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Focus on the

FUTURE Fall — and students — return to campus

FALL 2021

Centralight FALL 2021

Features On the cover

Homecoming has a deeper meaning this year as students are Fired Up for fall semester. CMU continues to actively update coronavirus plans and protocols to ensure best practices in coordination with local, state and federal health officials. PHOTO BY ADAM



In his latest column, CMU President Bob Davies writes about how it’s vital for the university’s students to see themselves reflected in and represented by the institution’s leadership.

CMU alumnae are leading the way in the world, and women are holding a record number of leadership positions at the university.

Striving for diversity



Endless adventures For 75 years, CMU’s Recreation, Parks and Leisure program has offered world-class education and career opportunities. Read about the program’s history and meet some of its alumni who hold some pretty cool jobs.


Representation matters

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Editor’s note Some of the photos in this issue were taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and, as a result, don’t reflect current social distancing and masking requirements.

Executive Editor and Executive Director of Alumni Relations Marcie Otteman, ’87 Editor

Betsy Miner-Swartz, ’86 Managing Editor

Robin Miner-Swartz Visual Media Director Amy White Graphic Designer Erin Rivard, ’07, MBA ’16


Photographer Adam Sparkes

Big Picture


Terri Finch Hamilton, ’83 Ari Harris Jeff Johnston, ’91 Caroline Kramer Robin Miner-Swartz Kate Worster Research Associate Bryan Whitledge Editorial Assistant Bonnie Recker Vice President for Advancement Heidi Tracy Vice President for University Communications and Chief Marketing Officer John Veilleux For advertising information Call Cindy Jacobs, ’93 (800) 358-6903

Working at the CMU Biological Station on Beaver Island means easy access to some of the best sunrises around. Liam Daniels (from left), Brooke Ray and Davina Acheampong took one in this summer.

Departments 5 CMU Today New branding earns international recognition. 13 A Seat at the Table The number of women in leadership roles at CMU is the highest ever.

Stay connected Send change of address information to: Alumni Relations Carlin Alumni House Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI 48859 Phone: (800) 358-6903 Fax: (989) 774-7159

31 Alumni Association Board of Directors

Email: Web:

32 Alumni News 36 In Memory 40 Do You Remember

Centralight is published three times each year by the Central Michigan University Office of Alumni Relations. It is printed by Printing Services, Mount Pleasant, and entered at the Mount Pleasant Post Office under nonprofit mailing. CMU, an AA/EO institution, provides equal opportunity to all persons, including minorities, females, veterans and individuals with disabilities (see Copies of Centralight are distributed to alumni and friends of the university who are paid Gold Members or donors to CMU. A virtual edition of the magazine is available free online at UComm 10475–24,000+ (8/21)

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OPPORTUNITY Become a Gold Member, and receive over 60,000 benefits

CMU, an AA/EO institution, strongly and actively strives to increase diversity and provide equal opportunity for all individuals, irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation and including but not limited to minorities, females, veterans and individuals with disabilities. 10129 (5/21)

Expansive opportunities Women’s roles grow in guiding CMU and in their career fields Growing up, I remember my mom telling me that when she wanted to go to college to become a teacher, my grandfather had to tell her no. There wasn’t enough money to send her. She was the oldest of five, and her three younger brothers needed to go to college so they could get good jobs to support their families. My mom’s options were secretarial or nursing school. Marcie Otteman, ’87, Executive Director of Alumni Relations

Mom went on to receive her registered nursing diploma, and when I was in high school, she started college to pursue her Bachelor of Science in nursing. We both graduated in the summer of 1987, and she went on to a management position in health care. I grew up with an entirely different world view than she did — women went to college, earned advanced degrees and held leadership positions. I have passed on to my daughter the view that not only do women go to college, but they pursue goals, step into leadership roles and take charge in every setting imaginable. Several months ago, I was looking at our list for the president’s cabinet, and I noticed that of the 15 people who serve on the cabinet, six are women. I wondered, is that the most ever? So, I asked Bryan Whitledge, our intrepid researcher from the Clarke Historical Library, and found out it is! “How cool is that?” I thought, seeing women like myself who had worked to break through the proverbial glass ceiling and achieve these titles and positions.

Stay Fired Up Connect with CMU alumni at upcoming Alumni Association events across the country! Find the complete schedule of virtual, online opportunities here:

In-person events OCTOBER 8-11 CMU Alumni weekend on Mackinac Island 16 Homecoming vs. Toledo 31 CMU Alumni at the Detroit Lions vs. Eagles, Ford Field NOVEMBER 25 CMU at the Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade

Get social Follow our activities and updates on your favorite social channels:

Representation matters, as do the voices around the table when decisions are being made. I’m excited for you to learn more about the women guiding our great institution forward as well as several alumni leading the way in a broad range of fields.


On a personal note, I’m proud to share that my daughter is attending CMU this fall. She represents the fifth generation in our family to be a CMU student. Her great-great-great-aunt Verna graduated from CMU in 1921, so it seems only fitting Kait will be here now too, and my nest won’t be quite so empty, as I hope to see her on campus enjoying all the fall has to offer.

INSTAGRAM @cmichalumni

Fire Up forever,

TWITTER @cmualumni

YOUTUBE LINKEDIN Central Michigan University – Alumni

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Diverse teams empower everyone

It’s vital for CMU students to see themselves reflected in our leadership Increasing diversity, equity and inclusion at every level of our university is a top priority in our Strategic Envisioning Process. While achieving this goal is an President Bob Davies ongoing effort, I am proud of the gains we have made in the past two years. One of my earliest and most important lessons in leadership was recognizing the value of working with a diverse team, including diversity of gender identity, race, political persuasion and more. While it can be very satisfying to have people unanimously agree with my opinions, it is not an effective way to reach the best decisions. I recognize that I make choices based on my knowledge and lived experience, and with that

Ways to connect with

comes gaps in my understanding. As a leader, it is vital to surround myself with people who fill in those gaps — who regard the world differently, whose lives and perspectives are unlike my own, and whose thoughtful questions will challenge my ideas. The need for this sort of cognitive diversity has been the subject of dozens of studies conducted by business research and consulting firms. And, time after time, the results are the same: Diverse teams outperform homogenous teams in nearly every metric. They are more engaged, they tend to be more creative and innovative, and they achieve goals more efficiently. Our university needs a diverse team of the best possible leaders to empower us to achieve rigor, relevance and excellence now and into the future. Having a diverse leadership team isn’t just good business — it’s also the right thing to do, especially for our students.




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Representation matters, and it is vital for our students to see themselves reflected in the leadership of our campus. This matters to me as CMU’s president and also as the proud father of a CMU student. Women such as my daughter make up approximately 60% of our student body, and I want them to have strong role models to look up to in every area of our university. In this issue, we are delighted to introduce some of the remarkable women now serving Central Michigan University as members of our Board of Trustees and as vice presidents and senior leaders on our campus, as well as those setting the leadership standard in their careers and communities among our alumni family.

CMU TODAY commercial market for drones is growing by 25% a year, from $1.6 billion in 2019 to an expected $8.5 billion by 2027. Drones are used in agriculture, surveying, construction, warehousing, logistics, the arts and more. The CMU lab currently consists of two one-credit courses offered through the School of Broadcast and Cinematic Arts. Students in the initial Drone Lab courses this past summer plan careers in fields including broadcasting, filmmaking, meteorology and business.

Senior Justin Lyle from Dowagiac, Michigan, is among the first of many students benefiting from Michigan’s only multidisciplinary Drone Lab, a new addition to Central Michigan University. Lyle, who sees creative videography in his future, said a CMU course this summer placed him at the controls of a remote-operated aircraft for the first time. He now plans to pursue FAA drone pilot certification. “I definitely fell in love,” he said. “Being able to say I’m a licensed pilot will open a lot of doors.” Drones represent huge and growing career opportunities. According to Fortune Business Insights, the worldwide

MAC honors Fashion Merchandising and Design faculty member Michael Mamp awarded for dynamic and inspirational teaching Fashion Merchandising and Design faculty member Michael Mamp has been named a recipient of the Mid-American Conference Outstanding Faculty Award for Student Success. The award honors MAC-member institution faculty members for their exceptional support and dedication to student success inside and outside of the classroom. After a 14-year career in the fashion industry, Mamp found his passion as an instructor, sharing his knowledge of the business with students. For more than seven years, Mamp has been engaging

“The ‘facility’ is the drones and wherever we bring the drones,” said BCA Chair Heather Polinsky. She planned the lab along with CMU alum Zach Huffman, founder of Atlanta-based drone service provider Hyvion, as part of a grant proposal for the CMU President’s and Provost’s Fund for Program Innovation and Excellence. The grant purchased a fleet of 35 drones for the lab, ranging from beginner models to a $10,000 craft that Huffman said exceeds industry standards. CMU and Hyvion are partners in the project. Huffman taught the first courses, and students who complete the program will have the opportunity to join Hyvion as interns or as part of the company’s nationwide network of 200-300 drone pilots. •

CMU students in innovative courses such as History of Western Dress, Queer Fashion and Fashion Fundamentals. In addition, Mamp is the founding faculty member and director of CMU’s topranked online fashion merchandising and design program. In the classroom, he empowers students to gain hands-on experience in well-equipped labs featuring technology, such as the Makerbot 3-D printing lab. He also leads study tours in fashion centers including Chicago, New York and Paris. Mamp, ’96, says many things have changed since he received his degree from CMU. What hasn’t changed are the remarkable efforts of university faculty members to connect with students and maintain those relationships. He says crafting those connections is the most rewarding part of the job.

“I think we have a responsibility to provide the best experience we can for those students, and I think we take that very seriously,” he said. •


Partnership creates real-world opportunities for students in various university programs

The lab is a program, not a place — because the hands-on learning involved in flying them can take place almost anywhere, indoors and out.


New drone lab takes flight at CMU

Michael Mamp was honored with the Mid-American Conference Outstanding Faculty Award for Student Success. Centralight Fall ’21


CMU TODAY A new path to a nursing degree CMU, Mid Michigan College partner on career pipeline A strategic partnership signed this summer in Mount Pleasant opens doors at CMU for future nurses. The university is teaming up with Mid Michigan College to create a unique start-to-finish pathway to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. CMU also offers an accelerated RN-to-BSN program. “We want students who want to be nurses to come to CMU,” said Kechi Iheduru-Anderson, director of nursing in CMU’s Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions. “Now they can.” The partnership also promises to create a new source of skilled nurses ready to meet needs in mid-Michigan. “There is such a nursing shortage and the projection is that it will continue,” said Barbara Wieszciecinski, dean of health sciences and director of nursing at Mid Michigan College. “This partnership will allow our CMU graduates to come to Mid, get their associate degree in nursing, pass their state licensure exam and start working right away to help with the nursing shortage.” The program has three phases: • Two semesters attending CMU. • Four semesters attending Mid Michigan College’s Harrison Campus, about 30 miles north of Mount Pleasant, or Mount Pleasant Campus, at Summerton Road and Broadway. During this time, students may take summer courses at CMU. • Ten to 18 months of CMU courses online. All academic credits will transfer between the institutions.

Representatives from CMU and Mid Michigan College sign a partnership to create a new source of skilled nurses in Mid Michigan.

Phases one and two are in-person to allow for lab work and clinical experiences. Students who successfully complete phase two will earn their associate degree in nursing from Mid and can work as a registered nurse while completing phase three. Students can complete their RN and BSN degree in four and a half to five years — possibly sooner if they begin the program with transfer credits. “This program is a great opportunity for students to get two nursing degrees in as little as four years, making them more competitive in the marketplace,” said CHP Dean Tom Masterson. At a time when nurses are in short supply nationally and locally, Masterson calls it a great example of CMU fulfilling its medical mission: “We are training quality health care providers for underserved populations in Michigan.” •

President Davies named to serve on NCAA governance body Central Michigan President Bob Davies has been selected to serve as the Mid-American Conference representative on the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum. “I am honored to represent our conference and to play a greater role in supporting our student-athletes and athletic programs. I look forward to working alongside my colleagues as we navigate the important issues and opportunities facing the NCAA at this time,” Davies said. The forum implements the NCAA’s core value to involve presidential leadership in the governance of intercollegiate athletics at the campus, conference and national level. It’s composed of one president or chancellor from each of the 32 Division I conferences. Davies’ term began Aug. 4 and concludes Aug. 31, 2024. • 6

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CMU Study Abroad program garners national recognition for growth Only 19 U.S. institutions receive IIE Seal of Excellence Central Michigan University has received the 2020 Institute of International Education’s Seal of Excellence for its commitment to increasing and diversifying the number of students in the university’s Study Abroad program. From 2014-19, CMU increased its overall study abroad participation numbers by 40% as well as its minority student participation by 40%. CMU is one of only 19 U.S. institutions to be recognized by the IIE for achieving its pledged goals over the five-year period.

University joins in the White House #COVIDCollegeChallenge Nationwide effort aims to increase vaccination rates among college students Even in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Central Michigan University remained open for face-to-face learning opportunities for students in the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. Students, faculty, staff and community partners made this possible by wearing masks, practicing social distancing, participating in surveillance testing and adhering to university health and safety guidelines designed to protect themselves and others. To empower CMU to resume a wider array of on-campus activities safely, university leaders are encouraging everyone to be vaccinated. CMU President Bob Davies announced that CMU has joined the White House’s COVID College Vaccination Challenge.

“The Office of Global Engagement looks forward to building on this growth and continuing to make study abroad accessible to more students, once student travel may resume post-pandemic,” said Dianne De Salvo, CMU’s director of study abroad. De Salvo said in the past year, CMU students have had the opportunity to participate in virtual international internships in countries around the world. CMU offers over 150 study abroad programs in more than 50 countries for nearly every major and minor. About 750 students expand their horizons and enhance their college experience through the program each year. Through study abroad, students advance their awareness and appreciation of cultural diversity, develop intercultural competency, gain new perspectives that enrich their education and help them grow personally, and prepare for professional success in an interdependent world. •

Through the challenge, CMU aims to increase the rate of vaccinated individuals throughout campus. And while everyone can participate, the challenge is particularly focused on students. Even as many more Americans are being vaccinated, the younger people lag. According to as of early August, only about 42% of Michiganders ages 16-29 received their first dose, and even fewer, about 37%, received their second dose to complete the vaccination process — well below the state’s goals. The goal of the #COVIDCollegeChallenge is to encourage those younger people to receive their shots, too. “Vaccines are our best chance to get back to all of the engaging, hands-on, in-person activities that make education at CMU unique,” Davies said. “The science is clear: Vaccines are a safe, effective defense against COVID-19. We are committed to making them accessible to every member of our community who wishes to receive them.” Members of the CMU community can join the challenge by registering for a vaccine appointment through the Central Michigan District Health Department website. • Centralight Fall ’21


Representation matters BY TERRI FINCH HAMILTON, ’83

CMU women are leading in diverse spaces and places

Sometimes, leading means innovation — developing a better car axle, or even a flying car. Technical minds at work. But leadership also is a judge firmly steering wayward teens toward a brighter future. Or a TV journalist sharing life-saving news, even when it means sharing her own heartbreak. CMU alumni lead with their heads and their hearts. More women than ever hold leadership roles at CMU, from the Board of Trustees to the president’s cabinet. These powerful women, part of the university’s history of trailblazers, talk of the importance of mentors — both finding one and being one. Inspired by all this? You’ll also find tips for making your own impact as a leader. Lead on.

‘Run through the door’ Donna Terrell, ’83, was a teen mom when she enrolled at CMU, her toddler daughter, Queah, at her side in her broadcasting classes scribbling notes like Mom, but with crayons. “That was not my plan,” Terrell said. “But my mom always said, ‘Just because you made your bed doesn’t mean you have to lie in it. You’re going to college.’ “So, I ran through the door and never looked back.” Terrell, news anchor at Fox 16 in Little Rock, is one of the most recognizable faces in Arkansas media, a multiple-award-winning broadcast journalist. “I didn’t go to CMU to fail, I went to succeed,” she said. “I learned a lot there that stuck with me. It taught me perseverance. I told myself, ‘Don’t give up. Just keep trying.’ I knew there was reward at the end.” And along the way, heartache. Terrell’s daughter, Queah, battled colon cancer in her 20s and died of the disease. 88

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“When Queah died, I was the walking wounded,” Terrell said. “I thought, ‘You raised this child through all that adversity. You made it, and she made it. And now God comes and takes her away?’ ” Grief counseling helped, she said, “so I could get on with the rest of my life.” Part of getting on was continuing to tell Queah’s story. Terrell founded Donna Terrell’s Yoga Warriors Fighting Colon Cancer, a nonprofit that raises money for yoga classes for cancer survivors, patients and caregivers, as well as other cancerrelated needs. Yoga helped Queah through her cancer battle, Terrell said. “It was so unusual for a very young black woman to get this disease,” Terrell said. “Now more younger people are getting it. She wanted to warn people. She said, ‘Mom, you have to do a TV story about me.’ ” Terrell won an Associated Press award for her stories about Queah’s battle with colon cancer. It’s just one example of the power of the news, Terrell said. “I hear people say, ‘I don’t watch the news — it’s too depressing,’ ” she said. “Yes, it can be depressing, but it’s rewarding too. We can help people. We can expose something that shouldn’t be happening. We can shed light on something that causes people to volunteer or help monetarily. “If you want to make your community better, you need knowledge.” When Terrell “ran through the door” to CMU years ago, it was the start to her successful future. Now, it’s her philosophy. “Anytime there’s something that will be good for you, run through the door toward it,” Terrell said. “No matter what happens, latch onto what’s good.”

‘I always want to challenge myself’ When she started her engineering career in the male-dominated auto industry, Heather Pishalski, ’92, was often the only woman in the room. “We think differently,” she said. “There’s definitely a different energy when you have a woman in the room who actively and confidently contributes ideas.” Pishalski is executive director of product engineering, systems and services at American Axle & Manufacturing in Detroit, leading a team of more than 200 engineers at seven global centers around the world. The company engineers and manufactures driveline and metal forming systems that deliver power to a vehicle’s wheels. It’s a highly technical field. But Pishalski’s people skills were evident early on, too. After one of her earliest promotions, she managed employees with more years of experience than she had. One seemed reluctant about reporting to her.

“I’ve always been very open-minded about defining what’s next,” she said. “Years ago, I didn’t say, ‘I want to be an executive someday.’ I said, ‘I always want to challenge myself.’ “Many times, I took a job that others weren’t interested in. Those jobs were where I learned the most.” She loves when technicians pull her aside on the manufacturing floor to show her a new development or ask a question. “I’m a people person who loves the engineering side of the business,” she said. Her confidence blossomed at CMU. “Central helped me build a really strong foundation,” Pishalski said. “That’s where I grew up. It’s where I realized I was in control of my destiny.” She was originally bound for the University of Michigan after high school but was deferred until January. So, she started at CMU with plans to transfer. “I never went,” she said. “I loved Central so much, I made it my home.” >

Pishalski thrives on open communication, so she asked him to share his concerns, ready to field all sorts of worries. “He said, ‘I’m afraid you won’t let me leave early at 2 o’clock on Fridays in the summer to play golf,’ ” she said. “I said, ‘That’s all? We can make that happen.’” If only all her challenges were that easy. Actually, if they were, she’d hate it. Pishalski’s days are filled with setting the big-picture strategy she loves, from how to streamline operations for increased efficiency to what kind of skills new hires should have as the company expands into new markets, including electric axles. She loves a challenge.

Centralight Fall ’21


‘I followed a path I envisioned’ During the COVID-19 pandemic, community banks were like hometown heroes, helping small, family run businesses apply for Paycheck Protection Program loans to keep them afloat.

Healing Court that nurtured struggling preteens in trouble with shoplifting or truancy with weekly family counseling, community service and tutoring to steer them back to the right path.

‘The world was suddenly accessible’ Kandra Robbins, ’90, always knew she wanted to be a lawyer. “But I didn’t know judge was even a possibility,” she said. She admits it’s probably her worst quality — underestimating her skills and potential. “I think it’s common for women of my generation,” said Robbins, an administrative law judge for the state of Michigan. Luckily, a supervisor along the way saw her potential. As a staff attorney, Robbins was interviewing candidates to be the next chief judge for the Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa Tribal Court. Her supervisor stunned her by suggesting she apply. “I was so young,” said Robbins, who was 30 at the time. “I didn’t think I knew enough.” What she didn’t know, she learned fast. Robbins, a member of the tribe, presided over all kinds of cases. She sent people to jail and had to evict them from their homes. She ruled in cases of child abuse and neglect. “Some cases still haunt me,” she said. But there was also hope and light. Robbins was instrumental in creating the tribe’s drug court and the Juvenile


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“They didn’t get sympathy from the bench because it was important to hold them accountable for healing,” she said. She was firm. No excuses. “As a judge, you see people for a moment, then they’re gone and you don’t know what the rest of their story is.” Sometimes, their story pops up unexpectedly. Delightfully. Robbins and her son were in a restaurant drive-through lane back in Sault Ste. Marie while visiting after being away for a few years. The young woman at the window asked her, “Are you Judge Robbins?” “She said, ‘I want to thank you. You were tough on me. I finished school. I’m a mom now. I have a job.’ “Every once in a while, you get a moment that makes you feel pretty good,” Robbins said. Robbins grew up in the small northern Michigan town of Bliss, graduating in a class of 53. Everybody knew everybody. “Central was a place where the world was suddenly accessible,” she said. “There were no built-in expectations. It was a place for me to discover who I was.” As the new president of the CMU alumni board, Robbins is passionate about “letting the whole world know how fabulous Central is,” she said. “That sense of curiosity and wonder I experienced there is something I still draw on today.”

Kelly Gerstenberger, ’10, loved that part of her role as president and CEO of Exchange State Bank in Carsonville, in Michigan’s Thumb region. “We were able to help small businesses and farmers access those funds when they really needed them,” she said. “We were willing to help, no matter how small the customer.” Gerstenberger followed a pretty straight career path from CMU — accounting major, CPA, auditor, controller, chief financial officer, bank president and CEO. “I followed a path I envisioned, but I didn’t imagine it would happen this fast,” she said. She’s a bank president and CEO at age 33. Ask the secret to her success, and it shouldn’t be surprising the accounting major offers up a formula. “Hard work and dedication certainly play a large role,” she said, “as well as being open to opportunities as you’re presented with them.” In the movies, bank presidents are always well-dressed and serious, with an air of importance, but you never quite see exactly what they do.

“When you’re president of a community bank, you wear quite a few hats,” Gerstenberger said. (Fun fact: 10% of Michigan’s community banks are run by CMU alumni.) It’s a numbers job, of course, about finances and auditors and bank examiners. But it’s a people job too, hashing out challenges along with bank staff and the board of directors. Her time at CMU prepared her to wear all those hats. “The business degree at Central is so well rounded,” she said. “I didn’t just learn accounting, but I learned marketing and human resources and how to give presentations. In this role I need to know all those things.” Gerstenberger loves the connections that come with working at a community bank. “There’s a more personal touch,” she said.

That personal touch was part of the celebratory hoopla in June when the bank celebrated its 120th anniversary. They gave gift cards to customers, who could then choose a local nonprofit to receive the same amount as a donation from the bank. Gerstenberger holds her own community of Sandusky, Michigan, close. She’s often out and about at school and sports events with her husband and three young sons. She went to school there, too. “Being active in the community is very important to me,” she said. “Exchange State Bank opened in 1901, and being community minded has always been a core value of ours. Being a part of that legacy and continuing it means so much.”

‘Be it ’til you see it’ If you’re in a coolest job contest with Natasha Tolentino, M.S.A. ’14, chances are, she wins.

She helps develop flying cars, although in the U.S. Air Force, they call these vehicles electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) systems. Or organic resupply buses — ORBs for short. They’re electric-powered vehicles with names like Hexa that rise from the ground with helicopter-type rotors and speed through the air at more than 100 mph. Call them cool. Tolentino is lead program manager for Agility Prime, the U.S. Air Force’s commercial development program for these flying vehicles. She uses the resources of the Department of Defense to speed up their research and development for commercial use. “The military application is well and good, but this isn’t about painting them military gray and strapping bombs to them,” she said. “Think about big cities like Los Angeles, New York and D.C., where you spend an hour on the road to go 10 miles. >

< Natasha Tolentino (center).

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Stevens shares a few tips:

“Think about natural disasters and how hard it is to navigate. These vehicles could get to individuals in critical need so much faster.”

1. What story are you telling yourself about you? Are you sure it’s true? Maybe you assume you’re not good at public speaking. What makes you think that? Just because you tried it once and it didn’t go well?

Her list of their uses goes on: medical evacuation, firefighting, humanitarian relief operations. “It seems like science fiction, but I need to be able to break it down in layman’s terms,” she said. Her days are filled with flight test planning, meeting with congressional staff about funding, pitching to venture capitalists. On a really fun day, she gets to take potential investors to see an ORB in flight, “so they can see it and touch it,” she says, “and say ‘this is so cool.’ ” Then she sends them to agilityprime to learn more. Tolentino has worked for the Air Force since high school, starting in human resources and working her way up. She earned her CMU master’s degree from the Global Campus, taking classes from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. “That was critical,” she said. “I took classes at night and on weekends while still doing my job.” She uses the skills she gained there every day. “My capstone project taught me how to defend a topic,” she said. “The best writing lab resource ever taught me how to frame things in different ways.” Tolentino is the only minority woman on her team. She mentors high school students and speaks at career tech centers, hoping to boost representation. “Be it ’till you see it,” she said. Meanwhile, she loves her fascinating career. “I’m allowed to think out of the box and dip my toe into multiple streams of technology,” she said. “I’m constantly challenged, and challenge allows for growth.” •


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Know your value Tori Stevens’ journey to career coach and consultant started when she was a resident assistant in Cobb Hall. “That RA experience taught me so much,” said Stevens, ’08, M.A. ’12. “It was real-world experience. Everyone communicates differently and expresses emotions differently. I learned you can’t make a judgement about how other people are supposed to behave. I learned to listen. I learned to ask questions.” She’s still asking questions, as a career coach, teacher and speaker at universities and businesses around the country through her Charlotte, N.C., business EvolYOUtion. ( “The world of work has always focused on professional development — giving you more skills for the role you’re in right now,” Stevens said. She loves focusing on personal development. After all, we bring our whole selves to work, right? We put too much trust in our boss’ performance reviews and not enough in ourselves, she said. “I teach people to understand and trust their character and skills, own their worth and value and trust themselves in their careers.”

2. Eliminate the words “only” and “just.” “You’re immediately diminishing yourself and your skill set when you use those words, and assuming somebody else is better,” she said. EXAMPLE: “I’ve only had this job three years” or “I just started this career four years ago.” Two little words make a big difference. 3. Take your own advice. “We love handing out advice,” Stevens said. “But, when it’s time to take our own, the head trash or doubt starts creeping in that ‘it’s not good enough.’ Ask yourself, ‘Why do you give advice to others but not to yourself?’ ” 4. Confidence is an inside job. “I hear all the time that people want to be more confident in their abilities,” she said. “Being confident doesn’t come from the thoughts, values or opinions that others have about you. It comes from yourself. Confidence is recognizing that all those intangible or transferable skills gained throughout conversations, experiences and lessons enhance your knowledge.” 5. Stop saying “now” and start saying “yet.” You don’t have to have everything figured out now, Stevens said. There’s magic in the word “yet.”

“We’re constantly learning and growing when it comes to leading and developing,” she said. Give yourself time. •

In 1980, not even one of CMU’s 19 senior administrator positions was held by a woman. Today, 12 of CMU’s now 28 senior administrators — 43% — are women. That’s the highest it’s ever been.

A seat

AT THE TABLE Women are leading at CMU in record numbers BY ROBIN MINER-SWARTZ

In the president’s cabinet alone, there are six women leading in diverse, key jobs, and the Board of Trustees added two women this year, just as another long-serving leader concluded her term of service. We asked those women to share with Centralight what being a leader at CMU means to them, as well as their thoughts on women in leadership.

Mary C. Schutten

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND PROVOST Number of years in the role: 2 What does being a leader at CMU mean to you? Leading at CMU is an exciting opportunity to collaboratively lead change and guide the university as we co-create our new normal by developing a clear vision and regular communication. Team and communication are essential components of leading at CMU. On women in leadership: My experiences in leadership inform my work with faculty, students and staff to determine the most effective ways of management. In that regard, I value democracy, shared governance, transparency and consultation with all stakeholders — faculty, staff, students and community partners. I aim to establish a democratic system with optimal leadership at all levels. Consensus building, accountability and celebration of excellence in performance shall be part of that system. I believe leadership training and development opportunities are excellent ways to engage faculty, staff and students. When all stakeholders feel they have a role of influence in an organization, they are more likely to feel empowered and be a part of the community, resulting in higher rates of retention and satisfaction.

Jennifer E. DeHaemers

VICE PRESIDENT OF STUDENT RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION Number of years in the role: 1 What does being a leader at CMU mean to you? Being a leader at CMU means wholly embracing the leadership standards and core values. One of the reasons I chose to apply for this position at CMU was because of those standards and values and the opportunity to work at an institution that lives those ideals daily. It also means being willing to take risks, to think strategically, to make difficult decisions, to motivate and support staff and to lead by example. And it’s always maintaining a Fired Up attitude. I love my role here at CMU and the opportunity to provide leadership to students, staff and to work with my colleagues in support of CMU and our students. On women in leadership: I have been lucky to have many women in leadership who have mentored me over the years. I think it’s important to always look out for and offer mentorship to women who are earlier in their careers to share knowledge, experiences and provide advice to women who are less seasoned in their careers as they navigate the realities of being in leadership positions. I think it’s important to develop a thicker skin and a strong sense of confidence in your abilities but to also stay in learning mode, knowing that you won’t always have the answers and must be willing to learn something new. Centralight Fall ’21 13 Centralight Fall ’21 13

Heidi Tracy

VICE PRESIDENT FOR UNIVERSITY ADVANCEMENT Number of years in the role: 2 What does being a leader at CMU mean to you? Central Michigan University is a living institution — ever evolving, always trying to anticipate the needs of society and how it prepares a generation to address those issues. No one person will ever have all the answers. Therefore, being a leader at CMU means you must be a team player, recognizing your strengths, but ready to pair them with what others bring to the process so solutions and ideas are well formed, innovative and futuristic. It is a tremendous privilege to work in an academic community full of such leaders who are ready and willing to work for the common good of our students, the communities in which we serve and our world. On women in leadership: When I was younger, I studied the characteristics of the differences between men and women in the workplace. I thought that in order to be an effective leader I had to adopt similar traits of men. After three decades, I now realize there is not one type of leader, and the best leaders are those who embrace their authentic selves.

Amy Folan

ZYZELEWSKI FAMILY ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT/ DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS Number of years in the role: 1 What does being a leader at CMU mean to you? It’s a privilege and honor to have the opportunity to be a leader at Central Michigan University. I understand the great responsibility this opportunity requires as we work together to take CMU and our athletic department to new heights. I have been very fortunate to learn from great leaders and mentors in my life and have worked to take parts of their leadership styles to create my personal approach to leadership. I also feel very fortunate to have access to so many of the great leaders who have come before me in our athletic department, and I treasure their guidance and insight. On women in leadership: This university has a great history of successful trailblazers, both within our university and the athletic department, and it was a primary reason this opportunity interested me when it became available. There is a strong culture here in supporting leadership development and providing new opportunities. I have really enjoyed being a part of this culture and look forward to its continued advancement throughout our campus and department.


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Shawna PattersonStephens, ’03

CHIEF DIVERSITY OFFICER Time in the role: In her first year What does being a leader at CMU mean to you? Remaining student-centered and equity-focused is integral to my leadership philosophy and is reflective of CMU’s values. Most importantly, I understand that to effect positive change, we must rely upon each other as a campus community to build inclusive infrastructures. Leadership reaches beyond titles and hierarchy. I believe it is our collective responsibility to ensure students are receiving optimal, enriching learning experiences, opportunities that are accessible to all students and which carry the greatest impact. I look forward to working in partnership with our community in the service of our students, who will undoubtedly make a difference in the lives of many! On women in leadership: We all possess a light within us that requires nurturing, edification and encouragement; a light that is singular to all the ways our being coalesces to shape who we are. Ciswomen, transwomen and gender nonconforming folx expressing femininity carry multiple social identities which complicate the ways we “show up” in spaces, in addition to the way people perceive us. Due to socialized normativity, womxn may be marginalized and required to dim our light in a neverending cycle of gender politics. I argue that womxn/ marginalized individuals must be supported in bringing their whole selves into positions of leadership if we truly wish to cultivate societies of substance and virtue. My advice: allow your light to shine so bright that others around you are encouraged to do the same.

Mary Jane Flanagan

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND SECRETARY TO THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES Number of years in the role: 19 What does being a leader at CMU mean to you? It means helping the university achieve its mission and goals, striving to exemplify our core values, and modeling CMU’s leadership standards. Perhaps most importantly, it means helping others do the same. On women in leadership: I have worked with and learned from some fantastic women leaders through the years, from trustees such as Ranny Reicker, Gail Torreano, Sarah Opperman and Tricia Keith — to name just a few — to CMU’s only female president so far, Kathy Wilbur. From one, I observed the art of “leading from behind.” From another, the importance of being at the table. Never acquiesce that opportunity.

Tricia Keith, ’93

IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIR, CMU BOARD OF TRUSTEES EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENT OF EMERGING MARKETS, BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF MICHIGAN Number of years on the board: 8 What does being a leader at CMU mean to you? CMU gave me a lot during my undergrad and prepared me for things I didn’t even know existed. As a trustee, one sees the university from another angle but always acts with the overall mission at the core. The board needs to set strategic direction for the university, and I am excited about the future and our leadership in place to get us there. Serving as a university leader is a responsibility and a privilege to ensure we are leading with clarity, transparency and integrity. Aligning my leadership with the CMU brand hopefully sets an example to others of what they can achieve with the benefit of a CMU education. On women in leadership: Women supporting each other in leadership is critical! My closest friendships are those with whom I have worked, and it makes work so much more fun!



What does being a leader at CMU mean to you? It is an opportunity to help steer the university during a transformative era where the format and delivery of higher education is undergoing its most significant changes. Our society is evolving, and emerging trends are giving us no choice but to reevaluate constantly how we fulfill our mission. I come from the business sector, and we have to constantly innovate and evolve to stay relevant. While I recognize and appreciate the academic world is different from the business sector, I am aware of the need for all institutions to meet the present and emerging needs. I feel privileged and humbled to add my voice — which is quite different — to the discussions around maintaining CMU’s leadership in higher education and its reputation for putting its students first.

On women in leadership: When women are at the table, we bring different perspectives, structural and cultural differences that, combined with others’, bring about more effective solutions. We look beneath the surface at the impacts these decisions cause, and we do it generally with more empathy. That application often comes with ways to soften or mitigate what negative impacts there could be or, better yet, enhance the benefits for more positive outcomes.

Sharon L. Heath, M.S. ’96 CMU BOARD OF TRUSTEES

BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF MICHIGAN’S DIRECTOR OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE (RETIRED) Appointed to the board in 2021 What does being a leader at CMU mean to you? This is a full-circle moment to be appointed as a trustee at my alma mater. I fondly recall interacting with staff and faculty instrumental in guiding me to the next level of education and leadership. The knowledge, wisdom, advice and thoughtprovoking challenges helped shaped me into the leader I am today. I now have the opportunity to serve in a role to share with students and to help shape CMU for the future. On women in leadership: Women offer unique perspectives in leadership and the workplace. Smart companies know the value of diversification and have placed women in significant leading roles with accountability commensurate with the position. Women are not just filling a quota, they are truly leading companies, divisions and departments to success. In my opinion, women tend to approach communication, employee engagement, collaboration and problem solving differently than men. It doesn’t make one approach right or wrong, just different, therefore often resulting in a different, yet equally successful outcome. •

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Food to fuel

student success Every day, some students at CMU struggle to meet their most basic needs. As many as 3,000 CMU students struggle with food insecurity. Students experiencing food insecurity drop or fail a class more frequently than their peers and are more likely to experience symptoms of depression. Without support, fewer than 20% of these students will complete their degree in five years or less.

Help CMU

stamp out student hunger

Since opening its doors in fall 2018, the CMU Student Food Pantry has distributed thousands of pounds of food to hundreds of students in need.

We need your support.

Your gift to the Student Food Pantry will help hundreds of CMU Chippewas overcome unexpected obstacles and stay on the path to graduation. Donations in any amount will help us stock the shelves and keep students in school and successful.

To donate online, visit CMU is an AA/EO institution, providing equal opportunity to all persons, including minorities, females, veterans and individuals with disabilities (see UComm 10073

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Central Michigan University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (www.hlcommission. org), a regional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. CMU, an AA/EO institution, strongly and actively strives to increase diversity and provide equal opportunity for all individuals, irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation and including but not limited to minorities, females, veterans and individuals with disabilities (see Ucomm 10448


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Student employees Liam Daniels (from left), Brooke Ray and Davina Acheampong enjoy sunrise on the beach outside of the CMU Biological Station on Beaver Island. PHOTO BY


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“Then, in the post-war industrial world, suddenly there was more recreation time,” Otteman said. “People were working 40-hour weeks instead of 60. We didn’t have to grow our own food or build our own houses, so what did we do with the extra time? We improved our quality of life.”


The one generic major grew into three distinct concentrations: outdoor and environmental recreation; recreation and event management; and recreational therapy. “Creating three specific concentrations under one umbrella is the biggest way we’ve morphed over 75 years,” Otteman said.

For 75 years, CMU’s Recreation, Parks and Leisure program has offered world-class education and career opportunities BY TERRI FINCH HAMILTON, ’83

Tim Otteman posted a message on his Facebook page a couple of years ago: “If you have a cool job, drop me a note. I want to learn from the people I taught.” Within 24 hours, the CMU Recreation, Parks and Leisure professor had 51 invitations. Come visit. During his nine-day coast-to-coast tour of 10 cities, he visited an alum who helped plan birthday parties for former U.S. presidents at the legendary Rainbow Room in New York City.

CMU’s Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services Administration program — RPL, for short — celebrates the 75th anniversary of its first major this year, and there’s no better person to chat with about it than Otteman, ’89, M.A. ’91, Ed.D. ’08. A three-time CMU grad and a full-time professor in the RPL program since 2005, T.O, as everybody calls him, is the fired-up face of the program.

He visited the communications manager at Big Machine Records on Music Row in Nashville.

Send him a shirt from the place you work, and he’ll post a smiling photo of himself on Facebook wearing it.

He hung out with director of game day operations for the Lakeland Magic pro basketball team in Florida.

The RPL program is one of the largest of its kind in the country, with typically 700 students enrolled.

“Our students go to rock star places,” he said.

When it started in 1946, it was mostly designed for students who wanted to work at a YMCA or a boys’ or girls’ club. There were classes in playground leadership, arts and crafts, nature study.


Development of a recreation minor.


The history, from T.O.

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The first recreation major.


Introduction of the community and outdoor concentrations.

Each concentration has an advisory board with practicing industry professionals who guide the program. Most program professors worked in the field, too, bringing real-world know-how to the classroom.

A 30-week adventure RPL’s internship program, started in 1973, is its standout jewel. It’s the only 30-week, 40-hours-per week, 30-credit recreation internship program of its kind in the country. Students are required to complete one before graduation. “The end of your education isn’t with Tim in the Finch 100 classroom,” Otteman said. “It’s at Ford Field or the National Cherry Festival. “You can dip your foot in for 30 weeks and test the waters,” Otteman said. “If you do a job for 30 weeks and hate it, take a different path.” Many students get a job offer from their internship location, he said. After 30 weeks, they’ve made themselves indispensable.


The RPL program’s intensive internship program starts.


The therapeutic recreation concentration is established.

Why is everybody screaming ‘Fire Up?’ In 2019, CMU’s recreation and event management program was judged by the International Festivals and Events Association, made up of professionals from around the globe. “They’re the people who run the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Dublin Irish Festival,” Otteman said. “The big dogs of the big dogs.” They awarded CMU the Gold Pinnacle Award for Best Event Management Bachelor’s Degree. In the world. “It’s phenomenal,” said Otteman, who worked on the 238-page application and was there to accept the award. “When they announced the winner, all these people in the room started screaming, ‘Fire Up Chips!’ Everybody else was thinking, ‘What the heck is going on?’ ”

Where can I work? It’s a big question. Otteman has hundreds of answers, encompassing all three RPL concentrations. A children’s hospital or rehabilitation center. National parks. Nonprofits. Festivals. Universities. Multipurpose arenas that host sports, monster truck shows and concerts. “We give you a set of hard skills that allow you to go into any of these and more,” Otteman said. Recreation and event management students take a programming class where they’re put in a group of five and have to plan and execute an event over the course of the semester. They book a venue, find sponsors, partner with a charity, advertise on social media. Then they create a program book that documents it all. >


Commercial recreation concentration starts.


The community and commercial emphasis areas are merged into the recreation and event management concentration.


The RPL department is home to three distinct majors: outdoor and environmental recreation; recreation and event management; and recreational therapy. Students can choose from several minors, too, including disability studies and community inclusion; event management; leadership; and outdoor and environmental education.

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“In a job interview when they ask, ‘Have you done any programming?’ ” Otteman says, “you drop the mic and hand them the book. “We give them a whole palette of hard skills they can pull from, whether they’re doing wedding planning or planning the Super Bowl.” Beyond learning skills, recreation therapy students leave the program prepared to take the rigorous national certification exam. Last year, 100% of them passed. Skeptical parents, Otteman is ready for you. “There are parents who say, ‘I thought you’d be a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher. I don’t even know what event management is. Will you get a job? What’s the pay?’ “You won’t be making $19,000 a year,” he says. “You’ll be making $40,000 to $70,000.” The bonus, he said: “You’ll be improving the quality of people’s lives.” He understands the skepticism. “My friends say, ‘What do you have a doctorate in, kickball?’ And those are my buddies. We do fight those battles, but it’s getting better.”

What’s ahead? Just as the RPL program evolved from teaching playground leadership, it will keep evolving with society’s needs, said Bob Frost, chairman of the Recreation, Parks and Leisure department. “Recreation therapy has moved away from just working on disabilities to focusing on abilities,” he said. “That helps people live longer and have more productive lives.” Say hello to recreation therapy virtual training. “Due to limitations, some clients can’t go to a golf course,” he said, “but I can virtually put them in a golf course environment that helps increase their balance and coordination.” Our National Parks are in huge demand, with more eager visitors than they can hold. “How about exploring them virtually?” he said. “These are the kinds of changes in front of us. There will always be new challenges and new ways to deliver services.” Meanwhile, Frost loves sending those rock star graduates out into the world to make it better. “They feel like they’re making an impact,” he said. “They’re providing services that people seek out, that improve the quality of life. It’s pretty rewarding.”

One program, multiple paths CMU’s Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services Administration program features multiple minors and three distinct majors: OUTDOOR AND ENVIRONMENTAL RECREATION Outdoor recreation students are trained to work in a variety of areas including camps, outdoor or environmental education programs, parks and adventure programs. Students can take classes or workshops to become nationally certified as a Leave No Trace Trainer, an American Canoe Association Canoe Touring Instructor or a Wilderness First Responder. They also can learn critical skills such as belaying and high ropes courses or become a Project WILD or Project Learning Tree participant. RECREATION AND EVENT MANAGEMENT In 2019, CMU’s recreation and event management program earned the Gold Pinnacle Award for the best event management bachelor’s degree in the world by the International Festivals and Events Association. Students from this concentration learn hard skills in programming, marketing, risk management, budgeting and evaluation. After graduation, they go on to secure jobs such as producing events and recreational opportunities for multipurpose arenas, entertainment venues, festivals, weddings, nonprofits, corporate employers, camps, community recreation and more. RECREATIONAL THERAPY Recreation therapy students leave the program prepared to take the rigorous National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification examination. CMU students pass at a 94.9% rate, compared to the national rate of 88.3%. In 2020, 100% of CMU students passed. Students learn how to provide functional treatment interventions and recreational activities for clients with intellectual disabilities, psychiatric conditions, physical disabilities, chemical dependency issues and age-related challenges. Typical work settings for recreational therapists include physical rehabilitation units, mental health facilities, long-term care, medical camps and community inclusion programs. To learn more about the program, visit


Centralight Fall ’21

‘Tell me

MORE’ Tony Mulkey looks for opportunities to push the envelope in Tampa

If you ask Tony Mulkey, ’02, if you can do something cool in his city like close downtown streets to install temporary zip lines, you have a pretty good odds of getting a yes. “I never start with no,” he said. “Even if I know it might end up as no. I say, ‘Tell me more.‘ Always look for options.” Mulkey, from St. Petersburg, Florida, is special events superintendent for the city of Tampa. He’s is like the cool dad who floods the backyard so you can play hockey. Or the really cool dad who helped pull off a successful Super Bowl during the monumental challenges of a global pandemic. Mulkey works with promoters who want to bring events to the city, from corporate picnics to the 2021 Super Bowl. He and his staff help them find locations, set them up with permits and arrange for police or fire protection, transportation and parking. It all keeps him on his toes, which he loves. A creative guy, he was in his element when his staff had to plan celebratory parades for the Tampa Bay Lightning with two days’ notice. “You have to push your comfort zone at times,” Mulkey said. “Somebody might come to you with an idea you’ve never heard of before.” Like a water slide on a city street. “We had never seen anything like that,” he said. “But we found a street with a slope.” His outdoor and environmental education major at CMU built the solid foundation he draws on every day, Mulkey said. “I go into a planning process that’s directly a result of what I learned at CMU,” he said. “It’s the framework that prepared me for this.”

Tony Mulkey, ’02, is special events superintendent for the city of Tampa.

He recalled one class that required him to keep a resource file of ideas to inspire him later. He’s still collecting. “It kind of got out of hand,” Mulkey said with a laugh. “I bookmarked things. I grabbed recreation brochures whenever I was on vacation. I took pictures of signs with wording I liked.” It’s easy to go into overdrive in this line of work. It’s just as important to slow down and look at what you helped create, he said. “You get so wrapped up in all the moving parts of an event,” he said. “But you have to stop, look around, watch people. They’re having a good time. That’s the result of a lot of hard work. It’s why we do what we do.” >

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Big fun

ON A BIG STAGE From signature sporting events to music superstars, Becca Holtgreive knows details matter

Becca Holtgreive, ’14, inside Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

If you attend an event with Becca Holtgreive, ’14, prepare to notice, well, everything. “I’m the worst person to go to an event with,” she said, laughing. “I notice any little thing that goes wrong. I notice if they’re understaffed at the gates or if the lines are too long. I notice if a stairwell isn’t staffed and I could just open a door that I’m not supposed to. “My sisters will say, ‘Why do you even notice that? It’s not a big deal.’ ” But when you’re an event manager who works on spectacles like the Super Bowl or a Garth Brooks concert, you better be picky. Holtgreive, a Mount Pleasant native, is senior administration and event manager for S.A.F.E. Management of Nevada, a staffing company that specializes in sport facility, special event management and facility security. She manages events at Allegiant Stadium, the $1.9 billion Las Vegas venue that opened in July 2020 but didn’t welcome guests for full-capacity events until this summer due to the pandemic. Holtgreive has worked with minor league baseball teams, with superstars including Taylor Swift, with teams planning four different Super Bowls. The common denominator: fun. “I love being part of creating memories and a great fan experience,” Holtgreive said. “When you go to an event,

26 26

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you’re spending hard-earned money. You always hear people talk about attending a game with their dad and how much fun they had.” As she took a break from a jam-packed schedule to chat, final planning for an event the next day was in full swing — an open house for 10,000 fans eager to see the new stadium, try out the concession items and scope out their seats. The massive event would require 300 workers and took three weeks to plan. Holtgreive’s list was long, from testing ticket scanners to checking restrooms. “There are things you don’t really think about as a fan until there aren’t enough and you’re in a long line,” she said. “If it’s done well, you know exactly where to go and what to do.” She graduated from CMU’s RPL program with a degree in commercial recreation and event management and a minor in hospitality. A key skill she learned: how to work with a team to plan an event. But sometimes Holtgreive pauses, alone, to take it all in. “I’ll be out making sure the ticket scanners are working well, and I always look around and watch the guests come in,” Holtgreive said. “I see the faces of the little kids who are seeing the big sign or the field for the first time. I love seeing how excited people are.” >

‘How has nature SHAPED YOU?’ Connecting with the outdoors is central to Miguel Martinez’s work

If you’re ever lucky enough to visit Grand Tetons National Park, look for Miguel Martinez, ’17. He’s the big-smiling guy in the park ranger hat with the CMU sticker on his car. “I was so stoked to wear this hat,” said Martinez, who staffs the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Visitor Center at the famous Wyoming park. Martinez will lead you on a hike to pristine Phelps Lake or direct you to Schwabacher’s Landing, a stunning scenic spot to sip your morning coffee. (Watch for moose meandering the banks of the Snake River.) It’s a pretty tangible job, most days, set against the backdrop of the stunning Teton range. “But you might have just led the best hike of your life and not know if you moved or inspired somebody,” he said. Sometimes, you do know. When Martinez was a kid growing up in Lake Odessa, every Saturday his mom took him and his three sisters on long canoe trips on the Thornapple River in Hastings, sparking his love of nature. When she died, he got a sound waves tattoo on his forearm of her saying, “I love you.” On one early morning hike, Martinez talked about his mom. Suddenly, a woman from New England burst into tears. She was on a spiritual journey, she told him. Her daughter had recently died, and this was a trip they planned to take together. “She said she felt there was a reason she should take my hike that morning,” he said. “It’s very special when visitors share their vulnerable moments with me. They’ll never forget, and I’ll never forget.” Martinez follows the philosophy of Rockefeller, who donated land to the park.

Miguel Martinez, ’17, works at Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming.

“He believed folks should experience nature, not be taught it,” he said. “As we walk together, I ask visitors, ‘How has nature shaped you into the person you are today?’ I hear great stories.” Like all RPL students, Martinez had to complete a 30-week internship before graduation. He interned at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. He made the most of it, soaking up experiences, volunteering for everything, forging great professional relationships. When he applied for a job in the National Park Service, he was accepted at not just Grand Tetons, but Yellowstone, Yosemite and Glacier national parks. “I was shocked,” he said. “But after all I learned at Central and at my internship, I was 110% confident. I was ready. “I’m so lucky to be where I am,” he said. “Sometimes I have to stop for a moment to pinch myself.” >

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< Reagan Olsen, ’19, is the Fun Boss aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.

basketball tournaments or dodgeball or golfing off the back of the ship, or a craft activity.” A craft activity for 5,000 sailors? She’s on it. Olsen’s Cinco de Mayo festivities included a candy margarita craft. Sailors dipped margarita glass rims in frosting and filled them with colorful sweets. “I wasn’t sure anybody would want to do it,” she said. “But they loved it. “When you talk about the Navy, people assume it’s a bunch of tough guys with no feelings,” she said. “But they’re just like everybody else.

Fun Boss

OF A BATTLESHIP Reagan Olsen leads recreation activities for 5,000 sailors

When your actual job title is “Fun Boss,” there’s some pressure to be fun.

Olsen, who’s originally from Grand Rapids, coordinates holiday parties so big they take eight months to plan.

Reagan Olsen, ’19, knows when to break out the inflatable sumo wrestling suits.

When the ship is docked in Norfolk, Virginia, Olsen rustles up activities in town: water park picnics, wine tours, knife forging classes.

She’s the Fun Boss aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, in charge of recreation for as many as 5,000 sailors on one of the world’s largest warships. “Oh, man, every day is completely different,” she said. “It’s a superfast-paced, crazy experience.” 28

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“Anything under the sun,” she said cheerfully. She has to be nimble. “We might suddenly deploy, and my job does a 180,” she said. “If we’re out to sea, I might clear the flight line for

“If anything, they’re more in touch with their feelings. They have to leave their families. They make sacrifices. I help plan things to keep their morale up so the sailors can focus on their mission.” Her mission involves lots of planning. “You don’t want to be deployed and have no paint for your craft night,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get craft supplies delivered to a battleship. It can take three months.” Her job is all about fun, with a serious purpose. “I’m very passionate about bringing these opportunities to people who sacrifice almost everything every day,” she said. “I love it when I can provide one thing to make their next day better.” Her preparation for all this as an outdoor and environmental recreation major at CMU was solid. “Professors always told us, ‘Prepare for everything to go wrong because it will.’ “I thought, ‘That seems pretty dramatic.’ ” She laughed. “But then I got here, and they were absolutely right,” she said. “I was prepared as much as I could be. But in the Navy, you never know what will happen.” >


Recreational therapist Ohlashia Cowley brings personal ties to her work

Ohlashia Cowley, ’14,is a recreation therapist in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Ohlashia Cowley, ’14, took Denise, a recreation therapy client, to a Fort Wayne TinCaps baseball game recently. Cowley’s clients all have developmental disabilities. Sometimes they blurt out inappropriate words. Or they’re extra loud. They tend to attract attention. “The people in front of us could tell Denise had a disability,” Cowley said. “Soon, they were cheering her on. They told her what a sweet person she is. They even went to the gift shop and bought her a T-shirt and a cap.” It was a great day. Cowley, a recreation therapist at Ferraro Behavior Services in Fort Wayne, Indiana, has a lot of great days. She takes clients shopping, for walks in the park, to baseball games. “My job is to get them out in the community,” she said, “to help them with social skills and motor skills.” Many of her clients live in group homes. They might have an intellectual disability,

cerebral palsy or autism. They look forward to the fun. Along the way, their social skills improve. Their confidence grows. Their muscles get stronger. Cowley is good at this. While a typical case load is 15 or 20 clients, Cowley works with 45. People keep sending clients her way, referral after referral. “I love going to work,” she said. “Some clients I’ve had for five or six years. When I see them improve over time, it makes me so happy.” Cowley’s interest in this work is personal. Her younger sister, Itoro, has a developmental disability. She lives with Cowley, along with their mother, Ondria, who has rheumatoid arthritis. “I love my sister so much,” Cowley said. “She’s taught me and my family compassion for people with these disabilities. I always knew I wanted to help people.” Cowley’s dad, Donald, died in May from COVID-19. As she talked about him, the loss was still fresh.

“He was so supportive of me going to CMU,” she said. “He wore CMU shirts and had a CMU license plate.” Her brother, Ehkemini, Itoro’s twin, urged her on through her studies. Cowley wears her CMU gear proudly, too. “If I didn’t go to CMU, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am,” Cowley said. The Birch Run native honed her recreation therapy skills at two nursing home internships and logged 200 required volunteer hours. “CMU helped me with confidence,” Cowley said. “I was very shy.” Then she started working at the front desk at Fabiano, Woldt and Emmons halls. “I became friendlier,” she said. “I started waving to people. There aren’t enough words to describe what CMU did for me.” It only takes four words to describe what this work has taught her. “We’re all the same.” •

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Joe Staley has been named grand marshal for CMU’s 2021 Homecoming, set for Oct. 16. An offensive lineman who spent 13 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Staley retired in 2020. As a senior in 2006, Staley helped lead the CMU Chippewas to their first Mid-American Conference championship in 12 years, capping the season with a win in the Motor City Bowl. For a complete schedule of Homecoming events, visit


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We drive with pride


Order your CMU license plate today! CMU, an AA/EO institution, strongly and actively strives to increase diversity and provide equal opportunity for all individuals, irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation and including but not limited to minorities, females, veterans and individuals with disabilities. 10130 (5/21)

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ALUMNI NEWS Andrea LaFontaine, executive director of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, has been named Central Michigan University’s next Griffin Endowed Chair in American Government. The Griffin Chair leads the university’s efforts to elevate political awareness and activity among students, faculty and citizens. As chair, LaFontaine will teach two university courses and host community forums on topics related to Michigan government and policies. She replaced David Rutledge, who held the position since 2017.

CMU alum named next Griffin Endowed Chair LaFontaine will lead university’s efforts to elevate political awareness and activity

LaFontaine has a strong connection to CMU. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2009 and a Master of Public Administration degree in 2011. In 2014, she was recognized as a CMU 10 Within 10 recipient. LaFontaine spent much of the past decade working in the state legislature, starting as an intern, then as a staffer and

Opperman named chair of Isabella Bank Corporation Sarah R. Opperman, ’81, retired executive of the Dow Chemical Company, has been named chair of the Isabella Bank Corporation and Isabella Bank Board of Directors. Opperman joined the boards of Isabella Bank Corporation and the bank in 2012. She worked for Dow nearly 30 years, retiring in 2009 as vice president of global government affairs and public policy. In 2018, she served as interim president and CEO of the Midland Business Alliance, an integrated business hub that includes economic development, the Chamber of Commerce and four other organizations. She received the Chairman’s Award from the Alliance in 2019 for her contributions in strategically realigning and relaunching the organization. Opperman spent eight years on the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees, twice serving as chair. CMU alumni also know her as the namesake of the Sarah R. Opperman Leadership Institute, founded in 1997 to give students an opportunity to develop their leadership qualities. The institute functions as the coordinating body for the university’s present and future leadership-related activities and programming. •


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eventually as an elected official. She was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2010 and served three consecutive terms representing constituents in Macomb and St. Clair counties. After leaving office in 2016 due to term limits, she worked for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and in 2020 became executive director of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance. She also has served as an election inspector and a parks and recreation commissioner. “All of these experiences have shaped and continue to shape my perception and understanding of our democratic process,” LaFontaine said. Established in 2000, the Griffin Endowed Chair honors CMU alumni Sen. Robert P. Griffin, who graduated in 1947, and Marjorie Griffin, who graduated in 1944. LaFontaine is the seventh person to hold the position. •

Tranquil and powerful photos earn top Audubon awards for CMU alumnus Jessmore’s bird photography named best in the country In our summer issue, we shared an update about the Steve Jessmore’s wildlife photography receiving national attention from Sony’s Alpha Universe, a leader in state-of-the-art imaging technology. His work continues to turn heads, this time earning both the top award for professional photographers as well as honorable mention in the 2021 Audubon Photography Awards. Jessmore, ’81, was recognized by Audubon magazine for his stunning photo of a northern cardinal in flight during the winter in rural Muskegon County, the same photo that garnered national attention from Sony’s Alpha Universe. “Circle of Life,” his photo of a red-tailed hawk capturing her chipmunk prey in Milford Township’s Kensington Metropark, earned honorable mention. “I am beyond humbled and overwhelmed to learn that two of my birding images swept the professional category of the national 2021 Audubon Photography Awards,” Jessmore said in a Facebook post.

Photos courtesy of Steve Jessmore | “Circle of Life,” Steve Jessmore’s photo of a red-tailed hawk capturing her chipmunk prey, earned honorable mention for professional photography in the 2021 Audubon Photography Awards.

The contest received 8,770 images and 261 video entries from 2,416 photographers. Entries were judged on technical quality, originality and artistic merit. This is the first time one person has swept the professional photography category. Jessmore was a staff photographer at CMU from 2013-18 and a frequent contributor to Centralight. Follow his photography on Instagram @sjessmo. •

Study abroad passion leads to Fulbright award Recent grad to teach English as a second language in Thailand Swartz Creek native Katherine Pulaski, ’21, received a Fulbright grant to travel to Thailand as a teaching assistant for English as a second language. When she first arrived at CMU, Pulaski did not know which path to follow for her studies, so she registered for a wide range of classes. A Buddhism class sparked Pulaski’s passion for cultural studies and ethnographic research. She majored in anthropology and public and nonprofit administration to build upon her interests, and she took her passion for travel to the Study Abroad office, completing an internship and a study Pulaski abroad trip in Thailand. “Studying abroad altered everything. It changed the way I saw the world, what I wanted to do and how I thought about things,” Pulaski said. Pulaski is now preparing for her travels to Thailand and has dreams of pursuing a doctoral degree in anthropology. She is particularly interested in a career in the nonprofit sector working with refugee populations. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for students for study and research projects aborad, as well as English teaching assistant programs. Fulbright recipients are able to live with and learn from people across the world in over 140 countries. •

Felicia Harris

Dan Ward

Julie Messing

Industry leaders join CMURC Board of Directors Felicia Harris, Julie Messing and Dan Ward have been approved to join the Central Michigan University Research Corporation Board of Directors by the CMU Board of Trustees. Harris, ’96, graduated from CMU with a degree in HR management and established her company, EverythingHR. Ward, ’07, initially worked under Dan Gilbert after graduating from CMU, and then went on to create Detroit Labs, a custom software development company. Messing, the third appointee, is director of Isabella Bank Institute for Entrepreneurship (IBIE). She is an experienced entrepreneurship educator who works closely with entrepreneurs and business leaders to bring opportunities to CMU students as well as supporting regional entrepreneurial development. • Centralight Fall ’21



Photos courtesy of Paulie Cohen

Paulie Cohen and his painful, beautiful magnum opus Professor Marvel frontman and CMU alumnus channels his cancer journey into concept album, ‘The Senary’ A friend’s description of the genre-melding debut concept album crafted entirely by Michigan musician Paulie Cohen says a lot about this extraordinary project. “I asked an early supporter of the project what he thought I should put for the genre, and he said, ‘cancer,’ since it’s varied and pretty emotional,” Cohen recalled. “Sometimes it’s quiet and folky, sometimes it jams, sometimes it’s dark and intentionally dissonant, sometimes it’s rock or funk. It’s a pretty epic adventure that mirrors many of the emotions I was processing.” Diagnosed in September 2020 with aggressive B-cell lymphoma, Cohen, ’02, responded by performing and recording his “one-man-band” album. “The Senary” unfolds as a continuous piece of music told from the perspective of 10 characters from his favorite ’80s movies. He did it while enduring several rounds of chemo treatment that sapped his energy after receiving the jarring news of his condition. Speaking from his parents’ home in Traverse City, Cohen said the cancer diagnosis “just really pressed the gas on making sure I made some music, and make sure I occupied my brain with something other than fear. It was wild. It was ambitious.”


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Cohen, 42, grew up outside Flint, influenced by a guitar-playing father with a penchant for classic rock and Motown music. He played drums for an alt-rock band in high school, attended CMU and started playing coffee houses with his acoustic guitar, and eventually, fronted an eight-piece funk band, Professor Marvel & the 4th Quadrant, which toured Michigan’s bar circuit for several years. After spending time in Idaho, Cohen and his wife, Carrie, returned to Michigan to start a family, settling in Kalamazoo. They have a 9-year-old son, Levi, and 6-year-old daughter, Eva.

Honors for CMU Chippewas Dana Thomas, ’13, was honored with the Outstanding Lifestyle Director Award for Central Texas by the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin. Thomas is the lifestyle director for the Wolf Ranch community in Georgetown, a suburb of Austin, and is responsible for developing programs and activities that appeal to residents and future residents of the community. Her program also was honored with the Outstanding Program for a Community Award.

Much of his family resides in northern Michigan, including his parents and his sister. Writing songs for his first solo album — for which he’d developed the central theme years ago — and selfproducing the project presented challenges. But the pandemic and his cancer diagnosis gave him the time and impetus to push it through. “Since I already had the idea and all of the instruments and recording gear in my basement, the mechanics of recording the project weren’t terribly difficult, but the chemo added many complications to having the strength to pull it off,” he said. “I’d cut vocals on the days my voice worked, keys in the middle of the night when the prednisone kept me up and drums when everyone was awake.” The resulting collection, “The Senary,” is lush, strikingly diverse, melodically powerful and vocally impressive, although Cohen fears he may have “explored a few too many genres.” But in a way, that also reflects the concept behind the project, with each track inspired by a different movie from the 1980s. Cohen even encourages fans via his website to guess the movie and the character highlighted in each track. As for promoting the album and performing its tracks in a live setting, Cohen has scrapped some planned gigs because of additional, aggressive chemo treatments he must undergo. He’s hopeful he’ll eventually return to the stage. “It’s obviously a floor-drop-out-from-under-you experience, but I did everything in my power to find purpose in it, since I wanted to be more than just a person stuck with a scary disease,” he reasoned. Read more about Cohen’s journey and the new album online at A longer version of this story by John Sinkevics originally appeared in •

Reyna Frost, ’19, a standout basketball player who spent the 2020-21 season working with the CMU Chippewas as the director of player development, has joined the University of Michigan women’s basketball program as a graduate manager. The 2021-22 season will be her first at Michigan. Zenovia Crier, M.A. ’05, is the new principal of LBJ Elementary School in Odessa, Texas. Previously, she spent 10 years as dean of instruction/technologist for the Houston ISD. With 17 years in the Marine Corp and more than 15 years of experience in education, Crier said one of her main goals is to increase reading and writing comprehension across all grade levels. Shari Schrader, ’91, joins UM-Flint as the next vice chancellor for university advancement. For 18 years, She worked at Purdue University/Purdue Research Foundation, most recently as the chief development officer for the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. Prior to that, Schrader held positions as the director of development for the School of Chemical Engineering and director of development for the School of Nursing and School of Health Sciences at Purdue. Following a national search, the Ohio State University School of Music announced the hire of Lara Semetko-Brooks, ’13. She will teach voice, as well as the production of music for the stage, across a range of musical genres and settings. Her expertise in a diversity of styles including opera, jazz, commercial/contemporary and musical theatre will facilitate collaborations across areas and with other units. While a student at CMU, Semetko-Brooks was the featured soloist for the university’s Women’s Chorus, which toured Europe. Jennifer Schecter, ’02, received the Big Apple Award, the most prestigious honor bestowed on teachers in New York City. She was selected this summer from more than 11,000 nominees. As part of this honor, Schecter will serve as a fellow in the Chancellor’s Teacher Advisory Council, allowing her the opportunity to influence New York Department of Education policy decisions. “Becoming a Big Apple Award recipient provides me with an amazing opportunity to be an advocate for the children of NYC,” she said. • Centralight Centralight Fall Fall ’21 ’21


ALUMNI NEWS Central Michigan University Alumni Association Board of Directors President Kandra (Kerridge) Robbins, ’90, Portland, Michigan Vice president Scott Nadeau, ’89, Dexter, Michigan Past president Nathan Tallman, ’07, M.A. ’09, Macomb, Michigan Directors Brooke Adams, ’11, Detroit, Michigan Rebeca Reyes Barrios, ’00, MBA ’02, Lansing, Michigan Carrie Baumgardner, ’99, M.A. ’02, Davison, Michigan Lester Booker Jr., ’08, MSA ’10, Canton, Michigan

Central Michigan University Board of Trustees Todd J. Anson, ’77 Regine Beauboeuf Sharon Heath, ’96 Isaiah M. Oliver, ’07 Edward J. Plawecki Jr., ’75 Michael A. Sandler Richard K. Studley, ’93 Robert F. Wardrop II, ’72, ’76 For a full listing of Board of Trustees meeting schedules please see https://www.cmich. edu/bot/Pages/default.aspx 36

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Lisa (Laitinen) Bottomley, ’97, Kentwood, Michigan

Spencer Haworth, ’12, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Caroline (Powers) Rizzo, ’15, Traverse City, Michigan

Catherine (Bomber) Claes, ’90, Gladstone, Michigan

Sean Hickey, ’88, M.A. ’90, Traverse City, Michigan

Michelle (Curtis) Rush, ’07, St. Joseph, Michigan

Michael Decker, ’07, Birmingham, Michigan

Bret Hyble, ’82, M.A. ’86, Mount Pleasant, Michigan

Kimberly Sampson, ’17, Midland, Michigan

Nicole DeFour, ’12, M.A. ’15, Ferndale, Michigan

Erica Lagos, ’13, Carmel, Indiana

Darryl Shelton, ’85, Fennville, Michigan

Megan Doyle, ’03, Chicago, Illinois

Anthony Lazzaro, ’15, Newport Beach, California

Christine Simon, ’13, Lansing, Michigan

Jonathan Eadie, ’93, Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan

Linda (Scharich) Leahy, ’82, Midland, Michigan

Norma Eppinger, ’91, Lansing, Michigan Chris Gautz, ’04, Adrian, Michigan Jacalyn (Beckers) Goforth, ’82, Beverly Hills, Michigan

J.J. Lewis, ’06, Simi Valley, California Benjamin Moxon, ’17, Saint Clair Shores, Michigan Thomas Olver, ’98, Lake Isabella, Michigan John Reineke, ’09, Oxford, Ohio

For a full listing including emeritus board members please see https://www. AboutUs/AlumniBoard/ Pages/default.aspx

In Memory


Robert P. Merkel, ’62, ’67 MA, Harrisville, Mich., died May 9, 2021, age 81 Wayne D. Peterson, ’62, Lowell, Mich., died June 16, 2021, age 85 Robert A. Prause, ’63, ’70 MA, Grayling, Mich., died June 10, 2021, age 83 Merle V. Stone, ’63, Brubank, Calif., died April 14, 2021, age 85 Patricia K. (Terry) Urchike, ’63, Chandler, Ariz., died May 18, 2021, age 79 Dean E. Baker, ’65 MA, Novi, Mich., died Dec. 14, 2020, age 82 Robert J. Bordeaux, ’65, Saginaw, Mich., died May 28, 2021, age 78 Sherrill A. (Krueger) Kumler, ’66, Bradenton, Fla., died June 2, 2021, age 76 William J. Maher, ’67, ’71 MA, Comstock Park, Mich., died July 12, 2021, age 78 Johneane E. (Teeter) Powers, ’67, Sylvan Lake, Mich., died Oct. 10, 2020, age 77 Constance M. VanHouten, ’67, Cedar Springs, Mich., died May 21, 2021, age 76 William K. Gorman, ’68, Mount Pleasant, Mich., died May 19, 2021, age 75 Terry B. McBride, ’68, Midland, Mich., died April 30, 2021, age 76 Perry A. (Walther) Owen, ’68, Fenton, Mich., died June 3, 2021, age 74 Leslee A. (Humphrye) Turner, ’68, Apex, N.C., died April 20, 2021, age 74 Marilynn A. (LaFear) Warren, ’68, Hart, Mich., died Jan. 24, 2021, age 75 Nicholie A. Ashcraft, ’69, ’79 MA, Harrison, Mich., died May 21, 2021, age 74 Mary L. (King) Lorenc, ’69, Coleman, Mich., died May 3, 2021, age 74 Carol L. (Conger) Murray, ’69, Caledonia, Mich., died May 17, 2021, age 74 Kenneth C. St. John, ’69, Jackson, Mich., died May 30, 2021, age 75 Brenda L. (Bone) Bonnett, ’70, Grand Rapids, Mich., died May 31, 2021, age 74 Michael J. Britten, ’70, Guttenberg, Iowa, died May 10, 2021, age 75 >


Ray H. Lawson, ’40, Rochester, Mich., died June 1, 2021, age 102 Kathrine E. (Williams) Harrison, ’42, ’67 MA, Bay City, Mich., died Jan. 24, 2021, age 99 Esther L. (Anderson) Medlen, ’42, Ortonville, Mich., died July 7, 2021, age 98 Fay C. Bovee , ’46, Grayling, Mich., died Aug. 02, 2021, age 96 Bernice A. (Nelson) Lirones, ’47, Bellaire, Mich., died Feb. 22, 2021, age 96 Natalie (Jack) Adams Kilfoil, ’48, Greenville, Mich., died April 29, 2021, age 94 Marilla I. Parfitt, ’48, Alma, Mich., died May 27, 2021, age 97 Edward G. Czarnecki, ’50, Flushing, Mich., died July 19, 2021, age 94 Judy R. Nizzola, ’52, Gaylord, Mich., died Dec. 30, 2021, age 93 Beverley A. (Hamblin) Evans, ’53, Clinton Township, Mich., died June 3, 2021, age 89 James E. Hughes, ’53, Traverse City, Mich., died June 7, 2021, age 90 Bill Webb, ’53, Petoskey, Mich., died May 19, 2021, age 92 Eleanor C. (Licht) Schadd, ’54, Pigeon, Mich., died May 23, 2021, age 88 Waive J. (Wilson) Wardwell, ’55, Coldwater, Mich., died June 9, 2021, age 87 Ron E. Todd, ’56, Traverse City, Mich., died May 10, 2021, age 87 Joseph F. Zakrajsek, ’56, Cadillac, Mich., died June 30, 2021, age 87 Kay R. Melvin, ’57, ’65 MA, Wildwood, Fla., died April 30, 2021, age 88 Robert J. Graham, ’59, Lynchburg, Va., died July 18, 2021, age 89 Diane (Little) Mulchay, ’60, Ann Arbor, Mich., died April 19, 2021, age 82 Judy A. (Slattery) Sowle, ’61, Traverse City, Mich., died June 15, 2021, age 82 Peter J. Barton, ’62, ’71 MA, Fountain, Mich., died April 29, 2021, age 81 Phyllis R. (Wolfe) Carroll, ’62 MA, Shepherd, Mich., died May 12, 2021, age 90 Richard A. Fezatte, ’62, Zionsville, Ind., died May 20, 2021, age 80

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In Memory Verona L. (Gribbell) Logan, ’70, Tustin, Mich., died June 9, 2021, age 91 Duane R. Brooks, ’71, Midland, Mich., died May 27, 2021, age 89 Judith A. (Easlick) Freeman, ’71, Mayville, Mich., died April 29, 2021, age 72 Susan S. (Sienko) Parrish, ’71, Sunrise, Fla., died April 19, 2021, age 72 Camilla L. (Bertl) DeWitt, ’72, Roscommon, Mich., died May 9, 2021, age 86 Theresa M. (Wolschlager) Hund, ’72, Clarkston, Mich., died July 7, 2021, age 70 Imants R. Gailis, ’73 MA, Edwardsville, Pa., died June 17, 2021, age 77 Joseph L. Zolton , ’73 MA, New Port Richey, Fla., died April 24, 2021, age 81 Otha D. Johnson, ’74 MA, Arlington, Tex., died April 26, 2021, age 77 LaRae M. (Gillings) Munk, ’74, ’82 MA, Garden City, Kans., died May 15, 2021, age 70


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Michael B. Swartz, ’74, South Milwaukee, Wis., died June 6, 2021, age 74 Ray H. Janes, ’75 MA, Denton, Tex., died April 29, 2021, age 88 Anne M. (Schwacke) Koontz, ’75 MA, Tucson, Ariz., died July 26, 2021, age 84 Andrew F. Martin, ’75, Phoenix, Ariz., died May 5, 2021, age 71 Sue E. (Martin) MartinCrowell, ’75, ’98 MA, Montague, Mich., died May 15, 2021, age 69 Charles E. Spoering, ’75, Cadillac, Mich., died July 18, 2021, age 70 Donald G. Walker, ’75 MA, Syracuse, Ind., died July 27, 2021, age 81 James D. Adams, ’76, Clearwater, Fla., died May 15, 2021, age 85 Ilene M. (Johnson) Green, ’76, ’81 MA, Lakeview, Mich., died May 19, 2021, age 85 Thomas G. Jacques, ’76, Harleyville, S.C., died May 25, 2021, age 73 Andrew W. VanBeelen, ’76, Manistee, Mich., died April 23, 2021, age 68

Robert L. Burton, ’77 MA, Springfield, Ohio, died May 24, 2021, age 86 John W. Cook, ’77, Blanchard, Mich., died May 10, 2021, age 65 Wayne K. Johns, ’77 MA, Ishpeming, Mich., died May 8, 2021, age 88 James L. Brunton, ’78 MA, Collins, Miss., died May 2, 2021, age 82 Nancy A. (Orr) Elliott, ’78 MA, Ubly, Mich., died May 29, 2021, age 72 Helen M. (Murray) Free, ’78 MA, Elkhart, Ind., died May 1, 2021, age 98 Thomas F. Kalil, ’78 MA, Fairfax Station, Va., died May 18, 2021, age 68 Donald G. Reese, ’78 MA, Leawood, Kans., died May 20, 2021, age 83 John A. Ward, ’78, Belmont, Mich., died July 25, 2021, age 65 Ted L. Collins, ’80, Battle Creek, Mich., died May 8, 2021, age 78 Bernard D. Cooper, ’80, Saginaw, Mich., died June 2, 2021, age 88

George S. Efstratis, ’80, Scottsdale, Ariz., died May 6, 2021, age 63 Edward D. Klawitter, ’80 MA, Chesapeake, Va., died May 3, 2021, age 71 Andrew J. Pelak, ’80 MA, O’Fallon, Ill., died May 6, 2021, age 74 Ethel J. (Geboski) Gallagher, ’81, ’87 MA, Mount Pleasant, Mich., died May 2, 2021, age 89 Edward E. Perrault, ’81 MA, North Platte, Neb., died June 1, 2021, age 90 Mark A. Schumann, ’81, ’89 MA, Belmont, Mich., died June 28, 2021, age 61 Edward I. Wexler, ’81 MA, Savannah, Ga., died June 30, 2021, age 75 Edward A. Johengen II, ’82, Mount Pleasant, Mich., died May 29, 2021, age 68 Lorenzo A. Moner, ’82 MA, ’82 MA, Inkster, Mich., died May 13, 2021, age 65 Roger L. Peterson, ’82 MA, Kirkland, Wash., died April 26, 2021, age 74

Jane M. Plamondon, ’82, Mount Pleasant, Mich., died June 15, 2021, age 64 David C. Reinhart, ’82, Flint, Mich., died Nov. 5, 2020, age 62 Luann M. (Scofield) Suckley, ’82 MA, Corpus Christi, Tex., died June 15, 2021, age 79 Wanda L. Ewing, ’83 MA, Cypress, Tex., died May 4, 2021, age 63 John R. Knirk, ’83 MA, Tryon, N.C., died May 23, 2021, age 85 Shirley J. (Geesman) Plumer, ’83, Midland, Mich., died July 15, 2021, age 78 Dennis M. Gilmore, ’84 MA, Kent, Wash., died April 10, 2021, age 78 Carolyn A. Wilson, ’84, Harbor Springs, Mich., died July 22, 2021, age 59 Tamara D. (Howe) Arndt, ’85, Newaygo, Mich., died June 25, 2021, age 57 Richard L. Barz, ’85, Mount Pleasant, Mich., died June 14, 2021, age 68 Constance L. (Banks) Johnson, ’85 MA, Millville, N.J., died July 25, 2021, age 76

Norbert M. Zielinski, ’85, The Villages, Fla., died April 5, 2021, age 77 Elizabeth M. (McClellan) Crockett, ’88, Charlevoix, Mich., died May 22, 2021, age 80 Joseph P. Wojda, ’88, Lansing, Mich., died April 24, 2021, age 56 Penny M. (Drummond) Bearden, ’90, ’94 MA, Ashley, Mich., died May 18, 2021, age 52 Benita Brickhouse, ’90 MA, Youngstown, Ohio, died July 10, 2021, age 70 Jerry L. Saville, ’90 MA, Tehachapi, Calif., died July 27, 2021, age 80 Rick L. Steinhaus, ’90, Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., died May 9, 2021, age 67 Joan M. Rowley, ’92 MA, Staten Island, N.Y., died May 28, 2021, age 70 Ursula A. Steckert, ’92 , Saginaw Twp., Mich., died June 10, 2021, age 55 David L. Baumgras, ’93, Midland, Mich., died May 10, 2021, age 68 Ifield P. Joseph, ’94 MA, Greenville, Ohio, died June 25, 2021, age 65

Robert L. MacKenzie, ’94 MA, LaSalle, Ontario, Canada, died April 30, 2021, age 83 John E. Twietmeyer, ’94, Crossville, Tenn., died June 11, 2021, age 58 Brenda C. (Conway) McDaniel, ’95 MA, Springfield, Va., died May 26, 2021, age 63 Michael E. Marx, ’97, ’03 MA, Macomb, Mich., died May 27, 2021, age 69 James L. Moseley, ’99, Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., died Nov. 13, 2020, age 78 Terrie D. Tolliver, ’99, Auburn Hills, Mich., died May 17, 2021, age 45 Eric G. Beckman, ’00, ’02 MA, Higgins Lake, Mich., died July 15, 2021, age 45 Michelle S. Cooper, ’01, Flushing, Mich., died June 21, 2021, age 42 Christopher W. Forman, ’03, New Hudson, Mich., died Feb. 15, 2021, age 40 Kim V. Thompson, ’04, Alexandria, Va., died June 6, 2021, age 58

Craig A. Stott, ’05, Grand Ledge, Mich., died May 16, 2021, age 64 Judith L. (Counts) Sink, ’06 MA, Newnan, Ga., died June 4, 2021, age 74 Scott S. Campbell, ’12, Charlotte, N.C., died May 2, 2021, age 35 Seth P. DeLeeuw, ’13, Jonesville, Mich., died May 20, 2021, age 32 Matthew M. Mott, ’13 MA, Carroll County, Ohio, died May 3, 2021, age 32 Brian J. Barnes, ’15, Brunswick, Ohio, died May 1, 2021, age 27 Alec M. Esparza, ’18, Saginaw, Mich., died June 25, 2021, age 25 FACULTY John “Jack” L. McCarthy, Mount Pleasant, Mich., died Aug. 11, 2020, age 83 STAFF Sarah J. Kunik, Mount Pleasant, Mich., died March 29, 2021, age 42

Centralight Fall ‘21


DO YOU REMEMBER Homecoming 1990-1995

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1991 - Carole Howard








Whether we’re prepared to accept it or not, it’s now 30-plus years since 1990. And while the ’90s still feel like the very recent past to many, a quick glance at these memories from Homecoming in the early part of the decade — along with the fashion, hairstyles and cars — might help reframe that “recent past” thinking!









1995 Centralight Centralight Fall Fall ‘21 ’21

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Carlin Alumni House Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant, MI 48859


Your dollars

MAKE CHANGE Student Emergency Fund

dollars have been awarded


Students awarded dollars


Dollars raised in 2020-21


Life is full of twists and turns — events that can threaten a student’s college education. At CMU, our Student Emergency Fund is there when our CMU Chippewas need a boost, often allowing them to stay in school through difficult circumstances.

The Student Emergency Fund allowed Candy Boakyewaa to realize her dream of achieving a college degree. Due to insufficient financial aid, she was in danger of being dropped from her classes in her senior year. With support from donors, Candy earned her degree in integrative public relations with a minor in public affairs.


Candy Abena Boakyewaa, ’18 Integrative public relations major, public affairs minor

CMU, an AA/EO institution, strongly and actively strives to increase diversity and provide equal opportunity within its community.  CMU does not discriminate against persons based on age, color, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, height, marital status, national origin, political persuasion, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, race, religion, sex, sex-based stereotypes, sexual orientation, transgender status, veteran status, or weight. (see UComm 10076 (8/2021)

Donors in 2020-21

Profile for Central Michigan University

Centralight, Central Michigan University Alumni Magazine, Fall 2021  

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