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Michigan Tech’s Midyear Commencement Saturday

By Mark Wilcox, News Writer, Michigan Technological University

mtu-winter-commencement-2015Nearly 350 bachelor’s, master’s and PhD recipients are expected to take part in Michigan Technological University’s Midyear Commencement Saturday. Ceremonies take place at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 17 in the Wood Gym of the Student Development Complex.

Keith Creagh, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) will deliver the commencement address. Creagh graduated from Michigan Tech in 1974 with a degree in Forestry.

In 2012, Governor Rick Snyder appointed Creagh, who had been serving as director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, to head the MDNR. In December of 2015, the Governor called upon Greagh to temporarily head the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality during the Flint water crisis. He returned to the MDNR in June.

Kristina Rushlau will the deliver the student address. A Kalamazoo native, Rushlau will graduate with a BS in Environmental Engineering. During her time at Michigan Tech, she participated in Mind Trekkers, the Society of Environmental Engineers and many other activities. She hopes to start her career in environmental engineering preferably in the Detroit Area.

One of the members of the class of 2016 is Ashley VanSumeren from Goodrich, Michigan, who is graduating with a double major in Biomedical Engineering and Exercise Science. VanSumeren says she’s been heavily involved in undergraduate research since her sophomore year. Thanks to a scholarship from the Pavlis Honors College and Portage Health Foundation, she was able to conduct her own research project.

“I looked at how the muscles of the legs and trunk contribute to seated upper body exercise,” she says.

VanSumeren presented the results of her research at the Undergraduate Research Expo last march and at the Life Science and Technology Institute Research Forum in October. At the latter, she received the Grand Prize in the undergraduate division.

Michigan Tech is a family affair for VanSumeren whose parents and brother are alumni. She says she initially had “kind of sworn off” Tech because she didn’t want to appear to be “copying” her family. A visit during her senior year of high school (while en route to visit her first choice school) changed her mind. She said the opportunities she’s had in four years, including working with Olympic athletes for a senior design project, showed her that Tech was indeed the right choice.

The future is a little less clear for VanSumeren, who is planning to pursue a master’s degree in kinesiology with an emphasis on biomechanics.

“I haven’t decided on a school yet, but have applied to schools across the country and in Canada,” she says. “Following my master’s, I hope to get a job in a biomechanics research lab, either for a shoe company or a sport performance company.” She says she hasn’t ruled out continuing her education to earn a PhD.

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