The Blog @
Southern Virginia University
  1. Five Ways to Manage Stress During Finals Week

    April 25, 2017


    Finals are quickly approaching, which means many of us have reached the most stressful time of the semester. Stress is often the result of neglecting a few simple things that could help you to stay at the top of your game mentally and physically when it matters most.

    Write Down Your Commitments

    This seems like very straightforward advice, but every semester, students accidentally miss their finals. The good news: avoiding this mistake is fairly easy. Check and double-check the dates and times of your finals, then record them in your calendar, planner, phone, or whatever works for you. After you have a basic skeleton schedule, add in all of your other responsibilities around your finals — whether academic or not — so you can keep track of all your commitments throughout the week. Once your schedule is written down, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and you’ll also have an easy way to stay organized when obligations arise.

    Know What Motivates You

    Whether this means keeping Domino’s on speed-dial, asking your mom to send cat pictures from home, or rewarding yourself with an episode of Stranger Things, you know yourself well enough to know what motivates you. Working in intervals of focused, dedicated study with regular intervals of breaks or reward time can help you increase productivity rather than blankly staring at a page of notes for hours on end while hoping to magically absorb the information. For example, I love sushi. I know that if I bribe myself with sushi, then I will study hard so I can earn that delicious sushi. Knowing that my hard work will bring me closer to sushi (and a better understanding of the material) helps me to study more comfortably with less self-imposed stress.

    Teach Someone the Material

    Oftentimes, you learn best when you teach someone the material you’re trying to master. By teaching others, you will quickly discover which information you have a solid grasp on and which areas are still a bit fuzzy. Teaching also gives you the opportunity to retain information in a pressurized situation before you have to prove it to your professor for an important grade.

    Friends or roommates who are not in your classes might be too busy to hear your pitch — so why not take this opportunity to call a family member? That way you’ll keep in contact with grandma and let her know what you’re doing in school while preparing for your marine biology final at the same time. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

    Commit to Healthy Amounts of Sleep

    Sleep is vital for your body to recuperate after a day of focused mental and physical activity. Sleep debt builds up after repeatedly losing as little as an hour of sleep every night for a prolonged period — and taking a long afternoon nap after a week of sleep deprivation isn’t going to eliminate the sleep debt you owe your body. Make a sincere effort to help your mind and body heal at night by getting enough sleep, especially during this time in the semester when you need your mind to function at its best and recall loads of important information. Try making a written commitment of when you’re going to sleep and awaken, keeping in mind how much rest your body needs. Place this goal somewhere you can see it. Studies have shown that we stay more consistent with our goals when they are written down, and even more so if we share the goal with someone else.

    Aside from sleeping at night, be aware of what is the best length of a nap to take. Many students will simply nap as long as their schedule will allow, but the truth is that certain nap lengths will make you feel groggier and less productive than if you had just stayed awake. If your focus is fading and you want to increase alertness, a short power nap of 10-20 minutes is best. To help your brain remember facts like names, dates, and places, a 60-minute nap is ideal. Finally, a 90-minute nap (a full REM cycle of sleep) is best for boosting procedural memory used for activities like playing a sport or instrument. Make sure you avoid napping for 30 minutes because this length will force you to wake up in the middle of deep sleep, resulting in extreme fatigue afterward. Also, remember not to nap less than three hours before you intend to sleep for the night, as napping too late can affect your ability to fall asleep for the night.

    Don’t Forget to Exercise

    After studying, get some exercise in the way you enjoy best. Try dancing, lifting weights, running, or just going for a long walk. Exercise will keep your brain from losing the information you worked so hard to retain. When demanding so much of your mind, don’t forget to take care of your body as well. If you’re worried about time, there are several ways to accomplish two things at once. Maybe record yourself while studying, or find an audio version of the material, and listen to it while walking or running. Practice your vocab words and every time you get one wrong do 10 push-ups. Integrate your tasks to accomplish more and save time.

    In the end, perhaps the most important advice is to remember that you know yourself best. You have a different learning style than your roommates and your study habits may not be the same. Know yourself. Can you focus better in the morning or night? Does it help to discuss the subject with others or to listen to music? How is your time best spent? There are many ways to study, so work to discover which method helps you most and take advantage of the resources available to you. No one knows better than you what study techniques will work best for you, so it’s your responsibility to figure it out, use them, and rock the end of this semester.

  2. Blue Ridge Mural Brightens Buena Vista

    April 14, 2017

    The outer wall of local Buena Vista restaurant, TNT’s, is exploding with the vibrant color of a mural recently painted by Southern Virginia University seniors Elise Madsen and Ammon Milligan, along with several volunteers.

    “We wanted to do a service project for the community that would really make an impact,” wrote Madsen and Milligan.

    With their combined efforts and over 240 hours of service, this new artwork on the corner of 21st St. and Sycamore Ave. is a commemoration of Buena Vista’s 125th birthday. This piece has already brightened the hearts of community members who now see the mural daily.

    “I think it’s great,” said Ruthie Lawhorne, lifelong Buena Vista resident and owner of downtown Vinyl Cuts store just one block away from the mural. “I love the look of it, every time we drive by our family admires it.”

    Armed with paints and brushes, Madsen and Milligan’s desire to serve was supported by the TNT owners who eventually decided on a design depicting a brightly shining sun over the horizon of the varying blue-green shades of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The bottom of the mural reads, “Welcome to the Heart of the Blue Ridge,” and provides a warm welcome to passers-by in tribute to the friendly greetings consistently offered by Buena Vista community members.

    “We worked really hard with a lot of volunteers to make it happen,” Madsen and Milligan said. “It has been a very rewarding experience watching the community bond and be excited about this new addition to the town.”

    Through the combined efforts of Madsen and Milligan, in cooperation with the City of Buena Vista City Arts Council, the owners of TNT’s and more than 15 volunteers, the mural was completed just in time for the beginning of Spring. After hours of designing, planning, painting, and coordinating, the finished mural has already proven to be a stunning visual representation of the gorgeous landscape that the people of this mountain town call home.

    “It has been great working with TNT’s and everyone involved,” Madsen and Milligan wrote. “Like the mural says, we are truly happy to welcome everyone who passes through our town in the heart of the Blue Ridge.”

    Post By Whitney John (’19)

  3. “Winter Blahs? Winter Ahhs!” An Open Letter from Professor Barbara Crawford

    February 22, 2017


    There is a very small room, about 7 x 9 feet in size, off the kitchen. The room is positioned to catch the morning and evening sun, and so is bathed in light almost all day. This is where I begin my day. On a winter day, when it is still dark, I take nourishment there, both spiritual and nutritional. Today, I arrive before the sun. I can tell it is cold outside. Probably there’s frost. But it’s too dark to say.

    Books of inspiration and devotion are on the small table. The newest additions to the group are Arctic Circle and Mother Teresa: Her Essential Wisdom. Bird-watching binoculars are on top of the stack. A Tibetan singing bell provides my answer to bird calls. As the sun begins to appear, shining first on my uphill neighbors, who were our friends before we moved here, it brightens my cozy surroundings.

    In the corner, the first to receive the light is a small basil plant pulled from last summer’s garden. In a while, I will, as usual, pick two leaves and add them to my bottled water. They will provide reminders during the day of the morning stillness from which they came and they offer promise of the garden to come.

    Next to the basil is a small flowering plant given to me by a friend. I’m not familiar with the plant and refer to it by the name of my friend. In the middle of the fading darkness is a bright pink germanium, a fall cast-off pulled from a friend’s trash pile. Such throwaways are a winter delight. Also sprouting are small tomato seedlings. These fragile-looking starts will become robust providers for my summer harvest. Other plants include a cutting from boxwood shrubs that will become part of a new garden I am planning.

    Outside, the sun now illuminates the fields, whose soft rose-colored curves contrast with the cool blue shadows cast by the houses. I am painting the image in my mind as I finish my breakfast. The simple white table cloth on the table is a $2 purchase from an Italian flea market and a reminder of our frequent trips to Italy.

    The sun shines strongly now and reminds me that there are things to do. I will go gladdened by so much simple beauty. My day has been enriched by this small moment and by the memories it has triggered. Joyfully I leave my small sanctuary and carry its spirit in my heart.


    Barbara Crawford


    February  2017

  4. Thoughts On Love From Students, Faculty, and Professional Staff

    February 15, 2017


    As we celebrate Valentine’s Day today, and watch the Southern Virginia University Theatre Department’s production “Romeo and Juliet” on the stage, love is in the air and on our minds.

    Love is all around us, and we express it in more ways than we realize. We show love for our family and our friends. We show love for our passions and pastimes. We show love for learning.

    Here are some thoughts from around campus on the role of love in different aspects of our lives.


    Professor Jeremiah John 

    “I think love has two sides. One side is impartial: it sees whatever is good and honors it. The other side is partial. It’s where you love one particular thing or person, and you want them to love you back. Sometimes I think the first, impartial side is better. It’s not right to love only your own friends. But I don’t think people can be happy without loving particular things, in a special way. Each person has her own parents, her own children, and her own country. In Exodus, God calls himself ‘jealous’, and there’s a hymn in which God says ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have called you, and you are mine.’ In Orwell’s essay on Gandhi, he agrees with Gandhi that a perfect person would love everyone equally, but responds that ‘essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection’ ”.


    Professor Amy Roskelley

    “Sometimes it’s easy to love others or to love God, but it’s hard to let them love you back. It’s so easy to love others but we live in a society where we often don’t feel worthy of receiving love and that’s so wrong. Just by virtue of being a literal child of God we are worthy of being loved.”


    Professor Wyatt Winnie

    To me, love, in terms of education and love of learning is the ability to cultivate a sense of wonder about the world around us. Exploring the world of ideas is an exciting journey that often brings clarity of mind, as well as peace and enlargement to the soul.”


    Sarah Morrow

    “Your goals should reflect what you love. So if you love soccer, your goals should help you improve in that field. If you love a person, your goals should help improve that relationship.”


    Josh Ogden

    “Love is the only thing that can make life worth living; it propels me out of bed and makes me appreciate beauty and want to create it. Without it, life would just be a thing and not a journey. Love is the only real thing in a world of frivolity.”


    Chris-Anthony Collins

    “Love is like faith. It doesn’t come overnight. It can grow, but it can also diminish if you don’t maintain and nurture it. Love is something you have to work for.”


    Cynthia Stoddard

    “Love to me means doing things for other people without expecting anything in return. When i want to show love to my husband, for example,  I’ll do the dishes. For a while I would only do the dishes because they needed to be done, but now I do it because I love my husband.”


    Alexis Brimhall

    “To me, love is a verb, not a noun. Love isn’t something you have, it’s something you do. To love is to act, doing things both big and small to show others how you feel.”


    Sarah Brezenski

    “Love is chocolate cake.”


    Nick Porter

    “I have found that for me love is putting others first. I find the most joy in what I do when it has a positive effect on other people.”


    Zach Shiraki

    “Well, I feel like it’s really what life’s about, right? We’re governed by how much we ‘love’ any specific person, thing, or activity. It’s what causes us to be happy or sad or angry. That’s why I feel like the worst thing you can feel is nothing, because that means you have no love for anyone or anything. Love is what gives us meaning.”


    Nathanael Rodriguez

    “When it comes to the important things, love means that what you personally want doesn’t really matter any more, and you focus more on them.”



    Post By Whitney John (’19)

  5. Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

    January 16, 2017


    Today, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day by striving to remember the man, as well as the cause to which he dedicated his life. As tribute to the Reverend King, we wanted to share just a few of the powerful messages from his book, “Strength to Love,” his Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, and his Christmas Sermon on Peace. One thing becomes clear while reading or listening to Dr. King’s words — his message of equality, love, and peace, resonates as strongly today as it did a half century ago.

    “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Strength to Love, 1963

    “Jesus is eternally right. History is replete with the bleached bones of nations that refused to listen to him. May we in this century hear and follow his words. May we realize that we shall never be true sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father until we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.” – Strength to Love, 1963

    “…nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time — the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to violence and oppression. Civilization and violence are antithetical concepts.” – Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, 1964

    “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.” – Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, 1964 

    “I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. ‘And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together … none shall be afraid.’ I still believe that We Shall overcome!”­ ­– Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, 1964

    “We have experimented with the meaning of nonviolence in our struggle for racial justice in the United States. But now, the time has come for man to experiment with nonviolence in all areas in human conflict.” – Christmas Sermon on Peace, 1967

    (Post by Chris Pendleton ’08.)