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A pair of Saginaw Valley State University students showed their commitment to excellence when they were recognized for their outstanding performance at a summer-long internship program with Enterprise Holdings, the corporation largely known for vehicle rental services.
Leslie Smith, an SVSU junior from Roseville with a double major in marketing and management, earned a $750 scholarship from Enterprise Thursday, Aug. 18, during the culmination of the internship program involving 46 college students from Michigan and northern Ohio.
“I was beyond happy to get that scholarship,” said Smith, who participated in the 2015 summer internship program, as well. “I worked really hard all summer and it really paid off. This was a great opportunity for me.”
The program is a full-time, paid internship that places participants in Enterprise Holdings locations across the region from May to August, tasking interns with business and marketing-related jobs.
George Copeland, a management major from Southfield, excelled on a team of five students recognized for Best Presentation from Enterprise during the Aug. 18 event at Ann Arbor City Club.
The team was one of 10 groups that presented on various aspects of Enterprise Holdings’ business. The Southfield native’s team presented on the company’s growth and marketing.
Both Smith and Copeland originally connected with Enterprise Holdings when representatives visited SVSU during campus employment fairs.
Thomas Barnikow, assistant director of SVSU Career Services, which organizes the employment fairs, attended the Enterprise Holdings event in Ann Arbor.
“There were students in that internship program from all over the place,” Barnikow said. “It was definitely nice to see that, not only did SVSU have representation, but that our students there did so well.”
High school: Novi
Future: audit staff, Plante Moran accounting firm
On a warm October day in 2011 on Michigan Tech University’s football field, Scott Stanford experienced one of his first feelings of success at Saginaw Valley State University.
Stanford, a freshman kicker on the Cardinal football team that season, had already sent two field goal kicks sailing between the goal post uprights — including a 45-yard boot — by the time the GLIAC rivals began overtime play. The third kick, if Stanford could hit it, would win the game and lift the SVSU Cardinals above Michigan Tech in the GLIAC North standings.
“I had already hit a few field goals, so I was relaxed by that point,” Stanford remembers of the moment.
Yes, the story ends well for Stanford: He nailed the 23-yard attempt to win the game for SVSU, 44-41. Teammates and traveling fans cheered in celebration.
Stanford expects to hear another kind of cheering when the Novi native’s name is called during SVSU’s May 2016 commencement ceremonies. In many respects, Stanford has kept his winning streak alive since that October 2011 moment, with the latest victory arriving because of his successful completion of SVSU’s bachelor’s degree program in accounting.
“My experience at Saginaw Valley was really great,” he said. “I really enjoyed my time there. I was able to have the college experience I was looking for, and was prepared well for my career afterward.”
That “career” may begin at the Plante Moran accounting services office near his hometown of Novi. In the absence of one scenario that could change his plans (more on that later), Stanford expects to begin work as a full-time auditor in August 2016.
The job was offered to Stanford based on the accounting know-how he displayed during an internship in that same office for four months beginning in January 2016.
That internship opportunity happened when Stanford attended the SVSU Career Services-hosted Accounting and Finance Fair in September 2015, when employers such as Plante Moran visited the campus and met with its deep pool of prospective workers. After a follow-up interview, Stanford was offered an internship that involved participating in audits of companies from industries including construction, manufacturing and nonprofits.
The work was perfectly suited for Stanford’s interest and off-the-field abilities.
“I always liked numbers, so I’ve known for a while that I wanted to go into accounting,” he said. “With that subject, there’s just so much to learn. There are so many rules and regulations. I can go into work and know I’m going to learn something new every day.”
Learning was a priority for Stanford during his undergraduate studies. His focus on the classroom even shined through in his collegiate football life. One of his proudest accomplishments at SVSU came when he was named to the 2013 Capital One Academic All-America Division II Football Team, which recognized 49 athletes nationally that excelled academically that year.
“I’ve always wanted to do well academically and athletically,” he said. “That award was an honor for me to receive.”
While Stanford is near advancing his SVSU studies into a career in accounting, he continues to work first toward advancing his SVSU athletic career into a career in the world’s top football league. In the next few months, Stanford hopes to secure a tryout session with an NFL team that could lead to a professional football contract for the 2016-17 season.
“Ideally, I’m looking at the NFL,” he said. “The difficulty is in getting a foot in the door. I’m trying to market my name as a kicker right now, and get someone interested in me.”
Stanford works out five days a week with the help of a personal trainer to stay in shape in the event his number is called. He likely will know if an NFL team is interested by the time his Plante Moran job is scheduled to start.
“I’ll play it by ear,” he said. “For me to comfortably extend my offer, it will have to be something that’s a promising opportunity.”
Stanford recognizes very few people play in the NFL, but is optimistic — if given the chance — he can keep his on-the-field winning streak alive before he turns his attention toward his off-the-field talents.
From: Clinton Township
High School: Chippewa Valley
Future: full-time job with the FDIC
In the depths of a Utah canyon, Nicole Calandrino received a phone call with news that made her want to shout with joy from a mountaintop.
After a nationwide applicant search, the Saginaw Valley State University graduating senior earned a job interview at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the agency created by Congress after the Great Depression to supervise and restore trust in the American banking system.
Calandrino received the news in January 2016 while volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah during an SVSU-sponsored trip with classmates.
“I remember I barely had any cell phone reception the whole time, but then I started to get this call with a Virginia number,” she said. “There was one bar on my phone, and I had to shout to get them to understand me. I almost started crying, I was so happy.”
One month later, the Clinton Township native accepted a job offer — contingent upon her graduation — as a financial institutions specialist at the FDIC’s Grand Rapids office. Now, with her May 2016 graduation date approaching, the economics major is close to fulfilling the final requirement necessary to join the FDIC.
Earning the opportunity was no small feat. Calandrino was one of 1,000 candidates who applied and 93 interviewed for FDIC job openings across the nation earlier this year.
She plans to log her first day at work in July. The accomplishment is the culmination of years of dedicated studies, hard work and recognition as an exceptional student at SVSU.
That SVSU experience almost didn’t happen. After graduating from Chippewa Valley High School in 2011, she originally planned to attend a different higher education institution. But her sister, Heather, who was enrolled at SVSU, convinced the younger Calandrino to visit the campus and sit in on biology class.
Her sibling’s campaigning — along with being offered SVSU’s full-ride President’s Scholarship — led Calandrino to enroll at the Kochville Township university.
“That choice is really paying off now,” she said.
She began her college life with sights set on becoming a biology or chemical researcher, but her interests changed and an opportunity made possible through SVSU led to new aspirations. Through the university’s co-op program, she landed a risk management position at Buena Vista Township-based Nexteer Automotive’s finance department in November 2014.
“That’s been an invaluable experience,” she said. “I’ve been able to coordinate all data for Nexteer’s insurance renewal, work with people in 12 different countries, and help create standard processes for assessing risk worldwide. I discovered I really liked working with numbers.”
Later that year, she was one of a select group of students involved in The Vitito Global Leadership Institute, a three-semester-long student leadership development program offered by SVSU’s College of Business & Management.
“The Vitito program really helped me develop my leadership skills, and focus on international and business leadership,” she said. “Then we traveled to Budapest for eight days, which was amazing. We visited the U.S. embassy and one of the largest banks in Hungary, and talked to entrepreneurs there. I was immersed in the culture.”
She made lifelong friends through the Vitito initiative — along with a key mentor. Through the program, she met Dom Monastiere, SVSU’s Boutell/First Merit Bank Executive in Residence.
When Calandrino saw the FDIC job opening listed on SVSU’s Career Services website in August 2015, she sought advice from Monastiere, who spent 26 years as an executive with Midland-based Chemical Bank.
“He was really helpful in telling me what an FDIC official does and whether it was a good fit for me,” she said. “Normally, I ignore national job openings, but I felt something clicked with this job.”
She said her Nexteer Automotive co-op work and selection as a Vitito Fellow may have helped clinch her the job offer. “Those really set me apart,” she said.
Calandrino’s responsibilities will include working with banking institutions located largely along western Michigan. While those visits won’t send her to any more Utah canyons — or mountaintops, for that matter — Calandrino is thrilled about where SVSU has helped her land.
“I’m excited and ready to get started,” she said.
From: East Tawas
High school: Tawas
Future: travel expert with the Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau
The sight of those T-shirts still makes Kimberly Salwey smile.
The graduating senior remembers spending one of the first days of her final year at Saginaw Valley State University selling 1,000 $1 shirts to freshmen. The sales were a fundraiser for Forever Red, a campus pride-inspiring organization that provided four $250 Cardinal Forever Initiative scholarships from the proceeds that day.
“It was a beautiful day out in the courtyard,” said Salwey, who served as president of Forever Red her senior year. “All of the Forever Red members were coming together to make this a success, and all the freshmen got their first dose of Red Pride.
“This past year, the Cardinal Forever Initiative was different for me because I really grasped the concept of giving back. It was a great way to kick off my senior year. Today, I can still walk through the halls and find students wearing the shirt, and that brings a smile to my face.”
Her inspired efforts brought Salwey a number of other things this academic year, too, including a full-time job offer. Thanks in part to connections she made through her SVSU network, Salwey was offered — and accepted — a travel expert position at the Bay City office of Great Lakes Bay Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Her first day is May 23, when she will begin working largely with the organization’s website, www.gogreat.com, which provides information on lodging, events, restaurants and tons of other information on Great Lakes Bay Region communities.
“I’m ready for the next stage, the next adventure,” she said. “I’m very happy I’ll be able to stay close to home and close to SVSU, because that’s where my heart has been.”
Salwey received the Outstanding Student Leader award in February 2016 from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for a six-state region.
“I was really surprised and shocked to win this,” Salwey said. “I'm thankful because I wouldn't be who I am without my SVSU experience. I have been blessed to be surrounded and empowered by influential and strong leaders who have continuously pushed me to better myself.”
Among those mentors was Bryan Crainer, adviser of Forever Red.
“Kim is extraordinarily forward-thinking,” said Crainer, SVSU associate dean of student life and leadership programs. “What has made her such a dynamic student leader on our campus and such an extreme benefit to Forever Red is that she is constantly looking for ways in which the organization can improve.”
And Salwey is constantly looking for ways to improve herself. That much is evident when considering Salwey’s accomplishments during her final semester at SVSU compared to the shy and timid demeanor of her freshman year in 2012.
Salwey was raised in the small, tight-knit community of East Tawas by family members with an extensive military and law enforcement background — but no experience in higher education. As a result, she arrived at SVSU in an environment with more strangers than she was accustomed to and with little college advice.
“My goal was to get involved,” Salwey said of her freshman year. “But I didn’t know how I was going to do that.”
The first hint of what was to come arrived when a classmate living in a neighboring housing suite on campus offered to sell her a Forever Red T-shirt.
“My second semester, I became a member of Forever Red,” she said. “From there, I started going to more things and meeting new people.”
The experience also helped Salwey discover a love of philanthropy.
“I always knew about the importance of giving back,” she said. “But I didn't realize it was going to be something I was so passionate about.”
Salwey was able to channel that newfound passion into initiatives that benefited SVSU and its students. A recent accomplishment included Forever Red's contributions to I Heart SV Week, a campaign in early February that raised both scholarship money and awareness about the importance of philanthropy. The effort resulted in $27,500 raised by Forever Red and the SVSU Foundation.
Salwey said the campaign encompassed the community engagement spirit that she has grown to love as a member of Forever Red and SVSU.
“I wanted to be part of something bigger than I am,” she said. “I know I can say I was part of something bigger here at SVSU.”
High school: Saginaw High
Future: graduate student, SVSU master’s degree in administrative science
Brandon Jones describes himself as a man of purpose. He does his best to fulfill his genuine purpose every day at SVSU.
As Homecoming King, president of the Valley Voices Gospel Choir, member of Forever Red, student mentor and orientation leader, Jones has had a busy but fulfilling journey at SVSU.
“I don’t believe in labeling or being part of just one group. I have an open and loud personality, so getting involved on campus was natural for me,” he said.
Jones will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business management in May, but plans to stick around SVSU to pursue a master’s degree in administrative science.
The Saginaw native has a passion for students and eventually wants to pursue a career as the dean of students at a university. He loves meeting new generations of Cardinals and hopes to make an impact on students that will stay with them forever.
Nick Wagner, SVSU’s director of institutional research, said Jones provided support to a student success grant-funded initiative, the King-Chavez-Parks 4S program. Jones advised and empowered hundreds of students who enrolled at SVSU, many of whom attribute their academic success to Jones.
“I will always remember the impact he tried to impart, whether it was providing counsel to a student about their semester schedule or just providing some encouraging words so someone could matriculate and persist,” Wagner said. “He willed himself to have a positive influence on many and he has achieved that and so much more during his time here at SVSU.”
Among Jones’ long list of achievements at SVSU, being named Homecoming King in 2015 is one he will always remember. “Breathtaking” is the word he used to describe the experience.
Jones and his Homecoming partner Charnae Keith, who was named queen, devoted hours upon hours into their campaign. They went above and beyond to make sure people remembered them. They even performed their own choreographic rendition of the music video “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. Ultimately, Jones enjoyed the process and was grateful to be recognized for his hard work and sacrifices.
Out of all his experiences at SVSU, being part of the Valley Voices Gospel Choir has impacted him the most. He has thought of the choir members as his family away from home. As president, Jones was responsible for teaching the music, managing the choir and making sure everyone felt they were in a safe place to worship and share their stories. The members of the choir pushed him to grow in his faith and as a leader, and supported him throughout his journey.
As Jones looks back on his experiences at SVSU, he is most grateful for the people he’s met at SVSU. He refers to his support group as his “chocolate chips,” and he claims that they have made him the person he is today. He hopes he has been able to impact people the way he has been impacted.
“If I had an impact on at least one person at SVSU, my job was fulfilled,” he said.
High school: Lapeer East High School
Major: Economics and Applied Mathematics
Future: University of Oregon, Ph.D. in Economics
Jenni Putz enjoys a challenge. Her research record is extraordinary for an undergraduate, and one of those research interests resulted from challenging herself to step outside of her comfort zone. Far outside.
Her first experience on a plane came in 2015 on a trip all the way to India, and the flight included hitting bad pockets of air turbulence.
“It was really interesting,” the Lapeer native said, a hint of sarcastic humor in her tone. “And when we got to India, it was quite the culture shock. Quite the culture shock.”
The Saginaw Valley State University student, though, traveled with a dozen classmates and three professors as part of a 10-day study abroad trip to explore how India’s businesses operated. With an academic spirit in mind and supportive, familiar faces by her side, Putz overcame those initial anxieties and enjoyed one of the defining experiences of her life.
“That was a great opportunity SVSU provided,” she said. “It seemed like SVSU went by so fast. Part of me wishes I could stay another year.”
Putz graduated in May 2017. A first-generation college student, she completed bachelor’s degrees in economics and applied mathematics in four years, capping off a list of accomplishments that included a research portfolio that rivals many doctoral students.
One of those projects involved her experience in India. Putz researched the benefits of short-term study abroad programs with Kaustav Misra, SVSU?associate professor of economics.
Misra said he enjoyed watching Putz develop as a researcher.
“She has excellent interpersonal skills, a hard-working attitude and strong work ethic, which will definitely help her in the long run,” Misra said. “She has transformed and developed professionally at SVSU. I think she took every single piece of advice she was given by her professors during her undergraduate work.”
Their research found students’ participation in a short-term study abroad program had a positive correlation with influencing their career aspirations and leadership skills. Putz presented her initial findings at the Academy of Economics and Finance Conference in Pensacola Beach, Florida in February 2016.
“There weren’t many undergraduate students at the conference, and they were all in one session, while I presented to a group of people who were all professors,” she said. “It was really scary at first, but it was a really interesting experience to present to people who have been doing this for years and whose job is to do research.”
In India, she observed various foreign and international businesses such as Amazon and pharmaceutical companies.
“I had the time of my life,” she said. “I thought it was a very valuable experience and I’d love to study abroad again. It had a huge impact on my life and I’m really glad my research is connected to that, which makes it mean that much more.”
Putz also presented her research at an undergraduate conference at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where her paper took third place among 16 competitors.
Not satisfied with a single research interest, Putz later began examining early college initiatives, where high school students can enroll in programs to earn college credit. She presented on that study in Washington, D.C. in November 2016.
During that same month, through her participation in SVSU’s honors program, Putz presented her honors thesis on a third research interest: income inequality. She previously presented those findings at an international conference in Portland, Maine, where she won an award for her work.
“I’m still very much into income inequality research right now,” she said. “I’m planning on studying public economics: How the government allocates resources such as health insurance. It’s an important field nowadays.”
Putz plans to continue that research in August when she will enroll at the University Oregon on her way to a Ph.D. in economics.
“Hopefully that (income inequality research) can turn into something I can write my dissertation on or work with faculty on something else pertaining to income inequality,” she said. “I feel like the things I’m doing my research on are valuable to a larger pool of knowledge.”
Eventually, she hopes to teach economics at the college level. Misra said Putz has the necessary skills to excel in the profession.
“Jenni’s interest in economics, passion for research and ultra-levels of patience for her students will definitely make her a great professor of economics,” Misra said. “Students like Jenni are putting SVSU on the map.”
Maps are something Putz has become more familiar with. Thanks in part to her flight to India, Putz said she’s ready for her next plane ride to Oregon. Living so far from home, though, will offer another new adventure.
“I’ve never lived anywhere other than Lapeer and Saginaw, so I’m definitely a little anxious about that,” she said, “but it should be another exciting learning experience.”
Two Saginaw Valley State University students have been awarded scholarships to attend a national conference in June.
Mallory Rivard, an elementary education major from Bay City, and Mikaela Ashton, a management major from Grayling, were each given scholarships from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the AAUW Midland Branch to attend the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. The conference will be held at the University of Maryland June 2-4.
Both recipients earned the awards with strong academic and volunteer backgrounds.
Rivard has served as a program director for the Youth Volunteer Corps of Bay City, the SVSU Dean's List and the Foundation Scholars Program. She has also been a member of National Society of Leadership and Success and the SVSU Lions Club, and as the current Miss Saginaw County 2016.
Like Rivard, Ashton has had numerous work experiences that have honed her desire to excel in leadership roles. In addition, she is a member of Alpha Phi Omega, a local service fraternity that focuses on projects in Saginaw, Bay City and the SVSU campus.
The National Conference for College Women Student Leaders, attended by more than 1,000 young women, will offer the opportunity to be inspired by women in leadership roles, to honor Women of Distinction, to attend workshops offering leadership skills, to network with young women from across the country, and to explore Washington, D.C.
AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. There are AAUW branches in Midland, Saginaw, and Bay City.
Two students from Central Michigan University, Delta College, Northwood University or SVSU are awarded with the scholarships from AAUW each year.
SVSU has been represented frequently at the national conference, with Kimberly Salwey attending in 2015 and Bethany Thrun attending in 2014.
SVSU students to present "Saginaw Revitalization: Drawing on Our Different Strengths"
Thursday, April 21, 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Dow Event Center, downtown Saginaw
Saginaw Valley State University students in the disciplines of business, art, theatre and sociology will share their ideas for advancing the revitalization underway in downtown Saginaw during a special program Thursday, April 21 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Dow Event Center.
These students have devoted a semester to developing strategies for urban redevelopment. One visible reminder of past programs is the 50-foot-tall mural - titled “I Just Like To Make Marks” - affixed along the exterior of the Dow Event Center's parking garage.
In addition to exploring revitalization, community outreach has included SVSU working with the First Ward Community Center in Saginaw to bring students in the center’s after-school programs to campus for art and theatre workshops. The United Way of Saginaw County and Saginaw High School also are partners in the project.
In addition to the presentations, SVSU will honor Charles McNair with the 2016 B.A.T.S. award for Excellence in Community Service. He is a long-time educator for Saginaw Public Schools, and the primary coordinator of the Saginaw African American Cultural Festival.
Saginaw Valley State University students Mallory Rivard and Natalie Schneider were honored for their community-minded actions during the Michigan Campus Compact Awards Gala in East Lansing Thursday, April 7. Each received a Commitment to Service award for her extensive community involvement.
Rivard also received the prestigious and highly competitive Outstanding Community Impact Award, which honors up to five undergraduate students in Michigan who have made service an integral part of their college experience by their significant contribution to community resources. There are 37 colleges and universities who are members of Michigan Campus Compact.
An elementary education and early childhood major from Bay City, Rivard has been involved with several service projects and community engagement activities. She has spearheaded initiatives with a number of local agencies including Special Olympics, food pantries, and local schools.
Within SVSU, Rivard is a founding member of the university's chapter of Lions Club, a service club; she also is a Kantzler Fellow, part of a select group of Bay County students that participate in community engagement initiatives to improve the Bay Area. Rivard is an inducted member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority, and a host of other organizations.
Rivard also has volunteered for multiple Alternative Breaks trips, performing community service in places such as Grand Rapids and Nashville, Tennessee. Active in scholarship pageants, she was crowned Miss Bay County in 2015 and is the current Miss Saginaw County.
Schneider, a business management major from Saginaw Township, has a passion for improving her campus and community. She coordinated SVSU's Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition in 2015, collecting more than $24,500 in one week for Get Outside For A Healthy Inside, an affiliate of the Saginaw Community Foundation dedicated to increase physical activity in Saginaw, focusing specifically on building parks and maintaining trails.
SVSU received an Innovations in Community Impact award from Michigan Campus Compact for Battle of the Valleys at the same ceremony. This is the first year for the award.
Schneider serves as the philanthropy chair for SVSU’s student government and is a Wolohan Fellow, part of a select group of Saginaw County students working to improve the image and quality of life for their hometown.
When Chris Roekle first stepped onto the Saginaw Valley State University campus, he didn't have a Twitter account. Now, he makes his living in the social media realm, and that ability to adapt in a rapidly changing environment has led to an extraordinary opportunity.
Roekle will be coordinating all social media efforts on Twitter and Instagram for the NCAA during the Division II men's basketball Elite-8 in Frisco, Texas March 23-26.
“It's extremely humbling,” Roekle said. “It's kind of like a break … How cool is it that I get to run all of the creative content for the NCAA Division II Elite-8?”
Roekle will find himself posting about his alma mater and Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) member, SVSU. The Cardinals men’s basketball team defeated GLIAC rival Ferris State to win the Midwest Region and advance to the NCAA Division II Elite 8. They are scheduled to play Wednesday, March 23 around 9:30 p.m. Eastern time.
After coordinating the social media efforts during last year's NCAA Division II women's basketball tournament, Roekle said he is up for the challenge the men's basketball tournament presents.
“This is a bigger animal with a bigger spotlight, so it's a really good opportunity,” he said.
After graduating from Michigan Lutheran Seminary High School in Saginaw, Roekle graduated from SVSU in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in finance and then received his M.B.A. in 2013. He is currently the director of strategic communications for the GLIAC, where he operates much of the conference's social media.
After receiving his master's degree from SVSU, Roekle went to the University of Nebraska where he spent a year as a graduate communications intern and covered the 2013 Big Ten champion Nebraska women's soccer team.
While at SVSU, Roekle was an intricate part of SVSU Athletics' social media growth, which allowed for more attention to be garnered by the university. He also worked closely with the baseball, cross country, golf, track and field, volleyball, and women's basketball teams.
Looking back, Roekle credits his time at SVSU for developing the determination required to succeed in the field of intercollegiate athletics.
“I learned that hard work pays off,” he said. “I really felt like I paid my dues, and kind of went above and beyond which is always a good way to go about things. You don't want to just be content with how things are. You want to put your own spin on things.”
Roekle has developed a formula for social media success. He has successfully brought attention to the GLIAC by more than doubling the conference's followers on Twitter.
Roekle’s calling card has been employing creative graphics in his tweets, instead of “just posting text.”
“I have found that posts with multimedia – photos, graphics, video – take more time to generate, but they also produce a lot more interest,” he said.