October 11, 2013

Experiential Learning at Northwood Includes Breast Cancer Awareness

This past Sunday, sports fans saw plenty of pink on their television sets as National Football League (NFL) athletes and teams displayed their support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month while battling it out on the gridiron. This model—of tying work and business to an important cause—is not unique to the NFL. In keeping with our rich tradition of “giving back” here at Northwood, our students system wide are actively engaged in a variety of experiential learning opportunities aimed at fighting cancer of all kinds, including breast cancer.

This reminder of the fundamental place of “giving back” in our basic philosophy follows another piece celebrating the 40th anniversary of Dr. V. Orval Watts’s publication of “The Northwood Idea.” In his cornerstone essay, Watts points to the importance of the Moral Law in preserving the dignity, freedom, and right of all people to grow and prosper. “The essence of this moral law,” he writes, “is summed up in the ‘Golden Rule’ and it derives from the fact that humans need one another.”

Throughout the year, our students, student-athletes, Greek Life organizations, and registered student organizations are responding to this need through their participation in a variety of causes aimed at fighting cancer of all kinds. This month, for example, our students are joining forces with faculty, staff, alumni, and friends with “wear pink” days, hair cutting events for making wigs for cancer patients, and the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk” among others as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Like the rewards of excellent customer service in business, causes like these position our students to learn important leadership and life skills through service to others.

On Monday of this week, the significance of “giving back” hit home even further with an update from Jill Russell, a former Northwood University recruiter in Ohio, who is now fighting breast cancer fulltime, and the heartbreaking news that Greta Henglein, who served as Dean of Students on our Florida campus from 2000 to 2008, has passed away. Northwood Florida will honor Greta with a remembrance ceremony on October 16 at 6:00 p.m. at the Julia M. and William J. Edwards Bell Tower Plaza.

Knowing too that so many others in our Northwood family either fought or are currently fighting cancer of some kind—including throat, tongue, brain, prostate, pancreatic, and breast cancer—the benefits of all we, including our students, are doing to give back to those in need cannot be emphasized enough. As Omniquest author Randy Pausch (The Last Lecture) reminds us, the most important lesson in life is not how to achieve your dreams, “It’s about how to lead your life.”

Take a moment sometime today to stop and appreciate life and those around you, and consider how we might “give back” and advance the battle against cancer.

Have a great weekend,


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640