Four alumni authors share writing experience

Share on Facebook
Tweet on Twitter

Four distinguished SVSU alumni returned to campus on Wednesday, Oct. 19, for the third annual Alumni Author Showcase.

The showcase was organized by Forever Red, the Alumni Association, and the University Writing Program, and gave each author an opportunity to share their advice, experiences and struggles.

“Authors are chosen from a list of alumni that have indicated that they have published works,” said Associate Dean for Student Life and Leadership Programs Bryan Crainer.

The Alumni Author Showcase was moderated by alum Jason Wolverton, and the panel included Joe Hickey, Jill Bellestri, Dennis Hensley, and Roberta Morey.

A committee of representatives from Forever Red, Alumni Relations and the University Writing Committee selected the featured authors with an emphasis placed on choosing authors with diverse literary works.

Ashley Youngstrom, an elementary special education major, played a large role in organizing the event.

“I contacted the authors and made sure that they had all of the information that they needed in order to be prepared for the event,” Youngstrom said. “This event coincides with both my position as an event intern with the Alumni Relations Office, as well as my position as vice-president of the Connect pillar in Forever Red.”

Author Joe Hickey graduated from SVSU in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a minor in sociology.

Hickey has gone on to become an independent author, publishing his series “Secret Seekers Society through funding attained on

“I am an independent author, taking my knowledge from my degree in creative writing to build my own career through social media, self-promotion, and creating my own deadlines as I balance my aspiring career with my family life and full-time job,” Hickey said.

Fellow author Jill Bellestri, meanwhile, graduated from SVSU in 1994 with a bachelor’s in criminal justice with political science as a minor.

She is known for her contributions in “The Thinking Mom’s Revolution: Autism Beyond the Spectrum,” a collaborative book containing personal stories about having children with autism or other developmental disabilities.

However, writing is not the only way Bellestri has used her story to provide hope for others.

“I am a co-founder of the Thinking Moms’ Revolution LLC and TEAM TMR, a not-for-profit organization that provides help to families struggling with medical, emotional, educational and financial hardships due to complex medical needs faced by their children diagnosed with autism and other developmental disabilities,” Bellestri said.

Unlike Bellestri, who has written only on one topic, Dennis Hensley, a Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, has had extensive experience writing about a variety of topics.

His academic career began at Delta College, where he earned an Associate in Arts in in 1968, then became a Cardinal and graduated from Saginaw Valley College in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts.

“To date, I have written 62 books, including 10 novels and 10 textbooks on aspects of professional writing, as well as books on financial management, motivation, public relations, theology, and literary analysis,” he said. “I have published more than 3,500 short stories, interviews, articles, devotions, and reviews in such publications as Essence, Writer’s Digest, People, Star Magazine, Downbeat, The Writer, Guitar Player, The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Indianapolis Star, The Detroit Free Press, and The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, among many others.”

A former teacher, Roberta Morey graduated from SVSU in 1981 with her Masters in teaching.

After a lifelong passion of postcard collecting, Morey decided to share her collection and has written four books about the history of Saginaw.

“I have been pleased to watch the University grow to the institution that is today,” she said. “Two of my granddaughters have also graduated from SVSU.”