Boston trip provides inside look at PR in action for communication arts students

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Post by Anna Claire Sewell, PRSSA President
Photos by Ashley Fitch Blair and Shelby Kee

As I glanced around at my peers on the flight home, I couldn’t help but think about what an awesome experience we had in Boston. As students in Union University’s communication arts department, we are presented with opportunities through our PRSSA chapter that are not only educationally enriching, but also exciting.

PRSSA, Public Relations Student Society of America, is an on-campus organization that allows students to lead and learn through the integration of knowledge and professional development. Along with a day trip to meet with communication professionals in the fall, Union’s PRSSA chapter takes a trip to a larger market during the spring semester.

During our stay in Boston, we met with communication specialists in three different areas of the field. The first morning there was freezing — actually, quite below freezing. It did not faze us! We grabbed our coffee and were excited for the day ahead.

Our first meeting was with Shawn McBride, executive vice president of sports at Ketchum Sports & Entertainment. McBride shared about his love of working in a fast-paced international PR firm and gave us advice as we enter the work force.

A few short train rides later, we found ourselves stepping into a broadcast dreamland. The communications team at WGBH Boston gave us a behind-the-scenes look at how they handle strategic communication for such a large station. Here’s the most exciting part: WGBH Boston produces one-third of the national programming on PBS. A few of the shows produced by this station include Arthur, Zoom, Antiques Roadshow, The American Experience and NOVA!

To see the amount of work put into the shows I enjoyed throughout my childhood into adulthood really put my future career into perspective. This visit showed me that while I will only be one communications specialist, my work has the potential to affect millions of people.

Our list of professional visits concluded T.K. Skenderian, director of communication for the Boston Athletic Association and its signature event, the Boston Marathon. This meeting provided us with a chance to ask questions about nonprofit work and crisis communication. Skenderian shared some powerful insights through his experience with the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing on how to carefully handle crisis communication during a tragedy. From that experience, Skenderian tied in his love for working for a cause bigger than himself.

In addition to the professional development aspect of the trip, we also spent some time checking out historical sites and taking in the local flare that Boston has to offer. From the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum visit, to the multiple cannoli consumed, to the large amounts of coffee purchased to keep us warm in the cold wind, we got a small glimpse at how Boston culture plays into the work environments in the Northeast.

When I decided to declare my major as public relations, I had no idea how many doors could be opened with a degree in the communications field. Our trip to Boston provided each member of PRSSA the chance to dive deeper into what exactly it means to be a communication professional. This Boston experience was an excellent way to top off my time at Union with peers who have become friends and professors who have become mentors.

As I picked up my bags at the airport to head back to Jackson, I left with a feeling of purpose and excitement for what is ahead for me and each of my fellow communications majors.

Make Yourself Make: An Art Student’s Reflection

Post by Mary Scarlett Greenway, senior art major

In January I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Europe with a great group of students – including fellow members of the art department. During our 11-day trip, we visited many great artistic and historical sites in Paris, Venice, Florence, Pisa and Rome.

As an art student seeking Art History credit, this was a dream. Getting to graduate on time by visiting practically the art capitals of the world seemed like cheating…and I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity. I wanted to remember every second and soak in each unique city as much as I could in such a short time.

In every city that I visited, I created a typography piece with the name of the city and held it up in front of an iconic landmark or scene (or at least, I did my best to do that – it really is hard to stop and take a picture of your journal when your leader moves at about 40 miles an hour and will leave you behind).

 

A project like this was incredibly fun and challenging – trying to capture the personality of a city in letter forms (without smudging anything on a rattling train).

In addition to my typography pieces, two other art students (Kayli Sommers and Josh Smith) and I agreed to make a conscious effort to sit down and sketch something in each city. So we did. We sketched the Arc de Triomphe, the courtyard of statues in the Louvre, Michelangelo’s statue of David in Florence, the Trevi Fountain in Rome and many others.

As an art student, the discipline of sketching things you see is often a hard one to hold yourself to – it’s at once a desire and a chore. But I cannot overstate how important and fulfilling it is to make it an instinct.

Despite all the little mistakes, I captured my experience in my journal in a way that I never could have with my camera. I remember every little side stop and place we got lost and times I almost cried (sometimes because of hunger but usually out of excitement and awe). I remember every bridge we crossed and alley we took and staircase we climbed (the stairs, the STAIRS). I remember all the shops – the little old print maker and the woman who made pigments and the aggressive leather salesmen in the streets.

Though I loved seeing every landmark and museum and cathedral, one of my favorite aspects of this trip was simply exploring the cities in our free time. My favorite city to explore was Venice by far. Never in my life have I seen such a cinematic city. Every back alley, every uneven street, every clothes line, every stretch of ivy, every hole-in-the-wall cannoli shop – they seemed so accidentally and authentically beautiful. I wanted to take all of it with me.

Hands down, I have never been on such an inspiring, exhausting, creatively stimulating trip in my life. Even if you aren’t an art student, I encourage you to draw something. Write something. Anything. Take down what you see and what you find interesting or funny or odd – no matter how trifling it seems. Don’t rely on Instagram or Facebook to keep your memories for you. Life reminds you how rare and beautiful it is when you don’t just look, but see. To my fellow art students, keep making.

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Follow Mary Scarlett on Instagram for more images of her impressive work: @mary.scarlett

 

BIO 100 Class Visits Memphis Zoo

Each winter term Mark Bolyard, professor of biology, teaches a session of BIO 100, during which students have the opportunity to go on three field trips. The first trip is to the Memphis Zoo, where the class attends two sessions taught by a zoo employee.

This year, the Spineless Wonders and Endangered Species classes were led by Union University alumna, Lindsey Bock Stephens (’11). During the first class, students learned about different species of invertebrates and had the opportunity to see and touch some live critters.  The Endangered Species class provided even more opportunities to see live animals. Students were able to see and touch the rare Louisiana pinesnake, which is part of a new breeding program at the Memphis Zoo.

In addition to the two class sessions, students were each given a endangered species to research as they toured the zoo. The trip provided an up-close look at many of the animals discussed in the BIO 100 curriculum.

Story and photos by Kristi Woody

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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.

Meet Our Alumni – Part 2

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.

Part 1


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“At a nonprofit, you are the whole communications team. Studying such widespread curriculum really let me transition well to this position.” – Chelsea Cobb Croom (’15) – Communications Coordinator, RIFA, Jackson, Tenn.

Learn more about Chelsea’s work with RIFA here.


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“A Union education completely transformed the paradigm through which I viewed my faith and the world. I was taught how to think Christianly, how to broaden my faith to affect every single endeavor and activity of life.” – Chad Wilson (’01) – President, Foundation Bank, Jackson, Tenn.

Read more about Chad here.


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“It is rare to find a school with such camaraderie. The faculty enjoy what they do. They pushed me to read widely, critically and charitably.” – Hannah Clardy (’12) – Doctoral Student, University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Read more of Hannah’s story here.

49-bell Carillon Dedicated at Union Night

Union dedicated the new 49-bell Miller Tower carillon as part of Union Night Oct. 1 during Family Weekend. The bronze bells replaced the speaker system in the tower last summer and chime every quarter hour. They can also be played using a keyboard in the base of the tower. A professional carillonneur played a concert of hymns after the dedication.

Kaylee Gibson, president of Union’s student government association, said Miller Tower serves as a symbol for the campus, and the bells are an important part of that.

“The ringing is a gentle reminder that time will pass, things will change, but God is always good,” she said. “I hope that we can all see these bells as an inspiration to inscribe God’s word on our own hearts and to never be silent when we should be singing his praise.”

Read more about the carillon on our website.

Story by Nathan Handley

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9th annual Remember Me Commemorative Walk

Post by Theresa Blakley, professor of social work

The Remember Me Commemorative Event for Families of Homicide Loss began nine years ago.  

Dr. Mehr and I conduct a type of therapeutic support group (Restorative Retelling) for persons who have lost loved ones to homicide in and around West Tennessee. The group is free to the community and is operated out of the Trauma, Faith, and Resilience Initiative of The Center for Just and Caring Communities at Union University.

In one of the first groups we facilitated, members expressed how deeply they needed their community to know that their murdered loved ones were persons who were esteemed, cherished, beloved – that they were in the midst of chasing their dreams, ambitions, and managing their responsibilities when their lives were taken – and that they should not be forgotten.  

It was from this angst, the annual Remember Me Commemorative Event for Families of Homicide Loss was born. The event provides an avenue for families of homicide-loss to know that they are not alone, to have their pain and courage acknowledged by a caring community, and to walk in the name and memory of their lost loved one.

In this ninth year, we continue to hear that Remember Me has become the essential event where families of homicide loss annually gather to remember and honor their loved ones.

Many hold up photographs of lost loved ones as they walk around Union’s bell tower; some wear specially made tee shirts with photographs and messages of love.  Tears mingle with courageous smiles as families link arms in their walk of remembrance, vowing never to forget.  

As for Dr. Mehr and I, both survivors of homicide-loss, it is our way of never forgetting as well.  We have learned and have acted upon the lesson that so many who mourn know well:  Placed in the hands of God, no suffering is ever wasted.

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Photos by Kristi Woody

Student Life Photos

Over the past few weeks, our student photographers have been hard at work capturing events across campus. In between those assignments, they’ve also photographed many student life moments. Here are some fun photos from our four student photographers taken during their time on campus and during some Residence Life activities.

Photos by Elizabeth Wilson, Gretchen Foels, Morgan Morfe and Janelle Vest

Bantu Addresses Culture and the Gospel

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Vince Bantu, visiting professor of missiology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, said diversity is necessary for unity. Bantu spoke in Union University Chapel Sept. 7.

“God is a God of Unity, and you can’t have unity without diversity,” Bantu said. “You have to have different things to unite…We are united in Christ, but we’re also different. That should not be ignored or passed over, but it should be celebrated.”

Bantu said modern Americans often talk about moving beyond racial and cultural differences in an effort for equality, but he said equality is not achieved through racial colorblindness.

“God doesn’t want us to get beyond it,” Bantu said. “This is part of how he made us.”

He said the gospel is uniquely positioned to be translated into every culture, and the Bible offers many examples of this in the book of Acts. He said when the context of the dominant culture is added to the gospel it adds an unnecessary barrier to those in other cultures.

In addition to his chapel address, Bantu gave an evening lecture Sept. 6 titled “Culture and Context: Church History, Orthodoxy and #blacklivesmatter.” He said missions is how the gospel interacts with culture and is contextualized, and understanding current social issues is vital for Christians on mission.

“The gospel is universal in absolute truth, but it’s relative in how it hits us,” he said.

Bantu compared the gospel to a stage play. He said each person in a theater is watching the same play, but each person has a different perspective of the play based on where he or she is seated. He said when Christians recognize and embrace different perspectives of the gospel, it gives a more complete picture.

“Cross-cultural experiences are like an intermission,” Bantu said. “We get to hear about other perspectives and what other people have seen.”

Bantu encouraged students who are interested in mission work in other countries to first interact with other cultures in their own cities. He said the gospel embraces each person equally, and this is obvious when it is seen in an unfamiliar culture.

“We’re not bringing God to heathen nations,” Bantu said. “He’s already there at work, revealed in creation. We aren’t civilizing people or teaching them anything. We’re sharing good news.”

Story by Nathan Handley

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Dr. Vince Bantu’s evening lecture in the Bowld Student Commons

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.