Top Ten Photos of 2016

Throughout the year, staff photographer Kristi Woody and four student photographers took more than 40,000 photos documenting life at Union University. Here are 10 photos from 2016 that give an overview of the year at Union. We are looking forward to even more great moments in 2017!

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Chris Nadaskay, university professor of art, coaches Madison Borden, a sophomore pre-professional art therapy major, during an outdoor drawing session. Nadasky often takes his drawing classes outdoors to practice basic drawing techniques. He uses the trees on campus to teach students how to see negative space between the branches. Photo by Kristi Woody.

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Freshman nursing major RoNesha Davis performs during an open mic night at Barefoots Joe. The coffee house hosts concerts each semester featuring recording artists from across the country, but the open mic nights give students an opportunity to share their talents with their peers. Photo by Gretchen Foels.

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Charlie Wilson leaps over Tray Boyd for his final dunk in a dunk contest during Bulldog Madness. Bulldog Madness kicks off basketball season for the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs. Each team has a scrimmage, and the athletics department hosts giveaways, throws out t-shirts and holds a dunking contest. Photo by Kristi Woody.

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The live Buster the Bulldog mascot has been a huge hit on campus! He was welcomed into the Union family in 2016 and was featured in his Santa hat on the annual Christmas card. Photo by Kristi Woody.

Election night watch party.

Sean Evans, professor of political science, and Hunter Baker, associate professor of political science, keep up with election results as they are announced at a presidential election watch party in the Bowld Student Commons. The Department of Political Science hosts a party  during each major election, where students and professors gather to watch the results together. Photo by Kristi Woody.

Cast of theater production takes a bow.

The Union University players bow after a production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The large cast performed the show six times under the direction of John Klonowski, assistant professor of theatre, in the W.D. Powell Theatre. Photo by Kristi Woody.

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Vernon Stafford, senior chemistry major, works on a lab assignment. Photo by Kristi Woody.

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A supermoon rises behind Miller Tower on the Union University campus in November. Several community members came to campus to watch and photograph the event. Photo by Kristi Woody.

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Ulylanders Kent, BSOL graduate, waves to family and friends after receiving his diploma at fall commencement. Kent was one of 302 students who received their degrees at the Dec. 17 ceremony. There is always an abundance of smiles and wonderful moments as students are celebrated for their achievements. Photo by Kristi Woody.

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Buster the Bulldog revealed his new look at Family Weekend 2016. Buster, along with the cheer team, enjoyed greeting Union friends and family during Union Night. Photo by Elizabeth Wilson.

Why I Don’t Regret Choosing My Private College Education

Post by Kallan Parker, senior public relations major. 

kallanparkerMy senior year of high school consisted of a persistent mental battle between attending a public college very close to home or a private college a little further away. I wrestled between the ideas of graduating from the public college debt free or graduating from the school I loved with an evident chunk of debt. The public college’s “debt free aspect” was the only pro, in my mind, to attending. That environment was not what I wanted and not the place I needed to be in order to grow and network on my own. Needless to say, I chose the private college: Union University.

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Setting aside the fact that Union’s campus is beautiful and relatively new, their public relations program is accredited, academics are taken seriously, the faculty is caring, the students are friendly and the environment is encouraging and Christ-like. After day one at Union, I knew without a doubt that I made the right decision. Sure, I could have been set to graduate debt free from another school, but would I have been happy?… Not at all.

The truth is that college is four years of your life, which is much too long of a time to spend unhappy and much too short of a time not to take full advantage of each second. My college experience thus far is something that I would not trade for the world. I love my school. The people I have met, the professors I have had and the classes I have taken have all taught me so much. I have been allowed so many great networking opportunities that I would have never received if it were not for my decision to attend school at Union.

The truth is that college debt is temporary. College education is a worthy investment. I am currently enrolled in 1 of 37 PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) accredited undergraduate programs in the world. I love every faculty member in the Communications department and have gained wisdom from them that I feel certain I could not have learned anywhere else. I may leave with thousands of dollars in debt, but I will be leaving with the skill sets that I need in order to find a job to pay it all off. To be honest, I am happy with the idea of living in a cruddy apartment for a couple years after graduation and eating ramen noodles so that I can get my debt out of the way, if that is what it takes. I will leave Union University knowing that it was worth it to me and that I took full advantage of all my time. College is something you only get to do once, so you might as well choose the school you love.

The truth is that there is no price tag for a valuable experience. Even setting all of the educational classroom aspects aside, Union has its evident advantages. Nothing feels better than walking around campus with the knowledge that so many people around you are devout, God-fearing Christians. There are no words that express the level of gratitude for professors who not only lead by example in their careers but also in their walks with Christ. Being able to join campus organizations and Greek life without entering a stereotypical “ trashy, party scene” is great. Campus organizations are filled with students who share a common love for Christ. Because of that common bond, there is a sense of community on campus that I know I could not have found at the other school I was considering.

Not a day goes by that I regret my decision to attend a private university. I would not hesitate to pick Union again and again.

This post was originally published on The Odyssey in December 2015. 

Meet Our Students – Part 3

Union students work hard and set lofty goals. They enjoy building community, pursuing leadership roles and having fun. Here are just a few of the stellar students we would like you to meet.

Part 1 | Part 2

 


 

Austin Orr

Austin Orr – exercise science/wellness major from Jackson, Tennessee

“Pretty much every aspect of campus life I’m involved with, either in class or on the field, faith is always that overarching theme that ties everything together about Union.”

Learn more about Austin here.

 

 


 

Ryne Roper

Ryne Roper – elementary education major from Harrisburg, Illinois

“The sense of community that Union brings is very different and something I was really longing for. It’s been nothing short of remarkable.”

Read more about Ryne’s Union story here.

 

 


 

Bailey Howell

Bailey Howell – teaching English as a second language major from Jackson, Tennessee

“I look at my time at Union so far, and I think that the tight-knit community with the professors and staff and students here makes it exactly what I want. I’m the person I am today because of a lot of people at Union.”

Read more about Bailey here.

Meet Our Students – Part 2

Union students work hard and set lofty goals. They enjoy building community, pursuing leadership roles and having fun. Here are just a few of the stellar students we would like you to meet.

Part 1


 

Reeves Garrett

Reeves Garrett – Biblical Studies major from Brownsville, Tennessee

“I like that Union’s community as a whole is pretty organic. Students build relationships because we’re a small campus – small enough that you can know a lot of people but big enough that you can always meet someone new.”

Learn more about Reeves here.

 


 

Emily Easter

Emily Easter – conservation biology major from Hendersonville, Tennessee

“I left Union [the day that I visited], and I remember thinking, ‘How am I ever going to decide where I want to go to school if every college campus feels like this?’ And none of the other ones ever did.”

Read more of Emily’s story here.

 

 


 

Joshua Stucky

Joshua Stucky – mathematics and computer science major from Maryville, Tennessee

“Having the skills that you learn in upper level mathematics allows me to better engage in theological discussions and philosophical discussions about God’s nature.”

Read more about Joshua here.

Meet Our Alumni – Part 1

Union University is known for shaping the next generation of great leaders. Our alums go on to elite graduate schools, meaningful careers and mission and ministry opportunities around the world. There are scores of Union alums doing amazing things, and here are some we would like you to meet.


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“Union gave me the confidence to apply for opportunities that were outside my comfort zone. I had always been a good student, but Union really helped me thrive as a leader. It’s the combination of a small student body, really supportive professors, spiritual growth and great opportunities within campus — I felt like I could try new things and succeed.” – Claudia Valasco (’13) – Client Solutions Manager, EMC Corp., London  

Learn more about Claudia’s work with EMC Corp here.


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“Union allows you to feel valued. I felt that I truly mattered as a member of this community and, in turn, it gave me a desire to serve that community. Union felt like home.” – James Barbee (’13) – Math Teacher, Lauderdale Middle School, Ripley, Tenn.

Read more about James’ goals as an educator here.


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“Choosing a college is one of the most significant decisions you will make, because the friendships and relationships you form in college are likely going to be some of the most important and lasting relationships you’ll have throughout your life. And I can’t think of a better place than Union University to find and form those kinds of relationships. Not to mention, you’ll receive a top-tier Christian education at one of the finest undergraduate institutions in the country.” – Justin Wainscott (’02) – Pastor, First Baptist Church, Jackson, Tenn.

Learn more about Justin’s journey to becoming a pastor here.

WBBJ’s Douglass, McAlister tout benefits of Union broadcasting experience.

Unionuniversity_alumni_WBBJ-5Brad Douglass and Keli McAlister attended Union a decade apart. But their Union journey led them to the same place as a couple of the most recognizable faces in West Tennessee.

Brad and Keli each serve as anchors for WBBJ-TV and are seen in thousands of homes every day. Both of them were broadcasting majors, and they attribute their time at Union as being formative in their careers and in their personal growth.

“When you reach that point in your life that you go to college, you really have to make a choice,” Keli says. “Union helped solidify the choices in my life. You can go the wrong direction anytime in your life, but it really showed me how to be in the world and still be a Christian.”

Keli came to Union from Ripley, Mississippi. She had intended to go to Ole Miss, but came with some friends to visit Union. That visit changed everything for her.

“I knew then that’s where I was supposed to be,” she says. “I consider it divine intervention.”

Though she initially planned to major in psychology and then pursue law school, Sigmund Freud proved to be her undoing during her second semester (“This man’s crazy,” Keli thought). She needed to find something else. It was during a fair in the gym where all the departments were exhibiting that she talked to Kina Mallard in the communication arts department about the possibility of broadcast journalism.

“I’d grown up watching the news,” Keli says. “It was just part of our daily life. My dad always stressed knowing what’s going on in the world and understanding politics. It was perfect.”

Brad’s journey was a bit different, in that he knew exactly what he wanted to do when he transferred to Union. Originally from Brownsville, Tennessee, Brad was part of one of the first classes to be a part of Union’s communication arts department that launched in 1984. He worked in radio internships and behind the scenes at a low-powered TV station no longer on the air.

“Union gave me an experience that opened so many doors,” he says.

While Brad says his father (a pastor and also a Union alumnus) may have entertained thoughts about him going into the ministry, broadcasting was always Brad’s passion. And, he says, his work is a ministry as well.

“We get to help people,” Brad says. “When we get done at the end of the day and we close up shop and go home, we hope that we’ve helped somebody today.”

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Rising Senior Program Provides Education and Enrichment

Summer for a high school student usually means beach time, taking family road trips, reading by the pool, etc., but several rising high school seniors chose to spend part of their summer earning college credit through the Rising Seniors Program.

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The program is offered during the month of June and is designed for outstanding students who have completed their junior year of high school. Will Brantley, senior enrollment counselor, works closely with the program. He says, “The Rising High School Senior program is a great way for a student to experience what university life is really like.  It’s a fantastic experience of learning, growing in their faith and building community with other students.  Every year we have students that come to the Rising Senior Program and then when they come to Union as freshman, they choose to be roommates with the friends they made during this summer.  This is a program that helps students jump-start their university career and where they will make friends and memories that last a lifetime.”

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This intensive summer program allows students the opportunity to earn up to seven semester hours of college credit, giving them an early start on their college career. The students take core curriculum classes such as English composition and college algebra during the program, and many also have the experience of living on campus. Gabby Zuckschwerdt, who just completed the program last Friday, says, “Wow! That pretty much sums up my experience so far here at Union! I can’t wait to hopefully attend here next fall!” Another participant in this year’s program, Samantha Barker, says, “During my time at Union, I have experienced nothing but wonderful things. I have attained some extremely valuable information and skills. The classes prepare you for the real college experience, and the residence life experience is truly remarkable. The decision to apply for the rising senior program will always be one of the most joy-filled and rewarding decisions I have ever made!”

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During the month, the rising seniors are invited to a social event each Thursday to give them a chance to learn about different aspects of Union life. The final event is an ice cream social, where the students can celebrate the completion of their classes. To learn more about this summer program, visit www.uu.edu/admissions/risingsenior/.

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Union University Welcomes Many for New Student Registration Day

Registration Day. You could describe it as hectic, jam-packed, overwhelming or any other term that basically means “busy,” but one word sums it up best: exciting. For some new students, it is the day when their journey to college starts to feel real. When we posted a photograph on Facebook of the morning orientation crowd, several alumni commented how well they remember their own registration day. It’s hard to forget the first time you registered for college classes, opened the door to your first college bedroom and met the roommates that may become your very best friends. These are moments that students never forget, and so many new students got to experience them Monday.

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The day began with new students and their parents gathering in the gym for an introduction and instructions for the day. Everyone was treated to a light breakfast before moving on to other areas of campus.

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After leaving the gym, new students registered for classes with their advisors, learned about student organizations and received their residence assignments. During this time, parents of new students heard from leaders in several areas, such as University Ministries and the Vocatio Center for Life Calling and Career.

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Lunch was held in the chapel, where new students and their parents heard from Dr. Dub Oliver. This was his first registration day as president of Union University, and he spent much of his time greeting and welcoming guests. It was a great day for all involved, and the Union University family is very excited to see our new students back on campus in the fall!

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