Here are a few fun NORTHWOOD FLORIDA facts to know and to tell...

Monday, 12 August 2013

NU in the News

Florida Campus in the News

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Just click on any of these videos to view recent Northwood University Florida Campus television stories.

Florida Campus News

Crossing Over Ceremony Symbolizes Positive Transitions

Thursday, 29 August 2013

New students ’cross over’ to become members of the Northwood University Family.
New students ’cross over’ to become members of the Northwood University Family.

Dr. Tom Duncan assists students as they sign the Northwood University Code of Ethics.
Dr. Tom Duncan assists students as they sign the Northwood University Code of Ethics.

Northwood University Florida's Crossing Over Ceremony held special significance for its student body, as it signified a variety of meaningful transitions.

The observance, designed to reflect the many positive changes that students are experiencing, highlighted the fact that students are 'crossing over' to a new life as they are each transitioning to a new educational environment, a new academic year, a new group of friends, a new home, and in many cases, a new country or continent.

The symbolic orientation event was opened as Northwood University students, flanked by each of their 48 country flags, processed over the DeVos Cook Academic Center bridge towards the Edwards Bell Tower and Plaza area.

Northwood University President Dr. Tom Duncan welcomed the group as faculty and staff members looked on. Duncan asked the crowd, "What, exactly, are you crossing over to?. He answered the question by focusing on three key points: 1) Crossing Over to New Places and New Friends; 2) Crossing Over to a New Learning Community, and 3) Crossing Over to Northwood Values.
"We are giving you the opportunity," Duncan said to the hundreds of students who attended the event, "to be the future leaders of a global, free-enterprise society – which is Northwood's mission. He emphasized the importance of acquiring knowledge and learning skills, but also the importance of developing their characters, in order to be prepared for the world of business. "At Northwood, we believe in functioning from a foundation of ethics and integrity in all we do," the president continued. He then recited the Northwood University Code of Ethics, and invited all students to sign Northwood University's Code of Ethics.

To view the Northwood University Florida Crossing Over Ceremony video produced by Northwood University Florida Multimedia Producer and Public Relations Associate Gregory Wright, please visit: .

Alumna's Invention a Result of Faith, Tenacity, More

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Kristy First enjoys boating while in college.
Kristy First enjoys boating while in college.

Kristy First, assisted by sisters Courtney and Samara.
Kristy First, assisted by sisters Courtney and Samara.

First’s partner Steve Scorgie demonstrates the invention in the Walmart contest video.
First’s partner Steve Scorgie demonstrates the invention in the Walmart contest video.

Northwood University Florida graduate Kristy First is now living the dream of many entrepreneurs, and the winding road which has led to this point has deepened her belief in the healing power of family and prayer.

As a Northwood University freshman in the late 1980's, First was excited to pursue her dreams in the Sunshine State. "I was thrilled about attending college at Northwood Florida because I knew I wanted to earn a degree in business, and the sunny South Florida beaches and golf courses, were also calling my name," smiled the bubbly blonde.

Once officially a Northwood student, the Clare, Michigan native began to establish lifelong friendships while embracing campus life and enjoying fun in the sun going to the beach, playing volleyball, and boating. "The bonds you establish in college can be some of the most rewarding, and I still count my Northwood friends among the best. Now with families of our own, we enjoy reminiscing about the old days," said First, who was also an avid skier, sailor and equestrian.

After graduating with a bachelor's degree in Business Management in 1992, the young professional was soon enjoying a cushy position as a membership director at an upscale Palm Beach County country club. But her life was about to take a crazy turn. In the summer of 2000 she was near fatally injured in a horrific auto accident on Florida's 1-95 interstate. "I can't describe the experience," said First of the event which left her unable to walk. "It felt as if it was a bad dream, and I just thank God for my amazing family who left their businesses to be by my side every step of the way for over a year, making the best choices for me in that crucial time."

While undergoing 14-months of therapy, the young patient was confined to a wheelchair, and decided to make another dramatic move. "I was inspired by a book that a friend gave me titled 'Miracle Man,' and wanted to surround myself with others who were experiencing and overcoming similar challenges, so I packed my belongings and headed to Brazil on a quest for healing," said First, who still visits the region today after a five-year stay.

"While residing at a small village called, Abadiania in Brazil, I was blessed to meet amazing people from all over the world, including some of the best doctors from Harvard Medical, having everything I needed and living life in a simple way focusing on my healing. I lived in a little pousada called Dom Ingrid where they took good care of me by providing three meals a day and regularly cleaning my room. It took me about five years to get my head straight and to feel strong, but all along I knew I wanted to eventually return to America to rebuild my life and to start my own business, so I returned to West Palm Beach in 2006, and my world eventually took on a new form and shape," shared First who'd reconnected with Steve Scorgie, an old love upon her return. "Steve and I got to know each other again, and realized that we were meant to be. All of a sudden I went from being a single young woman, to buying a house and becoming the mother of two daughters. It's the most rewarding role I've played to date," she said.

And it was the desire to flex her entrepreneurial muscle while remaining a stay-at-home mom that led the budding entrepreneur to draw from her Northwood experience. "Northwood gave me all the tools and knowledge I needed to start my own business, which I have used every step of the way in developing my invention.

"Have you ever watched someone struggle with wrapping a present or been in a rush with no time to wrap?" giggled First. It really isn't a pretty picture, so I wanted to develop a product that would make it easy and fast for everyone." Enter First's patent pending invention the Wrap Bag – one of the top contenders in Walmart's "Get on the Shelf" contest.

"When my dad told me about the contest, I thought it was a great opportunity to launch the product," said First, who is currently manufacturing the product overseas and plans to have it manufactured in the United States when order numbers increase.

Having advanced to the top 8% of the contests original 4,000 contenders, the do-it-yourself idea makes it easier for even the novice wrapper to hide surprises. "Steve deserves an Oscar for his performance in the contest video, and it's been an exciting roller coaster so far. Now we just need people to keep voting so we can advance to the grand prize of selling at both and in stores with marketing support," said First, now the official President and CEO of Gift Innovations, Inc.

Please visit to cast your vote. Wal-Mart's "Get on the Shelf" multi-stage contest uses public voting to determine finalist entrants in an original web series. The first place winner will receive the opportunity to sell their product through and the grand champion will have the chance to sell in Walmart stores and and to receive valuable marketing support. All contestants will get some free visibility to help launch their product as well.

Alumnus Forms Non-Profit Thanks to Management Expertise, Graduate Student Field Work Team

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Alumnus Scott Smoliak with this dog Bailey.
Alumnus Scott Smoliak with this dog Bailey.

Tracy Parks, Porawee (Paul) Thongkiew, Scott Smoliak, Jing Shang, Barbara Smoliak and Kristina Valentinasa
Tracy Parks, Porawee (Paul) Thongkiew, Scott Smoliak, Jing Shang, Barbara Smoliak and Kristina Valentinasa

After enduring a harrowing experience while trying to save a four-legged family member, Northwood University alumnus Scott Smoliak turned to both his business management expertise and to a Northwood University DeVos Graduate School of Management Field Work Team with the goal of creating a nonprofit to help ease the burden for others.

It all began when Smoliak had to rush Bailey, the family dog to an emergency veterinary hospital because he wasn't acting himself. There, he learned that their beloved Bernese mountain dog had swallowed a large corn cob which was causing deadly blockage and creating severe toxicity and damage to his insides.

"My heart was in my stomach," said Smoliak, a 2010 Florida graduate, and the son of long-time Florida baseball coach Rick Smoliak. "We knew we had to act quick, and were beside ourselves when we learned that there was a good chance that he wasn't going to make it."

During the nearly two week hospital stay, Smoliak along with his dad, his mother Barbara and sisters Ashley and Brittany, spent much time at the hospital and met many pet owners who were thankful that their animals were able to receive lifesaving care.

Fortunately for Bailey, they were able to afford costs totaling several thousand dollars for numerous procedures which made it possible for him to go home healthy. But the experience made Smoliak recognize that there were also many animals who never had a chance, due to exhaustive costs. Therefore, he decided to found The Bailey Project to provide financial assistance to family pets in need of critical care.

Designed specifically to help those pets who belong to families who have exhausted any and all financial resources, Smoliak drew from his experience as a Northwood business management major to form the corporation and to begin applying for their non-profit status. He also took advantage of a suggestion to coordinate with a Northwood University DeVos Graduate School Field Work Team to gain additional insight. The team, which included students Tracy Parks, Kristina Valentinasa, Porawee (Paul) Thongkiew and Jing Shang, provided valuable strategies relating to management, marketing, prioritization and organizational data statistics.

"The graduate team at Northwood invested much time and energy providing The Bailey Project with many helpful marketing and management suggestions. Scott and I enjoyed our monthly meetings with the team and together we built a wonderful foundation for the future of The Bailey Project," said Scott's mother Barbara Smoliak who serves as the Executive Director of the organization.

Having developed a solid foundation with a strategic business plan in place, the organization is now looking forward to receiving confirmation of its nonprofit status and has several major donors lined up. Already receiving weekly website donations, it is working closely with community groups and veterinary hospitals and is in the process of planning monthly events.

According to Dr. Cathy Bush, Associate Professor and Lead MBA Faculty Member of the DeVos Graduate School of Management, many local businesses benefit from the strategic consulting services provided by the graduate students. "It is exciting to see the value that our students are able to provide to business owners through their analysis and recommendations, and the students get a great opportunity to apply business concepts that they are studying to real companies. It is truly a win-win for all parties who participate in the fieldwork experience," said Bush who works closely with the students.

Having serviced over ten Southeast Florida fieldwork clients within the past two years, Northwood University DeVos Graduate School of Management field work student groups are guided by senior Northwood MBA faculty with decades of industry experience. Projects consist of consulting teams of up to six Northwood MBA students who work with small to medium-sized businesses, entrepreneurs, inventors and non-profit organizations. They provide insight relating to business unit strategy and marketing analysis by developing action-oriented recommendations to guide your future decision making. The projects present businesses with valuable research results, while enabling student consultants to reinforce their understanding of business fundamentals and to apply cutting-edge management practices to strategic business issues.

To learn more about Richard DeVos Graduate School of Management field work opportunities please contact Georgia Abbott at or (989) 837-4479.


Your suggestions and feedback are vital in our planning of this newsletter and our events and services. Please complete the online feedback form by clicking on the following link: