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Southern Virginia University

Gratitude at Thanksgiving Point

October 8, 2013

There’s something about Southern Virginia University that you acquire while you attend it — I don’t know precisely what to call it. A feeling? A spirit or aura? Some sort of permeating presence that resonates with the core values that we embrace. It’s a feeling for activity, for participation and enthusiasm and scholarship and discipleship. It’s all of these things thrust into a tightly-pressurized melting pot of values and associations, and once you’re sufficiently exposed to it, it becomes a part of you in a very real way.

I was privileged to be reminded of this spirit of Southern Virginia when I attended the recent open house at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah. Besides the thrill of meeting with cherished friends, faculty, and staff — besides the rush of seeing more and more and more people show up for the meeting; we had at least two hundred people in there — besides the excellent speeches and the heartfelt testimonials from our university’s representatives, the most impactful thing I noticed about the open house was that spirit.

I noticed it when we greeted people as they came in, and sensed the thriving diversity of the attendees, with their incredible array of academic pursuits and interests. We had many families show up, as well as many students, and they mostly showed some pretty sincere interest.

I noticed it as the speeches began, with the testimonials delivered by President Sybrowsky, Provost Sowell, Vice President Brett Garcia, and Brother and Sister Laurence — parents of Southern Virginia Women’s Tennis player Kirsten Laurence. Their remarks encompassed the genius of small, the numerous opportunities available to students, the personal nature of student-professor relationships, and the financial accessibility of the institution — especially in light of the recent tuition drop.

I especially noticed it afterward, when speaking to interested parents and potential peers, using my own words to express exactly why Southern Virginia was the right choice for me — the perfect choice, as it happened. And as I struggled to explain all the particulars, it all came together for me, just as I hoped it came together for them, if only in part, as to exactly why Southern Virginia was the right choice.

Southern Virginia University is an incredibly cohesive experience. The very nature of the institution keeps you from having a terribly isolated time there; it’s too small for that. You can’t get totally lost in the cracks, unlike larger universities — and even more than that, you will most likely get involved somehow. You will get involved, you will get serious about your studies, and you’ll probably do more than get a degree; you’ll get an education there, something real and dynamic and continuing. You’ll receive a complete experience, yet more than complete — your cup will run over. And all of this, combined with the unique spirit there, will infuse into your character the qualities of a true leader-servant.

It’s a pretty good bargain, if you think about it.

(Post by Spencer Merrell ’13.)

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