A Superior Legacy

Whether life-changing classes, clubs, and athletics teams, unforgettable mentors and speakers, or a cherished tradition on campus, we’d love to learn about what made your LSSU experience special. Stories will be shared during Great Lake State Weekend, as well as in future Laker Logs.

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Laker Stories

Amanda Cady with Susan Kirkman

From left, Amanda Cady '15 & Susan Kirkman '15

Amanda Cady '15 -  I loved my time working at the Arts Center. I got to work behind the scenes on so many cool events, from music to dance to theatre. One of my favorites was when we had a magic group performing and we all had to be sworn to secrecy. That weekend all of us on the crew became pretty close and I even learned how to eat fire!

 I met most of my closest friends at Lake State. To this day I still stay in touch with them. A lot of us have moved away or gotten married or had kids, but we've celebrated with each other along the way. I've spent a lot of time flying across the country to see some of them! I'll forever be grateful for the friendships I created at LSSU.

Moody’s Muggers Team Photo

"This is the 1977 beer league team of Moody’s Muggers, named after Professor Jim Moody. He is standing, left. I’m second over, with the P on my shoulder for president. There were several teams that played late at night, when ice time was cheaper. I’m now largely bald and grey, with no facial hair. I wonder about the rest of the crew. Keep yer stick on the ice!" - Paul Ganz '78

Paul Ganz '78 - I went to Lake State from 1974 to 1978.  I was elected Student Senate president in 1977, running against a friend and fellow poli-sci major Mike Della Moretta.  After graduation, Mike went into the Navy and flew F4 Phantom jets from aircraft carriers.   Tragically, his plane was lost on a mission over the Indian Ocean in 1981.  My big accomplishment as president was to convince Dr. Shouldice that it would be good to have a rock concert at the fairly new Norris Center.  We brought in Head East, and a band that now is in the rock hall of fame, Cheap Trick.

Michael Hudson with fellow alumni

(Above) Left to right Michael Hudson ’88 (MSU Director), Dr. Timothy Sawyer (LSSU Psychology Professor 1976-2002), and Dr. Paul Byrnes ’89, ‘09 (NMU Professor) reconvene in Sault Ste. Marie to celebrate a 35-year friendship that began at LSSU in 1984.

Michael Hudson '88 - I knew LSSU offered the small community feel I needed to thrive academically, but I did not foresee the way friendships and faculty leadership would blossom into lifetime memories and successes.” 35 years ago this fall, Michael Hudson of Saginaw and Paul Byrnes of Marlette arrived on campus with ambition, curiosity, and a bit of uncertainty hours from their hometowns. The small LSSC campus became home and new friendships began while faculty mentorship shaped their futures.

Michael reflects, “As a first-generation college student challenged by progressive vision loss that would ultimately lead to blindness, I was unsure about how to choose a major, what it meant to be a college student, or what I would do following graduation, but Dr. Timothy Sawyer, professor of Psychology, shared compelling evidence that the science of mind and behavior was foundational across career and personal life.” Paul and Michael initially enrolled in Dr. Sawyer’s introductory psychology course to fulfill elective academic requirements, but his passion for the field and outstanding teaching qualities prompted each of them to major in psychology. They recall his commanding use of the English language and a rigorous set of academic standards and expectations, balanced by a sense of humor and eagerness to advise and mentor as particularly salient. Paul recalls, “at the conclusion of a typical class session, we acquired new vocabulary that essentially required a dictionary to derive full value from the lecture.”

“In the 1980’s, Drs. Sawyer, Ratwik and Malmberg were all revered for excellence in teaching and advising by psychology majors”, remarks Michael. They emphasized that the psychology program would not be an easy path, but would well-position students for advanced studies. Both Michael and Paul went on to earn graduate degrees and today celebrate LSSU as foundational to their career success as higher education leaders.

During a July 2019 summer break, Michael and Paul returned to campus and reconnected with Dr. Sawyer over breakfast. “There is value in revisiting your alma mater, reflecting on the ways those college years provided opportunity, and paying homage to a professor who served admirably at LSSU. Dr. Sawyer helped launch our careers and lives on today as one of the most influential people in our lives.” The chance to return and say thank you, walk the campus, and even peek into our old residential settings was a powerful trip down memory lane. Personal mentoring by Dr. Sawyer communicated the power of reliability, hard work, and persistence, as well as envisioning challenges in our lives not as barriers, but as opportunities that promote creativity and problem solving. We are thankful for the LSSU experience and encourage each graduate to take time to revisit campus and connect with a professor who made a profound difference in your life.

Jim Malaski fraternity bed push

"Fraternity bed push fundraiser where we pushed the bed around town through the night. I’m the one with my right hand just above the “L” in Lambda on sign." - Jim Malaski'73

Jim Malaski '73 - I began my Laker experience in Fall of 1968. Many of us huddled around the Brady Hall barber shop to watch the Tigers win the World Series that Fall. February 14, 1969 was my first date with my to be wife of now 46 years, who I met on campus. I also fell in love with hockey that first year of college as I watched our LSSC hockey team play (and usually win) at Pullar Stadium. Many memories and friendships made before walking at graduation, also at Pullar Stadium, in 1973.

Jerry Pernu '66 - Not so much a story but a heartfelt remembrance of my time at Lake State. Two great professors proved inspirational. Dr. Jerry Ringer and Dr. Leon Linderoth, back in 1968. Dr. Ringer would always play Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" before his classes, and I often wondered why until I actually sat down and listened to the lyrics! I also recall the school's very own radio station, WMTU located in Brady Hall. It was a special time.

Sara Plowman

Sara Plowman '21, “It takes a village to raise a child.” But what about a college student? For me it came down to the right people coming into my life at the best possible moment.

What made LSSU special for me was the people. Whether it was my School of Education Professors, my fellow classmates, the people of Sault Ste. Marie or the coworkers I had, the people made the experience. Specifically, my dean Dr. Barb Light, my advisor Dr. Cathy White, one of my favorite professors Dr. James Walker, my fellow special education princesses and of course the people I worked with at the Alumni Association since Freshman year.

I was truly able to come into my own just by being surrounded by people who support each other and want to push each other to do and be better. The small-town atmosphere is what truly drew me to da Soo and made me so comfortable. Everyone was so willing to help, and if they did not know how to, they found someone who could.

I feel so blessed to have been granted the different opportunities available to me at LSSU. Whether it was a job in the community, a way to volunteer, the academic support, or just the opportunity to have a little fun was well worth it for me.

John Saari '74 - In 1973 or 74, my dog (Shep) ran away from home on Eureka St. I had just sat down in Purna Chandra’s Soils Class in the basement of old South Hall. We were getting ready to leave for a field trip. Who should come running down the coal chute doors, but Shep! He ran over and sat down beside me. Dr. Chandra suggested that Shep could join us; so he came on the bus and spent the day in the farmers field with us.

Matthew Simmons'88 -33 years ago, I graduated from LSSU. The sense of accomplishment I had was well deserved.  My degree opened doors in the world of employment not possible without the education I received.  I was an older student with a family and a job as a few other students I got to know were.  When we weren't working, studying or taking care of our families we would get together and go to Laker Hockey Games.  We were very fortunate to enjoy the excitement of the 87/88 season and NCAA championship.  My 2 young sons were always excited to go to the games.  I can definitely say that season was the catalyst for my sons and myself to become involved in Youth Hockey.  This influenced one of my sons and myself to became a player and coach on a State Championship Hockey Team as well as both sons and myself on District and regional Championship teams.  I will be retiring soon but and my sons and I have a life full of memories that may never happened if I had not attended LSSU.

Todd and Deb Zakrajsek

Todd and Deb Zakrajsek holding hands.

Todd Zakrajsek '85 -My second year at Lake State I met a fabulous girl Deb (VanEtten) in the pep band. We started to date and then got married just over a year later, while we were both students. Through a strange turn of events, I was student government president and Deb became vice president. Someone figured out we were married (with a last name of Zakrajsek that wasn't difficult) and printed a story in the Compass about how a husband and wife are teaming up to control the student government. I told the person who wrote the story he should come to a few senate meetings for research.  After seeing several meetings where my wife and I voted on opposite sides on nearly every issue (which we did very often), he decided there was no collusion forming.  Debra and I have now been married for 38 years.


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