The Blog @
Southern Virginia University
  1. Introducing the New Student Executive Council

    April 16, 2014


    It’s that time of year again: there’s a freshly minted student executive council. They will serve in their various positions during the 2014-2015 academic year.

    Student Body President

    • Name: Kirsten Laurence
    • Hometown: Bountiful, Utah
    • Major: Business Management & Leadership
    • Minor: Music
    • Year in school: Junior
    • Interesting Fact: “I love to watch Spongebob in my spare time”

    Vice President of Operations

    • Name: Wright Noel
    • Hometown: Seattle, Washington
    • Major: Business Management & Leadership
    • Year in school: Sophomore
    • Interesting fact: Served a mission in Brazil

    Vice President of Campus Programming

    • Name: Elissa Greenman
    • Hometown: Burley, Idaho
    • Major: Liberal Arts
    • Year in school: Junior
    • Interesting fact: “I speak three languages”

    Vice President of Arts and Athletics

    • Name: Rex Winslow
    • Hometown: Ventura, California
    • Year in school: Sophomore
    • Majors: Liberal Arts and Computer Science
    • Interesting fact: “I have been to France twice but never seen the Eiffel Tower”

    Vice President of Finance

    • Name: Darlynn McFadden
    • Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Major: Business Management & Leadership
    • Year in school: Junior

    Vice President of Honor

    • Name: Kaitlyn Fife
    • Hometown: Shreveport, Louisiana
    • Majors: English, Theatre, and Liberal Arts
    • Year in school: Senior
    • Interesting Fact: “First solo flight as a student pilot at 16 years old — and almost crashed because the engine died”

    Vice President of Service

    • Name: Dan Cline
    • Hometown: Crescent, Iowa
    • Major: Liberal Arts
    • Track: Pre-medical
    • Year in school: Junior
    • Interesting fact: “I feel invincible in a rock climbing harness”


    • Name: Morgan Dignard
    • Hometown: Chesapeake, Virginia
    • Major: Business Management & Leadership
    • Year in school: Sophomore
    • Interesting fact: “I’m in a band!”

    (Post by Hannah Benson Rodriguez ’13. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)

  2. Photos: Shenanigans

    April 14, 2014

    This weekend was full of shenanigans, but I’m not talking about my own; I’m talking about Southern Virginia University’s improvisation group, Shenanigans, that performed in the university’s ballroom on Friday night. Imagine attending a showing of “Whose Line is it Anyway?” (that show from Comedy Central hosted by Drew Carey) but for free!

    The show featured a cast of four guys and four girls who alternated into different combinations and pairs to “play” different “games.” Topics for the games were based on either audience suggestions or predetermined prompts from the group.

    Here’s an example of one of the more interesting and difficult games: the cast was supposed to converse with one another casually, but they were not allowed to use the letter “n.” That sounds difficult doesn’t it? It was, but it was also drop dead hilarious to see the performers making mistakes and having to switch out for a new person.

    In another game, three of the girls in the group called upon their unsuspecting boyfriends in the audience to come and join. The rules of the game were that the girls were not allowed to move unless their partner moved their body part for them; what a disaster that could have been! The boys had to follow the context of their girlfriends’ conversations to decide in what direction to move them, and vice versa, the girls had to improvise according to how their teammate positioned them.

    I think my favorite part of the show was the air horn that would blow every now and then, usually signaling the end of joke or an infraction in the rules. Also, because the weather is getting warmer, the windows were open, letting in a cool breeze from outside and keeping everybody cool.

    The performances by Shenanigans always draw a lot of attention and excitement. Typically, each performance starts off with an opening prayer, which isn’t surprising considering the good-natured elements of the show. Also typical is the incorporation of a plunger into almost every show. Yes, that’s right, the thing you use to unclog a toilet: a plunger. The Shenanigans’s shows in the past have been popular and remarkable for their inclusion of this household item. Improvisation is all about originality isn’t it? Prior to the show, they used plungers in the posters that were placed around campus announcing the upcoming event. Those definitely caught my attention!

    Shenanigans has an ever-changing cast of humorous and outgoing people; maybe one day I’ll see you performing.

    (Post by Brian Caycho ’16. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)

  3. Photos: Pasta, Poetry and Prose

    April 10, 2014

    Every year, a careful and meticulous staff led by Professor Karen Hufford assembles a collection of writings and artwork into a literary magazine titled The Review. Submissions, which are welcome from any Southern Virginia student, are entered into one of three main categories: visual art, poetry, and prose. After the judging and the design are complete, copies of The Review are given out completely free.

    The whole process is done for the love of art. Many students and faculty dedicate hours on end to the production of The Review expecting nothing in return. The return for all the sacrifice, I think, comes with the final product and being able to distribute the wonderful work it contains to the student body. Each issue of Southern Virginia’s literary magazine marks and records a set of works specific to the particular semester, and since no two semesters are alike, each issue really becomes a precious document of history and recorded talent.

    On Friday night, the staff of The Review put together an event called “Pasta, Poetry & Prose.” It was a fundraiser for the expenses that next year’s issue will require. As the title suggests — and I’m not going to mention the alliteration — the night included spaghetti and readings of poetry and prose both original and classic. Students were even given a discounted ticket price if they volunteered to read at the podium. Poetry and prose, I suppose, just go naturally with pasta — and once again, I’m not making reference to the alliteration in their names. It’s like an variation of dinner and a movie, and it’s also a fantastic idea for a fancy and inexpensive date.

    Not only was it for a good cause, but we were served delicious pasta while being entertained by the poetic words of the scheduled readers. During the night, the selections of texts presented ranged from humorous haikus to excerpts from short stories and poetry. The readers were really enthusiastic and passionate about their choices, and the audience received each piece with a heartwarming and well-deserved applause. Then of course there was open microphone time and yes, more pasta!

    I’m glad that the staff put together the night of entertainment, and I’m glad it was well-supported by those who attended. I’m looking forward to the next issue of The Review even though I’m still perusing the first; I know it will be filled with more moving art and writing! I definitely hope the next issue brings along with it another entertaining fundraiser too.

    (Post by Brian Caycho ’16. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)

  4. Concert Chorale Sings at W&L ChoralFest 2014

    April 2, 2014

    The Southern Virginia University Concert Chorale rehearsing under the direction of Eric Barnum.

    At the 2014 W&L ChoralFest, the Southern Virginia University Concert Chorale joined other choirs from around the community in a two-day event honoring the American conductor and composer, Eric Barnum. The music festival’s performance took place just up the road and through the hills, in the Virginia Military Institute’s historic and beautiful Jackson Hall. Lexington, the town just over from Buena Vista, is full of history, and at the same time, offers so much to contemporary arts — as it did during the ChoralFest. I think I speak for all of those who attended when I say it was flawless.

    On Friday, the choirs each had a full day of workshops and rehearsals with Barnum. For Southern Virginia students in the Concert Chorale, this meant sacrificing a day of classes to train with an aspiring young composer — I don’t think they complained. The choirs each performed individually during the night. They performed original pieces by Barnum as well as other works. My favorite piece performed by the Concert Chorale was “White Birds”; the singers’ voices all came together so perfectly and made me proud to be a Southern Virginia student in the audience.

    Eric Barnum made the compositions take flight with his passion. Having composed the majority of the works himself, he was really able to conduct them and expose them to the audience under the light which he saw fit. I was really impressed by the connection he had with the members of the choirs, whose gazes seemed to be permanently fixed on his motions and directions. Music has a strong tradition and importance in the history of the LDS Church, and whenever I hear such moving pieces — as I heard on Friday — it always makes me reflect upon this legacy.

    The close of the concert, if not my favorite part, came second only to Southern Virginia’s individual performance. Approximately 300 voices came together under the direction of Barnum to sing “The Human Heart,” an original work by Barnum, and “Oh Shenandoah,” a traditional American folksong. The lyrics of “Oh Shenandoah” allude to a strong sense of nostalgia or longing for the Shenandoah Valley. It reminds me to enjoy the short time I have here in Buena Vista because one day I will truly miss the valley.

    (Post by Brian Caycho ’16. Photos by Lindsey Morgan ’13.)

  5. Michael McLean in Concert

    March 28, 2014


    After a full week’s worth of classes I am normally drained and looking forward to catching up on my sleep, but this past weekend was unlike any other. Michael McLean’s concert was held last Friday night at the Buena Vista Institute of Religion. He is a composer, singer, and writer. He wrote the score for “Mr. Krueger’s Christmas” and “The Forgotten Carols,” and has also written albums including “The Garden” and “Hold On, The Light Will Come.”

    Personally, I think defining the event as a concert, limits the imagination of those who were not there. McLean did much more than simply sing and then take a bow as the word “concert” may suggest. The duration of his show Saturday night was actually a mix of musical composition, motivational speaking and anecdotal comedy.

    McLean shared a handful of stories that were both humorous and motivational. It’s normal to imagine that successful people never had to overcome any hardships or make milestones along the way, but listening to McLean recount stories about his personal failures and shortcomings changed the entire mood of the auditorium. In the stories he shared, McLean turned his misfortunes into comedy. He would speak into the microphone and act as his own accompanist, playing the piano according to the tone of the story.

    The room was full of Southern Virginia students and people from the community. I think everybody enjoyed the event so much for the sole reason that they could find one point or another in which they related to McLean. He had grown up outside of Utah and he was the only Latter-day Saint in his graduating high school class. The majority of my friends at Southern Virginia University have grown up east of the Mississippi River, and they agreed that hearing McLean speak was amazing because of the similar experiences they shared in their youth.

    McLean also served an LDS mission like many of the students on campus. The spirit in the room brought me back to the MTC when the missionaries would attend Music and the Spoken Word for all the inspirational messages and music. McLean has also composed numerous songs for the LDS Church’s youth program, Especially For Youth.

    I had been looking forward to the weekend in order to catch up on my sleep, but I did not expect to be spiritually rejuvenated as well. I feel blessed to have been able to see Michael McLean and hear from him.

    The next day, Sunday, he spoke at a special fireside at the institute, and on Monday, he was available for signings at the campus bookstore.

    (Post by Brian Caycho ’16. Photo by Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)