Alumni News Winter 2018

Physician assistant finds career destination in National Guard

by Michele Coffill

As an athletic trainer and physician assistant, Brittan Masters has been responsible for the health of high school student athletes, orthopedic patients, and more than 300 soldiers who were stationed with him in the United Arab Emirates.

Through these diverse stops in his career, Masters credits his Grand Valley education for helping him succeed.

“The faculty members who provided insight on the profession and guidance on a personal level helped me achieve my goals,” he said. “Their influence on me has made me the person and professional I am today.”

military base, man stands in front of flag

Brittan Masters ’08, ’09, ’11, served in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan in 2015. He stands on base where the Grand Valley flag was flown.

Masters earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in athletic training and another in health sciences, from Grand Valley in 2008 and 2009, respectively, and a master’s degree in physician assistant studies (PAS) from Grand Valley in 2011.

“I knew I wanted to pursue graduate education, but was unsure of a field. One of my professors encouraged me to research the PA profession,” said Masters, a native of Morenci in southeast Michigan. “I had never heard of it until that time but did the research and figured it would be perfect for me.”

Throughout most of his time in graduate school, Masters worked as an athletic trainer at Union High School in Grand Rapids until his PAS clinical rotations started.

Before graduating in 2011, Masters was commissioned into the Michigan Army National Guard as a second lieutenant. He said he felt a calling to join because no one in his family had served since World War II and it was time to give back.

What he found was a career destination. Masters was trained in Army medicine in Detroit during monthly drills and annual training sessions. After earning a master’s degree and passing the certification exam, he transferred to the 182nd Field Artillery Regiment in Detroit as its battalion PA. When not performing Guard duty, Masters was working as a PA for a busy orthopedic office in Auburn Hills.

In 2015, he was deployed to the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, where he was responsible for the health of 300 soldiers. He said his orthopedic training complemented military medicine as about two-thirds of the patients he evaluated had musculoskeletal complaints.

“The faculty members who provided insight on the profession and guidance on a personal level helped me achieve my goals.” — Brittan Masters, ’08, ’09, ’11

“As a PA working for a private practice, I had to be able to work in multiple hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, as well as our main office,” he said. “As a military PA for an entire battalion, I had to learn the medical standards soldiers must meet to stay in the military.

“Army medicine is constantly changing, which makes it very exciting.”

His deployment ended in 2016 and Masters accepted a permanent job with the Michigan National Guard as a brigade PA. He is certified as an aeromedical PA after completing an Army flight surgeon course.

“It is truly rewarding to ensure the wellness of those troops who have signed on the line to commit a piece of their life to defending our country,” he said. “There is no better feeling than that.”

Homecoming 2017

Halloween Tricks, Laker Treats

The day was filled with numerous events, including the 5K run/walk and breakfast, bus ride from Detroit to Allendale, tailgate and beer garden, and ended with the football game against Northern Michigan.

Other gatherings that took place included the Charles H. Irwin Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner and Induction Ceremony, the annual Rowing Alumni Association Race, and the Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity gathering. Thank you to all who volunteered and participated!

Mark your calendars for the 2018 Homecoming celebration, October 6.

See more photos of Homecoming at

runners starting race

Lakers came home October 28 to participate in Homecoming; the snowy weather couldn't keep alumni away!

group of people under tent

family after race

5K Run/Walk and Breakfast

3 people in frame

women on basketball court

Women's Basketball Alumni Game

painting pumpkins

Tailgate events included painting pumpkins

people in front of bus

Lakers rode the bus from Detroit to Allendale

Alumni Events

large group of people

CLAS Distinguished Alumni-In-Residence 10/27/17

Upcoming Events

Community Outreach Week, March 24-31

Study Abroad Alumni Reunion In Chicago, March 29

Gradfest, April 16-19 

St. Joseph Alumni Reception, April 19

San Francisco Alumni Reception, April 23

Distinguished Alumni/Outstanding Educator Luncheon, April 27

Commencement, April 27-28 

Washington, D.C., Alumni Reception, May 17

Enrichment Dinner, June 5

Irwin Golf Outing, June 7

For additional events and information, visit

Academic Major Fair

Academic Majors Fair 11/1/17

group at baseball game

Traverse City Beach Bums Game 9/3/17

Seattle reception

Seattle Alumni Reception 11/8/17

QuickenLoans group

President Thomas J. Haas visited the team of alumni at Quicken Loans 10/25/17

Laker Landings

These Lakers are staying connected by using the Laker Landings website, Alumni can share updates of the following types: Anniversary, Award/Recognition, Birth/Adoption, Community Involvement, Career Update, Military Service, and Wedding. Share your Laker Landing today!



Lacey Lemke, ’13, and Derek Lemke, ’14, welcomed daughter, Elliot Brooke, to their family in December 2016.

couple holding baby

wedding portrait


Autumn Whitney (Trombka) Goulet, ’10, married Andrew Louis Goulet on September 16, 2017. They were surrounded by their family and friends at Studio D2D in Grand Rapids. They’re looking forward to attending many more Laker events together!

Career Update

Danielle Powell, ’04, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Grand Valley and is now a match support specialist for Big Brothers Big Sisters Michigan Capital Region.

headshot Danielle Powell

In Memoriam

Presence Lupton Bissonette, B.A., 2004, of East Lansing, on October 14, 2017

Gretchen F. Bouwsma, M.A., 1982, of Grand Rapids, on September 30, 2017

Roland A. Crittenden, B.S., 1986, M.P.A., 1991, of Atlanta, Georgia, on October 12, 2017

Adam J. Forbes, B.S., 2006, of Grand Rapids, on October 26, 2017

Susan M. Fries, B.S., 1990, of Ada, on November 20, 2017

Charles J. Gersch, B.E., 1995, of Grand Rapids, on November 16, 2017

Vickie L. Gilbert, M.P.A., 2000, of Kent City, on November 11, 2017

Lewis A. Goodin, B.B.A., 1975, of Grand Haven, on November 21, 2017

Rick R. Grossenbacher, B.A., 2000, of Belmont, on October 31, 2017

Nick A. Groszowski, B.B.A., 1980, of Muskegon, on November 22, 2017

Sarah D. Hall, B.S., 1997, of East Grand Rapids, on October 15, 2017

Melissa T. Harrington, B.S., 2002, of Grand Rapids, on August 27, 2017

Harvey G. Heyer, B.S., 1983, of Spring Lake, on October 20, 2017

Drusilla W. Hillman-Richard, B.S., 1976, of Grand Rapids, on October 9, 2017

Kara L. Hines, B.A., 1996, M.Ed., 2000, of Spring Lake, on November 18, 2017

Jon C. Johnson, B.S., 1976, of Grand Rapids, on September 12, 2017

Margaret A. Kozal, M.Ed., 1982, of Muskegon, on October 11, 2017

Marjorie Lawton Haney, B.A., 1993, of Holland, on August 26, 2017

Charles J. LeMaire, B.B.A., 1975, of Spring Lake, on November 10, 2017

Ian R. MacDonald, B.S., 1976, of Bradenton, Florida, on May 13, 2017

Mary E. Maksymowski, B.A., 1971, of Grand Rapids, on October 28, 2017

Denis A. Sakoski, B.B.A., 1979, M.B.A., 1981, of Norman, Oklahoma, on September 1, 2017

David L. Schipper, B.S., 1979, of Lake Odessa, on August 21, 2017

Mark A. Sellers Jr., B.S., 1980, of Alto, on October 21, 2017

John M. Stariha II, B.S., 2009, of Fremont, on November 18, 2017

Thomas R. Stoddard, B.S., 1979, M.S., 1994, of Caledonia, on November 9, 2017

James R. Wierenga, B.A.S., 1983, of Middleville, on November 3, 2017

Page last modified February 28, 2018