Archive for the ‘Guest Bloggers’ Category

Written by: Nick Balduf (BS05)

I started at EMU in Fall 2001 and quickly discovered that it was the perfect place for me to explore my best four years of my life. I took every advantage I could, and before I knew it June 2005 rolled by and it was time to become an adult.

Throughout that time my Dad was my biggest fan, enjoying visits to campus and proudly displaying his EMU stickers and sweatshirts.

It wasn’t until after I graduated that I followed my Father’s love for college football. It was a joy for us to come to Ypsilanti on a perfect Fall day and spend the afternoon together.  I had come to look forward to it every home game. A time for father and son to spend some quality time together.

We supported the team through the tough times of a winless season and knew that they would come back. We were looking forward to this season after last seasons wins. My father passed away on July 23rd and I’m going to miss having him by my side on the bleachers enjoying the game. I am fortunate for the times we did get to spend cheering on the Green and White.  I will cherish those moments forever.

Want to share your story and your EMU memories? Contact Dan Mathis – dmathis@emich.edu

Thank you, Nick, for sharing with us the importance of family! – Dan


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Holly Elder (BS10) shares more about her experience in AmeriCorps NCCC. If you haven’t read her first post, check it out here.

My NCCC team Oak 3 has transitioned themselves from working at Scattergood Friends School in West Branch, IA to Coralville Lake, IA, about a 20 minute commute. For the past few weeks we’ve been working under the direction of the US Army Corps of Engineers at Coralville Lake, working on projects such as reclaiming trails and removing invasive species. The US Army Corps of Engineers (also known as USACE) manages Coralville Lake as a multiple use project providing primary benefits in flood control and low flow augmentation. Secondary benefits include recreation, fish and wildlife management, forest management and water quality improvement. In addition to moderating stream flows on the Iowa River, Coralville Lake ‘s less evident, but equally important, role is in the comprehensive flood control system for the Mississippi River .

I find this project really interesting for a variety of reasons. Mostly, because of the recent floods that have been occurring along the Mississippi River, and the fact that our sponsors are the people who decide what to do in terms of flood control. To be able to ask the people you work with what the decision making process is like for opening up levees is a very unique opportunity.

In terms of what our team is doing, we have been learning tactics for trail maintenance that USACE uses to keep the trails easily accessible for hikers and visitors to Coralville Lake. Part of the learning process includes rerouting or fixing water drainage areas to keep from trails getting too muddy and messy to walk through. We’ve also been removing invasive species of plants, clearing out brush, and chainsawing down dead trees and certain trees that aren’t indigenous to Iowa, preventing sun light from reaching the trails. I’d have to say my favorite part about the trail maintenance is being shown how to properly use a chainsaw and…well, use it! If you had asked me a few months ago whether or not I could imagine myself using a chainsaw I would have said no way Jose…but I’m really proud of myself for stepping up to the challenge and learning. Now it’s one of my favorite things to do at the trail!

Our project ends in the next two weeks for the mid-year break, and I’m excited to be able to relax, but I also think about how much time has passed. In a way I’m sad that this journey is about half over, but I am excited to come back to the main campus for the mid-year transition and seeing all of the other NCCC teams get together and swap stories.

Where is Oak 3 going after the mid-year? You’ll find out in the next update!

For more information about AmeriCorps NCCC or other AmeriCorps programs visit www.americorps.gov or call 1-800-942-2677. This has been such a positive experience I’d love to spread the word about NCCC!

If you would like to serve as a recurring guest blogger, check out the information here or contact Dan Mathis at dmathis@emich.edu

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Holly Elder (BS10) shares more about her experience in AmeriCorps NCCC. If you haven’t read her first post, check it out here

I’m back again with another story of what’s been going on with my adventures in AmeriCorps NCCC!

Last I left you, I was explaining about the program and why I joined. If you’re interested in hearing more about it before you read on, please refer to my first post.  At the time, I was in Holly, Michigan at for my first project in a YMCA camp in the Detroit Metro area: Camp Ohiyesa.  After a week in transition at the campus in Vinton, Iowa, I’ve brought another update about what’s going on in the life of an AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) member.

My team, Oak 3, is about fifteen minutes outside of Iowa City, in the little town of West Branch. We are stationed at the Scattergood Friends School, a college preparatory school based in the Quaker faith. For the past couple of weeks we’ve been helping the staff here and getting to know the students a little better.  We’ve been split up into different smaller groups: two maintenance teams, one working on a fire wall for the boys’ dormitory, the other cutting down trees and cementing the garage floors, and one team solely for helping out at the school farm. I happen to be on the latter team and it’s been an amazing experience.

In the past two weeks I have herded sheep and cows, planted a little over 1,000 square footage of vegetables, built a cattle sorting shoot (a sort of small containment fence for when they want to trim sheep’s nails and herd specific livestock), harvested the vegetables already grown for the school kitchen, feed/water livestock and other various jobs that the Scattergood farmers wanted us to help them with. I even got to go and help out at the farmer’s market in one of the nearby towns, which is so hard for me because I want to buy everything when I’m in a farmer’s market.

Our time at Scattergood is slowly coming to a close and we are about to switch over to the second half of this project, in the nearby town of Coralville. But I’ll tell you more about that when we get there, so stay tuned!

For more information about AmeriCorps NCCC or other AmeriCorps programs visit www.americorps.gov or call 1-800-942-2677. This has been such a positive experience I’d love to spread the word about NCCC!

If you would like to serve as a recurring guest blogger, check out the information here or contact Dan Mathis at dmathis@emich.edu

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Written by: Holly Elder (BS10)

Hello fellow alumni!

If you’re wondering what there is to do after graduating college, or taking a break doing something productive and enriching for yourself and the community then do I have an option for you! It’s called AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps).

AmeriCorps NCCC, part of a network of national service programs, is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. NCCC members, 18-24, complete at least 1,700 service hours during the 10-month, full-time, residential program. In exchange, members receive an education award, room and board, limited health benefits, a living allowance and leadership development.

NCCC service projects, which typically last from six to eight weeks, address critical needs related to natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship and conservation, energy conservation and urban and rural development. Members construct and rehabilitate low-income housing, respond to natural disasters, clean up streams, help communities develop emergency plans and address countless other local needs.

I wanted to apply for a number of reasons to NCCC, but one of the more important ones was to use the education award to help pay for graduate school. I didn’t feel like I was ready for graduate school, financially or mentally, so I looked around for other opportunities that would help me figure out what I wanted to do. One of the first things I did after I graduated as  a volunteer at FlyArt Children’s Center in downtown Ypsilanti. Working with kids doing art projects gave me a great feeling and a sense of accomplishment. It made me realize I wanted to go out and help directly with people even more.

NCCC sounded too good to be true, but there it was, hanging in the back of my head until the day I graduated. I filled out an application for the 2011 winter term before it was too late.

Next thing you know, I got accepted and headed to Vinton, Iowa in February. It’s really amazing meeting people the same age with different backgrounds and from different corners of the US and yet we all wanted to do the same thing, help others.

My team’s name is Oak 3 and our first project is at a YMCA Metro Detroit camp, Camp Ohiyesa, in Holly, Michigan. For six weeks we are facilitating outdoor activities for the kids (archery, for example), and working alongside the maintenance crew. So far we have built a horse pasture, cleaned up around camp and extracted duckweed from the camp’s lagoon. Right now we’re working on extending the petting farm so the camp can have pigs before summer camp starts. Our last day here is April 29th then we’ll head to our next project which we will find out soon!

This program has been such a positive experience for me and I hope to spread the word about NCCC. For information call 1-800-942-2677 or visit www.americorps.gov/nccc.

My team, Oak 3, at our site project for the next few weeks!

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Brian Calloway graduated from EMU in 2005 with a BS in journalism and a minor in communication. As a Coloma, Mich., native, Calloway came to Eastern Michigan decided for the opportunities it presented to him and also because his parents both attended the school.

Brian Calloway (BSO5)

Attending EMU, Calloway had an opportunity to fine tune his skills as a journalist from the first day he stepped on campus as a sports writer at the

Eastern Echo. Four years at the school paper – in which Calloway held positions as the assistant sports editor as a sophomore and the sports editor as a junior and senior – have resulted in a professional writing career for him.

Calloway currently is the sports editor at The Daily Telegram in Adrian, Mich. He has held the position since 2007 after beginning his professional career as the assistant sports editor at the Telegram. In Adrian, Calloway has covered high school, college sports and auto-racing among other things. He has won Associated Press and Michigan Press Association awards for his work. This year he received a first-place AP award for his coverage on Adrian College’s football coaching change as well as a second-place award for his initial story on the firing of football coach Jim Lyall.

Calloway believes his time at the Echo helped prepare him for his professional career.

“The opportunity to get experience at the school paper was priceless for me. Being able to write on a consistent basis and deliver the sports news to the campus community laid the foundation for me as a journalist,” Calloway said.

Several teachers in the journalism / public relations department helped Calloway reach his potential. A sports reporting class taught by then Detroit News sports copy editor Art Brooks helped Calloway pursue his dream of becoming a sports writer. He also benefited from classes taught by Carol Schlagheck and public relations instructor Lolita Cummings-Carson.

In addition to his time spent writing at EMU, Calloway was also involved in several other activities. He worked in the Admissions Visits Program as a campus tour guide, was a part of the First-Year Mentor Program and also was a member of O.T.E.A.M. (Orientation Team of Eastern’s Advisors and Mentors) – a group that helps oversee the new student orientation program.

These experiences and opportunities EMU provided to Calloway have also been beneficial to him.

“Being involved in many things around campus at EMU allowed me to discover myself and helped to bring out and expand my leadership and communication skills,” Calloway said.

Follow Calloway’s work at http://bcallowaystories.wordpress.com/

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Dara Walker (BS09) discusses her transition from EMU to Syracuse University. She emphasizes the importance of becoming a purpose-oriented scholar.

Prior to graduating from Eastern in 2009 with a B.S. in African-American Studies, I was not sure if my experiences had prepared me to successfully complete my first year of Syracuse University’s Pan-African Studies (PAS) Master’s program. During my four-year tenure at EMU, I found a strong community of scholars, activists, and friends in the Department of African-American Studies, the Center for Multicultural Affairs, the Honors College, the EMU Black Alumni Association, the McNair Scholars Program, Phi Sigma Pi, and the Bruce T. Halle Library. They (EMU) provided me with the knowledge and skills necessary to work in my community as a scholar and leader.

Dara Walker (BS09)

As an SU graduate student, I have the opportunity to work with communities beyond the university walls to creatively merge scholarship and activism. From organizing campus and community events for Harriet Washington, the author of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present to conducting independent research that explores the pedagogical value of Hip Hop in secondary education, I have the chance to explore the importance of purpose-driven research beyond theory.

Now, I have reached the stage of my program where the master’s thesis is my central academic priority. Through oral history interviews, my thesis research will explore the personal and political experiences of individuals who were Detroit high school student activists during the Black Power Movement; particularly how their work strengthened and emboldened the Black Power Movement’s goals for quality education through student activism within school walls. With the research funding provided by Syracuse University and Wayne State University’s Walter P. Reuther Library, I have the opportunity to conduct field research for this work.

Written by: Dara Walker

If you would like to be a guest blogger, contact Dan at dmathis@emich.edu – Share your story!

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Brandon Jessup (BBA05) shares his thoughts on how EMU made a difference in his life:

“If it wasn’t for EMU…” is a thought I’ve been having often lately. We all know the pursuit of higher education is tough. College introduces us to life and the obstacles we will face as students and young adults. College challenges vary; if its not academics, its finances, and when its neither of those the weight of the challenge, whatever it may be, can be a huge burden for a young student. I graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2005 with my BBA in Computer Information Systems with a minor in Labor Studies. EMU prepared me for leadership in my community, in business and within myself.

I transferred to EMU in 2000. I found a college campus with a very active student life and even more vocal students. In my second year at EMU, the world had been shaken at its core from the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The next day, the local chapter of the NAACP, the department of African-American studies and other faculty, staff and student organizations held a program called “What’s going on?”. This campus-led program inspired me to get involved and to give back. No longer did I simply focus on my professional advancement and development. I began to focus on my community, my environment how I could contribute to their advancement. EMU empowered me as a leader. Faculty and staff such as Dr. Judy Sturgis-Hill, Dr. Melvin Peters, past Vice-President of Student Affairs Jim Vick, Dr. Whitney Harris, current Ombudsman Gregory Peoples, Denise Tanguay, Dr. Ronald Woods, Dr. Heather Neff and others challenged my perception of diversity, community service and higher education; building my ability to adapt, inspire and explore.

Eastern Michigan University has always maintained a strong community presence and it’s powered by the students. As a student leader at EMU, I advocated for students and the University, studied in a world class learning environment and helped shape the culture at EMU. Initatives for living, breathing community documents such as the EMU Campus Creed were led by students just like me. The principles, education and knowledge gained at EMU has continued to carry me today. Since my graduation, I have traveled across the country and around the globe as a community leader. I am founder and chairman of an urban public policy think tank, Michigan Forward. “If it wasn’t for EMU…” making a difference in me then, I definitely would not be a difference maker today.

Learn more about Brandon Jessup:

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