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SVSU alumni receive awards and honor

The Office of Alumni Relations honored SVSU alumni at its annual Alumni Celebration.

The Nov. 8 event gave alumni awards from three areas: Young Alumni, U.S. Veteran Alumni and Distinguished Alumni.

Director of Alumni Relations Jim Dwyer gave the opening remarks before alumna Samantha McKenzie offered the invocation. McKenzie is president and CEO of Hidden Harvest, an organization that aims to eliminate food waste in the Great Lakes Bay Region. It was also the benefactor of the 2016 Battle of the Valleys.

The Young Alumni Award went to Darrin Flowers and Emily Short. Flowers, a 2007 graduate, teaches social studies at University of Detroit Jesuit and mentors students for the Black Awareness Society of Education. Short, a 2016 graduate, is a project manager for Spicer Group Inc., where she leads storm-water projects and research. An All-American cross country runner at SVSU, Short continues to run semi-professionally for the Playmakers Elite running club.

Following the Young Alumni Award, Tony Goble received the U.S. Veteran Alumni Award. In a video highlighting his achievements, Goble spoke on the leadership skills he learned at SVSU that guided him on nine deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

“I planned on only staying in the army for four years,” Goble said. “Twenty-nine years later, I’m still here, and a lot of that is because of SVSU.”

Next up were the Distinguished Alumni Awards, which were given to five alumni. Ricky Brown, a 1985 graduate, is the director of Multicultural Student Initiatives at Kettering University. After Brown was Greg Wischmeyer, who serves as CEO of Neighborhood Mortgage Solutions. While presenting the award, President Don Bachand told the audience about his own experiences with Wischmeyer, as he wrote the mortgage for Bachand’s first house when he moved to the area.

Also receiving the distinguished alumni award was Jean LaClair, a 1990 graduate. LaClair serves as a teacher, athletic administrator and volleyball coach at Bronson High School. LaClair has led her teams to four state championships and is the fifth winningest coach in the state.

Mary Kay Smith was also honored, as she is the director of the Learning and Assessment Center at Michigan State University. In her role, Smith leads clinical instruction for nursing students.

Lastly, Jill Dralle was honored as distinguished alumni for her career at Nexteer. Dralle serves as the chief operating officer of Nexteer’s Saginaw operations. Her son is a freshman this year at SVSU. President Don Bachand gave the closing remarks for the night.

“This is the largest Alumni Celebration we have ever hosted,” Bachand said. “It is truly remarkable.”

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