia to provide the Fellows with an international perspective on leadership. The class recently selected for the program will travel to Asia in May 2019.

This year's class was selected in part for demonstrating outstanding scholarship and leadership potential during their time at SVSU.

The complete lineup of Roberts Fellows for 2018-19 includes:

  • Emily Beardsley, a biochemistry major from Bay City
  • Aranya Biswas, an economics major from Bangladesh
  • Matthew Chappel, a secondary education major from Marlette
  • Jessica Hurley, a psychology and theatre double major from Bay City
  • Emma Kirsch, an early childhood and elementary education double major from Saginaw
  • Lindsey Mead, an English major from Saginaw
  • Kellie Rankey, a creative writing major from Saginaw
  • Miles Shane, a health science major from Southgate
  • Taylor Stockton, a business management major from Hale
  • Andrew Vivian, an electrical engineering major from Richmond

To qualify, students must have completed between 48 and 100 credit hours with a minimum grade point average of 3.40 and pass a rigorous selection process. Students are chosen based upon their academic accomplishment, a record of university and community service and other evidence of leadership potential.

Students selected to be Roberts Fellows are required to complete a three-credit leadership seminar in the fall and winter semesters, within one or more academic departments. During the year, the Fellows will also meet for informal seminars and discussions with various political, business and civic leaders from throughout the Great Lakes Bay Region. Julie Foss, associate professor of modern foreign languages, and Brian Thomas, director of global engagement and presidential liaison to Ming Chuan University, serve as the group's faculty advisers.

Established in 1999, the program is named in honor of Donna Roberts of Midland, who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to SVSU through her personal generosity and prior service on the Board of Control and the Board of Fellows. A respected attorney, business leader and philanthropist, Roberts retired from the Dow Chemical Company, where she was Secretary and Assistant General Counsel. She is an honorary director of the SVSU Foundation Board.


October 17, 2018

Local nonprofit to benefit from SVSU students ‘battle’ to support suicide prevention

Saginaw Valley State University students are committed to supporting community causes, and next week they will be raising funds to help a Saginaw-based nonprofit expand its prevention and training efforts to help people recognize and respond to signs of suicidal thoughts.

During the annual Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition, students at SVSU and Grand Valley State University capitalize on the schools’ football rivalry to see who can raise the most money for charity. This year, SVSU students will raise funds to benefit the Barb Smith Suicide and Response Network through a variety of events and activities Sunday, Oct. 21, through Friday, Oct. 26. 

The Saginaw-based nonprofit works tirelessly to prevent suicide, educate communities and provide no-cost, 24/7 aftercare for those affected when prevention is not possible, said Barb Smith, the organization's founder and executive director.

“Suicide is the leading cause of death for college and university students between 18 and 24,” Smith said. “If we think about what puts someone at risk, we're talking sleep deprivation, possibly alcohol and other substances, anxiety and not a lot of support.”

Smith founded the nonprofit 30 years ago, and over the next three decades, grew it into a meaningful and effective nonprofit in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

“We started 30 years ago as a grassroots organization and focused mostly on the aftercare of suicide,” Smith said. “Since then, we've really moved forward – and quite quickly in the last couple years – to focus equally, if not more, on prevention efforts.”

Last year, SVSU students raised more than $32,000 for the Mustard Seed Shelter in Saginaw. With the funds raised through the 2018 Battle of the Valleys, Smith plans to expand the organization's evidence-based suicide awareness training sessions in the community and on college campuses.

“We can keep training, but we need the staff to support those efforts,” Smith said. “It would be really nice to have a general fund that we can use to help coordinate large events throughout the year … to offer different trainers who come in and host special events to continue training at all levels.”

Smith said she hopes these training sessions will enable more students to recognize and to help when their peers are in crisis, both in college and as they enter the workforce.

Battle of the Valleys began in 2003, and over the past 15 years, the contest has generated $601,282 in charitable donations between the two universities. Donations can be made at campus fundraising events or through a donation link on SVSU's Battle of the Valleys website at between noon on Oct. 21 and midnight on Oct. 26.

October 17, 2018

SVSU staff member selected as educational ambassador for trip to Sudan

A Saginaw Valley State University staff member will pursue her passion for intercultural education when she serves as one of 51 educational ambassadors selected for a trip to the nation of Sudan later this month.

The weeklong visit won't be the first trek to the northeastern Africa for Kate Scott, associate director for SVSU's Office of International and Advanced Studies and director of the English Language Program. She spent three years in Sudan as a third-grade teacher shortly after graduating from SVSU as an elementary education major in 2007.

“It's funny because a lot of my students from back then are college-aged students now,” she said. “I'd love to bring a few of them back to become SVSU students.”

Scott will depart Wednesday, Oct. 24. The purpose of the trip – organized by the Institute of International Education, a New York City-based nonprofit –  is to form relationships and exchange ideas between higher education representatives in the Sudan and United States. SVSU will be one of 32 U.S. higher education institutions represented in the group. The group plans to visit 10 Sudanese universities.

Scott said she hopes to establish networks that eventually lead to faculty exchange programs as well as student recruitment from Sudan.

“My heart beats for creating intercultural exchanges through education,” Scott said.

She will travel to Khartoum, the nation's capital. Plenty has changed for the country since she departed it in May 2010. Civil unrest led to the country splitting in two in 2011. The new country, South Sudan, continues to experience conflict between the established government and a rebel group.

Scott said she feels secure about her planned trip back to Khartoum, where she hopes to reunite with a former teaching assistant and as many of her former students as she can.

Her first stint there was a great experience, she said, despite desert temperatures that regularly soared above 110 degrees in her classroom, which had no air conditioning.

“Sudanese people are very hospitable and laid back,” Scott said. “Time is fluid for them and they are almost never in a hurry. They would bend over backwards to make sure you had what you needed.”

It was an experience that has inspired her to continue working in international education and has prepared her to better understand and navigate cultural complexities. When she returned to the United States, she was hired by SVSU as a teacher in the English Language Program, which featured a large Saudi Arabian population at the time.

Scott's recently-assumed role of associate director for the Office of International and Advanced Studies led to her applying for this opportunity.

“This is such a fabulous opportunity to create connections in a place where, historically, we haven't been able to,” she said. “I'm looking forward to it.”

October 16, 2018

SVSU students elect 2018 Homecoming queen, king

Saginaw Valley State University students elected Kayla Flintoft and Tyler Boylen as the 2018 Homecoming queen and king, respectively.

Flintoft and Boylen were crowned Saturday, Oct. 13 during a halftime ceremony at SVSU's home football game against Northern Michigan University.

Flintoft is a biology and secondary education major from Caro. She is involved in SVSU's Outdoor Adventures program and works for Residential Life. Flintoft also is member of the university’s Foundation Scholars Program.

Boylen is a supply chain management and marketing double major from Gladwin. He works at SVSU's Residential Life and Campus Recreation offices, and serves as a campus tour guide.

Alongside Flintoft and Boylen, eight other students were selected to serve on the Homecoming Court earlier in the month.

The students joining them on the 2018 Homecoming Court were as follows:

  • Kyle Baxter, a nursing major from Mayville
  • McKenna Daniel, a marketing major from Clio
  • Jake Deloge, a nursing major from Lapeer
  • Hannah Doederlein, a health science major from Carleton
  • Indigo Dudley, a music and communication double major from Saginaw
  • Alan Gutierrez, an exercise science major from Zeeland
  • Emma Kirsch, an early childhood and elementary education double major from Clinton Township
  • Dylan Langlois, an exercise science major from Reed City

October 16, 2018

SVSU music alum thriving in New York City theatre internship

Saginaw Valley State University alumna Madalyn McHugh has taken her talent and determination to New York City, where she has landed an internship with the Open Jar Institute, a program that provides learning opportunities for aspiring actors.

McHugh was selected to be part of this year's Open Jar Institute through a highly competitive nationwide selection process. At the institute, she participates in workshops and auditions for national tours for both off-Broadway and Broadway productions.

Kevin Simons, SVSU associate professor of music, taught and mentored McHugh, and recognized her drive to succeed.

“Madalyn was a curious and extremely hard-working student,” Simons said.. “Her work ethic was an example to those around her. She took advantage of every opportunity to get involved and perform both on and off-campus.” 

A Caro native who graduated from SVSU in December 2017 with a bachelor's degree in music, McHugh was highly engaged while a student. She participated in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, and as a vocalist, she was a member of two ensembles, Cardinal Singers and SVSU's Concert Choir, where she was a section leader.

From her auditions through the Open Jar Institute, McHugh has been called back for the production of “My Fair Lady,” along with participating in classes with nationally-known choreographer James Gray and Broadway director Susan Stroman.

McHugh recalled how Simons took her aside to talk to her about her career aspirations.

“My goal was Broadway,” she said. “I specifically said that to him, and he said, ‘OK, kiddo. Let’s get you there.’”

McHugh talks about her SVSU experience – including how Simons helped prepare her for Broadway – in a “Cardinal Close Up” video available at

October 15, 2018

SVSU alumni artwork showcased at University Art Gallery

Saginaw Valley State University is hosting its annual Art Alumni Show featuring the artistic creations of 27 alumni with arts-related bachelor's degrees.


SVSU's University Art Gallery opened the exhibition today. The exhibition will remain in place until Wednesday, Oct. 31. A reception for the featured artists is planned for Thursday, Oct. 18 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.


The Art Alumni Show and its reception are free and open to the public.


Tisch Lewis, coordinator of the University Art Gallery, said the show offers the public a chance to have a new appreciation and understanding of art professions.


"Art students are diverse and able to do anything," she said. "A lot of our alumni are professionally working in the art field. It is confirmation for our students that they are on the right track."


Artwork featured at the show includes photography, paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, printmaking and graphic design pieces.


The University Art Gallery is located in Arbury Fine Arts Center at SVSU. The gallery is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.;  and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The gallery is closed Sundays.


For more information about the Art Alumni Show, contact the University Art Gallery at or (989) 964-2291. The gallery's website is available at

October 11, 2018

SVSU engineering and robotics students bring mobility and joy to children with disabilities

After two brain surgeries and one spinal surgery, 20-month-old Joey Stagray has yet to take his first steps. Diagnosed with spinal bifida, he often watches while his 4-year-old sister runs, jumps and plays across their Sterling farm.

But family members say Joey soon could keep pace with his active sibling thanks to the support of Saginaw Valley State University students determined to help him move despite his physical limitations.

Joey and another child with physical disabilities – 4-year-old Finn Edmonds, of Bay City – will take home ride-on toy vehicles modified for their specific physical needs by SVSU computer science, electrical engineering and mechanical engineering students. The mini-vehicles will be given to the families during a gathering Friday, Oct. 12, at 5 p.m. on the first-floor lobby of SVSU's Pioneer Hall.

The occasion will cap off a nearly year-long effort by two groups of SVSU students and one professor determined to help Finn and Joey achieve a form of locomotion using toys built to also bring them joy.

“I sobbed like a baby when I first saw what the students were building,” said Sarah Stagray, Joey's mother. “SVSU has been so kind to us, and we appreciate it greatly.”

The project began with SVSU's Robotics Club, which participated in the annual NASA Robotics Mining Competition at the Kennedy Space Center during the 2017-18 academic year. The contest tasks attendees with participating in projects that involve bettering their communities.

Janel Cavelry, a technology teacher at Bangor Central Elementary with connections to staff and faculty at SVSU, played an important role in helping the club find its community-minded project. She recommended the group adopt an Oregon State University-created program, titled “GoBabyGo,” that involved college students designing modified ride-on toy cars for children with disabilities.

Waliul Matin, an electrical engineering major from Bangladesh who studied at Royal Oak High School and is an SVSU Robotics Club member, was enticed by the “GoBabyGo” concept.

“This is one of the joys of engineering: seeing other people benefit from your work,” Matin said. “And it's been a huge learning experience for everyone involved.”

Cavelry also connected the Robotics Club with a child to support: Finn. The 4-year-old was diagnosed with hydrocephalus – a buildup of fluids in the brain – which led to him developing other disabilities such as aqueduct stenosis and spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy that affect his ability to move.

Under the guidance of Rajani Muraleedharan, the Robotics Club adviser and an SVSU associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, students began a nearly year-long effort to build a ride-on toy car Finn could operate despite his physical limitations.

First, they met with Finn and his parents, Kelley and Brent Edmonds, to shop for the vehicle from Toys 'R Us in December 2017. They selected a police-themed ride-on toy car since both of Finn's grandfathers were retired law enforcement officers.

The project expanded beyond Finn when a group of SVSU electrical engineering students not associated with the Robotics Club decided to adopt the initiative as part of their capstone senior project. Muraleedharan served as their adviser. Cavelry suggested another child – Joey – who would benefit from the students' help.

“If we are successful with this and begin to build more vehicles for more children, we are thinking we might be able to bring the children together for play dates,” Muraleedharan said. “We are trying to build a community where children with special needs explore independence and broaden inclusion for all the children in the society. SVSU's 'GoBabyGo' project impacts not only the field of engineering, but it's about the community too.”

Don Horner, an electrical engineering major working on Joey's vehicle, said the project's importance extended beyond the academic merits for him.

“I was interested in this project because I have three kids of my own, so I could relate to that,” the Bay City resident said. “I wanted to help Joey and his family. This is a great program that really gives back to the community.”

Victoria Anglin, a mechanical engineering major from Millersburg, near Rogers City, has been working on Finn's vehicle. She met Finn and his family several times to consult on the modifications being built.

“I loved seeing the look on his face when he first was able to see it,” Anglin said. “He was super excited. That made it worth the work.”

Kevin Horn, an electrical engineering major from Frankenmuth, said he has worked an average of 20 hours per week modifying Joey's vehicle since the semester began, including spending Saturdays and Sundays in SVSU’s engineering labs.

“I worked last week trying to find a solution to a problem that I ended up solving using one pin,” he said. “This is going to provide sustained enjoyment for the kids that should last them five years, so we want to get it right.”

Joey and his family visited SVSU earlier this month so students could make final modifications based on his growing physical frame. While he isn't old enough to navigate the vehicle on his own, students included a remote-operated component, which allowed his parents to drive it using a remote control.

During their recent visit, Joey's 4-year-old sister, Gabby, took the wheel and drove a few feet as her brother watched with delight from his mother's arms. When Gabby brought the toy car to a stop nearby, he stretched out his arms in her direction.

“I think he wants to get in,” Joey's mother said. “This is so cool.”

October 11, 2018

More than 130 companies, agencies expected at Friday SVSU employment fair

Saginaw Valley State University will host its Fall University-wide Employment & Networking Fair this week.


More than 130 employers are expected to attend the event Friday, Oct. 12, from noon to 3 p.m. in SVSU’s Curtiss Hall second-floor banquet halls and seminar rooms. 


The Fall University-wide Employment & Networking Fair — along with the other seven employment fairs hosted annually on campus — are open to the public.


This week’s employment fair will offer opportunities to visit with representatives from companies and agencies based locally and across the nation. Bay City Public Schools, Chemical Bank, Consumers Energy, Covenant HealthCare, Dow Chemical Co., the FBI, Hemlock Semiconductor, Nexteer Automotive, Michigan State Police, and Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans are among the employers expected to attend Friday.


“I would recommend anyone attending bring about 15 to 20 copies of your résumé,” said Bill Stec, interim director of the SVSU Career Services office that coordinates the employment fairs. “And dress professionally.”


As part of the employment fair activities, Dynamic Focus Photography from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. will provide free professional photos that attendees can use for their LinkedIn social media profiles, Stec said.


For more information about the Fall University-wide Employment & Networking Fair, visit

October 11, 2018

Chief Science Officers program at SVSU takes Carrollton, John Glenn students to D.C.

Four local high school students, two from Carrollton High School and two from John Glenn High School in Bay City, have been recognized as national leaders in empowering their peers to learn math and science.

Through their involvement with the Chief Science Officers program sponsored by Saginaw Valley State University, the students and their teachers are spending the week in Washington, D.C. with some of the nation’s leading minds in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) at the Chief Science Officers International Summit.

The four teens from the Great Lakes Bay Region are among only a few dozen from across the world – and the only students from Michigan – selected for the opportunity to share best practices and advocate for STEM and innovation in their schools and communities. The students are learning how to work together with influential leaders to effect real change in areas of great impact for the world today and in the future.

“This summit is an invaluable experience for the students who are chief science officers in our region,” said Adrianne Cole, director of STEM at Saginaw Valley State University. “They are meeting with national STEM leaders and lending their voices to STEM policy conversations. They will be able to bring their newfound knowledge back to our region to share it with other chief science officers and with other students at their schools.”

Saginaw Valley State University is in its second year sponsoring the Chief Science Officers program for Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region through a grant from The Dow Chemical Company Foundation. There are 64 students from 23 separate middle schools and high schools participating for the 2018-19 academic year.

The Dow Chemical Company Foundation and Nexteer Automotive provided funding to sponsor the trip for the Carrollton and John Glenn students and teachers.

The teens will convene to collaborate on expanding STEM access among their peers and communicate the importance of STEM education and careers with members of Congress, the Defense Intelligence Agency, NASA, the FBI, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. They will meet with House Science Committee staff, as well as national STEM leaders such as Dr. France Cordova, Director of the National Science Foundation; Dr. Sandra Cauffman, Earth Science Division Deputy Director at NASA; and Megan Smith, shift7 CEO who served as 3rd U.S. Chief Technology Officer.

Students will seek to share their own experiences and better understand the state of STEM education and its application to careers from these leaders, and they will offer their expertise on how to implement local programs to better prepare themselves and their classmates for today's world, where STEM skills are integral to many pursuits.

The Carrollton and John Glenn students are joined at the CSO International Summit by delegations from Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Oregon, Texas, Colombia, Mexico, and Kuwait. The event is a unique opportunity to empower youth CSOs to work with and impact national leadership, and for the first time, work as an international cabinet.

Jeremy Babendure, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Arizona Technology Council Foundation and an Assistant Research Professor at the ASU School of Molecular Sciences. He founded the CSO program in 2015.

“In an environment where adults normally dictate the decisions, CSOs elevate the student voice,” Babendure said. “Incredible progress and change will come from these teens who are learning from national leaders and working with likeminded students across the world to raise and address important challenges.”

“The Chief Science Officers program is helping kids develop a strong voice about their future and empowering them to catalyze change before they're even out of high school,” said Megan Smith, former Chief Technology Officer of the United States and CEO of shift7. “Adults accidentally bring stereotypes about who fits in a STEM career, how hard it is, what it takes. These young people have figured out that everyone can do it and everyone can be welcomed! Youth CSOs area big part of changing perceptions and programs among the adults and their own peers in their schools.”

The Summit will follow the format of "feel, imagine, do, and share." CSOs will identify topics of importance they "feel" strongly about; work as a team to "imagine" innovative solutions; use their leadership and networking skills as they "do" meetings with national figures; and "share" their plans and progress via on national stage and through their regional networks.

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