Dawn Engman: Class of 2012 Student Representative
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Dawn Engman: Class of 2012 Student Representative

Dawn EngmanDawn Engman of Dollar Bay is ready for life's next adventure!

Engman is the Finlandia University Class of 2012 Student Representative, formerly referred to as the class valedictorian. At Commencement exercises April 29, she will be awarded a bachelor of arts in psychology with an overall GPA of 3.907.

Engman is justifiably proud of her cumulative GPA, especially given that she competed on two Finlandia sports teams in each of her four years at Finlandia. She's also proud of the many lasting friendships that she has made at Finlandia.

"I have enjoyed my experience at Finlandia, and of course, the four years went by so fast," Engman says. "I did well in the small class setting, because that's what I'm used to and I like the one-on-one contact and closeness that is developed with teachers and classmates. Each year, I met different people who positively impacted my life in one way or another."

Dawn was salutatorian of the Dollar Bay High School Class of 2008. She is a daughter of Tim and Donna Engman, Dollar Bay. Tim works in Facilities Management at Finlandia. Donna is a registered nurse at Copper Country Mental Health outpatient services.

For Engman, academic achievement is doing the best that she can possibly do, and learning something new every day.

"A grading system can gauge how you're doing, but more important than getting an 'A' is actually taking something away from a class," Engman notes. "To me, academic achievement is learning stuff that is valuable, interesting, and something that I want to keep and apply to my life."

Engman chose a psychology major because "it's about people, and I'm definitely a people person."

Social psychology and abnormal psychology are topics Engman finds particularly interesting, and she says she especially enjoyed her classes with Finlandia assistant professor of psychology Leslie Johnson, as well as classes with assistant professor of communication Diane Miller and assistant professor of English Timo Koskinen.

"Dawn is a pleasure to have as a member of the Finlandia community," says Leslie Johnson. "In the classroom, she shows a deep interest in psychology. She's never satisfied with simply memorizing facts. She always takes learning a step further by asking questions, thinking critically about the material, and figuring out how it applies to 'real life.' It's this extra step that will ensure that she is able to apply in her career what she's learned here as a psychology major."

Leslie Johnson adds that outside of the classroom, she can count on Engman to show a caring interest in the lives of those around her.

"She enriches the community by making connections with others and taking the time to show that she truly cares about those around her," Johnson explains.

Engman played four years of both basketball and soccer at Finlandia. As a sophomore and a senior, she was captain of the soccer team; as a senior she was captain of the basketball team. Engman was named to the university's All-Academic Team in each of her four years. She also played softball her freshman year.

Engman was pleased that this year she had the chance to play Lions basketball with her sister, Brittany, a freshman Pre-professional Science major at Finlandia. "It was fun to be on the same team," she says.

This spring, Engman is completing a 90-hour internship at Copper Country Mental Health (CCMH), Houghton, "job shadowing" social worker Leslie Griffith, an early childhood mental health clinician who works with children up to age seven. Engman has accompanied Griffith to client appointments and observed how she interacts with parents and children and teaches them important parenting skills.

"I've also had the opportunity to work with Leslie's case manager," Engman adds, giving her an opportunity to learn some of the duties that pertain to that job.

The CCMH internship has also presented Engman with additional learning opportunities. She attended a presentation about autism and how to help children with this disorder, observed a family court meeting, taught basic social skills to Kindergarten-age children, and renewed her first aid/CPR/safety training.

"This internship is highly related to the field I'm studying," Engman says. "What I've learned in my numerous psychology and sociology classes-like Interviewing and Counseling, Chemical Dependency in Families, and Abnormal Psychology-I'm applying now in my internship."

Over spring break this March, Engman spent a 40-hour week at CCMH and on the job with Griffith. "I was able to see what a real week was like there, rather than fitting in a few hours here or there," Engman says. "I could see myself working there and enjoying it. I would like to have a job like Leslie has, working closely with families to help improve their parenting skills and the lives of their children."

With help and inspiration from Griffith, Engman has applied to a master's degree program at the Western Michigan University School of Social Work. If that opportunity blooms, she'll begin work on her master's in social work this fall. She knows that graduate school will be challenging, but she says she feels prepared and is confident in her abilities.

Engman has also applied for a nine-month opportunity to live and teach English in Spain. "I think this would be a life-changing experience," she says. "I am currently taking a Spanish class, so I'd be happy to try out my newly-acquired-and still basic-Spanish-speaking skills."

Since her sophomore year, Engman has held a work-study position with Finlandia's Teaching Learning Center (TLC), primarily helping her fellow students with their English papers. This year she is a peer tutor and conversation partner for international students in Finlandia's English as a Second Language (ESL) program.

"Dawn has been a terrific asset to the ESL program," notes Suzanne Van Dam, Finlandia associate professor of English. "She is patient and encouraging, and the international students enjoy her a lot!"

When she can, Engman also works part-time as a cashier at Festival Foods, Houghton. It's a job she's had since she was 17 years old.

Dawn has four sisters and one brother. One of her sisters, Kasey (Engman) Nerone, is a 2006 Finlandia Elementary Education graduate (and valedictorian of her Finlandia class). Dawn's younger sister, Brittany, is a Pre-professional Science freshman at Finlandia.

"Finlandia has been a complete learning experience for me," Engman concludes. "I'd like to thank all of the people at Finlandia that have made a difference for me. Where you are, and what you're doing, is nothing if you're not with the right people. I am happy to say that I've been learning and growing with the encouragement and guidance of the best people during my four years at Finlandia."