News items about the Scott L. Carmona College of Business. For a complete list of News, please go to the Newsroom. To submit an item, please contact JJ Boehm, director of media and community relations, at ext. 4055
Saginaw Valley State University graduates will hear from one of the institution’s most generous alumni during December commencement exercises.
Scott L. Carmona will offer words of support and inspiration at the two ceremonies, Friday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Dec. 14 at 11 a.m. Both ceremonies are held in O’Neill Arena of SVSU's Ryder Center.
Carmona completed his eight-year term on SVSU’s Board of Control in July. He committed to be the lead donor for the fundraising campaign to support the building addition for the SVSU College of Business now named for him; his generosity and philanthropy also include granting over 25 scholarships annually. The $25 million building addition for the Scott L. Carmona College of Business will open during the 2020 winter semester.
After the 2019 fall semester concludes later this month, 511 SVSU students are expected to complete degree requirements. Of those, 425 students are expected to complete bachelor’s degrees and 86 are expected to receive master’s or other advanced degrees. In total, 453 individuals have indicated they plan to don regalia and participate in the commencement ceremonies Dec. 13-14.
The Friday gathering will honor graduates from the Crystal M. Lange College of Health & Human Services; and the Scott L. Carmona College of Business. The Saturday ceremony will recognize graduates from the College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences; the College of Education; and the College of Science, Engineering & Technology.
Carmona’s first time being recognized at an SVSU commencement ceremony came in 1981, when the Bay City native was a graduate being honored for receiving a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. His son, Ryan, completed a bachelor's degree in finance in 2008.
While still attending classes at SVSU, Scott Carmona began planting the seeds of his entrepreneurial career. In the late 1970s, he developed a swimming pool maintenance company. By his senior year, he was contracted to perform service work for Coca-Cola USA.
The opportunity allowed him to create a small business that specialized in repairing and re-manufacturing dispensing equipment used in restaurants across the nation. Carmona's company, National Equipment Refurbishers Inc., found success, employing up to 50 people at one point.
Fifteen years later, he sold the business to create and develop other companies, largely in the commercial real estate and automotive aftermarket distribution industries. His business interests eventually reached beyond Michigan. He developed businesses in states such as Texas, New Hampshire and Florida, where he developed an industrial park in the 2000s.
Today, Carmona is the principal owner of Sunrise National Distributors Inc., a Bay City-based distributor of automotive aftermarket products. He owns and manages several real estate developments in Michigan and Florida. He also has remained active in community organizations including the Bay County Growth Alliance, the Dow Bay Area Family YMCA and the McLaren Bay Special Care Hospital board of directors.
When the 38,500-square-foot expansion for the Scott L. Carmona College of Business opens next year, the facility will house state-of-the-art technology as well as classrooms, faculty offices and office space for business programs. Planners say the new space will provide an inviting environment for business leaders and successful alumni to visit campus, benefit from the resources, and work with the next generation of business students studying at the campus.
Military veterans, business leaders, and coaches were among the eight individuals whose accomplishments and dedication to excellence were recognized by Saginaw Valley State University’s Alumni Association.
The group selected five individuals to receive its annual Distinguished Alumni award — one for each of SVSU's academic colleges. They are as follows:
Three other honorees received recognition by the SVSU Alumni Association. Tony Goble received the Veteran Alumni award. Darrin Flowers and Emily Short both received Young Alumnus awards.
The group was honored during a ceremony at SVSU earlier this month. To watch videos featuring recipients, go to https://bit.ly/37wkUir.
Biographies of each recipient are as follows, along with a video feature for each:
Brown received his bachelor’s degree in speech from SVSU in 1985 and later earned a master’s degree from Central Michigan University in 1991. As director of Multicultural Student Initiatives at Kettering University, Brown has traveled across the U.S., Mexico, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Caribbean islands to help African-American, Hispanic and Native American students in the STEM fields. He also received Kettering’s first-ever “Pillar of Excellence Award,” the highest honor a staff member can receive.
Dralle earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from SVSU in 1993. Dralle — whose maiden name is Jill Schafsnitz — is the COO of Saginaw County’s largest employer, Nexteer Automotive. She serves on the board of directors for Saginaw Community Foundation. Dralle was recognized by Great Lakes Bay Magazine with its Business Executive Award for female leaders in 2013. In 2014, she was honored by Inforum with an Inner Circle Award.
LaClair graduated from SVSU in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in physical and health education. LaClair works for Bronson Community Schools as assistant principal, athletic director, and head volleyball coach. She received numerous awards from regional and national associations for her work as an athletic administrator and volleyball coach. She is one of the most successful volleyball coaches in Michigan, ranking fifth in the state for all-time wins in an entire career.
Mary Kay Smith
Smith is the director of the Learning and Assessment Center at Michigan State University. She earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from SVSU in 1985. Smith serves as chair of accreditation for the International Society of Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) and the Quality Assurance Chair for the American Heart Association Great Lakes Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee.
Wischmeyer served in the U.S. Army from 1975-78, receiving an honorable discharge as a sergeant. He used the G.I. Bill to attend Delta College and SVSU, where received his bachelor’s degree in management in 1984. Since 2010, Greg has served as president and CEO of Neighborhood Mortgage Solutions. He has been involved in the Frankenmuth Chamber of Commerce for the past 12 years and is a member of the Michigan Credit Union League Mid-Michigan Chapter.
After lettering in baseball and graduating from SVSU in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, Goble enlisted in the U.S. airborne infantry in 1991. He is still serving and has reached the highest level of technical and tactical expertise as a chief warrant officer 5 and serves as command chief warrant officer. He has spent over 25 years working as a Green Beret and was deployed nine times in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Some of Goble's significant awards include the Bronze Star Medal (five awards), Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Army Achievement Medal (three awards), Good Conduct Medal (three awards), Army Commendation Medal, as well as National Defense Medal with two Campaign Stars.
Flowers works at University of Detroit Jesuit as a 7th and 8th grade social studies instructor, moderator of the Black Awareness Society of Education (B.A.S.E.), 7th and 8th grade track coach, and high school bowling coach. As a coach, Flowers won a Catholic Youth Organization Track Championship, and a Division I State Championship for bowling in 2014. He was voted Division I Coach of the Year in 2015-16. Flowers received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from SVSU in 2007.
Short works as a project manager at Spicer Group. She has implemented innovative strategies to address surface water pollution in Ingham, Berrien and Manistee counties as well as other communities in Michigan. Short also mentors young undergraduate students to provide them with better choices for their career path and serves as a role model for high school students in the community of St. Johns. She received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from SVSU in 2016.
Chaz Fowler is as determined in completing his education at Saginaw Valley State University as he was in completing his training to become a United States Marine.
Thanks in part to financial support through the Robert and Ellen Thompson Military Scholarship at SVSU, the political science major from Bay City is closing in on his mission to graduate and return to military service.
Fowler served as a U.S. Marine and presidential sentry for five years. He said his training was grueling, but that he always had his eyes set on achieving his goals.
“This position required immense commitment and persistence in the face of adversity,” Fowler said. “Each time a new obstacle came my way, I prayed I would have the resolve to push through.”
His ultimate goal in the service – to be one of the White House sentries, comprised of four Marine Corps non-commissioned officers who act as a ceremonial guard outside the West Wing of the White House – proved to be just out of his reach.
“The aesthetic for the media required Marines be within a few inches of each other when standing outside the West Wing — for presentation. I was not 6-foot, 4-inches tall as Corporal Bernard was, and thus had come up short,” Fowler said.
He was devastated at the news but turned it into an opportunity to persevere.
“I wanted to prove that, if I was not going to the White House, I would be the best — wherever I went.” Fowler said.
His tour of duty included service as a presidential sentry at Camp David, where his responsibilities included safeguarding the president.
After completing five years of military service, Fowler enrolled at SVSU, which has been consistently named “Best for Vets” by Military Times and a military-friendly university by VIQTORY.
College presented many familiar challenges for Fowler.
“Time management, commitment and determination are all necessary components for success here. I would like to say I have done well at traversing these obstacles,” said Fowler, president of the Student Veterans of America club at SVSU.
Fowler was able to finance his degree until his senior year, where “again I had come up short.”
When he heard about the Robert and Ellen Thompson Military Scholarship, Folwer knew it would provide him the opportunity to finish one of his life goals.
Fowler is grateful that the scholarship will allow him to complete his degree and return to military service, this time as a college-educated officer.
“I would like to personally thank Mr. and Mrs. Thompson for their gracious efforts in helping students, veterans and, most specifically, for helping me when it mattered most,” Fowler said.
He will join others at SVSU in recognizing Veterans Day during a Veterans Day Celebration that begins at 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11 in the Curtiss Hall banquet rooms.
Col. Rhoda K. Daniel will serve as the featured speaker. Today a Freeland business owner, she has served over 34 years in both the Army and the Army National Guard. An Iraq War veteran, Daniel earned the Combat Action Badge, the Meritorious Unit Commendation, and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
The public is welcome to attend.
With women-led businesses on the rise, the need for role models, mentors and real-world training for female entrepreneurs is a demand that Rebecca Cox recognized clearly.
“Women interested in becoming an entrepreneur are five times more likely to start a business when they have a mentor,” said Cox, president and owner of the Midland-based Savant Group.
The need for more more female role models in business is a demand Cox plans to meet — along with three of her peers from the Great Lakes Bay Region — when they serve as panelists at Saginaw Valley State University's upcoming Women Entrepreneurship Week event.
“Life Lessons from Successful Women Entrepreneurs” is a panel discussion scheduled Monday, Oct. 21, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in SVSU's Curtiss Hall Banquet Room A. Hosted by the Dow Entrepreneurship Institute at SVSU, the event is free and open to the public.
Along with Cox, panelists include Mary Draves, chief sustainability officer and vice president of environment, health and safety for Dow; Kathie Fuce-Hobohm, founder and president of Midland-based SPACE, Inc.; and Wendy Traschen, owner of Bolger and Battle Marketing Communications as well as Whine, a Midland restaurant.
Cox said Monday's event will reinforce the importance of female-led businesses in advancing the region's economy.
“Continuing to highlight women business owners will break down gender stereotypes and biases, grow a greater support network and positively impact on our economy,” she said. “It’s not just good for women — it’s good for everyone.”
Draves, an SVSU alumna, said mid-Michigan remains a ripe environment for women ambitious to serve as leaders in business.
“The Great Lakes Bay Region is home to many examples of female entrepreneurs who are doing stellar work,” Draves said. “Their businesses are strong contributors to our region’s economic engine.”
Cox has participated as a board member for the Midland Chamber of Commerce, Midland Tomorrow, Midland Business Alliance, the Local Development Finance Authority Board of Midland, and the Small Business Association of Michigan. She is a Leadership Midland 2006 Class graduate, a member of the Midland 100 Club, and a founding member of the Women's Executive Round Table. Her business, The Savant Group, tests oils and lubrications for various industries. Cox received a bachelor's degree in business from Western Michigan University and a master's degree in business from Indiana University.
In her role at Dow, Draves leads corporate environment, health, and safety-related governance as well as the organization's 2025 Sustainability Goals. She joined Dow in 1989 and has served in several leadership roles since then. Draves has built a reputation for being an effective and collaborative leader who inspires commitment in her teams while also attaining results. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in technological processes from SVSU.
Fuce-Hobohm started SPACE, Inc. in 1995 and has over 30 years of experience in the office interior industry. As president, she oversees the sales and financial strategies along with the overall operations for the company. Fuce-Hobohm has received honors for her work including the Midland Area Chamber of Commerce's ATHENA award, Girl Scouts Women of Distinction recognition, the MidMichigan Innovation Center Innovation Award, Corp! Magazine’s Entrepreneur of Distinction recognition, and Leadership Midland’s Leader of the Year. She also was named a Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Laureate.
For more than 20 years, Traschen has served as a fierce advocate for the power of strong branding and integrated marketing communications to move organizations to the next level of their industries. In addition to her well-earned agency credentials — including leading a diverse team of writers, designers and account executives in support of about 150 clients — she brings a strong business background in retail, hospitality, nonprofits and education.
For more information or to register to attend this event, visit www.svsu.edu/entrepreneurshipinstitute/.
With the support of her family — and now a statewide organization that recognizes her strong leadership qualities — a Saginaw Valley State University senior soon will follow in her older sister’s footsteps as a first-generation college graduate.
Paloma Barba, a business management major from Detroit, recently earned the Hispanic Latino Commission of Michigan's Future Leaders Scholarship. She was one of nine Michigan college students to earn the $1,000 scholarship.
"I was surprised because I honestly did not expect to receive the scholarship since it was very competitive," she said.
To apply for the scholarship, Barba wrote an essay explaining why she believed she deserved the scholarship as well as why it was important for Hispanic students to earn higher education degrees. Barba said she wanted to apply so she could help finance her education.
"I come from a large family, and therefore my parents cannot support me financially," she said. "I saw an opportunity, and I seized it."
The scholarship will help her pursue an ambition her family supports.
"My parents have always encouraged my siblings and I to go to college and learn because knowledge is power,” Barba said.
She said her older sister, Berenice Barba, inspired her to attend college. Berenice is a graduate student at SVSU and works as a graduate assistant in SVSU’s President's Office. She received her bachelor's degree in business administration earlier this year.
"My older sister was the first one in the family to graduate with a bachelor's," Paloma Barba said. "I feel like she deserves most of the credit for my success because she basically paved the way for everyone in our family and, most importantly, for my siblings and me. I just hope that, after I graduate, I can offer the same support that has been offered to me."
The younger Barba graduates in May 2020. She said next she may pursue a master's degree or a career in sports management.
"I would like to go back to my hometown — Detroit — and hopefully work for the Pistons basketball team," she said of the NBA franchise.
The Future Leaders Scholarship awards will be presented to the recipients during a Hispanic Heritage Month celebration organized by the Hispanic Latino Commission in Grand Rapids on Thursday, Oct 10.
A Saginaw Valley State University alumna’s community-minded values helped her become selected for an innovative corporate leadership course associated with one of the world’s largest automotive companies.
Claire Gembrowski, who works in purchasing at Ford Motor Company’s Dearborn campus, was named to the latest Ford Thirty Under 30 Fellowship class. She was one of 30 people selected from a national pool of 300 applicants.
The honor means Gembrowski, who received a bachelor’s degree in management from SVSU in 2011 and later an M.B.A. from University of Michigan-Flint, will participate in a year-long philanthropic-driven leadership development initiative. The fellowship pairs the company's employees with nonprofits from their local communities.
The Freeland native said the opportunity fits with the values she learned growing up.
“I was raised Catholic and was taught that volunteering is something you should do,” she said. “If you have the means to volunteer your time, money or talent, you should.”
Rene Palileo, manager of employee engagement for The Ford Fund, said employees turn in a written application for the fellowship. If their application is chosen to continue in the process, a committee consisting of Ford and Ford Fund executives as well as former Thirty Under 30 fellows rate the applicants. The committee rates them based off how strongly each applicant represents Ford's seven cultural “truths:” "putting people first, doing the right thing, being curious, creating tomorrow, building Ford tough, playing to win and exemplifying the 'one Ford' philosophy."
Palileo said Gembrowski represented each of these “truths,” and helped bring them out in her fellow employees.
"Claire’s volunteer experience and genuine interest in helping the community was a strong point," Palileo said. "Being an SVSU Cardinal, Claire embraces the innovation and transformational work Ford Motor Company Fund provides and, as a Thirty Under 30 fellow, will help broaden our reach in the future."
Gembrowski and her Thirty Under 30 team will work with The Grandmont-Rosedale Development Corporation (GRDC). The organization focuses on preserving and enriching Grandmont-Rosedale — a Detroit neighborhood — and its economy.
"A problem GRDC continues to come back to is millennial engagement in their group,” Gembrowski said. “They have a senior citizen group that is extremely passionate, but the population in that area is very diverse. There are young families, new residents, renters and the like.”
Gembrowski said her team hopes to solve this problem by creating a junior society that supports the larger organization.
"I think, generally, millennials want to give,” she said. “I would say they are even a bit more passionate than other generations about helping and leaving some kind of impact. The tricky part is that millennials have the desire for something immediate and for instant gratification. The long game is not part of the vocabulary.”
Millennial lifestyles are a problem for more established organizations, Gembrowski said. These organizations want long weekly meetings and volunteers who are coming in for longer periods of time. She said this structure does not appeal to younger generations.
“You need to find ways that fit into the over-committed lifestyles of many millennials that still make an impact,” she said.
Gembrowski’s team will canvass for like-minded individuals within and near the neighborhood. She said some younger people have already expressed interest in volunteering for the Grandmont-Rosedale neighborhood group.
She hopes her team can find enough junior society participants for it to continue on its own after the Ford Thirty Under 30 Fellowship cohort leaves.
“The fear I have is that there are certain people who are the doers and people who are not,” she said. “So, we need to find the passionate people and give them some sort of power and freedom to help.”
Gembrowski’s work at Ford has exposed her to communities from across the world. She said she has worked with several departments within Ford and had the opportunity to spend last year in Valencia, Spain working with Ford suppliers in lean manufacturing.
“Ford has something called an ADP, an accelerated development program,” she said. “You do a job swap, so I was able to work in the same job function, which was a supplier coaching of lean, but I got to do it from another region.”
Gembrowski enjoyed the experience and Spain’s culture.
“It was difficult coming back from Spain because you get used to a certain lifestyle,” she said. “I loved the culture. I feel like I fit right in. I come from a big family, and our culture is quite close. We really value doing things together, and that is what is valued in the Mediterranean culture.”
After returning from Spain, Gembrowski worked to bring some of the Spanish culture back to her American co-workers, such as meeting up for coffee outside of work.
She has also continued her local volunteer work since returning. She said she felt the need to help children who were not fortunate enough to have the warm childhood she experienced. She volunteers as an English tutor regularly with Mercy Education Project, a Detroit-based nonprofit that helps girls and women receive an education.
Gembrowski’s motivation to volunteer was a major reason she applied for Thirty Under 30.
“Having that giving sort of mindset, I was excited about this project,” she said. “It combines business and philanthropic endeavors, which is a perfect fit for me.”
While she hopes to learn more about business from the fellowship, Gembrowski said she does not have definitive career goals. Rather, she simply wants to avoid being stagnate.
“I haven’t loved every assignment I have had, but I have tried to be self-aware so that, whenever I get to a point where I think I have learned all I can from a job, I say, ‘Give me more or give me something different,’” she said. “I am lucky to have worked at two different companies — Nexteer and Ford — that have allowed me to do that.”
Gembrowski said current SVSU Scott L. Carmona College of Business students can set themselves up for success now by taking advantage of their coursework in real-world settings, such as co-ops or work experiences.
“What served me well was the co-op opportunity,” she said. “While everyone has a different capacity, I would say try to work while you’re in school. It doesn’t matter if it’s at a restaurant or the bookstore on campus — try to get some work experience to connect to your schooling.”
She also said students should take the time to build up their soft skills before graduating.
“It’s the soft skills — like time management, organization, having high expectations for people, expecting people to do their part and keeping people motivated — that lead to success,” she said. “As easy as that is to say, when you’re working in a corporate environment or a non-profit, when people get stressed, that can be hard to actually do.”
Gembrowski said she is thankful for the groundwork for success SVSU provided her.
“SVSU has played a big role in my life,” she said. “I am very thankful financially, and I went to a great university. I walked away with no debt, I received a great education, made great friends and had work experience through my co-op. It was a great foundation for me.”