6 DU facts that will make you proud to be a Panther Forever!

What makes you proud to be a Panther Forever? Tell us at alumni@davenport.edu for your chance to win a DU Mitten State shirt.

Attention Chicago Area Alumni

Are you an alumnus living in the Chicago area? We want to hear from you! The Alumni Association is here to serve DU alumni living and/or working in the Chicago area. Our goal is to connect alumni by hosting events and networking opportunities.

If you are interested in attending an event in Chicago or helping create a DU Chicago Alumni Chapter, please email Phil Wingo MBA ’16. Be sure to keep your information updated with us so that we can keep you informed of upcoming activities.

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

Alumni Success Story: Jack Finkelstein ‘84

Jack Finkelstein ’84 developed an app that could save your life – SmartEMS. As a NYC paramedic, he saw the need to modernize the EMS system, creating a faster, safer way to connect and save patients. A Brooklyn, NY based company,  SmartEMS allows smartphone users to contact an ambulance with state certified emergency EMT’s and paramedics at the touch of a screen. Learn more about Jack’s story and why he created the SmartEMS app below.


Tell us about yourself, Jack!

I have been involved with emergency medical services for 37 years as an emergency medical technician (EMT), paramedic, instructor, director, coordinator, consultant, and now app developer.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

I am the creator and Director of Operations for the app SmartEMS.  I am a professor at two colleges – Kingsborough Community College where I teach paramedic classes and at the Metropolitan College of New York Graduate Program in disaster and emergency management.  I am a consultant for three different companies, for which I have worked locally and abroad at various countries for EMS and emergency management related work.  I am also an instructor for the NYS Department of Health, the NY Safety Program (defensive driving), OSHA, and Regional Faculty for the American Heart Association where I teach CPR, first aid, BLS, ACLS, and PALS courses, etc.  I recently left my position at Wyckoff Hospital as the Director of EMS, Emergency Manager, Incident Commander, Emergency Department Administrator and Coordinator of the Training Center to take on the task with SmartEMS.

Speaking of the SmartEMS App, what is it?

This new app is revolutionary!  SmartEMS streamlines the entire EMS operations in several ways.  It is currently operational in NYC and soon to spread to other areas.  It is a free app that individuals can download, enter their medical information ahead of time such as their allergies, medications, medical history, emergency contacts, insurance information and hospital of choice.

When a client needs an ambulance, they press the large red button on the app, and our dispatch center is immediately notified.  The call is then assigned to the closest available unit.  That unit will receive the data patients entered during their registration, so they can concentrate on treating the patient rather than the time that is spent on information gathering.  The crew will also be given the GPS location so they can follow instructions to the fastest, most direct route to the patient.  The patient will have their emergency contacts (spouse, children, physician, etc.) notified immediately via text and email when the client summons an ambulance, when the ambulance arrives to pick up the client, and when the ambulance arrives at the hospital with the patient.  The patient will also view the GPS mapping of the ambulance responding with updated ETA every 30 seconds on their phone.  The patient will have the option of going to the hospital of their choice, within reason and within established protocols.

Why did you create the SmartEMS app?

Having worked in EMS for over 37 years, I have been able to see where the EMS system needed improvement to streamline the emergency response process and bring EMS to the 21st century.  So, I did something about it. We had the idea, technology and capability, but we needed financial and technological backing.  After speaking with a few investors, we got the funding we needed to launch the program in NYC which will help revolutionize how we respond to emergency calls all over the world.

You are an EMS graduate of DU – do you feel like your education prepared you for your journey as a paramedic, professor and now app developer?

I certainly do feel that my time at Davenport helped me with my knowledge and career, and it was a great education at a great institution. The classes were small, the professors were caring and helpful and I truly loved my time there.

I often speak of Davenport to my colleagues and how it was one of the best investments I ever made in my career.  Shortly after graduating, I launched my own EMS-related business and traveled all around the country and attended numerous trade shows helping countless job seekers in the field of EMS, fire, and law enforcement.

What do you do when you are not working?

Work some more!  I am so busy, that I actually turn down a lot of work.  Sundays are my only day off, and yet I pick up some extra teaching or consulting work because the demand is high. I recently returned from a trip to Barcelona, Spain, where I was teaching EMS related issues such as triage, trauma, incident command, PALS and ACLS skills to their EMS technicians.


You are invited to the Alumni Awards Ceremony

You are invited to the annual Alumni Awards Ceremony to honor six graduates who have exemplified the vision and values of the University through their professional and community service. Join the Alumni Association on Friday, September 23 at 6:30 p.m. to honor the following alumni:

Distinguished Alumni Award – Mike Ohlman, Class of 1988, Grand Rapids Fulton Street Campus
College of Business Alumni Award – Carlos Sanchez, Class of 2007, W.A. Lettinga Campus
Hy Berkowitz Outstanding Alumni Award – Tina Pietrangelo, Class of 2007, Holland Campus
College of Technology Alumni Award – Michelle (Stonebrook) Seneca, Class of 2002, Holland Campus
Outstanding Young Alumni Award – Jim VanDam, Class of 2012, W.A. Lettinga Campus
College of Health Alumni Award – Monica Goodrich, Class of 1998, Midland Campus (Great Lakes College)

Tickets are only $20 and include an opportunity to mingle with the honorees and enjoy a delicious dinner.

Alumni Success Story: Leslie Winkle ’11, ’16

“Work hard and be nice,” is the motto that runs deep in alumna’s Leslie Winkle’s company, Studio 415 Salon. “That is what differentiates us. Our culture is our number one priority, and everyone is kind and inviting. We go the extra mile with little things.” Her hard work has paid off! Studio 415 was recently recognized by the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce as a recipient of the Small Business of the Year Award. Learn more about Leslie’s unique journey as a DU graduate and small business owner below.


Tell me about yourself, Leslie!

I was born and raised in Cadillac. I graduated high school early to begin my journey as a hairstylist. I then moved to Traverse City and worked in a salon while also pursuing a degree in business.  I graduated with my BBA in Financial Management in 2011 and my MBA with an Accounting Concentration in 2016 from DU. Currently I own Studio 415 Salon in Traverse City where I am able to combine both of my passions – business and the beauty industry.

How did you get into cosmetology?

As a young girl, I was always styling my hair and all of my friend’s hair.  Towards the end of high school I was really ready to move on to new challenges and so I decided to graduated high school early.  I moved to Lansing to start cosmetology school at Douglas J Aveda Institute. My dad, who is also a Davenport graduate, was not in favor of the idea of me not going to college, so he made me promise him that I would go to college after. Well, funny enough, it took me a few months after getting a job as a cosmetologist, that I realized my dad was right – I did need a degree.

So you took your dad’s advice?

Yes, I enrolled at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City and continued my studies at the Davenport University Traverse City campus. I don’t think I have ever made my dad happier than the day that I told him I was going to school.

How did you go from doing hair to earning your MBA and then owning your own salon?

I worked my way through undergrad doing hair. Once I finished my bachelor’s degree I still felt a little unsure of what I wanted to do. I remember thinking, I have this degree, but I love what I do, what do I do now? I wanted to put the degree to use, yet I had built up a very successful business behind the chair. I started my master’s three months after I finished my bachelor’s degree. I think it was buying me time – if I was still in school I could still do hair – was my thought.

I took an internship with the State of Michigan which the DU Traverse City Campus Director, Alyssa Irani, told me about. I was working at the internship, doing hair, and going to school. The internship led me to a different position and I stopped doing hair for two years. I worked for a couple of different businesses which were under one umbrella and owned by the same person. I was doing accounting for an oil & gas company and, at one point, I was the director of marketing for a tech company.  Looking back on these roles, I can see God’s plan at work.  I learned so much, and built many relationships that help me today.

While I was working for that company, I had dinner with my parents and remember saying, ‘Okay, I think I figured it out where my real passion is and I need to do something with it.’ My plan was to open a salon; however, the salon industry in Traverse City is so over saturated, so I couldn’t just count on people coming in – I had to be different.

As I was making plans to open a salon, I met an old salon co-worker who had opened her own salon – Studio 415.  I respected her and didn’t want to open a salon in the same town as an unwelcomed competitor.  We had an open and honest conversation about my desire, and as a new mother, she mentioned being open to selling her salon.  About a year later, after many conversations and negotiations, we finalized the deal! I have been the owner of Studio 415 since the fall of 2014.

Tell us about Salon 415.

We have a simple saying at Salon 415 – work hard and be nice. We even have a sign in the salon with our motto.  When I bought the business that was my main requirement and I think that it is what differentiates us. Our culture is our number one priority, everyone is kind and inviting and customers feel it. We go the extra mile with the little things, and we take a lot of pride in providing the best possible service, while also creating great experience for each guest.  It seems simple, but it is how we do business.

What do you do when you are not working?

I am a pretty active person and love spending time outside or with family and friends.  I also have two rescue dogs, who require quite a bit of time and attention :)

Thank you Move-In Day Volunteers

Thank you to all the amazing alumni and friends who helped with New Student Move-in Day last week Friday! We couldn’t have asked for a better day to move in the new students. Without the generous support of alumni volunteers, this day would not have been possible. If you are interested in volunteering at Davenport events in the near future, email the alumni office.  

You are invited to the Founders’ 150th Anniversary Gala

You are invited to Davenport University’s Founders’ 150th Gala on Thursday, September 29, 2016 DeVos Place in the Steelcase Ballrooms at 6:00 p.m.
Please join presenting sponsor the Wilbur & Sharon Lettinga family as we celebrate Davenport University’s past 150 years. The evening will feature emcee Juliet Dragos, WZZM news anchor, and a performance by internationally renowned a cappella group Chapter 6.

Ticket and sponsorship information for the Founders’ 150th Anniversary Gala can be found on the 150th website.
Davenport’s history book, Davenport: Educating Across Three Centuries will be available for purchase or pre-order your copy today at davenport.edu/150gala.
Complimentary Valet Parking at the Monroe St. Entrance

Please RSVP by September 15 to davenport.edu/150gala or call 616-233-3417.


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.

Amanda Denomme '15.jpg

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!