Notable alumni return to celebrate accomplishments

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SVSU honored its outstanding alumni during the annual Alumni Celebration on Friday, Oct. 27.

The event occurred in the Curtiss Hall banquet rooms and featured a social, dinner and awards ceremony.

The first honoree was Andrew Jarmon, class of 2017, who was awarded the Future Alumnus Award.

He was nominated by SVSU Associate Dean for Student Life and Leadership Bryan Crainer.

“I came to the university only expecting to get my professional degree in accounting, meet a few friends and, when that’s all done, go home,” Jarmon said. “As soon as I started getting involved, I knew that was not going to be the case. There were so many opportunities thrown my way without even asking or seeking, but I wanted my involvement to have a purpose.”

Because of those opportunities, Jarmon plans on staying in Saginaw.

“I want to continue to be involved in the Saginaw community that gave so much to me,” Jarmon said.

Marlin Jenkins, a 2014 creative writing major, was given the Young Alumnus Award for his work as a poet, literary editor, a writing fellowship at the University of Michigan and much more.

Jenkins gave thanks to SVSU for making him feel valued as a writer and as a member of the SVSU community.

“(As a queer person of color with mental illness), it is very hard to feel like the work is worthwhile,” Jenkins said. “And by work, I should clarify. I mean the poems themselves, yes, but also the work of community, social justice and human connection that surrounds poetry.”

Command Sergeant Major Gretchen Evans, a 2013 sociology graduate, won the U.S. Veteran Alumni Award. She has helped SVSU’s Military Student Affairs Office earn Michigan Veterans Affairs Associations’ gold certification, the highest level a university can attain.

She expressed her gratitude to SVSU’s help during her transition from military to civilian life.

“Let me tell you, SVSU, what you have done for me,” Evans said. “You took a soldier who was trying to find her way into civilian life. I was a private in a new army. I was trying to find my way, and you provided me a safe environment. You had faith in me.”

Michael Langworthy, a 1984 graduate, was the College of Arts and Behavioral Services Award winner. He founded Cardinal Sins.

Langworthy echoed the thankful tone of the alumni winners before him and credited SVSU for helping him when he struggled with transitioning to college.

“One of the strengths at Saginaw Valley is mentorship,” Langworthy said. “That’s something that should be encouraged and rewarded. My first semester here was a disaster. I was not prepared. … (Because of my mentors), I was allowed to get back on track.”

David Kowalski, a 1979 graduate, received the College of Business and Management Award. He currently serves at the chairman of the SVSU Alumni Ambassador Council.

“Nine years ago, when my son graduated from Saginaw Valley, he told me I should get active at the university other than just being a Cardinal Club member,” Kowalski said. “He put my name in as an alumni board candidate, and the rest has been a great ride.”

Christopher Pryor, a 1995 educational leadership graduate, won the College of Education award.

“To be honest with you, SVSU was not my first choice,” Pryor said. “But I can say it was my best choice. As I look back over my life, I can recall coming to SVSU, I remember that lovely feeling I received when I came on campus.”

Lynn Squanda-Murphy, a 1981 graduate, received the Crystal M. Lange College of Health and Human Services Award.

Like her fellow alumni, Squanda-Murphy feels at home at SVSU.

“Every time I come back to this campus, I feel like I’m home,” Squanda-Murphy said. “I feel like I become more alive and revitalized.”

Jessica Bentoski, a 2004 graduate, earned the College of Science, Engineering and Technology Award.

Bentoski believes that SVSU has helped her become a successful dentist.

“SVSU has given me so much,” Bentoski said. “I’m extremely humbled and honored for the university to be recognizing me. I have so much gratitude for the things I learned here.”

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