Category: Undergraduate

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

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

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

Cacie Clifford, (third-year bioinformatics major, Blue Key Honor Society)

My decision to come to Michigan Tech was made superficially at first—I fell in love with the area, surroundings and how the campus looked—but as I started my freshman year I was drawn in by the classes and traditions at Tech. I am a bioinformatics major, with minors in computer science, psychology, and microbiology. Bioinformatics is at the intersection of statistics, biology and computer science, which is why I chose it. It’s an up-and-coming branch of science that will give me a great foundation for my career. Not many schools offer it and I’m thankful Michigan Tech does. One of the reasons I love being a coach in the Biological Sciences Learning Center (BLC) is that I can help others and teach my favorite subject: biology.

Involvement outside the classroom comes naturally to me. In high school I was active in most of the clubs and even helped start a couple. At Tech, in addition to the BLC I’m on the Blue Key E Board, I’m a mentor in the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and I volunteer at the local animal shelter. There were so many people who helped me get to college and so many who have helped since I’ve been here. I really want to give my all to make them proud. Coming from a small community (and school) to a larger place like MTU, I want to do what I can to help others be their best. Huskies help Huskies.

Being active outside the classroom while pursuing my education helps take my mind off the hefty workload here at Tech. It helps me gain new perspectives and connect with other students and faculty. Activities outside of the classroom or lab also allow me to participate more deeply in Tech traditions, especially Winter Carnival.

As an MTU Blue Key Honor Society member, for the past two years I served as chair of Alumni and Membership Relations. Michigan Tech’s Winter Carnival connects our alumni to their alma mater. It’s such a deeply rooted tradition and we try super hard to give people new experiences and stories to tell. I connected with EchoTrek, a local humane society fundraiser in memory of Blue Key member Alec Fisher, who died in an automobile accident in November 2018. Currently we’re working on gathering alumni donations to help make a small scholarship available to our members based on their leadership and volunteering service while serving with Blue Key.

Looking beyond Michigan Tech, my goal is to earn a master’s degree and become a genetic counselor, a person who meets with  people to determine their or their children’s risk of genetic diseases and other health care issues. I’ve had this plan for some time, as my father passed away from cancer when I was nine. I want to help people be less afraid and to do what they can do to prevent diseases. 

My Blue Key involvement, and all my other activities, give me the experiences I need to be a great genetic counselor and to be a great friend to people. –Cacie Clifford, future genetic counselor #mtuhumans

Sydney Skalski ’19 (BS Sports and Fitness Management)

I didn’t plan on transforming an ambulance into a tiny home, but I love living in it. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done and I’m proud of it. The idea began when I made friends with a few “van-lifers,” who had gone to Tech and I became intrigued by the lifestyle. I liked the sustainability, minimalism, and frugality of it and especially the freedom that accompanied having a home on wheels.

I originally wanted a van for the project and looked at a variety in online market places. I came across an ambulance for sale and immediately thought, “Wow! This is luxurious. I could stand up in that, and it’s in my budget.” I looked at it the next day, took it for a test drive and soon made the decision that it was going to be my home. My goal was to be as self-sufficient as I could. That included building it pretty much by myself.

It took me all summer to complete, finishing the Sunday before the start of the fall semester. I had never built anything in my life before and I wanted everything to be just the way I wanted. My aim was to prove to myself and to those who thought I was crazy that I could make a beautiful home for myself and that I could live well in a non-traditional setting.

Google became my best friend throughout the process. I did almost everything myself, except for the foam insulation. My boyfriend taught me how to do the electrical wiring.  I learned so many useful skills like plumbing, setting up a solar system and how to use power tools.

I’ll admit that living in a portable home may not be as simple or as glamorous as people portray it to be. I heat with a woodstove so when I’m not home everything freezes, including my food. Not having a bathroom can be a little tricky at times but I have a sink and a travel toilet so I’m not fully without. I shower at the SDC and it works perfectly. Michigan Tech has been amazing and so supportive of my lifestyle. I could not have picked a better place to start my adventure.

Soon I’ll be moving to Rhinelander, Wisconsin (where I built my tiny home) and work at my summer job providing in-home care for the elderly and people with disabilities, before pursuing a graduate degree in Dietetics. I love the freedom of going wherever I get a job without question. I can be my own boss and won’t have to deal with landlords.

Without question, the coolest thing about living in an ambulance is the people I meet and their reactions to learning that I built it. To be honest, I really enjoy the shock factor. I only wish I had done it sooner.

Sarah Calvert

Sarah Calvert

I’m a sound design major and I’m minoring in music composition. This is my third year at Tech; I transferred from a community college downstate. My grandfather is an alumnus, and I saw the visual and performing arts department and thought, “These are the careers I want to do.” I applied, I was accepted, I drove up here in the fall, I saw an apartment, signed a lease, drove through town, and drove back home. I moved in December during a snowstorm. A nine-hour drive took us 12.