Saginaw Valley State University joined elite company when it was named one of the “Great Colleges to Work For” for the second consecutive year by The Chronicle of Higher Education, a top trade publication for colleges and universities.
The distinction was announced earlier this week when The Chronicle published its tenth annual report on The Academic Workplace. SVSU was among 79 higher education institutions — out of 232 institutions that applied — to achieve the honor this year. SVSU has applied for the recognition twice, earning the distinction both times. SVSU joins the University of Michigan as the state’s only universities to earn the distinction both years.
Don Bachand, SVSU’s president and a 39-year employee of the university, said SVSU’s continued recognition as an outstanding workplace was well-deserved.
“Throughout my time, our faculty and staff are committed to being approachable and empowering, and embrace a student-first philosophy,” Bachand said.
“Colleagues support one another in myriad ways, and the university supports them with resources. We listen to faculty and staff and improve our work environment based on their input; we invest in our people and their professional growth.”
SVSU was honored in four categories included in the survey: compensation and benefits; facilities, workspace and security; teaching environment; and tenure clarity and process. Last year, SVSU was recognized for the first three categories.
The survey featured components including a questionnaire about institutional characteristics and a faculty/staff questionnaire about individuals’ evaluations of their institutions. The selection process also included an analysis of demographic data and workplace policies at each institution.
The questionnaires were administered online in March and April across SVSU, which employs more than 750 full-time faculty and staff members.
To administer the survey and analyze the results, The Chronicle worked with ModernThink LLC, a strategic human capital consulting firm that has conducted numerous “Best Places to Work” programs, surveying hundreds of thousands of employees nationwide.
This year’s project represented the tenth “Great Colleges to Work For” survey for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Richard K. Boyer, principal and managing partner, ModernThink LLC, said the surveys over the span of that decade indicated institutions are continuing to break down barriers that once prevented them from building stronger ties internally and with local communities.
“There’s simply no going back to the days when strict hierarchies, traditional top-down leadership, and ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ thinking were the norms,” Boyer wrote in a report accompanying today’s survey announcement.
“If an institution wants to remain competitive in the competition for talent and be successful in its efforts to transform and innovate to ensure future success, now more than ever we must continue to break down barriers and build bridges to the futures we want.”
Great Colleges to Work For is one of the largest and most respected workplace-recognition programs in the nation. For more information and to view all the results of the survey, visit The Chronicle’s website at www.chronicle.com/interactives/greatcolleges17.
Saginaw Valley State University will host Camp Infinity this July to introduce girls in middle school to computer and Internet technologies through hands-on activities.
SVSU is partnering with The Dow Chemical Company, the Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation, IBM and Microsoft to bring the camp to the Great Lakes Bay Region.
Campers will be split into two groups based on grade level. Participants in 5th and 6th grades will explore video game design concepts and build their own web page, while participants in 7th and 8th grades will delve into robotics and HTML web design.
In addition, all campers will attend mini-sessions highlighting programming skills and real-world uses of technology. Campers will also have the opportunity to meet professional women from the Great Lakes Bay Region, who currently work in technological fields, and explore IT career pathways.
Deborah Huntley, SVSU’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said the initiative aligns with the university’s goal of boosting STEM education in the region.
“We are very pleased to add Camp Infinity to our suite of programs that engage young people with STEM experiences and introduce them to STEM careers,” Huntley said.
“Camp Infinity, focused on middle school girls, addresses an important need for our region. We are grateful to the program sponsors for making this possible at SVSU.”
The camp will be held at SVSU Monday, July 24 through Friday, July 28. The sessions will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. The cost to attend the camp is $75; there are a limited number of scholarships available which will reduce the cost to $25.
For more information, visit www.mcwt.org.
SVSU analysis shows Saginaw has seen major gains in safety
Research and analysis by a pair of Saginaw Valley State University professors shows that the City of Saginaw has seen a startling reduction in major crimes in recent years, and that neighboring communities also are safer.
Working with the Saginaw County Crime Prevention Initiative, Andrew Miller, SVSU associate professor of geography, and Evelyn Ravuri, SVSU professor of geography, studied crime data for the City of Saginaw, and Bridgeport, Buena Vista and Saginaw townships. For research purposes, the east and west sides of Saginaw were examined separately, because of their demographic differences according to U.S. census data.
Over a five-year period, the number of part one crimes in the east side of Saginaw fell by 86 percent, and the west side of Saginaw saw crime reduced by 71 percent. Overall, major crimes in the city dropped by 80 percent.
In 2010, a total of 3,189 part one crimes were reported for Saginaw’s east side, compared to 431 in 2015. The west side saw the number of part one crimes fall from 2,347 in 2010 to 676 in 2015.
“Safety is a primary concern for the city and our residents,” said Tim Morales, city manager for the City of Saginaw. “Everyone should feel safe in their home, in their neighborhood, and throughout the city. The Saginaw Police Department, City Council and Administration, the community, and our partners in the county, state, and federal government are dedicated to making Saginaw a safer city.”
Morales added that Saginaw leaders embrace the work that remains to done.
“We are pleased with the results we've seen so far, and hope to continue these trends. A safe city is also vital to attracting new businesses and residential development, which is also essential as we seek to bring jobs to the city.”
While the drop in crime was most pronounced within city limits, Bridgeport Township saw major crimes drop by 42 percent (613 to 353) over the same five-year period. Crime in Buena Vista Township fell by nearly 19 percent (363 to 295), and Saginaw Township saw a crime reduction of nearly 15 percent (837 to 714).
The FBI categorizes part one crimes, which include the most serious offenses, such as homicides, assaults, burglaries and robberies.
Miller and Ravuri began studying crime data to evaluate the effectiveness of blight removal in Saginaw. Their research shows the 884 federally-funded housing demolitions that occurred from 2013 to 2015 are responsible for approximately 20 percent of the overall crime reduction. (See SVSU study shows blight removal a significant factor in Saginaw’s drop in crime)
“The demolitions were focused in certain areas for a reason: because the crime was there,” Ravuri said.
Numerous other factors also contributed to improved safety levels. An increase of Michigan State Police troopers in the city, starting in 2012, undoubtedly played a part.
The professors also believe increased involvement by neighborhood associations had an impact.
“It shows the fact that people don't want to live like this,” Miller said. “We're now statistically able to show this, even though before, we were just able to map it and notice a connection. Now, we're proving it. We're showing that this community is fighting back.”
The professors’ latest findings are the culmination of four years of studying crime in the city and the region. Miller and multiple students first determined where crime “hot spots” were, and he then brought on Ravuri, an expert in urban redistribution and population dynamics, among other topics.
“This entire project has really been about understanding what Saginaw is, who it is,” Miller said.
That improved understanding benefits law enforcement in the fight against crime. The SVSU researchers share data analysis with Saginaw County’s police chiefs, showing where crime is moving, among other things.
Saginaw Township Police Chief Don Pussehl leads the county chiefs association.
“It's very informational to me so that I can take a look at that area and determine what my patrol officers can do to be able to prevent further crime from occurring in that area and address the issues that are happening there,” he said. “It’s been very helpful for us to address those findings, keep an eye on things and prevent further spread of criminal activity.”
Editor’s note: The graph illustrates how major crimes fell by 80 percent in the City of Saginaw from 2010 to 2015; neighboring communities of Bridgeport, Buena Vista and Saginaw Townships also saw crime reductions during the same five-year period.
Armed with federal funds, crews demolished 884 vacant homes in the city of Saginaw from 2013 to 2015. Two Saginaw Valley State University professors say those demolitions are directly linked to a significant reduction of serious crime in the city.
Andrew Miller, associate professor of geography at SVSU, Evelyn Ravuri, professor of geography, and multiple SVSU students studied the factors involved in the dramatic drop in crime in the Saginaw area. From 2010 to 2015, major crimes in the City of Saginaw dropped by 80 percent, and neighboring communities also saw crime go down. (See: SVSU analysis shows Saginaw has seen major gains in safety)
The demolitions were among the variables that had a “massive” effect, Miller said.
“Our research shows that the demolitions are responsible for 20 percent of the decrease in crime,” he said. “That’s a highly significant finding.”
While Miller’s previous work had shown a correlation between blight removal and crime reduction in Saginaw, quantifying how much of the reduction can be explained by the blight removal is a new finding. Crime rates dropped in the city, and in neighboring Bridgeport, Buena Vista, and Saginaw townships.
“I was not expecting the demolitions to have such a significant impact on crime rates,” Ravuri said.
Miller and Ravuri worked with the City of Saginaw, the Saginaw County Crime Prevention Initiative and other partners to collect data and conduct the research.
Tim Morales, Saginaw city manager, is grateful to have evidence that the demolitions were effective.
“Through our work with SVSU, the City has statistical evidence of the impact of blight removal and proactive policing in Saginaw,” he said. “Blight removal has improved our neighborhoods through reduction of abandoned and decaying structures, which has also produced a safer city. Without the reduction of the blighted and abandoned buildings, I don’t think Saginaw would have experienced such a sharp decline in violent crime.”
Morales also credited effective working relationships with the Saginaw County Land Bank, and state and federal agencies.
As part of their community-based research, Miller and Ravuri also worked with local law enforcement to identify crime “hot spots” and “cold spots,” so that police can target their resources more effectively.
The SVSU research team used Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) standards for analysis in accordance with Michigan State Police policies, to map the “hot spots” for crime for the 3 years prior to the demolitions (2010-2012), the demolition period (2013-early 2015) and the post-demolition period (early 2015-2016) to determine the effects the demolitions had upon the diffusion of crime in the greater Saginaw region from 2010-2016.
In 2010, the most serious crimes were highly concentrated within Saginaw city limits. Following demolitions funded through $11.2 million to Saginaw from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, primarily via the federal Troubled Asset Relief Plan, criminal activity is more widely distributed.
“The demolitions drove crime out of Saginaw, and it dispersed evenly, for the most part,” Miller said, “That’s kind of what we’re looking for. If you’re in policing, you want a more even playing field that everyone can then play on and that every police agency, if working together, can all work together to deal with. Because then, it becomes a much more manageable problem.”
Miller and Ravuri plan to continue their research; they are currently examining whether the housing demolitions affected home prices in the Saginaw area. For them, a critical element of their work is sharing the findings with community leaders with the goal that recent safety gains persist.
“To redevelop urban areas,” Miller said, “you don’t want to just displace the crime and move it somewhere else and deal with the same problems in a different place. The idea is to create a better community, a better region, that works cohesively together. Based on what we’re seeing, Saginaw is making meaningful progress in this direction.”
In the photo, Andrew Miller, SVSU associate professor of geography, presents research showing blight removal in Saginaw has contributed a drop in crime in the city and its neighbors. Miller spoke at the Reinventing Saginaw symposium at the Bancroft building in downtown Saginaw May 26, 2015; new research shows the housing demolitions conducted from 2013 to 2015 are responsible for 20 percent of the overall drop in crime seen in the Saginaw community.
Saginaw Valley State University has won federal funding to improve health care delivery for residents in rural areas immediately and into the future. A grant of nearly $1.4 million will support an innovative approach that will place graduate students in SVSU’s nurse practitioner program into the field to provide patient care, and will prepare them for careers in rural settings.
SVSU is creating a rural residency program for family nurse practitioners – the first of its kind in Michigan – to provide students with practical experience to empower them to better meet the health care needs of rural Michiganders. The initiative combines didactic, simulation, and clinical immersion experiences to enhance advanced practice rural nursing competence and confidence.
SVSU will concentrate its efforts in northern lower Michigan.
“The shortage and distribution of primary care providers in Michigan has contributed to health disparities, particularly in northern Michigan where pockets of rural and underserved populations reside,” said Kathleen Schachman, Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Chair in Nursing at SVSU. “Like many rural communities, they struggle to maintain access to quality health care services.”
SVSU is partnering with the Sterling Area Health Center, a federally qualified health center that encompasses five rural clinics. The project is intended to benefit 21 rural counties in northern lower Michigan, and will impact most directly the five counties served by the center and with a clear need for improved health care: Arenac, Gladwin, Iosco, Ogemaw, and Oscoda.
“Out of the 83 Michigan counties that were ranked by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings in 2016, Iosco (No. 82) and Arenac counties (No. 81) were near the bottom in terms of health outcomes, and Gladwin, Ogemaw and Oscoda counties were all ranked in the bottom third,” Schachman said.
The program will start in July and is funded by a $1.39 million grant through July 2019. SVSU received the grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the primary federal agency for improving health care to people who are geographically isolated, and economically or medically vulnerable.
Plans call for using tele-health and other technologies to connect SVSU’s Bay Community Health Clinic (previously know as the University Clinic) in Bay City – which includes students and faculty from several programs in SVSU’s College of Health and Human Services – with the Sterling Area Health Center’s five clinics. This approach is intended to improve rural health care delivery and outcomes by drawing upon expert knowledge in multiple fields.
“In many rural settings, nurses are often faced with working with older and outdated equipment – if it is available at all,” Schachman said.
SVSU also will prepare students in its family nurse practitioner program to serve rural communities.
“Rural nurse practitioners tend to have a smaller network of local colleagues and specialists that they can rely on,” Schachman said. “While this allows for greater autonomy in functioning to their full scope of practice, the professional isolation and heightened responsibility can be daunting for a new graduate.
“This lack of confidence and competence may discourage new family nurse practitioner graduates from seeking employment in rural settings. Our rural residency is designed to fill both the knowledge and the skills gap related to rural practice.”
Over the 2-year period, SVSU expects 33 family nurse practitioner students to be supported through traineeships and complete the rural residency. Each will receive an $11,000 stipend.
SVSU introduced its Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in 2013; the program prepares nurse practitioners and is the first doctoral program offered at SVSU. For more information about the program, visit www.svsu.edu/nursingdnp/.
A dozen high school students are getting an early taste of college life this week , all while Saginaw Valley State University educators expose them to the exciting side of science studies.
The AT&T Great Lakes Bay Region High School STEM Residential Camp — funded in part by a $25,000 grant from the global communications company and hosted at SVSU’s campus — kicked off Monday, June 19, and concludes Friday, June 23.
During that span, SVSU educators and undergraduates are exposing high school students both to campus life and a series of projects aimed at generating interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) studies. The students are living in SVSU’s residential housing under the supervision of undergraduates.
Rajani Muraleedharan, SVSU assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, has served as the camp’s coordinator. She said the participants are students with little exposure to higher education environments and opportunities. Muraleedharan hopes the experience inspires participants both to pursue an education beyond high school and to consider STEM studies when doing so.
“They are experiencing what life is like away from home, and that’s important for this group,” she said. “We also want to expose these students to different STEM fields to show them what may interest them.”
The students spend mornings in classrooms, learning about different STEM topics. Later in the day, they participate in team-building exercises across campus meant to generate camaraderie between their peers. All of the activities are meant to demonstrate the fun involved in college life and STEM studies.
“Some of these students say, ‘I’m not sure what I would want to do as an undergraduate,’ and when you ask why they aren’t sure, you discover they haven’t been exposed to many of these fields,” Muraleedharan said. “We want to give them that exposure; give them a career pathway.”
On Monday, the students learned about astronomy and spectroscopy. Tuesday’s lesson involved computer programming. On Wednesday, they learned about biology. Thursday’s agenda involves health sciences and included a trip to the Kochville Farmers Market near campus. On Friday, an engineering- and robotics-based lesson will include designing and building a rocket from a water bottle.
Muraleedharan said the camp has proven a success, and that participants have responded to the week’s agenda with enthusiasm.
“It’s been fantastic to see them show up with so much energy every morning,” she said.
The students are from school districts including Bullock Creek Schools, Carrollton Public Schools, Freeland Community School District, Midland Public Schools, Marlette Community Schools, and Valley Lutheran High School.
With exceptional discipline and inspired determination, Joey Southgate became an All-American athlete during a personal best-smashing, “storybook-ending” final run in May as a track athlete at Saginaw Valley State University.
By the end of this week, the Unionville native will begin applying that same discipline and determination toward his training as a nuclear engineer aboard a submarine with the U.S. Navy.
“It might be an unnerving feeling at first, being in a submarine like that,” Southgate said, “but this will be a really quality experience. I’m looking forward to it.”
The May 2017 SVSU graduate will depart Saturday, June 24, for Newport, Rhode Island. There, he will embark on a 12-week-long U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School — a “boot camp” of sorts — followed by two years of training in the Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate program. He plans to conclude his 5-year Navy commitment aboard a submarine, dedicating himself to managing and maintaining the nuclear reactor that keeps the vessel running and its men alive hundreds of feet beneath the surface of the seas.
Southgate has had his sights set on an engineering career for some time and said SVSU’s top-notch mechanical engineering program was a big factor in choosing his school.
“I’ve always liked the problem-solving aspect of engineering,” he said. “I enjoy math, and engineering has a lot to do with math.”
Once at SVSU, Southgate thrived in what he described as a “down-to-earth, personal, hands-on” experience that allowed him to work one-on-one with professors. One of his mentors was Brooks Byam, professor of mechanical engineering, who served as Southgate’s advisor during a senior capstone project that involved designing and building an indoor practice hitting platform for SVSU’s golf program.
“Joey has a good balance of technical and entrepreneurial skills that should serve him well in the military,” Byam said. “In the military, you also need good mental and physical toughness, and Joey showed that he has that as an athlete.”
He showcased that toughness in particular during his final competition as a Cardinal at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Bradenton, Florida in May.
“It was kind of a storybook ending to my career,” the three-year team captain said.
For weeks, Southgate’s earlier performances placed him on the bubble of those athletes hoping to qualify for the championships. He eventually slipped in as the 19th of 19 athletes invited to compete.
Competing in the 10,000-meter run, Southgate approached the contest with a level of determination and confidence he hadn’t experienced previously, he said.
His mastery of that particular race had become a theme of his senior season campaign. A year earlier, his personal best finishing time was 30 minutes, 40 seconds. By the time he entered May’s contest, his latest best was 30 minutes, 2 seconds — a 38-second difference considered sizable for that distance.
But, on the biggest stage of his athletic life, Southgate was ready to finish even faster.
“Distance running is a very heavily mental sport,” he said. “A lot of people probably don’t appreciate the mental preparation that goes into it. I was in a good spot mentally that day.”
The result was a national championship performance that shaved 18 seconds off that personal best and nearly one minute off his top performance a year earlier. He finished in 29 minutes, 44 seconds, placing sixth in the race.
The distinction earned him a spot on the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association First Team All-American lineup.
“I always wanted to be an All-American,” he said. “I thought, ‘That would be the pinnacle of my career,’ and it was.”
Southgate learned from a previous SVSU All-American, during his years as a student at Unionville-Sebewaing High School. There, he participated in competitive running sports under the mentorship of a member of SVSU’s Cardinal Athletic Hall of Fame, Ed LaBair, a seven-time All-American and member of two national championship indoor track and field teams while at SVSU in the early 1980s.
LaBair coached Southgate’s high school cross country team.
“He has been a big influence for me when it came to my running career,” Southgate said. “He has been a great leader and motivator for me.”
That motivation helped Southgate excel in the sport, receiving All-State honors during his sophomore and junior years. Off the course, Southgate’s tireless commitment to his studies helped him earn top grades until he graduated high school in 2012. That continued in college: he graduated SVSU with honors (cum laude) and qualified for the Deans’ List five teams.
Now Southgate is determined to achieve excellence in his next challenge in life — this time, out at sea.
While he is the grandson and nephew of U.S. Navy veterans, he didn’t consider a life in the military until attending a career fair at SVSU in the winter semester of 2016, when a Navy recruiter connected Southgate’s interest in engineering to the Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate initiative.
“I kind of walked into this program by accident,” Southgate said.
His enrollment wasn’t as simple as “walking in,” however. Southgate engaged in a months-long application process that included meeting with Navy officials in Washington D.C. and visiting Naval Base San Diego. He was officially accepted into the nuclear propulsion program in July 2016.
During his trip to San Diego, he toured a submarine docked at the naval base. While the vehicle never submerged, “you could get a sense of how small and cramped it was inside,” he said.
“But it didn’t lose its appeal for me.”
Southgate said that appeal includes maintaining the discipline necessary to manage a nuclear reactor responsible for keeping dozens of men alive below water and a nation protected on the surface.
“I’m prepared to work hard and do the best I can,” he said. “That’s what I always do.”
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.
The disc golf team at Saginaw Valley State University won the inaugural Collegiate Cup Sunday, June 11 at Flip City Disc Golf Course in Shelby, Michigan.
SVSU competed against some of the best teams in the country, including two teams from Ferris State University who won national championships last year. Central Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and Hendrix College from Arkansas also competed.
“The championship was a tremendous accomplishment,” said Kenneth Mize, a social work major from Flint and member of SVSU’s disc golf team. “We took home $2,000, which goes to our club fund so it will help us out tremendously.”
Disc golf is one of 27 club sports offered at SVSU where students compete against other collegiate club programs. Club teams receive some administrative and financial support from the university, but they also learn valuable skills through fundraising, making travel arrangements and the like. A total of 387 SVSU students competed in club sports during the 2016-17 academic year.
In disc golf, players toss flying discs toward targets; scoring is similar to golf. For the Collegiate Cup, the SVSU team played seven rounds of 24 holes.
“Personally I love the competition and seeing people fall in love with the sport” Mize said.
Other members of the winning SVSU team were:
• Mitchell Kloc of Freeland, who graduated in May with a degree in professional and technical writing
• Matthew Murdock, a physical education major from Montrose
• Alex Villanueva, a criminal justice major from Davison
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.