October 28, 2014

Everything is coming up French

In her fourth year of teaching at SVSU, Julie Foss, assistant professor of modern foreign languages, is enthusiastic about sharing the French language with students on a daily basis. “I love the exchange of energy in the classroom. The most rewarding thing is to see students grow in the language and acquire a love for the culture.” As the only full-time MFL faculty member in French studies, Foss enjoys the challenges and rewards of shaping and working with the program.

“The nature of teaching a foreign language requires smaller class sizes,” Foss said, “and I love that because even though I teach students at varying levels of proficiency, I still get to know them on an individual level.” Not only does Foss thrive in the classroom teaching French and foreign language teaching methods, but she also looks forward to time she spends as the advisor of the SVSU French Club, La Société Française. “Exposure is everything; the more contact students have with the language, the more proficient they become,” Foss said. It’s for this reason that Foss encourages students to immerse themselves as much as they can, including conversation hours and attending events like the French film series presented throughout the academic year. 

Although teaching wasn’t the career she originally anticipated after graduating with her bachelor’s degree in French and history, Foss knows now that the classroom is where she belongs. After briefly attending law school and working in the mortgage industry for 10 years, Foss wanted a change. It wasn’t until she was working as a hiring manager training new employees that she considered teaching as a possible career choice. 

Because everything-French had remained a constant in her life—the literature, art, music, and movies—it was easy for her to recognize that the language was something she was passionate enough about that she could teach it and love doing so. Foss returned to school, earning her secondary teaching certification and master’s degree in French from Eastern Michigan University and a Ph.D. in French Language and Literature from Michigan State University. 

Hoping to inspire her students in the same way she was inspired, Foss comments, “My high school French teacher was so passionate about the language, it was hard to resist. Once I started learning the language, I fell in love with it all—the language, the history, and the culture; I want to do the same for my students.”

October 28, 2014

Geography professor receives competitive fellowship

Research includes travel to Africa

An SVSU professor will travel to Africa to further her research after receiving a highly competitive fellowship from the American Geographical Society.

Sara Beth Keough, associate professor of geography, was selected to receive the 14th annual McColl Fellowship, given to only one scholar each year.

The American Geographical Society selects the McColl Fellowship recipients who, according to its guidelines, “think like geographers and write like journalists.” Founded in 1851, the American Geographical Society is the oldest geographical organization in the United States.

Keough had applied for the fellowship previously and when she received a thin envelope very soon after the application deadline, she was surprised that her proposal was chosen.

“In my experience, thin envelopes mean bad news, and early responses typically mean bad news,” she said. “You know they weed out the bad ones first. So when I opened it and it said ‘Congratulations!’ I was very excited.” 

Keough will use the grant to cover travel costs to Niamey, the capital of Niger, in December 2013 to complete a project that will explore water consumption, storage and transportation in the West African country.

“A lot of social scientists and geographers have looked at health and access to water, especially in drought-stricken areas like Niger, but nobody has really looked at the objects,” Keough explained. “What holds the water? What contains the water once it is in a private residence? When you think about all the different ways in which water is carried and stored and transported, it has implications for economics, and for politics and for health.” 

Joining Keough on the trip and in the research will be Scott Youngstedt, SVSU professor of sociology. He specializes in anthropology and is a scholar of the people and culture of Niger. Youngstedt also speaks Hausa, the country’s most common language, allowing the pair to study the practices among the population more widely.

As editor of the scholarly journal Material Culture, Keough says that receiving national scholarly recognition is valuable for SVSU’s geography department and regional state universities generally.

“I think it’s really important for our department and our program—this is an international award,” Keough said. “In the list of previous winners, I don’t see any regional state universities.”

October 27, 2014

John Stadwick-A Global Cardinal

John Stadwick, 1983, B.B.A., came to SVSU in 1978 as a student athlete. A member of the track tem. Johnwas a three time All American and part of the 1982 and 1983 Mens Indoor National Track Chamoionship team. Today, he serves as vice president of Shanghai-GM Automobile Co. Ltd. (Shanghai-GM) and Vice president of sales, service and marketing for General Motors China.

Lessons learned as a student athlete helped him achieve success in his professional career.

“On the track team, everybody had different specialties, different strengths,” John said. “We learned to leverage them. This translates into the working world where you identify and leverage individuals’ strengths to build a winning team.”

A native of Harrison Township near Detroit, John chose SVSU because the university was building a nationally-recognized track and cross country program.

“When I was in high school, I received a recruitment package from [track coach] Dr. [Doug] Hansen,” explained John. “I wanted to continue running track and cross country in college, and SVSU seemed to be a good ?t.”

Not only was SVSU a good ?t for the college freshman, it was a good place to “grow up.” 

“Going to college is [often] the ?rst time you live away from home,” John said. “So it’s a big growth time emotionally, physically and psychologically. SVSU provided a positive environment for my growth and development. Those years were very in?uential in providing me with a solid foundation that I use in decision-making every day of my life.

“A couple of great coaches — Ed Skrelunas and Doug Hansen — acted as mentors to a bunch of young men and women,” John said. “They instilled some pretty good values: integrity, trust, dedication and teamwork. These helped me in my career, especially as I work around the world. You have to build trust; your colleagues need to believe in you, and you need to believe in them.”

The Road to Success

John’s road to success has taken him across the country and around the world. After earning his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1983, he joined the district manager-in-training program at GM’s Oldsmobile division in Lansing.

Working for a global company, John realized there were many opportunities outside of southeast Michigan.

His career has taken him from New York to California and points in between. In the late 1990s, John left Oldsmobile to join GM’s corporate of?ce. His ?rst overseas opportunity came in 2004, when he moved to Mexico as director for General Motors Service Parts Operation for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

By that time, John and his wife, Andrea, had three children. The move to Mexico gave them all a broader perspective on the world.

“When we moved to Mexico, my daughter participated in a United Nations event with kids from all over the world,” John recalled. “They talked about global politics and shared personal perspectives. My kids’ experiences really made them global citizens.”

Although John hadn’t experienced international travel as a student, he said his experience at SVSU helped prepare him for life abroad.

“Re?ecting back, my ?rst roommate was a kid who grew up in Greece,” John said. “Lou Iordanou and I became best friends and are still friends. That was my ?rst exposure to a different culture and language.

“Being on the track and cross country teams taught me how to adapt and adjust to people from diverse backgrounds. I didn’t realize I was even learning those lessons, but they came into play later.”

While in Mexico, John learned to speak Spanish, which led to an appointment as regional director of aftersales for GM Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. In 2009, he accepted the position of vice president of aftersales for GM International Operations in Shanghai. In 2010, John became president and managing director of General Motors Middle East Operations, based in Dubai.

John’s success earned the attention of Evo Middle East, a leading auto publication, which named him “2011 Man of the Year.” In 2013, Forbes Middle East included John on its “Global Meets Local” list of top in?uential leaders of global corporations’ regional operations.

Late last fall, John once again packed up his of?ce and returned to Shanghai.

John credits his experience at SVSU as a positive in?uence and essential in the development of his successful life and career. Because of that, he supports the university.

“I’m not sure I’d be where I am if I had not gone to SVSU,” he said. “I believe in giving back. I want to make sure other students have the same opportunities that were available to me.”

As for his many moves around the world, John credits his wife. “When traveling and relocating around the world, you need strong support from your spouse,” John says. “My wife has moved our family multiple times. I could not have done it without her.”

The road from SVSU to Shanghai has been interesting for John Stadwick, and he’s eager to see where it takes him next, and so is SVSU.

October 27, 2014

Four Steps to Keep Hackers at Bay

Adapted from the article, "Five Steps to Keep Hackers at Bay," © 2014 ePlace Solutions, Inc.

By Jennifer Paradise

Don’t forget that tomorrow is the cyber security presentation by a visiting FBI specialist. The talk will be in the Ott Auditorium from 1-2pm. Come one, come all, come learn about how to keep yourself safe with technology!

The Internet and email are powerful tools. They are also a significant avenue of vulnerability for online systems and sensitive information. Stealing usernames and passwords or tricking victims into downloading malware via email or malicious sites has become big business, and is a leading path for data breaches.

This bulletin outlines four basic steps to take to defend against such attacks. None of these alone will prevent all attacks, but together they provide a layered defense that significantly reduces risks.

  1. Uninstall software you don’t need. All software has bugs that hackers may take advantage of to install malware. Reduce risks of infection by removing any unneeded software from your devices. If you don’t need it, remove it. The same goes for apps.
  2. Use an anti-virus program. Anti-virus programs will not catch all of today’s sophisticated malware, but are still an important part of your defense system. On campus we use Sophos. Contact the IT Support Center if you have questions about Sophos.
  3. Keep all software updated. It is especially important to update your anti-virus program, operating system (e.g. Windows 7), browser (e.g. MS Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome), applications used to read and play files (e.g. Java, Adobe PDF Reader, Flash, QuickTime, etc.) and browser plug-ins.
  4. Scrutinize emails before clicking on links and email attachments. Be wary of (and don’t click) links that purportedly lead to sensitive accounts (e.g. bank accounts or online payments). It is better to access such sites directly using bookmarks or typing the correct link yourself. Similarly, exercise caution with email attachments. If you don’t recognize the sender, it’s often best to delete the message and attachment without opening. If in doubt, contact the IT Support Center at x4225 or support@svsu.edu to verify the authenticity and purpose of the email. Hackers pretend to be the IRS, charitable organizations, the FBI, your bank, or the police. Spelling or grammar mistakes often give them away. Now the bad guys send messages pretending to be your friends or colleagues, making it much harder to spot illegitimate messages. Their spelling has improved too!

The bottom line - there are a lot of bad guys trying to fool you into giving them your logon credentials or download malware. Keep your guard up on the Internet and with email messages and follow these four steps to put up a layered defense.

October 24, 2014

Dow Corning Foundation and SVSU growing love of STEM at Saginaw middle school

Diamond Weakley had a sense she wanted to become a science teacher someday. Now, the seventh grader at Thompson Middle School in Saginaw is quite sure of it.

“Classes like this help me feel that way,” Weakley said of the learning taking place inside the science class of teacher Lori Hall.

Hall is tasking Weakley and 70 of her peers with growing plants without the use of soil. It's a long-established practice known as hydroponics, but putting that practice to play inside Hall's classroom is a new initiative she said was made possible by a Saginaw Valley State University and Dow Corning Foundation partnership aimed at piquing K-12 student interest and improving attitudes in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“They're getting excited about the work,” she said of her students. “They want to come to class. None of them are tardy.”

The Dow Corning Foundation/SVSU STEM Community Partnership this year began training and funding supplies for 13 select K-12 teachers - including Hall - in Saginaw, Bay, Midland and Tuscola counties.

Last year, Hall said her science teachings largely relied on study assignments and exams. With the training and resources provided by the STEM partnership, this year's classroom activities focus more on hands-on learning.

“It's more application than investigation,” she said. “They're designing, they're investigating and they're figuring out problems instead of looking up the answers. They're more involved.”

Hall's hydroponics assignment involves tasking groups of two to four students with building an apparatus that will grow plants without the use of soil. One of the early stages of the project involved constructing a network of pipes that eventually will feed water to the plants.

During an early October class, Weakley and her two group members were drilling holes into the pipes when the girl reminded her peers of a lesson learned:

“We're all going to have to help, because you remember what happened last time,” Weakley said, getting a laugh out of the group.

“What happened last time” was that her teammates, Tamareyon Steward and Xavier Walker, weren't holding the pipes steady when Weakley began drilling, causing some of the equipment to come undone.

It was a lesson learned by all in the group. That element of teamwork has boosted the impact of STEM education. Hall said she also has noticed the improved learning outcomes in several special needs students whose work with the hands-on assignments has become indistinguishable from the rest of the students.

“They don't need as much help,” Hall said of special needs students this year compared to previous years.

Yet they do have help - as does Hall herself. She is working together with Amanda Ross, SVSU lecturer of biology, as part of the project. Each teacher involved in the program is teamed with SVSU faculty as part of the partnership, which was funded by a $254,000 Dow Corning Foundation grant.

“I feel like I have more resources and more connections now at Saginaw Valley,” Hall said. “I can call them up and say, ‘Hey, tell me what you think about this.’ I feel like I have a connection out there. It's been so helpful.”

October 23, 2014

Best-selling author to explore America's educational system during SVSU talk

Author and investigative journalist Amanda Ripley will explore the state of America's school systems during a lecture at Saginaw Valley State University.

Ripley's talk, “A Global Quest To Save America's Schools,” is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. in SVSU's Malcolm Field Theatre for Performing Arts. The event is free and open to the public.

Ripley is an investigative journalist for Time, The Atlantic and other magazines, as well as the author of “The Smartest Kids in the World - And How They Got That Way,” a 2013 New York Times bestseller.

In her book, Ripley details three American students who exchanged education in the U.S. for school systems in Finland, South Korea and Poland, respectively. Ripley's research explores how these countries reformed education over one decade to create a system where children bought into the promise of education.

For Time and The Atlantic, Ripley's investigative reporting has explored the science of motivating children as well as how online learning courses are changing the landscape for college students on a global scale.

Ripley has appeared as an expert on TV networks such as ABC, NBC, CNN and FOX News. She has presented at the Pentagon, the Senate, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, along with conferences regarding leadership, public policy and education.

Today, she works as an Emerson Fellow at the nonprofit think-tank New America Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Ripley's appearance is co-sponsored by SVSU’s College of Education, Gerstacker Fellowship Program and the Dow Visiting Scholars and Artists Program. The event is part of the university's annual Fall Focus speaker series.

October 23, 2014

SVSU Hosts Saginaw County College Night Monday

Saginaw Valley State University will host Saginaw County College Night Monday, Oct. 27 at 6:30 p.m. in the Curtiss Hall banquet rooms.

About 45 colleges will be in attendance to provide resources and opportunities for local high school students and their families. Michigan public universities will be represented as well as Michigan private universities, Michigan community colleges and universities from Ohio and Indiana.

Students and parents will have the opportunity to speak with admissions representatives from the colleges and universities. Representatives of the U.S. Armed Forces will also be in attendance.

“This is a prime opportunity for Saginaw County high school students, especially juniors and seniors, to explore a wide variety of college options in one setting,” said Jennifer Pahl, SVSU director of admissions. “Whether you are just starting your college selection process or are close to making your decision, this event can provide valuable information to help you make the best choice for you.”

A presentation by representatives of SVSU's Scholarships and Financial Aid office will be given at 7 p.m. Students and families will receive information on how to finance their college education. Tips on how to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and how to identify scholarships and grants a student may qualify for will also be given.

For more information, contact the SVSU Admissions Office at (989) 964-4200.

October 22, 2014

SVSU hosts fall employment fair Friday

Saginaw Valley State University will host more than 80 employers during its Fall University-Wide Employment and Networking Fair Friday, Oct. 24. The event runs from noon to 3 p.m. in the Curtiss Hall banquet rooms.

A recent study by Michigan State University found that employers expect a 16 percent increase in hiring those with bachelor’s degrees.

Participating employers at SVSU’s fair include Chemical Bank, Dow Corning, Garber Management Group, General Motors, HealthPlus of Michigan, IBM and Quicken Loans. A complete list is available online through the SVSU Career Services website, svsu.edu/careers.

Professional attire must be worn by all job seekers. The event is open to the public. Advanced registration for SVSU students is available on Cardinal Career Network. Those who pre-register will receive printed ID tags and will be the first allowed to enter the fair.

October 22, 2014

SVSU student Pedro Marin named National First Year Student of the Month

Saginaw Valley State University student Pedro Marin has been selected as the First Year Student of the Month by the National Association of College & University Residence Halls. The association represents 597 colleges and universities across the U.S. and select other countries, including Canada and Qatar.

A graphic design major from Grand Blanc, Marin received the honor after making an immediate impression on campus and showing extraordinary involvement.

“Pedro is an example of an outstanding student, going beyond what many juniors and seniors can accomplish, and he's only been in class for two weeks,” wrote Tyler Bradley, an SVSU resident assistant who nominated Marin.

Marin was selected as SVSU’s First Year Student of the Month for August.  He then was chosen as the top freshman residential student in the Great Lakes region, and ultimately at the national level.  

“ During orientation, we challenge the students to show up; Pedro is a first year student who took the challenge of 'show up' to heart, said Michele Gunkelman, SVSU director of Residential Life. “He has taken advantage of the opportunities at SVSU and has made strong connections with fellow students, faculty and staff as a result of showing up to events, classes and opportunities.”

Beyond mere attendance, Marin has joined the Student Affairs student staff where he designs publications and promotions. He also writes for the student newspaper, The Valley Vanguard, and had a role in SVSU's recent theatre production of “The Grapes of Wrath.” A member of the student-alumni philanthropic group Forever Red, Marin also became the first “first year student” member of the 63 Club, a program within Forever Red that raises money for student scholarships.  

Marin arrived on campus early due to his membership in SVSU’s Living Leadership Program, which focuses on developing rising leaders. He was also one of 90 incoming SVSU students selected to participate in Pathfinders, a three-day program before classes begin that helps students visualize what their college days will be like.

SVSU has 1,089 first-year students residing on campus this fall, representing 73 percent of the freshman class.

October 21, 2014

‘Top 1 Percent’ SVSU Student Valerie Adams Admitted to Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Duke

Valerie Adams has an extraordinary record of accomplishment at Saginaw Valley State University. Her latest achievement: gaining acceptance into the highly competitive Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Duke University.

An exercise science major from Washington Township, Adams will graduate from SVSU in May 2015 and begin the three-year program at Duke next fall. The 2011 graduate of Rochester Stoney Creek High School was confident about her choice of college major.

“I chose the field because I've always been very passionate about exercise in general,” she said. “I always thought I might want to pursue physical therapy, even from a young age when I went to physical therapy. I fell in love with the atmosphere of the clinic, the people and the relationships I built.”

Adams danced competitively for years and attended physical therapy in sixth grade after she was diagnosed with Achilles Tendinitis. She made a full recovery and appreciated the positivity from the physical therapists who worked with her.

Duke's physical therapy program has a pass/fail team-based learning curriculum so students can work together to focus on treating patients. This community-driven and supportive environment is appealing to Adams.

“Upon researching Duke, it was a no-brainer in terms of what their program had to offer,” Adams said.

Rebecca Schlaff, SVSU assistant professor of kinesiology, is Adams' faculty mentor for both her honors thesis and a research project designed by Adams. Schlaff said Adams already displays the initiative of a graduate student and young professional as she pushes herself to deeply understand the material covered in classes.

“Duke is a good choice for Val because their program will not only allow her to pursue her goal of becoming a physical therapist, but will also place her within a class of highly motivated, engaged, and inquisitive students like herself, pushing her to grow as a young professional,” Schlaff said.

“Of all the undergraduate students I have taught and mentored, I easily consider Val to be in the top 1 percent with respect to her intelligence, maturity, critical thinking ability, creativity, and capacity for high quality work.”

Eventually Adams would like to open her own physical therapy clinic and specialize in women's health. She also wants to complete a Ph.D. in epidemiology, the study of the spread of disease.

‌As a student, Adams has received funding from SVSU's Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Student Research and Creativity Institute for her research about athletes’ perceptions of nutrition and their athletic performance. She has presented her research at the Midwest American College of Sports Medicine conference, where she was awarded the Undergraduate Research Award of Excellence.

Through her research Schlaff said Adams has made a significant impact in educating student-athletes and her fellow kinesiology students about proper nutrition.

“Val truly is a leader among her peers, consistently seeking out opportunity to involve other students within any endeavor she engages, providing an excellent example for her peers.  I truly believe these actions have significantly impacted the student culture within our department and will be felt for years after she graduates,” Schlaff said.

Adams is working on manuscripts in the hopes of publishing her research; she also is a student research assistant for two faculty grant projects.  

Adams values her SVSU opportunities and is grateful to the faculty members who have supported her through her undergraduate experience.

“That has given me the encouragement I needed to pursue some of my dreams and some of my goals. They're reachable and I need to tackle them,” Adams said.   
In addition to her academic prowess, Adams holds numerous other leadership positions on campus.  She is the fitness coordinator for SVSU’s Campus Recreation office, overseeing the Fit Into College Program that teaches incoming SVSU freshmen about the value, fun and simplicity of leading a healthy lifestyle.

A resident assistant in SVSU’s Pine Grove apartments, Adams also is a member of the National Residence Hall Honorary. She serves on the board of directors for Forever Red, a student-alumni networking organization that raises funds for student scholarships, and is a member of the Student Exercise Science Association.

For more information on Duke’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, visit dpt.duhs.duke.edu/About/