Seventy-seven Saginaw Valley State University students are spending their spring break traveling to seven states in order to lend a helping hand as part of the Alternative Breaks program.
Alternative Breaks is a student-run organization that sends its members to locations across the U.S. to participate in a range of volunteer opportunities during regular school break periods.
SVSU students are on spring break from March 6-12. Divided into seven teams, each group has traveled to a different U.S. city to aid nonprofit organizations.
One Heartland, a nonprofit organization in Willow River, Minnesota, is benefiting from SVSU's Alternative Breaks. Students are working with the group to aid in the development of a safer LGBTQ+ community.
Champion Athletes of the Ozarks, another organization impacted by the Alternative Breaks program, is located in Springfield, Missouri. The group's aim is to help children and adults with disabilities develop life skills while growing their confidence.
Grace Point Alliance, an organization in Buffalo, New York, also is receiving help from SVSU students. They are assisting Grace Point Alliance in helping the homeless community through research and resource distribution.
A Wider Circle in Silver Spring, Maryland is a nonprofit focused on ending poverty by providing supplies as well as a support system for the impoverished. Students are providing assistance in distributing home essentials donated by the community.
In Morgantown, West Virginia, the SVSU Alternative Breaks team is aiding in building affordable homes for local residents. The students are working with Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that builds home for people in need.
Boston, Massachusetts is home to Community Servings Food Heals, a nonprofit that provides food to people ailed by a critical or chronic illness. Students are helping the organization prepare and package meals tailored to the needs of those suffering from illness.
The Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal, located in New Orleans, works to promote social, economic, racial, and environmental justice. SVSU Alternative Breaks students are assisting with in-service education and community involvement. They also are aiding in tornado cleanup and home restoration.
Saginaw Valley State University student Rebecca “Becks” Meredith has been selected by the YWCA Great Lakes Bay Region to receive an Emerging Leader award for her enthusiastic service on campus and in the community.
The award is designated for women between the ages of 18-25 who demonstrate emerging leadership skills and a philosophy of empowerment; it is given to one student from each of four colleges and universities in the Great Lakes Bay Region.
A special education major from Rogers City, Meredith has displayed a passion for extracurricular involvement at SVSU. She serves as a resident assistant in one of SVSU's residence halls; she coordinates service trips for Habitat for Humanity and Alternative Breaks, and she is a dedicated member of Forever Red, a student organization that works to enhance the student experience at SVSU and prepare students for life after college.
Meredith also coaches Little League teams and has taken volunteer-based leadership roles for Relay for Life and Special Olympics.
While Meredith shines academically, posting a 3.87 GPA, she is most inspired by her learning outside the classroom.
“My academic life and accomplishments show a lot of hard work and dedication to that area,” she said. “However, my holistic education means even more because I can take everything I encounter and learn from it in a different, more useful way.”
Meredith’s first volunteer service trip to rural Harlan, Kentucky through SVSU’s Alternative Breaks program made a lasting impression.
“We did everything from volunteering at a senior living facility to making dog houses,” she said. “I didn't know what to expect, and I left that trip with a new sense of appreciation for volunteering and gratitude for the things in my life. It was the first time I had actually seen the direct impact my service could have on someone and the gratitude that comes along with it.”
Meredith later traveled to Orlando, Florida on an Alternative Break to volunteer for A Gift for Teaching, an organization gives school supplies to teachers, who distribute the supplies to their students in need.
“I saw firsthand how important it is for students to have the appropriate supplies they need to truly succeed,” she said. “As a future educator, it was interesting to compare and contrast our school systems here in Michigan to those in Florida. It reinforced that I want to be a teacher and help students.”
Beyond service trips, Meredith also traveled to Italy as part of a study abroad program. She expects to graduate SVSU in May 2018. She will receive her award during the 2017 YWCA Women of Achievement ceremony Wednesday, March 15.
For more information regarding the YWCA Women of Achievement Awards, please visit www.ywcaglbr.org/women-of-achievement-awards/.
Saginaw Valley State University is providing expertise to a community-oriented research project aimed at improving access to food for low-income households.
In partnership with the United Way of Midland County, SVSU began a project in late 2015 to evaluate emergency food assistance in Midland County.
“They weren't seeing a whole lot of people coming through the doors, so they were concerned that there was a disparity between the need and people who were actually coming to get some of these services,” said Brian Thomas, SVSU associate professor of sociology.
This led to United Way planting the seed that would become Midland County Hunger Connections, a collaborative project between several nonprofits and SVSU to raise awareness and reduce barriers for those who might fall into the classification of “food insecure.”
According to the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA), food insecurity “is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.”
Many food-insecure households have an income above the U.S. poverty level and struggle to meet the basic needs of their family due to the cost of living.
United Way distributed a survey early in 2016 to gauge the food security needs of the community and how access to such things as food banks, backpack programs and school programs can be improved.
“We had these initial meetings between United Way, and there was a discussion about what would be the best way for SVSU to provide expertise,” Thomas explained. “We decided that we would provide some input as to the survey development and that we would assist with survey analysis.
“There are many families with people who are working low-wage or perhaps seasonal jobs and, even though they are employed, they don't have reliable access to healthy food. Many of these families met USDA definitions of food insecure.”
Though the survey and analysis portion of this community project has concluded, there is still work to be done. Midland County Hunger Connections will continue to educate families and individuals on how to access available food resources.
Thomas will remain involved with the project moving forward as he currently sits on a subcommittee within the group which will allow him to play an advisory role.
Saginaw Valley State University is hosting a number of public events throughout Black History Month in 2017. The public is invited to SVSU throughout the month of February to join the university at its multiple Black History Month events. All events are free of charge and open to the public unless otherwise indicated. The events include:
• The documentary “Land Grab” will be shown Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. in the SVSU Student Life Center. The film captures the story of an eccentric finance mogul's dream to create the world's largest urban farm in his hometown of Detroit. The movie's director, Sean King O'Grady, will be on hand to discuss this intriguing film.
• Author Lawrence Ross will speak Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. in SVSU’s Curtiss Hall banquet rooms. He is the author of “Blackballed,” which explores the present and historical issues of racism on hundreds of American college campuses, and how that ties into today's Black Lives Matter campaign.
• Ken Jolly, SVSU professor of history, will host an open discussion on higher education today through a lens of ethnic- and gender-centric viewpoints. His talk will be held Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 6 p.m. in the Roberta Allen Reading Room, on the fourth floor of Zanhow Library.
• SVSU will host its annual “Taste of Soul” luncheon Wednesday, Feb. 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Marketplace at Doan cafeteria. The event provides an opportunity for the community to sample various “soul food” recipes prepared by SVSU faculty and staff. The cost per person is $8.75.
• SVSU students and others can hear from past Cardinals during “Life After SVSU: an African-American Alumni Panel” Monday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. in Curtiss Hall Seminar Room D. The event is an opportunity for current SVSU students to network and engage with notable SVSU alumni about their careers and life after college.
A full calendar of SVSU Black History Month activities is available online. For additional information, please contact SVSU’s Office of Multicultural Services at (989) 964-7090.
Saginaw Valley State University students have shown an incredible community-minded spirit over the past 14 years, raising more than $350,000 to support numerous worthy causes and charitable organizations during the annual Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition.
In 2016, the SVSU community raised $26,000 in one week for Hidden Harvest, an organization that strives to feed those in need in the Great Lakes Bay Region by collecting and redistributing surplus food. The SVSU Student Association hosted a luncheon on campus Friday, Feb. 24 to express appreciation for the many people who volunteered for Battle of the Valleys and to formally present the funds to Samantha McKenzie, president and CEO of Hidden Harvest and an SVSU alumna, and Terry Rock, Hidden Harvest board chair.
The SVSU Student Association is now accepting applications from nonprofit organizations interested in serving as SVSU’s charity partner for 2017. The deadline to apply is Friday, March 31.
Each year, SVSU students band together for a week-long charitable fundraising competition with students from Grand Valley State University. Over the past 14 years, the two schools have raised a combined total of $552,150.
For more information or to request an application, please contact Emma Eldred, Battle of the Valleys coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2017 Battle of the Valleys will take place Sunday, Sept. 24 to Friday, Sept. 29, leading up to the football game Saturday, Sept. 30.
For more information on Battle of the Valleys, please visit svsu.edu/bov.
A Saginaw Valley State University student’s performance helped propel the institution’s forensics team to a second-place finish at the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League Novice States Tournament Feb. 18 at Northwood University.
The top SVSU performer was Gina Kearly, who earned Top Speaker honors and placed first overall in the Programmed Oral Interpretation category. In order to be considered for Top Speaker, students must compete in several events in categories including public address, limited preparation, and oral interpretation.
SVSU’s individual performance results include the following:
The SVSU forensics team is advised by Amy Pierce, associate professor of communication.
For more information regarding the Michigan Intercollegiate Speech League Novice States Tournament, visit www.michiganspeech.wordpress.com/events.
Eric Gardner, professor of English at Saginaw Valley State University, will speak Tuesday, March 7 at noon at the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History as part of its “Lunch and Learn” series. The talk will explore post-Civil War memories of slavery and race and the role of black print culture.
This event, part of a presentation series established by the museum in order to bring community members together over discussion of historical topics relating to the Saginaw County area, is titled “‘Information Wanted’: Black Press, Black Families, and American Memory.”
After receiving a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for the 2012-13 academic year, Gardner began writing his book, “Black Print Unbound: ‘The Christian Recorder,’ African American Literature, and Periodical Culture.” The book closely examines weekly newspapers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the Civil War era.
Gardner has also authored a book titled “Unexpected Places: Relocating Nineteenth-Century African American Literature,” which won the 2010 Research Society for American Periodicals Book Prize and was named an “Outstanding Academic Title” by Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries. His works have also appeared in prominent literary journals such as American Literary History, Legacy, and African American Review.
This Lunch and Learn event will begin at noon and the event is free after paid admission to the museum which is $1 for adults and 50 cents for children. Guests are permitted to bring their own lunch but some refreshments will be provided. For more information, call the Castle Museum at (989)752-2861.
Saginaw Valley State University received the Corporate Community Service Award from the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce Saturday, Feb. 11.
The award is given to organizations that have made notable contributions to the quality of life in Saginaw County through involvement in community programs, partnerships with community and public sector groups, philanthropic efforts, and a well-documented commitment to corporate citizenship.
SVSU was nominated for the award by The Dow Chemical Company for strong community engagement efforts including the continued success of Battle of the Valleys to support local nonprofit agencies; the Business, Art, Theater and Sociology Revive Urban Communities (BATS) Program's contributions to the City of Saginaw; the introduction of The Dow-SVSU Mobile Research Lab to area K-12 schools; the creation of the Saginaw Urban and Civic Partnership Scholarship; and the ongoing partnerships with organizations such as The United Way of Saginaw County, The Saginaw Community Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity.
SVSU President Don Bachand formally accepted the award at the chamber’s annual Chairman’s Ball.
For more information on the award, please visit www.saginawchamber.org/awards.
Saginaw Valley State University will expand its commitment to supporting students and increasing educational attainment in the Great Lakes Bay Region by providing new scholarships for Bay County students who are Bay Commitment scholarship recipients.
Established in 2008 by the Bay Area Community foundation, the Bay Commitment Scholarship seeks to encourage first-generation college students in Bay County to pursue and complete postsecondary education. The program provides $2,000 scholarships for 100 Bay County high school graduates each year during their first year attending Delta College or SVSU; it has awarded over $1.6 million in total scholarships since its inception.
Beginning with the 2017-18 academic year, SVSU will provide renewable $1,000 scholarships for Bay Commitment students in their second, third and fourth years attending SVSU.
SVSU also is establishing a mentoring program for Bay Commitment Scholars to support them during their educational experience and encourage timely completion of a degree.
“We know first-generation students have unique needs and often require personalized support to succeed in college, and that even students who are doing well academically can still face challenges financially,” said Deb Huntley, provost and vice president for academic affairs at SVSU.
“We want to help these local, hard-working students complete degrees, and ideally pursue a career in our Great Lakes Bay Region. We are committed to doing what we can to increase educational attainment throughout our region, because a well-educated citizenry and workforce benefits us all.”
Eileen Curtis, president and CEO of the Bay Area Community Foundation, said the new scholarship dollars will be appreciated by students, families and the community.
“We are excited to partner with SVSU on this significant opportunity for our Bay Commitment scholarship recipients,” she said. “SVSU is a leader in higher education. Their support of Bay County students demonstrates their dedication to the people of Bay County and the entire Great Lakes Bay Region.”
Last year, SVSU introduced the Saginaw Urban and Civic Partnership Scholarship to provide financial support to students who reside in the Saginaw Promise Zone.
For more information on scholarship opportunities at SVSU, visit svsu.edu/scholarships. For more information on the Bay Commitment Scholarship, visit bayfoundation.org/scholarships/bay-commitment-scholarship.
The Saginaw Valley State University Board of Control approved adding a Master of Social Work degree program to the curriculum during the Board’s regular meeting Monday, Feb. 20.
SVSU expects about 20 students to enroll in the new graduate program when it begins in the 2017 fall semester, and ultimately expects the program to welcome 80 new students each year.
SVSU has one of the largest undergraduate social work programs in Michigan with 440 students majoring in the field this year. In 2015, 94 percent of SVSU social work students passed the international licensing exam on their first try, compared to a 71 percent overall pass rate for everyone who took the same exam in the United States and Canada.
In recent years, roughly 60 percent of SVSU students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work went on to enroll in a Mater of Social Work program at other institutions. SVSU plans to market the new program to its social work graduates, as well as those graduating in programs such as sociology, psychology, criminal justice and health sciences.
The Board also approved two capital projects. The Board authorized spending up to $800,000 for maintenance and various improvements to M.J. Brandimore House, a campus residence hall. The Board also authorized spending up to $525,000 for repair and resurfacing of several campus parking lots and roadways.
In other action, the Board:
• Appointed a nominating committee for May board elections.
• Approved granting emeritus status to Ron Trepkowski, who retired in 2016 after serving on University Police for 36 years, including more than a decade as police chief.
• Approved granting tenure to 18 faculty: Arundhati Bagchi Misra, mathematics; Jennifer Chaytor, chemistry; Kyle Cissell, chemistry; Adam Coughlin, kinesiology; Denise Dedman, social work; Warren Fincher, sociology; Stacie Krupp, accounting; John Lowry, kinesiology; James McEvoy, biology; Rhett Mohler, geography; Rajani Muraleedharan, electrical and computer engineering; Shiva Nadavulakere, management and marketing; Christopher Nakamura, physics; Annamalai Pandian, mechanical engineering; Timothy Rowlands, criminal justice; Rebecca Schlaff, kinesiology; Jason Scott, biology; Yu Zou, electrical and computer engineering.