Alumni in Action


Northwood alumni and friends gather around the country to recognize fellow graduates and enjoy a variety of fun activities.

The Project 100 group met on Oct. 7 to evaluate projects and selected “Woody’s Wheels” from the Student Life Dept. for the $10,000 funding opportunity. Pictured above are Northwood SGA leaders Emily Williams and Josh Weckesser with the Project 100 certificate.

Northwood University Alumni Department has been hosting “Alumni VIP Campus Tours” this summer and fall to show off new buildings and renovations, showcasing recent investments in their alma mater. Most buildings on campus have been renovated in some way or built new in the past few years.

Alumni were invited to participate in the 2017 Convocation luncheon and program held this fall. This annual event is the formal opening of the new school year. The alumni had the opportunity to share their advice with our students on how to “be the best you” which is our theme for the year.

The Northern Michigan Alumni & Friends chapter’s successful happy hour at Northwood alumnus-owned microbrewery in Mackinaw City, Mich., may turn into an annual event. Danny Ranville explained the process of opening the microbrewery and his plans for expansion.

On Saturday night of Auto Show/Homecoming weekend, more than 350 Northwood alumni and friends gathered in Woody’s Taproom to celebrate fellowship, football, and fall fun.

NU’s Black Alumni Association (NUBAA) hosted their annual tailgate party during the 2017 Auto Show/Homecoming weekend by partnering with the Northwood Black Student Union organization and considering future events together.

Phi Beta Lambda alumni held a reunion in Midland during 2017 Northwood Auto Show/Homecoming weekend. More than 65 alumni and friends attended.

Chicago Alumni & Friends chapter gathered for their annual Chicago Cubs outing on Sept. 10 and plans another fun family-friendly event this winter.

Alumni enjoyed the Northwood suite at Great Lakes Loons games many times this past baseball season at Dow Diamond. A great time is always waiting at this amazing ball park in Midland, Mich.

Alumni in Action - Texas


Texas Crossing Over Affinity Celebration & Fort Worth Oktoberfest Northwood Texas Alumni & Friends Chapter hosted two annual events on the Cedar Hill campus over the weekend of October 20, 2018: the Fort Worth Oktoberfest and the Crossing Over event. More than 100 Northwood alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends participated in these events. Watch for the next Texas alumni event in May 2018. Attendees at the event were asked to share their thoughts:

It's a Small World - Alumni Cross Paths in Paradise


“Ohana” means family in Hawaiian, and it also nicely sums up the Prohaska family’s vacation to the islands of Oahu and Maui last summer. Mark ('93), Michelle, and their daughter Brook, a Northwood sophomore, expected their trip to paradise to be full of fun family time. They never imagined they’d find ohana on a helicopter ride. Sightseeing by air was the perfect way for the Prohaskas to experience Oahu’s natural beauty. The warm welcome and professionalism at Magnum Helicopters, the tour company they chose, made their helicopter adventure fun and safe. And when they met the pilot and company president, Richard Schuman, the family’s enjoyment multiplied in a surprising way, thanks to Northwood ties.

“We quickly found out that we had a lot in common with our pilot, Richard,” said Michelle Prohaska. “When he learned that our daughter Brook is a Northwood student and Mark is an alumnus, he laughed. Both he and his wife Diane are Northwood grads. How great is it to meet Northwood family 5,000 miles from home?”

Richard Schuman ('80) gave the Prohaskas an unforgettable helicopter tour of Oahu, including seeing stunning landscapes, paying their respects to fallen heroes at Pearl Harbor, and forging an instant friendship.

A Home Far from Home A chance meeting with Richard Schuman on an island in the Pacific made a wonderful memory for the Prohaskas. For Schuman, the time he spent with the family was a heartwarming reminder of all he gained personally at Northwood.

“Northwood and Michigan were very different from where I grew up," Schuman said. "But I made great friends and met my wife there. I also learned about free enterprise and the entrepreneurial spirit, which I use in my business. And I’m still making new friends through Northwood.”

Richard and Diane Schuman (Haglund) (’80), build their success on strong relationships and personal connections, a skill that Northwood’s close community nurtured.

It’s a Small (Northwood) World Northwood helps make the world a little smaller and a lot friendlier. Our alumni live and work across the globe, creating a welcoming Northwood network even in faraway places. Alumni also establish a comforting sense of family – a promise of ohana – for students.

“I was honored that day to be among two very successful Northwood alums. My heart was proud as I realized that attending Northwood is the right decision for me,” said Brook Prohaska. “My dad and Mr. Schuman showed me that working hard and going to a school I love will get me to where I need to be in my future.”

Main photo caption: Richard Schuman, Brook Prohaska, and Mark Prohaska forged a new Northwood friendship that spans the 5,000 miles between Oahu and Michigan.

How an Urban Idea Can Grow


Northwood Alum Shares Urban Forestry Story during Values Emphasis Week

John Hantz lives in Detroit, runs a Detroit-area business, and deeply cares about the city and its people.

So he was concerned about the large number of abandoned homes stubbornly dotting the city’s neighborhoods, even as downtown and other high profile areas enjoy a renaissance. His solution: invest millions of his own dollars to buy abandoned properties from the city, clear the land and grow hardwood trees for a profit.

It worked.

After overcoming stiff resistance by a few neighbors and community activists, his Hantz Farms Detroit organization has transformed more than 2,000 formerly abandoned lots in an area on the city’s East Side, demolishing 54 vacant structures and planting more than 15,000 trees. Residents in the area have delighted in the improvements they’ve seen in their neighborhood, and the Detroit Free Press reported that the median home price in the area went from $15,500 before the project to $74,750 after.

Hantz was on Northwood’s campus during this spring’s Values Emphasis Week for a screening of the documentary movie “Land Grab,” which tells the Hantz Farms story. After the screening, he and Sean O’Grady, the film’s producer, took part in a discussion about the project and how it relates to Northwood’s values.

“What I hope happens here is that we say, ‘… A person took a risk, and that risk led to the betterment of a lot of people who lived in that square mile,’ ” Hantz says in the documentary. “This is making a difference. And it is creating hope.”

Hantz and his story were just one of several compelling programs during Values Emphasis Week, which offers a formal, yearly opportunity for Northwood students, faculty, and staff to reflect on moral and ethical values relating to their personal lives, involvement in the community, and their work in the world of business.

Values Emphasis Week originated in 1979 and is rooted in the university’s code of ethics, which provides a roadmap for students, staff, and faculty to advance their shared values. The Northwood code of ethics includes: freedom, respect, empathy, spirituality, honesty, achievement, integrity, and responsibility.

Rich Agenda

Other programs during this year’s Values Emphasis Week included:

  • Star Parker, founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a public policy think tank that promotes market-based solutions to fight poverty.

  • Ayn Rand Institute fellow Don Watkins, co-author ofNorthwood’s spring term Omniquest selection Equal is Unfair.
  • Northwood Founder’s Day, with the annual Outstanding Alumni Awards ceremony, featuring keynote speaker Brian Calley, Michigan’s lieutenant governor.


Nairobi to Northwood


Chris Songe was doing just fine. After growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, he earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Nairobi and landed a series of sales jobs in auto dealerships, selling and servicing well known international brands such as BMW, Volvo, and Renault KIA. It was the late 1990s.

But Chris is not the kind of person to settle for fine.

"I was looking at the big picture," he remembers.

How big? As big as the world, it turned out.

At a career fair in Nairobi, he struck up a conversation with someone who told him about Northwood’s world-class automotive marketing program.

"I had been thinking of going back to school. I wanted to have a successful career, and to find a job in the OEM space within developing markets," Chris said. "And I was very excited about the fact that Northwood was one of the few universities that had an automotive marketing program. I'm a car guy."

Still, Midland is a long way from Nairobi.

"I was really torn about leaving my family to come to Northwood," Chris recalled. "But it was an opportunity I didn't want to pass up."

So he headed off to the United States, not sure exactly what to expect.

"I remember two things very clearly. I was very intimidated when I got to the airport in Chicago. I was afraid I would miss my flight to Midland," he said. "The only other thing I was worried about was that I had never used a vending machine."

Fitting in at Northwood proved to be less scary than the concourse at O'Hare.

"The university did a fantastic job helping me get settled in," Chris said. "And one good thing was that there were a lot of other international students. From Holland. From Canada. I was the only student from Africa in the automotive program, but I didn't feel like I was the only guy who was away from home."

Northwood's openness to international students is a benefit to everyone, said Mamiko Reeves, Northwood assistant vice president and dean of International Programs.

"When students come here from around the world, they bring fresh ideas, unique perspectives and valuable insight," Reeves said. "It all adds to the character of the university, which is a big part of what makes Northwood special, and helps advance our mission of developing global leaders."

In 1999, Chris earned his Northwood bachelor's degree in Automotive Marketing and was quickly snatched up by CDK Global, which provides integrated technology solutions to more than 27,000 auto, truck, motorcycle, marine, RV, and heavy equipment dealers throughout the world. He started as a business solution consultant, helping clients' employees learn to use the company's system, and has advanced to his current role as an implementation manager, overseeing implementation for hundreds of clients per year. Chris and his wife, Tracy, live with their two sons, George and Ian, outside Minneapolis.

"I'd like to give thanks to Northwood," Chris said. "I wish I had come here from the beginning."


Celebrating Family Loyalty with the Northwood Alumni Legacy Endowed Scholarship


A Northwood degree comes with an added bonus that many alumni may not know about: a scholarship designed especially for their eligible NU legacy-student children. The Alumni Legacy Endowed Scholarship was created in 2010 to recognize academic achievement and leadership potential in the children of our alumni who choose Northwood University.

Northwood is fortunate to have alumni who have passed on their enthusiasm for their alma mater and “The Northwood Idea” to their children. We celebrate this special relationship by offering financial support to kids whose love of Northwood was ignited by their parents.

“We are proud that our alumni share their love of the university and their belief in the value of a Northwood education with their children,” said Carmen Mittler, Northwood’s director of Annual Giving. “Through the Alumni Legacy Endowed Scholarship, we honor the loyalty of multigenerational Northwood families by investing in their students’ potential during their NU careers.”

A Parent Alumnus

Craig Smith, ’81, is an entrepreneur and dealer operator of Craig Smith Auto Group and Craig Smith RV Center in Ohio. The years he spent at Northwood prepared him for his successful career and also shaped his belief in the importance of a free enterprise system. His son Brent started at Northwood a year into the ’08 economic downturn, which hit the auto industry especially hard. The Alumni Legacy scholarship that Brent received lightened the family’s financial burden during an incredibly challenging time. Now Craig and his wife, Ginger, are happy to give back to help other students attend Northwood.

“Every day of my life I use something I learned in college, from accounting to writing. So I was very happy when Brent chose Northwood. Now that he’s graduated, I can say that he gained knowledge and skills, especially how to think critically and to do so with empathy, that will contribute to his future success. Northwood has made a big difference in both of our lives. And I’m equally excited that our younger son, Alex, is starting at NU this fall,” said Craig.

A Recipient (and Alumnus!)

Brent Smith, ’13, general manager of Craig Smith RV Center, had his heart set on Northwood from the time he was in middle school. His choice may have seemed like a “natural,” given that his dad is an alumnus. However, it was also an excellent choice for his career. Brent’s Northwood education helped him learn about the multifaceted automotive business. And the connections he made at school have helped him build his industry knowledge and support base as he builds his future.

“I was thrilled that I could follow in my dad’s Northwood footsteps. He has always been a mentor and role model for me. When I started at the school, I found a new source of support: For the first time, I was around other kids who were as passionate about the automotive industry as I was. I wish more kids could attend the university, because it offers such a focused and relevant business education. The scholarship definitely helped me, and I’m glad it’s available for other kids of alumni.”

Quick Facts about the Northwood Alumni Legacy Endowed Scholarship

  • Available to eligible dependents of degreed alumni
  • Funded by private donations and events such as the Annual Northwood Scholarship Golf Outing and Northwood Auto Show Gala
  • Awarded to students based on demonstrated financial need and academic merit

For more information or to donate to the Northwood Alumni Legacy Endowed Scholarship, please contact Sherri Riepma, Private Donor Scholarship coordinator, 989-837-4146 or



When Brittney Lewis got a dream job offer from Apple Inc., she got ready to say goodbye to her home state. Then Bluewater Technologies came along with something even better than California dreaming. The 245-employee (and growing) company creates event and trade show displays and moving live event and technology experiences for strong brands including General Motors Co., Samsung, Key Bank, Quicken Loans and many more heavy hitters across an array of industries. “This is so collaborative, so organized, so raw. I could not wait to dig my hands into it to help,” says Lewis, 31. “It’s a place where I felt I could make a big impact. I could help improve people’s day- to- day lives, help ideas flourish, and deliver the clients’ vision.”

Four years later, Lewis isn’t the only one making an impact at Bluewater in Southfield, Michigan. She has helped recruit and hire 10 more employees with Northwood ties, including a pair of current interns.

“It’s kind of become a joke: ‘Oh, there’s another Northwood alum working here. Aren’t there other universities out there?’” laughed Lewis, who is director of the Project Management Office.

Lewis has brought on four women who, like her, were members of the Alphi Chi Omega sorority.

“A lot of people who went to Northwood are referred to here as rock stars,” she said. “There’s a difference. There’s a differentiating characteristic with an NU alum. It’s a mixture of gumption, tenacity, and vigor all rolled into one that makes an amazing employee. They all bring something amazing to the table that is paramount to the success we are having as a company right now. And the exciting thing is we just started pushing the accelerator. We have big goals and the right people along for the ride.”

It’s the kind of work Lewis honed as events chair for the Northwood University International Auto Show and as vice president of communications and membership for Alpha Chi Omega. She has a 2008 bachelor’s degree from Northwood in marketing, advertising and management and a 2013 master’s degree from Walsh College in Troy, Michigan.

“Whenever I see people interview here, they say the people here are so cool, it feels like family,” Lewis said.

“Once you start working at Bluewater, you hear things like, ‘This is so different. I can’t believe you guys thought of that. Wow, that was a ride. How did you pull that off?’ Most of our projects are not daisies and butterflies. They’re a challenge. We’re trailblazing. If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and dig in and take a crack at something new, this is exactly where you need to be.”

Having interviewed numerous hires over the years, Lewis said the Northwood students stand out in the best way.

“When Northwood students interview, it is obvious they are a caliber above the rest, from the way they carry themselves to the manner in which they answer and ask questions,” Lewis said. “They’re polished, and they’re practiced. There are no fillers. It’s succinct.”

Northwood’s classrooms — where students interview in front of the class and accept critiques, ask insightful questions and review realworld scenarios with professors — help prepare students for job interviews.

“The presentations and projects seem so stressful in the moment, but the experience and the feedback you gain carries you miles further than other candidates for the job,” Lewis said.

“I chose to stay here in Michigan,” says Lewis. “The opportunities to make a positive impact are endless. I love the challenge and opportunity to help our area because of the powerhouse it once was and more. Bluewater is the place enabling me to do that. I never have the same day here, ever. There is always something different going on. It’s an incubator for creativity and improvement. You have people who listen to you, agree to take on your ideas, help them, and make them become a reality.”

Header photo caption:  Northwood President and CEO Keith A. Pretty (center) presented Bluewater Technologies with the university's Entrepreneurial Spirit Award. Pictured from left to right are Nicole Gabridge, Victor George IV, Andrew Hanagan, Hannah Hayes, Melissa Phillips, Brittney Lewis, and Andrea Hlavaty.


Outstanding Alumni Honored


1.) Mary Ellen George-Hess (’80, BBA, Hotel & Restaurant Management), Alumni Achievement Award. Mary Ellen, known to most people as Meg, is senior vice president of sales for HRG, a worldwide business travel company. Previously, she worked for BCD Travel, an affiliate of American Express Travel, where she helped expand operations to 100 countries around the globe, and was part of the launch of the online booking fulfillment program that helped double its size. Meg lives in Frisco, Texas, with her husband, Barry, where they enjoy skiing and travel with their children Dylan, Ivy, Hailey, and Griffen.

2.) Mauro G. Gregorio (’99, MBA) Alumni Achievement Award.

After beginning his career as a chemical engineer, Mauro chose Northwood's DeVos Graduate School as a path to a successful business management career. He advanced to the position of chief executive officer at Dow Corning Corp. and business president of Dow Consumer Solutions. He is currently on his third assignment in Midland, and credits his wife, Cinthia, as his strongest supporter.

3.) Michael D. Abbondanza (’99, BBA, Marketing & Management) Alumni Leadership Award.

In 2008, Mike and his partner Bill Newton founded Newton Motor Group, a privately owned company in Tennessee that has grown to include two Nissan stores, a Ford store, and a Chevrolet store. In 2016, the company was named the Autobytel Dealer of the Year, and earned the 2016 Top Workplace Award by “The Tennessean” magazine. Mike and his wife, Karen, a 2001 Northwood grad, live in Gallatin, Tenn., with their daughters Molly and Lucy, and together they've been instrumental in helping to establish an alumni chapter in Nashville.

4.) Grant E. Baidas (’10, BBA, Management & Entrepreneurship) Young Alumni Award.

As the third generation of his family to work for General RV Center, the nation's largest familyowned recreational vehicle dealer with 11 locations in five states, Grant was a natural choice to revolutionize the company’s online presence. He is director of Internet and E-Commerce Operations, with accomplishments that include a new, integrated smartphone app and enhanced web department that is 10 times its original size. Grant lives in Plymouth, Mich., where he enjoys golfing, boating, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

5.) Admiral Robert A. Chapman (’03, BBA, Management) Alumni Service Award.

After a distinguished career in the U.S. Navy, Robert looked to Northwood for a career “kick-start.” Upon graduation, he worked for the U.S. Department of Justice for 20 years. In 2005, he was asked to manage the legal team that prosecuted Saddam Hussein in Iraq. He supervised 40 staff members, and recalls that as a team they accomplished every goal they set, and everyone was brought home safely. Robert, his wife, Maria, son Hayden, and daughter Kayla Grace live in Arlington, Texas, where he enjoys scuba diving, running, and reading.

Alumni in Action


Northwood alumni and friends gather around the country to recognize fellow graduates and enjoy a variety of fun activities.

26th Annual Scholarship Golf Outing

On June 12, 2017, Northwood University held the 26th Annual Scholarship Golf Outing at the Fortress in Frankenmuth, Mich. This annual outing is always a competitive one, but fun at the same time. The net proceeds from the event benefit the Alumni Legacy Scholarship, supporting the children of alumni who attend Northwood. This year we had 100 golfers, 16 event sponsors, and raised a total of $9,500!


Texas Summer Lunch and Learn and Rangers Game

On June 16, 2017, the Northwood Texas Alumni Chapter hosted two events. A Lunch and Learn seminar with Northwood Career Advancement Director Beth Bryce focused on the importance of creating your own personal brand. Later that day, 70 Northwood alumni, students, staff, and friends attended a Texas Rangers game and enjoyed food, fun, and fellowship.

Always Ready to Rally for Northwood - Remembering Dick Huvaere, Class of ‘68


If Northwood pride and spirit could be embodied in a big smile, it would have been Dick Huvaere’s. His years at the university were a pivotal time in his life and, after he graduated, he was always eager to announce that he was a Northwood alumnus. But even more, Dick was a tremendous volunteer leader, dedicated cheerleader and promoter, and committed donor who made supporting his alma mater a priority throughout his adult life. When Dick passed away in February, he had achieved much in making his name known in the automotive retail industry. He built the Dick Huvaere’s Richmond Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and RAM dealership into a prosperous business, and earned countless awards from Chrysler as one of the top dealers in the nation. He was instrumental in working with the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association to create the Michigan Auto Dealers Self- Insured Fund (MADSIF) for which he served as chairman and trustee for many years. He also gave his time and financial support to a variety of community organizations in Richmond, Mich., where he lived.

“Dick will be remembered as a businessman with deep integrity. He went out of his way to help people. But he never did it for the recognition; he just wanted to help. He shared his business know-how with me as I started my business, helping define success and sustainability,” said Jason Huvaere, ‘96, Dick’s son and president of Paxahau Events. “He brought a wonderful sense of humor to everything he did, which created a positive attitude in his businesses and at Northwood.”

Dick served Northwood for many years as a member of the Board of Governors, the President’s Advisory Committee, and the 1959 Society. His counsel and advice (sometimes constructively critical) helped make Northwood a better university. A generous donor throughout his life, he and his wife, Stephanie, established the Huvaere Family Endowed Scholarship that has supported many Northwood students and will continue to make a difference in the lives of future students. Dick also showed his support by attending as many Northwood celebrations as he could. He had a way of always letting everyone know that “Hoovie” was in the house.

“He loved Northwood and he enjoyed people, which made him a great ambassador for the school. He talked about Northwood whenever he got a chance. His passion for the school was clear to everyone who knew him and was a major part of the successful person he was,” said Dick’s son Ryan Roscia, ’07, president and dealer principal of Dick Huvaere’s Richmond Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and RAM.

Project 100 Grant: A Fashion First


With the click of a button, Northwood University alumni gave fashion marketing students a boost in the job market. Project 100 awarded its inaugural grant for $10,000 to Northwood’s Fashion Marketing and Management Department to buy MockShop software. The grant will pay for 100 site licenses for up to three years, plus installation and training in this industry standard software.

“It’s going to prepare those students so much more for the job market,” said Melodie Davis- Bundrage, department chairwoman. “Digital is not just the future: It’s the current. We need to be working in digital systems as much as possible.”

Project 100 is a novel way for graduates to direct their giving. Donors give $100 per semester; and the effort has 65 founding members who donate $600 each. Every donor is asked to vote for the project with the most merit.

“There’s been a great buzz on campus, and all the19 project submissions were great ideas,” said Dan Waskevich (’11), an emcee for the presentations.

Finalists make their pitches in front of a live and online audience, with Project 100 members watching.

“Because of the online presentation and voting, my 3- and 5-year-old were also able to participate and help us decide as a family how we were going to vote for our donation.” said Project 100 member Michelle Mitchell.

In her appeal for support, Davis-Bundrage explained how students currently create their designs.

“They are doing store design by hand, with oldfashioned graph paper, and we make the most of it,” she told a room of alumni gathered to award the first Project 100 grant in February. “MockShop is the industry standard. It enhances student learning in many ways. Students are able to present their work in a 2D and 3D format. If we are awarded the grant, graduates would already know how to use the software that the employers use.”

Two other finalists also made live pitches:

THE SIGNATURE EVENTS TEAM presented a proposal to enhance an outdoor recreational and gathering space on campus near Recognition Park. Features included seating, bonfire pits, picnic tables, tetherball, and outdoor lighting.

THE MOCK TRIAL program appealed for tablets with student resources on them so students could better prepare for competition, two travel bags for mock trial equipment and a second camera system for each of the teams to use to study and improve their performances.

For information about how to join Project 100, go to

The next Project 100 meeting will take place Saturday, Oct. 7, during the Northwood University International Auto Show.

The Book Business


There’s something special about writing a book. It is a permanent mark on the world. Two Northwood alumni have written books, and as they have learned, the process requires much more than simply putting pen to paper.

Two decades into a successful career in the automotive and financial industries, Don Corder ('82) had what he calls "a burning bush experience." He decided to apply his skills to a higher purpose, helping religious and other nonprofit organizations handle their business and administration more effectively, freeing them to focus on their core missions.

It has gone so well that Corder has made a thriving business of it, and now he's written a book, “Minding His Business,” to share some of what he's learned.

"When a church needs a lawyer, it hires a lawyer," Corder explains in his book. "When a church needs a plumber, it hires a plumber. But when a church needs to conduct business, it often calls a butcher, a baker, a mechanic, and a stay-at-home mom to form a committee."

Corder offers a better alternative: he provides professional business expertise combined with a commitment to the faith that is the foundation of the organization. His book offers a wealth of insight designed to liberate church and ministry leaders from the burden of the bottom line.

"Chances are, if you work in a church, you are not an experienced businessperson, nor should you be," Corder writes. After several years of offering his expertise to a variety of churches and public service organizations, Corder launched a shared services organization called The Provisum Group in 2013. It grew quickly, and now has about 30 full-time employees and 25 as-needed employees offering a variety of business services to about 40 client organizations.

As customers find out how liberating Provisum services can be, the word spreads quickly.

Which is one reason Corder expects Provisum’s annual revenues to grow from about$1 million now to between $5 million and $10 million in five years.

“There are 350,000 churches in America. This is a very, very significant niche."

Many new parents tell their children stories, but Jaclyn Coy (‘05) brings a Northwood education to the nursery, which means she sees opportunity that others might not.

“I think if you talk to people, a lot of them have a desire to write a book, especially a children’s book,” Coy said recently.

Coy had a triple major in marketing, advertising and management at Northwood, then later earned a master’s degree in elementary education. She taught briefly before the career of her husband, Ben (’07), took them to California, where she has spent the past five years working for a marketing company.

Their daughter Wynn was born in 2016, and it didn’t take long before the seeds of a children’s book took root in Coy’s mind.

“The story basically wrote itself after my daughter was born,” Coy said. “It is a children’s book, but it’s definitely intended to entertain the parents who are reading it to their children.

“Everybody tells you, ‘Oh it’s fantastic, and it goes by so fast, and they’re adorable’ – and that is all true, but there are also all these challenges. So I wanted to write something that would be fun for parents to read.”

The result was “Love You to Pieces Beautiful Monster,” a 34- page, charmingly illustrated tale of parental devotion. Calling it “healing medicine in the form of humor,” Amazon describes the book this way on its website:

“From the moment this beautiful monster wakes, the rollercoaster ride begins. From the highest highs to the lowest lows – who is more emotional, the monster or the mother? Our babies make us CRAZY, yet we can't help but love them like CRAZY. This is a read for every new parent. It includes a touch of loving sarcasm and it's filled with illustrations that even the little monsters will enjoy.”

With her business expertise, Coy chose to self-publish the book, and even hired a freelance illustrator Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster from Romania to achieve just the look she had in mind.

Coy has already completed a draft of a second book, but her long-term plans are to use the experience she has gained, coupled with her marketing background, to help other authors successfully navigate the self-publishing world.

“I was able to go from an idea to a published book in a short amount of time, and I would like to help other people do that, too.”

SCHOLARSHIP SPOTLIGHT - Regina and Jason Brickl Family Scholarship


Northwood’s standing as the premier university for automotive marketing turned out to be a very good thing for Jason Brickl, ’95, and Regina Brickl (Bombard), '95. Despite growing up in different states, they found each other, along with a shared business vision, at Northwood. Now married and living in Prairie du Sac, Wis., they use many of the lessons learned at the University every day in running several thriving dealerships in three states. Yet one of the most satisfying achievements for them is their philanthropic involvement in their communities and Northwood. Jason’s interest in automotive marketing was captured early on when he started working for Ballweg Chevrolet in Sauk City, Wis., at age 16. “Darlene Ballweg, the owner of the dealership, noticed me and became my mentor. When she learned that I wanted to own a dealership one day, she told me ‘Go to Northwood.’ So that’s what I did,” said Jason, who is now chairman and CEO of Ballweg Auto Family.

After graduating in 1995, and spending time working in California, Jason rejoined Ballweg’s dealership in 1999 as general manager with a percentage of ownership. Since then, he and Regina have worked hard to build the Ballweg Auto Family business that now comprises five dealerships in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Missouri.

The Brickls’ success provides opportunities to make an economic and social difference in their communities. They actively invest in their town’s prosperity by supporting a variety of groups, including the local school district’s River Arts Center, Future Farmers of America, and Sauk Prairie Healthcare.Even their alma mater, where they met and learned the business of automotive marketing, is part of their commitment to community.

Belief in Northwood

Regina and Jason are thankful they developed their entrepreneurial drive, leadership skills, and commitment to social responsibility at Northwood. The Brickls’ belief in the University’s approach to education has grown even stronger over the years. They both appreciate that the University continues to improve and educate students who are bright and motivated.

To share that confidence in Northwood, Jason takes time to recruit at the University and hire graduates. In fact, eight NU alumni currently work for Ballweg Auto Family businesses. The Brickls have also given their support in person and with contributions to the Northwood University International Auto Show and the Auto Show Gala. And for several years, they funded the Ballweg Automotive Group Annual Private Donor Scholarship.

Their support continued in 2015 when they created the Regina and Jason Brickl Family Scholarship, which is offered to academically achieving students at Northwood. To date, three students have received the scholarship.

“It’s rare to find greater commitment to the University than what you witness with Regina and Jason. They met as students, established a life together after graduation, built a successful business, and hired Northwood grads. And throughout all of that, they remain committed and generous donors. We are honored by their friendship and support,” said Justin Marshall, vice president of Advancement and Alumni Relations.

Focus on Students

Jason and Regina both received scholarship support when they attended Northwood. So they understand first-hand the big difference a little help makes in pursuing a college education. “Through the scholarship, we hope to take some of the financial pressure off students and give them a strong first step toward their careers,” said Regina. “We know they are getting a great education at a prestigious institution, and we want to help them dream big and achieve their own successes.”

To create a private donor scholarship, contact Sherri Riepma, private donor scholarship coordinator, at 989-837-4146 or email


In Memorium


The Northwood family was recently saddened by the death of alumnus, friend, and university booster Richard “Dick” Huvaere from the class of ’68. Dick passed away on Feb. 16, 2017, in Ocean Reef, Fla., surrounded by his family. He will be remembered for his leadership in the automotive industry, his dedication to Northwood and his community of Richmond, Mich., and for his love of life. Dick often said his Northwood education made a difference in his success, and he graciously gave back to the University throughout his adult life. He and his wife, Stephanie, established the Huvaere Family Endowed Scholarship to support students pursuing degrees in the Entertainment, Sport, & Promotion Management program. As the chairman of the Michigan campus Capital Campaign Committee and a member of the Board of Governors, he was proud to be a founding member of Northwood’s 1959 Society.

“Dick was one of the first Northwood grads I met when I came to the university in 1995, and over the next 22 years I witnessed his dedication to his alma mater. He wanted to see Northwood succeed and grow and invested his time, talent, and treasure to make sure it did,” said Brian Parr, Northwood senior advancement director. “Thanks to his enthusiasm and fun-loving nature, he encouraged countless other alumni to get involved and support the university. He was a wonderful friend personally and is greatly missed.”

A full story will be available in the next issue of IDEA magazine.

Alumni in Action


Northwood alumni and friends gather around the country to recognize fellow graduates and enjoy a variety of fun activities.

Below:  The Northwood University Northern Michigan Chapter hosted their annual Beach Bums outing in Traverse City on Thursday, August 18, 2016.





Below:  More than 30 alumni, guests, faculity, and staff attended the annual Texas Oktoberfest at the Edelweiss German Restaurant in Fort Worth.


Below:  The first annual Go MAD Golf Tournament was held on September 16, 2016. The outing had 20 foursomes comprised of NU football alumni, friends, and family of the late Coach Pat Riepma. All proceeds from the outing benefit the Pat Riepma Endowed Scholarship.



Below:  Northwood University honored retired professor Allen Pankopf with the title Professor Emeritus during the 2016 Auto Show weekend. Professor Pankopf was the Automotive Marketing professor at Northwood from 1987 to 2007 and served as advisor to the XAM fraternity for many years. The official ceremony was held on Friday morning with the automotive industry panel. On Saturday XAM hosted a casual celebration for him and his family.

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