Thursday, April 19, 2018
22 inducted into Alpha Beta Gamma
Twenty-two high-achieving graduates of Southwestern Michigan College have been inducted into Alpha Beta Gamma, the international community college business honor society. They represent the latest group of SMC's growing population of honors students. Gamma Nu chapter of ABG is SMC’s fourth opportunity for students to earn honors distinction, along with Sigma Psi chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community colleges; Psi Beta, the national community college psychology honor society; and SMC’s homegrown Honors Program.
Construction Trades demand strong, SMC Board of Trustees hears
Southwestern Michigan College's impact on the Construction Trades field was made clear at its April 16 Board of Trustees meeting. High demand for skilled construction trades professionals has created a shortage of trained workers, leaving good-paying jobs unfilled. SMC's expanding program in Construction Trades is helping to meet that need.
SMC student wins national Student Developer Champion award
Southwestern Michigan College student Ethan Pawelski earned a $2,500 scholarship as national Student Developer Champion for software development at the League for Innovation in the Community College’s conference in National Harbor, Md. National Harbor sits along the Potomac River just south of Washington, D.C., so Pawelski and Christine Stiles, the SMC instructor who nominated him, were also able to visit the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex, with 19 museums.
Summer Pell Grants available
Due to a welcome change in federal financial aid rules, Southwestern Michigan College will have Pell Grant money available this summer for the first time since 2011, which will help students stay on track and complete their education.
How to make stress work for you
Rock climbing is an apt metaphor for teaching life lessons, but Arno Ilgner distinguishes between right lessons and wrong lessons. Ilgner, speaking March 22 at Southwestern Michigan College’s Student Activity Center theatre, said, “You go against gravity. Every amount of progress you make requires effort. You make a lot of decisions, which all have real consequences. But you could learn the wrong lessons from climbing. I want you to understand my perspective on what the correct lessons are.”
Trauma nurse celebrates diversity
Sometimes the best way to learn is simply to hear about someone else's experiences. Southwestern Michigan College students got a taste of this from hearing the story of Kavita Patel, SMC 2015 nursing graduate. Patel spoke on Feb. 28 as part of the college's Celebration of Diversity week activities. Patel, a trauma nurse of South Bend's Memorial Hospital, knows trauma from personal experience. A native of Tanzania, Patel sports a scar on her neck where her throat was slit with a knife, a reminder that she witnessed her grandparents’ murders during a cattle-grazing attack led by a mob of hundreds on her farm in January 2002. She and other family members were badly beaten and left for dead, their farmhouse burned. She spent three motionless weeks in intensive care. Doctors wanted to remove her from life support, but her father interceded.
Student workers and the state teachers' retirement system
Early this week, the Michigan Office of the Auditor General (OAG) released a report condemning Southwestern Michigan College (SMC) for not enrolling part-time students who work on campus into the teachers’ retirement system. Of course, SMC does not enroll student workers into the teachers’ retirement system. This determination has been made based on direct guidance from the Office of Retirement Services (ORS) and common practice among other community colleges.
SMC celebrates Black History Month with Spaniels Forever
Southwestern Michigan College celebrated Black History Month Feb. 7 with The Spaniels Forever. Despite seamless harmonies which made The Spaniels doo-wop pioneers, three men singing with Billy Shelton each bring their own accomplishments. Guitarist Pernell Davis played with The Staples Singers. Patrick Pitre is reknowned for incredible range, from falsetto to bass. Gene Stewart is enshrined in Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Ed Guse farm yields $277,000 for scholarships
The Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees Monday night heard about a bumper crop of $277,200 in scholarships SMC students will reap over the next three years from its farm. In his President’s report, Dr. David Mathews highlighted the Jan. 8 auction at Mathews Conference Center West on the Dowagiac campus which saw a $92,400 winning bid to benefit students across multiple disciplines in addition to agriculture.
SMC announces $250,000 gift for nursing project
In his President’s Report at the Dec. 18 Board of Trustees meeting, Dr. David M. Mathews announced a gift of $250,000 from Kelly Rose to fund the Karen K. Rose Simulation Lab in Southwestern Michigan College’s new $9.6 million Nursing and Health Education Building under construction on the Dowagiac campus.
Roadrunner says ‘I do’ in SMC's Alumni Plaza
Zackary Creager’s marriage proposal to Kayla Ellard might be a first for Southwestern Michigan College’s Alumni Plaza. The education majors met in an SMC mathematics class and they are alumni, so the circle of inscribed bricks festooned with flags seemed obvious to Creager, a 2012 Constantine High School graduate from Marcellus. As far as firsts, SMC mascot Ronnie Roadrunner escorted Ellard across stage at commencement in 2015 to accept her diploma from President Dr. David Mathews.
David Baltazar returns for Green Flag Day
Buchanan’s David Baltazar attended Southwestern Michigan College from 2010-14 while completing a Ferris State University bachelor’s degree in technical communication, minoring in automotive technology. Despite long hours traveling for NASCAR from Daytona Beach, Fla., Baltazar, who now markets VIRginia International Raceway, doesn’t feel he’s worked a day since college thanks to passionately pursuing a path to his dream job. Baltazar returned to SMC Oct. 27 as keynote speaker for Green Flag Day, addressing some 270 Coloma, Brandywine, Lakeshore, Dowagiac, Niles and Buchanan high schoolers. “I can’t speak highly enough of SMC’s automotive technology program, which is why I was instantly willing to talk about it. It’s such a great program,” Baltazar said.
Big C Lumber president addresses SMC ‘Saw Dust Day’
Building trades opportunities exist today “like I have never seen in my 34 years in this business,” Big C Lumber President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Wallace told Southwestern Michigan College’s “Saw Dust Day” Nov. 3. Wallace, a Hartford High School graduate, spoke to 180 students from Allegan Area Educational Service Agency, St. Joseph County, Mich., Intermediate School District, Mishawaka, Ind., and Duneland School Corp. in Porter County, Ind., in the theatre of the Dale A. Lyons Building on SMC’s Dowagiac campus. By 2024 the construction industry needs 900,000 new people just to keep pace with demand.
Head Start center opens at SMC
Southwestern Michigan College welcomes a Head Start program to its Dowagiac campus, boosting internship and observation opportunities for early childhood education students. “It’s very unique. There’s nothing like it at the community-college level,” SMC Early Childhood Education Program Director Heather Zile said. “They’re going to get a great experience at the associate-degree level some are only lucky enough to have at a bachelor-degree level.” “Today was the first day of school,” Tri-County Head Start Director Ramona Borowicz announced to the SMC Board of Trustees Oct. 16 as she showed members through the new center. “We’re not just getting children ready for school, we’re getting families ready for school.”
Dahn's Destination was Panama
As one might suspect, Girl Scouts do more than sell cookies. But few Girl Scouts do more than Southwestern Michigan College’s Caleigh Dahn. Dahn, 15, an aspiring zoologist from Coloma, has earned her Silver Award and spent the last two weeks of July in Costa Rica and Panama learning about coastal ecology and assisting with sea turtle conservation.
Sen. Proos tours Niles Campus
State Sen. John Proos toured Southwestern Michigan College’s Niles Campus Oct. 2 to learn about the welding and robotics programs. “These are the in-demand careers of the future that students and parents need to know about,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “That’s why I introduced Senate Bill 344, so they can have more information for future careers.” S.B. 344 authorizes granting high school diploma “endorsements” to students completing a specified number of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses.
Navy SEAL channeled injury, despair into helping dogs
Asset or liability. Former Navy SEAL Jimmy Hatch has been both. CNN’s Anderson Cooper chronicled his “war-hero” exploits publicizing Spike’s K9 Fund, but the Virginian spoke candidly at Southwestern Michigan College about darker baggage stuffed in a metaphorical “backpack” during “combat” here and abroad. Hatch, “the only SEAL who didn’t shoot bin Laden,” previewed “The Fly Fisherman” and “The Mechanic,” who appear in his book, which Alfred A. Knopf publishes in June. Hatch talked twice Sept. 14 on “Adventures in Learning: The Hard Way” to students and the community. His almost 26-year career ended with a 2009 leg injury trying to rescue alleged deserter Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
SMC stages first Renaissance Faire
“King’s Landing” at Southwestern Michigan College’s first Renaissance Faire Sept. 9 wasn’t a “Game of Thrones” reference so much as chunks flying when President Dr. David Mathews’ sword went fruit ninja slashing a watermelon. Mathews, his wife Sarah and their son, Daniel, dressed as royalty, while Information Technology Professor Kyle Kelly wore armor for sword combat with Sentinels of the Rose. The Sentinels include Student Activity Center Evening Supervisor Mollie Grabemeyer officiating the live-steel combat.
SMC library broadens academic connections
What do Harvard, Yale and Columbia University have in common? Yes, they’re Ivy League schools, but each is also tied to Southwestern Michigan College. So are Johns Hopkins, the National Institutes of Health, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, National Defense University, Brooke Army Medical Center, Fordham Law School, Fermilab Library, George Washington University and Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. Thanks to inter-library loans, those are some borrowers of SMC books.
SMC launches fourth honor society
Southwestern Michigan College inducted the first class of its new chapter of Psi Beta, the national community college psychology honor society, on March 23 in a candlelit ceremony in the Foster W. Daugherty Building on SMC’s Dowagiac campus. The three charter members include Michael Cloud from Dowagiac, who landed a full-ride scholarship to the University of Michigan to continue studying psychology and become a youth counselor. Sydney Harmon from White Pigeon and Anna Lancaster from Niles plan to transfer to Western Michigan University after graduating from Southwestern Michigan College on May 5. Both women are interested in becoming school psychologists.
Legislation will clarify issue
LANSING — Sen. John Proos and Rep. Aaron Miller have introduced legislation to provide clarity concerning retirement plan contributions by community colleges for student workers. “There is great ambiguity in MPSERS regulation about whether or not student employees at a community college are participating members of the state’s school retirement system,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “This has caused confusion at many community colleges across the state.”
SMC art gallery changes into ‘Chem Lab’
True to Chemistry's core element of "change," Southwestern Michigan College changed its art gallery into a chemistry laboratory through March 29 in room 108 of the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus. Visual and Performing Arts Chairman Marc Dombrosky designed “Chem Lab” with chemistry faculty Dr. Douglas Schauer and Eleanor Bliese, continuing a collaboration created with STE(A)MCon, a 2016 event involving 100 students and teachers from a dozen schools.
President Mathews reads to Cassopolis Head Start
Southwestern Michigan College President Dr. David Mathews read two Dr. Seuss books and presented Roadrunner T-shirts March 15 to preschoolers at Tri-County Head Start Cassopolis Center at Squires Elementary.
Women's influence felt at SMC Ag Day
Forty St. Joseph County, Mich., Career Technical Education and Eau Claire students attending Southwestern Michigan College’s Agriculture Day March 12 felt first-hand the inroads women, who operate 30 percent of farms, are making. Eight of the nine presenters were women. For the first time in Michigan State University history women represent the majority — 53 percent — of agriscience students.
Low vision focused Pompey's perspective
Southwestern Michigan College Student Activity Center Assistant Manager Branden Pompey avoids discussing his 10-year journey with low vision which began at 20 while an SMC student. He made an exception Feb. 20 for SMC’s Wellness Committee since 4.2 million Americans ages 40 and older are visually impaired. By 2030, when the last baby boomers turn 65, that number is projected to reach 7.2 million, with low vision burdening 5 million. February is Low Vision Awareness Month.
SMC creative in enlarging art gallery
Southwestern Michigan College debuted its remodeled and enlarged art gallery at a reception on Feb. 14 by showcasing alumna Jessika Clement’s series of eight outsized oil paintings, “The Generous Deceit of Elusive Darkness.” “We just completed a two-stage renovation,” Visual and Performing Arts Chairman Marc Dombrosky said. “It doesn’t just look different, it sounds different” with an interior wall moved to make the rear gallery as big a space as the front gallery in Room 108 of the Dale A. Lyons Building on the Dowagiac campus.
SMC students coaching in Five Star Life
Six Southwestern Michigan College students are mentors fall semester in Dowagiac Middle School’s “Five Star Life” after-school program, including one former participant. “I’ve been a counselor going on three years,” said Kyron Harris, from Michigan City, Ind. “I personally like to watch the growth from the beginning stages of when I work with kids, throughout the process and how they grow in self-respect and figure out who they are. Here, I get to help them grow academically to achieve better grades.” “It’s a really good program for kids to step outside of their comfort zones and to learn to take leadership,” Harris said.
Students studying for jobs yet to be invented
Students in school today can expect to change jobs 11 times between ages 18-42. Sixty-five percent will find themselves working at jobs which don’t yet exist, Jim Wardlaw, owner and chief change agent for Stitch Brand and Culture in Buffalo, N.Y., said Oct. 26 in “Creative Thinking: A Crucial 21st Century Workplace Skill” for Southwestern Michigan College’s Academic Speaker Series. Four trends drive emphasis on creativity — exponential, overwhelming speed of change; information overload; workplace demand; and new challenges.
Rowe rewards two SMC students
Two Southwestern Michigan College students won Work Ethic Scholarships from Mike Rowe’s foundation. Elkhart’s Carlyn McClelland, awarded $7,000, and Niles’ Victoria Knight, $2,000, are starting their second year studying construction trades green technology with Larry Wilson, including finishing SMC’s small house interior.
ACEN accredits SMC nursing program
Southwestern Michigan College has been awarded five-year accreditation for its associate degree in nursing by ACEN, the Atlanta-based Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
$100,000 endowment funds Wuszke agricultural scholarships
Southwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees May 15 celebrated a $100,000 endowment established by his widow, Nancy, that will fund the George Wuszke Agricultural Memorial Scholarship. This endowment shall provide scholarships for students enrolled in the Michigan State University Institute of Agricultural Technology.
SMC files appeal in Auditor General suit
On Wednesday, Southwestern Michigan College filed in the Michigan Court of Appeals the second stage of its suit against the Michigan Auditor General’s unconstitutional conduct of a free-wheeling, unauthorized investigation of the College’s practice of not making retirement system payroll deductions and contributions for part-time student workers who will never vest in the system or collect benefits. The College’s practice was based on 2011 guidance from Michigan’s Office of Retirement Services (ORS) that non-contribution for part-time student workers was correct. Regulations published by the public school employees’ retirement system state that retirement service credit will not be given to students in a reporting unit. Moreover, the College’s biweekly payroll reports released to the ORS since 2010 clearly disclosed to the ORS that SMC was not making retirement deductions or contributions for part-time student workers.