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Southern Virginia University

Posts with the tag: Academics

  1. Q&A: FCD Seniors Serve Community through Capstone Project

    April 23, 2015


    Every year, graduating seniors in the family and child development major execute senior capstone projects intended to both benefit the community and provide students with real-world experience and practical application of their education.

    Daria Watts and Yvette Yanes, both seniors and family and child development majors, completed their capstone projects by presenting on the philosophy of the growth mindset to parents at a non-profit organization in Buena Vista, Va. I sat down with them to discuss their experiences with the project, their time at Southern Virginia, and their hopes for the future after walking at Commencement next month.

    Q: What did you two do for your capstone project? Why did you choose to speak about the growth mindset?

    Daria: The senior capstone project is picking a place and going and presenting something to them. There are papers along with it and a research paper you have to do to develop your understanding. First, you go to meet with the person in charge. And then you go, and you ask them what they think their parents or their participants would want to hear.

    Yvette: We each took a subject that we particularly liked within the growth mindset and we did research and filled each other in. We wanted to be able to make the presentation very understandable for parents who have no idea what the growth mindset is, or the fixed mindset. And the person who was in charge of the organization [was] very willing and very excited to learn about what we had to say about it as family and child development majors.

    IMG_7252Q: What do you hope the parents learned from your presentation on the growth mindset?

    Daria: Well, [Buena Vista] doesn’t have a lot of resources, so the one point we wanted to get across to the parents was that their children could do [anything] they wanted to do.

    We wanted them to understand that the way you think about yourself and the way you think about your actions can influence what you do with your life. So, if you think that you can practice and that you can get better at things, you’re going to.

    Yvette: I personally hope that the parents are able to understand that even at their age right now they’re still able to develop a growth mindset and that just because you’re older than your 20s doesn’t mean you have to stop learning or stop developing these skills and talents and abilities. And from that, we hope that they were able to take away [the idea], “If I can still learn, then my children can continue to learn even more and improve even more.”

    Q: Why did you choose to study family and child development? What do you hope to do with your degree once you’ve graduated?

    Daria: I’ve always wanted to be a therapist for kids and families [and] parents who are having marital issues, like a family court appointed therapist. When I was younger, my parents [were] divorced. I did have to [go through] that, so I want to be a person who kids can trust. But now I’m leaning toward being a marriage therapist.

    It relates to my family, and I want to just help people. My mom will just call me sometimes — I have an eight year old sister — and [my mom will] talk to me about a problem she might have with parenting. I can look at what I’ve been reading and share it, and she’ll be like “Whoa.” If it’s benefiting her, it can benefit everyone, because I think she did a good job with me.

    IMG_7235Yvette: Initially I [wanted] to be a family lawyer, but within my major I started to have a fondness for wanting to help people in more of a social science area than from a legal perspective. I particularly want to go into counseling with at-risk teens because as a child — I’m from the D.C. area — I saw a lot of children struggling, a lot of teenagers struggling when they grew up.

    And so that’s what influenced changing my mind from being a lawyer to wanting to be a counselor for teenagers and for women who have struggled with this before. And also I hope to just help within the world. That’s what our school is all about, you know, becoming leader-servants, and it has really influenced me [to want] to just make the world better in small ways.

    Q: Is there a particular class or professor at Southern Virginia that has influenced you the most?

    Daria: I would say Professor Rodriguez because he’s the head of the major, but also whenever he teaches, he gives examples and stories, and that’s what I relate to when I’m learning. And so, I’ll think of something, and I’ll think “[Dr.] Rodriguez solved it with this.” He’s really helped me understand the things that I’m learning. We go over it and explain it, and we learn how to apply it. That’s what we do in the major — [we] learn how to apply what [we’ve] read to help other people.

    Yvette: The class that has influenced me the most was taught by Dr. Rodriguez [and] was “Adult Development and Aging.” The class taught me not only how adults continue to develop in every aspect but it taught me that it’s never too late to learn something. In other words, the more people learn or improve as they age, the more fun life becomes.

    IMG_7229Q: What has been the most valuable part of your education at Southern Virginia? How do you think it will continue to affect you?

    Daria: I definitely think — well, meeting my husband was pretty important — but I think having the small class sizes is one of my favorite things about [Southern Virginia].

    I’m more outgoing now than I ever was in high school. I’m more involved than I ever thought I’d be. I’ve been involved in so much, and I think that’s helped me see that I can be involved and I can be a leader, but I can also be a follower. I can be beneficial to whatever situation I’m put in.

    I also love that it’s LDS. I love the standards, and I love that [before a] class, we can say a prayer. In some classes, we say prayers before tests, and that really helps me out.

    I definitely wouldn’t pick another school, doing it again. That’s for sure.

    Yvette: Because we have such a small environment professors actually take time and want to take care of you and make sure that you as an individual are doing okay, that you are able to reach your potential. [Dr. Rodriguez] helps a lot in understanding “Okay, what do you really want to do and what do you really like and why are you studying this?”

    I think that the small environment that we have is so perfect for us to find out who we are and what we want to do with our life. [And] we get the plus side of being in an LDS environment where you feel close to Heavenly Father, who also [plays] a huge part [in] finding out who you are, you know? Even if you’re not LDS, it really helps you understand, “Okay I’m this person, and I can grow within this particular area because I have professors who care about me, and I have this sense of why I’m here at Southern Virginia.”


    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)

  2. Sigma Delta Pi at Southern Virginia

    April 13, 2015

    Growing up with the last name Rodriguez, I’d always wanted to learn Spanish. I’d tell people I thought it would be a great way to get in touch with my Cuban half, but secretly just wanted to enforce the awkward stereotype that everyone with a Hispanic last name could speak fluent Spanish, eat habaneros without making a scene, and sprout mustaches through sheer force of will. I had the chance to check the first one off my bucket list when I received my call to serve a Spanish speaking LDS mission. I had some painfully fun times hitting my head against the brick wall that was acquiring a second language, but really started to enjoy it after some good old-fashioned divine intervention and action-movie-style flashbacks to Professor Fuentes’ Spanish classroom got me to the point of fluency. By the time my mission ended I knew that I wanted to continue learning the language, even if I didn’t get a degree in the field.

    Upon returning in an airport terminal and shoe polish scented cloud of awkward RM glory, I was told majoring in Spanish would broaden the career choices available to me, and it certainly sounded like a good idea. But if you’re like me (and I know I am), picking a major has been about as clean cut as karate-chopped tomatoes.

    Thankfully, I had great professors in all my Spanish classes at Southern Virginia, who helped me get past my commitment issues by making their classes too intriguing to stop taking. I would hear that Dr. Porter was teaching a linguistics class, and knew I had to be in it. His patience when explaining difficult concepts and clear teaching style were essential in helping me deepen my understanding of the language. I enrolled in Dr. Konstantinova’s Intro to Literature, and was relieved to find out I actually enjoyed the subject. As someone who’d had a primal fear of any and all forms of essay writing before my mission, her ability to explain good writing clearly and give me personalized feedback on my work allowed me to really feel confident in my abilities.

    Friday of last week, Dr. Konstantinova’s hard work for the Spanish Program payed off in yet another way. Her application to start a chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society founded in 1919, was recently accepted and I, along with five other students, was able to join and participate in the initiation ceremony.

    Every aspect of the event was thoroughly planned and well-executed, complete with symbolic candles, Greek mottoes, and solemn oaths. I’ll never forget the look of excitement Dr. Konstantinova had as we filed in for the ceremony. She, along with my other Spanish professors, exemplifies two of the most important qualities a teacher can have: a love for her subject and an unwavering focus on the individual. Every student at the initiation that night knew her personally, and she’d feel comfortable calling any one of us if she didn’t see us in class to let us know we were missed. I’ll always be grateful for the chance I’ve had to associate with Southern Virginia faculty, and I hope to continue to live up to the high expectations they’ve set for me.

    (Post by Nathanael Rodriguez ’16. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)

  3. Photos: Pasta, Prose and Poetry

    March 27, 2015

    Besides the obvious benefit of having a title that can be rearranged in any number of ways to reference the event, Pasta, Prose and Poetry is a great opportunity to have a decent meal in an art-focused environment on a budget. Organized yearly by staff of “The Review,” the university’s literary magazine, the event promotes the exploration of literary ideas and marks the beginning of the season of excitement for the publication, given that it’s about to be released. Between the good food, the close friends and the expressive written art, the experience was phenomenal and one that I wouldn’t suggest that anyone miss next year.

    (Post and photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)

  4. A Forum All About Love

    February 13, 2015

    Valentine’s Day isn’t necessarily everyone’s favorite holiday, but today’s Valentine’s Day forum definitely landed on one of the shelves of my memory dedicated to best forums ever.

    The combination of a hilarious speech and expertly performed musical numbers pretty much guaranteed today’s forum a place in the Forum Hall of Fame. We were fortunate to hear from Dr. Ariel Rodriguez, associate professor of family and child development, my bishop, and a generally stellar person. He spoke to us on the theme “What is Love?” and managed to not only enlighten us but entertain — courtesy of his goofy humor and some priceless Powerpoint slides (you had to be there). Not only did I get to laugh, but I am also now aware of the intricacies of hormones and all of the ingredients to the kind of love that doesn’t last (which includes “blanched romantic comedies,” in case you were wondering).

    We also had the pleasure of hearing multiple musical numbers from the Concert Chorale, students, and an alumna. One of the numbers was a piece from “Mansfield Park,” the original musical by Professor Robert Stoddard and his daughter, Leigh, that opens tonight and that everyone should definitely, definitely see (this is a shameless plug coming from one of the assistant stage managers. I’m only a little biased. A little). Andrew King’s incredible performance of “If Ever I Would Leave You” from “Camelot,” Jasmine Anderson’s energetic “Vanilla Ice Cream” from “She Loves Me,” and Caleb Dransfield and Heidi Glauser’s charming “It Takes Two” from “Into the Woods” were all fantastic, and I wish I could rewind life and listen to them again.

    Overall, today’s forum was a fantastic homage to Valentine’s Day, packed with talent, love, and hilarity  and who can turn their nose up at that? Now, if they’d provided us all with chocolate, that would’ve been cool, too, but it was great nonetheless.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Jordan Wunderlich ’16.)

  5. Alumni Reflections on Southern Virginia

    February 9, 2015

    As alumni of Southern Virginia University, we each have many fond memories of our time in the classrooms of caring professors and the company of cherished friends. As members of the Alumni Association, we have the opportunity to reunite from time to time, give back to the university, and participate in the occasional contest or giveaway. Currently, the Alumni Relations Office is sponsoring a giveaway for alumni who update their contact information on the university’s alumni webpage. Alumni who update their information online before Feb. 28 will be entered into a drawing to win a box of Southern Virginia merchandise.

    Last fall, the Alumni Association sponsored an essay contest and fundraiser for the university’s alumni. The prompt? To write about a Southern Virginia memory or how you view the university 20 years down the road. The winners? Esther Harsh (’13), Stephanie Carlson (’09), and Camden Cooper (’07). If you’re interested in reading about the memories of some other alumni, or what they think the future of Southern Virginia will be like, take the time to read over the following essays.

    A Pattern to Follow

    by Esther Harsh

    Students come to Southern Virginia University with differing levels of desire. Some know exactly what they want, others are torn between the many paths before them, and then some have yet to believe that they merit the chance to walk on a path toward achievement. In every case a mentor is needed.

    On my very first day at Southern Virginia, I was filled with desires and glimpses of the kind of person I wanted to be, yet felt weak in my abilities and experience; constantly wondering how I could use my interests and dreams to make a difference for good. Upon hearing that rehearsals for the new musical were about to begin that same night, I somehow found myself asking the very occupied Professor Stoddard if I could play a part in the production. His told me that auditions had long passed, but was interested in why I wanted to be involved. I was a bit surprised to see that he was sincere in wanting to know my deeper interests and dreams in theatre. After listening closely with a kind smile, he cordially offered me the position of being his assistant director, giving me permission to lead out in areas of the production, with open freedom to give suggestions in directing.

    It was just one small moment, but it set a pattern for me to confidently use in every course. I remember thinking “If one professor is willing to entrust such opportunities in me, maybe the other professors will do the same, especially in the areas where I’ve felt so weak and inadequate.” I began asking each professor how I could get the most out of their class, not merely to get a high grade, but to learn what was needed for the experiences I wanted to pursue after university. The results were magnificent.

    Over time and hard work, the dreams of my capabilities turned into beautiful possibilities. I’m not sure if Professor Stoddard understood how significant that first moment was for me, that by taking the time (out of his very busy schedule) to listen and invest in my potential, I would gain the confidence to create and produce uplifting experiences for the hearts of others. Moreover, I wonder if any of my professors knew how their personal mentoring would lead to a successful completion in a rigorous British graduate program, where unprecedented opportunities would be created and given to this same SVU girl.

    My time at Southern Virginia was marked from the very beginning to cherished end with experiences of caring professors like unto Professor Stoddard: showing and expecting the very best from me, especially when I didn’t feel it was possible in myself. In each experience there is a pattern to follow, a pattern of taking time to mentor the one. Really it is the pattern of the master-servant, our Savior, Jesus Christ.

    The education at Southern Virginia University is awe-inspiring because of the many small moments where the professor is helping the student to recognize their own genius, thereby empowering them to see the genius in others. (more…)