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DuPont Scholarship boosts Ferris State Plastics Engineering Technology senior's bottom line ahead of career entry

Rockford native and Ferris State University Plastics Engineering Technology student Cameron Sawicki is the proud recipient of a $2,500 scholarship made available through a collaborative for industrial giant DuPont Tedlar and the Society of Plastic Engineers Foundation.  

Sawicki is a senior and said he will graduate this May with a Bachelor of Science degree, with a major in Plastics and Polymer Engineering Technology, accentuated by the excellence of resources and faculty in Ferris’ National Elastomer Center.

“Our program is very well rounded, as we work with the latest in injection molding technology in our labs, then learn to apply that knowledge through instruction from faculty with extensive industry experience,” Sawicki said. “I could not have asked for a better arrangement for my education and career intentions.”

Sawicki said Plastics Engineering was a field that came into focus in his high school days.

“I have to admit entering the program was something of a snap decision,” Cameron said. “I am so glad, as my choice of this degree path has exceeded all my expectations.”

The Plastics Engineering Technology curriculum is part of Ferris’ School of Design and Manufacturing in the College of Engineering Technology. Data gathered by the college notes PET graduate placement is near 100 percent. A recent group of graduates received salaries averaging $68,500 a year that were augmented by generous benefit plans and signing bonuses.

“I have received full-time job offers, but am still considering my options at this point,” Sawicki said.

PET program coordinator Tom Van Pernis, an associate professor, is a 2008 alumnus of the program. He said student recruitment requires more prospect education than in years past, owing to social media misinformation about the plastics industry and its active role in environmental stewardship.

“We are helping students understand they can be agents of positive change, by emphasizing sustainability in their service to the industry,” Van Pernis said. “There are many opportunities to work in the creation of industrial and commercial products, at starting salaries of $70,000 and beyond and Ferris graduates are ‘first choice’ candidates in their hiring processes.”

The DuPont Tedlar Scholarship that was awarded to Sawicki is part of a year-long emphasis to support studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Tedlar is a polyvinyl fluoride film that can withstand scuffs, stains, and harsher conditions, with applications ranging from protective clothing to industrial uses. The corporation and the SPE Foundation continue their collaboration in 2024 through targeted educational opportunities for Girl Scouts and students in the vicinity of Tedlar production plants in New York and Ohio.

Van Pernis said Ferris PET students Anthony Audia of Ionia and Ashley Dobbyn of Garden City also received SPE scholarships in the last granting cycle. 

Chorus, clamor, and our culture

The following was written by District 101 Representative Joseph Fox of the Michigan House of Representatives in response to Vice President Kamala Harris' visit to Grand Rapids regarding abortion access.


On Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris appeared in Grand Rapids to encourage supporters to keep fighting for abortion access and protections in Michigan. She cited the Dobbs decision from the Supreme Court – which turned over the authority to regulate abortion to the state governments – as proof that abortion is under siege. This makes sense if its legal status changes depending on the results of every election.

However, women have a right to an abortion that is guaranteed in Michigan’s Constitution – an addendum as of 2022. Federal laws and which party rules in Lansing do not matter: abortion access cannot be revoked. Abortion is in no legal danger in our state.

Why then does Harris portray abortion’s legal status as dire? The answer is clear: inciting voters to fight makes more political sense more than assuring them that they’ve won the fight already. Fearmongering produces more votes than facts.

Fighting for freedoms sounds so right to us Americans, and it should. It’s in our DNA. Our nation bears a rich history of men and women sacrificing to protect essential liberties and preserve them for future generations.

But the silent voices of unborn infants plead for the freedom to live, too, even if their chorus remains unheard, drowned out by the clamor of a culture in which those that shout the loudest will triumph. Odometers, not objective truth, outline who is right in the court of public opinion.

Thinking about life as a perpetual fight also begs another question: are we worth more as humans if we are willing to fight hard enough, or is our value fixed in something or someone outside ourselves? If we trust the words of Another, who lovingly made all of us, then we can finally rest in his decree. Apart from this our dignity will always be in jeopardy.

Lions re-sign kicker Michael Badgley

The Detroit Lions announced today that they have re-signed K Michael Badgley. Contract terms were not disclosed.

Badgley returns for his third season in Detroit after converting four-of-four field goals (100.0%) and 13-of-15 extra points (86.7%) for 25 points scored in 2023. In the Wild Card Round vs. the Los Angeles Rams, Badgley tied a postseason franchise record by converting a 54-yard field goal.

Originally entering the NFL in 2018 with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent out of Miami (Fla.), Badgley has appeared in games for the Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans, Colts, Chicago Bears and Lions over his six seasons. In 64-career games, he is 98-of-119 on field goal attempts (82.4%) and 168-of-175 on extra point attempts (96.0%) for 462 points scored.

Battling MS, medal-winning Ferris State alumna shines as a 2023 Meijer State Games of Michigan Athlete of the Year

Ferris State University graduate Andrea “Speedie” Hampton is a medal-winning fencer and softball player who competes from a wheelchair due to the ongoing impact of her multiple sclerosis.

Hampton is one of four people named 2023 Meijer State Games of Michigan Athletes of the Year. She is a medal-winning fencer and softball player who competes from a wheelchair as a result of the ongoing impact of her multiple sclerosis.

The Grand Rapids resident was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 26, and she still remembers that day with vivid clarity.

“I honestly had never heard of the disease,” she recalled recently. “When the doctors told me what I had, I was afraid, and I was angry. I remember I screamed a lot in my car the first day I was given the news.”

But, she added, she eventually was able to channel that anger in productive ways, including athletics.

Growing up in Grand Rapids and attending Ottawa Hills High School, sports had always been an important part of Andrea’s life.

“I have an older brother, and whatever he played, I wanted to play as well,” she said with a smile. “In high school, I played hockey and softball.”

In fact, it was hockey that first got her connected to Ferris State.

“I actually went to hockey camp a few times in middle school at Ferris,” she said. “I knew I wanted to go to Ferris when I was able to go to college.”

When she finally got to Big Rapids after graduating from Ottawa Hills, she studied Recreation Management Leisure Services and said she enjoyed her time in and out of the classroom.

“I enjoyed the atmosphere a lot,” she said. “I went to a lot of games, and I also played a few years of intramural sports.”

As she looks back, though, she also suspects that it was in college that her first MS symptoms began to appear.

“I didn’t pay much attention to it at that time,” she said. “I remember one time I was going to the bank, and I noticed that my walking was becoming harder for me to do. Also, we played games in one of my classes, and I noticed my running wasn’t the same.”

In May 2011, she received her diagnosis of relapsing-remitting and secondary progressive MS.

The National MS Society notes that relapsing-remitting is the most common disease course, with attacks followed by remission. Secondary progressive MS, it adds, follows the initial relapsing-remitting course and disability accumulates over time.

Hampton has seen that play out in real-time. She went from walking to walking with a cane, and now, the majority of her time, she uses a wheelchair to move around and get things done. She also just switched over to using hand controls for driving.

Sports have helped her in numerous ways, she said, as her disease progresses. And she extends a huge word of thanks to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital for its role in her athletic journey.

“They helped me regain my confidence with playing adaptive sports,” she said. “When I was first diagnosed with MS, one of the things that got me down was that I thought I was done playing sports.”

A chance encounter with the Griffins Youth Foundation’s sled hockey program and the Grand Rapids Griffins was the first spark that eventually fueled her full-scale entry into adaptive sports.

“The Griffins were at Belknap (Griff’s Icehouse at Belknap Park) and were going to play sled hockey with the Sled Wings, and for a dollar, I tried a sled for sled hockey,” she said. “I had the biggest smile on my face being back on the ice and just coasting around. One of the coaches noticed the smile and told me how I could participate in adaptive sports through Mary Free Bed Hospital, and I have been going strong with them in the sports world ever since.”

Going strong is an understatement.

At the Meijer State Games, she has won gold medals twice in fencing in the adaptive foil division. And in 2023, she also competed with able-body fencers and finished sixth in women’s foil and ninth in women’s epee. She also earned the Sportsmanship Award at the 2022 National Wheelchair Softball World Series in Chicago.

In honoring her as adult female athlete of the year, the Meijer State Games noted that “her continued vivacity for life and love of sports have allowed Hampton to adapt and find new avenues, have fun and stay active. She is known for being fearless, friendly and fun, and never lets her physical limitations define her.”

For her part, Hampton shrugs off such accolades.

In May 2024, she will mark her 14-year anniversary of having MS. A lot has changed in her life as a result, but, she said, she plans to keep moving as long as she can, a Ferris forward Bulldog.

Mecosta County Sheriff's Office: Weekly Blotter (2/12 - 2/18)

Monday, February 12

  • At 5:10 P.M., deputies made a warrant arrest in Big Rapids TWP. A male subject was arrested on a warrant. He was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail. 

Calls for Service: 19


Tuesday, February 13

  • At around 2:30 P.M., deputies made a warrant arrest at a residence in Mecosta TWP. A male subject was arrested on a felony warrant. He was lodged the the Mecosta County Jail.

Calls for Service: 16

Traffic Accidents: 1


Wednesday, February 14

  • At 08:55 P.M., deputies made a warrant arrest at a residence in Fork TWP. A female subject was arrested on a warrant. She was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

  • At 1:40 P.M., deputies made a warrant arrest at a residence in Millbrook TWP. A male subject was arrested on a warrant. He was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

  • At 1:45 P.M., deputies made a warrant arrest in Big Rapids TWP. A male subject was arrested on a probation violation. He was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

Calls for Service: 32


Thursday, February 15

  • At 02:23 P.M., deputies responded to a domestic assault complaint, at a residence in Morton TWP. A male subject was arrested for domestic assault. He was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail. 

Calls for Service: 18

Traffic Accidents: 10

Car/Deer Accidents: 1


Friday, February 16

  • At 9:24 P.M., deputies made a warrant arrest at a residence in Millbrook TWP. A female subject was arrested on a felony warrant for MDOP. She was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

Calls for Service: 24


Saturday, February 17

Calls for Service: 15

Car/Deer Accidents: 2


Sunday, February 18

  • At 02:57 P.M., deputies responded to a domestic in Wheatland TWP. A male subject had assaulted his girlfriend.  After resisting officers and being tased, the male subject was arrested for domestic assault and resist /obstruct. He was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

Calls for Service: 7

Traffic Accidents: 1

Car/Deer Accidents: 2

Moolenaar honored by community health care providers

Congressman John Moolenaar has been awarded the Distinguished Community Health Center Advocacy Award by the National Association of Community Health Centers. The award was presented to Moolenaar by members of the Michigan Primary Care Association who work in community health centers in Michigan's Second Congressional District.

“I am honored to receive this award from our community health centers, who are an essential resource for Michigan families, especially in rural communities. I will continue my advocacy for them on the House Appropriations Committee so they can continue to provide vital health care services to residents for years to come,” Moolenaar said after receiving the award.

"Congressman Moolenaar is very deserving of NACHC’s Distinguished Community Health Center Advocate Award," said Frank Waters, Senior Director of Policy and Government Affairs of the Michigan Primary Care Association. "We are grateful for his steadfast support of community health centers and their mission to provide quality healthcare for all, particularly in underserved communities." 

Moolenaar is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.

Special promotions planned for final hockey regular-season home series this weekend

The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team will host the Northern Michigan Wildcats this weekend (Feb. 23-24) for the Bulldogs' final regular-season home series of the year at the Ewigleben Ice Arena.

The action gets underway on Friday night at 7:07 p.m. (ET) with Saturday night's finale slated for an early 5:07 p.m. (ET) start.

The opening contest of the weekend series on Friday will be Military Appreciation Night and all veterans along with active military members can purchase a ticket for $5 off the normal price by showing their military ID in person at the FSU Athletics Ticket Office.

The finale on Saturday will be Senior Night with Ferris State slated to honor 11 seniors prior to the contest. Fans are encouraged to arrive early with the senior ceremony slated to start early prior to game time. The Bulldogs will also hold a senior night recognition, which is open to the public, following the game across the hall inside Jim Wink Arena where the Bulldog seniors will be introduced in front of their families and friends.

Along with Senior Night, the Bulldogs will also celebrate Fan Appreciation Night on Saturday. Parking will be free on Saturday for all fans and several giveaways are also planned in conjunction with the evening tilt.

Fans can purchase digital tickets for all Bulldog home hockey games in advance to guarantee a seat by visiting

The FSU Athletic Ticket Office's normal business hours are Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) with extended hours on Wednesday until 7 p.m. (ET). A complete pricing structure, ticket office hours and additional information is available online at and can be found by visiting the "tickets" tab. For additional ticket information, please call (231) 591-2888.

The Bulldog Sports Network and flagship radio station Sunny 97.3 FM will carry all of this weekend's action live with online coverage also available at Live video coverage will also be provided on a pay-per-view basis via CCHA TV on

Ferris State University Nursing and student-athlete alumna builds a career and a family in hometown of Big Rapids

Makenzi Currie’s focus was clear in her high school days in Big Rapids. Athletics were on the horizon, along with studying nursing. But she didn’t expect to be doing those things at Ferris State University.

“I have lived in Big Rapids my entire life and never expected I would continue my education here,” Currie said. “As an athlete, I had to first decide on a sport to focus on, and I had a passion for softball. The Division I offer, to walk on at the University of Michigan, was my ultimate athletic dream, but it would not accommodate my desire to study nursing.”

Currie made her intentions known and quickly found they could be met by being a Nursing student and Bulldog on the diamond in Big Rapids.

“Everything worked out at Ferris. I got athletic and academic scholarships, which easily turned out to be my best opportunity,” Currie said. “My athletic experience went great, and I got so much support from my coach, Keri Becker. There was never any conflict based on my academics. Things worked out with my schedule really worked very well.”

Currie graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and took her first assignment with the Emergency Room of what was Spectrum-Butterworth Hospital on Grand Rapids’ “Medical Mile.”

“I entered into nursing with the philosophy that anywhere, anytime and anyplace, I am capable of responding,” Currie said. “I believe that is a nurse’s true calling.”  

Working for a Level-One Trauma Center had benefits for a young nurse, Currie said.

“This was really the best possible outcome for me, as I received great training and added to my skills as a responder,” Currie said. “That included certificates as a Trauma Nurse-Critical Care, an Emergency Nurse-Pediatric Care and Advanced Care-Life Support.”

Living in Big Rapids and serving in Grand Rapids did not mesh with plans to start a family, so Currie moved from that active service scene to a new chapter in her career.

“I was adding shifts at Spectrum Health-Big Rapids Hospital, as a new mother that really gave me the ability to shorten my commute, work at a comfortable pace and make gains as a professional,” Currie said.

An experience with a patient sparked a move to the Susan P. Wheatlake Regional Cancer Center.

“I had always wanted to work in oncology,” Currie said. “I knew Stuart Hamel, the first person I recall whose passing in 2001 affected me. I didn’t see him as sick, until we knew he had cancer, and he died at the age of 41, before I was even an adolescent. I never forgot that.”

Currie worked with patients being treated at the regional center.

“The hours were great as we were building our family, but it is a difficult job,” Currie said. “It really pulls on your heartstrings, seeing community members coming in for their care.”

The professional journey continued as Currie took a position with Big Rapids Interventional Radiology, another Spectrum Health offering at the hospital.

“It really brought me to recall the pace of emergency room work and all the emphasis that is part of oncology care,” Currie said. “While the hours suited our family’s needs, I found the controlled chaos of interventional radiology really appealing, professionally. Some of the cancer patients I had met at the Wheatlake Center were there to work with us, again.”

Currie’s final full-time job was as the School Nurse for the Big Rapids Public Schools.

“Considering where I was in terms of raising a family, the hours were a small concern, so I did not apply the first time the position was available,” Currie said. “That wait paid off, as the next time it opened, I applied. I was looking forward to the joys of hearing students’ stories.”

She took that job near the end of February 2020, a couple of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic, and her job went into the virtual realm to serve that campus community.

“I really found that difficult since I was home with my two youngest sons, in a role that was demanding in terms of providing the best possible service to the students,” Currie said. “I stuck with it for a while but decided it was an opportunity best suited for another nurse to assume.”

Currie has found great reward in following her passion in service to those in need, but also has a mind to help future nurses gain from her philosophy and experiences.

“I started the Master of Science in Nursing program a matter of days after one of my sons was born, wanting to become a professor,” Currie said. “I would have enjoyed focusing my passion on helping students learn and grow in nursing. Throughout my experiences in the field, I was always told the Ferris nursing alumnus would be an employer’s choice because we were ‘floor-ready,’ with practical training and encouraged to exercise critical thinking skills. We, as graduates are charged with caring for and thinking outside the box, as you respond to each patient and their needs.”

With four children to raise, Currie is happy at home now, near Big Rapids, but her part-time service as a nurse continued.

“I was doing per diem work for Spectrum, which has now become Corewell Health,” Currie said. “At first, my calls were to Big Rapids, Reed City and Evart patients, but the area of service grew.”

Makenzi said parenting is her top priority at this time.

“My husband and I are of the philosophy that ‘If you want to change the world, it starts in your home,’” Currie said. “The regional nature of my last professional role just didn’t mesh with my obligations to my growing children, so I decided to stay home for now. I left with good graces and will keep an eye on opportunities to use my skills and serve my family. Staying home is a hard job, but the rewards are always there to see and enjoy.”

Evart Police: Weekly Blotter (2/5 - 2/18)

Monday, February 5

  • Property Damage Accident – Officers were dispatched to investigate a two-vehicle property damage accident.

Tuesday, February 6

  • Nothing reported.

Wednesday, February 7

  • Nothing reported.

Thursday, February 8

  • Harassment – Officers were dispatched to a harassment complaint. The report has been sent to the Prosecutor for review.

  • Warrant Arrest – While investigating a complaint Officers had contact with a subject who had a warrant for their arrest. The subject was arrested and lodged on the warrant.

Friday, February 9

  • Power – Officers were dispatched for a down power line. Fire personnel arrived on scene and stood by until the down line was taken care of.

  • Property Damage Accident – Officers were dispatched to investigate a two-vehicle property damage accident.

Saturday, February 10

  • Structure Fire – Officers assisted Evart Fire Department on a possible fire call. After the fire department completed their investigation it was determined that there was no fire at a residence.

  • Civil – Officers were dispatched for a civil complaint. During the investigation one of the subjects complained of a medical issue and was transported to Reed City Hospital for treatment.

Sunday, February 11

  • Fail to Pay – Officers were dispatched for a fail to pay for gasoline. The incident remains under investigation.

Monday, February 12

  • Nothing reported.

Tuesday, February 13

  • Check Wellbeing – Officers dispatched to conduct a check wellbeing.
  • Fraud – Officers were dispatched to a local business for a counterfeit bill. The complaint remains under investigation.
  • Trespassing – Officers were dispatched to a possible trespassing complaint. Officers were advised someone reported a subject had been staying in an outbuilding of a local business. Officers searched the building and did not find the subject or any belongings inside the building.

Wednesday, February 14

  • Alarm – Officers assisted Osceola County Sheriff's Department with an intrusion alarm. The business was secure.
  • Warrant Attempt – Officers arrested an individual who had a warrant out of Osceola County. The subject was lodged at the Osceola County Jail on their warrant.
  • Criminal Sexual Conduct – Officers received a criminal sexual conduct complaint. The complaint remains under investigation.
  • Alarm – Officers responded to a burglary alarm. Entry was made into the building by Officers and nobody was located inside.  Officers stood by until the owner arrived and secured the building.
  • Criminal Sexual Conduct – Officers received a criminal sexual conduct complaint. The complaint remains under investigation.
  • Domestic – Officers were dispatched for a domestic in progress. The suspect was arrested for two counts of Domestic Violence, two counts of resisting Police Officer and on a warrant. 

Thursday, February 15

  • Domestic – Officers were requested to assist the Osceola County Sheriff Department with a possible domestic.

  • Criminal Sexual Conduct – Officers received a criminal sexual conduct complaint. The complaint remains under investigation.

Friday, February 16

  • Nothing reported.

Saturday, February 17

  • Criminal Sexual Conduct – Officers received a criminal sexual conduct complaint. The complaint remains under investigation.

Sunday, February 18

  • Disorderly - Officers were dispatched to a disorderly persons complaint. Officers helped resolved the civil dispute and arrested one of the subjects on a local warrant. 

Ferris State Volleyball headed to Spain and Portugal this May

The Ferris State University women's volleyball program, which has reached the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen each of the past three years, will gear up for the 2024 season with a special overseas trip this spring.

The Bulldogs will depart May 5 for a spring trip to Spain and Portugal where they will test their skills on the court against foreign competition. The unique 10-day trip will not only include game experience, but also strengthen team bonds and enrich cultural perspectives.

"The chance to spend 10 days in another country with our team is fantastic in terms of the team building that will come out of it," said FSU head coach Tia Brandel-Wilhelm. "The opportunity to play other teams and face another style of play will be a challenge, but the personal growth and leadership that will come out of it is exciting."

The FSU team is currently raising funds for the journey, which will help contribute toward airfare, accommodations, meals and in-country travel expenses. Additionally, all Gamechanger supporters contributing over $1,000 will also receive personalized updates directly from the Bulldogs throughout the trip.

"Overall, we're just really excited for the experience and the opportunity to experience new things," said FSU junior outside hitter Tatum Outlaw. "This is a once in a lifetime experience and we're working hard to educate ourselves on the language and the culture before we go."

Charitable donations to help support the Bulldogs' trip can be made online at the link below thru FSU's fundraising platform.

"I'm really excited to travel with the team, get to see new things and play volleyball in other countries," said Bulldog junior middle hitter Syann Fairfield. "I'm excited for the food and spending so much time in Portugal and Spain while getting to experience cool things."

The Bulldogs reached the NCAA Division II Sweet Sixteen this past fall for the third consecutive season. Ferris State also claimed the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLAIC) Tournament Championship this past year along with the school's 12th consecutive and 27th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance. FSU closed the campaign with a 27-8 overall record this past season.

The bulk of FSU's roster is slated to return for the 2024 fall season.

"This trip will give us the chance to face a higher level of competition in Europe and going overseas will help us grow as a team going into the season," FSU junior outside hitter Hannah Tecumseh said. "I haven't been outside of the United States, so getting to do it with the people I love so much, my teammates and coaches, is so special."

Visit this link to contribute to the Bulldogs' trip:

Post-pandemic priorities point to need for chefs, Ferris State Hospitality Management program strives to support their business learning

Lifestyle changes brought on by workplace demands and a societal shift following the COVID-19 pandemic have led to increased demand for chefs in the hospitality industry – with Ferris State University Hospitality Management alums thriving as entrepreneurs or professionals in leading resort destinations.

Kathryn Wolfer is an associate professor in Hospitality Management whose educational background includes Restaurant, Hotel and Institutional Management and the culinary arts.

Wolfer said Ferris State can support those who want to focus on the food and beverage segment of the industry by completing their Associate of Applied Science or Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management programs.

“There are alumni who are purchasing food trucks and trailers so that they can take their products to the street, sporting events or other gatherings,” Wolfer said. “We also work closely with Grand Rapids Community College and its Secchia Institute for Culinary Education as a resource to those students wanting to complete their Bachelor of Science degree.”

Hospitality Management is housed in Ferris State’s College of Business. The focus on business management allows the graduates to utilize the accounting, marketing and finance courses in their day-to-day operations.

A recent finding by the American Association of Retired Persons cited chefs bringing average hourly wages of more than $27, with a 15.4 percent increase in the number of jobs available. An outgrowth of the pandemic in 2020 saw those who were forced to stay home had mastered baking and cooking, and recent growth in the number of restaurants has presented new career opportunities for those with culinary and management skills.

Rock Dandeneau of Grand Rapids is comfortable serving customers through the Taste Buds-Kitchen Connects array of outlets, which includes his Pressed In Time food truck. Dandeneau attended GRCC for Culinary studies and the Johnson and Wales Culinary School. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management from Ferris in 1993.

Rock is also the president of the Grand Rapids Food Truck Association, which boasts more than 30 members. Dandeneau said he leans on various experiences when speaking to current Ferris Hospitality Management students.

“Being a chef is my love and daily avocation, but that has taken me many places in various roles,” Dandeneau said. “I was a corporate chef for Herman Miller for a decade, then spent 15 years with Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids, helping those with special needs find their place in the industry. When I talk with Ferris Hospitality students, we explore how the industry has grown to consider production from in-home chefs as a potential avenue so those with the skills can stay in the field they love. With the right people, you learn to manage and tackle the obstacles of this industry. It is a business that involves much more than the restaurant or kitchen.”

Tiffany Beckmann earned her Bachelor of Science in Hotel/Restaurant Management from Ferris State in 2010, then added a Master of Science in Career and Technical Education from the university in 2013.

Along with those achievements, she is certified in food safety as a sous chef by the American Culinary Federation and is accredited in dietary management.

“I began as the head cook for Ferris’ Dining Services operation shortly after I earned my hospitality degree,” Beckmann said. “I followed that with a variety of institutional and resort roles, which finds me currently serving as a culinary supervisor with the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant.”

Local boys' basketball district tournament brackets officially released

As of Sunday afternoon, the Michigan High School Athletic Association officially released the 2024 boys' basketball postseason brackets for all four divisions.

The first round of district play will begin Monday, Feb. 26 at the assigned school location. District games will be held between Monday, Feb. 26 - Friday, Mar. 1, followed by regional contests from Monday, Mar. 4 through Friday, Mar. 8, and the finals from Tuesday, Mar. 12 through Saturday, Mar. 16.

Here's a look at the area boys' teams and their respective opening game schedules in order of district number assignments and sorted by each division:


Division 1

  • District 2 Semifinal - Mount Pleasant High School - Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 P.M.
    • Cadillac (17-2) vs. Bay City Western (9-11) / Midland Dow (6-14) quarterfinal winner


Division 2

  • District 35 Quarterfinal - Manistee High School - Monday, Feb. 26 at 7:00 P.M.
    • Big Rapids (14-6) vs. Manistee (10-10)


  • District 35 Semifinal - Manistee High School - Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 P.M.
    • Reed City (17-3) vs. Hart (10-10) / Mason County Central (8-12) quarterfinal winner


  • District 36 Semifinal - Gladwin High School - Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 P.M.
    • Chippewa Hills (5-15) vs. Clare (13-8)


  • District 40 Quarterfinal - Alma High School - Monday, Feb. 26 at 7:00 P.M.
    • Central Montcalm (7-12) vs. Saginaw Swan Valley (7-13)


  • District 41 Quarterfinal - Fremont High School - Monday, Feb. 26 at 5:30 P.M.
    • Tri-County (5-15) vs. Newaygo (12-8)


  • District 41 Quarterfinal - Fremont High School - Monday, Feb. 26 at 7:00 P.M.
    • Kent City (7-13) vs. Fremont (8-12)


  • District 41 Semifinal - Fremont High School - Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 P.M.
    • Grant (13-5) vs. Tri-County (5-15) / Newaygo (12-8) quarterfinal winner


Division 3

  • District 70 Quarterfinal - Beal City High School - Monday, Feb. 26 at 5:30 P.M.
    • Evart (4-13) vs. Harrison (3-18)


  • District 70 Semifinal - Beal City High School - Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 7:00 P.M.
    • Pine River (14-7) vs. Farwell (0-20) / Beaverton (8-11) quarterfinal winner


  • District 72 Quarterfinal - Morley Stanwood High School - Monday, Feb. 26 at 7:00 P.M.
    • Lakeview (5-15) vs. Morley Stanwood (2-17)


  • District 74 Quarterfinal - Hesperia High School - Monday, Feb. 26 at 5:30 P.M.
    • Holton (2-18) vs. Shelby (3-16)


  • District 74 Quarterfinal - Hesperia High School - Monday, Feb. 26 at 7:00 P.M.
    • Hesperia (8-12) vs. Ravenna (11-9)


  • District 74 Semifinal - Hesperia High School - Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 7:00 P.M.
    • White Cloud (16-4) vs. Hesperia (8-12) / Ravenna (11-9) quarterfinal winner


Division 4

  • District 109 Semifinal - Marion High School - Wednesday, Feb. 28 at 5:30 P.M.
    • Baldwin (16-3) vs. Marion (11-10) / Pentwater (16-5) quarterfinal winner


  • District 110 Quarterfinal - Walkerville High School - Monday, Feb. 26 at 7:00 P.M.
    • Big Rapids Crossroads (1-18) vs. Muskegon Catholic Central (4-16)


For more on local tournament coverage, follow along at

For expanded brackets, visit here: Brackets | Michigan High School Athletic Association (

Ferris State hosting a 'Gift of Life' campaign to support organ and tissue donor registration

Ferris State University is wrapping up a “Gift of Life” campaign that closes on Feb. 29, encouraging as many students as possible to consider registering to become organ and tissue donors, potentially saving lives. 

“Career and Professional Success is participating in this year’s Gift of Life Campus Challenge and is encouraging you to sign up to become an organ and tissue donor,” said Okai Strickland, an assistant in Ferris State’s Career and Professional Success office. “The more people who sign up, the more lives get saved. If you are already a donor, that’s OK. You can still top by the table.”

Through the Gift of Life Michigan website, registrants can help Ferris State earn points in a statewide challenge while helping to heal and save lives. Each organ donor can save up to eight lives and each tissue donor can heal an average of 75 people.

As of early morning on Feb. 16, Ferris State ranked second statewide in the number of students registered, with 40, trailing Wayne State University’s 103.

Universities are striving to recruit new donors and sign up the most new donors as a percentage of their student population. Each of the eight donatable organs – two lungs, liver, pancreas, heart, two kidneys, and intestines – can add years to a patient’s life and enhance the quality of life. 

The Gift of Life Michigan Campus Challenge encourages friendly but competitive rivalries to continue while supporting a cause that can help save lives. For nearly 20 years, college students statewide have served to inspire 40,000-plus people to put their name on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.  

Tissue donors for tendons, skin and bones can help restore mobility for combat veterans, burn victims and individuals with failing joints. Cornea transplants, the most common according to Gift of Life Michigan, an organization founded in 1971, can help restore vision in patients. 

Nationally, more than 100,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant. 

In addition to direct donor and tissue donor registration, the Gift of Life Campus Challenge also offers volunteer opportunities for Ferris State community members to ask students to sign up at campus tabling events. 

In 2023, Gift of Life Michigan, the state’s federally designated organ and tissue donor recovery program, set a record by helping 578 people become organ donors and 1,858 to give the gift of tissue. These efforts saved thousands of lives and healed tens of thousands more. 

Anyone interested in volunteering for the campaign can request more information by emailing the Career and Professional Success office or stopping by and visiting us in the David L. Eisler Center. 

For more information about Ferris State’s Gift of Life efforts, contact Strickland at (231) 591-2682 or by email at For more information about Gift of Life Michigan, contact Taneisha Carswell at

To register on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry visit

Gotion Inc. officials invited to talk with local students at Big Rapids High School Career Fair

Two Gotion representatives were invited to the Big Rapids Career Fair on Tuesday and talked with more than 100 students about Gotion’s planned battery components facility in Green Charter Township.

Chuck Thelen, vice president of Gotion Inc. – North American Manufacturing; and Aaron Haley, director of project management at Gotion, met with several students at the fair.

“It was a joy to talk with so many local students about the great-paying jobs at our planned facility,” Thelen said. “They were excited to learn more about the plant and what types of jobs will be offered. Many intelligent questions were asked as well. I’d love to have these students eventually apply for positions with us.”

Gotion staff also were invited to attend other student career fairs at the high school in the future.

When fully operational, the Gotion facility will employ more than 2,300 people. Those seeking more information about available positions at Gotion Inc. can visit

Ferris State Women's Basketball to take part in Play4Kay initiative this Saturday

The Ferris State University women's basketball program will take part in an important Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) and national initiative this Saturday (Feb. 17), supporting life-saving cancer research in the Play4Kay campaign.

On Saturday, the 10 women's basketball programs of the GLIAC will come together to play five highly-competitive league games in the name of raising funds for life-saving cancer research, supporting under-resourced programs that provide access to quality cancer healthcare and uniting people in the fight against all cancers affecting women.

"The GLIAC is excited to partner with Play4Kay and is eager to aid in bringing attention to the important and impactful work to which the organization is passionately committed," said GLIAC Commissioner Kris Dunbar. "Cancer has or will affect nearly every person within their lifetime and the GLIAC is proud to be a leading force at the Division II level in supporting the Play4Kay fundraising efforts designed to eradicate this terrible disease."

The Bulldog women's squad, which is ranked fourth nationally in the WBCA Division II National Rankings this week, holds a 17-2 overall record entering Thursday evening's home contest against Saginaw Valley State. FSU is also on top of the GLIAC standings with an 11-1 league mark.

Tipoff on Saturday against Wayne State is slated for 1 p.m. (ET) and several activities are planned in conjunction with the Play4Kay campaign. Players from both teams will be wearing special warmup shirts along with pink shoelaces and the game officials will don pink whistles.

In addition, the two teams will gather for a photo prior to the contest and several video messages supporting the Play4Kay campaign will be shown on the Wink Arena video boards during the course of the contest. Fans will also have an opportunity to date at the game via a QR code displayed on the video boards periodically throughout the day.

All proceeds of Play4Kay will benefit the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Every donation will help to make an impact on the fight against all cancers affecting women.

Play4Kay is the Kay Yow Cancer Fund's largest fundraising initiative and plays a major role in uniting players, coaches, and communities in the fight against all cancers affecting women.

To donate to the Bulldogs' Play4Kay cause, please visit this link:

Additional information on the GLIAC's Play4Kay campaign can also be found at the link below:

Vennix officially inks name to Northwood football

Only three weeks after verbally committing to the Timberwolves, Riley Vennix officially signed his name Thursday afternoon to join the football team on the gridiron in the fall.

Vennix was joined by his friends and family, local news, and many classmates and teammates at the high school to celebrate the occasion.

“(Northwood) felt like there’s a home for me and (the team felt) like a family,” Vennix said. “I just feel like that's where I'd be best at for the next four years.”

When asked about what he would recommend to athletes pursuing a dream like Riley’s, the senior mentioned that doing more than what’s asked and being willing to sacrifice are key pieces to his success.

“If your wishes are to go in any sport or anything in life, just don’t stop working and work your butt off. Even if it's 5 A.M. and you got morning lift or morning speed training, just keep working because it's gonna pay off one day. It goes by fast so always be patient, be the best you can be, and don't look back.”

The senior continues his Cardinal athletic career tonight on the hardwood, as Big Rapids faces Newaygo for a chance to lock-in a spot in the CSAA tournament next week. He also plans to finish his baseball career in spring, playing his second season under skipper J.T. Scarpelli.

Detroit man charged with stolen car and thefts across the state

On the evening of Feb. 14, a Kent County Sheriff's Office deputy located a stolen vehicle from Waterford Township in the parking lot of the Gaines Township Meijer. A man returned to the vehicle and was detained by deputies.

Through the investigation, it was found that the suspect was responsible for multiple thefts from retail stores in Lansing and Grand Rapids Township. The 26-year-old Detroit man was arrested on charges of possessing a stolen vehicle and additional charges are being sought concerning the additional thefts. It is believed that the thefts totaled upward of $550.00.

The Kent County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate stolen car complaints as it is well known that these vehicles are used in additional crimes throughout West Michigan. If you see something suspicious or notice your license plate stolen, please never hesitate to contact law enforcement.  

Sheriff's Corner: Who I was and who I am now

The following was a speech given by Mecosta County Sheriff Brian Miller to the MOISD Career Center?.


I was born and raised in Jackson, Michigan. Growing up, my family life was stable and loving. Between my freshman and sophomore years of high school my parents separated, and eventually divorced. At that time, my life, and the person I was changed. Although I didn’t see it at the time, I changed. I had always been a happy-go-lucky kid who was well liked by my classmates and well behaved. No longer having the stability and structure at home, changed me. I became angry, quick to lose my temper, getting in fights at school, which led to getting suspended. I began skipping school, and my grades suffered as a result. I did just enough in school to keep my grades just good enough to play sports. As divorces go, my parents handled it in the most mature way they could, never bringing my brother and I in the middle of the two of their disputes. I was just a lost soul without any kind of direction or goals.

I found myself again after starting college. In the fall of 1990, I started classes at Ferris State University. This is where I feel I really matured. I became a resident advisor in the residence halls. This taught me responsibility, time management, but most importantly, leadership. I would tell anyone who is in college and needs financial assistance in realizing their dream of earning a college degree to do this, become a residential advisor. It was my need for financial assistance that led me to applying for that position and it paid off for me. Being an RA took care of my room and board. I worked in a shop on an assembly line back home during summer break, which helped pay my tuition. I then worked night
security in the dorm, which gave me a little spending money. With all of this, when I graduated from college, I had just over $4,000 in student loans and debt to pay off. Looking back, this is one of the biggest turning points in my life, and where I learned to stand on my own two feet and begin to be the leader I am today. The ball was in my court. It was up to me whether I would be successful or not. So, I learned the study skills and I did the work needed to be academically successful.

Life is all about being on a proverbial roller coaster, both personally and professionally. Sometimes you are at the peak of the ride when things are going well, and other times you feel like you are falling fast, and there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel. We just need to remember there will be better days, and that life is just testing you, preparing you for success. This was never more evident than after graduating from college. The job market was much different in 1995. There was a lot of competition for the few jobs there were in law enforcement at that time. I began working security at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, living with a couple of college buddies. I worked the night shift, and during the day would put out applications and attend interviews for jobs. It got to be fall, and I had not had any offers yet. I vividly remember calling my mom and crying like a baby about the lack of success I was seeing. I continued to work hard, and one day my perseverance paid off. It was in January of 1996, when I was offered a job with the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety.

It was there I adopted the warrior mind set. I never allowed myself to be outworked and had a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I wanted to make the most of this opportunity and did not want to take it for granted. It was there where I also developed the three pillars that support me in my life, and the same pillars I attempt to instill in my two sons. These pillars upheld me during my time at Big Rapids and now at the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office. I would like to share these pillars with you today if that is alright with you.

Number one is whatever you choose to do in life, you had better work hard at it. There is no place for doing anything in life at half effort. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you look back and regret the fact you could have done more. Do everything to the best of your ability.

Number two is don’t make excuses. When you make a mistake, take responsibility for it, own it. Everyone makes mistakes. When it happens, get out ahead of it, and learn from it.

Number three is concern yourself with you and not what everyone else is doing. Too often in our world people are worried about what everyone else is doing, when we should be figuring out how to be a better you. The
more time you spend on comparing yourself to everyone else, the less time you spend on self-reflection.

However, be wise, be aware of those other folks around you and what their intentions or agendas might be. Don’t let who you have been in the past hold you back from being the best person and leader you can be. I had been working at the BRDPS for a couple of years, when me and a couple of my high school buddies went to watch our high school football team play in the state playoffs. We ran into a girl we had gone to school with, and she inquired about what I was doing for a career. When I told her a police officer, she turned to her husband and said, “no way should he be a police officer”, referencing the lost and sometimes troubled teenager I had been when we were in school together. I have always remembered this, knowing and being proud of where I have continued to be in my life. I am where I am because of God, the upbringing I had, my wife, Heather and two boys, Cameron and Cooper, and the friends I have surrounded myself with. I have learned to respect who I am, and in turn I respect those around me. This is something else I have made sure to instill in my boys. Be a hero to yourself and continue to chase being the best person you can be.

I worked at the BRDPS for 25 years. During my time there I worked on the road for three years, was on the drug team for a year, worked seven years as our school resource officer and the last 14 there as our detective. The reason I had the success that I had was because of the time and effort I put into each of the positions, and my ability to work with others. You cannot be successful in this world without being able to work together. I always went out of my way to work with other law enforcement officers,
especially those at the BRDPS. Whether it was working alongside them, or providing guidance, in the long run we were all better for it.

It is extremely important to me to give back to the community I am part of. I have always found time to coach youth sports, whether it is rocketing football, middle school basketball, or Little League and travel baseball. It is rewarding to me to see the impact it makes on today’s youth while watching them grow as individuals on and off the court/field/diamond. Coachable youth will be employable young people and adults later in life.

Also important to me through the years, although a little more difficult for me to attend, has been being a part of civil service organizations in our community. They make our communities stronger, more interesting and engaging to all who live and visit here. It gives a person an opportunity to give back and have the satisfaction you are doing something positive in the community he/she lives in. This is especially important for our young people to step up, due to the age of a lot of the members of some of these organizations and the dwindling membership.

In 2020, I made the decision to run for sheriff. During the campaign, on occasion, some of my friends and loved ones would get hurt and be defensive of me when those I was running against or someone in the public would not have so nice things to say about me. My reply to her was always, “let it be.” I knew who I was. I was confident in the job I had done in law enforcement and the way I lived my life and I was not going to apologize for or defend myself to anyone. I didn’t feel the need to do so.

I had never given it any kind of consideration to run for sheriff, being happy to be the detective at the BRDPS. This is what I had gone into police work to do. I could have stayed there another 10 years and been perfectly happy. However, having friends at and working with members of the sheriff’s office, I felt like I could make a difference there and make it a better place to work. If workers feel appreciated for the job they do, they will do a better job for the public they are protecting and serving. Now, in my fourth year there, and looking towards another four-year term, every day I am striving to do the best job I can and be the leader that is respected and looked up to by my staff and the people of Mecosta County.

Who am I? I am Officer Brian, Coach Miller, Detective Miller, and Sheriff Miller. More importantly when my time on this earth is done, I am just Brian, a loving and loyal husband, father, and friend. The title is just that and can be gone tomorrow. What is important to me is all in my hand. My wedding band, which has a thin blue line to honor the profession that I hold close to my hear, and the ring I wear on my right pinkie, which is the Lord’s prayer. My faith, family, and profession. This is what is important to me and helped make me the leader I am. As you move into adulthood, aspire to make a difference, not a living. You will be a more happy person and leader for it.

Ferris State's new Center for Virtual learning hosting 2024 GLIAC Esports Championship

Ferris State University’s Center for Virtual Learning has been a hotbed of esports activity since opening in August, and now welcomes the best teams in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for championship competition. 

The GLIAC Esports Championship is planned for Feb. 17 and 18 with teams representing Ferris State, Davenport, Grand Valley State, Michigan Tech, Purdue Northwest, Saginaw Valley State and Wayne State bringing their talents to the Esports Arena, the centerpiece of the $32 million Center for Virtual Learning. 

The competition starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17. The tournament will be streamed live via Twitch

“Ferris State is excited and honored to host the GLIAC Esports Championships in Big Rapids inside a brand-new facility that draws rave reviews in the esports community,” said Amy Dorey, the Hospitality Management program coordinator who was recently on sabbatical in London learning about opportunities in online gaming competition. “We’re excited to help continue to grow esports among GLIAC schools and beyond while introducing more students to what esports can offer from fun to competition to industry careers after graduation. Ferris State has and will continue to play a role in those efforts.” 

The seven universities will participate in the two-day tournament featuring Valorant, League of Legends, Rocket League, and Super Smash Bros. 

Spectators are welcome to attend the event in Ferris State’s dedicated Esports Arena – the first purpose-built esports arena built in Michigan. In the short time since it opened officially on Aug. 31, 2023, the arena has already started attracting new students interested in the competitive gaming world and the possibility of a career in the emerging field. 

“The GLIAC Esports Championship is a fantastic opportunity for esports fans to see a competition like this, our facility was designed to host and stream events like this,” said Andrew Peterson, the interim director of eLearning. “We’re grateful to have the resources available to us in the Center for Virtual Learning and to put it to work to help create career opportunities that once didn’t seem possible. With a facility like this, and our Bachelor of Science in Professional Esports Production, we can provide our students with a practical hands-on learning experience.” 

Ferris State’s esports program was organized in 2017. By Fall 2022, the university started its Bachelor of Science academic curriculum in Professional Esports Production

The CVL is home to some of Ferris State’s most in-demand, high-impact academic programs. Programs housed in the facility include Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Analytics, Digital Animation and Game Design, Information Security and Intelligence, Professional Esports Production, Project Management, Software Engineering, the School of Education, and Television and Digital Media Production. 

Esports, short for electronic sports, is a video game competition with participants squaring off as individuals or teams. More than 240 colleges and universities are fielding esports teams with more than 5,000 student-athletes, according to the National Association of Collegiate Esports, a Kansas City-based nonprofit. 

The inaugural tournament took place in 2023, hosted by Davenport University. The participating teams were Ferris State, Davenport, Grand Valley State, Michigan Tech and Purdue Northwest. 

Click Center for Virtual Learning for more information about the facility. 

Pride Big Rapids announces plans for new festival location

For the third year in a row; Pride Big Rapids will be holding their annual festival, but with some changes. For the first two years, the event was put on at Northend Riverside Park. This year, PBR has preliminary approval to move the festivities downtown, to Michigan Avenue.

As part of this move, a portion of Michigan Avenue will be shut down, from Pine Street to Elm Street. Maple Street (M-20) will remain open and operational for the duration of the festival, its setup and cleanup. That is slated to be from 6 a.m. to midnight on June 30th, 2024. The festival itself will run from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on that date.

PBR estimates at least 3,000 people will attend the festival. This is on-par with attendance in 2023, and just as with previous years, we expect attendees to come and go as they please throughout the day. Parking will be handled differently compared to our first two years. There will no longer be a single lot from which buses ferry attendees. Attendees will instead utilize spots available on streets and nearby public lots. The area is also more walkable and accessible to disabled persons, likely decreasing the number of cars.

Security for the festival has been increased and will include four officers from Proof Technologies Corp. and members of the Mecosta County Sheriff’s Office Posse. Trained volunteers from PBR will also be a part of this team, lead by our board-appointed security director.

Once again, PBR will offer an alcohol tent featuring beer, wine, and seltzers. Trained bar tenders provided by local partner bars will sell the drinks inside a tent to be placed nearby the stage, in front of Star Shooters. No attendees under the age of 21 will be permitted to enter the
cordoned-off alcohol area or purchase alcohol. All alcohol must remain within the area, as well.

As for what will be included in the festival; expect dozens of vendors, several food trucks, activities for the whole family, live music, and drag shows. A full lineup will be announced at a later date.

*Location change and final details are subject to final approval by the City of Big Rapids.

KCAD Life Sciences and Pre-Medical Illustration students garner international recognition in professional exhibits

Two students from the Life Sciences and Pre-Medical Illustration program at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University recently had their classwork elevated to a global stage at prestigious annual events hosted by the Association of Medical Illustrators and the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators.

Current student Sophia Forystek and 2023 graduate Katie Lee both had pieces displayed in the 2023 AMI Salon, while Forystek also had a piece accepted into the juried 2023 GNSI Member’s Exhibit. 

Both events feature some of the best work being created by practicing visual science communicators today. And while submissions are solicited from both student and professional members, it’s rare for undergraduate student work to make the cut. 

Life Sciences and Pre-Medical Illustration Program Chair Kevin Brennan sees the professionally oriented nature of the program reflected in his students’ success.

“This participation in the main professional organizations demonstrates new levels of student engagement in the field,” Brennan said. “These accomplishments are expanding the reach of our program and demonstrating the diversity—in choice of media, technique, form of representation, and subject material—and quality of the research and final works that our students are producing.”

For Forystek, who’s finishing up her senior year at KCAD, the recognition is fuel for what comes next.

“To see my work held in such high regard makes me feel more confident about the future,” she said. “I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished, and I’m happy that I’m able to keep up with established professionals.” 

Forystek’s “Lateral View of the Newborn Skull and Vertebral Column,” featured in the AMI Salon, and “Medial View of the Knee,” featured in the GNSI Member’s Exhibit, are prime examples of the impactful work medical and scientific illustrators do. 

Both pieces seamlessly integrate clear, detailed, and accurately rendered illustrations with complex scientific information to distill complicated subject matter into accessible visual communications.

Such work supports the development of students and practitioners of science and medicine, and it also enhances the ability of medical patients and the public to better understand their own health and be more connected to the natural world.

A desire to help bridge that gap is ultimately what led Forystek to KCAD. An avid artist from a young age, she was enrolled in a nursing program on the other side of the state when the COVID-19 pandemic forced her education online. 

She and her classmates quickly found themselves struggling to learn how to do things like handle clinicals and draw blood in a virtual format. The challenge awakened Forystek’s latent creativity an opened her eyes to the urgent demand for the kinds of materials she’s creating now.

“Communication is key in health care, and most people can relate to the feeling of being in a in a doctor's office and not fully knowing what they’re talking about. You get overwhelmed easily when you don’t feel educated enough to make your own decisions,” she says. “I really want to be involved with making it easier for practitioners and patients to communicate.

Lee took more of a traditional art approach to the two pieces she had featured in the AMI Salon, “L3” and “Between L5 and the Sacrum.” Both are part of a series of papercuts of the transverse abdomen she created with the intent of mirroring the appearance of a CT scan.

The anatomical forms were cut from black paper and affixed to a white paper background before being encased in plexi-glass so viewers can see through them. Brennan laser cut the pieces into black acrylic for display at the AMI Conference.

Like Forystek, Lee feels validated and motivated by her inclusion in an internationally recognized professional forum like the AMI Salon.

“It feels wonderful to be able to show professionals my art,” she says. “It made me feel confident in my abilities and gave me the confidence to submit my art to more shows.

Post-graduation, Lee is pursuing a graduate degree in mortuary science, a path she was inspired to take through the Life Science and Pre-Medical Illustration program’s close collaboration with the nearby Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

As they strengthen their core creative and visual communication skills at KCAD, students in the program are also growing their scientific knowledge through histology and gross anatomy classes at MSU—as well as biology, cellular biology, pathophysiology, and medical terminology courses at Ferris State University and Grand Rapids Community College.

That includes access to MSU’s cadaver lab, where Lee first discovered the inspiration that’s steered here toward her current career path: becoming a licensed funeral director who specializes in restoration techniques that prepare the deceased for a funeral service, from minor touch-ups to full facial reconstruction.

“I’m actively doing a practicum at a funeral home where I get to have on-site experience with cosemtizing and restoration of the deceased,” she explains. “I think this is an excellent career path for me because it's a way that I can use my artistic and scientific knowledge while being able to simultaneously help families. I've always loved combining my art with science in ways that can be helpful to other people.”

The desire for a career of service is common amongst Life Science and Pre-Medical Illustration students, and that has a lot to do with the culture of support that exists not just in the program, but in the field at large.

Forystek says she’s found a helping hand at every turn of her education, from Brennan—who is a certified medical illustrator and AMI fellow—and his colleagues at KCAD and MSU, to the visiting professionals invited classrooms to share knowledge and experience, to program alumnus Tess Marhofer, who graduated in 2014, an independent medical illustrator who has since become a mentor in the area of ZBrush and other industry standard digital modeling tools. 

“I'm grateful to have all these peers and mentors helping me, because in medical illustration that's really what it’s all about,” Forystek said. “On every piece I create I’m working with others to make it the best it can be, and that’s only going to continue once I get out of college.”

Lee points to the program’s involvement with the AMI, GNSI, and other professional organizations as another key source of support.

“They were valuable resources to me as a student and helped me investigate career opportunities,” she says. “I’m grateful for the connections that KCAD was able to give me and for helping me have the opportunity to engage with other professionals and their work in order to expand my portfolio.”

Lee, Forystek, and other emerging professionals are entering the industry at a time of tremendous growth. According to the AMI, the employment outlook for medical illustrators and related positions is poised to continue its upward trajectory due to the highly specialized nature of the work and the relatively low number of new professionals graduating each year.

Not to mention rapid advancements of medical research, technology, and treatments, which will require effective visual communication to take root. For those like Brennan, who contribute to the industry through both practice and talent development, it all adds up to a world of opportunity for those looking to make a difference with their creativity.

“There is a wide range of directions that students can pursue with this degree and our industry and academic partnerships offer opportunities to explore areas of interest,” he says. “Medical technology, surgical devices and surgical techniques are constantly evolving, and there’s increased diversity in representation in training materials and patient education. All of this requires skilled visual communicators who can translate these complex topics into media that meets different audiences where they are.”

Governor Whitmer celebrates three-year anniversary of Michigan Reconnect

On the heels of the three-year anniversary, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer celebrated the significant accomplishments of the Michigan Reconnectscholarship that has helped put more than 150,000 Michiganders on a tuition-free pathway to a degree or skills certificate that leads to rewarding careers and higher wages.

"The bipartisan Michigan Reconnect program has put 150,000 Michiganders on a tuition-free path to a brighter future,” said Governor Whitmer. “I am so proud of everyone who has taken action to pursue their dreams by earning an associate degree or skills certificate. This year, let’s pass a balanced budget to deliver on the Michigan Guarantee so every Michigander can get a public education from pre-K through community college for free. Together, we can grow our economy, ensure everyone can ‘make it’ in Michigan, and lead the future of advanced manufacturing. Let’s keep working towards our Sixty by 30 goal by lowering costs and expanding opportunity.”

Michigan Reconnect is the largest effort in state history to ensure eligible Michiganders who do not have a college degree will have an opportunity to earn a tuition-free or deeply discounted associate degree or skills certificate. Since the program’s launch in February 2021, more than 150,000 Michiganders are benefitting from this tuition-free opportunity – including 8,500 applicants who are age 21-24 taking advantage of the limited-time expansion. Of these applicants, more than 32,000 Reconnect students have enrolled at a community or tribal college and more than 4,400 have earned credentials.

Michigan Reconnect is one of the signature programs moving the state toward achieving its’ Sixty by 30 goal to increase the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree to 60-percent by 2030. Michigan has increased its attainment rate from 45% in 2019 to 51.1% in 2022, according to the latest Lumina Foundation report.

This past October, Gov. Whitmer announced the limited-time expansion of Michigan Reconnect for adults ages 21 to 24, which opened the doors of opportunity for up to 350,000 more Michiganders to earn a tuition-free associate degree or skills certificate. For those wanting to take advantage of the limited-time expansion, applications must be submitted by Friday, Nov. 15, 2024.

"We are continuing to create new paths to postsecondary education for Michiganders and opportunities for our Michigan businesses to fill critical talent needs so they can continue to compete and grow,” said Michelle Richard, acting director of the Michigan Department of Lifelong, Education, Advancement and Potential. “We are proud of the progress made on the state’s Sixty by 30 goal and are excited to continue providing opportunities to Michigan residents to create a more fulfilling career path for themselves.”

This past year, Michigan Reconnect also launched the Short-Term Training Program, which allows students to choose to attend a career training program in Michigan and receive a one-time scholarship up to $1,500 towards tuition costs. For those wanting to take part in the Short-Term Training Program, applications must be submitted by Sunday, Dec. 15, 2024.

"Michigan's community colleges work tirelessly to provide students opportunities to ensure they are successful in their postsecondary endeavors,” said Michigan Community College Association President Brandy Johnson. "Our member institutions are honored to partner in the state's Sixty by 30 initiative because there's nothing more important than equipping people with the skills and credentials that they need to prosper in today’s economy."   

To ensure, Reconnectors’ success, Reconnect Navigators are in place to assist students starting on their path to a college degree or certificate. This includes applying for federal student aid, setting a career goal, selecting a program of study, registering for classes and creating a plan to graduate. Every Wednesday from 5 to 6 p.m. interested students can join members of the Navigator team for one-on-one program support to and help with completing their FAFSA.

Learn more about Michigan Reconnect and get started at

Moolenaar votes to impeach DHS Secretary Mayorkas for failure at the Southern border

Congressman John Moolenaar voted to impeach Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for his failed policies and the ongoing crisis at the southern border which has seen more than six million people cross the border in the past three years.

“Secretary Mayorkas has willfully refused to comply with the law, repeatedly lied to Congress by claiming the border is secure, and made it harder for Border Patrol agents to enforce the law. The policies he has implemented through executive action have helped drug cartels pour fentanyl into our communities and kill our loved ones, while also making it easier for the cartels to get away with human trafficking and the sexual assault of women and girls,” said Moolenaar. “On his first day in office, President Biden reversed border policies that were working and now he is leaving Secretary Mayorkas holding the bag when he knows he is truly the one who has made our country a more dangerous place for all Americans.”

The impeachment articles allege Mayorkas has violated his oath of office by refusing to enforce immigration law and has breached public trust by claiming that the border is secure despite his failures.

Gotion Inc.'s $5,000 donation to women's shelter will help support domestic violence survivors and their children

Women’s Information Services Inc. (WISE) in Big Rapids has received a $5,000 donation from Gotion Inc. to better support survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and sex trafficking.

Chuck Thelen, vice president of Gotion Inc. – North American Manufacturing, said the donation is part of Gotion’s ongoing commitment to help the community by donating to worthy causes and organizations. WISE provides free crisis intervention and support services to women and their children in crisis.

“WISE is such a worthy organization that wholeheartedly deserves all the support it can get,” Thelen said. “Many women who are facing terrible circumstances have nowhere to turn, and WISE provides a desperately needed safe haven for these women and their children. We’re honored to help make a positive difference for this important emergency shelter.”

WISE provides crisis intervention and support services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence by empowering individuals, children and families to reclaim their sense of self, according to its mission statement. Thelen was so moved by visiting the crisis center that he plans to volunteer and help till the grounds with his tractor to help establish gardens in the spring.

“We are most grateful for the wonderful generosity of Gotion to recognize and support the ongoing needs of people in our community fleeing violence and their need to start their lives over violence free,” said WISE Director Jane Currie. “We depend on the support from companies and individuals to stand with us against violence in our community and thank Gotion for being part of creating a violence-free community.”

Area women in crisis can call a 24-hour toll-free phone line at 1-800-374-WISE (9473) or 231-796-6600 for confidential services. Residents wishing to donate to WISE can visit

Mecosta County Sheriff's Office: Weekly Blotter (2/5 - 2/11)

Monday, February 5

  • At 12:22 A.M., deputies investigated an crash in Colfax TWP. A vehicle had ran off the roadway and into a pond.  The male driver was arrested for OWI. He was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

  • At 10:46 A.M., deputies made a traffic stop in Big Rapids TWP. The traffic stop resulted in the male driver being arrested on a warrant. He was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.  

Calls for Service: 14

Traffic Accidents: 1

Car/Deer Accidents: 2


Tuesday, February 6

Calls for Service: 27

Traffic Accidents: 3


Wednesday, February 7

  • At 8:43 P.M, deputies made a warrant arrest at a residence in Wheatland TWP. A female subject was arrested on a warrant. She was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.  

Calls for Service: 22

Traffic Accidents: 1


Thursday, February 8

Calls for Service: 22

Traffic Accidents: 1

Car/Deer Accidents: 2


Friday, February 9

  • At 12:12 A.M., deputies responded to a one vehicle accident in Chippewa TWP. Additional investigation resulted in the female driver being arrested for OWI. The female was lodged at the Mecosta County Jail.

Calls for Service: 28

Traffic Accidents: 1

Car/Deer Accidents: 1


Saturday, February 10

Calls for Service: 12


Sunday, February 11

Calls for Service: 30


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Local High School Schedule & Scores

CSAA Basketball (Boys)


White Cloud 48 @ Big Rapids 53 (OT)

  -> Game broadcasting on WBRN 1460am, 96.5fm

Lakeview 46 @ Tri County 54

C Montcalm 55 @ Kent City 52 (OT) 

Chip Hills 48 @ Newaygo 58

Grant 41 @ Reed City 60


Reed City 32 @ Cadillac 54

Morley Stanwood 68 @ Tri County 63

Shepherd 56 @ Chip Hills 39

Lakeview 58 @ St Louis 50


CSAA Tournament

  Big Rapids 48 @ Reed City 46 (CSAA Tourn Champ)

      -> Game broadcasting on WBRN 1460am, 96.5fm

      -> Big Rapids Wins CSAA Tournament

  Chip Hills 30 @ Kent City 56 (CSAA Tourn)

  C Montcalm 40 @ Newaygo 82 (CSAA Tourn)

  Lakeview 41 @ Morley Stanwood 52 (CSAA Tourn)

2/22/24 - 7:00pm

Montague @ Grant

Morley Stanwood @ Tri County (CSAA Tourn)

2/23/24 - 7:00pm

C Montcalm @ Midland Calvary Bap

CSAA Basketball (Girls)

2/19/24 - 7:00pm

Hart 45 @ Morley Stanwood 40

Newaygo 38 @ Oakridge 46

2/20/24 - 7:00pm

Chip Hills 33 @ Beal City 67

Big Rapids 39 @ Cadillac 41

Whitehall 44 @ Grant 71

Hesperia 18 @ Tri County 71

Lakeview 55 @ Pine River 41

Reed City 36 @ McBain 40

2/21/24 - 7:00pm

Shelby 41 @ Newaygo 48

2/23/24 - 7:30pm

Tri County @ Big Rapids (7:00p)

Reed City @ C Montcalm

Morley Stanwood @ Grant

Lakeview @ Kent City

Newaygo @ Chip Hills


Big Rapids Ice Hockey (12-12-1)

MHSAA Regional 21: 2/24/24

Big Rapids#4 @ E Grand Rapids#1 (7:15pm)

GR CC#3 @ GR Christian#2 (4:15pm)

CSAA Basketball Standings

CSAA - Boys

  1. Reed City 18-3 (10-0)
  2. White Cloud 16-5 (8-2)
  3. Big Rapids   15-6 (8-2)
  4. Grant   13-6 (8-2)
  5. Newaygo 13-8 (6-4)
  6. Central Montcalm 8-12 (4-6)
  7. Kent City 7-14 (4-6)
  8. Tri County 6-15 (3-7)
  9. Chip Hills 5-16 (3-7)
  10. Morley Stanwood 2-17 (1-9)
  11. Lakeview 5-16 (0-10)

CSAA - Girls

  1. Morley Stanwood 15-3 (8-1)
  2. Grant 13-4 (8-1)
  3. Kent City 15-4 (7-2)
  4. Reed City 11-8 (7-2)
  5. Big Rapids 10-8 (6-3)
  6. Lakeview 10-9 (4-5)
  7. Central Montcalm 8-11 (4-5)
  8. Newaygo 10-9 (3-6)
  9. White Cloud 7-13 (2-8)
  10. Tri County 3-14 (1-8)
  11. Chip Hills 1-18 (0-9)

This Week's Poll

What place will the Lions finish in the NFC North?