The Spring 2012 Commencement Ceremonies will be held on Sunday, April 29, at the Perani Arena and Event Center, the first at 11 a.m., and the second at 3:30 p.m.
11 a.m. Ceremony:
- Undergraduate and Graduate students from the College of Arts and Sciences.
- Graduate students from the Rackham School of Graduate Studies.
3:30 p.m. Ceremony:
- Undergraduate and Graduate students from the School of Management.
- Undergraduate and Graduate students from the School of Health Professions and Studies.
- Undergraduate and Graduate students from the School of Education and Human Services.
Commencement Speaker for 11 a.m.: Mark Miller, UM-Flint, BS ‘85
Mark L. Miller is the plant manager at the General Motors Davison Road Processing Center. Miller graduated with a BS from UM-Flint in 1985, and earned an MBA 10 years later from Davenport University in Warren, Mich. During his 27 years with the automaker he has managed four plants, including one in Forth Worth, Texas.
Miller relied on UM-Flint to help get him where he is today.
“I learned early on in life that how you start does not have to dictate how you end up. UM-Flint, for me, was not about how I would start my life, but how I would end the story,” said Miller.
Miller not only worked while attending school, but with the help of a few grants and scholarships, graduated debt-free. When asked about his time at UM-Flint, Miller’s thoughts turned to his relationships with faculty.
“The teaching staff was personal, and just like on the TV show ‘Cheers,’ they knew my name. They held me accountable and helped me to do my best,” recalls Miller. “Disappointing my professors was something I didn’t want to experience. They believed in me, and often times said so, and demanded nothing less of me than excellence.”
Miller continues to be active in the community as the vice chair of the Workforce Development Board of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties, and is a General Motors Alternate Representative to the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Miller’s wife of 23 years, Rebecca, is also a UM-Flint grad, as are five other relatives. Mark and Rebecca are the proud parents of one son, Mark L. Miller II.
Student Speaker: Casey Sturk, BS Clinical Community Psychology
After graduating from Flushing High School, Casey Sturk decided he was ready for the job market. After six years of selling cars, he was ready to start college. He took his first two years at Mott Community College before transferring to UM-Flint.
Sturk felt UM-Flint had a great reputation, and was the perfect place to get a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Community Psychology.
Like many other students, Sturk worked full time, but managed to save enough energy to be involved in numerous organizations. He served as President of Psi Chi (International Honors Society in Psychology); Student Government Senator; sat on Student Government’s Student Relations Committee and Student Funding Board; Co-founder of Students for Free-thought; and member of Walk and Bike Group committee.
That might be sufficient achievement for some, but Casey didn’t stop there. He hosted a Pro-Life/Pro-Choice debate on campus, was Keynote speaker at an event called “Is Belief in God Irrational,” and developed the “Take the Stairs Campaign” that placed signage on every elevator to encourage the campus to be healthier by taking the stairs.
UM-Flint provided a rich, culturally diverse student body that allowed me to grow into a well-rounded, understanding person,” said Casey.
With his 3.95 G.P.A., Casey would “love to be accepted” at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. His long-term goal is to form a comprehensive center that incorporates biological, holistic, research, clinical, and behavioral methodologies to cure, solve, and educate the public on the obesity/health epidemic in society.
Commencement Speaker for 3:30 p.m.: Dr. Raymond Gist
In the 1960s, the road an African American had to travel to become a professional often proved to be a very bumpy ride. For Dr. Raymond Gist, it was just a matter of hanging on to his dreams.
Dr. Gist was only four years old when his family moved to Flint from Poplar Grove, Arkansas. He began his early education in Flint Community Schools, and at age 13 already knew he would be a dentist.
“While the education was good, the emphasis in high school was to steer students to work in the automobile industry and not to go to college, particularly for students from my neighborhood,” recalls Gist.
He did, however, spend two summers working in GM plants.
After graduating high school in 1960, he earned an associate’s degree at Mott Junior College before being accepted to the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. In a class of 96, Gist was one of only two African American men in the class that also had only two women.
Gist joined the Air Force his first year in dental school, and upon graduation in 1966, he was stationed in the Philippines. He left the service with the rank of captain, and joined Mott Children’s Health Center for about a year and half before setting up his private practice.
He became very active in local, state, and national dental organizations. In fact, Gist was the first African American to be elected president of three different dental organizations: the Genesee District Dental Society (year?), the Michigan Dental Association in 2003, and in 2009, Dr. Gist was chosen president-elect of the American Dental Association (ADA).
During his 46 years in practice, he has received a long list of awards and served on numerous boards, including a four-year term on the ADA Board of Trustees, and chair of the Diversity Committee. He is also a fellow of the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists, and the Pierre Fauchard Academy. Gist also enjoys memberships in the Academy of General Dentistry and the National Dental Association.
Student Speaker: Staci Hines, Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)
Staci Hines graduated from high school 20 years ago. Six years ago she decided to return to college to earn a degree at UM-Flint. Life experiences between 2006 and 2009 convinced her to change her major to social work. During those three years her strength would be tested, and as she put it, “This journey through school has been one of the most difficult journeys of my life.”
Not quite six-months pregnant, Staci suffered a heart attack. Her baby girl was delivered just 23 weeks into the pregnancy. A year later her oldest daughter, then just 13, was diagnosed with cancer. Originally, doctors said it could be beat with just three rounds of chemotherapy. That battle lasted almost three years. It included three relapses of the disease, multiple rounds of chemo, radiation, and her final relapse after a Bone Marrow Transplant. Finally, in the midst of her oldest daughter’s battle with cancer (in the middle of her second lapse), her middle daughter found herself in the ICU being diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic.
So what kept Staci in school? “I almost stopped school more than once. It was the encouragement and the guidance of the faculty that kept me pushing through,” she recalled. “Sometimes when I felt like I did not have it in me, they knew I did.”
Hines will attend Ann Arbor’s Master of Social Work (MSW) in their Advanced Standing program. Her studies will begin in September with a focus on Social Policy and Evaluation with Community and Social Systems. She plans to begin her Ph.D. in the fall of 2013.
“I would like to do research and teach, which is why I chose the MSW concentration,” noted Staci. “I am very proud to say that I have received my BSW from this program.”
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