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Ferris Student Breaks New Ground in Breaking Traditions Honors From State Department of Education

Ferris State UniversityA wife, mother and native of Zambia is Ferris State University’s first winner of an Excellence Award from the Michigan Department of Education, Breaking Traditions program for career and technical education.

Marjorie Banda is completing her third term on campus, having begun in the Fall 2017 semester, as a Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology student.

“I told my husband, Masauso, that it was time for me to get back to school,” Banda said. “We did an online search and found the university, and the HVACR program. Once I complete my Bachelor of Science degree, I know we can return to the University of Zambia, where I can serve as a facilities administrator.”

Banda earned what she characterized as an advanced certificate in her field, then took a position with the facilities staff at the school of 30,000 students in Lukasa, Zambia. She indicated that she would need to complete a four-year degree to qualify as a department manager, to oversee the air-handling needs for the entire campus which encompasses around 20 buildings.

Banda said she began her education at Ferris in the last 18 months as her son, Kalibwanji, and daughters, Katongo and Chibuye, were old enough to manage the experience of international living.

The Breaking Traditions Awards are administered by the department’s Office of Career and Technical Education and recognizes students in high school and collegiate programs that are nontraditional to their gender. Banda’s nomination and application process met a variety of criteria and she was required to submit a narrative that detailed her career obstacles and personal accomplishments.

HVACR Assistant Professor Eric Fradette wrote one of two letters of support for Banda’s nomination.

“Amidst personal sacrifice, skeptics and other adversity, Marjorie has continued to pursue her desire to succeed in this industry,” Fradette said. “Marjorie’s performance in the classes I have had the pleasure of teaching her are testimony that she will make an extraordinary impact in the world of HVACR.”

Banda’s faculty adviser, assistant professor Gerry Lucas also filed support of her nomination.

“I am honored that they took the time to make these recommendations,” Banda said. “It seems that they did a wonderful job. I also wish to thank Leigha Compson in the CET Dean's office for her efforts in support of my nomination.”

For a fourth consecutive year, the College of Engineering Technology has seen a student receive a Breaking Traditions Merit Award. Mary Lawson, from Plainwell, a student in the Heavy Equipment Service Engineering Technology program, was honored along with 61 other students, statewide, at the secondary school level.

PHOTO CAPTION: Marjorie Banda, a student in Ferris State University's Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology program, is the first student from the school to receive an Excellence Award from the Michigan Department of Education's Breaking Traditions program.