2013 Graduate Ambassadors

The Graduate College and the Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC) are proud to announce the selection of our 2013-2014 Graduate Ambassadors. Each represents a specific college or area and takes on a range of duties to aid and represent prospective and current students, as well as the university community as a whole. They support prospective graduate students with information about the application process, graduate student life, and the University and surrounding community. Another of their roles is to arrange campus tours with prospective students. The ambassador from that prospect’s college shows the prospective student around campus and the community of Kalamazoo. They escort students to their departments and set up meetings with graduate directors, admissions officers and faculty with whom they would like to work. Ambassadors participate in select recruitment activities and attend Graduate College events to speak to attendees about graduate school and represent GSAC and graduate education in general.

a photo of the 2013 Graduate Ambassadors
2013 Graduate Ambassadors

Graduate ambassadors also provide peer support to current graduate students by helping them understand University and Graduate College requirements and policies. Ambassadors must have a good knowledge of Western’s unique offerings so they can orient new students to campus culture. Helping graduate students find support services requires that each ambassador have an excellent knowledge of Western’s resources. Meeting with department and college level faculty, staff, and administration helps each ambassador to establish a working relationship with the departments and to develop “points of pride” for each college and department. Ambassadors are considered marketers of Western Michigan University as well; they represent the face of graduate education to the University and the outside community. Each also holds office hours in the Student Organization Center in Bernhard Center, so they are available for walk-in student concerns.
Among their many other job duties, ambassadors compose articles for the Graduate College’s blog, The Grad Word. We’ve had entries that highlight the research our ambassadors are doing, their travels, and the trials and tribulations of working on the thesis or dissertation. They also post to our Facebook page with information on upcoming events and links to other sites or articles touching on issues of importance to graduate students from around the world. Check out our pages to see all the issues being discussed and the events that are designed by and for all graduate students on campus. Like us on Facebook to show your support of graduate education and the Graduate College at WMU.
Each ambassador also sits on a University-wide council or on the Executive Board (E-Board) of GSAC. A number of committees on campus have a graduate student representative on their team to give input on how the items being discussed affect graduate students. This ensures shared governance in shaping policy and procedures that affect graduate students. GSAC is an active student organization to which all graduate students automatically belong since each pays student fees that fund student organizations. They meet once a month, usually on a Friday afternoon, in Walwood Hall or Bernhard Center. Currently the organization is preparing to host the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS) for their 27th annual conference from November 7-10. GSAC also has a funding committee, GFAC, which considers, approves, and authorizes funding from student assessment fees for programming for graduate students.
The new Ambassadors, their fields, and the areas they serve follow.
• Kenneth Crocker is working on an M.A. in Philosophy. He represents the College of Arts and Sciences in the Humanities areas and the College of Fine Arts. He is GSAC’s E-Board Event Chair and as such is actively planning the NAGPS conference, which will bring 200 graduate students from around the country to our campus.
• Alyssa Eminhizer, who is pursuing an Au.D. in Audiology, represents the College of Health and Human Services and is the E-Board Administrative Chair, a job that keeps her busy as she takes and distributes minutes for all GSAC meetings, maintains the roster, and monitors the GSAC information email account.
• Jamie Gomez is finishing up her M.A. in Anthropology. She represents the College of Arts and Sciences in the Humanities and College of Fine Arts, and sits on the Campus Planning and Finance Committee. Jamie also assists with recruiting for the Graduate College.
• Denisha Griffey, Ph.D. student in Geosciences, represents the College of Arts and Sciences in the Math and Sciences areas and takes time out of her active research and fieldwork agenda to sit on the Graduate Studies Council.
• Alex Iseri, M.A. in International Development Administration, carries a 4.0 G.P.A. and represents the Social Science areas in the College of Arts & Sciences. As E-Board Outreach Chair he coordinates events to solicit concerns from graduate students and maintains partnerships with the community and other stakeholders.
• Edmundo Messina is pursuing an M.S. in Civil Engineering and represents the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. He is assigned to recruitment duties for the Graduate College and makes a point to attend most events sponsored by the Graduate College.
• Marcial Amaury Pineda Moquete, an M.A. student in Educational Leadership, represents the College of Education and Human Development for those who are in a teaching capacity. As GSAC’s E-Board Public Relations Chair, he coordinates all promotional materials and maintains the GSAC web and social media sites. Amaury is a licensed attorney in the Dominican Republic.
• Matt Reid is pursuing an M.A. in Sociology. He is dedicated both to serving his fellow students and to his scholarly activity. He represents the College of Arts and Sciences in the Social Sciences and sits on the Research Policies Council.
• Muthanna Yaqoub, Ph.D. student in Geosciences, works on behalf of international students through the Haenicke Institute and sits on the International Education Council. He hails from Iraq and has worked extensively in recruiting and orienting students from the Middle East to our campus.
• Terren Yost is an Air Force veteran working on his M.S. in Occupational Therapy. He serves graduate student veterans in the area of Military and Veterans Affairs and sits on the Academic and Information Technology Council. Terren also holds a graduate assistantship in the Office of Military and Veteran’s Affairs.
• Tiantian Zhang, a Ph.D. student in Biological Sciences, serves as an ambassador for the College of Arts and Sciences in the Math and Science areas. He is a returning 2012-2013 Graduate Ambassador who assists the Graduate College with recruiting.
• Yu Zhang is working on her M.A. in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program and represents the College of Education and Human Development for students in non-teaching capacities. She also sits as graduate student representative on the Student Media Board where she provides input on programming with graduate students in mind.
Please contact the Graduate College at (269)387-8212 if you would like an Ambassador to be present at an event or meeting. Ambassadors are also available to meet with student groups and to advise on planning or development of departmental or unit graduate student affairs activities or services.

Linda Comrie

Linda Comrie is Office Coordinator for the Graduate College. While all our employees are vital to our functioning, everyone turns to Linda for help. She joined the staff in 1999 and knows just about everything there is to know about the office. She stays busy reconciling budgets, ordering supplies, doing payroll, processing graduate appointments, and organizing events like the Graduate and Professional School Fair, the Graduate Student Resource Fair, and many other meetings and events year round. She also monitors and coordinates the King/Chavez/Parks Future Faculty Fellowships and makes sure all paperwork is kept up for the Fellows. She supervises our office associate and does an amazing job of keeping track of our very active dean, Susan Stapleton. Setting up appointments, scheduling meetings, arranging travel, and preparing reports for Dr. Stapleton is a big part of Linda’s job.

a photo of Linda Comrie
Linda Comrie

Linda is known for her dedication to her work and her calm, cool demeanor even when the office is busy and everyone is competing for her time. She always makes the effort to demonstrate the right way to do a job and even knows how to fix the copier most of the time! In 2004 Linda received a Semiannual Staff Service Excellence Award, and in 2006 she received the first Griselda Daniel Award from the Graduate Students of Color (GSOC) organization. Linda was selected for the WMU Make-A-Difference award in 2009 based on the special attributes she brings to her work environment. Linda is grateful to past and current supervisors for giving her the opportunity to grow in her job and for the students who make every effort worthwhile. She has made lasting friendships among the many students she has helped over the years; they come back to the Graduate College with jobs in higher education, spouses, and children to be greeted with a hug from Linda. Linda earned a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Western Michigan University. She and her husband Leo live in Galesburg and enjoy taking trips to northern Michigan where they appreciate the lakes, the fall colors and the UP food specialty – Cornish pasty. Linda and Leo’s daughter Stacy graduated from WMU and now lives nearby with her husband. Linda is dedicated to her family and spends her spare time cooking, shopping and traveling with her sisters and her mother.

Meet Our New Graduate Ambassadors

The Graduate College is proud to announce the formation of the Graduate Student Ambassador Program, which has come to fruition with twelve Graduate Student Ambassadors for Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. The twelve students were selected from over 40 applicants. They will function as outreach ambassadors for the Graduate College and the Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC).

A photo of our new Graduate Ambassadors meeting Graduate College Staff members

All the students who were chosen are expected to draw on their own experiences as graduate students to help prospective and current grad students at WMU. They are a highly motivated group of students, involved in many activities besides their school work, so they come to the job with a full understanding of the responsibilities and rewards of this leadership opportunity. There is at least one student representing each college at WMU and their role is complex. They are expected to represent Western Michigan University, GSAC, and the Graduate College as well as their college or area to current and prospective students.
They meet bi-weekly for informal gatherings to share knowledge and ideas, but their formal role is demanding. They attend recruiting events with Mr. Tony Dennis, Director of Graduate Student Recruitment and Retention. They hold office hours to meet with students from their colleges and/or programs who have questions about graduate study in general or more specific questions about issues they may be having. While sometimes students like to be able to have a student to talk to, which is the genesis of the program, the Graduate Ambassadors are trained to refer sensitive issues back to the Graduate College or to the appropriate unit. They give campus and community tours to prospective students and answer questions to the best of their ability, based on their training and personal experience, regarding admissions, registration, graduation, and theses and dissertations, as well as navigating departmental culture, planning their graduate careers, and balancing school, work and family. They are expected to attend all GSAC meetings. All twelve will be blogging for the Graduate College on The Grad Word, and keeping up with social media to promote the Graduate College and GSAC and to communicate with current and prospective graduate students. Each has also been assigned a university-wide committee to serve on as well.
The Graduate Ambassadors for 2012-2013 are Ms. Jessica Bell, of the Occupational Therapy program in the College of Health and Human Services, and Ms. Stephanie Boltrick, an MSW student who will serve in the area of Veterans and Military Affairs. Mr. Robert Brown, MS in Accountancy, represents the Haworth College of Business; Ms. Ashley Butterfield, a Speech and Language Pathology MA student, will be serving in the College of Health and Human Services, and Mr. Ryan Clark, Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering represents the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Also serving as Ambassadors for 2012-2013 are Ms. Cindy Cross, M.A. student in Music Therapy, representing the College of Fine Arts and the Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences and Ms. Kristin Everett, Ph.D. student in Evaluation, Measurement and Research, who will represent the College of Education and Human Development. Ms. Jamie Gomez, M.A. student in Anthropology, is serving as Ambassador in the College of Arts and Sciences in the area of social and behavioral sciences. Ms. Denisha Griffey, a Ph.D. student in Geosciences, will represent the College of Arts and Sciences in the area of mathematics and sciences. Finally, we have Ms. Josie Wells, M.A. in Public Administration, who will represent our off-campus and Extended University Programs, Mr. Benjamin Williams, an M.A. student in Family and Consumer Science representing the College of Education and Human Development, and Mr. Tiantian Zhang, Ph.D. student in Biological Sciences, who will serve international students and the Haenicke Institute for Global Education.
The Graduate College is very proud to welcome these outstanding student representatives. They have all shown initiative in contacting deans, chairs, graduate directors, and staff members to introduce themselves, setting up their office hours, asking questions, and planning their bi-weekly informal meetings to get to know each other better and learn more about what the Graduate College and Western Michigan University have to offer prospective and current students. If you have any questions for the graduate ambassador who represents your college or area, please call Carson Leftwich at the Graduate College at (269) 387-8212 for contact information.

Meet Jennifer Wendling Holm

Jennifer Wendling Holm is one of the last staff members graduate students meet in the final months before they graduate. As coordinator of theses and dissertations in the Graduate College, Jennifer is responsible for reviewing and clearing these culminating works, putting on formatting workshops to help students make sure these works meet WMU guidelines, and assisting students with scheduling and announcing their oral dissertation defenses. Jennifer revises and shepherds between 30 and 45 dissertations and 25 to 35 theses through the system each graduation period.
a photo of Jennifer Wendling Holm, Coordinator of Theses and Dissertations

It is a lot of reading and editing in a short period of time, so organization and time management are of the utmost importance surrounding graduation periods. She understands where the students are emotionally and academically at this final stage in the educational process and tries to make it as smooth as possible by being accessible to them, answering their questions, encouraging them and lending a sympathetic ear when needed. She finds it quite rewarding to see them through to the end. One of her goals is to make sure they leave the University on a high note, with scholarly theses and dissertations and a good feeling about WMU. In addition to reviewing theses and dissertations, Jennifer handles the graduate faculty nomination forms, committee forms, permission to elect forms, extend time to degree program forms and is the MIGS liaison officer for the University. She crafts the commencement copy for doctoral candidates, provides data regarding awards of doctoral and master’s candidates to University Relations and doctoral numbers and information to the Registrar’s Office.
Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in English from WMU and was hired full time as assistant to the vice president of research in 2000. In OVPR, her duties consisted of finding funding opportunities for the School of Social Work and various other disciplines, creating reports for the VP of Research for Carnegie Classification, writing correspondence and editing documents for staff, assistant editor for the WMU Research Magazine and Web author. Jennifer moved to the Graduate College as assistant to the dean in 2003. She was named to her current post in January 2005.
Prior to her employment at WMU, Jennifer enjoyed an assistant manager position at an independent bookseller, Bookbinder’s Bookstore and Café, near campus in Kalamazoo. She also spent a year traveling in Greensboro, North Carolina and Richland, Washington, visiting family and writing short stories. Jennifer takes pleasure in volunteering in the Kalamazoo area. She is a tutor for the Kalamazoo Literacy Council and will resume hosting a Senior Book Club at Wyndham West Retirement Community in winter 2013. She has been a student of yoga since 1996 and enjoys reading, writing, walking, hiking, kayaking and sailing.

Meet Tony Dennis

Tony’s career in higher education began in 1990 working as an admissions counselor at Kalamazoo College. In 1993 he was hired as Assistant Director of Admissions and Orientation at Western Michigan University. In June of 1999 he was promoted to Director of Recruitment and Outreach Director/Student Services at Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation. Tony has recruited students throughout the United States and has played a significant role in recruiting some of the top underrepresented (minority) students in the country to attend WMU.

Tony has a Bachelor of Science degree and holds a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, both from WMU. Tony is Director of Recruitment and Retention in the Graduate College of WMU. His primary responsibility in the Graduate College is to direct graduate recruitment and retention programs throughout the university. He collaborates with department chairs, faculty, and graduate advisors to implement recruiting programs to increase the number of enrolled graduate students.  In addition, he promotes WMU as a provider of graduate education to college seniors and recent graduates of undergraduate programs, and to non-traditional students with undergraduate degrees. He serves on many university committees, coordinates retention programs, and directs the Graduate Diversity Program.