Archive for the 'Philanthropic' Category

Kuana Says Thank You…

Dear Davenport University Donors,

Hello, my name is Kuana Marie School. I am a senior nursing student at Davenport University at the Lansing campus. I want to begin by saying “thank you” for supporting scholarships at all of our Davenport locations. Because of you, I received a scholarship that not only helped to fund my nursing education, it actually ensured that I was able to remain in school to date. There was a point in time recently that being dropped was eminent (not for a lack of effort nor poor grades). Rather, what threatened my ability to remain a student was merely the inability to complete payment on the last 20% of my tuition. It was the MLK Essay contest scholarship award that came through for me. And, to my astonishment, I was awarded the exact amount I needed. You – the scholarship donors – are not some superficial extension of the college. You just may be the very core of it…a crucial aspect that allows us students to actualize our innate gifts. The end result being that we want to give back after we graduate. At least this is true for me.

As a child, I was fascinated by learning, regardless of a lack of resources and uninvolved parents. I was that child who would at times choose to skip recess in order to read the encyclopedia in a corner, or to help my teachers in the classroom. At home, I would look after my little brothers and spend time teaching them the skills I learned. Later, in my teen years, I enjoyed helping my grandmother (who suffers from a severe mental illness) and great-grandmother on a regular basis. I became fully aware that I was someone who received a deep sense of gratification from helping others. Giving back was cathartic and created a sense of purpose for me even then.

This interest in helping people led me to become a certified athletic trainer and nutritional coach for a fitness center in East Lansing, MI. I was able to encourage others towards living a better life, and I was also “practicing what I preached”, I was healthy and I felt great. Even though that career lasted over a decade – still there was this “itch” – a feeling that there was more in me to give. But, by this time I had become a mother, and had a family of my own to tend to, which became my priority.

Finally, after hearing time and time again from clients who served in the medical field that I would “make a great nurse”, I did it. I jumped in enthusiastically in pursuit of a nursing degree and began working as a certified nurse aide. Working in home care and hospice care was utterly fulfilling, and I loved every minute of it! With each pre-requisite class I took, came more confirmation that I was in the right place. Once accepted into the BSN program at Davenport University in Lansing, I began my role as a student nurse caring for patients in my clinical rotations.

Nursing school can be challenging. Especially while working nearly 30 hours a week to ensure the bills are paid and there is food on the table for my family. I had to take two years off from school from 2011 through 2013 to work and save money. When I returned, I learned a few of my classes I had earned a 4.0 grade in had expired at the junior college I had transferred from. I was tempted to give up then, but followed through. The financial aspect of making it through nursing school as a single (divorced) mother has been tough at times. But, this is my calling, and I have paced myself to make it this far, and I do not give up easily.

I have one year left to graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing Science and am aspiring to graduate with honors. I will be the first in my family to graduate from college.

I am currently involved in scientific research at the Lansing campus. My interest in research since my early years has continued to expand, allowing me to hone in on what I am meant to pursue post-graduation. Since my junior year, I have volunteered in DU’s Bioinformatics Lab under the leadership of instructor, Laura Harris as a student researcher, author and presenter at microbiology conferences around the state. I have also actively participated in the student nurse association (SNA) on my campus, and served on the board during my junior year in the editor position. I am still an active participant with our Lansing SNA. These things I simply enjoy, and have learned much thus far.

Our Lansing Bioinformatics team seeks to better understand antibiotic resistant genes of bacteria, in effort to assist in creating more efficient pharmaceutical therapies to promote better patient outcomes. Our team was the first ever to be published in an internationally recognized scientific publication such as Bioinformation from Davenport University. This supplement to my nursing program has grown a desire within me serve in community health, such as infectious disease, clinical trials nursing or integrative health.

I have never lost that desire to help others, and I will give back. Because of people like you with this same desire, I am able to continue “paying it forward”. I wholeheartedly thank you for your support of Davenport University. Without you, I would not have been able to finish nursing school and pursue my lifelong dream of helping others in this process we all experience: life!

Many thanks,

Kuana M. School

DU Review Sneak Peek: Bonnie ’84, ’94 and Ron ’88 Kopp and Melanie (Kopp) Reilly ’13

For more than 25 years, Bonnie Kopp ’84, ’94 has worked to create legacies for others through her work as senior trust advisor at Northern Trust. Bonnie works with families to help build wealth, create estate plans and manage funds for those who have created trusts. About her philosophy, she says, “It isn’t the number of years you spend on earth that matters; it is the legacy you leave behind for those that follow you.”

Bonnie is also part of a proud a legacy family at Davenport University. Both she and her husband of 32 years, Ron Kopp ‘88, attended Davenport after high school. “I worked full-time at a bank during the day and went to school at night, while Ron worked in the factory at Steelcase at night and went to school during the day. Our companies had tuition reimbursement so it was only natural for us to pursue our degrees.”

Bonnie graduated with an associate degree in 1984 and bachelor’s degree in 1994 while Ron graduated with his associate degree in 1988. Davenport continued to be a part of their life as their careers flourished and they started a family.

Nearly 30 years later, Bonnie’s oldest daughter, Melanie (Kopp) Reilly ‘13 needed a school that offered a flexible online program to earn an MBA while she worked in New Zealand. Bonnie recommended Davenport. DU’s online program was exactly what she was looking for. “Studying online at Davenport worked really well for me because of the flexibility offered,” said Melanie. “It didn’t matter that I was in a different time zone. The instructors were supportive and genuinely interested in my experience overseas; they were happy to help cater my homework and essays towards how it would apply to New Zealand. I enjoyed interacting with students all over the U.S.”

Now, as an alumni board member, Bonnie shares her passion with fellow alumni who want to give back to the University. “As an alumna and now parent of a student, I have a more well-rounded understanding of what Davenport has to offer. I hope that our story motivates others to share their experiences and passion for Davenport.”

Did you know?

Davenport’s academic programs available through the online Global Campus are receiving accolades from various organizations based upon a variety of criteria, including cost, value, accreditation, experiential training and curriculum. “We are excited about the growing recognition for Davenport’s high quality academic programs available through its online Global Campus,” said Brian Miller, Dean for Davenport’s Global Campus. “Online learning allows many students to better manage their time while pursuing their higher education degree while also working. The Global Campus brings more than 50 high-quality programs to students wherever they may live.”

DU Review Sneak Peek: Sue Nemmers ’85 and Rachel Payne ’10, ’12

For Susan (Kitzrow) Nemmers ‘85, Davenport University is a special place for two generations of her family. “Both my daughter, Rachel, and I started at Davenport in pursuit of a business education but gained so much more. Though we attended 25 years apart, we gained very similar experiences, friendships and a foundation for our success. It is our home.”

Sue started at Davenport after high school to pursue her associate degree in the executive secretarial program, with the help of grants and scholarships. She worked on campus as a work-study student to help in the alumni and development office. After graduation, she accepted a full-time role as the first alumni director of Davenport College. She admits, “It was amazing that Davenport took a risk, hiring me as a 20 year old.” Sue was responsible for growing the alumni association, running the phonathon program, hosting alumni events, creating marketing materials and managing the alumni board.

“It was the best job,” Sue recalled. “It was truly a grassroots effort and the University supported me one hundred percent. We had an alumni holiday party in my parent’s basement.”

Sue worked in the alumni office at Davenport for five years and was concurrently a member of the first class at Davenport to earn a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1985.

Sue married Dave Nemmers in 1984 and settled in Caledonia. Four years later, they welcomed their first child, Rachel.

Almost 18 years later, Rachel (Nemmers) Payne’s ’10, MBA ’12 journey at Davenport mirrors her mother’s. Rachel started at Davenport in the fall of 2006 after receiving the W.A. Lettinga Full-Tuition Charter Scholarship. “At first, I was interested in becoming a collegiate cheerleader and I knew Davenport didn’t have a program yet. I knew my mom had a great experience at DU and realized how impactful the full-ride scholarship was to my future. I couldn’t pass it up.”

Almost immediately, Rachel became an advocate for a new DU cheer program. As a sophomore, she created proposals, wrote plans and met with the Athletic Director, Paul Lowden, about starting a cheer program. Rachel recalled, “Looking back, I can’t believe I was that persistent!”

Her persistence paid off in February of her senior year when the head cheerleading coach position was posted. She interviewed and earned the head coaching role in early spring. During this time, Rachel was a work-study student in the Human Resources department working in training and development.

“It was perfect. After I graduated with my BBA in 2010, the HR department hired me as a student worker. I was able to earn my MBA as a full-time student, hone my HR skills as a part-time intern and grow the program from the ground up as the cheer coach.”

Rachel spent much of her time promoting the program and recruiting cheerleaders, taking time to be selective and build the legacy of the program effectively. Rachel enlisted her mother to help her with the program too. “Mama Sue” traveled with the cheerleading team as they competed regionally and nationally.

During Rachel’s six-year tenure as the cheerleading coach, she led the program to three national championships. “The best part about my time coaching at Davenport was seeing all of the athletes continue their passion for the sport of cheerleading at a school that was extremely supportive of the program.  Davenport took a chance on me when they hired me to start the program from the ground up.  I am so proud to see the legacy and success of the program continue on with some of the most talented coaches and athletes in the country.”

Today, Rachel is a human resources professional at Spectrum Health and Sue is an active community volunteer. Both serve DU in mentoring roles as well as staying active with the Alumni Association by attending events and activitiesBecause Davenport was such an integral part of Sue’s formative years, she and her husband, Dave, decided to leave a portion of their estate to Davenport in their estate plans.

“It is amazing how alike Rachel and I are,” Sue said. “Our relationship has grown stronger because of our ability to relate and reminisce about our similar paths at Davenport.”

DU Review Sneak Peek – Regina Moore ’83, ’90

Regina Moore was born in Boston into poverty, turbulence and uncertainty. Statistically, her odds of breaking out of the cycle of poverty were slim, but determination and grit were on her side. Regina found promise at Davenport University and changed not only her own life forever, but the lives of her entire family and the next generation.

At age 5, Regina became the ‘only parent’ to her siblings when their mother abandoned them. They were taken in by a previously unknown grandmother. Instability marked her early childhood as she moved from home to home. At times Regina cared for her younger brother and sister while a guardian worked. By age 8 and for the next five years, her and her siblings were in foster care. Through the chaos of multiple homes, Regina found serenity and purpose in school.

“School became my haven at an early age. Whenever there was turmoil or uneasiness at home, I would go to the library and read book after book. Then I would go home and make my brother and sister play school with me,” Regina said. “I was the teacher and we went through many math problems, as it was my favorite subject. I sought refuge in school.”

Regina excelled in her studies. In the tenth grade, she was selected to be in the advanced honors English course. One of her assignments was to write a story about her life. “I was only 15 at the time,” Regina recalled. “My teacher pulled me aside after reading the paper and asked me if it was true.” Her story was honest. Regina wasn’t sure why he had asked. It was just the story of her life.

The teacher encouraged her to share her story to inspire others. Regina said, “That was the first time I realized my story was not like anyone else in the class.”

The next year, Regina became a teenage mom. She graduated from high school one year early and held the title of highest GPA among minority students which helped her receive a full-ride academic scholarship to college. Sadly, when administrators discovered that she had a baby, her scholarship was revoked and she was unable to begin.

Now 17 years old and one month after graduation Regina moved out of her adoptive parent’s home and got a job working as a nurse’s aide making $2.65 per hour. “Though, it paid the rent, I realized that job wasn’t going to provide for my daughter the way I wanted to. I knew I had to go to college. My adoptive parents never talked about college. If it wasn’t for my high school counselor, I would have had no idea what college was.”

A year later, at 18 the universe handed her a sign. She received a Davenport College pamphlet in the mail and told her two-year old “let’s pursue computer programming as I think computers are going to take over.” Regina also added a major with accounting.

“I called the number and spoke with admissions representative, Mary Kay Bethune of Davenport College. She helped me fill out the paperwork and find financial assistance through grants and scholarships. She was my saving grace.”

In her first semester of college, Regina gained custody of her 15 and 16 year old brother and sister. While maintaining a steady 3.07 GPA, she worked full-time and raised her daughter, as well as her 15 and 16 year-old siblings.

Regina’s conviction to her education spilled over into her personal life. She remembers two conditions she set down before she married her daughter’s father, “First, I told him that no matter what, I am going to finish school on time. And secondly, I don’t iron.”

She earned her associate degree in computer information systems and programming in 1983. Six years and three more children later she separated from her husband.

Regina, states she made the conscious decision to not raise her kids on public assistance but decided to earn her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Davenport to support her family. She worked full-time during the day, went to school at night, and tutored other students.

“Education was my family’s escape. I remember us studying as a family together. I learned at a young age that no one could take my knowledge away. They could take my home, my stuff, and everything else I had, but not my knowledge. We found our purpose in knowing that knowledge would allow us to take care of ourselves.”

After Regina graduated with her bachelor’s degree, she moved her family to Atlanta to pursue a career as Staff Accountant at National Linen Service, a Fortune 500 company. She was promoted to Systems Manager (combing both degrees) after speedily learning the companies’ new financial system. Next, she was recruited by The Home Depot corporate headquarters to be the Senior Financial Systems Analyst. Where she managed the Financial Systems Department, which included supporting nearly 2,000 accounting personnel.

“My job at Home Depot was the best job I had ever had. But, but the dedication to work conflicted severely what was best for my family.” Regina moved back to Michigan so the boys could participate in sports with help of their dad. She started working at Meijer as an internal auditor and then moved to the IT department in which she helped to write the programs for the first gift card system. Concurrently, Regina started her own accounting and tax preparation company called Accurate Accounting to earn extra money for her family. Her business boomed and she left Meijer to pursue entrepreneurship full-time.

Regina made sure to teach her four children the value of the education that she had received. One by one, she watched as they graduated high school and pursued higher education. Her eldest daughter, Tari earned an academic scholarship to the University of Michigan and graduated with a Psychology degree, and worked as a foster care worker in the same county that Regina had been a foster child. Her second daughter, Mari, graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Textile Design and moved home after college and work for Regina’s accounting business. She fell in love with accounting and decided to earn a Master’s in Accountancy from DePaul, her CPA license and most recently earned a Master’s in Tax from Illinois University and now works at Ernst Young in Chicago. Donte, her third child, earned an Associate’s degree from Harold Washington College in Chicago, in his 12th year at UPS and a Sunday school teacher. Emmanuel, who recently married DU alumna Kelsey Chambers, went to Western Michigan University and is currently in his 10th year at West Michigan’s Stanley Steemers as a Senior Team Leader. He also aims to attend seminary to become a youth pastor.

Regina’s heart for educating children spilled over into the community as well. Her youngest child, Emmanuel, best friend RaSaun Knight needed a more stable home life and moved in with them while in high school. He was encouraged and inspired by seeing that all his friends’ siblings went to college. He graduated from the GR Police Academy through GRCC. He is a current student at Davenport majoring in Business and Technology Project Management.

“The morning that I realized I was taking, Emmanuel, my last one, to college, I cried happy tears. I fell to my knees in joy and thanked God. I did it… I broke the cycle.”

Alumni Success Story – Tom Hazen ’99

Today, you might find Tom Hazen ’99 loading a plane with product bound for Portugal, managing distributor relations or traveling to Milan to oversee operations, but his passion for traveling and adventures started at an early age. After college, Tom landed a job working for Materion Performance Alloys. Working his way up, Tom is now a Global Project Manager for plastic tooling. Learn more about Tom below.

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Tell us about yourself!
I was born Grand Rapids and raised in Ravenna, Michigan. Ever since I was little, I enjoyed traveling. My father was a schoolteacher and had an industrial painting company. During the summer, I would travel the state with my dad to help him paint. Traveling is a part of my DNA – I started at an early age and still do to this day. I worked full-time while I finished my degree. I earned my associates in 1989 and earned my bachelor degree in 1999 from Davenport. As soon as I graduated, I landed at the company I am at now, Materion Performance Alloys. I have held a few different sales positions but today I work as a Global Marketing Manager for plastic tooling business unit.

Why did you pick Davenport?
I picked Davenport because of the hospitality and management program. Davenport helped me get my first job working the front desk at the Holiday Inn South on 28th Street. I soon decided that I would change into a sales and marketing curriculum. After leaving the hotel industry I worked during the day at a metal casting foundry, went home and got ready, then headed to class at night at the Fulton Street campus. The foundry job helped me realize that I really wanted to pursue a career in sales and marketing.

What shaped your experience at Davenport?
The professors and staff are who really made my experience at DU great. One staff member in particular, Bob Orlikowski, who worked in student services, really helped me every step of the way. Bob was a great sounding board and assisted me through my studies. When he passed, I saw that the foundation started a scholarship in his honor. I have supported the scholarship ever since.

In a nutshell, what do you do?
I work as a Global Market Manager for plastic tooling at Materion  Performance Alloys. Our company makes many different products related to the use of beryllium. I have been working in the tooling division since I started. In my current role, I am responsible for selling the mold materials that Materion produces and ensuring they are available globally. I build relationships with our distributors to ensure we are delivering on what we promised for all of our customers. For example, if a company specifies our mold materion in the United States and they are manufacturing in Germany; I work with our distributors overseas to ensure that the customer who wants our mold material can walk into any distributor in Germany with our blueprint to guarantee they are getting the same product we make in the United States. I work remotely when I am not traveling. I was recently in Portugal to visit with a distributor to negotiate a pricing and shipping project. Then went over to Milan to work with the distributor in Italy, then to Germany to do the same.

What is your biggest accomplishment?
I am proud that I have established a good reputation and presence at the company that I am at now. I feel respected and valued. Of course, being married to my wife of 21 years and raising two boys is a huge accomplishment too. I am proud that I have maintained a steady, adventurous job while being able to raise my family in West Michigan.

What is your dream job?
I feel like I am in my dream job now.

Best advice you’ve ever received?
You are going to make a mistake and you’re going to fail but it’s the way you respond to it that will define you.

What do you do when you are not working?
I enjoy spending time with my family. My wife and I spend a lot of time watching our son’s plays sports. I also enjoy being outside, running, and exploring Grand Rapids.

Alternative Spring Break Heads to New Orleans to #DUgood!

Davenport University’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) Program recently sent 18 students to New Orleans from February 25 - March 3 to assist with flood prevention and recovery through ecosystem restoration. ASB offers students the opportunity to become active citizens in their home communities and communities across the nation.

The group stayed in the historic Lower Ninth Ward, which was one of the hardest hit areas during Hurricane Katrina and during the floods due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. The area first experienced a devastating loss in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, and thousands of homes are still being lost due to devastating floods in the area, with damage from the floods rivaling that of Hurricane Katrina. The area was also hit with tornadoes earlier this year, further adding to the damage and loss within the area.

The ASB crew played a small part in providing aid to the area and its residents in partnership with the organization Common Ground Relief. The group helped repair the local ecosystem through planting water-absorbing plants and Cyprus trees in Jean Lafitte National Park as well as in area bayous with the National Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service, and worked in the Common Ground Relief nursery to take care of plants for future projects. These efforts will help restore and preserve both the homes and natural environment in the area, and allow wildlife to return to their homes.

The group also had the opportunity to engage in the cultural experience of Mardi Gras, and learned a lot about the people in the communities they were helping. In addition to the work completed in New Orleans, the group also conducted to volunteer projects at Howard Christensen Nature Center, which allowed them to help better the community of Grand Rapids in addition to the city of New Orleans.

Student and Site Leader Marissa Beadle has been involved with ASB for three years and states that ASB, “Has given me the opportunity to grow as a volunteer and active citizen not only here in Grand Rapids, but in different communities across the nation from St. Marks, Florida to Columbia, South Carolina and now New Orleans, Louisiana. I have met some of the most wonderful students here at Davenport through ASB and could not be more thankful for the opportunity grow within the RSO and end my time as a Site Leader!”

Alumni Success Story – Mohamad Abdulkader Agha ‘03

Chancellor Emeritus Donald W. Maine called it fate. Mohamad Abdulkader Agha ‘03 called it meant to be. Their serendipitous relationship is heartwarming. Learn more about Mohamad’s path to Davenport and his success as he lives and works in Dubai, leading the strategy team at the International Humanitarian City (IHC), part of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Global Initiatives foundation to improve 130 Million lives by 2025 through humanitarian and developmental work. Read more below.

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Nearly 6,000 miles from his home in Syria, Agha found a new place to call home in Grand Rapids in early 2001. His decision to come to America wasn’t easy. After losing his father at the age of 13 and his mother only nine years later, Agha found himself looking for guidance in his next step. Luckily, he has three older sisters who had his best interests in mind and encouraged him to gain a global perspective on life by pursuing his MBA in the United States.

His brother-in-law, who is a doctor in the Grand Rapids area, recommended that he check out Davenport because he heard that the class sizes were small and the professors used real-life experiences to teach the classes.

Agha recalled wondering why he should go to a school in a small city, when he could go to school in Los Angeles or New York City.  His brother-in-law’s advice was to go a place where he could have personal attention. Agha remembered his brother-in-law saying, “Don’t be a small fish in a big pond, be a big fish in a small pond.”

Agha started classes at Davenport in spring 2001 and in the summer he completed a graduate program at Georgetown University, then went back home to be with family. While he was home, the events that shook the world on September 11th occurred. Things were uncertain and he was unsure if he was going to return to Davenport.

“I got a phone call from Davenport,” said Agha. “The call was from my advisor.  She said, ‘Congrats, Mohamad! You have been awarded the international students’ scholarship this year. We look forward to your coming back to Davenport.’ And that call made me book my flight to come back.”

As his studies progressed, he continued to build relationships on campus. He got an invitation to speak at the international students’ luncheon because of his reputation for academic success and charismatic professionalism.

“I got up, I did my speech and after I was done, I was asked to join a table with the former president of Davenport University, Don Maine. I shook hands with him and we introduced ourselves to each other. I was sitting there, enjoying being next to the “big man on campus,” yet not really knowing who he was. Then, the former VP of Alumni & Development walked up and said, “Mohamad, that gentleman paid for your scholarship. Your scholarship is the Maine Family International Student Scholarship!”

From that moment, Agha and Maine clicked. Although there was a difference in age and experience, they became friends.

Maine recalled, “When I realized international students did not receive financial aid, I wanted to direct my donation to those international students who needed it, kids like Mohamad. It is the humanitarianism in me. I enjoy helping young global talents.”

As Agha’s career flourished, so did their friendship. “We used to have lunches that lasted two to three hours to discuss global affairs at a restaurant in East Grand Rapids. At that point in my life, I didn’t have a father. So guidance was either spontaneous, by observing others, or by Don giving me the time and mentoring me step by step.”

Agha consulted and updated Maine about every chapter of his life. After earning his MBA from Davenport, Agha worked at Ernst & Young. Next he was recruited by the United Nations. At the age of 30, he was the youngest director hired at the UN to manage the Private Sector Development Program. He led the UN Global Compact as a representative and secretary general to its Advisory Council for five years.

In 2012, Agha left the Middle East. He took a job at the World Logistics Council as the director of strategic partnerships to lead a global team which coordinated with organizations from 56 countries involving the top technology, finance, insurance and semi-government organizations.

Now, Agha and his wife, Rim, and baby twins (Abdulkader & Ayla), live and work in Dubai. He leads the strategy team at the International Humanitarian City (IHC), part of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Global Initiatives foundation to improve 130 Million lives by 2025 through humanitarian and developmental work.

“Here is a person whose country has collapsed,” said Maine. “He built a brand new global career. There are a lot of people who could not do that. He now has mastered the culture of the UAE and risen to the point of being entrusted to serve its global initiatives. He left Damascus to work in Geneva and Kuala Lumpur and then made his way back to the Middle East.”

What makes Agha’s relationship with Davenport so special is the personal attention he was given by Maine and the professors. He left Davenport with high academic knowledge and the culminating experience of all of the individuals who shared their experiences and knowledge with him.

“I am thankful for Don Maine because he filled a void in my life. Yes, his scholarship has made a huge difference in my life, but money could be replaced. What isn’t replaceable is his experience and later on his friendship and love that keeps growing. Thank you, Don Maine!”

6 ways to get involved in your Alumni Association in 2017

Stay connect by getting involved in your active alumni network!

Social Media - Follow us on Facebook and Instagram! Connecting on our social media outlets is one of the fastest ways to get the most updated information on what is happening with DU alumni. Plus, who doesn’t like fun pictures of alumni and snowy campus photos!

Events - Attend an event! Our 2017 schedule of events will include alumni tailgates, professional development opportunities and special days on the golf course! We have something for everyone!  View our upcoming events on our website.

Volunteer – Volunteer your time and talents to speak to a class, join at a regional alumni club, or offer advice on an alumni panel. Are you a recent grad in West Michigan? Join our Young Alumni Council!

Athletics – Cheer on your Panthers alongside our mascot, Pounce, at an athletics event. Not located in Grand Rapids? Many of our teams play games all over the country! Visit the athletics website for the full schedule of events.

Sign up to receive Davenport University e-mail updates to connect with fellow alumni and stay informed about DU’s latest initiatives, events and professional development opportunities.

Make a Gift – Invest in future DU students by contributing to the general fund, scholarships or a specific department. Learn more about giving back to DU.


Contact Information

To get involved in alumni activities or to learn more about benefits and services, contact:

Jason Madden ‘08
Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Development
616-233-2593
Jason.Madden@davenport.edu

Erik Dane ‘07
Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and Events
616-233-3420
Erik.Dane@davenport.edu

Sara Mooney ‘09
Assistant Director of Alumni Communications and Development
616-233-3419
Sara.Mooney@davenport.edu

Alumni Success Story: Deb Marshall ’06

Motivated by the desire to create a better life for her children, Deb Marshall ’06 is no stranger to hard work. She is a mother, wife, grandmother, employee, volunteer and adventure seeker! Deb spends her days as a systems engineer at Van Andel Institute, where she helps manage information technology hardware and software systems. Learn more about Deb and her role as a systems engineer below.

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Tell us about yourself, Deb!

I graduated from DeWitt High School. I got married in my junior year and I had my first child on my first day of my senior year. I had to grow up early. I had four kids before I was 24 years old. Our marriage didn’t work out, so I had to work to support my family. I knew I had to make a better life for myself and my family, so I decided to go to school. I started at Lansing Community College in the fall of 1984 with just two classes because I had a Pell grant, working full time and being a single mom. One night in the spring of 1985, my 11 year old son was doing homework at the kitchen table.  I was doing dishes and talking to someone on the phone, probably my dad. I was telling him I just couldn’t keep up and I was going to have to quit. It was just too much. My son stopped doing his homework and said “Mom you can’t quit now, you’ve come too far to quit!” That’s what drove me and it was that semester that I met my husband. So I’m glad I didn’t quit – my husband and I have been married for more than 30 years.

I graduated from LCC with my associates in applications programing in 1992. Then I took some time off from school to put my kids through college. After working for Auto Owners Insurance and Jackson National Life, I found a home at Steelcase for 12 years where I decided to return to school and enroll at DU. I earned my degree in 2006 in network engineering. Now, I work at Van Andel Institute as a systems engineer.

Tell us about your experience at DU.

Enrolling at Davenport was an easy decision. I loved how the curriculum was hands-on! The philosophy at Davenport wasn’t teaching to pass a test, but rather teaching so you knew the content. I remember one night taking a test – our instructor started the test at 7:00 p.m., I didn’t leave the building until 2:00 a.m. to make sure I knew the content. My last class was a study abroad trip to China – it was a phenomenal experience!

Tell us more about your trip to China!

My trip to China was a lot of “firsts.”  It was the first time I had been overseas.  It was the first time I had taken a long vacation – 3 weeks. The first time I was away from my family.

A key thing to make staying in a foreign country work, is that you have to adapt to their ways. Every meal I ate with chopsticks except one and that was pizza at Pizza Hut.  Meals were interesting unless we were in the school cafe. You have to “try” everything on the table even the big fish that still had it’s head with eyes still on it; no picky eating.  Presentation of the meal is very important to them.  And while I was taught that it was polite to “clean your plate,” in China you will be given more to eat because it’s a sign you need more food.

There were a few things that really stood out.  When we first had a round table discussion with the students about questions about the two countries, one of the first things they said was ‘we don’t eat cats.” The next was the political conversations we had in the dorm of the grad students. Also the other thing that I noticed that several of my fellow students in China had been accepted by multiple universities and when asked where they were going to go, the statements were I’d like to go “here”, but the final decision is up to my parents.

In a nutshell, what do you do?

I am a systems engineer at Van Andel Institute, a cancer and Parkinson’s disease research institute in Grand Rapids. At a large company, Continue reading ‘Alumni Success Story: Deb Marshall ’06′