In its 12th season, the Mercer University Youth Choir will host the “Sing & Rejoice!” concert at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Warner Robins Dec. 10-11. The Mercer University Youth Choir (MUYC) is a community initiative by Mercer’s Townsend School of Music. The program is committed to helping children develop their musical and expressive artistry through the gift and practice of choral music. “The Mercer University Youth Choir is one of the most visible community service organizations in the Greater Middle Georgia region,” said Richard Kosowski, an assistant professor of music at Townsend and the choir director in an email. Kosowski began his involvement with MUYC in 2007 after his son joined the group’s Preparatory Choir. He originally served as a parent chaperone/volunteer and the foreign language diction coach for the ensembles. He began conducting the choirs in the spring of 2011. “It is a privilege to perform music and to call music a career through regular performance. I am extremely lucky because I am allowed to experience the gift of watching these young people mature into young adults, and that I play in an important role in each child's musical development,” Kosowski in an email said. “Plus, I am allowed to do this in a nurturing environment of Mercer University.” The professor is accompanied by graduate student Grace George in preparation for the “Sing & Rejoice!” concert. There are more than 60 choristers in the MUYC. The singers live in Macon-Bibb County and the surrounding regions. Some choristers even drive over one hour to and from choir rehearsals throughout the week. These performers, aging from 8 to 17, consist of children from public schools, private schools, and the homeschool environment. “Sing & Rejoice!” is a Christmas concert that will incorporate foreign language. “We will be singing in 4 languages, plus music from the 14th century, which is Spanish-inflicted Latin,” Kosowski said in an email. In addition to foreign language, the concert will include Mercer students who perform with string instruments, flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, French horn and percussion in addition to piano, electronic synthesizer and, of course, pipe organ instruments. “The ‘Sing & Rejoice’ concerts are special because they involve spoken scriptural readings, poetry, and other commentary to tell the Christmas story beginning with the Annunciation through the Holy Family's Escape to Egypt to connect the musical selections,” Kosowski said. The audience is also encouraged to sing carols with the choir during their performance. “The story is meant for an audience of all ages, so it is not ‘kid-sized’ in any way,” Kosowski said in an email. “It is a story told by children for everyone. It is a delightful concert that [will] last about 75 minutes.” For more information on the ‘Sing & Rejoice!’ concert, please visit the Townsend School of Music’s website at music.mercer.edu.
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Though senior Anisha Massey entered Mercer University as a Graphic Design major, this changed some time after. Now a Spanish major, Massey still continues design. “I tend to be introverted, [and] I've always really liked to be creative,” said Massey. “At this point, I've seen that it is definitely a good asset to have.” While Massey said she enjoys all aspects of graphic design, the senior said her favorite styles involve working with photo editing and creating greeting cards. Throughout her time at Mercer, Massey said she has been able to build great relationships in the small environment of campus. She has especially been appreciative of the guidance from instructors like Luke Buffenmyer, who encourage her creatively. Massey said she feels at ease on campus because of the people on campus. “It’s a very friendly atmosphere on campus,” Massey said. “The students and faculty, they're very helpful . . . it's a small school, so they get to know you.” When she is not designing, Massey is a flute player in Mercer’s marching band who enjoys spending time with friends and participating in athletic activities. “She’s always been very eager to help people, very sweet to people,” said senior engineering major Jacob Copeland. “[Massey] loves to play basketball at Penfield - [she's an] athletic person.” In her senior year, Massey said she will continue on with graphic design. After graduation, she has made plans to take a gap year and then study abroad in Spain or Australia. Massey said she wants new students to get involved in building relationships on campus. She also recommends students be creative and try their hand at a mix of everything Mercer has to offer. “Don't be afraid to get to know your professors. Talk to other people and experiment and learn,” she said.
Mercer’s Townsend School of Music will host a faculty artist recital featuring soprano Dr. Martha Malone in Fickling Hall Nov. 19. Malone has entitled the performance “Melodies of Mayhem.” Malone, who has been a part of the Mercer staff for over 20 years, will be performing in a cabaret style. This theme gives a less formal approach to the musical art form, she said. “I call it ‘Melodies of Mayhem’ because . . . I always put in some kind of popular song [when I do a cabaret],” Malone said. “We have love songs, we have satire, we have silliness, and we have beautiful love songs.” Malone will be accompanied by Byron Grant, a pianist and distinguished musical theater expert. Grant is also a retired educator from Webster University and native of Central Georgia. “He’s a wonderful musician and wonderful artist in this field of cabaret musical theatre, so we got to know each other and decided it would be fun to collaborate,” Malone said. Faculty members and students of the Townsend School of Music are also looking forward to the recital. “It’s something that the general public enjoys, and it’s usually full, so people will come and get there early,” said soprano professor Marie Jarriel Roberts. Graduate student Judith Destine, who has never attended one of Malone’s recitals previously, is excited to hear Malone’s work outside of the studio. “I’m looking forward to it because I get to see the performance side of my teacher, so that will be kind of interesting,” Destine said. While Malone said there are several songs she has lined up, the evening will have an element of surprise. Many of the songs she is planning to perform have a satirical edge, and the night will include elements of stand-up comedy. “I like to have the interaction with the audience… we always have a good time,” Malone said. “I like to perform in music theatre as well as classical music, so this gives me a chance to [extend] my interests.” For more information on “Melodies of Mayhem,” visit the Townsend School of Music’s website at music.mercer.edu.
[sidebar title="Upcoming Volleyball Matches" align="right" background="on" border="all" shadow="off"] OCT 7 (FRI) / 8 PM SOCON AT SAMFORD BIRMINGHAM, ALA. OCT 14 (FRI) / 6 PM SOCON AT WESTERN CAROLINA CULLOWHEE, N.C. *OCT 15 (SAT) / 3 PM SOCON VS FURMAN MACON, GA. / HAWKINS ARENA *OCT 18 (TUE) / 6 PM SOCON VS THE CITADEL MACON, GA. / HAWKINS ARENA OCT 21 (FRI) / 6 PM SOCON AT ETSU JOHNSON CITY, TENN. OCT 22 (SAT) / 6 PM SOCON AT CHATTANOOGA CHATTANOOGA, TENN. *OCT 29 (SAT) / 3 PM SOCON VS SAMFORD MACON, GA. / HAWKINS ARENA Note: * indicates a home match For the full schedule, visit MercerBears.com [/sidebar] Despite being a gifted basketball and volleyball player, Mercer’s Ellie James decided volleyball would suit her best at the college level. While it's been a rough road for the volleyball player, the senior outside hitter continues on in her college career playing the sport. “All four years I have suffered some type of injury, so I've had to sit out for a lot which obviously puts on a lot because they're always unexpected, but a big accomplishment has to be my comeback from how long I've had to stay out for, and I always enjoy that,” James said. In her time off from volleyball due to injuries, James said her team has been a part of the reason why she is prompted to get back on the court. “They're really good about motivating me to get back, checking on me to make sure I'm okay, supporting me through the whole thing, through rehab and everything,” she said. Though she has faced some hardships, James has been able to make accomplishments as a starter and overall asset to the team. “It's kind of bittersweet. I'm really excited that it's my senior year, but at the same time, I really don't want it to be over yet,” she said. Aside from volleyball, James said she has a passion for children and plans to become a teacher in her hometown of Charleston, South Carolina after she gets her master’s degree. James, a communications major with a minor in education, said she has enjoyed working with children through her educational background at Mercer. In her four years, she has been able to work with educational organizations on campus. As a volleyball player, James said she is also grateful for the encouragement from fans who attend the games. James said she especially appreciated their attendance at Mercer’s win against Samford last year. “It was just like a huge win, that was really exciting,” James said. “When I think about happiest moments, I think of the big wins that we've had that have been like really exciting at home. We have a huge crowd supporting us.” If James is not playing volleyball, the athlete said she spends her time relaxing with friends who have been there for her through the tough times. As the season continues, James is back on the court and ready. While it is her senior year, she has not made plans to leave the sport anytime soon. James said she is accomplished in that she has been able to persevere through it all.
San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been making changes to his appearance with bigger hair and more to say — not only with his look but the current issues in society he believes are unjust. Whether it being from social media or television coverage, his refusal to stand at a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers has sparked controversy and has people roaring about his plead. With the now-infamous words, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he has made a name for himself as a supporter of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. While “Black Lives Matter” supporters are comforted by this allegiance toward change, others who argue that “All Lives Matter” in the conversation of police brutality feel differently. We should all know by now that everyone is entitled to their own opinion — whether it be made from ignorance or pure refusal to accept the conditions of the past and how they affect us today — we are allowed to pick a side. It is also said that in America we are granted freedom of expression. So why is it so vital that we look at Kaepernick like he’s reinventing the wheel? It’s because we are conditioned to believe that those who are popular to the world hold more power than those who do not have a platform to express themselves, and therefore if popular people want to make something happen they can do just that. Being that Kaepernick is a professional NFL player, those that disagree with him would argue that it is not “right” for him to utilize his right to freedom of expression, but in actuality what they are saying is that it is not “right” for him to enact change in the way the NFL runs and has run for decades. Since football is one of the largest platforms in American entertainment, people are used to seeing it look a certain way — the players are told what to do from the coach, they win games (or don’t), and the public is satisfied because everything goes as planned. However, with Kaepernick, there has been a change brought on to the football community, a change that makes people who would argue that “all lives matter” in a discussion on police brutality, uncomfortable. While people are shocked, there is legitimate dialogue that has been prompted from the athlete and the public. Kaepernick is also putting his words into action with his recent decision to donate $1 million to organizations that are looking to assist communities in need. Instead of spending the energy on the Niners quarterback’s exercise of the First Amendment, let’s encourage him to continue making strides as a philanthropist and professional NFL player.
[gallery ids="19319,19323,19322,19321,19320"] As a soon-to-be graduate, Morgan Ingleright will be returning to Mercer University to pursue a master’s degree in organ performance. Ingleright, who majors in organ on the performance track, said she is excited to be moving on to a master’s degree. “I’m really looking forward to being able to continue my education here at Mercer and . . . the opportunities that my master’s will bring,” said Ingleright. “I’m excited for opportunities in performance as well as research opportunities that might develop.” After graduation, Ingleright will get married and move into a house in Macon with her fiancé Allen Morgan, who she has known since they were both freshmen at Mercer pursing music. “After I finish my Master’s, I’m probably going to go on and get my doctorate,” Ingleright said. “Ultimately I would like to be a college professor.” Possibly at Mercer? “Yeah, we’ll see,” she said. Parker Van Riper Senior bachelor of arts in music major Parker Van Riper will graduate next month and enter into an internship at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Van Riper, who has been involved in organizations such as the Ballroom Dance Club, Alpha Gamma Delta and The Cluster, said she is looking forward to being a part of the Disney Corporation. “I have always wanted to work at Disney, for Disney,” Van Riper said. “Disney World was a pretty big part of my childhood — that was where most of our really big family vacations when I was younger were. And there are a lot of special memories there.” Van Riper will be a part of the Disney College Program, an internship program in which individuals work in front-line roles at the theme park. Though she will be involved in customer service for the duration of her internship, Van Riper said she is also interested in auditioning for shows. “I’ve always wanted to be the voice of a Disney Princess,” she said. As a journalism and theatre minor, she said she would like to gain experience in both public relations and acting for the corporation. Van Riper said having professors like Scot Mann and Richard Kowoski will prepare her for a career at Disney. Van Riper said she is excited to get to Disney, where she has already established a foundation of friends who share her interest in entertainment. Mattias Palm In the summer after graduation, musician Mattias Palm will further his career in music by touring in his home country of Sweden. Palm, whose parents are also classical musicians, has been playing instruments since he was two years old. He has played the violin and cello and is now a double bassist. “What I like most about music is the ability to create something,” Palm said. “I like that it is the communication between an artist or a number of artists who are performing. It’s individual for every person who hears. Everyone gets a different experience, and you get to just share this moment together.” Palm is grateful for the creativity he has seen from students and the helping hand he has received from professors at Mercer, specifically Kurt Muroki. “He’s constantly pushing me way beyond what I thought I could achieve. This helped me realize that I could do much more than I thought I could do,” Palm said. After the summer, Palm said he will be a part of the School of Opera Ensemble in Sweden where he will be involved in a tour of the opera “Cinderella.” Palm is not sure where his musical path will take him, but he plans to enjoy every facet of his journey. “I hope that I get to live a life where I meet a lot of interesting people, hopefully inspire people around me by performing and giving them experiences they didn’t expect and that they enjoy and hopefully help the people that can’t get out their emotions — maybe music will help them and just bring joy,” he said. Roxy Bartz As a graphic design major and tennis player at Mercer, senior Roxy Bartz will be moving to Sea Island, Georgia after graduation to become a professional tennis player for a country club. “I’ve enjoyed the lectures and classes here, but it’s time to see what’s out there in the real world,” Roxy Bartz said in an email interview. The senior, who minors in photography and business, said after she plays on the professional level this summer, she will move to Greenville, South Carolina to work with an advertising marketing firm, Erwin Penland. Bartz is looking forward to being a part of the company because of its involvement with graphics, videos and photography. “I would love to start off there as a graphic designer and move around the company to the different fields of advertisement, such as photography and film that is associated with design,” Bartz said. She said that Mercer has prepared her for a career in graphic design. Graphic design professor Steve Simmerman, Bartz said, is a Type A person. “And [he] has made me a better graphic designer and has showed me lots of different techniques that separate me from everyone else in this field,” she said. Bartz also said she is grateful for her time at a Mercer. “We have spent four years here, and each moment has been a journey that has made me to the person I am today,” said Bartz. “It hasn’t always been easy, but even the rough moments will forever have an impacting effect on me for the rest of my life.” Clay Mote Senior Clay Mote, a vocal performance major, will be headed to Lawrenceville, Georgia after graduation. Mote will act as an apprentice for Aurora Theatre during the 2016-2017 season. “This position is ideal for someone who is coming out of college and wanting to pursue a career in the music theatre world,” Mote said. “The company is fantastic and produces some of the best professional shows outside Atlanta.” As someone who has performed in many of Mercer’s events, the singer said he is fit for the challenges ahead. “I have received some wonderful teaching and been given some remarkable performance opportunities during my time here at Mercer, and I feel very prepared to enter into the professional theatre world,” Mote said. In addition to performing in some of the shows at Aurora Theatre, he said he will be working with the technological side, as well as in marketing and sales for the company. “I’m really looking forward to doing what I love in a professional setting, and taking everything that I’ve learned not just at Mercer, but over the course of my entire education and completing my internship and then breaking into the professional theatre scene in Atlanta,” he said.
Mercer University’s Student Government Association and members of the student body selected professor of mathematics David Nelson as the 2016 Professor of the Year. Nelson, who has been teaching for 25 years, said he was surprised to receive the award. “It feels good,” he said. Though he hadn’t expected to receive the award, he accepted the students’ appreciation with humility. “He’s definitely a fun teacher,” said senior Jack Yoon. “He makes the math lecture really interesting so that it’s accessible to non-math majors.” Yoon is the president of the math club at Mercer, where Nelson is the faculty advisor. Yoon said Nelson has played a huge role in the increase of student involvement and activities for the club with his decision to bring Phi Mu Epsilon, a math honor society, to Mercer. “I think it’s the best, most prestigious math honors organization in the United States. He put so much effort into getting this math club turned into an officially-recognized honors society,” Yoon said.[pullquote speaker="Jack Yoon" photo="" align="left" background="on" border="all" shadow="on"]He makes the math lecture really interesting so that it’s accessible to non-math majors.”[/pullquote] After accepting an award on behalf of the Mercer Math Club for Most Improved Student Organization, Yoon expressed his gratitude for Nelson. “Without him we wouldn’t have had this improvement, and without it we wouldn’t have won this award,” Yoon said. On a short walk down memory lane, Nelson recalled his globetrotting childhood. Nelson was born in Malaysia to parents who were missionaries and grew up in Singapore as one of seven children. He carries on this interest of discovery even in his profession. “I went to India last year with Mercer Service Scholars, been to many places. One of the advantages of teaching is you have the summers off, so I travel,” he said. Nelson also said he remembers growing up and running cross country in Converse tennis shoes. He still shows support for sports by attending games at Mercer. “It’s nostalgic. When I went to Kansas, we would stand up at the ball game, and standing with the students here sort of brings back those memories for me. It’s also more healthy to stand up, and the students are having fun, which is why I sit with them,” Nelson said. Nelson said he enjoys being a mathematics professor. “It’s beautiful. It’s elegant. When you see something finally, it gives a great pleasure,” he said. He likes wearing jeans to classes where he teaches — one of the advantages of being a professor, he said. Nelson likes to push boundaries, and he said that he appreciates the students as much as they look to him for inspiration. “The best thing about Mercer is the students,” he said. “They’re great people. They’re just good people and fun to be around. Keeps me young.” An earlier version of this story did not include who wrote this article. Ireal James is the writer.
Devanshi Patel was awarded SGA’s Student of the Year 2016. Patel, who is from Charlotte, North Carolina, said she was grateful to receive the honor at the Student Leadership Awards, which were held Tuesday, April 19. “It’s a really big honor, and I really appreciate everyone who went out and voted for me and nominated me,” Patel said. “I think it’s one of the highest honors you can get at Mercer, and really, it embodies everything you want to be when you come in as a freshman. So I’m really honored that I got it.” Patel has been involved in many organizations and programs as an honors student during her four years at Mercer. Some of her organizational involvement includes Bear Force, QuadWorks, Sigma Alpha Pi, Pi Mu Epsilon, a preceptor for the honors program, serving as a teaching assistant for the biology department and others. She said some of her most memorable experiences with an organization was being a part of QuadWorks, where she currently serves as president. “I think one of the biggest and most planned-out events at Mercer is Bearstock, and I think I’ve just enjoyed all four years of just doing it. It was probably one of the coolest and most unique experiences I could ever have at Mercer,” Patel said. Patel said she also enjoyed putting together Homecoming for two years at Mercer. When she isn’t focusing on her studies, Patel plays sports on campus, and she said that she is a part of almost every intramural team that Mercer has to offer. “Go Bears!” she said. After graduation next month, the senior biology major with a chemistry minor said she will be attending medical school at the University of Tennessee to prepare for a career as a doctor. Patel said that she is also grateful for her professors at Mercer. “I’d have to say Dr. Hausburger,” Patel said, concerning a professor she’s had who has been particularly influential. “He was my professor for INT/UNV. He really showed me something I wasn’t expecting to get out of Mercer, which is seeing the world through a bigger picture,” she said. “We planned on going on Mercer on Mission, like as soon as I became a freshman and just his passion about community service and outreach, which I think is so amazing — that’s impacted me the most.” There are many who look up to her on campus. “I would just describe her as one of the just classic faces of Mercer,” said biology major Carson Crowley. “Everywhere she goes, she’s never met a stranger. I honestly can’t think of a more deserving person.”
The 5/4 Management Group, who recently launched 5/4 Music Space on Walnut Street in Macon, Georgia, is seeking artists who are interested in enhancing their musical talents in a major way. 5/4 Management Group is a team of music professionals who collaborate to serve the developmental needs of new and experienced songwriters and musicians. “We want to cultivate and promote musical art. We want to give artists a place that they can express themselves and have avenues to make themselves successful through their art,” said Andrew Eck, co-owner of 5/4 Management Group, in an email. Eck majors in engineering at Mercer and said he believes incorporating the 5/4 Music Space in Macon will give artists a facility to further develop their musical careers. Eck is joined by partners Mike Miller, George Murray, Bradley Lenz and Marc Whitten who are each personally interested in the Macon music scene. Once they noticed the lack of music spaces for artists around the Macon area, the group decided to start its own. The group’s incubator, 5/4 Music Space, launched in January and is located at the former Tubman Museum building downtown. As of now, it accommodates 10 bands who use the facility. “It beats anywhere else in Macon. This place is the best,” said Josh Garner, lead singer and rhythm guitar player in the band Failing Acts of Society, while in a rehearsal session at 5/4 Music Space. Through self funding and with the help of Friends of Macon Music — an incorporation that supports facilities for live music, new music and the cultivation of new artists in Macon — the space will act as a platform for artists who want to see their musical potential grow. Eck said the 5/4 Music Space plans to work alongside the revitalized Capricorn Recording Studio that is expected to launch in Macon soon. “We are the precursor to the Capricorn Incubator. So we’re trying out a lot of ideas that are going to be implemented at Capricorn to figure out what works and what doesn’t,” Eck said. Until then, the group is searching for artists who show interest in a space that provides recording studios, rehearsal rooms and music management. The space provides 24-hour access at a monthly rate. Eck said he encourages anyone who is interested to utilize the space whether they are musically inclined or not. Eck said there will be an upcoming Corner Concert event that will take place at the space Saturday, April 23. “If you’re a musician, come to the space, bring your instrument and jam out with us, perform in our open mic nights, get connected with other bands,” Eck said. “Everyone else, we would love for you to support the musical arts . . . It needs to be seen and heard. That's when art truly becomes alive, when their is audience interaction.” For more information on 5/4 Music Space contact Andrew Eck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The noises of drums, clapping and songs filled the Macon streets as the eighth commencement of the Holy Week Pilgrimage for Immigrants took place Sunday, March 20. Centenary Methodist Church hosted the event, but other parts of Georgia participated in the pilgrimage. The Holy Week Pilgrimage for Immigrants, hosted by Centenary Methodist Church, is an act of solidarity for all people to gather in agreement that immigrants should receive proper justice and care in any community they decide to live in, specifically in the United States. “I think that this is a really important event for people to come to especially if they are trying to figure out how to tell their immigrant brothers and sisters that they aren’t like everybody else . . . That God loves them just the way they are, and they are welcome in this country,” said Stacey Harwell-Dye, minister of community building at Centenary Methodist Church in Macon. Dozens of people joined in the walk that spanned four miles in the Macon community. As a sentiment for those who have faced adversity, participants stopped at the Rosa Park Square on Poplar Street and joined together for reflection. Following reflection, participants continued the act of faith with prayer as passing cars honked to acknowledge the event. “It’s important we are all here together celebrating what is and what should be justice for all,” said Mercer University School of Medicine professor Richard Camino. Along the way, members of congregations stood waiting to give water to those who walked for the cause. Harwell-Dye said she has heard stories of local immigrants who have faced adverse realities. “We have a sister congregation, Nueva Vida (New Life), and about three or four years ago there were some raids on homes [of immigrants who attended the church],” Harwell-Dye said. After the police raids, some of those immigrants were either deported for minor offenses, such as running a stop sign, or sent to detention centers that had unsanitary conditions, she said. In these cases, minor offenses would act as the catalyst for immigrant deportation of that individual as well as his or her family. “Sometimes they’re deported back to a country that they don’t remember. They came when they were small children. Some of them are deported back into a country that they don’t even speak the language well because they’ve been here so long,” Harwell-Dye said. One of the last stops for the Holy Week Pilgrimage for Immigrants in Macon was Central High School, where Mercer University freshman Ryan Partolan spoke about his parents’ decision to move to the United States from the Phillipines. Partolan, who majors in engineering, said that through his parents’ and brother’s sacrifices he has been given the chance to gain opportunity in the United States. After Partolan’s speech, participants returned to Centenary Methodist Church with a walk of silence and reflection for the event. “My favorite part of the pilgrimage was the walk from Central High School back to the church . . . because it symbolized the thousands of footsteps and miles that people walk everyday in search of a better life,” Partolan said in an email. Once they returned, participants ate and shared their personal stories among the group. “I think that this is an issue that a lot of students could be really invested in and active in and I don’t see a whole lot of students who let’s say know someone who may [be] affected…,” Harwell-Dye said. “So I really just want to encourage college students to think about it, to think about what their hearts say about [the immigrant issues in the U.S. and] at the very least give them a smile, be sympathetic to the problems,” Harwell-Dye said.
Mercer University notified students of their invitation to join the Phi Beta Kappa Society Monday and Tuesday of this week. Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation’s oldest academic honor society honoring the liberal arts and sciences. Mercer was granted its chapter this academic year. “The Phi Beta Kappa faculty are elated to recognize the exceptional academic achievements of our students,” said Mercer professor Jeff Denny. “These students have pursued a broad education in the liberal arts while performing at the highest levels of academics and integrity.” This week will begin the selection process for twelve students who have been nominated by faculty. The students are notified by faculty, dressed in regalia, of their invitation to join the society. Two of these students, Lauren Maxwell and Min Hyun Oh, were notified of their membership Monday at the Mercer Medical School Auditorium. “I’m just really honored; I’ve built a lot of great relationships with professors here and I’ve really enjoyed being in their classes and learning from them…it’s just really great,” said Lauren Maxwell, a senior who majors in English and Spanish with a minor in Secondary Education. Min Hyun Oh, a senior who majors in English with a minor in Education and Spanish, joined Maxwell as a selected member to the society. “I’ve gained so many mentors especially (Professor) David Davis, he has introduced me to so many opportunities in relations to scholarships and foreign opportunities that would really help me grow as a language education scholar because that’s what I am passionate about,” Min Hyun Oh said. Both Maxwell and Oh said they are grateful to be a part of the inaugural class of Mercer’s Phi Beta Kappa Society. Mercer’s selected students will join students of more than 200 colleges around the nation as Phi Beta Kappa members. Mercer is one of three colleges who will establish a chapter this year; the university is joined by Oregon State University and The University of Houston in Texas. In an acknowledgement of the Phi Beta Kappa chapter, a commemorative plaza is being constructed at Mercer to symbolize the university’s dedication to the society. The monument will be located outside of Willingham and is said to be completed next month. It will be dedicated to students and faculty, both new and distinguished, who have taken part in the establishment of the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Mercer will host its Phi Beta Kappa installation and induction ceremonies for the society’s new members in Fickling Hall April 9.
The National Society of Black Engineers will host an event in celebration of black history month on Friday. This event, ‘Embrace Your Journey,’ will celebrate the achievements of black Americans who have made incredible strides in history, as well as showcase African Americans at Mercer University. With a mission to increase the cultural diversity in the field of engineering, the event is open to all who would like to attend. There will be acknowledgements of other Mercer organizations such as The National Council of Negro Women, Point B.L.A.N.K, sororities, fraternities and more, as well as a guest speaker, Justin Brown who will address the difficulties of being a minority and how to overcome the challenges faced in society. The event will take place in Conference Room III of the Connell Student Center at 7 p.m.
Student interest has turned a one credit hour physical fitness course into a new club sport. The Mercer University Fencing Club, founded last September by fencing instructor James Taylor and some of his students, is training hard and already competing in tournaments. “The coach [Taylor] and a few friends in the class formed a club, so I joined because I was interested,” said Mercer student Pawel Kraj. Kraj said that the fencing club has been an educational experience as well as a physical activity. “[I] wondered about joining the fencing club in high school, but never got around to it,” Kraj said. After joining Mercer’s new club, Kraj said he learned a lot from Taylor even though he never took the formal course. The coach spent time developing students like him who showed an interest in the sport. “I had to catch up with my bladework and footwork. Coach Taylor gave me a really good introduction to fencing,” Kraj said. “He does a great job of not only showing us why something doesn’t work, but also how to do something better,” he said. As someone who has been newly introduced to fencing, Kraj said he enjoys the activity and working with experts as well as other students. There are other fencing clubs who also practice with the Mercer Fencing Club. “Some members of the Warner Robins Fencing Society also work with us. There’s also a professor at the medical school who comes to our practices, and his advice has been particularly helpful,” Kraj said. With the influence of other fencers, Mercer students learn different techniques that improve the way they perform during tournament time. “I look forward to working on how I fence and learning from different people I practice with,” Kraj said. The fencing club had mixed success in their Feb. 13 tournament in the University Center — one of their first since the organization was founded. Still, Kraj, who placed third in epee and saber, remains optimistic. “I learned a lot about fencing and about things that I need to work on, things that I’ve been doing well,” he said, adding that he had only started with saber fencing two weeks before. Kraj also said that there was a good fan turnout, with friends, faculty and family all showing up to support the fledgling team. “Seeing that support from the Mercer community was great,” he said. “As a whole, the tournament went pretty well.” The Mercer Fencing Club will fence against Georgia Tech next month. Though this will be another competition, the students seek to make friendships with their opponents. “Our tournaments are an opportunity to meet fencers from other schools. We usually go out to dinner after the tournament with them,” Kraj said.
The most recent season of “The Biggest Loser” boasted new features — a new gym, a new house and new host Bob Harper. For season 17 which began Jan. 4, the theme “Temptation Nation” dominated the contestants’ time on the show. During the premiere episode, competitors were tempted with an offer of $25,000 if they chose to quit before the training began. And for those who like feeling connected by watching people on television from their home state, there are two pairs from Georgia, one of which is from the mid-state. In one of the first challenges, the contestants were tested with eating unhealthy items at a food court. Warner Robins native Robert Kidney, who entered the competition with his daughter Sarah Gilbert, appeared passionate about his journey to healthy living and cried while eating the meal. Couple Colby and Hope Wright, from Odum, Georgia, have been strong willed since the start of the season and have shown near constant support for one another. In one episode, the contestants were taken to a doctor’s office. Kidney, the season’s oldest competitor, was told he would have less than five years to live if he continued with his eating patterns and did not make a change soon. The biggest trigger for Kidney’s weight gain was the passing of his friend and mentor. He said on the show that eating became “a numbing agent.” The doctor evaluated other contestants, and soon it was Colby Wright’s turn. In a written statement, Wright admitted to drinking a six-pack of soda, three sweet teas, over three cups of juice and a sports drink each day. As the competition continued, the contestants began to kick their weight loss into high gear, watching their food intake and going to the gym to exercise constantly. “There’s a lot on the line for me, for my wife, for my family, for my grandson,” Kidney said before a weigh-in. “I just don’t know what plan B is.” During the eighth week, Colby Wright lost only three pounds but was safe from elimination; however, Kidney went home. In a closing interview, Kidney said he was grateful for his time on “The Biggest Loser.” “I’m thrilled to go home and just be a new man to everybody,” Kidney said. “It’s just good to go home and actually feel like it.” In an update, Kidney was shown to have lost 100 pounds. Wright was the first contestant in the competition to hit the 100-pound weight loss mark. The contestants have truly shown how seriously they are taking their weight loss journeys. With dedication and support from others, the competitors show that there is a way to succeed over any obstacle. Once I started watching the show, I didn’t think as many of the contestants would do as well as they did. The season has been an inspiration for those who want to set a goal and achieve it.
Mercer University will host its first Student Composers Recital in the Townsend School of Music’s Fickling Hall Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. The Student Composers Recital is a student-initiated event that will showcase the work of students who have been writing their own musical pieces throughout the year. “It’s an exciting opportunity for student composers who are learning the craft of musical composition to demonstrate their ideas in a recital,” said composition professor Dr. Christopher Schmitz. “Now we have an opportunity to exclusively show student works that have been written.” Schmitz will be facilitating the recital and looking over students’ pieces as they prepare for their performances. The recital will include students from all experience levels who are willing to display their talents. “I’ve always wanted to compose — part of being a musician is not only just playing music, but also being able to write it,” said freshman composition student Noah Samuelson. “Getting into this recital . . . was a perfect way for me to embrace that craft,” he said. Samuelson said his method of preparation for the recital will develop slowly as he focuses on an idea, writing that idea and playing it for an audience. “Music is an absolute part of life for me. I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else or doing anything else,” Samuelson said. “It’s amazing, and I’m really looking forward to it.” Schmitz said that although students are working independently on their compositions, there will be opportunities for them to collaborate with professors and instrumentalists. “I have been working on a song cycle of three pieces that I will be doing,” said Beau Palmer, a graduate student who will participate in the showcase. The cycle is called “Songs for My Children.” Palmer said the three pieces were inspired by his four children: one reflects on table manners, in another a father is being woken up by his son who wants to be fed and the other focuses on a father’s realization of what the world is like after having children. “Dr. Schmitz’s daughter will be playing the clarinet on the song cycle,” Palmer said. Palmer has written poetry for his pieces. And Townsend professor Dr. Carol Goff will act as an accompanist for Palmer’s compositions. Even as a graduate student at Mercer, Palmer said he is still learning. “I did my bachelor’s [degree] many, many years ago, and I didn’t care much for [music] theory back then,” Palmer said. “But Dr. Schmitz is so kind and generous with his time.” “I am exceptionally pleased with all the progress I’ve made [with Schmitz],” he said. Schmitz said that the Student Composers Recital will not be competitive. Instead, it will focus on students’ creativity and emotion. “This is really a neat opportunity,” he said. “I didn’t expect this many students to be taking composition this semester, so I’m really thrilled that they are. I think it’s going to be really fun.” All are welcome to attend the Student Composers Recital, and admission is free. “I hope [my students] will get a chance to hear their experiments . . . and get feedback in the performance that allows them to learn from their mistakes,” Schmitz said.
This year the Academy nominated all white actors for the Oscars. The decision — much like last year’s — has sparked a multitude of responses on social media with a plethora of hashtags, such as #OscarsSoWhite, #drama, #seriouslythough, #OscarsStillSoWhite. Some of the responders were celebrities. An outspoken critic was Jada Pinkett-Smith who insisted that she would neither support nor attend the awards show. “At the Oscars . . . people of color are always welcome to give out awards . . . even entertain, but we are rarely recognized for our artistic accomplishments,” said Pinkett-Smith on Facebook and Twitter. Pinkett-Smith’s husband, Will Smith, as well as other black actors were predicted to be contenders but were ultimately not chosen. While Pinkett-Smith’s protest not to attend the awards show was established to directly address a lack of diversity within the Academy Awards, her comments seemed to spark a heated reaction from other black celebrities. Particularly, actress Janet Hubert disagreed with Pinkett-Smith’s motives as to why she was suddenly against supporting the Academy Awards. Hubert, also known as “the dark-skinned Aunt Viv,” from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” insisted that Pinkett-Smith was overreacting merely because her husband was not nominated for his role in “Concussion,” Smith’s recent film. If Will Smith was an Oscar nominee, there would be no protest from the Smiths, Hubert said. Pinkett-Smith responded that the reality of the Oscars is not a black versus white issue but instead should be a force for the black community to showcase their own films with black actors who address social conditions that take place in their communities. Personally, I am not excited about watching the Oscars. In response to the controversy over the Oscars, the argument about a lack of diversity was overshadowed by the light skin versus. dark skin arguement in the black community. This is seen directly in the black community’s nickname for Hubert. The idea of “light skin versus dark skin” is not just skin deep; it divides the black community. And in the case of the Oscars, it served as a distraction against the first problem — a lack of diversity in the Academy Awards. This is an issue that caused these celebrities not to focus on what the problem was but to revert back to an underlying issue that impacts the black community. Who knew the #OscarsSoWhite would cause friction between black people.
Born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in the small community of Waycross, Georgia, Denzel Washington always had big musical aspirations. But it was not always clear what career he wanted to pursue in the field. Now a junior at Mercer majoring in music with a minor in Christianity, Washington’s musical dream has become clear — he wants to be a composer. “Being a composer, for me, means creating art using different techniques that incorporate sound and using those techniques to convey a message, a response or evoke emotion,” Washington said. Though Washington began composing music recently, his lack of experience does not diminish his passion. “I’ve been seriously composing music since my second semester of being here at Mercer,” said Washington, “It started with just a project, but then my love for composing grew exponentially.” From that moment forward Washington began to think of his style as a process. “My favorite part is where you just throw stuff on a page . . . [when] you take out all the ideas you have and you put them on a page,” Washington said. “From there it’s the crafting and molding of those ideas that is really, really satisfying.” As a saxophone player, Washington has first-hand knowledge of how instruments merge with other musical elements. “When I think of composing music, I think of it like writing a good book,” Washington said. Washington says that others have helped him increase his musical awareness, particularly his professors. “The saxophone professor here, Dr. [Monty] Cole, [is] an amazing saxophone professor, and I learned so much from . . . taking his advice,” Washington said. “I’ve also been really inspired by the composition professor here, Dr. [Christopher] Schmitz.” Washington said that the influence professors have shared with him has made his choice of becoming a Mercer student worthwhile. “What I’ve come to learn is that you cannot stay isolated in one area — you have to expose yourself to much of what Mercer has to offer. That’s what makes college great because when you do that, you’ll have new ways to think about whatever it is you’re doing,” Washington said. Though Washington enjoys activities, such as playing video games and watching his favorite shows on Hulu, these activities feed his journey toward being a well-rounded composer. “I get a lot of my inspiration for where I start writing music [and] how I can start crafting good stories [from watching movies],” Washington said. Washington believes his compositions will make him a success someday. “I aspire to have proficient skill in many areas of composition, not just one, so if I’m called to write for chamber music and concert music, I’d be able to do that,” Washington said. Washington will soon participate in the Student Composers Recital, a concert that features new music created by students of Schmitz’s composition studio. The concert will be held in Fickling Hall on Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. Washington will premiere his piece “Maturity: Song Cycle for Soprano, Cello and Piano” at the concert.
The Mercer University School of Medicine will host its First Annual Service Leadership Conference Jan. 30 at the Medical School Auditorium. A Medical School Distinction in Service to the Community (DISC) Program sponsored event, the conference will display inventive service projects created by medical students. “Having a platform where students can come together and share service experiences promotes new partnerships and growth of currently operating projects,” said Kristen Kettlehut in an email, a third year medical student and one of the hosts and organizers for the conference this year. Kettlehut is joined by fellow host and organizer Channing Bowers, who is a second year Medical School student at Mercer. Both Kettlehut and Bowers have been DISC members since they started medical school. They have decided to coordinate the conference in addition to their own service projects. “Because we’re inviting members for the Macon community at large, I’m looking forward to (potential) project growth! Ideally, the exposure and publicity of these various service efforts will lead to their implementation elsewhere,” Bowers said in an email. In addition to being sponsored by DISC, a program established for students to participate in learning through creating partnerships in the community, the conference is a part of Mercer’s Center for Community Engagement campus association. “It’s easy to think that as a student, you may not have much to offer… that after you graduate, you’ll be better equipped to help. But this conference completely subverts that view…” Bowers said. There will be poster presentations and a series of TEDx style talks by the students. The conference is at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 30 and is free and available for students, faculty and staff to attend.
Moving away from your hometown and onto a college campus is not always the simplest task, and this process has been monumental in the life of Jiali Chen. Chen, 19, is a soft spoken and witty personality from Quanzhou, China. This is Chen’s first semester at Mercer, where she is an international student majoring in Journalism. While Chen would like to be a journalist someday, bridging the gap between Chinese and English prove to be difficult for her every now and then. “In my classes, sometimes I have some problems with language, but the students and teachers are really patient with me,” Chen said. “They will listen to me… explaining what I’m thinking about and they’ll try to understand the different (cultural) background and they won’t judge me because (of) our different opinions.” However, as the first female born to two Chinese citizens, she was not always accepted at home.[pullquote speaker="Jiali Chen, 19" photo="" align="right" background="on" border="all" shadow="on"]My grandma was really disappointed that I turned out to be a girl, but later on when I started to learn the languages and I started to talk, she found out I can memorize things quickly, and that’s how she changed her view on me,” [/pullquote] “My grandma was really disappointed that I turned out to be a girl, but later on when I started to learn the languages and I started to talk, she found out I can memorize things quickly, and that’s how she changed her view on me,” Chen said. While gender roles in China have become more equal between men and women in recent years, there are still many cultural aspects in which the Communistic country favors men. “In some rural areas girls are not as desired as boys… (because) boys are the ones who carry the family name,” Chen said. Although Chen’s mother did not want her to go to the United States to attend school at first, it was Chen’s father’s idea for her to move to the U.S. Chen currently hosts a blog on the Chinese social media giant Qzone. “I started (writing my blog) when I entered middle school and the reason why is that… I started to watch movies with my friends and after the movie… they found my arguments really interesting,” she said. The blog consists of Chen’s own movie reviews, book reviews and photography. Chen often posts photos of Macon’s scenery in order to provide her viewers a sense of what life is like in the U.S. Chen often writes for the blog in her dorm, though she sometimes rides her bike to write in one of the restaurants in downtown Macon for a change of scenery. “I am not really a sociable person, I like to be alone,” said Chen. “If I am creating something, I like to be in a room by myself because (I) can feel (I am) expanding (my) imagination.”
Over the past six months, the Macon-based band Royal Johnson has worked its way up from a group of two Georgia-born artists to a four-member band consisting of members from Washington and Michigan. Citing musical influences from talents such as Macon-native blues and funk guitarist Robert Lee Coleman, the band released its full-length debut album on Sept. 25. The album, “Belly Full,” begins almost as if you are cruising as the sun sets. The country styled rock tune “Sunset Roller Palace” starts the album off with a fresh, upbeat melody. “Boar,” the first song with lyrics on the album, uses word play from the album’s title with the line “find that red tomato / squeeze tight / bust it / with a large grip / with a large grip." The selection showcases its country rock roots with its repetitive and direct phrasing and word choice. Songs like “Plow” keep up the rock n’ roll influence, and the selection “Ballad of Birmingham” mellows the album with its mysterious sound and subdued tempo, which complement the continuous pattern of the drums. Royal Johnson members Andy Johnson, Chance Royal, Kevin Vines, and Joanie Ferguson combine their musical talents into a bit of folk, a bit of rock n’ roll and a touch of blues for the remainder of the album. The songs on the album “Belly Full” are well-balanced. Though the guitar is an instrument used consistently in the album, it does not overwhelm Johnson, the band’s lead singer. No one instrument overshadows another. The album started as a scattering of demos about a year ago, but when a substantial group of songs had been produced, the group decided to begin planning an album. “I think listeners will notice that while every song is decidedly southern. Several different genres are presented and put together,” Johnson said. Royal Johnson’s next performance in Macon will take place at The Crazy Bull on January 15, 2016.