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Mortuary Science - Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences - Wayne State University
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News from the Wayne State Mortuary Science Program • Spring/Summer 2021

Letter from the program director

As the Wayne State Mortuary Science Class of 2021 prepares to graduate, we look forward to a return to in-person courses this fall. This news could not come soon enough for both students and faculty. Many students need the physical presence of instructors and peers in the classroom to optimize learning. While we are welcoming students back to our building, the online program that was started in 2018 will continue.

Mark Evely

Since the online program started, we have had the privilege of educating students that otherwise would not have chosen Wayne State. Many of these students are from Michigan, and some are from Metro Detroit. Attending the part-time online program is beneficial for students who are working, pursuing second careers, and have other personal commitments that would not allow for a traditional class schedule. This option has broadened access to funeral service education to help meet the demand for qualified graduates. We have also welcomed students from Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, California, Idaho, Arizona and Hawaii.

We are grateful that our graduates have been able to finish the program on time and obtain employment even in the difficult circumstances brought by the pandemic. This was made possible by the dedicated faculty of the program and by the funeral homes and funeral directors who have generously given their time to serve as clinical preceptors. Thank you.

Graduation is a few weeks away, and our current group of students will be starting their careers. As an educator, I know the time I have with students is limited. There are many things that a funeral director needs to know, and not enough time for us to teach it all. I also know that graduates will continue to learn from their colleagues and their own experiences in practice. This year, for the first time, I can also look forward to seeing many of my students again for continuing education sessions. As continuing education becomes required in 2025, we will have an opportunity to learn together as colleagues.

Good luck and Godspeed to the graduates of the Class of 2021.

Mark T. Evely
Program Director, Mortuary Science
Chair, Applied Health Sciences
Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Wayne State University

Alumni in the news

Hailee Trombley ’18 weathers the storm

Recent graduate Hailee Trombley didn't think twice about hopping on a plane when her employer asked her to head from Houston to Los Angeles to help embalm the many who died during California’s record-breaking COVID-19 surge this past January. After working a two-week rotation of 12-hour days, she returned home only to face a winter storm barreling down on Texas that left millions of Texan homes and businesses without electricity, leading to a surge that saw double the amount of COVID deaths in Houston than the previous peak in August 2020.

Hailee Trombley
Read more about Hailee Trombley

Alumni earn spots in NFDA National Emerging Leaders program
Three Wayne State University Mortuary Science program graduates were among just 20 funeral service professionals from across the U.S. and Canada selected to take part in the NFDA's inaugural National Emerging Leaders Program.

Benny Capaul Lashonda Martin Kiki Rodgers
Benny Capaul '13
Capaul Funeral Home
Ida, Mich.
LaShonda Martin '17
Kemp Funeral Home
Southfield, Mich.
Kathlene (Kiki) Rodgers '16
Nie Family Funeral Home
Ann Arbor, Mich.

The program will help participants develop leadership skills that will serve them in their funeral homes, their state and national associations, their community and beyond. Congratulations to Benny, LaShonda and Kiki!

Read more about the National Emerging Leaders Program


Faculty highlights

It is important to the faculty in the WSU Mortuary Science program to stay involved in various ways within the profession.

Dominick Astorino has been traveling to speak on various topics, most specifically relating to trauma case restorative art methods. He truly believes in the value of what funeral practitioners do and is always honored when he's asked to speak about it. He has recently spoken to groups in Canada, Utah, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Dominick Astorino
Dr. John Canine will be co-hosting a workshop with Eli Zaret called Grief is Love Lost: Online Bereavement Aftercare during the MFDA Convention, which will be held September 7-10 at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. You can see the full program and register for the convention online. John Canine

Student success

Meet this year's scholarship recipients
Watch our video slideshow and get to know the Mortuary Science program students who earned private scholarships in 2021.

Mortuary Science: All 2021 scholarship recipients

Congratulations to the three students below who were awarded scholarships by
Service Corporation International!

Mary Ferrero Jeffrey Mandziuk Hanna Patrick
Mary Ferrero Jeffrey Mandziuk Hanna Patrick

Student profile: Maddie Schmoker

Maddie Schmoker

Mortuary Science student and Wayne State Warriors indoor track and field thrower Maddie Schmoker earned the Dean's Award for highest GPA among WSU Applebaum student-athletes.

She wrote about her route from rural Minnesota to the heart of Detroit, excerpted below: 

"I come from the small town of Kellogg, Minnesota. Born and raised in the Mississippi River valley provides endless opportunities for outdoor activities year-round. Our community is bound by fishing tournaments, a morel mushroom contest, biggest buck challenges, and the local parishes. Kellogg is known for the Watermelon Festival... Neighboring town Wabasha is recognized for the film Grumpy Old Men, which we celebrate every February all dressed in buffalo plaid. 

"I knew what my goal was all along, and that was to get my bachelor's in mortuary science. This led me to Wayne State. I didn’t know what to expect moving to a large city, but I learned to adapt and to become versed in the different cultures that Detroit has to offer."

Read Maddie Schmoker's full essay


NBE scores

In memoriam

Retired Mortuary Science program director, alumnus David Ladd '98

Funeral director E. David Ladd, age 78, died May 6, 2021, at his home. Ladd graduated from the Wayne State University Mortuary Science program in 1998 and went on to become an instructor and the director of the program, retiring in 2013. David's greatest satisfaction came from interactions with students where he could educate, mentor and shape directions. The lawyer in him was always challenging others usually in an attempt to strengthen their argument and sometimes to further his opinion.

David Ladd (center

Left to right: Peter Frade, David Ladd and Howard Normile at Ladd's 2013 retirement party in the Mortuary Science Building

Special recognition

Students graduate from the Mortuary Science program after a year of mentorship, support and clinical experience from a partnership with excellent preceptor sites. The program appreciates everything these preceptors do for students. Special thanks goes out to those sites and their staff who supported students during the 2020-21 academic year:

  • A. H. Peters Funeral Home
  • A. J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Directors
  • Bannan Funeral Home
  • Cederberg Funeral Home
  • Charles R. Lux Family Funeral Home
  • Coats Funeral Home
  • E. J. Mandziuk & Son Funeral Directors
  • Galer Funeral Home
  • Gendernalik Funeral Home
  • Harry J. Will Funeral Homes
  • Howe-Peterson Funeral Homes
  • Kaul Funeral Homes
  • Kemp Funeral Home
  • Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors
  • Martenson Funeral Home
  • McCabe Funeral Home
  • Molnar Funeral Homes
  • Nelson Funeral Home
  • O'Brien-Sullivan Funeral Home
  • O.H. Pye III Funeral Home
  • Pixley Funeral Home
  • Ransford Funeral Home
  • Santeiu Funeral Home
  • Schrader-Howell Funeral Home
  • The Husband Family Funeral Home
  • Uht Funeral Home
  • Verheyden Funeral Homes
  • Walker Funeral Home
  • Wasik Funeral Home
  • William Sullivan & Son Funeral Directors
  • Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons


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Visit the Wayne State Mortuary Science program website for the latest news and information.