Social Science Alumni Updates

Every day, more than 500,000 Spartans around the world rise to practically every challenge imaginable, proving again and again that Spartans Will. Alumni from the Michigan State University College of Social Science number 100,000 strong. Here, we share their updates and their stories.

McLean_Mario_FAME alum_DC 2017.jpgAlumnus and former FAME student job shadows in Congress

Mario McLean is a graduate of Michigan State University and works for Frito-Lay as a District Sales Manager. He was involved in the Fostering Academics Mentoring Excellence (FAME) program during his time at Michigan State and now serves as a mentor in his local Big Brother Big Sister program. Mario spent five years in the foster care system and will begin work on his MBA in the fall. He joined more than 100 foster youth alumni from across the country who traveled to Washington, DC to shadow members of Congress to get a behind-the-scenes look at the House of Representatives and share their experiences in the child welfare system as a way to influence policy around foster care. He spent the day with U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (pictured center with Mario and another participant from Michigan, Brittney Barros).

"I had an absolute blast at Shadow Day,” said Mario. “This was definitely a once in a lifetime experience and I'm just so grateful that I could be a part of something that means so much to me. I was surprised how enthused Debbie and her staff were to meet me and get to learn a little bit more about my experiences in the foster care system. I'm definitely looking forward to furthering my relationship with Debbie and starting a foster care movement back home in Michigan!"


Brainerd_Charles_PSY.jpgBrainerd elected to National Academy of Education

Dr. Charles Brainerd has been elected to the National Academy of Education, an honor reserved for the nation’s most outstanding scholars in education. Dr. Brainerd earned his bachelors, masters, and Ph.D. in psychology from the Michigan State University. He is a professor and chair of the Department of Human Development at Cornell University. Among many other accolades and research interests, he is known as the co-developer of fuzzy-trace theory, a model of the relation between memory and higher reasoning that has been widely applied within medicine and law. The Department of Psychology and the College of Social Science at MSU congratulate Dr. Brainerd on this latest and most prestigious honor.



Wiseman_Richard_J_PSY.jpgPsychology alumnus' new book recalls clinical experience

Richard J. Wiseman has dedicated his life to the change and transformation of children's mental health in Connecticut. He was the first in the state argue that autism was a developmental, not a psychiatric, disorder, which primarily sparked from his experience working with a six-year-old autistic child during his clinicals at MSU.

This work has led to multiple community programs in Connecticut to treat autism as a developmental disorder. Wiseman, now retired, detailed his experience as a child psychologist in a new book, available on Amazon.
His book, Riverview Hospital For Children and Youth: A Culture of Promise is comprised of patient and staff interviews to offer perspective on the history of children's mental health treatment in Connecticut.


Smith_Jonathan_PLS_1999_credit-Tom Williams-CQ Rool Call file photo_112_010917.jpg

Chief of Staff Smith advises to stay in touch

Jonathan Smith, a 1999 Political Science graduate now serving as chief of staff for Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), is profiled in Roll Call. His secret to success?  Stay in touch. "“It’s less about how to stay connected in a network and more about forming really genuine, meaningful relationships with people,” he said. “Keep people who are smart and thoughtful and give good advice.” Smith has done that by regularly speaking to MSU students participating in the College of Social Science Washington, D.C. Semester Program. Read more about him here. (Photo credit: Tom Williams, CQ Roll Call file photo)



Barr_John_M_class of 1956_attorney.jpgAlumnus inducted into Academy of Municipal Attorneys

John M. Barr, J.D., College of Social Science Class of 1956, was inducted into the Academy of Municipal Attorneys on October 13, 2016. To be inducted, the attorney must achieve educational and practice requirements, including education in municipal law and academic and scholarly excellence in municipal law. Mr. Barr has served as Ypsilanti City Attorney since 1981, and he is the senior attorney of the law firm Barr, Anhut& Associates, P.C. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.

Mr. Barr is active in Bar activities and is a past commissioner on the State Bar Board of Commissioners. He is a past president of the Washtenaw County Bar Association, the Michigan Association of Municipal Law Attorneys (life member), and the Michigan Municipal League Legal Defense Fund. He is a recipient of the Special Award of Merit of the Michigan Municipal League and The Michigan Association of Municipal Attorneys Distinguished Municipal Attorney Award, and the William L. Steude Ethics and Civility in Local Government Award. In 2012, he was honored with the State Bar of Michigan Frank J. Kelley Distinguished Public Service Award. He is a Fellow of both the State Bar of Michigan and the American Bar Association.


New officers sworn in

In May, 2016, Officers Martha Brushaber and Megan Parviainen were sworn in as Michigan State University Police Department Officers, and both are graduates of the College of Social Science! Martha earned her Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in December 2015. Megan graduated in 2013, majoring in both Criminal Justice and Psychology.

Brushaber_Martha_CJMSUPD.jpgWhile going to school, Martha worked as a Desk Cadet at the MSU Police Department for two years. This spring she attended the 97th Mid-Michigan Police Academy and graduated in May. She was elected to and maintained her rank of Captain of her unit throughout the training period at the academy. Upon graduation she received two awards: The Report Writing Award and the Coordinators’ Award.  


Parviainen_Megan_CJPSYMSUPD.jpgAfter graduation, Megan worked for the State of Michigan as a Foster Care Specialist and Children’s Protective Services Investigator for two years. She also graduated from the 97th Mid-Michigan Police Academy. She received two awards as well: The Physical Fitness Award and The MCOLES Award.




 Eaglin earns post-doctoral award

Eaglin_Jennifer_Pic_2016.JPGJennifer Naomi Eaglin, PhD, is an assistant professor of Environmental History/Sustainability in the Department of History at The Ohio State University, and she's a Spartan! Dr. Eaglin earned her Ph.D. from the MSU Department of History in the College of Social Science, and she was mentored by Dr. Peter Beattie and Dr. Edward Murphy.  Now, Dr. Eaglin is being recognized for her outstanding work having recenlty been named the winner of the Conference of Latin American History Lewis Hanke Award for the best project to transform into a book. The award is to be used for international travel. Congratulations Dr. Eaglin! 




Dean Fealk elected vice chair of the Northern California District Export Council


Fealk_Dean_chr.jpgDLA Piper announced that Dean Fealk, a partner in the San Francisco office, has been elected vice chair of the Northern California District Export Council (DEC).  

The DEC promotes exports and economic growth through business leadership and international experience supporting the Department of Commerce in trade-related matters. In Northern California, the DEC also hosts training seminars and roundtables on international business issues to assist companies with complex international business transactions and in efforts to grow their companies abroad. Its members are appointed by the US Secretary of Commerce.

Fealk, a 1994 graduate of the Department of Political Science in the MSU College of Social Science, is head of DLA Piper's Global Equity practice, advising leading multinational companies across a variety of industries regarding corporate, securities, regulatory, tax, labor, foreign exchange and data privacy aspects of international business matters. He also advises government leaders and politicians around the world on public policy issues related to international economics and security.

Additionally, Fealk serves on the board of directors of the Bay Area Council, the California Business Roundtable and the California-China Advisory Board. He is co-founder of Transatlantic West and serves as general counsel of the Halifax International Security Forum.

Fealk also is a Truman National Security Fellow, Marshall Memorial Fellow, and a Presidential Leadership Scholar.


Social Science alumnus publishes Empty Suits


Book cover of Empty Suites by Frederic Thomas SelakFrederic Thomas Selak, a 1962 Psychology graduate of the College of Social Science, has completed his new novel Empty Suits, a gripping and potent look inside the legal system and corporate America.

It tells the story of businessman Joe Strate, from his beginnings as a brash young advertising man through his later years and the courtroom drama surrounding his age discrimination suit. Along the way, there’s action aplenty.

There’s the untold, inside story of what plaintiffs are subjected to in our legal system – such as grueling pretrial interrogatories, psychiatric examinations, depositions, a mandatory mediation tribunal and judicial pressure – all aimed at forcing settlements with defendants and keeping cases out of court.

Potential plaintiffs unaware of the system may benefit from the information should they decide to file suits. The rest of us will simply enjoy a great story.

The book is available for purchase at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Spartan Sagas by Social Science alumni

Maurice Vernon Barnes, Jr.

Criminal Justice, 1977

Seth Mitchell

Criminal Justice, 2005

Melissa Barnes

Psychology, 2000


Mike Bauer

Social Science Pre-law, 1973


James Berry

Social Work, 1970


Brian Brown

Psychology, 2002

Jessice Ceh

Social Work, 2012

Duncan Ferguson

Social Science 1978
Human Resources & Labor Relations 1979

Denise Formolo

Social Work and Criminal Justice 1991


Alan Gorosh

Psychology, 1975


Gregg Granger

Social Science 1989
Human Resources & Labor Relations 1991


Connor Grant

Geography 2010


Tiffany Hart

Human Ecology, 1995

Judy Hoppe

Human Ecology 1972

LaJoya Johnson

Interdisciplinary Studies, 2006


T.D. Jorgensen

Social Science, 1967

Kevin Kellerman

Social Science, 1982

Merritt Lutz

Social Science, 1967


Curtis Mack

Political Science, 1967

Amy Menzer

Interdisciplinary Studies, 2002


Michael Morrissey

Criminal Justice, 1972


Linda Nelson

Human Ecology, 1963

Jeremy Orr

Family Community Services, 2009


Laura Peiffer

Family Community Services, 1997


Basil Puglisi

Public Administration, 2005


Paul Pummill

Criminal Justice, 1988

Bill Ramsey

Social Work, 2012


Margie Roop

Criminal Justice, 1976


Justin Sailor

Sociology, 2010


William Schewe

History, 1968

Chrissy Shoemaker

Criminal Justice, 2006


Rich Sternberg

History, 1965


Jeremy Tripp

Political Science, 2005


Sheryl Walker

Psychology, 2006


Amy Ward

Interdisciplinary Studies, 2007


Dennis Whalen

Criminal Justice, 1971

Sarah Shortt Williams

Social Work, 2012