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Something’s Brewing

Husband-and-Wife SHU Graduates Grow Cotton Brewing Co. Into Successful Business Venture

Brett and Krista (First) Cotton have something brewing in Adrian.

The married double Siena Heights University graduates started brewing beer more than five years ago as a hobby. Using their own money – and their Siena Heights degrees—they decided to make it into a business in 2012. And business is booming. Using fairs and craft beer festivals as both a proof-of-concept and a built-in test market, Cotton Brewing Co. is on its way to becoming a full-time venture for the husband-and-wife team.

“We were just trying to be able to sell the beer,” said Krista of the original reason they started the business. “We never intended it to take off and have the demand that we did. It just keeps rolling.”

Brett said he originally got the idea of brewing beer while working in a corporate setting in Washington, D.C.

“Beer brewing was really big out there,” Brett said. “A bunch of friends would go hit up these different breweries every week.”

When his job in D.C. ended, he returned to Michigan and decided to buy a home brewing kit.

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Rewriting the Menu

Jackie Corser Helps Open Farm-to-Table Restaurant in Monroe

After owning two Big Boy restaurants in the Monroe, Mich., area for many years, Jackie Corser ’14 and her husband, Fred, decided it was time to “rewrite the menu” of their business.

“We knew two years before (making a change) that we were going to change the concept into a more personalized owner-
ship without a franchise,” Corser said.

Before that change happened, however, she went back to school. She completed her associate’s degree from the culinary program at Monroe County Community College, then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Siena Heights University’s MCCC campus. The Corsers sold one Big Boy franchise, remodeled the other, and partnered with George and Maria Darany to open the Public House Food & Drink in downtown Monroe. The revamped Big Boy is now a farm-to-table restaurant and bar that serves locally grown and sourced food.

“The concept was well-accepted by our community, as well as the outside community,” said Corser, who serves as chef as well as co-owner of Public House. “It was something in our hearts that we wanted to do, and so we were going to try it. … Because of all our experiences, we have the ability and all the restaurant experience to do something cool and creative. That’s how Public House was conceived.”

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Personal Trainer

Three-Time Rice Award Winner Carl Kaster Helps Biology Students Take
‘The Next Step’

Carl Kaster’s father wanted him to be physician.

“When I was a college under-
graduate, if people asked me what I wanted to do when I graduated, I always said ‘medicine,’ ” he said. “If I said medicine, I didn’t have to talk about it any more, because they all knew what that meant. You wanted to be a physician.”

In fact, after working as an extern at an internal medicine private practice for a couple of years, he was ready to enter medical school at the University of Louisville.

“I met with the medical school dean,” Kaster said. “When we got through with that interview, he gave me the best advice I had had at that point. He said, ‘Stop thinking about doing what your family wants you to do. Do what you want to do. … You don’t want to be a physician, you want to be somebody who is training physicians.’ So here I am.”

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Mr. Smith Goes to Hollywood

Siena Heights Graduate Enjoys Distinguished Career as Director of Photography

Darryl E. Smith casts a long shadow standing 6 feet, 8 inches tall. However, that shadow pales in comparison to the one he has cast as a director of photography in Hollywood.

The 1985 Siena Heights graduate has an impressive list of credits and clients, including MTV, Disney, Coca-Cola, CBS, the NFL Network and HBO. The owner of his own production company, Darryl E. Smith Productions, for the past 14 years, he said his path to success was a winding one. And his starting point was Siena Heights University.

Originally recruited to play basketball at Siena by former coach Ben Braun, Smith said Siena Heights was the only school that showed interest in him as a student—not just as a basketball player.

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