Alumni Success Story: Amanda Denomme ‘15

As a Digital Content Strategist for Dart Container, alumna Amanda Denomme ‘15 spends her days running around the Dart Container campus assisting in photo shoots and writing about foodservice products, foam recycling, and the iconic red Solo® party cup. Learn about the many hats Amanda wears as a social listener, content marketer, and creative influencer below.

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Q & A with Amanda

Tell us about yourself, Amanda!

I graduated from Davenport University in 2015 with my BBA in Marketing. Currently, I work for Dart Container in Mason, Michigan in the Web, Marketing Communications Department (WMC). In addition to working at Dart, I have been freelancing for the past five years, covering arts and entertainment in West Michigan and Greater Lansing.

What was your experience like at DU?

I loved my experience at Davenport University because I built so many positive relationships with my professors, supervisors from my student positions, and classmates; while growing my skills in marketing. Some of my favorite memories at Davenport were being a part of the American Marketing Association with my friends, and working in the Communications Department. My student position was so much fun, and I feel it has prepared me for the position I am in now. I also owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of my professors and supervisors while I was in school. These mentors helped me find my passion for the digital marketing and public relations/communications realm, and have stood by my side throughout my journey at DU. I found that everything they have taught me, I have applied in the real working world.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

At Dart Container I am a Digital Content Strategist in the Web, Communications Marketing Department. I really enjoy this position because no day is ever the same and is always filled with opportunities for creativity. My main duties include managing our social media platforms, which includes social listening and responding to fans, managing and updating editorial calendars, creating content for the website and our microsites, and lastly writing creative briefs and design ideas for photoshoots.

We are a foodservice manufacturing industry, so my department is always taking photos of products for literature, the website, and even social media. In my position, I come up with the design ideas for photos that will be used on social media, which can be a very fun and busy process! I often use social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration when coming up with new ideas that will engage our audience while building brand awareness and sales. When beginning a photoshoot project, I have to be a creative liaison from start to finish. After creating a new design idea that is approved, you will find me around town picking out food, decorations, or anything in particular that I would like to see in our shots. And that’s just the planning! Afterwards, I get to work closely with our photographer on the design and layout of our shot, and it’s really cool to get a behind the scenes look at how the creative process works for photographers and designers. During photoshoot weeks it can be very busy with lots of running around, so I always bring a pair of comfy shoes to work because I never know where I might be.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I would have to say my biggest accomplishment is that I have been able to continue my freelancing career since beginning at Dart. For the past five years I have freelanced for multiple publishing companies in the West Michigan and Greater Lansing; covering arts and entertainment. A few of my favorite stories that I have covered include interviews with actors from Broadway shows like Sound of Music, Dirty Dancing, Riverdance, and Motown the Musical. I also enjoyed interviewing Emily West, runner-up of Season 9’s America’s Got Talent, and most recently, I covered Common Ground Music Fest, an annual week-long music festival located in Downtown Lansing.

What are you passionate about?

Professionally, I am passionate about creating marketing and social media strategies and campaigns that will help businesses grow. Also, I am passionate about covering stories in the performing arts industry because it’s an absolutely fascinating world filled with talent, style, freedom and acceptance. On a personal note, I also have a big love for fashion and shoes (definitely shoes)!

What do you do when you are not working?

When I am not working, I love attending Broadway shows and plays, especially ballet or contemporary dance performances. As a writer, I usually get the opportunity to attend the shows I have covered, which is one of my favorite perks of being a journalist. Also, I am a diehard reality T.V. fan, so you can usually find me tweeting during Dance Moms and The Bachelor, or just keeping up with my favorite Kardashians. I also enjoy taking fitness classes, playing volleyball or going bowling with my friends.

4 Reasons to Volunteer for DU Freshmen Move In Day 2016

Freshman move-in is right around the corner and we need your help! Learn more about the experience and why you should volunteer below!

  1. Share your own experiences and answer questions!

As an alumni, at one point or another, you had your own move in day as a freshman at DU! You can use your expertise and experience to answer questions for incoming students and help them feel much more at ease.

  1. You can lend a hand!

Moving in is hard work, but many hands can help make any workload a bit lighter! Volunteers who are willing and able to help in this area can make such a positive impact on a student’s move-in experience!

  1. It’s a great way to say “Welcome to Davenport!”

We want our incoming freshmen class to feel like they are a part of something so much bigger. Welcoming them to the DU community during their transition into living on campus will help them feel much more at home.

  1. A great opportunity to meet other DU alumni

Like any other DU event, this is a great opportunity to network and connect with fellow alumni! We hope to see you there!

Freshmen Move-In at the W.A. Lettinga Campus

When: Friday, September 2

Time: Shifts between 8:30 a.m. – 2:15 p.m.

Duties: registration, general questions, directing traffic & moving students in

Interested? Sign up today!

Alumni Success Story – Myrna Starr Brown ’14

“Davenport University helped me find my purpose,” said Myrna Starr Brown ’14. After nearly two decades as a hair stylist, Myrna turned in her clippers for a stethoscope as she earned her BSN at Davenport. Today, she is a RN Unit Manager at Sanctuary at McAuley in Muskegon, MI assisting senior residents in their rehabilitation experience. Learn more about Myrna’s journey below.

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Q & A With Myrna!

Tell us about yourself, Myrna!

I graduated from Reeths-Puffer High School in Muskegon. I always knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to be a nurse, but instead I went to cosmetology school. For nearly two decades, I worked hard to build a strong clientele and ultimately became a well-established and successful hair stylist and salon owner.  I earned a great living for my family.  After a series of personal and professional challenges, I decided that I wanted to start over and return to school. I retired from the hair business and completely changed my career path. I enrolled in the nursing program at DU. Today, I am a registered nurse.

What was your experience like at DU?

My experience at DU was great. I felt like a fish out of water because I was the oldest student there – the other students were nearly the same as age as my daughter!  I remember my first couple of weeks – I showed up in business attire with a jacket and high heels. The students were wearing t-shirts, flip-flops and pajamas! I quickly adapted to their style.

But, my journey at Davenport University was incredible. They supported me through all of my ups and downs. Being a divorced, single, full-time mother of three, working, traveling back and forth from Muskegon to GR for classes and clinical – plus many other things weighing on my mind, I had a lot on my plate. The professors and my fellow classmates were always there for me. Davenport University helped me to succeed and achieve my goals.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

I am a RN Unit Manager at Sanctuary at McAuley in Muskegon. I manage and help coordinate the care for up to 12 patients at a time with a direct support staff of 3 CNAs.  The residents that I care for are not sick enough to be in the hospital but not ready to go home. They need short-term rehab services due to recovery from some type of orthopedic surgery, such as a hip replacement, or they might be recuperating from an exacerbation of other chronic illnesses like COPD or congestive heart failure.

I take my work personally and I truly love the people that I provide care for. When I look at my residents, I see my dad. I think, this is someone’s dad or mom, or this is someone’s husband or wife, brother or sister.  I put my heart and soul into my work, just as I would do for my own.  It is a wonderful feeling to know that I can be an effectual  component in the promotion of healing, health, and wellness for others.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Earning my nursing degree from Davenport University. My mother is a registered nurse and I remember watching her go through nursing school as a kid. I always wanted to go back to school, but I didn’t think I was smart enough. I thought my siblings were smarter than me – I have one brother who is a doctor, one is an accountant, and one is a respiratory therapist. I also have a sister who is a social worker. Davenport helped me realize my potential – I was on the Dean’s List every semester!  Now, I am a bachelors prepared registered nurse!

What advice do you have for DU recent grads?

There may be some obstacles trying to seek employment and settle into your new profession because “life” is much different than the structured school setting that is designed for your success.  Try not to stress, stay focused, and take them down one at a time!  I was so busy thinking of all the things that I didn’t think I could do, when all I had to do is try!  Just do it!   Things always seem to work out.

What do you do in your free time?

I recently got married, so I spend a lot of time with my husband. I enjoy spending time with my kids and family.  I am currently pursuing my career goals in advanced practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner with an expected graduation date of October 2017!

Perfect Night for Lansing Lugnuts Alumni Outing

It was a perfect night for baseball, as nearly 40 alumni and friends gathered for a Lansing Lugnuts ballgame last week Friday.  Alumni were greeted with front row seats on the Pepsi Porch and an all-you-can-eat BBQ buffet! The night ended with a bang as fireworks lit up the summer night sky over center field. View photos from the event on the Alumni Association Facebook page.

Alumni Success Story – Tina Pietrangelo ’07

By day, Tina Pietrangelo ’07 leads a staff of more than 300 people as the Plant Manager of the Haworth LPP Plant. By night, Tina’s passion is serving as a board member at the Boys and Girls Club of Holland, mentoring the next generation of leaders. Learn more about Tina’s journey, her experience at Davenport and the importance of reflecting on her past  below.

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Tina Pietrangelo ’07 Alumni Success Story

 “Growing up, I never knew I was poor. I remember bragging to my friend about my cheaper ‘reduced’ lunch cost,” said alumna Tina Pietrangelo ‘07. “I thought my mom negotiated a great price on lunch.”

 Tina’s parents are hardworking, but neither had a formal education. “My parents provided us the best life they could. We even relocated to Holland from Saginaw during my high school years so that we could have a safer community to live.”

 The word “college” was never brought at the dinner table at Tina’s house. It wasn’t until she heard a rumor about Upward Bound that sparked her interest.

 Upward Bound is a program of the US Department of Education to provide support and opportunities for high school students from low-income families and those who are the first in their families to attend college, like Tina.

 “I heard the Upward Bound program paid you to get help with your homework. I went there and I got the ‘education fever.’ The next day I asked my counselor what it took to enroll in college at Davenport.”

 With lots of enthusiasm but little money, Tina started at Davenport on Fulton Street in Grand Rapids to earn the chance she was looking for to succeed. Her path wasn’t smooth but she made mini-goals and progressed towards graduation.

 Tina found employment at Burger King and she was able to take advantage of their tuition assistance program. “They matched every dollar I earned with scholarship assistance. I worked every shift I could to get the most money available.”

 Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. When she ran out of money, she wasn’t able to afford classes and had to drop out.

 She worked as a restaurant manager for many years but the thought of returning to school was always in the back of her mind.

 In the meantime, Tina got married and started a family. She left the restaurant business, got a job working in manufacturing at Johnson Controls and began to work her way up.

During a conversation with her stepdaughter, she realized that her kids were learning from her career path. A lightbulb went off when her stepdaughter was questioning the value of a college degree, since her and husband didn’t have one at the time and were successful. Wanting to be the best role model she could be, Tina re-enrolled at Davenport.

 She decided to return to school with the mantra: One Class. One A. Her goal was to earn her associate’s degree before her step daughter graduated high school and earn her bachelor’s degree before her step daughter graduated college.

 “I remember posting a list of all the classes I needed to complete in my closet. Every time I completed a class, I would joyfully cross it off the list. One by one I was getting closer to my goal.”

 Between the in-seat and online class formats, Tina says Davenport made the classes manageable for her busy life as a full time mother and worker. “I was able to do my homework with my kids at the dinner table. I enjoyed how the professors made the classroom experience applicable to real-life situations. The knowledge and skills I was learning in my classes at DU were directly applicable to my job at JCI. I don’t know of any other university using that teaching model.”

 In the spring of April 2007, Tina crossed off the last class from the list posted in her closet and prepared for her long-awaited graduation day. She arranged for her family to watch her walk across the stage at the Van Andel Arena in style – in the JCI executive suite.

 Tina is now the Plant Manager for the LPP Plant at Haworth in Holland, leading a team of 300 employees. She also finds great fulfillment in volunteering as a board member for the Boys and Girls Club in Holland and stresses to the kids the importance of going back to school to further their education.

“Mentoring is my passion. I use it as my platform for advocating for the youth. Every time I am able to share my ‘hopes and dreams’ with kids who are struggling with challenges, I remember my roots and reflect. I was in their shoes.”

Recently, at the Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year program the nominees recognized Tina for her involvement with the program by presenting her with a RUN DMC shirt to remind her of her youth.

 The message Tina often tries to impart to the Youth of the Year nominees is to strive to be their best, never forget where you come from and use your past as a means to reflect and thrive for a brighter future. Tina stated that she connects with the kids by reflecting on her personal journey. She helps identify with the youth what she may have responded to and does so by asking herself what would I have told the “younger her.”

 Tina never attended a boys and girls club as a kid but said that she was a club kid facing similar challenges that some of the youth face and values the support the club offers to help be a springboard for the youth to realize their dreams.

 ”The kids at the club are amazing. By investing our time and funding, we are impacting the lives of kids that may be our future leaders. The ROI of such an investment is beyond measure.”

 

Volunteer for the Color Run

Looking for a fun way to give back to DU? Volunteer for the Color Run in Downtown GR!

The Women’s Lacrosse Team is looking for volunteers to help throw color at the 2016 Color Run in downtown Grand Rapids this Saturday, August 6. Each and very volunteer counts! That means if the Women’s Lacrosse Program recruits 20 volunteers they will get $800 from the Color Run. The more volunteers, the more money for their program! It is a fun way to give back. All employees, family and friends are welcome to volunteer. The commitment is minimal – Saturday morning from 8:00am-12:00pm. All volunteers get a t-shirt, special volunteer goodies and a chance to become more colorful than the runners!

Interested? E-mail Sara Mooney to sign up and more details.

Check out this video of The Color Run. If this video isn’t convincing, ask Women’s Lacrosse Coach Rob Harris why you should volunteer!

Live2Lead Conference

Davenport University has partnered with Live2Lead, a half-day, leader development experience designed to equip attendees with new perspectives, practical tools and key takeaways.  Learn from world-class leadership experts and begin to lead with renewed passion and commitment.  You will not want to miss this dynamic leadership event hosted by Rebecca Ward on October 7, 2016 in Kentwood.

This year’s conference focuses on intentionality. The talks will give students, alumni and community members an opportunity to take a step back and analyze how intentional they are about their connections with others, with their time and with their energy. This event is meant to help people in their journey through living a life of leadership even after the event concludes. Online seminars will take place each month after the event to continue looking into the principles of leadership.

Your registration for this event will send a DU student to the simulcast for free! It is a buy-one-get-one offer so YOU, an alum, can send a DU college student and attend the conference for only $59.99. Register in July for a discounted price.

Visit www.eventbrite.com/e/live2lead-kentwood-tickets-22284356109 to register or gather more information. Kassy Clark is also available to answer questions at kclark53@davenport.edu.

Alumni Success Story: Matt Wiedenhoeft ’13

Nearly two years ago, Matt Wiedenhoeft ’13 was approached by his friend about starting a business unlike any other business in Grand Rapids – a Roller Hockey League. As a former hockey player and risk taker, he jumped on board! Now, co-owner of the National Roller Hockey League (NRHL), Matt is leading the way in this growing sport in America. Learn more about the NRHL and Matt’s journey below.

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Q & A with Matt Wiedenhoeft ‘13

Tell us about yourself, Matt.

I grew up playing inline hockey at my parents’ roller skating rink prior to playing ice hockey. I played hockey for Muskegon Community College after high school, where I met my wife, Gina, who was attending MSU. After winning a National Championship in 2003 with MCC, I played professional minor league hockey starting with attending training camp with the Muskegon Fury. I remember traveling for hockey and missing my family so much that it came to a point where I realized I wanted to switch from playing hockey to coaching. I tried to find a “real job” and couldn’t because I didn’t finish my college degree. That was my motivation! I returned to school to obtain my BBA while coaching my first minor league hockey team. I did homework while driving back and forth from away games on the bus. Everyone was worried that I would quit school for hockey, but they didn’t realize how important obtaining my degree had become to my future success.  I graduated from Davenport with my masters from the Strategic Management program in 2013.  Now, I am a co-owner of the National Roller Hockey League and president and founder of PALANO Consulting. I also teach business courses at Davenport as an adjunct.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

I am business owner, professor, business consultant, coach, dad and husband.

Tell us about the Roller Hockey League.

My partner, Robert Clouston and I created the National Roller Hockey League in November 2014. Robert had the idea and brought me in to help establish the league. As a serial entrepreneur, I loved the idea, so I jumped on. The NRHL is similar to ice hockey, but with inline hockey skates. We have four original franchises– the Detroit Bordercats, Detroit Stars, Shelby Surge, Motor City Revive. The NRHL made the transition to professional, during the 2014 off-season – making the decision to have ‘paid’ players in Season 2. It is the first time players receive checks since the end of RHI in 1999. The pay-structure is not making millionaires, but it is one step closer to expanding the league throughout the USA.

What is a serial entrepreneur?

A risk taker. Someone who always comes up with new ideas and starts new businesses.

What other businesses have you started?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so starting businesses is in my blood. I started a business consulting company, PALANO Consulting, in 2012 to help small business with sales, management, marketing, digital strategies, and much more.

What is your dream job?

Business Maker. President. CEO. Whatever I can do to lead and help people.

What do you do when you are not working?

I enjoy spending time with my kids Landon, Noelle and Paxton and my beautiful wife, Gina. And, of course, coaching hockey.

6 Reasons to Attend DU at the Detroit Zoo!

We love the Detroit Zoo and would love to see you there! Check out the list below for 6 reasons why you should attend the DU at the Detroit Zoo event on August 13!


1. The Polk Penguin Conservation Center

The Polk Penguin Conservation Center “is the most extraordinary center for penguins in the world!” The 33,000-square-foot conservation center is a 326,000-gallon, 25-foot-deep aquatic area where you’ll be able to can see more than 80 penguins interact in their habitat.

2. Zookeeper talks

Twice daily you will have the opportunity to hear zookeepers educate zoo-goers about different species and their habitats. It is always fun to learn something new, so don’t miss out!

3. The animals

The Detroit Zoo is home to 2,500 animals from 270 different species of amphibians, mammals, birds and reptiles live in the Zoo’s 125-acres of habitats. You definitely won’t want to miss the chance to be face-to-face with these amazing creatures!

4. Family fun attractions

Not only will you find a plethora of animals at the Detroit Zoo, there are plenty of family fun attractions, too! Don’t forget to make a stop at the 4-D movie theater for a showing of “Ice Age” and be sure to ride the carousel before the day is done!

5. The Tauber Family Railroad

For just $3 a ticket, you and your family can ride this fun, miniature railroad around the Detroit Zoo! The railroad was redone in 2008 with “new coaches, rebuilt engines, gears, gauges, wheels and bodies.” All aboard!

6. To meet other DU Alumni!

There is no doubt that this event will be an awesome opportunity to meet and get to know other DU alumni! We can’t wait to see you at the Detroit Zoo on August 13th!

Date: Saturday, August 13th
Time: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm (Picnic Available 11:30 am – 1:00 pm)
Location: Detroit Zoo (map)
Cost: $15/Adults, $8/Child (2-12), Free/Child (under 2)

Ticket includes zoo admission, picnic lunch located in the DU events pavilion and family friendly activities. Stop by the DU registration table outside the zoo main entrance to pick up your lunch wristband and ticket to access the DU hospitality tent.