Q&A With Our Donors – Jerry and Suzanne Callahan

Jerry and Suzanne Callahan’s relationship with Davenport University spans more than two decades, which is fitting for people who describe themselves as lifelong learners. Their strong commitment to education and connection to Davenport led them to establish the Jerry and Suzanne Callahan Endowed Scholarship. Suzanne is a Davenport faculty member, teaching at the W.A. Lettinga Campus and online within the Marketing department. Jerry, now the Vice President of Innovations & Collaborations at the Van Andel Institute, served in a leadership role for Davenport’s Information Technology team from 1995-2000 and was instrumental in launching Davenport Online in 1997. They shared some of their thoughts on scholarship opportunities and the type of education DU provides with us.

You established an endowed scholarship at DU which you still support. What was your primary incentive to fund a scholarship?

Jerry: Simply put, we are lifelong learners. Our parents, and hopefully our children, see the true value of education as a life changing force. While our endowment is not the largest, we take great pride that someone is able to build part of their learning legacy as a result of our gift. We only hope it inspires the recipients to become lifelong learners, because that is where the fun is.

Suzanne: We realized that our [own] education was our ticket to opportunity and we wanted to do something to try to ease the burden for future students. Many of the students we knew at the time were full time working parents who might not have continued their degree if they did not have financial assistance. Other students we met were first-generation college attendees who may not have seen firsthand the way the college experience could open doors for their future and might not continue if finances got tight. The work ethic and desire to do more for themselves and their families motivated us to do our part to support their goals.

Jerry – you have been very involved in the West Michigan business sector for many years, including many entrepreneurial roles. Do you see Davenport as a launching pad for similar career paths? How does the education and experience DU provides prepare students to succeed in today’s world?

In a word, innovation. Every economy needs well-informed, practical problem solvers. This has always been, to me, the precise type of applied learning Davenport University has offered for more than 150 years.

What do you both feel most passionate about in your community?

Suzanne: I am privileged to serve on the Forest Hills Public Schools Board of Education and am completely immersed in innovation in K-12 education and how it relates to college and career. Now more than ever, I see a strong desire from the workforce, colleges and K-12 education to ensure students are engaged in deep and meaningful learning that will lead to success for them, their families and the community around them. In a related vein, we are active ambassadors for the Mary Free Bed YMCA. The Y is a powerful force for good in every corner of our community and we are particularly proud to be part of new facility. Teaching and learning about healthy lifestyles helps kids and families do well in school and work so this is a logical place to invest our energy.

Alumni Success Story: Brandie Heyboer ’16

As a Staff Accountant for Broadstone Accounting, Brandie Heyboer ’16 works behind-the-scenes as a bookkeeper and accountant for hotels and campgrounds around the Ludington area. Brandie values mentors and networking because of the connections she built growing up in a small town. She says, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the great mentors in my life, including my current supervisor Robert Lancour ‘98, ‘13, a DU alumnus.” Learn more about Brandie and her role as an accountant below.

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Tell us about yourself, Brandie!

I was born in Grand Rapids and raised in Ludington. After high school I attended West Shore Community College (WSCC) where I fell in love with accounting. My original plan was to be a pharmacist, but after my internship in WSCC’s accounting department and words of advice from my mentors, I was inspired to earn my bachelor degree in accounting at Davenport. After I graduated, I immediately got a job working as a Staff Accountant in my hometown.

As a graduate of DU, when you think of your experience what comes to mind?

It was great! I was student of the West Shore Community College 3 in 1 program, where I took classes at WSCC for 3 years and transferred to DU in my last year. I took most of my classes online while working full-time. I liked how my classwork directly related to the experience I was gaining in my internship.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

I am a Staff Accountant at Broadstone Accounting. We manage the behind-the-scenes bookkeeping and accounting for hotels and campgrounds around the Ludington area. On a day-to-day basis, I handle payroll, accounts payable and accounting processes. I also have special projects – creating waivers for expansion and construction processes, working with banks to obtain records and assisting the staff with whatever they need help with. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the great mentors in my life. And luckily for me my supervisor, Robert Lancour who is also a DU grad earned his BBA in accounting in 1998 and MBA with an accounting concentration in 2013, has been a great mentor.

What is your dream job?

I enjoy my role now, but someday I would like to be a Finance Manager or a Payroll Manager for a larger company or maybe even start my own business.

What do you do when you are not working?

I am passionate about my community that I live and work, so I spend time volunteering at the Animal Shelter and other places in Ludington. I enjoy reading and spending time outdoors and I live in a perfect area to be able to do a variety of outdoor activities – kayaking, camping, hiking, snowmobiling, etc.

Announcing the 2016 Alumni Award Honorees

2016 Alumni Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumni Award

Mike Ohlman, Class of 1988, Grand Rapids Fulton Street Campus

Mike Ohlman, ’89, combined two of his favorite passions, cars and accounting, to create a path to his dream job as the CFO at Berger Chevrolet in Grand Rapids. During college at Davenport, Mike worked in the parts department at Berger and used his hands-on accounting experience to earn a spot on the accounting team. Working his way up, Mike landed the CFO role a little over 18 years ago. Now, Mike is proud to say his son, Lucas, is following in his dad’s footsteps at Davenport.

College of Business Alumni Award

Carlos Sanchez, Class of 2007, W.A. Lettinga Campus

Carlos Sanchez ’07 is the Director of Latino Business and Economic Development Center at Ferris State University, where he is responsible for connecting with the growing Latino population in West Michigan communities while seeking support for initiatives to spur economic development. Sanchez was most recently the executive director of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Grand Rapids and has held previous positions as diversity specialist for Spectrum Health and diversity programs coordinator for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. Carlos is a former alumni board director.

Hy Berkowitz Outstanding Alumni Award

Tina Pietrangelo, Class of 2007, Holland Campus

Tina Pietrangelo, ’07, was the first in her family to pursue higher education. She was determined to complete her bachelor’s degree as an adult student against all odds and she did it “One Class, One A” at a time. These were the words that motivated her to further her education while she raised her family and worked full-time. Tina recently joined Haworth as a Plant Manager at the LPP Plant, leading a staff of more than 300 people.  She also finds great fulfillment in volunteering as a board member at the Boys and Girls Club in Holland.

College of Technology Alumni Award

Michelle (Stonebrook) Seneca, Class of 2002, Holland Campus

Michelle (Stonebrook) Seneca ’02, IT Director at S2 Yachts (Tiara Yachts), is a self-proclaimed technology enthusiast. She fell in love with computers as a teenager, but it wasn’t until she attended DU that she was able to make her passion her career. Michelle now leads six full-time staff members who manage Tiara Yachts’ hardware, software, data and communications. Her team develops and manages the ERP system and other business software, maintains information security and assists employees with IT related issues in both the Holland and Florida locations. Michelle is an inspiration for women in the technology field, including her niece, Kristen, who works as a web developer at DU.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Jim VanDam, Class of 2012, W.A. Lettinga Campus

Jim Van Dam ’12 works in the front office at the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning as a Premium Sales Manager. He is responsible for tailoring corporate ticket packages for businesses in southern Florida to create memorable fan experiences.  Jim’s road to the “major leagues” wasn’t easy, but he credits the practical, hands-on learning experiences he received at DU to help him land his dream job in the NHL.


College of Health Alumni Award

Monica Goodrich, Class of 1998, Midland Campus (Great Lakes College)

Monica started her nursing career at the age of 15.  She took a nurse aide training class as part of an after-school program and fell in love with nursing.  After graduation she immediately enrolled in college and became a Licensed Practical Nurse.  Soon after, she continued her pursuit of nursing, and attended Davenport University and obtained her registered nurse license in 1998.  Since 1998 to present, Monica holds title to the Director of Nursing at Brittany Manor Living and Rehabilitation Center in Midland.  Monica attributes her nursing leadership to the guidance, teaching and training to Davenport University, providing her a sound structure for the proper delivery of nursing services as well as a platform for additional training and education in the nursing profession to continue to grow and expand nursing knowledge.



DU Accepted Into NCAA Division II Membership Process

We are proud to announce that Davenport’s application for National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) membership in Division II has been approved for the three-year membership process.

As you know, Davenport is committed to quality and achievement of high standards. Acceptance of our application for membership into NCAA Division II affirms the great progress we have made as an institution, and we look forward to the opportunities this affiliation will provide to our students and community. We believe NCAA membership will enhance the quality of college life at Davenport and help us attract the best and brightest students interested in a career-focused education.

For the 2016-2017 school year, we will continue as an active member of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) within the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) while we serve in what is called Provisional Year One with NCAA Division II and the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).

Beginning with Provisional Year Two (2017-18), we will join the GLIAC in all sports playing a full conference schedule. After completing Provisional Year Three (2018-19) of the membership process, we will gain full NCAA membership and become eligible to compete for NCAA Division II championships beginning as early as 2019-20. The Division II Membership Committee annually determines if an institution should be moved forward into the next year of the membership process.

This marks a new journey and a new challenge for our athletic program. Congratulations to our Athletic Director, Paul Lowden, and his staff for all the hard work to get us here!

Alumni Success Story: Aldina Sejdovic ’11

Aldina Sejdovic ’11 grew up in Dresden, Germany and now leads a team at Lake Michigan Credit Union as a Branch Manager with her passion for helping people. She started as a Teller and took classes at Davenport to help advance her career. Aldina says, “The more DU classes I took, the more I realized what I wanted to do with my life – lead and work with people.” Read more about Aldina and her journey below.

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Q & A with Aldina

Tell us about yourself, Aldina!

I was born in Serbia and grew up in Dresden, Germany. My family and I moved to the United States in July 2001 and settled in Grand Rapids. After high school, I knew I wanted to go to college, but didn’t know what I wanted to do. I enrolled at GRCC, where I pursued a general studies degree. A few years later, I began taking classes at Davenport as a dual-enrolled student. The more DU classes I took, the more I realized what I wanted to do with my life – lead and work with people. Today, I am using what I learned at Davenport to lead an awesome staff as a Branch Manager at Lake Michigan Credit Union.

What was your experience like at DU?

I felt like I belonged at Davenport. As a full-time employee, I found the classes relevant to my work-life and they were extremely convenient. The professors actually cared about me as a person. I had a health scare in 2010 and missed a lot of school. I remember my accounting professor saying, “Your health is most important. When you feel better, turn your stuff in. We will get through this together.” I wasn’t just a number, but a valued student who they cared about.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

I have been an employee at LMCU for more than 10 years. Recently, I was promoted to manage the Lake Michigan Drive office at Lake Michigan Credit Union. My job is to help members reach their financial goals by providing them excellent products and services. Knowing that I am making a difference in people’s lives by helping them with their finances – either helping them pay off a student loan, finance their first car, or consolidate their payments to a better financial well being  – is extremely rewarding to me.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about people. I love leading my staff and helping them reach their personal and professional goals by being their motivator and cheerleader! I also enjoy serving people in our community by volunteering to clean up parks or reading to children at the local elementary. Building strong relationships in and out of the office is really important to me.

What do you do when you are not working?

I spend time with my daughter, Layla. She is the light of my life. I also have a YouTube channel. I make videos about fashion, make-up, organization, budgeting and saving people money by shopping smart!

5 New Things Happening Around the W.A. Lettinga Campus this Summer!

With the growing enrollment of the W.A. Lettinga Campus, many  new things are popping up all over the campus this summer! Check out the list of new buildings, residence halls, clubs, and student organizations below!

#1 Donald W. Maine College of Business Building

The Donald W. Maine College of Business building is starting to look more like a business school. Come January of 2017, this three-story, 60,000-square-foot building will support business education, entrepreneurship and creativity. This space is intended to give students a flexible learning environment to help them better interact, study and create. The College of Business building will make the transition from class to class much easier, and it will free up space which will provide much more room for technological and educational growth.

#2: Panther Ridge Residence Hall

Lots of progress is being made over at the new apartment residence hall – Panther Ridge! Panther Ridge will be a new apartment style residence hall at the corner of 60th and Kraft for DU students to take advantage of in September of 2016. All the rooms have been reserved for this Fall. We are anticipating a fun, vibrant housing complex for students.

#3: Panther Woods Residence Hall

The fourth building in the new Panther Woods complex is also coming together quickly! This new Panther Woods building on 68th is just a mile away from campus, walking distance to the Farmers Athletic Complex. Set to open in September of 2016, this new housing option is perfect for upper level students.

#4: New Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex Turf Field  

The Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex, located on 68th St., is now complete with home stands, concessions, a ticket booth and athletic locker rooms and offices, ensuring the best possible experience for DU athletic teams and our guests.  This space houses Football, Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Men’s and Women’s Track & Field, and Men’s Rugby and many other practices, events and community activities.




#5: New Registered Student Organizations (RSO)

Next on our list of new things happening around the W.A. Lettinga Campus this summer are new Registered Student Organizations. The first RSO is “DUbate,” a student organization with the goal of ultimately participating in college level debates. The DU Black Student Union, along with two other academically honorary societies: Alpha Lambda Delta and Upsilon Pi Epsilon are also new to campus this summer.

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Meet Mr. Sim-Man!

Meet Mr. Sim-Man! He resides in the W.A. Lettinga, Lansing, Warren and Midland nursing simulation labs. He and his friends, Sim-Mom and Sim-Newby simulate real patients. They talk, breathe, sweat, cry, seize, deliver babies, turn blue with many more scenario details. High Fidelity Simulators allow students to practice clinical skill competencies and develop clinical reasoning skills in a safe and fun environment. This experience adds excitement to the learning process and produces safe, quality practicing nursing graduates.

Alumni Success Story: Joanna Udo ’14

If you were to ask Joanna Udo ’14 ten years ago if she would have a flourishing career as a Systems Engineer at Spectrum Health, she would say ‘no way!’ She was originally attracted to DU because of their growing nursing program, but randomly decided to pursue a technology degree instead. “This job helped me realize that you don’t have to be a doctor to make an impact on the lives of patients.” Learn more about Joanna and her path below.

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Tell us about yourself, Joanna!

I am a Systems Engineer at Spectrum Health. But, thinking back, this is not where I thought I would be today. My mother is a nurse, so growing up I thought I wanted to be a nurse or doctor. When it was time to go to college, my parents and I walked into the admissions office at Davenport to obtain all the necessary information for enrolling in the BSN program. During that visit I flipped through the DU catalog, looking at all the programs that were offered. I randomly, landed on computer networking. I remember saying, “This looks like fun, sign me up!” My mother looked at me and asked “What is that?!”, surprised at the sudden change of fields. I loved working with computers and knew enough about them to get by, so I started the program that year and never looked back. I graduated with two degrees in computer networking and network security in 2014.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

As a Systems Engineer at Spectrum Health, I support system infrastructure needed to facilitate and enhance patient care. My job is to make sure the direct care staff have the tools to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. While Systems Engineer is a broader title, my focus is on voice engineering providing support for the phone systems throughout the Spectrum Health System. My team and I manage more than 23,000 phones at over 200 locations. It is fascinating to think about the infrastructure and all of behind the scenes work that is required to keep the systems stable. Not only do we ensure all the phones are running as they should, we also set up special requests, support Jabber – our instant messenger application, and manage new site conversions. At the same time, we have to do a lot of day-to-day maintenance and support the existing systems.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Securing a job in my field prior to graduation.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about healthcare, the community and promoting diversity in the field of technology. I have worked with Spectrum for five years (one of that as a contractor). Throughout my years here, I have come to the realization that everyone in the organization has a great impact in the lives of our patients.  Knowing that the work I do helps save lives and allows me to give back to the community is a dream come true.

What do you do when you are not working?

My mom owns multiple adult foster care homes, where we care for mentally disabled adults 24/7. When I am not working, I help run the business as I am the entire HR department – hiring, compensation, compliance, scheduling etc. I also like to volunteer in the community and attend events that are geared towards technology professionals as well as promoting diversity in the tech field. I am the Membership Director for a professional group called Information Systems Security Association (ISSA).

Alumni Success Story: Emily Veneklase ’13 ’15

With a true passion to make a difference, alumna Emily Veneklase ’13 ’15 feels that her job is the perfect fit for her! As a nurse, Emily is excelling in her dual role as a Stroke Program Coordinator and Nurse Educator at Metro Health Hospital.  She said, “I found my niche in healthcare working as an educator, ensuring staff has all the necessary training and resources that they need to provide the best care for our patients.” Learn more about Emily and her passions below.

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Tell us about yourself, Emily!

I have always loved school and have a passion for healthcare. Growing up, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. When I got a taste of the quality and educational-side of the nursing field in my internship at Spectrum Health, I found my niche. I combined my passions and earned my first degree from DU in nursing in 2013 and my masters in nursing with a concentration on education last fall. Currently, I work at Metro Health as their Stroke Program Coordinator and as a Nurse Educator.

Why did you pick DU?

Davenport is in my blood. Both of my sisters and I went to Davenport. When it came time to find a college that I would feel comfortable and be successful, Davenport was the right choice for me. I liked the small town, community feel of the W.A. Lettinga Campus. I felt at home.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

I worked as a nurse at Metro Health for three years before I got my new role. I now have dual role at Metro as their Stroke Program Coordinator and as a Nurse Educator. The two different positions fit very well together. As the Stroke Program Coordinator, I ensure all accreditation and training standards related to stroke care are implemented. I work with nurses, physicians and staff to meet standards and patient care criteria. On the flip side, as a Nurse Educator I manage nurse continuing education and help them learn about the latest industry standards and best practices.  We have such a great team at Metro! I love it there!

Why do you do what you do?

I want to make a difference. I truly love helping people and when you have a great staff, like I do at Metro, it is easy to have passion for healthcare.

What advice do you have for DU recent grads?

Get out of your comfort zone and make connections with people. I would highly advise trying something new. You never know where you are going to meet people and find your passions.

What do you do when you are not working?

I spend a lot of time with my family and friends. I enjoy going to the beach and trying new restaurants.