Alumni Plaza the center of the Dowagiac campus


Dr. Mary D. Young-Marcks

Dr. Mary D. Young-Marcks retiring after record 40 1/2 years on faculty

Hailey Sheets congratulates Gabby Blake

Hailey Sheets congratulates Gabby Blake

Maggie Crawford, Nick Weston, Courtney Clowers

Maggie Crawford, Nick Weston, Courtney Clowers

Converse, Pompey, Catanzarite, Peugh

Olivia Converse, Seth Pompey, Brittney Catanzarite, Tristen Peugh

Hailey Heppner, CJ, Ferris State

Hailey Heppner, criminal justice, transferring to Ferris State for her bachelor's degree

Lari Simon

Lari Simon returned to college after more than 40 years, graduating with an English literature degree

SMC’s Phi Theta Kappa Chapter Inducts 14 Honor Students

Published on April 12, 2024 - 5 p.m.

“You may think you have it all figured out. Then life pops in and takes you somewhere else you need to be,” Professor of Social Sciences Dr. Mary D. Young-Marcks told 14 Sigma Psi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa honor society inductees and their families April 12 in Southwestern Michigan College’s Mathews Conference Center West.

Using Dr. Seuss’s last book, 1990’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” as a springboard, Dr. Young-Marcks, retiring after a record 40 ½ years on SMC’s faculty, said, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

The children’s book’s message is that life is full of ups and downs, so it’s important to keep moving forward and to never abandon your dreams.

“I’m not sure I’m qualified to give advice,” Young-Marcks said. “Some can be taught, but the most important lessons need to be learned. Be kind. We do not know everyone’s story. Take that trip. My husband and I went north for spring break,” to Milwaukee. “Take time to be kind to yourself. Try food you never thought you would. Escargot — snails — is good. Take help from other people. Stop talking and learn to listen. You’ll learn so much.”

Though she holds an associate degree in liberal arts from Delta College, a bachelor’s degree in social work from Central Michigan University, a master’s degree in public administration, also from CMU, and a doctorate in college and university administration from Michigan State University, Young-Marcks admitted she changed her major three times after going to community college for dental assisting and did not qualify for PTK membership.

A lesser-known section of her resume, however, was advising PTK for two decades. “I got to see students take part in activities across the state. We even went to an international event in Chicago.”

“I know some of you came directly from high school with honors and continued your academic success,” she said. “Others of you maybe weren’t honors students in high school, but not because you couldn’t do it. Once you got to college you said you’d do better — and you did. Some came from workplaces — job loss, change of direction for a new career path. Or, you went directly into family life. Now it’s your turn to put your report card on the refrigerator.”

The 14 inductees have a variety of plans.

Gabby Blake graduates this semester in general studies, transferring to Northern Michigan University to major in biology with a microbiology concentration.

Juanita Carretero is pursuing an early childhood education major, expects to graduate by the end of spring semester 2025, then transfer to Western Michigan University to study family science and human development.

Brittney Catanzarite graduates this fall with an associate degree in elementary education. She plans to continue at Ferris State University to her bachelor’s degree.

Courtney Clowers graduates May 4, transferring to DePaul University to continue her journey in elementary education.

Olivia Converse graduates May 4 in graphic design, transferring to Gwen Frostic School of Art at Western Michigan University.

Maggie Crawford graduates May 4 in elementary education, transferring to Ferris State to conclude her bachelor’s degree.

PTK Vice President Nix Delucia graduates this fall with a graphic design degree.

Olivia Garrod graduates in business this summer.

Hailey Heppner graduates May 4 in criminal justice, transferring to Ferris State to complete her bachelor’s degree in December 2025.

Tristen Peugh graduates Spring 2025 in psychology, transferring to Indiana University for biomedical sciences, then moving on to medical school.

Seth Pompey graduates this summer in social science, transferring to Indiana University South Bend to major in English. His father, brother and sister are all SMC alumni.

Lari Simon graduated in English literature last December. She is working now, but hopes to find a way to continue her studies after returning to college after more than 40 years. It was exciting, frightening and frustrating, so she wants every professor she had to know how thankful she is for their kindness, patience and guidance.

Nick Weston transfers to Ferris State to major in biochemistry, graduating in Spring 2026 with his bachelor’s degree and pursuing a career in biomedical research.

Lilly Yeater graduates May 4 in visual arts, transferring to the WMU Gwen Frostic School of Art to major in fine arts with an emphasis in painting.

PTK is co-advised by Colleen Welsch, director of library services, and Professor Hailey Sheets, Communications Department chair, who draped inductees with stoles to be worn with commencement regalia as her sister called their names.

PTK is the largest U.S. honor society, with 3.5 million members, plus representation from 10 sovereign nations.

“Students we honor and recognize represent academic excellence at SMC and embody the hallmarks of scholarship, leadership, service and fellowship,” Sheets said.