The first student to earn an Applied Science degree in Geographic Information Systems at Bay College has been awarded his degree posthumously. Michael R (Gus) Guthrie, 39, passed away while with friends in Detroit on July 17, 2017.
Bay instructors Karl Linderoth and Bill Milligan drove to Alpena on Friday, September 22 to present the degree to Michael’s parents, David and Rose.
“It was a privilege to be able to spend time celebrating Michael’s memory and accomplishment with David and Rose,” said Milligan. “Michael had a profound, positive impact on all who knew him.”
Michael excelled in the program, completing the degree in a little over a year—and he did so even when putting other students ahead of himself.
“Mike was a joy to have in class. Even though he was reserved in nature, he would be the first student to jump up and help a student who was struggling even if it meant his work would get turned in last,” said Linderoth.
An avid outdoorsman and sports enthusiast, Michael grew up playing baseball, basketball, and through high school, football. On a kayaking trip last fall with other Bay students, Michael was remembered as the only one who didn’t tip his kayak over and get wet that weekend. That story, like many involving Michael, is told with laughter—and his knack for sports stats and data and fantasy sports prowess were well-known to his friends and family.
Michael spent twenty years working as a surveyor for Alpha Land Surveyor in Alpena before coming to Bay College in the fall of 2016 to pursue his degree in Geographic Information Systems. He had planned on attending Northern Michigan University this fall. Dave and Rose Marie said receiving Michael’s degree was honor that means a lot to them, and they always appreciated the dedication of the faculty at the college in making Michael feel welcome. “The dedication of the faculty and warm and friendly atmosphere at the college made him feel at home, “said David.
The success Michael achieved came from his strong work ethic and his support group of family and friends. Student Services at Bay College also worked diligently after Michael’s death to ensure his family received the degree Michael had worked so hard to earn.
Bay college takes pride in and celebrates the hard work of all students that achieve their dream of a college degree,” said Travis Blume, vice president of Student Services. “We take this same pride while celebrating the educational effort and achievement of Michael Guthrie with his family. Graduation from college is a great achievement for every student, but also for the support network of family and friends that help make the dream of graduation a reality.”