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.

Visit with Alum at Quicken Loans

Yesterday, while visiting Quicken Loans to talk about expanding our technology programs, President Pappas and Professor Bob Clarkson ran into alumnus Quintin St. Clair ’15. Quintin said, “Thanks to Davenport, I was able to land a great job as an Accounts Receivable Analyst in their Accounting and Finance Team!”

Alumni Success Story: Nick Kuncaitis ’10

Nick Kuncaitis ’10 is a network security graduate who is the third generation to work at K Group Companies, started by his grandpa in 1980. He was featured in the most recent issue of the DU Review. Missed it? Check it out below.

Nick, who graduated in 2010 with a BAS in Network Security and Biometric Security, always knew he wanted to work at his family business started by his grandpa, Mike Kuncaitis Sr.

“My grandpa started his first IT company, Data Consultants Inc., in 1980,” said Nick.  “I admired his ability to service clients’ needs through innovative IT solutions especially during the rapid growth of technology. Today their main focus is providing security solutions for enterprises around the country.”

After college, Nick started to develop skills and valuable knowledge to prepare him to return to the family business. For four years, he worked for the State of Michigan’s Department of Technology Management and Budget department as a website developer and project manager.

“Timing just seemed right,” Nick said. “After discussion with my family, I was presented with the opportunity to work for the business and I jumped on it!”

Nick works as a field technician for Standard Computer Systems, one of four technology companies under the K Group Companies umbrella. “I travel to different business in the greater Grand Rapids area, and provide IT consultation and support. I work with customers to create IT plans for the future, fix equipment, provide solutions and assist with managing their IT infrastructure. Many organizations cannot afford a full-time IT person, and even if they can, one person quite often cannot provide the vast skills a team of it people can provide and that is where we come in.”

“It is hard to put into words why I wanted to work for K Companies Inc. when I was young, but the reasons I am here now are pretty meaningful. The job aligns better with my interests and passions and the atmosphere is uplifting.  Most importantly, I am able to carry on the innovative legacy that my grandpa started 36 years ago.”

Alumni Success Story: Kelly Rodrigues ‘14

Kelly Rodrigues ‘14 has her dream job in Human Resources at Bell’s Brewery where she’s the person “behind the bar,” who helps hand pick employees to ensure they are the right fit for the Bell’s culture. She says that 10 years in the restaurant industry and the decision to further her education with Davenport University helped her land this role.  Learn how Kelly combines her experience working in the restaurant industry and her HR degree from DU to lead the HR efforts at the Bell’s Eccentric Café below.

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Tell us about yourself, Kelly!

I was raised in Constantine, MI. After high school I went to college, but I didn’t find my niche. I worked as a bartender for a while and returned to Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) where I earned my associate’s degree.  After a few years of promotions at the bar, I realized that I really enjoyed leading and managing others.I enrolled at Davenport University to obtain my BBA in Human Resources while working an entry-level HR position at KVCC.  It was such a perfect fit for my personality. Now, I am a Human Resource Generalist at Bell’s Brewery in downtown Kalamazoo.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

A lot! As the HR Generalist, I wear many hats. I work directly with Bell’s Eccentric Cafe managers to find the right staff members for the restaurant.  I recruit staff, review applications, interview, hire, and coach and counsel staff. We hand pick all of our employees to ensure they are the right fit, from general managers to dishwashers.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

Expanding the Bell’s Eccentric Café in July of last year was a big undertaking. We had to hire approximately 100 people for basically every position in the restaurant – dishwashers, cooks, chefs, bartenders, managers, entertainment staff, and everything in between. We received hundreds of applications. Everyone worked long hours and many nights and weekends, but we loved every minute of it!

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

Our culture. We have an inclusive, family environment. We all are friends and care about one another. I am fortunate because I am able to take my experience in the restaurant industry as well as my HR experience and use it to coach and counsel others to help them succeed. It is the most rewarding part of my job.

What advice do you have for DU recent grads?

The best advice I have for someone who has recently graduated is learn how to become self-aware. Learning how you communicate and how to improve those communications skills will help build relationships that can prove to be a long-term valuable asset.

What do you do when you are not working?

I am married with two kids, a 5-year-old and 7-month-old. We like to hang out around the house, relax and watch movies.

New DU Alumni Houston Chapter

Alumni across the nation are taking initiative to connect, network, and engage with fellow Panthers. The newest effort to connect DU grads is happening in Houston, TX. With the assistance of many alumni, including Anthony Duangkaew and Caitlin MacNeil (pictured below) who are spearheading the efforts, the newly-formed Davenport University Alumni Houston Chapter hosted its first event on April 27. Alumni and friends gathered at TopGolf, a premier golf entertainment complex, to kick off of new Houston Chapter. The group had fun while networking with other Houston alums, discussed future chapter plans, experienced TopGolf, and ate delicious appetizers. Are you in the Houston area? Stay up to date on chapter events and happenings by checking out the DU Alumni Houston Chapter on LinkedIn.

L to R: Caitlin MacNeil ’10, Nick Harwood ‘09, Adam Furrow ‘12, Anthony Duangkaew ‘15

If you are interested in creating an alumni chapter in your area, contact the Alumni Office at alumni@davenport.edu. We are launching several new chapters over the next year and ramping up current chapters’ offerings, providing opportunities for graduates to help current students and creating strong professional and social connections.

Alumni Success Story: Erik Schmidt ‘15

Erik Schmidt ’15 knows a thing or two about insurance. As a Senior Claims Representative at Farmers Insurance, Erik handles residential homeowner’s claims throughout the United States.  After receiving his first promotion in less than a year of working at Farmers, Erik credits DU for the networking opportunities and hands-on experiences that has helped him get where he is today. Learn more about Erik’s path below.

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Tell me about yourself, Erik!

I grew up in Caledonia. My wife, Shannon, and I are both proud Davenport University graduates.  I walked in the commencement ceremony in April, then I started at Farmers Insurance in May of 2015 as an Inside Property Claims Adjuster. I was recently promoted to a Senior Claims Representative in April.

What do you do in a nutshell?

As an Senior Claims Representative, I handle residential homeowner’s claims throughout the United States from inside the office. I investigate claims, determine coverage and payouts, and facilitate the entire claims process.

When you started at DU, where you looking at insurance for your long term goal? I originally started in mortgages at United Bank Mortgage Corporation before I got into insurance. I was looking at the different BBA specialties, debating on whether to concentrate on the financial planning or risk management and insurance specialty. I moved into the insurance specialty program because of the way the program was designed by Farmers Insurance. The professors, who were all Farmers employees, worked in the industry allowing me to gain hands-on experience. My first insurance class was with Professor Mark T. Cusack, who is the Head of Learning and Development- IA Ops. As soon as the class started, I instantly knew it was the program I was supposed to be in!

Aside from your college degree, what do you feel like you gained from your college experience?

Beyond the education, being able to network and develop relationships with people who were in the insurance industry was extremely valuable. The relationships I developed with professors and people in the industry was, by far, my favorite thing about college.

Tell us how the Farmers Insurance Scholarship impacted your success.

The scholarship and experiences I received from it was one of my biggest breaks. Going back to the networking, being able to meet people in the industry and develop mentors before moving into the industry was important to my success. The exposure to the industry and networking far exceeded any amount of money that I received. The money was a one-time gift, but they invested in me personally and professionally.  The focus of the Farmers Scholarship isn’t just about helping someone financially, but they want to invest in people and their career path, which I admire.

What makes you excited about the next 6 months?

Farmers Insurance is growing. There is so much opportunity and areas for movement within the company. The position I am in right now is where a lot of people get their start in the industry. You get the customer contact, learn the policies and industry. The claims knowledge alone is invaluable for the industry.

What is your dream job?

I would love to be a professor in the Risk Management and Insurance Specialty, like Mark.

What do you do when you are not working?

I enjoy fishing, camping and pretty much anything outdoors.

Open Summer Young Alumni Meeting

Interested in building your resume and your professional network?  The Davenport University Young Alumni Council is looking for new members to help create meaningful professional, social and volunteering experiences to develop stronger connections with their community, fellow alumni and Davenport University.

Join us on Wednesday, June 8 at Gippers on Kraft at 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. to meet fellow young alumni, and members of the Young Alumni Council.  You’ll experience quick and interactive lesson in Design Thinking methodologies, which will be used to brainstorm events for the rest of 2016.  Questions? Email the alumni office at alumni@davenport.edu.