Archive for October 2015

Hillsdale Shotgun Team Guided by Passion, Excellence

HCST

Sure, any college can have a basketball team. But how many have their own shotgun team?

And how many become world-class in just a few years?

Done and done at Hillsdale College, which not only offers gorgeous, 103-acre shooting facilities but has become a force in trap shooting competitions just six years after its team was formed.

National clay targets title winners in 2012 and earlier this year, the Hillsdale team finished second overall in October at the Association of Colleges Unions International Central Midwest Conference Championship. Hillsdale finished near the top in several categories, including trap and skeet shooting.

“Though the Hillsdale College team of 10 shooters represented just 8 percent of the total attendance, we took the podium in every event,” said Hillsdale sophomore Drew Lieske, a member of the Hillsdale College shotgun team.

“We have such a talented group of people. It’s such a remarkable feat.”

For the record, Hillsdale of course has a basketball team. And it’s a good one too. But college is about trying new things, discovering passions and achieving excellence.

So when the team formed in 2009, few expenses were spared at the Halter Shooting Sports Education Center. Located five miles from campus, the state-of-the-art facilities features four American trap fields, a five-stand sporting clays field, a small arms range, a skeet field for both American and International skeet and a lodge and education center.

Expansion plans include construction of a 100-meter rifle and 50-meter pistol range, as well as indoor and outdoor archery ranges and an indoor gun range.

And it’s more than just a team. Unlike other programs, Hillsdale’s features an educational component that includes education seminars on campus, guest lectures from award-winning faculty about American history, economics and the Second Amendment.

The goal: Showing students and others the “vital connection between the founding principles of the nation and their constitutional rights as free people,” according to the university.

Is it for everyone? Of course not. But that’s what the best college experiences are about: Exposure to new ideas, opening new doors and laying a framework and providing the tools to allow students to chart new paths.

That’s a hallmark of Hillsdale and Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

The schools aren’t hostage to the latest fads but are guided instead by passion and principle.

Class sizes are small enough so students not only know their professors, they form lifetime bonds. Professors pride themselves on working closely with students to help them forge their own path, buck conventional wisdom and find a new way.

It’s an experience that simply isn’t available at traditional universities. And despite what you may have heard, independents are often less expensive and boast higher four-year graduation rates than four-year institutions.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Calvin Graduate Helps Spacecraft Reach Pluto

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Sure, it’s a cliche. But the best college experiences teach students to reach for the stars.

Or Pluto, in the case of Thomas Strikwerda.

The Calvin College alumni managed the design, guidance and control teams of the NASA New Horizon spacecraft that was launched in 2006, traveled 3 billion miles and sent back humanity’s first, positively breathtaking, images of Pluto in July.

Strikwerda returned to his alma mater this month to speak about the Pluto mission and what’s next for the spacecraft (in five years, it’s expected to reach a recently discovered object on the solar system’s frontier known as 2014 MU69.)

More than 200 people turned out for the talk.

Strikwerda grew up in Grand Rapids, fell in love with astronomy and helped build the James C. Veen Observatory.

It was at Calvin that his passion became a career. Recognizing his talent, faculty allowed him to work as a presenter in the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium while he pursued his undergraduate degree in physics from Calvin.

He later earned his doctorate and postdoctoral fellowship in astronautical engineering, and his career has taken him to the moon and back and then some.

A key member of the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, Strikwerda has supervised mission design of several key projects, from the Messenger Mission to Mercury to the Hubble Space Telescope.

“Some people have the image that spacecraft scientists and engineers just sit alone at a console typing in commands,” Strikwerda said. “It’s nothing like that. It’s a multidisciplinary endeavor that requires many teams to work together, all precisely choreographed. It’s amazing!”

It’s an amazing career that began at Calvin, which prides itself on helping students chart their path toward awesome careers.

It’s one of Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities that are purposefully different than big state schools. Their world-renowned faculty teach their own classes instead of relying on a grad student.

Doing so helps forge tight bonds with students that their potential. Because helping students find their muse and follow it is what they do.

The schools emphasize community over crowds and a spirit of togetherness and cohesion that just doesn’t exist at big state schools. With low class sizes and award-winning faculty, the schools are proud that students forge lifelong bonds with professors.

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Madonna University Reaches Out to Help Haiti

Madonna_Haiti

The world was horrified when a powerful earthquake rocked Haiti in 2010. Within days, 220,000 were dead and $13.5 billion in charitable donations rolled into the tiny, chronically poor island nation.

And then, after a few months, the news shifted, sympathies waned and donations slowed. Haiti returned to “normal”: Devastating poverty, corruption and illness.

While others left, Madonna University put down roots.

The Michigan-based university is marking the fourth year of its Haiti Education Leadership Program (HELP), an online business administration program that teaches English-speaking Haitians.

“It sounds cliché, but you help one person at a time,” said Donald Conrad, a business professor who helped found the program.

The three-year program graduates about 25 students per year and is believed to be one of the only programs of its kind in Haiti. The program trains students on business practices with the goal of expanding the tiny middle class in Haiti.

“We want those in the middle to have the chance to create successful businesses and have good careers working for the government or organizations in Haiti,” said Sister Rose Marie Kujawa, who created the program and retired as Madonna University’s president this year.

Organizers are in Haiti for the long haul. They hope to expand the program to include new studies such as hospitality management.

The benevolence is typical of Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities. Because helping students follow the right path and fulfill their passion is what they do.

All emphasize community over crowds and a spirit of togetherness and cohesion that just doesn’t exist at big state schools. With low class sizes and award-winning faculty, the schools are proud that students forge lifelong bonds with professors.

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Albion Grad Clothes World One Shirt at a Time

MalloryMCA

Mallory Brown went to college hoping to plan events. She left wanting to change the world.

She’s well on her way.

Albion College helped Brown forge a unique path that combines business, social entrepreneurialism and global studies. She’s the founder and CEO of World Clothes Line, which donates a shirt to the needy worldwide for each one her customers buy.

“I travel to impoverished areas around the world to personally deliver new clothes to those who need them most,” said Brown, who graduated in 2008 with degrees in French and economics from Albion’s Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management.

“Albion provided me with the skills to take on every aspect of business. As founder and sole owner of a new company, I must understand and manage all moving parts. From marketing to economics to accounting to internships, the range of courses and experiences prepared me for such a challenge.”

Brown will tell her story Thursday at TEDxDetroit, the world-renowned symposium of ideas, optimism and collaboration about technology, entertainment and design. The all-day event is at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.

She grew up in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and was in Albion for event planning until her life took a detour. Brown went on a study-abroad program in Paris and loved it. She worked with her advisers to integrate her passions — travel, business, social justice — into a career track.

Her dream didn’t coalesce until after she graduated and backpacked in Asia and South America. She was dumbfounded by how many people lacked good clothes. After spells in other industries, she launched the World Clothes Line in 2010 when she was 24. Flash forward five years and she’s delivered clothes to people in need in 16 countries.

“The incredible preparation from Albion gave me the flexibility in my career to take chances, try new things, and take advantage of new opportunities,” Brown says.

This January, she visited Haiti for three weeks, an experience she described as “incredibly emotional.” This summer, it was an earthquake relief trip to Nepal.

Friendships made at Albion also helped her business. One of World Clothes Line’s partners is CreateMyTee.com, which was founded by Albion alums Josh Fales and Nick Shelton.

That’s the hallmark of an education at Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

The schools are guided by passion and community. Class sizes are small enough so students not only know their professors, they form lifetime bonds. Professors pride themselves on working closely with students to help them forge their own path, buck conventional wisdom and find a new way.

It’s an experience that simply isn’t available at traditional universities. And despite what you may have heard, independents are often less expensive and boast higher four-year graduation rates than four-year institutions.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Marygrove’s Rita Fields beats the odds, becomes an inspiration

Rita_Fields_MCA

Rita Fields could have given up. Or been a statistic.

Instead, she became an inspiration.

A single mother at 17, she was raised by a schizophrenic violent mother. For a spell she was homeless, literally eating food from a dumpster and sleeping behind a Kroger. Somehow, through prayer and grit, she persevered to complete her GED and pressed forth to provide a better life for her son, Alaric.

Fields knew that life went through college. Most weren’t willing to accommodate her.

But Marygrove College in Detroit saw something in Fields, offering her financial aid and other support.

She flourished, earning a double major in psychology and English, winning honors and setting a school record by taking 10 classes in one semester and received in A in each. At her side throughout the incredible journey was Alaric, riding the bus with her and sitting at her side a classes.

“At Marygrove, I felt valued. I was able to connect with people and interact with professors who cared deeply about their students and wanted to support them,” Fields says.

“The program was tailored to support the working individual — so the ease of access was tremendously important for me.”

Today, she is known as Dr. Fields and is a business professor at another MCA member school – Madonna University.

She’ll share her story Thursday at TEDxDetroit, a daylong conference devoted to big ideas in technology, entertainment and design at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.

“Marygrove greatly contributed to the person that I have become. My education not only gave me knowledge, it also largely rebuilt my shattered self-esteem,” Fields says.

It’s a heart-warming story and there are many more like it at Marygrove and Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

The schools take pride in finding and nurturing promise. Purposefully small, they prefer community over crowds. Unlike big state schools that pack hundreds into lecture halls, classes are small so faculty can work individually with students.

Like Fields, the path may not always be straight. But it’s one that leads to great things.
And despite what you may have heard, independents are often less expensive and boast higher four-year graduation rates than four-year institutions.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.