The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control passed a resolution during its regular meeting Friday, May 8 to grant degrees to more than 1,100 students set to graduate this weekend.
The graduating class consists of 1,112 students who have applied to graduate, including 978 who have indicated that they intend to don regalia and march in their respective ceremonies. In all, 455 students plan to participate in the 7:30 p.m. Friday ceremony. The 11 a.m. Saturday ceremony will feature an expected 523 graduates.
The Commencement speaker for both ceremonies will be Harold “Hal” R. Wilde, who served as president of North Central College in Naperville, Illinois from 1991 to 2012. As a doctoral student at Harvard, Wilde studied the operations of the Detroit Police Department. During that time, he met a bright-eyed police cadet named Don Bachand, SVSU’s current president.
In other action, the Board:
• elected officers for the 2015-16 year. Scott Carmona of Bay City will serve as chair; Jenee Velasquez of Midland will serve as vice chair. David Gamez of Saginaw will serve as secretary and the treasurer will be John Kunitzer of Saginaw.
• passed a resolution thanking Joey Rexford, president, and elected representatives of the Student Association for their service during the 2014-15 academic year.
• passed a resolution congratulating Jarrod Eaton, president-elect, and representatives of the Student Association for being elected to serve during the 2015-16 academic year.
• passed a resolution commending faculty, staff, administrators and community members who contributed to SVSU receiving the Community Engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
• reappointed the Saginaw-based public accounting firm Andrews Hooper Pavlik to serve as SVSU’s auditors.
• granted emeritus status to Basil Clark, professor of English, who is retiring from the university after 40 years of service.
• renewed contracts with six public school academies. Contracts with Grattan Academy, Northwest Academy, and White Pine Academy were extended through June 30, 2017. SVSU renewed contracts with Pontiac Academy for Excellence and Saginaw Preparatory Academy through June 30, 2018. Merritt Academy’s contract with SVSU was extended through June 30, 2020.
• confirmed board members for previously authorized charter schools.
Students, faculty and staff at Saginaw Valley State University have organized efforts to support the people of Nepal in the wake of the April 25 earthquake that has devastated the Asian nation.
An SVSU team that includes a student raised in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, plans to travel to Nepal this week to help disaster victims. The group will provide primary care services and deliver medical supplies to Kathmandu and surrounding villages. They will depart Saturday, May 9 and return Monday, May 18.
SVSU alumna and graduate student Smriti Pant will return to her hometown as part of the group. Members of Pant's family and friends still live in Kathmandu.
“This whole thing carries a lot of sentimentality for me,” said Pant, who lived in Kathmandu until she was 19 and last visited in 2011. “I know that place very well, and I just can't imagine what I will see when I get there.”
Pant said her 92-year-old grandmother was rescued from a home in Kathmandu by a caretaker, and her uncle escaped his apartment before the earthquake destroyed it. Her family and friends have described a community devastated by the earthquake.
“Kathmandu is like the New York of Nepal. To go back and see this massive damage and destruction, it will take me back to a time when things were normal.”
Pant said she is grateful she will be able to use her skills in nursing to help those in need. A registered nurse at Covenant HealthCare, she earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from SVSU in 2011. She is on track to graduate from SVSU's doctor of nursing practice program in 2016.
“From a professional side, I am glad I will be able to bring my knowledge to help the people affected by this,” she said.
She won't be the only student on the trip. Jarrod Eaton, the incoming president of Student Association (SVSU's student government), plans to join the group. Eaton is a health science major from St. Johns.
The relief team also will include Judy Ruland, dean of SVSU's College of Health and Human Services, Dustin Spencer, assistant professor of nursing, and Rene Hernandez, assistant professor of health sciences.
“My colleagues and I are honored to be helping out in the earthquake relief effort,” said Hernandez, who visited Kathmandu in December 2014.
“My experience there was filled with warm and welcoming encounters from everyone I met. I am anxious to return to assist them in anyway I can. I would personally like to thank SVSU, and particularly SVSU President Don Bachand for making this relief effort possible.”
While the relief team prepares to depart, 26 Nepalese students have arrived or are in transit to SVSU to begin classes at the start of the spring term next Monday, May 11.
In addition, the SVSU community has raised more than $4,000 as of Wednesday, May 6 for the American Red Cross to support the relief effort. Online donations can be made at www.crowdrise.com/svsunepalrelief.
SVSU has a history of enrolling students from Nepal, and several groups of SVSU students and faculty have taken study abroad trips to the country in recent years.
Thousands died and thousands more were injured during the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck April 25. The United Nations estimates the disaster affected 8.1 million people in Nepal.
Graduation is an exciting time, and exciting opportunities lie ahead for many of the 1,100 members of SVSU’s 2015 graduating class.
We Are New Cardinal Alumni — available online at www.svsu.edu/weare2015 — is a series that takes a snapshot of that excitement through the eyes of several of our outstanding graduates.
The series reflects on our exceptional graduates’ experiences at SVSU. Their résumés include membership to engaging student organizations, participation in volunteer and service-learning opportunities, and recognition for outstanding research and academic achievement.
And their stories stretch beyond SVSU, as this series also looks forward, toward our students’ plans after graduation. While some students are poised for postgraduate studies at prestigious universities across the U.S., others already have secured jobs in industries dedicated to strengthening the Great Lakes Bay Region.
All of our graduates are ready to write the next chapter in their lives while adding to the outstanding lineup of Cardinal alumni.
Keep an eye on www.svsu.edu/weare2015 as we continue to tell these success stories in the coming weeks.
Sarah Klammer will become one of Saginaw Valley State University’s younger graduates this spring, when the 19-year-old earns a bachelor's degree in economics at the same time she earns a high school diploma from the Academic and Career Education Academy in Midland.
She was accepted into the program as a high school sophomore at age 15 after spending her freshman year at Frankenmuth High School.
Klammer served as a tutor at SVSU's Center for Academic Achievement and was selected as vice president of the school's recently-founded Economics Club. She also was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, an international college honor society for business students.
At a Career Services fair on campus, Klammer connected with organizers for the Frankenmuth Farmers Market, where she now serves as the market activities coordinator.
Klammer isn't the only member of her family to participate in the dual-enrollment program. Her older sister, Leahana, is a member of the program and will complete her bachelor's degree in communication at SVSU in December. Her younger sister, Rachel, is currently enrolled in the program and is expected to graduate from SVSU in spring 2016.
Next up: University of Michigan, Ph.D. program in chemical biology
Career prospects: research or higher education teaching
Fun fact: Lukowski is a jazz piano player.
April Lukowski is the epitome of the homegrown college student who found a calling and an exemplary education at Saginaw Valley State University, all while helping the community where she was raised.
Now that experience has opened new doors. Lukowski this fall will begin postgraduate studies at the University of Michigan, where she is enrolled in the Ph.D. program for chemical biology.
“It’s a very competitive program, and I was lucky to get into it,” said Lukowski, set to graduate from SVSU in May with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. “It was my top choice.”
Lukowski isn’t a stranger to challenges. Facing them at SVSU has included taking on some of the university’s top research opportunities, first with her Honors Program thesis and later via the campus-based Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute, where she studied bodies of water that have supported her community for generations.
But her first challenge at SVSU involved finding a niche academically. The 2011 Bay City Central High School graduate enrolled at the university, unsure at first which academic program best suited her.
Lukowski was a recipient of the Bay Area Community Foundation’s Bay Commitment Scholarship — an initiative supporting high-achieving, first-generation students in Bay County who attend SVSU or Delta College — and her interests largely centered on the arts.
“I was more into art and music and things like that,” she said, “but I also knew I always liked my science classes in high school.”
Lukowski took both Advanced Placement biology and chemistry classes at Bay City Central, and performed well.
“I was being exposed to college-level science classes there, and I decided to explore those more (in college),” she said.
Lukowsi initially declared her major as biology.
“Then I met Dr. Sivy,” Lukowski said, referring to Tami Sivy, the associate professor of chemistry who advised Lukowski to explore biochemistry.
“I liked it because it challenged me in ways I can handle,” she said. “There’s more math, and numbers make more sense to me.”
Sivy said the match made sense, and soon Lukowski found her footing academically.
“April has blossomed into a conscientious researcher and an excellent student,” Sivy said.
“At first, she was unsure as to what she wanted to do, but she took advantage of every opportunity that was offered her, and became more confident in her abilities and increasingly more clear in her goals for her future. She is extremely well-prepared for her continuation to graduate school, not only because of her work in the classroom, but probably more so because of the variety of research projects with which she has been involved.”
Lukowski said she discovered a love for research as a sophomore when she studied isoprene enzymes and fir trees as part of her Honors Program thesis. That passion continued with her undergraduate research with the Saginaw Bay Environmental Science Institute. There, she studied the Saginaw Bay watershed, testing bacteria content in the water.
She credits SVSU’s faculty in part for helping her discover her passion and take on academic challenges.
“The faculty here are really supportive, especially in the science departments,” Lukowski said. “It’s been a great experience here.”
Next up: master’s program, Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs
Career prospects: watershed environmental management
Fun fact: Before attending SVSU, Linskey had never visited a nation outside the U.S. “Not even Canada,” he said. Since then, Linskey has traveled to 12 countries. They are Sweden, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy and India. This summer, he will add Canada and Peru to that list.
Evan Linskey’s travels have taken him to 12 countries, but what was in his own backyard may have had the heaviest influence on his career aspirations.
The Prudenville native was raised alongside Houghton Lake, and now he is pursuing a profession in environmental management, analyzing data collected from watersheds across the world.
“I’ve always enjoyed water,” said Linskey, who will graduate from Saginaw Valley State University with a bachelor’s degree in economics in May.
“There’s a lot of information coming out of the environmental sector. Someone has to interpret it.”
When he begins his master’s program at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs in the fall, Linskey already will have logged plenty of hours in environmental management research in his own home state. At SVSU, he worked as a research assistant for the geography department, helping the community by studying the water quality of the Kawkawlin, Pigeon and Pinnebog rivers, analyzing how each affected the Saginaw Bay.
Linskey’s passion for scientific research as well as community engagement and service learning became a heavy theme of his SVSU undergraduate experience.
He has participated in several opportunities with SVSU’s Alternative Breaks, a program that sends students to volunteer in destinations across the world during the winter and spring breaks. He traveled to Atlanta to help children living in poverty; to Murphy, North Carolina to remove invasive species from the Hiwassee River; and to New York City to provide meals for the terminally ill.
Linskey also took advantage of SVSU’s Study Abroad connections, living in Prague for a semester in fall 2013 while studying economics and intergovernmental organizations at the University of Economics.
“I wanted a new challenge, and so I decided to go to a country with a language I don’t speak,” said the 2011 Houghton Lake High School graduate.
“It was a challenge. And I loved every minute of it.”
Linskey also stayed active on SVSU’s campus.
Along with his classwork, he was involved in the university’s Honors Program, served as the first president of the newly-founded Economics Club, and worked as an economics and statistics tutor in SVSU’s Center for Academic Achievement. He recently finished his Honors Program thesis on how higher education, religious and other social institutions impact secondary school performance.
One of Linskey’s mentors, Kaustav Misra, SVSU assistant professor of economics, described the student as a quiet, motivated “explorer.”
“His academic work has been recognized by many faculty members in the Department of Economics, and as a result, they recommended him as our outstanding econ graduate for this academic year,” Misra said.
“I do believe that he will reach his goal to become a geospatial researcher and solve various rural problems in Michigan. I am sure Evan will represent SVSU well.”
Major: criminal justice
Next up: police academy
Career prospects: deputy, Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department
Fun fact: Moore has competed in wrestling and jiu-jitsu matches for seven years.
Since childhood, Terrance Moore has been planning a career in law enforcement. Thanks in large part to his experience at Saginaw Valley State University — and all the opportunities it presented — that career already has begun.
By the time Moore graduates with a bachelor’s degree in May, the criminal justice major will have been working as a deputy corrections officer for the Saginaw County Sheriff’s Department at the Saginaw County Jail for two years.
Earning that degree, though, will allow Moore to move one step closer to his next career goal: Becoming a deputy qualified to patrol Saginaw County’s roads.
“I’ve always had a passion for law enforcement and performing those duties,” the 2010 Royal Oak High School graduate said. “SVSU has provided me with those opportunities, and now I’m ready to go out and be successful.”
He plans to attend police academy in the fall. With that training finished and his degree in hand, he is expected to begin road duties in 2016.
Moore hopes to rise in the ranks in the coming decades and, eventually, become Saginaw County’s sheriff.
“I could see him as a sheriff,” said one of Moore’s mentors, Joe Jaksa, SVSU associate professor of criminal justice.
“I could also see him getting a master’s or a doctorate degree and work as the chair of a criminal justice department.”
Jaksa said Moore’s “exceptional” communication skills are part of the reason he was able to excel in school and secure a job in law enforcement before graduation.
“It was wonderful to have him in class,” Jaksa said.
“He was hard working, dedicated and diligent. The outside experience he brought into the classroom really enhanced the class. When you have someone who is a good communicator like him, it really enriches the classroom experience.”
Moore in 2015 was named the criminal justice program’s outstanding graduate.
He gave credit to his many successes to SVSU’s faculty.
“All the professors have been awesome,” Moore said. “They’ve always been there for me, like when I applied for the job I have now. I was only 21 years old, and they wrote me letters of recommendation that helped me get that position.”
Moore said his education at SVSU exceeded his expectations. The criminal justice program offered cutting-edge lessons that deepened his understanding of law enforcement. For instance, one of Moore’s classes involved a project — led by Andrew Miller, assistant professor of geography, and James Bowers, assistant professor of criminal justice — that mapped crime “hot spots” in cities.
“We could see where the crime was happening and what type of crimes there were,” Moore said. “From that, we learned about proactive policing rather than just reactive, which is a skill not many people have in the field.”
His interest in law enforcement and community stewardship predates his arrival at SVSU.
Since childhood, Moore idolized his uncle, a now-retired Wayne County sheriff’s deputy who would bring him on ride-alongs. Some of those trips resulted in community service activities. Moore and his uncle sometimes helped mow the lawns of elderly residents.
During high school, he was a 2-time recipient of The President’s Volunteer Service Award for community service work performed in Florida, Tennessee and Texas.
Moore’s community engagement continued while he was in college. As a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, he helped paint the gyms of both the Saginaw YMCA and the Boys & Girls Club of the Great Lakes Bay Region, picked up trash along roadways and cut lawns.
And his efforts to better communities will extend beyond his college years, he said.
“I want to leave a mark here in Saginaw,” Moore said. “I want to leave Saginaw better than I found it.”
Major: health sciences
Next up: SVSU Master of Science in Health Administration and Leadership Program
Career prospects: health administrator, nurse anesthetist
Fun fact: Beverly was a cheerleader from age 4 to 19, participating in everything from independent competitions to high school sports.
Helping others doesn’t cost Shantinique Beverly energy. It provides the energy.
The Detroit native learned this lesson about herself through her studies and learning-based community service while at Saginaw Valley State University, where she will graduate in May.
Beverly’s involvement on campus led her to work with the United Way of Saginaw County’s Healthy Kids Healthy Futures Partnership AmeriCorps program.
“It’s been a great experience,” said the 2010 graduate of M.L. Winans Academy of Performing Arts in Detroit. “I really enjoy helping other people.”
The health sciences major connected with the nonprofit organization’s program — aimed at improving the lives of Saginaw County youths — during a SVSU Career Services fair. There, she met Joshua Hales, director of the AmeriCorps program, who brought her aboard the program last summer as a member.
Beverly made an impression on Hales immediately.
“She’s been phenomenal for us,” Hales said. “She is very reliable and dedicated to the kids she is working with. It’s the members that have kids come back to our program, and the kids enjoyed her and looked forward to coming back to be around her. She’s been instrumental for us.”
Beverly has utilized her SVSU education to implement programs promoting better health in children who attend the AmeriCorps initiative at The Salvation Army in Saginaw.
“They say they like it better than their regular gym class,” Beverly said of the youths, aged 7 to 11.
Her work also includes helping the children with homework assignments.
“Knowing I’m making an impact feels good,” she said.
SVSU has opened the door to other opportunities for Beverly, too.
She was among eight students who participated in a faculty-led study abroad trip Ghana in January 2013. The trip, led by Joseph Ofori-Dankwa, SVSU’s Harvey Randall Wickes Chair in International Studies, and Mamie Thorns, special assistant to the president for Diversity Programs, included a visit to an abandoned castle where captors housed slaves centuries ago.
“It was such a humbling experience,” Beverly said. “You got to experience what you thought would be people at their worst, but they were so friendly and loving. They were so welcoming.”
The experience continues to have a strong influence on Beverly, who said she has considered one day moving to an African nation to help a community there.
“I feel like there is so much more in the world to see, where my degrees can be useful,” she said.
Beverly’s desire to help others has defined her SVSU experience. She began her undergraduate life as a nursing student. In the years since, she changed her major twice before settling on health sciences, but her interests never strayed from pursuing a degree that would allow her to help others lead happier, healthier lives.
Her next step is to finish SVSU’s Master of Science in Health Administration and Leadership Program. Then she would seek a job as an administrator in a medical facility.
Beverly’s ultimate career goal is to become a nurse anesthetist, which specializes in the administration of anesthesia. That long-term goal means more school is in her future.
She credits SVSU staff and faculty for helping her toward that path, including Roberto Garcia, compliance specialist with School and University Partnerships, and Meghan Baruth, assistant professor of health sciences.
“(Garcia) told me I have to push myself, and not to give up on my dreams,” Beverly said. “(Baruth) has always been there when I need to vent about a class, and she would motivate me to finish it.”
She is grateful for all the opportunities she experienced at SVSU.
“I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else,” she said.
Major: computer information systems
Next up: George Mason University, master’s program in applied information technology
Career prospects: project manager in information technology
Fun fact: Aldubayyan initially thought of attending college in Australia, but an SVSU representative at a higher education fair in Saudi Arabia convinced him and his friend to choose Saginaw instead.
Rashed Aldubayyan couldn’t speak much English when the Saudi Arabia native first enrolled in the English Language Program at Saginaw Valley State University in 2010.
Five years later, he’s mastered the language along with the academics as he prepares to graduate in May and attend the master’s program in applied information technology at George Mason University in the fall.
“It has been an incredible experience,” the Riyadh native said of his growth at SVSU. “I feel like being here has developed so many of my skills.”
In a 5-year span, Aldubayyan went from speaking little English to becoming one of the university’s student leaders. His leadership at SVSU included serving as the Student Association’s ombudsman, and as a member of both Sigma Pi fraternity and Forever Red, a student-alumni networking organization that raises funds for student scholarships.
Pat Shelley, an international student advisor whom Aldubayyan considers a mentor, said one of the highlights of his career included being invited to stand with Aldubayyan during the 2014 SVSU homecoming football game where he was recognized as a member of the school’s homecoming court.
“He is a very good example of an international student who has made a very successful effort to go beyond the comfort zone of his own countrymen and language to meet and mix with all students on campus,” Shelley said.
Leaving “the comfort zone” wasn’t easy, Aldubayyan admits now. In fact, during his first year on campus — when he was still learning the basics of English — Aldubayyan struggled to find his place. Then he applied as a student worker for SVSU’s Orientations Programs.
“I was a little terrified to do it at first,” he said. “After talking to Rachel (Florence-Spaetzel, the program director), she talked me into it. I got an interview and I got the job, and when I saw all the Orientation leaders and how enthusiastic and energetic they were, I said, ‘You know what? This is amazing. I love it.’”
The experience helped him clear a hurdle socially at SVSU, and soon he joined other opportunities on campus. He gives credit to other faculty and staff that helped him adjust and excel at the new setting. Those supporters include Bryan Crainer, associate dean for Student Life and leadership programs; Scott James, professor of computer science and information systems; Jason Swackhamer, director of Web Communications; and Richard Thompson, ombudsman.
Aldubayyan said he would encourage any international student prospect to enroll at SVSU.
“I wish I could stay another year,” he said.
Still, he is excited for the next stage of his life: graduate school. Once he graduates from George Mason University, he hopes to find work as a project manager in the information technology field.
His experience at SVSU has convinced him to stay out of his comfort zone while pursuing his career.
“I would like to eventually go back home to Saudi Arabia and stay there, but I wouldn’t want that right away,” Aldubayyan said. “I’m enjoying this time.”
Next up: teaching English in Colombia
Fun fact: Marr lived in Iceland for a year in 2003-04, when her mother was stationed there with the U.S. Navy.
Teaching and traveling have always fascinated Stephanie Marr.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Saginaw Valley State University in May, Marr plans to combine those two passions by teaching English in other countries. Her first stop in June is Colombia, as she has been chosen for the English Teaching Fellowship by Heart for Change, an organization that brings English teachers to Colombia.
“Ever since I was 7, I wanted to be a teacher,” the Freeland resident said. “I just love to learn, and one of the great ways to learn is to teach.”
Her SVSU experience — and her life, in general — has prepared her for a career as a globetrotting educator, engaged in the communities surrounding her, she said.
Through a study abroad program, she lived in Costa Rica for four months in fall 2013, when she volunteered to teach English to both children and adolescents. As a Spanish major, she is fluent in that language, but Marr said she also knows elements of 11 other languages: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Filipino, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Swahili and Tagalog.
Marr has a well-traveled family. Her mother is from the Philippines, of Asian and Hispanic descent — and her parents met while serving in the U.S. Navy, traveling the globe. Her brother currently serves in the Navy and is stationed near Tokyo, where she plans to teach once she’s earned a teaching certificate at SVSU within the next year.
Marr also has hopes to teach in China, Taiwan and South Korea, as well as in nations in South America.
“Every experience abroad builds me as a person,” she said of her desire to teach abroad.
“It’s so fun to get out, to experience a different culture. I like to consider myself a person who is open to different things.”
Here at SVSU, Marr’s international interests were on display when she directed both the 2014 and 2015 Intercultural Night, an event featuring music and other expressions of culture from the school’s international students.
Her commitment to seeing the show — and its students — succeed provided one example of Marr’s outstanding leadership abilities, said one of her SVSU mentors.
“Stephanie is one of the most positive and upbeat students that I have had the opportunity to work with,” said Dick Thompson, SVSU’s ombudsman who has worked at the campus since 1970.
“She cares deeply about people, and it shows.”
Her involvement on campus is extensive.
Marr was a representative in Student Association (SVSU’s student government), and served in SVSU’s Residence Hall Association. She has been a member of the SVSU chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a national co-ed service fraternity where she served as a voting delegate at the national conference in Chicago in December. Marr also joined the International Student Club, where she served as vice president during 2014-15. She has worked in SVSU’s Orientation Programs and Multicultural Services offices, and was a tour guide for the university’s Club Red group.
Her extensive résumé served purposes near to her heart, Marr said.
“Leadership, friendship and service are not just the cardinal principles of Alpha Phi Omega; those three principles have been important to me ever since high school,” said the 2011 Freeland High School graduate.
“I just want to continue teaching, and to touch other people’s lives.”