Alumni Notes

January 28, 2016

John-ShinskyAlumnus leads at GVSU, earns Big Ten award

Since July 2015, John Shinsky, B.A. ’74 (Elementary Education), M.A. ’77 and Ph.D. ’83 (Special Education), has served as interim dean of the Grand Valley State University College of Education. Prior to this appointment, he was chair of the Leadership and Learning Department in the college.

Shinsky was also named as the 2015 recipient of the Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award from the Big Ten in November. The award celebrates former football players that have achieved success in the areas of leadership and humanitarianism after college. Shinsky played for the Spartans from 1970-73.

Grand Awards


Photo credit: Harley J. Seeley Photography


Photo credit: Harley J. Seeley Photography

William Mayes, M.A. ’74 (Educational Administration), a former executive director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators, received the Distinguished Alumni Award. He was one of five to receive the award, which celebrates professional accomplishments, integrity and character of alumni.

The Honorable Peter F. Secchia, B.A. ’63 (Economics) and honorary Ph.D. ’97 (Humanities), and Joan Secchia, B. ’64 (Education), were presented with the Philanthropist Award. The award is presented to individuals, families or associations with a proven record of providing major, ongoing financial support and leadership to MSU. The Secchias have established numerous endowments and also hold many memberships and board positions that provide support to the university.



Sean Addley, B.A. ’08 (Elementary Education) and M.A. ’13 (Student Affairs Administration), is the international programs coordinator at North Carolina State University. He works both with the College of Design and the NC State Study Abroad Office for his position.

Andrew Belanger, M.A. ’14 (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education), was named by the Lansing State Journal in its inaugural 10 Over the Next Ten Awards, presented in September 2015. The awards honor those considered to be the next generation of leaders in Greater Lansing. Belanger works at the Michigan Health and Hospital Association as the manager at Keystone Center Communications.

The Association of Teacher Educators will award Christina Berchini, Ph.D. ’14 (Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education), with the Distinguished Dissertation award in February 2016. Berchini’s dissertation was a study on teachers’ racialized identities and how those identities play out in schools.

Selyna Beverly began her new position as university academic advising coordinator for California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in March 2015. Beverly, M.A. ’09 (Student Affairs Administration), leads faculty and staff advisors in best practices and helps build an overall mission and vision for advising at the university. Previously, she was an undergraduate advisor for the CSPU College of Engineering.

Shannon Burton, M.A. ’02 (Student Affairs Administration) and Ph.D. ’12 (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education), was elected to the Board of Directors for NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising in March 2015. Burton is responsible for providing leadership and establishing the vision, strategic plan and special initiatives for the organization.

In September 2015, Shenita Brokenburr, Ph.D. ’08 (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education), was appointed senior vice president and chief human resources officer for the University of Wisconsin’s System Administration office. She is providing leadership and oversight for human resources and support to 26 institutions in the Wisconsin higher education system. Previously, Brokenburr was vice president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund in Chicago, Ill.


Aroutis Foster was promoted to associate professor in the Drexel University School of Education in fall 2015. Foster, Ph.D. ’09 (Educational Psychology and Educational Technology), is also in his second year of a five-year National Science Foundation CAREER project focused on game-based learning, science education and identity exploration.

Robert Green, Ph.D. ’63 (Guidance and Personnel Services), wrote a memoir, “At the Crossroads of Fear and Freedom: The Fight for Social and Educational Justice,” published in November 2015 by MSU Press. The memoir showcases previously untold stories about major civil rights campaigns that helped put an end to voting rights violations and Jim Crow education, and how Green helped urban school districts improve academic achievement. Green, an education consultant, also was a professor and dean of the former College of Urban Development at MSU.

Professor Thelma Sternberg Horn of Miami University (Ohio) received the 2015 Professional Achievement Award from the MSU Department of Kinesiology. Sternberg Horn, Ph.D. ’82 (Health and Physical Education), received the award for her accomplishments in research, as an editor and associate editor for two scholarly journals and having served as an advisor at Miami University.

Jill Hoort, B.A. ’00 (Elementary Education), won the Elementary Teacher of the Year Award from the Michigan Council of Teachers of English in October 2015. Hoort teaches third and fourth grade at Okemos Public Montessori at Central.

In May 2015, Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed Alice Marie Jacobs, Ph.D. ’86 (College and University Administration), to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Jacobs, who serves as president of Danville Area Community College in Illinois, will be involved with planning, policy development, administering new grants and approving new degree programs in the state, among other duties.

Tina Kerr, Ph.D. ’05 (K-12 Educational Administration), became the new Michigan Association of School Administrators deputy director and the Michigan Institute for Educational Management executive director in September 2015. She previously served as superintendent of Coldwater Community Schools; in 2012, she was named Michigan Superintendent of the Year.

Alumnus Daniel Kittle was promoted to vice president for student life and dean of students at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa in July 2015. Kittle, Ph.D. ’05 (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education), previously was director of the Center for Community Engagement and the special assistant to the president for strategic initiatives at Wartburg. Also in 2015, Kittle received the Wartburg College Student Senate’s Outstanding Administrative Staff Award.


Emily Pohlonski, B.S. ’00 (Biological Science-Secondary Education), was a finalist for the 2015 Michigan Teacher of the Year award. She currently works as a teacher at Novi High School and serves as president of the Network of Michigan Educators.

Ford Reinink, B.S. ’07 (Kinesiology), opened Holland Physical Therapy in Holland, Mich. in May 2015. The practice, where Reinink serves as director of clinical operations, was opened as a joint venture with Agility Heath.

Charles Roberts received the Joe and Jean Hendricks Excellence in Teaching Award at Mercer University in May 2015. The award celebrates full-time teachers who challenge, inspire and teach in and out of the classroom. Roberts, Ph.D. ’94 (Higher Education), is an associate professor of mathematics at Mercer.

Rev. James Rogers, M.A. ’77 and Ph.D. ’90 (Curriculum and Instruction), was appointed president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, Calif. The school helps train Dominican seminary brothers to become priests. Rogers is also ordained as a Catholic priest.

Michael Roskamp, Ph.D. ’08 (Kinesiology), accepted a position as middle/high school principal for Northside Christian School in St. Petersburg, Fla. in July 2015. Previously, Roskamp served as an assistant professor of movement science at Grand Valley State University.

Alumna Janel Rutzen, B.A. ’11 (Elementary Education), started as development coordinator of schools and programs at Northwestern University in May 2015. In her new position, Rutzen helps coordinate major gifts for several schools and other offices on campus. Previously, she served as program coordinator for the Association of Future Alumni at the MSU Alumni Association.

Kerry Shadbolt was named the 2016 Michigan Art Teacher of the Year and the Secondary Level Art Teacher of the Year in October 2015. Shadbolt, B.F.A. ’99 (Art Education) and M.A. ’07 (Educational Technology), received the honors from the Michigan Art Education Association. She teaches art, graphic design and digital photography at Williamston High School, where she has taught since 2008.

Joseph Sweeney was named director of the Mississippi Teacher Corps in March 2015. The corps trains non-education majors to teach in high-poverty schools in the state. Sweeney, B.A. ’04 (English–Secondary Education), also serves as an instructor in the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Mississippi.

Elizabeth Trexler, B.A. ’09 (Mathematics–Secondary Education) has been a math teacher since 2010 in the Adams 14 School District in Colorado.

Saginaw Valley State University named Carolyn Wierda, M.A. ’82 (Elementary Education), the executive director of STEM@SVSU in February 2015. She will work with various programs at the university geared toward science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In addition to this new position, Wierda will continue her roles as chair of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance’s Education Council and as co-director of the university’s Gerstacker Fellowship program.

Christopher Wigent, M.A. ’86 (K-12 Educational Administration), was named executive director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators in March 2015. He has been a member of MASA for 24 years, and previously served seven years as superintendent of the Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency.