December 14, 2017
Saginaw Valley State University will support two professors in their scholarly endeavors to improve people’s health. Jay Scott, associate professor of biology, and Danilo Sirias, professor of management, have been awarded SVSU’s Braun Fellowship.
Scott intends to continue investigating the influence of dietary fats, carbohydrates and contaminants on health and disease. Sirias plans to produce case studies regarding the management of patient flow in health care environments.
Each will receive research support grants totaling up to $37,500 over the next three years to further their scholarly and professional activities. Funds may be used for research expenses, equipment, travel and/or other related support.
Scott has studied metabolic syndrome, characterized by an increase in body weight, fat accumulation, inflammation, and altered metabolism. These symptoms have proven to lead to an increased risk of diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
Through his latest research, Scott plans to examine the signs of metabolic syndrome induced by diets with varying macronutrient ratios and work to determine if diet-related changes in physiology are modified by the exposure to environmental contaminants. This study should increase understanding of how dietary components lead to disease states, and help to identify whether environmental contaminants in food are independent risk factors for disease.
Through other grant-supported research, Scott has previously investigated related topics such as cardiovascular disease. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the cardiology division of the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa. An active researcher, Scott has written 12 scholarly articles and given 19 invited scientific presentations.
Scott joined the SVSU biology faculty in 2012. He completed his bachelor’s degree at SVSU, where he played on the baseball team. A native of Ontario, Scott completed his Ph.D. at Queen's University.
As a result of his research, Sirias plans to publish three teaching case studies on the topic of managing patient flow in different health care environments. The three areas he will examine are primary or specialist care, admitted patients, and operating rooms. Sirias will outline the most common difficulties associated with each environment, as well as offering strategies to address the problems detailed throughout the case studies and suggestions for how the material should be taught.
Sirias has prior research experience on the topic. In 2015, he presented “A Proposed Framework to Determine Chokepoints Preventing Better Patient Flow in Emergency Departments,” to the International Academy of Business and Public Administration Disciplines. Sirias has received six prior grants -- four of which were through SVSU -- in order to fund research related to labor force, coordination in health care systems, virtual education and management techniques.
Sirias joined the SVSU management faculty in 2001. He completed his bachelor's degree in industrial engineering at the National University of Engineering in Nicaragua. Sirias then completed a master's degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Memphis.
Established in 2005, the Braun Fellowship program was created through a $1.5 million endowment from the Saginaw-based Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation. Administered by the Saginaw Community Foundation, the program's purpose is to recognize the exceptional accomplishments and potential of select SVSU faculty and staff. It is named in honor of Ruth Braun and her late husband, Ted.
December 7, 2017
The director of Global Citizenship for The Dow Chemical Company will speak to graduates of a university nationally recognized for community engagement during Commencement exercises at Saginaw Valley State University. Rob Vallentine will deliver the keynote address to SVSU's newest graduates.
Vallentine, who serves as both the director of Global Citizenship for Dow as well as president and executive director of The Dow Chemical Company Foundation, will speak at both of SVSU's commencement ceremonies this month. The first event is scheduled Friday, Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and the second ceremony is set for Saturday, Dec. 16 at 11 a.m., both in O'Neill Arena of the Ryder Center.
Commencement exercises for graduates in the colleges of Business & Management and Health & Human Services will be held Friday evening. Students completing degrees in the colleges of Arts & Behavioral Sciences; Education; and Science, Engineering & Technology will take part in the ceremony scheduled for Saturday morning.
The graduating class consists of 639 students who are expected to complete degrees, including 570 individuals who have indicated that they intend to don regalia and march in the ceremonies. The class includes 520 who will receive bachelor's degrees, and 119 who will receive master's or education specialist degrees.
As is tradition, SVSU President Don Bachand will congratulate each graduate as he or she crosses the stage.
Vallentine is responsible for corporate engagement with Dow stakeholders at the global, regional and local levels. He drives business decisions at the intersection of sustainability, innovation and citizenship while utilizing Dow's capabilities to achieve business and social impact.
He works closely with Dow's Foundation Board of Directors to provide strategic direction on the company's philanthropic priorities around the world. A number of those community-minded endeavors have benefited SVSU initiatives to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education for both college-level and K-12 students. Most recently, the foundation partnered with the university in June to create a program where SVSU prepares K-12 students to serve as leaders and "chief science officers" in their schools.
In addition, Vallentine manages a team responsible for public affairs strategies and programs at Dow's 50 sites in North America.
Throughout the 30 years he has been at Dow, Vallentine has been committed to weaving together the personal and the professional to change the world for the better. He believes that a harmonious balance of life, work and community service is the key to "doing good and doing well," and is at the heart of good business. Through his leadership of the company's global citizenship activities, Vallentine helps people find their purpose and then share that purpose to contribute to society.
Actively involved in community service, Vallentine currently serves on the boards of directors for the Council of Michigan Foundations, the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance and the Chemical Educational Foundation. He also serves as a community director at Chemical Bank. Vallentine previously served in board positions for the United Way of Midland County, the Delta College Foundation, and Hidden Harvest.
Vallentine completed a bachelor's degree in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University and a Master of Business Administration at Drake University. He and his wife Nancy have four children and reside in Midland.
In 2015, SVSU received the Community Engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a distinction achieved by only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities. By their senior year, 84 percent of students have engaged with community employers and agencies in internships, field placements or some other component of their academic preparation.
October 31, 2017
Business leaders, doctors, a dentist and a military veteran are among the eight individuals whose professional exceptionalism and community engagement were recognized during Saginaw Valley State University's annual Alumni Celebration Friday, Oct. 27.
The SVSU Alumni Association selected five individuals to receive the Distinguished Alumni award - one for each of SVSU's five academic colleges. Three other honorees received the Veteran Alumni, Young Alumni and Future Alumni awards.
From SVSU's College of Science, Engineering and Technology, Jessica Bentoski earned the Distinguished Alumna Award. Bentoski received her bachelor's degree in biology in 2004. She later received a dentistry degree from the University of Michigan's School of Dentistry. Bentoski operates Saginaw Pediatric Dentistry. She is a past recipient of the Business of the Year - New Construction Award by Saginaw Township.
From the College of Business and Management, David Kowalski received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Kowalski is the current president and owner of the family-owned Euclid Automotive Supply in Bay City. Through 15 years of work with the Cub Scouts, Kowalski received honors such as the District Award of Merit and the James E. West Fellow Award. He received his bachelor's degree from SVSU in 1979.
From the College of Arts and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Michael Langworthy received the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Langworthy serves as the director of orthopedic surgery for Southcoast Health Systems in New Bedford, Massachusetts. A retired U.S. Navy captain, Langworthy served 30 years of active and reserve duty. He earned his bachelor's degree from the institution in 1984.
From the College of Education, Christopher Pryor received the Distinguished Alumnus award. The pastor of Victorious Believers Ministries Church of God in Christ in Buena Vista Township, Pryor has a passion for serving others. Prior to his pastoral work, he spent 13 years working at Pfizer Inc., a biopharmaceutical company with locations around the globe. Pryor graduated from SVSU with a bachelor's degree in management in 1995 and a master's degree in educational leadership in 2000.
From the College of Health and Human Services, Dr. Lynn Squanda-Murphy received the Distinguished Alumna Award. She is a physician for MedExpress in several Michigan locations. Squanda-Murphy graduated in 1981 from SVSU with a bachelor's degree in physical education with an emphasis in sports medicine. Those skills aided her during her time as a U.S. Army cardiac technician and medical assistant. She later attended Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, graduating in 1997.
Gretchen Evans received the Veteran Alumni Award. A retired U.S. Army command sergeant major who first enlisted in 1979, Evans served as an intelligence analyst in Heidelberg, Germany. There, she was trained as a counterintelligence agent and military spy. After serving in the Army for 27 years, she decided to resume her education. Evans graduated from SVSU in 2013 with a bachelor's degree in sociology. She is set to publish her new book, "Lessons from the Front," in November.
Marlin Jenkins received the Young Alumnus award. Jenkins, who earned a bachelor's degree in creative writing, later attended the University of Michigan's Master of Fine Arts program. He graduated in 2017. He serves as an editor for the HEArt Online literary journal, a publication committed to the promotion of social justice and the fight against discrimination. Jenkins has been published in several literary journals including The Collagist, Four Way Review, The Journal and Bennington Review, among others.
Andrew Jarmon received the Future Alumnus award. Set to graduate in December 2017 with a bachelor's degree in professional accountancy, Jarmon serves as the business manager of The Valley Vanguard, SVSU's school newspaper; co-chair of the Great Lakes Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls; and a residence assistant for SVSU's student housing operations. A graduate of L’Anse Creuse North High School in Macomb County, Jarmon interned with the Drug Enforcement Administration as part of their financial investigating team as well as with Quicken Loans, where he worked in risk management.
October 17, 2017
Saginaw Valley State University students elected Mikaela Ashton, a senior management major from Grayling; and Mitchell Kennedy, a senior accounting major from Bad Axe, as the university's 2017 Homecoming queen and king. Ashton and Kennedy were crowned Saturday, Oct. 14 during the halftime festivities at SVSU's football game against Ferris State University.
The two campaigned together by handing out treats to students while asking for their vote. They also engaged with their fellow Cardinals through social media as part of their campaign strategy. Alongside Ashton and Kennedy, eight other students were selected to be on the Homecoming Court earlier in the month.
On campus, Ashton is heavily involved in both Forever Red, a student-alumni networking organization that raises funds for student scholarships, and her coed service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. She is also a Foundation Scholar. On campus, Ashton works for both the Academic Affairs and Admissions offices. She previously completed a study abroad trip to Seville, Spain.
Kennedy is also a member of Forever Red and remains dedicated to his fundraising efforts during I Heart SV Week, a fundraising campaign put on by Forever Red to celebrate student engagement and philanthropy. He is also a member of the Delta Sigma Pi, a coed business fraternity, a Foundations Scholar, and has been selected for the Vitito Global Leadership Institute, which provides networking, international travel, and leadership opportunities for SVSU business students.
The students joining them on the 2017 Homecoming court were
• Maddy Donahue, an exercise science major from Sterling Heights
• Jack Duly, a nursing major from Midland
• Kacey Flintoft, an occupational therapy major from Caro
• Nancy Haddad, a communications major from Saginaw
• Gabe Kasper, a marketing major from Clare
• Pedro Marin, a marketing major from Grand Blanc
• Billy Nichols, a marketing major from Mt. Clemens
• Sydney VanPetten, a communications major from Sterling
October 4, 2017
July 26, 2017
Saginaw Valley State University’s College of Business and Management will soon have a new home for students, faculty, staff and business organizations in the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond, as SVSU moves forward with plans for a 40,000 square foot building addition.
SVSU’s capital outlay request for $9.8 million in state funding received planning authorization approval in the 2018 fiscal year budget for the State of Michigan signed by Governor Snyder Friday, July 14.
SVSU plans to construct an addition connected to the existing Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts, near Curtiss Hall, where faculty offices for the College of Business of Management are currently located.
The SVSU Foundation has initiated a fundraising campaign, and those efforts will now accelerate. SVSU hopes to generate up to $15 million in private donor support for the project.
“The business world is changing rapidly, and we must change with it,” said Donald Bachand, SVSU president. “We have updated our curriculum; we have added a major in supply chain management and we are starting an online M.B.A. this fall, all to ensure our hard-working students receive the best possible academic preparation. This new facility will allow us to modernize classrooms and learning spaces to match 21st century business realities.
“We would like to thank the many state legislators who supported our proposal, especially State Senator Ken Horn and State Representative Tim Kelly, whose leadership in their respective chambers was greatly appreciated.”
SVSU’s College of Business and Management is accredited by AACSB International, placing SVSU in the top 5 percent of business schools worldwide. Included among the 28 academic programs are specialized opportunities that draw upon the unique business resources of the Great Lakes Bay Region, such as academic minors in entrepreneurship and family business management. SVSU hosts the Dow Entrepreneurship Institute and the Stevens Center for Family Business.
Planned improvements for the new facility include:
• a Bloomberg Trading Room, that allows students to learn using financial technology
• an innovation lab, a cross-disciplinary space where students can develop products and market solutions
• a communications, big data and cloud computer lab to allow for the management of diverse sources of unstructured data and cloud computing
• a consumer behavior lab and observation room to study what influences consumers’ decisions
• a focus group lab to allow students to conduct qualitative research
In addition to academic upgrades, the new facility also will feature space for increased collaboration with regional businesses, providing them with access to SVSU faculty and student expertise.
The project still requires construction authorization by the State of Michigan; SVSU hopes to receive that approval later this year with a goal of opening the building during the 2019-20 academic year.
June 20, 2017
The Saginaw Valley State University Board of control approved a tuition increase of $474 for in-state students as part of the 2017-18 general fund operating budget adopted during the Board’s regular meeting Monday, June 19.
A Michigan undergraduate student taking 30 credits will pay $9,819 for the upcoming academic year. SVSU students were charged $9,345 during the 2016-17 academic year.
“I was a first-generation college student who worked full-time while going to school, so I understand that any tuition increase can be challenging for students and their families,” said SVSU President Donald Bachand. “At the same time, we have a responsibility to ensure that students receive a high-quality education at the best possible value, and that we continue to invest in their future.
“Our students continue to demonstrate that they can compete with the top students anywhere, as shown through their strong performance in all manner of academic competitions in recent years.”
SVSU will continue to have the lowest tuition among the 15 Michigan public universities for 2017-18, even after the increase of 5.07 percent takes effect.
In other action, the Board:
• Passed a resolution to congratulate the 2016-2017 SVSU outdoor track and field team, which had both men’s and women’s student-athletes earn All-American honors at the recent NCAA Division II national championships.
• Passed a resolution to congratulate the 2016-2017 SVSU men’s golf team, which qualified for the NCAA Division II Midwest/Central Super Regional tournament.
• Passed a resolution to congratulate the 2016-2017 SVSU women’s softball team, which qualified for the NCAA Division II national tournament and advanced to the finals of the Midwest Regional No. 2 tournament.
• Passed a resolution to approve Board of Fellows emeritus status for the late Vicente Castellanos.
• Passed a resolution to approve the reappointments of David Dunn, Peter Ewend, Mark Gettel, Tom McIntyre, Michael Rowley and Kenneth Roznowski to the SVSU Board of Fellows, a community advisory board.
• Passed a resolution to approve the reauthorization of public school academies. SVSU renewed its contract with Charlevoix Montessori Academy for the Arts for three years; Flat River Academy in Greenville and White Pine Academy in Leslie each received two-year renewals.
• Passed a resolution to approve the confirmation of board members for previously authorized public school academies.
• Approved revisions to SVSU’s Code of Student Conduct for the 2017-18 academic year.
• Approved faculty promotions for 30 individuals, effective July 1. Promoted to the rank of professor were: Marty Arford, geography; Lacreta Clark, educational leadership and services; David Cline, teacher education; Adam Coughlin, kinesiology; Mark Giesler, social work; Joe Jaksa, criminal justice; J. Blake Johnson, art; Sara Beth Keough, geography; Art Martin, biology; Tami Sivy, chemistry; Brian Thomas, sociology. Promoted to the rank of professor were: Arundhati Bagchi Misra, mathematical sciences; Jennifer Chaytor, chemistry; Kyle Cissell, chemistry; Denise Dedman, social work; Warren Fincher, sociology; Stacie Krupp, accounting; Kimberly Lacey, English; John Lowry, kinesiology; James McEvoy, biology; Rhett Mohler, geography; Rajani Muraleedharan, electrical and computer engineering; Shiva Nadavulakere, management; Christopher Nakamura, physics; Annamalai Pandian, mechanical engineering; Timothy Rowlands, criminal justice; Rebecca Schlaff, kinesiology; Jason Scott, biology; Kevin Simons, music; Yu Zou, electrical and computer engineering.
• Passed a resolution to Grant emerita status to Mary Harmon, who retired from SVSU after 25 years on the English faculty.
• Approved $800,000 in energy conservation projects. SVSU will install LED lights to the interior of a number of campus buildings and will enhanced the chilled water loop that assists with heating and cooling a number of campus buildings. After energy saving rebates are received, the total cost to SVSU will be closer to $400,000.
June 14, 2017
The 2017 Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant in Muskegon will feature a heavy dose of “Red Pride” this week, as five of the 34 contestants hail from Saginaw Valley State University.
SVSU students Jaeleen Davis of Bay City and Alana Rae Wilson of Monroe, and recent SVSU alumni Ashli Maser of Au Gres; Mallory Rivard of Bay City; and Kara Terry of Davison will all compete for the crown. Each of them brings passion for their platform – a cause they support – and their university.
Maser’s platform is “S.T.E.M. from Your Roots.” Inspired in part by her own biochemistry studies, she promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning among K-12 students, including visits to classrooms.
“My focus is figuring out how to engage middle school students in STEM through hands-on curriculum,” she said. “What brought me to SVSU was its good science program. To give back by telling other students how much fun STEM can be has been very rewarding. It’s fun to spark their curiosity and hear what they have to say.”
Maser earned second runner-up status in 2016; she and Davis now have advanced to the final weekend for three consecutive years; and Rivard for four years. Wilson competed in Miss Michigan’s final weekend in 2015. Miss Saginaw County was Terry’s first pageant win.
Wilson said her fellow SVSU-affiliated contestants consider each other friends.
“Knowing I get to spend a whole week with some of my best friends and get to do what I love at the same time is so exciting for me,” Wilson said. “I am very blessed with all the people I have met and become close with over the years I have been competing.”
Davis has shown a remarkable competitive spirit to remain a contestant. Last July, she suffered a 30-foot fall that fractured several bones and required months of recovery. Her resilience is well established in pageant circles. As a child, Davis was diagnosed with alopecia universalis, a condition that caused her to lose her hair. She has since adopted Wigs 4 Kids as her platform.
“I realized, a hairpiece can fix a child who is aching to feel normal again,” Davis said. “I felt normal — I am normal — because of a hairpiece.”
If Wilson wins this week’s competition, she would be crowned Miss Michigan 30 years after her mother earned the same title. Her mother, Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, also advanced and won the Miss America crown that same year.
“That would be very cool, to say the least,” Wilson said about the prospect of winning on the anniversary year of her mother’s victory.
“I am here competing for myself — because this is my dream as well — but how exciting would it be to not only become the first mother-daughter Miss Michigan, but then the first mother-daughter Miss America.”
The 2017 Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant contest kicks off with preliminary competition Thursday and Friday, June 15-16. The new Miss Michigan will be crowned during competition that begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 17.
The Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant is affiliated with the Miss America Organization, one of the world’s largest providers of scholarships for women. The winner earns a $12,000 scholarship and clinches a spot in the Miss America competition in September. Four runners-up earn $5,000, $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000 scholarships, respectively.
To qualify for the Miss Michigan competition, contestants must capture one of 34 pageants in the state. Davis earned Miss Heartland; Maser won Miss Spirit of the State; Rivard earned Miss SouthCentral; Terry won Miss Saginaw County; and Wilson earned Miss Bay County.
Davis, a criminal justice and communication major, plans to graduate from SVSU in December 2017.
Maser graduated in May 2016, earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. She plans to attend Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine-Illinois in the fall.
Rivard graduated from SVSU in May 2017, earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and early childhood education. She has been hired full-time as a teacher by Bay City Public Schools.
Terry graduated in May 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in athletic training. She plans to attend graduate school at Auburn University in the fall, studying human nutritional sciences.
Wilson, a business management major, expects to graduate in December 2018.
June 6, 2017
High school: Bay City Western High School
Major: political science
Future: law student, Michigan State University College of Law
In her circle of friends, Madison Laskowski admits she is the one most likely to trip over her own two feet, but she has proven she knows how to put her best foot forward when it comes to making legal arguments.
“I’m definitely the goofball of the group,” the Auburn native said, “but I’m ambitious.”
That ambition drove her to complete her bachelor’s degree in political science at Saginaw Valley State University in May 2017 – in just three years. That ambition helped her excel in a crowd of some of the nation’s most talented prospective lawyers. That ambition gained her a full scholarship to the Michigan State University College of Law, where she will begin her studies in the fall, on her way to becoming an attorney.
Laskowski's entered college with a passion for the law, and the support, encouragement and competitive opportunities she received at SVSU have her well prepared for a successful legal career, said Julie Keil, assistant professor of political science and mentor to Laskowski.
“Madison is a focused, determined young woman who has a clear idea of what she wants to do with her life,” Keil said.
Laskowski’s circle of friends partly consists of her teammates on SVSU’s undergraduate moot court program, which competes against other institutions in mock courtroom proceedings that draw from constitutional law and Supreme Court cases. Students act as attorneys in teams of two, making arguments to a panel of judges.
SVSU's program – in six short years – has risen to a top 20 national ranking; more than 350 colleges and universities compete in the American Moot Court Association. Keil is the founding adviser of SVSU's team and continues to serve in that capacity.
In November 2016, Laskowski and her teammate — fellow political science major Connor Hughes from Howell — won a regional moot court competition in Chicago.
The Windy City victory marked the first time an SVSU moot court tandem won an American Moot Court Association regional tournament. They outperformed accomplished programs from institutions such as the University of Chicago, California State University-Long Beach, the College of Wooster, George Washington University, the University of Texas-Dallas, and Loyola University Chicago.
“It was an amazing moment,” Laskowski said of the point where she learned her team won after one of the five judges broke a split decision. “Things just really clicked and fell into place for us in Chicago.”
The victory sent her team to the American Moot Court Association’s national competition in Florida in January 2017.
Keil voiced high praise for Laskowski’s SVSU moot court career.
“She has been the backbone of the program and one of our most successful students,” Keil said.
The national tournament performance in Florida capped Laskowski’s 2-year run on the moot court team and launched her toward the next chapter — law school — of a career her family long predicted she would pursue.
“My mom always told me I liked arguing,” Laskowski said. “Sometimes it was over my curfew, or what to pack for lunch. I was a spitfire, and so I figured I could eventually turn that into arguing for the law.”
During her sophomore year at SVSU, she met Keil. Laskowski said her development as a prospective lawyer was a work in progress, but thanks to Keil and the team’s support system, she improved quickly.
“I had horrible public speaking abilities that first year,” Laskowski said. “It was hard to fully grasp the Constitutional problems we faced, and to be able to articulate that in front of a panel of judges without fumbling over myself.”
The experience, though, allowed her to better understand her shortcomings and improve upon them by the time she returned to the team for her last year.
“My second year, I felt like I knew what to do,” she said. “The work ethic was there, the forensics skills were there and things just fell into place.”
Laskowski served as student president of the moot court program during the year when four SVSU teams — eight dedicated students in total, including Laskowski — qualified for the 2017 nationals. Only two colleges or universities — out of more than 350 nationally — qualified more students to attend the contest. In all, 80 teams with 160 students competed; Laskowski's team placed No. 49 overall.
“Traveling to the national like that, with some of your best friends, is one of the best experiences I’ve had at SVSU,” she said.
May 22, 2017
High school: Flint Southwestern Academy
Future: The Dow Chemical Company, accounting department
As a future accounting asset to The Dow Chemical Company, Kevin Finley crossed the graduation stage in May 2017 with excitement and a firm sense of purpose after five years at Saginaw Valley State University. The Flint native has replaced childhood scars with an ever-present smile, having learned many valuable lessons inside and outside the classroom.
"In leadership and in life, it's not just about the grades," Finley said.
Finely has the grades – he made the Deans' list all 10 semesters, studying professional accountancy – but it was getting in touch with his values and those of his university, and putting those values into action that taught him as much or more.
"SVSU has taught me that there's more to life than just being smart. Do you care about the community? Are you humble? Do you want to see others around you succeed with you? In life, you can't do anything by yourself and SVSU has that community focus that I really appreciate."
With aspirations to start his own mentorship program one day, Finley started planning out his future while in high school at Flint Southwestern Academy where he took his first accounting class. There, he discovered not only his proficiency in the field, but his love for it as well.
"It just made sense to me," he said.
After discovering this passion, Finley took a tour of SVSU during his senior year of high school. Though he had been considering some other universities at the time, the welcoming campus of SVSU and the friendly people who inhabited it convinced him to enroll.
"I felt like I could really make an impact at SVSU and it was big enough to meet a lot of people but it was small enough to still make an impact," he said.
Finley certainly stood out. As a member of the Roberts Fellowship Program – a student leadership development initiative at SVSU – he built upon his leadership and academic achievement through service projects and study. Finley and nine of his classmates traveled to Asia in May as the culmination of the program.
"One of the goals of the program is to become well-rounded in global citizenship while making us aware of different social issues in different areas of the world," he said.
Recognized by his fellow students, Finley beamed with pride after being elected to Homecoming Court in the fall of 2015.
"It was just an honor to make court – just to have that experience was kind of cool," he said. "I thought, 'Wow. I affected people enough on this campus to even make court.'"
Students knew Finley because he signed up for nearly every high-profile position a student can have. He worked as a resident assistant, a campus tour guide, and an orientation leader, helping new students acclimate to SVSU.
Through his involvement with Delta Sigma Pi, a business fraternity, Finley built his résumé further. He worked his way up, eventually serving as the vice president of finance for a year and a half before serving as the fraternity's president for a year. Finley was awarded the Huron Regional Collegian of the Year in 2016 for Delta Sigma Pi; the award is presented to a member of the fraternity who represents the distinguished values and ideals of the organization through achievement, participation and character.
Finley's drive and determination saw him serve as an accounting tutor in SVSU's tutoring center as well as a research assistant in the Office of Institutional Research. He also worked as an intern with The Dow Chemical Company, where he made connections and secured a full-time job after graduation.
A first-generation college student, Finley remembers a time when the future didn't always look so bright.
"Where I came from, no one really expected me to be a leader," he said. "No one expected me to make Homecoming Court. No one expected me to do all the stuff I'm doing. SVSU allows you to grow your confidence here."
Personal perseverance shaped Finley's confidence.
"I was beaten up really badly in high school," he said. "I was really, really frustrated but then I realized, it's not about who does what to you. It's about your response. I can say, 'I don't want to see that happen to someone else so let me show people that there's more to life than negativity.' I don't want to let stuff like that hinder me. I just want to stay positive."
Finley spreads that positivity through his connections at SVSU, in the community and in his hometown.
"My ultimate goal is to become a CFO – a chief financial officer – of a company, and, although I have a passion for accounting, I also have a passion for mentorship," he said. "Coming from Flint, Michigan, I've always told myself that I wanted to give back by starting a mentorship program or possibly doing a scholarship for people growing up in the Flint area."
Finley learned from multiple mentors to him during his time at SVSU.
"I was really lucky to have great mentors in my life," he said. Among those mentors were Ian Philbrick, a former resident director with SVSU Residential Life.
"He taught me about leadership and he held me accountable. Stuff like that is intangible. You can't put a value on it," Finley said.
Another mentor was Nick Wagner, SVSU's director of institutional research. "He wants to see you succeed. He gives his all to the community and he would always make time for students," Finley said.
Wagner has worked closely with Finley over the course of his time at SVSU and spoke highly of him as both a student and a young professional.
"Kevin has been one of the most unique and profound students I have ever had the chance to interact with at SVSU," Wagner said. "He displays a constant desire to learn and become better all while being selfless and humble. He is a student the university should be extremely proud of and has set the standard for what it means to be a student leader."
With his post-graduation plans locked down, Finley is excited to see where his future will lead. Hard work and dedication certainly play a large role in Finley's story but he also finds motivation in an optimistic attitude and these words of wisdom:
"Be honest with who you are as a student leader," Finley said. "The biggest thing I could recommend to anyone would be to pursue your passion. Even if it takes a little longer, do what makes you happy."
Scott L. Carmona College of Business
Saginaw Valley State University
7400 Bay Road
University Center, MI 48710
Acting Assistant Dean