Chloe Looman ’22, Biological Sciences, EMS

A young woman in emergency response gear and mudboots playfully swings a shovel in front of the ambulance.
A young woman wearing Michigan Tech EMT shirt is the captain of the team sharing her experiences.

Chloe Looman’s path to a medical career includes heading up Michigan Tech’s Emergency Medical Services team. (Image Credit: Chloe Looman)

“I’m this year’s captain of Michigan Tech EMS (Emergency Medical Services). Our agency certifies students and local community members to the EMT (emergency medical technician) level and in exchange, we volunteer as responders to the Michigan Tech campus and surrounding community. Our response time is mere minutes in comparison to the Mercy ambulance company, which can sometimes take 30-40 minutes to respond, as they serve the whole Keweenaw Peninsula. 

As captain, I oversee the three to four responding squads that rotate being on call every 72-96 hours. My journey with the agency began when I was lucky enough to be selected as one of a handful of incoming first-years to the EMT class. The course each year trains 16-20 students to be EMTs (the lowest level of certification qualified to work in an ambulance) in exchange for volunteering as a responder for a full academic year afterward. Coming to MTU, I had my sights set on medical school. I love creative problem-solving and people, despite being an introvert, but had little evidence that medicine would be where I would truly thrive. I joined the program not only as a way to gain experience prior to medical school, but also as a way to explore the clinical side of things.

Through my involvement with the agency, I got just that, and so much more. The EMT course for me was like 3D school. Our tests were practicals where we had to physically demonstrate our skills with the equipment and learn how to ask all the right questions, as well as think on our feet. My personal growth during the course was immense, and confirmed that medicine was absolutely the right path for me. After earning my EMT license, I got a job as a medical responder at Michigan’s Adventure, where I got to treat patients all summer long. This set me up to be very prepared for the next academic year, when I was responding with MTU EMS. Living in the dorms gave me the extra advantage of often being the first responder on the scene. I got to initiate and direct patient care as well as establish how to take a good care report.

In my second year of responding, I took on the role of squad leader. In this position, I got to take a more directive role with my squadmates. In the second semester of that year, I moved to lieutenant of my own squad, where I was in charge of driving Michigan Tech’s EMS Tahoe to scenes and overseeing the patient care. I loved that in this role I got to use my leadership skills to delegate tasks and allow my newer responders to also get the same formative experiences I experienced as a general responder.

For my final year at MTU, I am captain of the agency. It has been incredible to get to direct the inner workings of the agency, having served every role at some point myself. I love that with my experience as an introverted leader, I get to use my role to encourage the participation and ideas of every member and work closely with the students who may someday take my place. Michigan Tech EMS has allowed me to develop strong leadership skills and discover that medicine is where I feel most at home. I am currently on three medical school waitlists and eager for a lifetime of treating patients.” — Chloe Looman ’22 #mtuhumans

Jennifer Jermalowicz-Jones ’98, Biology (lake ecology and limnology)

A smiling Michigan Tech alumna shares her story.
Jennifer Lynn Jermalowicz-Jones, who earned her biology degree at MTU, explains why her company’s approach is different: A limnologist studies a water body and reports out the data and conclusions. An applied limnologist does that, then integrates management or restoration into a local community. Although lake experts leads the way, they also incorporate participation from the riparians to allow for a sustainable pathway for the lake’s future. (Images courtesy Jennifer Lynn Jermalowicz-Jones)

“I knew I wanted to be a limnologist since the age of four when I bought my first microscope and got grounded for having a pet turtle in the bathtub. Every day after school I would ride my bike down to a few lakes and spend hours observing and studying them. In high school I completed a thesis my senior year on the effects of hydrogen peroxide on lake eutrophication.

I founded Restorative Lake Sciences (RLS) in 2012 in response to a significant need for a lake management and restoration consulting firm that provides objective analysis of lake issues with professional scientific recommendations to restore balance to aquatic ecosystems. The overall goal is to reduce scientific bias through intensive scientific evaluations and management recommendations that are not connected to profits or political agendas. One of our key attributes is emphasis on community outreach. RLS provides scientific data in a manner that can be easily understood by most lake communities so those communities can play an active role in helping with the restoration process. The root of this approach lies in sustainability, which prepares these vulnerable ecosystems for long-term improvements with community riparians (lands that occur along water courses and bodies) that have a long legacy on the lakes. For an ecosystem to be considered sustainable it must be able to better absorb external shocks that occur and return to normal functions. Many lakes are not able to maintain this status; the process must include the social aspect of community involvement. 

A healthy lake will have healthy water quality parameters such as ample dissolved oxygen concentrations, balanced water chemistry, high water clarity, low suspended solids, low to moderate nutrients, and balanced algal and aquatic vegetation communities. We work with lakes in Michigan and other Midwest states but have provided expertise to lakes all over the US. All of our projects come from word-of-mouth recommendations or other project contacts.

Jermalowicz-Jones conducts aquatic plant research.

RLS keeps busy throughout the year. The field season begins with through-the-ice winter sampling, typically in February, followed by late season sampling into early November. The months of October-January are occupied by intensive data analysis and preparation and presentation of annual lake progress reports. On a daily basis, RLS conducts research on key lake issues and prepares scientific articles and publications. One of our major goals is to remain innovative and provide our lake communities with new approaches to lake management and restoration for optimum long-term results.

The most rewarding aspect of our work is seeing the shift from an ecologically distraught ecosystem to a balanced ecosystem capable of becoming a sustainable resource. The results can apply to lakes small to large. For example, we prepared a lake management plan for a 300-acre lake in Cheboygan County in 2008 that was heavily infested with invasive Eurasian watermilfoil, possessed an imbalanced native aquatic plant community, and had nuisance algae and water quality issues. The lake today is well-balanced and clear, and has barely measurable quantities of invasive species. Another good example is Houghton Lake, the largest lake in Michigan. This lake is a huge challenge due to its scale and requires a highly integrative approach which includes invasive aquatic plant management, water quality improvements and restoration of existing emergent plants such as wild rice. All of these factors are critical for supporting a healthy lake fishery.

Perch Lake and its pine-tree rimmed shorelines with a blue sky above in October 2021.
One of the rewards of a career in lake health: fieldwork in beautiful places like Perch Lake.

The toughest part of my career is integrating local political agendas into professional management planning. Oftentimes the two aspects are in conflict, and sometimes science does not win. That can be very frustrating, but the only way to fight that battle is to provide the soundest science possible and link it to how it interacts with the community policies for the most desirable outcomes.

The most fun part of my career is getting to travel to so many different lakes. They all have unique characteristics. I’ve studied lakes in the Adirondacks where the pH of one was around 8.7 and the adjacent lake pH was 5.0! This demonstrates the underlying geology in the dictation of lake chemistry.

I graduated cum laude from MTU in 1998 with my undergraduate degree in biology with an emphasis on lake ecology/limnology. I took nearly every course the University offered back then related to aquatic science. MTU was always known as an excellent research university and it prepared me extremely well for graduate school. I conducted undergraduate research working with two professors. I earned my master’s in aquatic ecology from Grand Valley State University in 2007 while I worked as a lake consultant. In 2010, I entered the PhD program at Michigan State University, majoring in resource studies with an emphasis on water resource tool development. All of these institutions were critical in shaping my ability to think at a high scientific level and use scientific data to make practical and ecologically sound management decisions. In a way, I began with a very narrow focus at MTU and then broadened it over time with the rest of my education.  

I have so much advice to give new MTU undergrads! 

1. Study hard. MTU is a very tough school and the days can be long and exhausting, but what you put in today will help you with your career and help it move smoothly.

2. If you are interested in research, find a faculty member who is willing to help you grow. Many professors need help in their labs and are happy to help future professionals.

3. Spend a lot of time outdoors. I visited Lake Superior at least weekly and fell in love with the area. You may not stay there after you graduate, so make those memories of what it is like to experience amazing and wild nature and geology. If you are lucky, someday you may buy property UP there. I did!

4. Even if you are an introvert, attempt to engage in social activities. I was a member of the Houghton Lake Aquanauts, The Biology Club, and Phi Sigma Honor Society, and participated in the All-Nighter Winter Carnival statue building. Events such as these help you experience other perspectives and interact with people who may or may not share your views. This is very important in the world beyond college.

5. Attend college team games—especially hockey! MTU has always been known for its excellent hockey team.

I highly encourage students who graduate in the aquatic sciences realm to attend graduate school to obtain beneficial credentials and better understand complex aquatic ecosystems.” – Jennifer Lynn Jermalowicz-Jones #mtuhumans

Gowtham ’07, Director of Research Computing, Information Technology

A Michigan Tech faculty member in his rainbow sunglasses skis on the trails in the Great Bear Chase.
Cross-country skiing is one of the core activities that helps Gowtham joyfully connect with both his personal development and his community. Here, he competes in a past Great Bear Chase. This year, he was an event volunteer.

“Coming from a middle class family in India, we didn’t really have the means for me to pursue studies abroad. During my undergrad and master’s, I worked as a proofreader for textbook publishers and a tutor for students. I earned the equivalent of about $20 each month and $19 of it went to my parents to help offset family costs. The remaining dollar covered my occasional bus fare to science lectures across town and a snack afterward with the speaker/friends. In mid-to-late 2001, Dr. Pushpa Murthy (then chair of Michigan Tech’s chemistry department) was traveling through India. One of my master’s teachers knew her well and arranged a couple of meetings. A few correspondences followed with Drs. Ravi Pandey and John Jaszczak (Physics) and they agreed to take a chance on me without the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) or TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)—I couldn’t afford them. Upon learning that I couldn’t afford the postage, Dr. Murthy literally carried my application to Michigan Tech. My teachers, who had encouraged me and been willing to pay the application fee out of their own hard-earned money, convinced a bank to give me an educational loan that covered travel expenses.

On my very first day in the US, there was some confusion between International Programs and Services (IPS) and the Indian Students Association (ISA). So, no one came to pick me up at the airport. Susan (UP Health) and Owen Mills (MSE) were on the same flight and waited a while to make sure I wasn’t stranded. Susan gave me her home phone number and asked me to call if no one came to pick me up. I called an hour later and she drove all the way back to the airport, picked me up, took me home and made me a really good meal. Owen made a few phone calls and I ended up getting better housing than what ISA might have arranged for me.

After I earned my PhD in 2007, I worked for AT&T research and development headquartered in Middleton, New Jersey, for about a year. I met some really cool people there and in the community that I am still in touch with. But I missed my Yoop and the academic setting. After three failed attempts at various job openings at Tech, Dr. Max Seel and the physics department took a chance on me again in 2009 and brought me back as a postdoctoral fellow.

Susan’s actions on day one had been my first glimpse into how tight-knit this community is. My first steps to be a part of it came when I played softball with Team Fiziks and the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church teams for many years, and when I moved out of Daniell Heights and rented a room from David Bezotte (former reference librarian at Tech). The combination of the two introduced me to so many folks—talented musicians, artists, cooks, brewers and more—from our community. Food, running, and skiing are three of my favorite ways to continue nurturing that sense of community.

A faculty member in shiny sunnies signals 'I love you" with trees in soft focus in the background on the Michigan Tech Campus.
Gowtham, right, built a kindness and collaboration-over-competition rubric into his courses. Students who help each other understand concepts or make suggestions that improve his teaching style and materials are rewarded.

I don’t remember a time when I haven’t been a fan of food. It’s one of those lowest common denominators that all of us need, most of us enjoy, and that invariably tastes better in a communal setting. Preparing and sharing food is a lovely way to show someone we care about them. Since 2017, I have pursued a goal to share more meals with friends than I eat by myself. Cooking dinner for friends visiting the area or with friends in the community has been helping a great deal in achieving that goal—and resulted in one of my Instagram hashtags #DinnerWithFriends. Not every friend could meet for dinner, so that hashtag turned into #FoodWithFriends. Sharing backyard-grown fresh produce throughout summer and fall as well as baked goodies (I am almost always the recipient) led to #FoodFromFriends. The pandemic-forced isolation led to #FoodWithoutFriends (my least favorite of the hashtags).

“I didn’t really see any point in running or skiing until about 2013-14. For nearly two years, I made every conceivable excuse to not run—and when I did, it was almost always at the insistence of friends. Many of them would sacrifice their own time and distance to hang back with me and make sure I was okay, including running step-for-step in my first ever Canal Run half marathon. Those same two years also coincided with a series of academic heartbreaks—seeing exceptionally talented students not do little things correctly that would set them up for success down the road. One day, while walking home, I wondered if I needed to be a better student (i.e, take up running consistently and do the little things my friends were asking me to do for my own benefit) to be a better teacher. And that was the switching-on moment as far as sticking with running is concerned. Cross country skiing just about paralleled the same timeline as running and also stuck with me.

The more I run and ski, the more I realize I can take a problem or an issue with me, think about it (or not) without the assistance of Dr. Google and come back with a solution (or not). These sports have brought a lot of good people into my life, taken me to places that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen, and in turn, not had the chance to enjoy local cuisines. An unintended side effect of this lifestyle has been helping me get in the students’ mindset and outside of my comfort zone. It provides the new-student perspective I need when teaching courses at Michigan Tech or interacting with students in general.

Two men stand by a computer bank with a screen next to them on a laptop in Michigan Tech's Superior supercomputing facility.
During graduate school, Gowtham, shown here with Gregory Odegard, the John O. Hallquist Endowed Chair of Computational Mechanics director, was entrusted with building a high-performance computing infrastructure for the Pandey research group. His current research interests include resource allocation management and optimization of computing infrastructures as well as workflows to improve research productivity. He’ll present a workshop on revision control systems Tuesday, April 5, as part of the first ComputingMTU Showcase.

I hope my students (scientific computing) realize that I care for them as humans, individually and collectively, and their overall well-being, and not just how well they do in the course. I am fortunate enough to be involved in a field that has a very firm mathematical foundation and continuously changes with time. It’s a dichotomy that’s in line with my main teaching principle—freedom within discipline. It helps me refresh a portion of the syllabus each time the course is offered to better serve the learning needs of students. If the students can leave the course knowing a bit more about the subject matter but a lot more about their fellow classmates, I consider it a win. As interesting/boring as any given student can perceive the material, the real learning happens if the student chooses to stick with a few new practices after the course and carries them into their research projects. A bigger win for me is when I see a student undertake a couple more projects or publish a few more papers or make time for pursuing hobbies and interests that add value to their lives over the course of the rest of their stay (and beyond) at Michigan Tech.

To say that my teachers and their families have had a very profound impact on my life is an understatement. At every stage of my education, I have had teachers who went well out of their way to help me learn beyond what was prescribed in the syllabus, helping me at least see (if not understand) the interconnections, and their families treated me as one of their own. Teaching is a way I get to pay forward what my teachers did for me.

I hope we never lose the tight-knit nature of our community and our ability to put our differences aside to come together for a common cause. My advice for a new Husky? Our community is rich with plenty of resources: natural, human, tangible, and intangible. I highly recommend reaching out and asking for help when necessary. Even if the person we first approach doesn’t have the solution, they will very likely know someone else who might. And we don’t have to wait till we have reached a certain milestone in our personal or professional lives to start paying it forward to someone else in the community.”

— Gowtham ’07 #mtuhumans

Tucker Nielsen, ’22, English, minoring in computer science, German and writing

A young man wearing a Michigan Tech t-shirt sits with LEGO products at a table.
Writing Center Coach Tucker Nielsen says it’s important to make time for the hobbies you enjoy.

I’m an AFOL, part of the growing community of adult fans of LEGO®. I bought my first, a Star Wars set, when I was 6. I enjoyed how each brick clicked together and changed depending on how it was placed. One minute, a slope brick was a roof shingle. The next, it was the top of a space reptile.

The infinite capabilities for rebuilding and the universal appeal still draw me. As someone on the autistic spectrum, my interests change frequently, from space and castles to Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean. But LEGO products cater to each of my changing interests and encourage me to build beyond the instructions. It’s a toy I’ve never grown out of because it grows with me.

My university experience has also been one that explores all the possibilities, and I’ve learned to hold on to my values and make time for hobbies and causes that matter to me. Initially drawn to Michigan Tech as a computer engineering major through my mechatronics courses at the Kent Career Technical Center in high school, I began realizing what my true interests were through editing and nature writing courses. I fully transitioned to an English major in summer 2020, with minors in writing, computer science and German. Since I faced the truth that I didn’t want to code for a living, I’ve found much more pleasure in schoolwork, connected more fully with my professors and peers, and become more active in my department. I work in the Michigan Tech Writing Center. In Room 107 of Walker Arts and Humanities, you’ll find our team of coaches helping clients with any kind of writing they bring — everything from resumes to cover letters. We even had a student bring in a Tinder bio (unfortunately, I wasn’t the coach who helped them!). Our goal is to help all students improve their writing as a communicative tool. For me, it’s great practice teaching what I enjoy. 

I was a Michigan Tech Orientation team leader in summer 2021 and am currently an ExSEL (Excelling the Student Experience of Learning) peer mentor. In both jobs, I work with incoming students to help them transition to college life. I use these opportunities to pass on lessons I’ve learned, such as utilizing a planner/calendar for all schoolwork, prioritizing your self-care needs and knowing when to ask for help. It’s also a chance to learn about new identities and cultures from the diverse body of students.

The organizations I’m involved in also allow me to work with people of different backgrounds across campus. I serve as vice president of Women’s Leadership Council, participating in  encouraging equality for everyone, especially for women and nonbinary individuals. I write and edit for our student newspaper, The Lode. And I serve as secretary of the Creative Writing Club, a group that encourages all writers to explore and develop their skills.  

A young man holds Oxford dictionary of literary terms and a German book in his hands behind a glass door that says Michigan Tech Writing Center
Michigan Tech’s Writing Center works with all Huskies who want to improve their writing skills.

I plan to work locally in content creation, including public relations and social media. I have my sights set on Michigan Tech, but I’m open to working for other companies in the area. I want to use social media to build up relationships, so businesses aren’t just selling products to customers. Many Keweenaw businesses are or should be incorporating community events, histories and culture into their brands. It goes beyond simply selling bikes, photos or food. In this field, I can see my creative potential fully realized.

If Michigan Tech has taught me anything about myself, it’s about being true to my passions. It’s about figuring out if you can push through the menial tasks in your field, so you can enjoy the fun parts and the skills that call to your strengths. It’s about finding a profession that’s interesting and worth growing in. I recommend embracing your interests, as long as they aren’t harming yourself or others. Life should include individual exploration and growth. Why are there infinite choices if we’re destined for only one path? These questions helped me find where I can grow from. Perhaps they’ll help you, too. 

– Tucker Nielsen ’22

Paige Fiet ’21, Electrical Engineering with a Biomedical Application

A young woman wearing a Michigan Tech shirt sits at a circuit board in an electronics makerspace at Michigan Tech with electronic equipment behind her.
Paige Fiet is honored to represent her peers at MTU and around the world as student liaison to the global association for electronics manufacturing.

“I’ve been interested in the STEM field for as long as I can remember — before I even really knew what it was (at my kindergarten graduation), boisterously announcing, ‘I want to be an engineer when I grow up!’ Now in my last semester pursuing a degree in electrical engineering with a biomed application, I find myself ready to embark on a career in the field I so eagerly sought to enter all those years ago.

My story of involvement in IPC (the association connecting electronics industries) begins with Professor Christopher Middlebrook. In spring semester 2020, when I was enrolled in the professor’s printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing course, he forwarded me an email from IPC’s Education Foundation announcing that, for the first time, the Board of Directors was seeking a student to join the board and advocate on behalf of IPC student members. Professor Middlebrook thought I would be an ideal candidate and asked if I would entertain a nomination. At first, I was very hesitant. Founded in 1957, IPC is responsible for international electronic standards development, and at that time I only had one prior internship experience working with those standards. But after some thought, I agreed to the nomination. 

About six weeks later I got another email. IPC announced its seven top national candidates. I was one of them! Members in IPC student chapters around the world received our candidate bios and were asked to vote. The third email arrived in my inbox about a month later. It was from IPC President and CEO Dr. John Mitchell announcing I’d been selected to serve as student liaison on the Board of Directors

Being part of the board has been a huge honor. I’m proud to bring the students’ perspective to leadership and to advocate for our needs, such as increasing education foundation funding.

Being a member of an IPC student chapter can open so many doors for students! IPC offers 50 annual $1,000 scholarships to students interested in the electronics industry. A student membership provides free access to two industry standards guidelines per year, opportunities to compete in design competitions, networking opportunities, opportunities to join the Emerging Engineer mentorship program and more.

Besides being student liaison on IPC’s Board of Directors, I’ve held many other leadership positions. In my hometown of Cadillac, Michigan, I was captain of the high school cross-country team and vice president of the Cadillac Area Youth Advisory Committee. In college, I became the president of MTU’s IPC & Electronics Club. It’s energizing and exciting to see my peers as passionate about a topic as I am. Their engagement and success make the extra time commitment and investment worth it.

A young woman holds up a green circuit board in an electronics lab for students. Her shirt says Michigan Tech.

My worst college experience was my freshman year, learning how to be a successful college student. In my first semester, I struggled to adapt to the required study hours. Now, I keep all my activities in order and my head above water by using my Google Calendar religiously. Scheduling time to focus on next steps for the club or creating new ideas for the Board is how I achieve success in specific areas of my life. I try to plan every week out on Sunday so I can fit as much in as possible. Developing these skills as a student will help me immensely in the professional world.

Since I mentioned the worst, I should say that my best college experience has been watching Michigan Tech Hockey. I’ve always been a hockey fan, but something about the Mac makes the games magical! And, going to Michigan Tech runs in the family. My brother is also a current student and my dad is an alumnus.

At this point in my education journey, I’ve had three professional internships. The first was at Avon Protection Systems in Cadillac. The following summer, I interned at Calumet Electronics in Calumet, Michigan. This past summer, I was at Gentex Corporation in Zeeland, Michigan. My internships reinforced and enhanced the engineering concepts and skills I’ve been learning at Tech with more hands-on experience dealing with real-world problems. Most importantly, I was fortunate to be paired with a great mentor at each company. I learned the value of having a mentor who believes in you, invests in you and helps you succeed. With graduation on the horizon, I’m focused on finding the position that’s right for me in the electronics industry. I look forward to continuing my work with IPC and plan to one day mentor other college students who share my love and passion for electronic design and manufacturing. – Paige Fiet, ’22
#mtuhumans

Charlotte Jenkins, MTU Ice Skate Rental Program

A young woman, Charlotte Jenkins, in a line drawing with rainbow colored hair, glasses, and a smilte.

Charlotte’s portrait by fellow Husky Meg Rotele.

“Ice skating is a winter activity that every Michigan Tech student should be able to experience and enjoy, and a skill every Husky should have by the time they graduate. It also provides a great way for students to be physically and socially active on campus. Recognizing this, MacInnes Student Ice Arena provides open ice time and learn-to-skate programs. These opportunities are wonderful for those who have their own skates, but sadly leaves those without their own equipment, or the means to purchase it, sitting on the bench.

In January 2021, the Michigan Tech community lost Charlotte Jenkins, an undergraduate student and resident assistant in East McNair and active member of our community. Almost immediately after receiving this difficult news, students shared stories of Charlotte’s impact. One oft-repeated anecdote was how Charlotte embraced and involved others, often inviting them to go ice skating. Invariably, she would discover someone didn’t have skates, so she would stop by her room or her car and produce a pair of skates just their size.

Charlotte loved winter sports and never wanted to leave anyone out of the fun, and since there were no skates available at the rink, she purchased them in a variety of sizes and kept them on hand for others. As news of Charlotte’s passing spread, so did the realization that Charlotte’s skate borrowing program would be sorely missed, and so emerged the idea for creating a skate rental program in the Student Development Complex in her honor.

Organizations across the community have come together to pool their resources to make this program a reality. Contributions have come from a variety of sources, including the Undergraduate Student Government, the Inter Residence Housing Council, the Wadsworth Hall Student Association, the McNair Housing Association, Residence Education and Housing Services, Physical Education, the Michigan Tech Parents Fund, the Charlotte Jenkins Memorial Fund and many others.

Of the $63,000 projected cost, including the purchase of skates and helmets, $55,000 has been secured, enabling renovation work on the ice level of the MacInnes Student Ice Arena, just a few dozen feet from the entrance to the rink. This space, which was used as a concession stand in the past, is perfect due to its proximity to the rink and size. Completely revamped, it’s ready to be opened for the fall 2021 semester, beginning on MTU Family Weekend, Oct. 1.

The diverse committee leading this effort represents each part of our community and welcomes your involvement. Please join us at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 16 at MacInnes Student Ice Arena for the dedication of the Skate Rental Program. This event will feature free rentals and open skating to all who attend. Program sponsors will also say a few words to dedicate the program in honor of both Charlotte and Michigan Tech Sports Hall of Fame inductee Cheryl DePuydt, well-known for her many contributions to both campus and community.

Charlotte S. Jenkins 2000-2021 patch with hockey stick and skates
Tax-deductible donations can be made directly to Michigan Tech at mtu.edu/givenow — reference the Charlotte Jenkins Fund. Students have also created patches and stickers like this one available for purchase via Venmo or Paypal. For details email norcross@me.com

Once complete, the facility will be a well-designed storefront capable of storing more than 300 pairs of skates and helmets with one or two staff members to efficiently serve skaters. The flooring between the space and the rink will be covered in a durable rubber material to provide traction for wearers and protection for the skates. Skate rentals will be $5 for students and community members for an open skate or student skate session. Helmets will also be offered free of charge to all individuals using the rink, even if they don’t need to rent skates. The facility will offer on-site sharpening for $5 during year one, allowing those who currently own skates to get their pairs sharpened before, during, and after their trip to the rink.”

–The Skate Rental Program at MacInnes Student Ice Arena Committee, inspired by Charlotte Jenkins

#mtuhumans

Cosmo Trikes ’22, Electrical Engineering

A young man sitting in a wheelchair with his backpack on a sidewalk with Tomorrow Needs Michigan Tech on the banner behind him

A lot of people say I bring a good energy to places. I’m excited about life and I love to help. I want to make things better, to learn as much as I can. I try to be remembered and get involved anywhere I go. 

What I believe to be the truth is that it’s easy to be virtuous—exemplifying all virtues—in virtuous situations. It’s easy to be optimistic and positive when things are going well. But when things go awry, when we encounter obstacles, only then is when we truly have an opportunity to demonstrate the strength of our virtues. Everything I am today, all my success, I attribute to being able to hold consistent, even amplify, my virtues in the turmoil of my injury. I could have had more courage, charm, wit, energy, optimism, strength of character, anything, before my injury, but few cared until they saw me joke with my doctor in the hospital, tell my therapists to push me harder in rehab, or to be optimistic—without illusions—of the future with certainty that I can figure things out during times of uncertainty.

I’m an electrical engineer with a minor in mathematics. This summer I did a lot of things I wanted. I had a virtual internship with Oracle working as a software engineer—how I got that job is a crazy story for another time. I’ll be a software engineer at Oracle after I graduate this spring. I really enjoyed my work and when I wasn’t working, I spent lots of time reading outside, hanging with my friends, kayaking, Oshkosh air show plus camping, and exploring. My girlfriend got a van and converted it to a camper, so the last week of summer we traveled around the West. I also wrote for my blog and recorded more videos, which I hope to continue to do during the school year.

A young man sits smiling behind the Husky Statue on a college campus.

To new Huskies—there are a lot of things I wish I had known as a college freshman, some of it trivial like how to best organize your laptop folders. The best advice I can offer is: 

Study abroad. You really won’t get another chance to explore the world for three months like you will doing a study abroad. Going to Australia was one of my best college experiences.

Read. Read books, read quotes, read speeches. Quotes are great—I have 10 pages of my favorite quotes and I read them all the time. I constantly read history, biographies, business, personal development, philosophy, etc. I also have a book of about 300 great speeches. Podcasts are great as well—I mainly listen to Tim Ferriss, who talks to very successful (by many definitions) people and asks great questions.

Go to office hours and establish relationships. Ask questions. Get to know your instructors.

Don’t cheat. You may get away with it, but you can’t get away from yourself, and who wants to be stuck with a cheater? 

Take your humanities seriously. Technology changes rapidly, but philosophy, critical thinking, law, and other humanities are timeless and will give you insane leverage in how you interview, approach tasks at work, and grow in your thinking, way of life, and overall performance. 

Don’t choose easy. Choose interesting classes, but don’t choose courses just because they’re easy. No one values that.

Stop complaining. I used to. A lot of students do. They get a bad grade and blame it on the instructor or something like that. I will not say a course is bad until I’ve read the texts, taken notes in every lecture, gone to office hours, gone to the Learning Center, watched videos online, completed the homework, and reviewed it with the grader or instructor. If I’ve done all I could and still get a bad grade, I look for additional ways to improve. Because it’s been done before. There are students who have gotten an A in every class, some probably as single parents, with English as a second or third language, or with other challenges to learning. All you need to know is that it’s possible.

Attitude is a skill. Determine how you want to be viewed and what success means to you. How you see yourself and how you behave is what others adopt as their view of you. 

It will be hard to remember, but obstacles are the only way to demonstrate your strength and character. Encounter those times as great opportunities. And follow me on Instagram, of course! –Cosmo Trikes #mtuhumans

Tammy Monette, (Van Pelt and Opie Library, Facilities)

A smiling woman wears a mask and a Michigan Tech polo shirt at the front of a Library desk where the toys she has collected are piled.

“The Cans for Kids–Toys for Tots idea started 10 years ago when I was working in Wadsworth Hall as a custodian on the second floor and just couldn’t believe all the cans and bottles being thrown away. I came up with the idea to collect them, and put some garbage cans out and signs up. The students were super receptive. I think we were all kind of shocked by how much we actually collected. I did the actual ‘returning’—and still do. 

The first couple of years, we donated the money to local charities. Seven years ago, we started partnering with Toys for Tots for fall semester and Husky FAN (food access network) for spring semester. That way our outreach included our local community and our campus. In the 2018-19 school year, we collected over $1,100 in cans! 

After working at Wads for 10 years, wanting a change but not wanting to leave the energy of the students, I transferred to the Library in May 2019. The Library staff were very supportive and the can collecting continued. Last holiday we collected a record-breaking $553!

In the midst of our 2020 Drop a Can–Be A FAN spring semester collection for the food pantry, COVID-19 hit and campus operations shut down. Can and bottle return centers closed. I had bags of returnables piled high in a corner of my garage and seriously thought about ending the chapter on this kind of fundraising. But in July, the return centers at local stores reopened the returnable section with a $25 daily limit and I started hauling them in again. 

This semester, campus is extremely different, to say the least. The usual hustle and bustle of the Library is replaced with quiet, masked visitors and a sadness of sorts. Can collecting continues at a snail’s pace compared to pre-pandemic. Thankfully, outside donations have fueled the project. Former co-workers, some Library staff, and random anonymous drop-offs have contributed to a surprising new record of over $650 for the Cans for Kids–Toys for Tots. Unbelievable!

The toys I choose are geared more toward the ‘believers’ as far as age goes. I usually have a cash donation as well to help cover any of the gaps that the Toys for Tots elves need to fill. The toys are picked up by Jim Mattson, the area Toys for Tots chairman and a retired Chem Eng professor from Tech! He’ll pick up this year’s collection on Monday, December 14.

My favorite part of working at Tech is the students. Throughout the past 15 years, I’ve been a cheerleader, mentor, therapist, mother, counselor, and friend. I have listened to countless stories, shared endless laughs, and offered up a whole lot of prayers for our students.

I may not be in one of the higher-paid positions at MTU, but dollar for dollar I have one of the most rewarding jobs—direct, daily contact with these young people. My hope has always been that I planted a seed with our students and someday they’ll see a Toys for Tots box or food pantry collection and donate!

For me, the holidays are about family, tradition, gratitude, laughter, and love. I am so blessed to have three grandbabies now. Through them I get to relive all the magic of Christmas again!”–Tammy Monette

#mtuhumans

Jeremy Wales, ’21, Biomedical Engineering

Six young people stand in front of a wall that says Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center
Jeremy Wales, third from left, and his fellow interns with their mentor in summer 2019.

“For me, the most exciting part about applying for a patent is the possibility of having my name associated with something I helped create that can help people.

I was introduced to the summer internship program that led to my first patent application by my uncle, who offered to get me a tour of the Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center at the University of Minnesota through a former co-worker of his who works there. During the tour, the Center guides pointed out all the cool equipment and tech they have, as well as some of the work they did in the past. 

But the Bakken MDC Internship Program is what really got my attention. It lasts a little over 12 weeks, and it takes you through the entire process from start to finish of what it’s like to develop a novel medical device. The program is on a volunteer internship basis but with the possibility of ending up with something worth patenting. They had a display of over 16 patents resulting from this program, and I was hooked. I thought it would be an incredible way to spend a summer using my degree and gaining some valuable skills for my future. The possibility of a patent before I even graduated college was enough to get me to apply and become interested in the process.

I worked with a team of four other interns in summer 2019, as well as a mentor assigned from the university. Our sponsor, a current MD student at the university close to finishing his degree, asked us to come up with a solution to some of the current criticisms regarding vascular dopplers, a medical device that is used to detect blood flow.

We currently have disclosed the IP with the proper department at the University of Minnesota, as well as submitted a technical brief that was accepted to the 2020 Design of Medical Devices Conference. At this time, we are still in the process of IP and provisional patent applications pending.

Michigan Tech encourages its engineering students to not only understand how the things we make work, but to also think about how they could work better. It wasn’t my initial plan to use my degree in the research and development side of the field, but after getting the experience and seeing what it takes, I definitely would like to have a few more under my belt some day.” –Jeremy Wales, ‘21 #mtuhumans

Nicole Bonenfant ’16 (Scientific and Technical Communications)

A young woman in a Michigan Tech sweatshirt sits by a statue of Alexander Agassiz in Calumet Michigan outside

“As deputy clerk/assessor at Charter Township of Calumet, I help run all of the elections in Calumet Township, along with the head clerk. From now until Election Day, I will be in charge of sending out over 1,200 absentee ballots to voters who have requested them and checking them in once they have filled them out.

Once we get all of the ballots back from the voters, I check the signature on the ballot envelope and compare it to the signature we have on file. If it matches, their ballot is filed into our vault until Election Day. On Election Day, I’m in charge of making sure things go smoothly. If election workers have questions, they call me and I go to the precinct and help them solve the problem. 

My scientific and technical communication degree has been tremendously useful in this role. I’ve used my technical writing skills to write documentation for our election software, as well as instructions for other clerks in Houghton County to help them navigate the state’s Qualified Voter File. Most of our election workers have a hard time with technology, so I try to make their lives easier by making documents for them. The problem-solving aspect of technical communication has also come in handy.

There are a LOT of things that can go wrong on Election Day, and my education at Michigan Tech helped me navigate those challenges. Election Day can be very tense for some people and tempers can flare easily. Being able to communicate clearly and concisely, not only on paper but in person, has been important. It is a long day and anything can truly happen, so we have to be on our toes! But, we have a lot of fun. We always find time to joke with each other and make time fly. My mother is one of our election workers, so it is nice to work with her. Plus, I get to be her boss for the day!

Helping the community I grew up in exercise their right to vote is something I particularly enjoy about this job. Especially this year, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, it is extremely rewarding to assist in the democratic process. November 3 is going to be a very intense day for many different groups of people, so to help those who watched me grow up (and who I grew up with) make sure their vote counts is a great feeling. I try to do everything I can to help my community be heard, not only on the regional or state level, but at the federal level as well.” –Nicole Bonenfant ’16, deputy clerk/assessor Calumet Township

#mtuhumans