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Southern Virginia University

Posts with the tag: Service

  1. 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)

  2. Q&A: Erik Flores, VP of Academics and Service

    March 18, 2016

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    In the past week you may have noticed that campaigning for next year’s Student Association positions has begun. As you consider which candidate will get your vote, we’re continuing to interview this year’s members of the Executive Council to better understand the responsibilities each position entails. Erik Flores, vice president of academics and service, had a lot to say about his experience serving the Southern Virginia community.

     Q: What are your responsibilities on the Executive Council?

     Erik: I am the Vice President of Academics and Service … [I] plan and carry out various service projects both on and off campus. … It’s the really fun portion of the job. And the school has done a pretty good job of being known in the community for being leader-servants, so many of the jobs get sent our way. For the academic portion, one of the main functions is the faculty appreciation dinner. Some of our goals early on in the year were to promote the historical societies and to work with alumni to help our students receive jobs. … In this position it can become very easy for service to become the priority just because there’s so much more demand for the service to be accomplished. … The increase in service through athletics has also helped mediate the burden between just the service council to more broadly include the student community. Men’s lacrosse made a commitment to find someone to serve every Saturday, and the team has done a fantastic job of making sure that vision has come to pass. So I think [Southern Virginia Athletics] has done a tremendous job in making sure community service needs have been attended to.

     Q: Why did you choose to run for Executive Council?

    Erik: I’m a first generation college student, and I’ve had a lot of gratitude to [Southern Virginia]. … I’ve been able to participate in the Fading Point, which [worked] very closely with the admissions department to directly help people come to know more about Southern Virginia. … And I saw the EC role as an opportunity to more directly affect the affairs of the school and just make it run well. I have a great love for this institution and I wanted to make sure that a candidate with that love was part of the EC. [My second year at Southern Virginia] I was able to serve as the service senator, which helped me to work really closely with Dan Cline, who was the VP of Academics and Service that year. … I loved what he was able to do and how he was able to contribute [by] planning projects that helped not just our school but also the community. [I wanted to help] the school that I love and the community that I love [by] bridging gaps through service so that the [Buena Vista] and Lexington community could know who we are.

    Q: How was your campaigning experience?

    Erik: [It was] difficult just because I had never done anything of the sort before. I was really surprised and grateful for people that … were willing to help in the creation of posters and various campaign paraphernalia. Very creative people came to me and said, “Erik, I want to help,” and helped make posters and just generally spread the word. … I realized it wasn’t just my burden; there were people who believed in me and what I wanted to do for the school and would help me accomplish it.

    Q: What has been the best part of being on the EC?

    Erik: Being able to see the growth of the next generation of [Southern Virginia] leaders. … I was able to meet a lot of students that have that enthusiasm and love for this campus … and hopefully to give them knowledge so that they can have an impact on this school. It will take a lot of time and work, but they can do it, and hopefully I’ve been a mentor to students to help them know that they can implement change. … Just to get to know them has been the greatest part of this role.

    Q: What kind of student would be a good fit for your position?

    Erik: A go-getter. Someone [who is] not looking for a resume booster, [but] someone that genuinely cares. … A genuine person that loves this school and is willing to work through red tape and policies and procedures to get the job done. … I want people to know that if you want to get it right it takes time [and] it takes heart.

    Q: Why should other students run?

    Erik: There’s a lot that needs to get done and there’s a lot of responsibilities that this role has, and it would be a tremendous burden on the school if this position wasn’t a thing. … The quote that hangs outside the business office [says that] in the world you get paid in two ways: you get paid in money and in experience. In this role you will get paid in experience. If that’s what you’re looking for, this role is a great opportunity to get hands-on experience, … to know how to work with people, [learn] to work with people that disagree with your opinion, and know how to disagree agreeably. … if you’re looking for stuff like that, this is great for that.

    Q: Anything else you want to add?

    Erik: I wish I could have done more, but I was grateful that I was able to … see that there are students on the campus that are super talented and super go-getters! I got to meet a freshman that came in this year that has incredible artistic ability and a really kind heart and she saw a need in the community that she and her roommate and these students could address. … And she doesn’t have a responsibility, per se, but she’s a go getter — she’s that motivational elite student that President Wilcox talks about. [Executive Council is] not mysterious, there’s not a hidden agenda … the things we talk about are just the needs of the students and how we think we can best fulfill them.

    Q: Are you glad you did it?

    Erik: I’m so glad I did it. … [I learned] that it takes guts to get good stuff going. Just because it’s a good idea doesn’t mean the road to accomplish it is going to be easy. It’s a laboratory to learn that good initiatives take time. I wouldn’t have learned that so deeply if it weren’t for this opportunity in student government.

    (Post by Lauren Hafen ’16.)

  3. Orientation 2015: Day Three

    September 2, 2015

    Rise Up for Honor has become one of the most essential parts of new student orientation, a testimony to Southern Virginia’s focus on a positive learning environment and personal development. No one can deny that the Code of Honor and the university’s core values are an enormous part of what makes Southern Virginia the sort of place where good people can come to be better, and where they’ll find others who are striving to do the same.

    This year’s Rise Up for Honor included speeches by current student Laine Thompson (‘16), alumna Allison Walker (‘13) and Dr. Jan-Erik Jones.

    Thompson compared Southern Virginia Knights to the Marines, referencing standards of chivalry and service. Walker, who recently received a master’s degree in theology, imagination and the arts at the divinity school of Scotland’s University of St. Andrews, drew connections between modern and classical theology, stressing the importance of religion to a fulfilling life.

    “Religion provides the living force by which morality is livable and enjoyable,” she said.

    Dr. Jones was the concluding speaker and incorporated the orientation’s theme, “All In,” into his message, arguing that a person cannot be honorable without being “all in.”

    “Men and women of honor keep their commitments,” he said. “Men and women of honor finish what they start. … You right now have started. … The kind of person you are if you keep your commitments, if you are a finisher, will honor you for the rest of your life, and it will honor us. And we will say that he or she is one of us, he or she is a Knight… Welcome.”

    Following this introduction to the university and its standards, dozens of Southern Virginia University students performed community service in Buena Vista, Va. The acts of service included painting fences, beautifying city parks and weeding the community garden.

    Though service has long been a part of Southern Virginia’s new student orientation, this was one of the most far-reaching and extensive projects. Brian Brown, Buena Vista’s director of economic development said that this was the “highest attended event [he has] had” and that the 32 gallons of paint “doubled” the amount of painting usually done in this project.

    “It’s a great group of kids,” Brown said. “I look forward to doing multiple projects in the future.”

    Joseph Bouchelle, dean of students at Southern Virginia, explained that service has been incorporated into new student orientation to stress that it is an essential part of the university’s “mission to prepare leader-servants.”

    “This is often one of the most memorable aspects of orientation, and one where some great new friends are made,” he said.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos by Hannah King ’13 and Jordan Wunderlich ’15.)

  4. Student Travels Abroad to Serve, Represents Scholarship at Memorial

    August 11, 2015

    e-bonney-1There’s no denying that Southern Virginia tries to instill in its students an appreciation for what it really means to be a leader-servant, but that mission’s success isn’t really tested until students and alumni take it upon themselves to embody the leader-servant attitude beyond campus.

    Senior Elizabeth Bonney, a liberal arts and English major and recipient of the Jackson Casey scholarship for the last two years, has attempted to do just that. She represented the recipients of the Jackson Casey scholarship at ThanksUSA’s 4th annual Jackson Casey Memorial Golf Tournament last month, chosen because of her willingness to be a dedicated student as well as an ambitious leader-servant.

    The Jackson Casey Fund was established in memory of Jackson Casey, an eleven-year-old boy whose death — and life — inspired his family to grant scholarships in his name to family members of those in the military.

    “Our mission is to keep the memory and spirit of Jackson Casey alive throughout the community by providing college scholarships for the children of our nation’s soldiers,” the ThanksUSA website says.

    Bonney, whose father is a recently retired Army officer, was surprised and excited by the honor of representing recipients of the scholarship.

    “I felt awesome. I was so excited,” she said.

    e-bonney-3Bonney recently spent a semester in China as part of the International Language Programs teaching English to elementary-aged children. Previous to attending Southern Virginia, she and her 13 siblings moved numerous times — “16, I think” — around the world, from Missouri to Senegal. After one move, she spent more than six months in Tanzania. While there and attending an international school, she served in a local orphanage, teaching young Tanzanian children how to speak English and how to swim, as well as at a school for mentally handicapped children of similar ages.

    “I helped them paint, and we did clay and drawing,” she said. “It was really fun. … We helped them swim, and we also played games with them.”

    Bonney said that her desire to be involved has extended to her experience at Southern Virginia as well, which she discovered when she joined the women’s lacrosse team her first semester.

    “Once you’re at this school, you have so many opportunities to do things,” she said. “This school really does have a lot going on, and once you get out of your comfort zone … you’ll get so much more involved, and your experience will be so much better.”

    After graduating from Southern Virginia next spring, Bonney hopes to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before pursuing her career.

    “I really want to be an international school teacher,” she said. “[And] at the beginning, I want to work with the Peace Corps.”

    In the meantime, she’ll continue to serve, this time as a senior senator for the 2015-2016 academic year.

    The Jackson Casey Memorial Golf Tournament took place on July 13 in Alexandria, Va. to fundraise for future scholarships.

    (Post by Madeleine Gail Rex ’16. Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Bonney ’16.)

  5. Missionary Preparation at Zion’s Camp

    August 4, 2015

    Last week over 50 young men and women visited Southern Virginia University for Zion’s Camp — a six-day preparation experience for Latter-day Saint missions. The objective of the camp is to give youth an instructive preview of missionary life, including serving with an assigned companion, cooking meals, studying daily on your own and with your companion, dressing like a missionary, using social media for missionary work and teaching gospel principles in person.

    “It’s preparing you to go on your mission,” said Kristian Dorman, who participated in the camp in June. “Because you have [missionary] experiences, it’s a lot easier to visualize [what a mission is like].”

    This is the university’s third year sponsoring Zion’s Camp. The camp has attracted youth from all over the east, mid-west and beyond. The camp schedule includes daily study and training from returned-missionary counselors, zone conferences, practice in teaching, a hike and an actual teaching experience on the final morning of the camp.

    John Cotton, another camp participant, especially enjoyed the camaraderie he felt with other participants.

    “You’re not just growing by yourself individually. You’re also growing together within a district, like a family,” Cotton said. “It makes me want to go on a mission more.”

    (Post by Stephen Taylor ’15. Photos by  Bronwyn Himes ’17 and Jordan Wunderlich ’15.)