If you’re a rising senior, which is a fourth-year student or above, you may have received an email last month stating that you wouldn’t be guaranteed on-campus housing for the next academic year, but Jeff Takac, the director of housing at Mercer University, said this is normal. Takac said the email is sent to rising seniors every year just as a reminder that seniors aren’t guaranteed housing and should explore off-campus options just in case. “The concept is, we don’t know if we can house all of (the seniors), and last year they said we didn’t give them enough time to look for a place off campus,” Takac said. “The memo was, ‘You need to start looking.’ It doesn’t mean you won’t get housing on campus, but you need to look just in case you don’t.” Takac said that the process has essentially been flipped this time to warn rising seniors that they aren’t guaranteed housing on campus before the housing contracts go out. He said the main thing that has changed is that because of the flip, housing was not able to tell rising seniors how many spaces are available for them yet. Housing will not have an exact number of available spots for seniors to live on campus next year until after housing contracts are submitted, he said. In past years, housing has been successful in getting most seniors on-campus housing if they wanted it, Takac said. “Anyone who stayed on the (waiting list) got in,” Takac said. He said the list started with over 100 students. However, some of those people left the school or campus for various reasons such as transfers or studying abroad, Takac said. “The freshman class is bigger this year, so the sophomore housing spaces will fill more. We’ll probably push a few more people off campus that are seniors this year,” Takac said. There is currently a petition going around amongst rising seniors with a link on the Class of 2019 Facebook page about housing. The petition has over 100 signatures, and there are several comments from students that express unhappiness with the housing situation for students. Issues range from availability for rising seniors to the three-year on-campus living requirement. “The university went to a three-year requirement years ago because a lot of competitors do it,” Takac said. “It was done because we know students do better, they retain better, they’re more active on campus. There’s just a lot of benefits that far outweigh not (having the requirement).” Takac said the Lofts will be available to seniors after the rest of campus has completed housing. After underclassmen complete their housing requests, the remaining on-campus residence halls and Lofts will become available to rising seniors. Takac said that, while limited, there should definitely be some spaces available in the Lofts and other on-campus housing. There may be some underclassmen who want to room with rising seniors in the Lofts with them next year, which is also a possibility. Housing recently sent out an email to the student body about this as well. “We’re trying to get their names so that when we do have spaces open up, we can try to help them make sure everybody’s getting what they want,” Takac said. With the ever-growing student population, housing availability is going to become more tightly packed, Takac said, but the phase seven Lofts will go up next to the Lofts at Mercer Landing. Nikki Rogers, the corporate property manager for Sierra Development—the company that owns the Lofts—said in an email that there will be about 300 beds in the new Lofts. “Construction has already begun, and we will have it ready for the 2019 school year,” Rogers said in an email. Rogers also said in the email that the Lofts will have another parking garage built with them. More information on this can be found in another Cluster article. Takac said these new Lofts will not be available for students to move in to until next school year, which will not help current rising seniors who still want to live on campus. However, it will add extra available housing for students in the following years. Takac said that when these Lofts are completed, they will help in creating more availability for future rising seniors who want to live on campus for their senior years.
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Mercer has a new student organization this semester called Students Supporting Israel. The club was started by Mercer junior Shanna Mattson, who also serves as the club president. “The purpose of it is to just have a space for students. It was started by students for students,” Mattson said. “And it’s just to have a space for students who love Israel to celebrate the culture of Israel and educate campuses about the culture of Israel and kind of celebrate with each other and share that celebration with everyone.” Mattson said the club was created by her and several of her friends of Israeli ethnicity and other similar ties to create a community centered around Israeli culture. “When I came [to Mercer] there was not a lot of people that I noticed who had ethnic ties to Israel. So I wanted there to be a place to celebrate that part of my culture, but there wasn’t really a lot of interest.” Mattson said. She said her past two years at Mercer have seen a growth in students with ethnic ties to Israel and interest in this kind of club. “There’s people who want this, so I thought it would be a great time to make it happen.” While the club mostly consists of people with ethnic or other similar ties to Israel, Mattson said there was interest from other people who are outside of these ties. They hope to bring in more people for a diverse group. Both Mattson and Jenna Bruck, the vice president of the student organization, said they hope to share Israeli culture with Mercer’s campus for anyone interested in the experience. “I really hope that this club promotes a lot of the really cool cultural aspects of Israel. It is a very multicultural place,” Bruck said. “I think that creating a club will really help promote ideas of tolerance and (acceptance), even if views are different.” The Student Government Association unanimously voted in favor of the club’s creation after a few supportive comments and questions from the Student Government members. This is the first semester for the club, which is a chapter of a national organization of the same name. The organization has chapters in several colleges and even a few high schools around the country. The club is so new that the Mercer chapter is not even listed on the organization’s website yet, but Mattson has said that all of that should change soon now that they are officially ratified by the Student Government Association. “Our mission is to be a clear and confident Pro-Israel voice on college campuses, and to support students in grassroots Pro-Israel advocacy,” reads the mission statement on the organization’s website. There have been Israel support groups on other campuses that have been seen by some as politically motivated organizations. Several statements on the national organization’s website from officers of chapters on other campuses refer to the political state and government of Israel. However, Mattson said her chapter has no political interest or motivation. She said that while political discussion can arise when talking about Israel, this club is all about the culture and creating a community. “Really our goal here is to just shed a positive light on Israel and really a message of hope in that area,” Mattson said. “It’s not a political ambition. It’s really a cultural club celebrating the culture of Israel.” The club has only had one meeting at this point between the officers, and they said it was used to discuss what kinds of things they wanted to do with the club. An interest meeting will be held at the beginning of March to find people who are interested in being a part of the club. After this meeting, Mattson said they want to hold various events based on Jewish and Israeli holidays and celebrations. “I really think it is cool to celebrate the Jewish holidays, which is big in Israel because there’s a lot of Jews who live there,” Bruck said. Bruck and Mattson also said events based on the Israel national holidays and Israeli food may be held by the club. Mattson said there is no official list of members at the time, but that there is a GroupMe chat for the club with nine people currently. “The majority (of club members) right now have ethnic ties to Israel, but I expect that as the club grows and we start to actually advertise that percentage will probably shift,” Mattson said. “I think there’s a lot of people on campus who are not tied to Israel ethnically who love Israel, so I’m excited to see all types of people come and join us.”
There’s a culture and history surrounding Capricorn Records, and now there’s Lofts surrounding it too. But, on the inside of that worn building, a revitalization is being planned. In 2015, Mercer partnered with NewTown Macon to begin the transformation of the original Capricorn studio. The Lofts at Capricorn opened this past December, and people have already began moving in. One of the buildings won’t be available to rent until April, but the other three are open and operating. Alexis Fletcher, the manager of the Lofts at Capricorn, said the Lofts have the overarching theme of the history behind Capricorn Records. “Pretty much everything in here has to do with Capricorn Records,” Fletcher said while pointing out some of the various pieces of art, photos and memorabilia related to the studio that were hanging on the walls of the lobby. The lofts come in one and two-bedroom options and vary in price from just under $1,200 to just over $1,800. A $300 administrative fee is halved for Mercer students. Next to the pool area is a mural painted on the side of Capricorn Records. The original painter, Michael Pierce, was brought out in fall of last year to restore the mural, which had been damaged over the years by the weathering and decaying state of the Capricorn building. There is also a spot marked on the wall by the pool where glass will be installed so that Loft residents will be able to see into the Capricorn recording studio once it has been restored. “With the studio, Mercer is working on renovating the inside of it and making it back into a functioning recording studio,” Fletcher said. “They’ll have shows in there. There’s supposed to be a bar. So it’s gonna be a really cool place once it’s done.” The restoration of the studio is being overseen by Larry Brumley, the senior vice president for marketing communications and chief of staff at Mercer University. Brumley said these Lofts are the first residential construction project in downtown Macon in about eighty years. “We’re in the homestretch of fundraising for it,” Brumley said. “We need about another two million dollars to get all the funds necessary to do what we want to do with the facility. We’ve got some large asks out. We’re hoping that will be positive and will get us to the finish line.” The fundraising goal for the project is $3.5 million total. Brumley said the restoration of the studio will be broken up into four main “components” and will result in a restored studio and various additional features and facilities for students, musicians and local non-profit organizations. “So the project in a nutshell is this: leveraging Macon’s music heritage to create Macon’s music future,” Brumley said. “Capricorn has this great rich history. It’s the birthplace of southern rock...and so it’s a very important national, cultural site.” The first component involves the original recording studio itself. Brumley said the goal in this area is to update the equipment to modern standards and get the studio operating again. The recording studio business has changed in recent years, Brumley said. These types of studios are going away because they cannot financially support themselves. To combat this issue, Brumley said there are several other components of the project that will generate revenue and also provide opportunities and facilities for local musicians and Mercer students. “The second major piece of it that’s about creating Macon’s music future is what we’re calling music incubators,” Brumley said. “One side of the building is going to have 13 rehearsal rooms of various sizes that musicians can rent by the month.” Brumley said musicians that rent out the rehearsal rooms will have 24/7 access to the rooms to practice and will have the opportunities to meet and collaborate. The third part of the project is what Brumley refers to as the “interpretive space, telling the story of Macon’s music history.” Brumley said this part will function like a “mini museum.” It will be located on the second floor of the studio and will be open to the public. It will have a variety of artifacts and memorabilia as well as digital kiosks that show the story of Macon’s music history and the history of Capricorn. The final part of the project is creating office space for local non-profit arts related organizations to have and congregate in. “All within that 20,000 square feet you’ll have all this talent and interaction and collaborating and the inspiration of what was made there in the past that was so important to our country’s cultural history,” Brumley said. “And all that together will create something that is completely unique in America.” Brumley said Mercer has talked with people across the country, including at various historic studios and at the Grammy Museum. “They’ve told us what you’re putting together under that one roof does not exist anywhere in America,” Brumley said. “It is an absolutely unique concept.” Brumley said he also expects the music school to even be able to hold classes at the studio sometimes to teach students about various aspects of recording music in a professional studio. “It is a nationally important project,” Brumley said. “If we can finish the fundraising and make this happen, this will be a tremendous asset for Macon and for Mercer.” Brumley said the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles has also been in contact with Mercer about the studio becoming an affiliate of their educational program due to the shared goals of education. Outside of the school, the studio will also be open to the public for renting studio space. Local musicians and even Mercer musicians can pay by the hour to use the historic studio to record songs and albums in either digital or analog format. Brumley said they are planning to keep the original recording booth mostly the same for the nostalgic and historic value of it. On the other side of the recording booth is the lobby entrance to Capricorn Records, which will be turned into a second area for recording or for holding concerts. Brumley said that, since the film industry is growing in Georgia, this second recording area will be made to work well for recording film scores. Despite the work the studio will need, it’s still functional as a studio right now. “Even with the building in this condition, we still do some recordings in it,” Brumley said. Several local journalists and Mercer students have used the recording booth in recent months. Brumley said one local journalist at GPB brought his own equipment into the studio to record a band playing when he did a story on them even though the building doesn’t even have running water. The goal, Brumley said, is for the project to be completed sometime in 2019, which will be the 50th anniversary of Capricorn Records. Brumley said that growing up with the music that came out of Capricorn Records has made this a special project for him and for many others. “The music of Capricorn is kind of the music of my life,” Brumley said. “I guess you could say I’m kind of revisiting my childhood, in a way, working on this project.”
If you’re a Mercer student, there’s a good chance you’ve submitted a maintenance request for something broken or not working in your dorm room before. Even if you haven’t made a request, you’ve probably had someone from maintenance come to do routine checkups such as checking light bulbs or replacing filters for your air conditioner. According to several students’ experiences, maintenance requests can take an extended period of time to be completed, if they are done at all. “We made the [maintenance] request in November, and they came in like December,” said Anaise Higgins, a sophomore living in the Adams Winship apartments. “And they didn’t do anything about it until January.” Amanda Hall, a Mercer sophomore living in Sherwood had several issues that took a long time to get resolved. She made a maintenance request when she and her suitemates’ toilet was so clogged it started overflowing. “Another time when we first got here, the room was infested with roaches and they never came to spray or anything,” Hall said. “I called [Residence] Life like thirty times because there were thirty roaches in an hour we were seeing. It was bad. And they never came.” Hall had another bad experience at the beginning of this year with maintenance. Her shower was leaking, and when she returned to her dorm and founding someone fixing it, she said that she thanked him for coming out and asked what he was doing and that he then told her to “get out.” Timeliness and communication have been common issues addressed by students who have made maintenance requests before. Jeff Takac, the director of housing, expressed that there are some issues with communication with students and in the amount of manpower of the maintenance department. Another factor that can slow turnaround times is the fact that there are only three people running housing maintenance. Takac said they have noticed this though and are looking into potentially hiring a fourth person to help run maintenance. “In the beginning of the year, it’s a little bit slower,” Takac said. “I want to say they try to estimate 48 hours; they’d like everything done in 48 hours.” There are several students on campus who have said that maintenance has been very good for them, filling their requests quickly and without issue. Takac said that this estimated window of time begins after a work form is generated from a maintenance request, which may take a day or two depending on when it is filed. This takes place everywhere on campus, not just for students in dorms. “I think overall maintenance does a pretty good job of turning stuff around,” Takac said. Maintenance is run from the physical plant behind the phase five lofts, and they handle maintenance for all of campus, including dorms, classrooms and offices. Donald Hicks, the Director of Facilities at the Mercer Physical Plant, said in an email that they also have to prioritize some issues over others. “We try to prioritize the work orders as they come in,” Hicks said. “We handle Life Safety & Security and emergency issues as soon as they are received. Others are prioritized and are completed as quickly as possible.” He and Takac also said that things can take longer if maintenance has to order a part for a request such as a pipe when one is broken or a component for a thermostat. There have been experiences from students as well that reflect this, but many of these experiences have been frustrating or confusing to students because of a lack of communication. “My room hasn’t had much difficulties or anything. [The] only problem was that one time our AC broke. And so it kind of took a while for us to get the request in and have someone fix it,” said Aditi Dave, a sophomore living in Shorter Hall. “Right now it’s completely fine. But otherwise, like while getting the request, it did take longer than what we expected.” It took about two weeks before maintenance came out and fixed the issue with her air conditioning, and she was never notified of anything regarding the request. “They just kind of came in out of nowhere. They didn’t really notify us about anything,” Dave said. She said maintenance has been good since and that this was her only “bad” experience with them. “I have had numerous discussions with my team members about the need to keep our campus customers informed about work order progress,” Hicks said in an email. “Communication breakdown is a continual problem that we are trying to resolve.”
With about 4,700 currently enrolled undergraduate students at Mercer University, on-campus housing is nearing a full capacity between the different residence halls and lofts. “We are full. We’re real full,” said Jeff Takac, the Director of Housing at Mercer University. “We’re probably 97 percent occupancy. It’s a good year.” There are 2,550 spaces in total for on-campus housing between the lofts and residence halls, according to Takac. Between these two, 1,950 of those spaces are in residence halls and 600 are in the lofts. According to a recent census done by housing, 1,887 (97 percent) of the residence hall spaces are taken and 593 (99 percent) of the loft spaces are taken. “Obviously, you’d like to operate at 100 percent because that’s always good financially and everything else,” Takac said. “You want to be above 95 percent if at all possible. I’ve been here 14 years, we’ve been above 95 percent occupancy all the time, which is a good thing. Even when enrollment fluctuates, housing has always been pretty full.” Enrollment in the past five years has increased by a total of about 300 students, and housing has also increased with the building of new lofts and of Legacy Hall, which itself added 300 beds for freshman housing. Despite the growing student body and there being more enrolled students than there is housing, Takac did not express any concern for housing the large number of students. “We don’t have a lot of students that can’t get housing,” Takac said. “Usually, if they want housing, we’re able to house them. But it’s maybe not their first choice. But we can get them in.” The 1,950 spaces in residence halls break down very simply. According to Takac, Legacy Hall can house up to 300 freshmen, and Boone, Dowell and Porter together can also house up to 300 freshmen. Roberts Hall can hold up to 80 freshmen and sophomores, Sherwood Hall can hold about 124 sophomores and Shorter can hold about 130-135 sophomores. Adam’s Winship and the Garden apartments can each house up to 220 residents each, most of which are juniors. Mercer Hall can house up to 200 juniors, and Greek housing can hold up to 150 students in Greek life. There are also 32 units in the Orange Street apartments, though those are mostly house graduate students. Some students expressed issues with the three-year housing requirement, which requires Mercer students to live in on-campus housing until their senior years. However, Takac said that establishing a sense of community is a very important part of housing at Mercer. “I think most universities will tell you it creates a better environment on campus,” Takac said. “I think that students do better, their GPAs are higher. There’s a lot of statistics if you look at why it’s better to stay on campus.” Takac said that when the majority of students live on campus, it creates a better on-campus environment. This environment also includes an active student community that is more likely to get involved in various activities on campus. Takac said that there was even a desire from almost 500 seniors that wanted to live on campus this year. He said that when he first came to Mercer 14 years ago, Mercer was considered a “suitcase college” because there was nothing to do and students would just leave on the weekends. “I don’t feel like people believe that at all anymore,” he said. Looking to the future, Takac said that Mercer is looking to update housing and attempt to make most housing nicer like the new Legacy Hall. “What we’re trying to do is update some of our older residence halls,” TaKac said. “We’ve done some things with our lobbies to update them. We put some new furniture in, and we’ve added some games.”
The ability to find parking spaces on campus has been an issue for both commuters and on-campus residents at Mercer for many years, and these complaints have grown since the increase in the student population in the past five years. Many students have stated their frustration in finding a parking space near their residence halls, especially on the side of campus with the apartments and Mercer, Sherwood and Shorter Halls. “I think there aren’t enough parking spots, which is really unfortunate for students like me who have to work off campus. It’s sort of not fair,” said Mark Boland, a junior Mercer Hall resident. Boland said that he’s had occasions where he would check the Sherwood, Mercer Police and Garden Apartment lots and find nothing. “I get off work at 6 p.m. usually, and I have to come back here and find a parking place, and the thing about coming back at 6 p.m. is that some lots just aren’t open whatsoever,” he said. He said he sometimes ends up going to Tattnall and finding almost all of the parking spots taken there, “even though they’re not even part of the university parking.” [related title="Related Stories" stories="22546,22769,17486" align="center" background="off" border="none" shadow="off"] Junior residents are not the only students complaining about the lack of parking. Although parking spots were added with the creation of the new Legacy Hall, freshman have said there are still times where it is hard to find a spot. “In the beginning of the year, it was pretty good. I found a parking spot pretty easily,” said Cindey Perez, a freshman living in Legacy Hall. “But now it’s like super hard to find a parking spot. This morning it took me—like actually I was driving in circles trying to find a spot. It took like 15 to 20 minutes. Almost was late to class.” Students who commute also expressed complaints about the availability of parking similar to those of on-campus residents. One student who commutes to Mercer every day, a graduate student named Tyler Hiislip, said that some hours are better for finding parking than others. “If I go early enough, it’s pretty good, and around 5 p.m., when I have my other classes, it’s fine. If I go in the middle of the day, though, it’s kind of crowded,” Hiislip said. Mackenzie Pfaff, a sophomore resident of the Lofts at Mercer Landing, also expressed concerns with parking for those loft residents on game days and other large events. She said that Mercer turns the parking at Mercer Landing into paid parking for event-goers and that this has caused issues for her and her fellow Loft residents. “So on game days, they let people pay to park at Mercer Landing [and] I have a job and work Saturday mornings most of the time. So I will leave and go to work and come back and have no where to park,” Pfaff said. “I live there, so I have nowhere to park because Mercer lets people pay to park where I pay $800 a month to live.” Pfaff also said that when she returned to her loft to change clothes on a game day, she was asked to pay for parking before explaining she was a resident of the Lofts, as her parking decal showed. There were also students who said they were unhappy to read in an article in the previous issue of The Cluster that Mercer Police issued out almost 800 more parking decals to students and faculty than there are total parking spaces on campus. Another concern was also expressed for the spots used by students and faculty at Tattnall Square Park when they cannot find spots on campus. “I think it’s also unfortunate for the community because we have so many people from Mercer parking on Tattnall,” Boland said. “So it takes away spaces from the type of people that just want to go to the park just because there aren’t enough on Mercer for their own students.” Not all students have had mostly bad experiences with parking. A few students living on the side of campus with Legacy, Plunkett and Mary Erin Porter residence halls have said that their experiences with parking has been positive. “It’s been pretty good actually. Except like, some days it’s bad,” said Jesse Standard, a freshman living in Dowell. “Like in the morning when all the commuters come. But mostly, most of the time, at least somewhere, there’s something.” Andrew Pryer, a freshman living in Plunkett, said, “Overall, my experience has been not too terrible. I haven’t really left campus that much. I do know I was able to get a fairly decent spot. Although on occasion, if I leave during the day of course, you know all the spots are going to be taken, and I generally have to park more towards the faculty parking lot in that case.”
Mercer Patienthood Internship Program offers medical students a unique experience from the patient’s viewpoint
While the idea for the program arose in fall of 2015, the Patienthood Internship Program was not founded until last year, and the program currently has 15 undergraduate pre-medical, pre-physician assistant and pre-nursing students enrolled.The program is meant to give undergraduate pre-medical students a look into the medical world both through their work in the classroom and through their experiences serving as practice patients for the medical students who are practicing for their different exams.Carol Bokros, the Assistant Director of Pre-Professional Programs at Mercer, started the program due to interest from undergraduate Mercer students.“Over the years, Mrs. O’Neal, who’s the assistant director of the Clinical Development & Assessment Center (CDAC), has called me off and on asking for undergraduates who might participate in these practice sessions,” Bokros said. “I have a lot of students interested in doing it, but it’s really hard to schedules times when they could come over and be patients for the full afternoon.”The solution to this problem, Bokros said, was to create the Patienthood Internship Program. This was created as a one-hour class with internship credit that students could take that had set times when they would participate in the practice exams as patients for the medical students.“When we first started talking about this project in fall of 2015, I threw an email out to my professional group, the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions, to see if anybody was doing anything similar,” Bokros said.She said that nobody replied to her email, but she later talked to other advisors for different schools and said that she found no other schools were doing a program like this.Before the students partake in the practice exams each week, they are trained by Mike Hinshaw, the Standardized Patient Trainer at Mercer University’s School of Medicine. He tells the students what to expect from each session and then teaches them the types of techniques and procedures the medical students will be using so that they can learn about it themselves.“To me this is one of the most important things that the first and second year students will do,” Hinshaw said. “All the academic requirements are a must, but this is where they learn to communicate with the patients. They learn to listen. They learn to be empathetic. They learn technique and procedures so they can get good diagnostic results. But the communication skills is the big thing.”Bokros said she wanted the students in the program to learn these things through the practice exams with the medical students. Empathy was a subject she said was the main lesson she wanted the students to get out of the program.“One of the things that last year’s interns told me is how eye-opening it was to talk to the medical students and see how nervous they were as they gave their first physical exams,” Bokros said.One of the current students in the program, Dru Ford, said that it was eye-opening to discover that he was learning a lot during this program just like they still are in medical school.“[The medical students are] not these superhuman beings that just know everything their first day here,” he said.Bharath Sharma, who was a part of the program last year, said the program gave him great insight into what it is like during a physical examination from the patient’s point of view. He said that patients may often feel nervous in a doctor’s office and be unsatisfied with the experience and that this program helped him understand both sides of different medical procedures.“It’s been really interesting to figure out the different minute aspects to certain physical exams that we’ve talked about so far, such as the pulmonary exam that we [took part in] today,” said Kelsey Duffey, a junior pre-pediatric Mercer student taking part in the patienthood internship program. “It was just really fascinating to actually begin to learn some of those medical terminologies and physical exam skills before even being in a medical school of any kind.” Editor's note: as of 11/2, this article was edited to reflect the correct spelling of Dru Ford's name.
Clay Young graduated from Mercer in 2016 after studying music education. Now he’s back for a master’s degree in choral conducting with aspirations in singing and opera. Young is originally from Dublin, Georgia and has been interested in music since childhood. He got his start when he was around five years old by singing in preschool choirs in his church. Additionally, both of his parents were music pastors. “Even from a young age, I've always loved music and always wanted to be involved in music,” Young said. “It's just something I've loved waking up to every day to be able to perform . . . and also to be able to teach at the same time.” Young said that after he graduates with his master’s next year, he is considering pursuing a career as an opera singer. He said that this would be “another avenue of music” that he would greatly enjoy testing out. “I thank the Lord every day for the gift that he's blessed me with,” Young said, “and thankful also for teachers at Mercer that have . . . helped me cultivate that into what I am today.” Young first found an interest in opera when he was cast as Tamino in a Mercer University Opera performance of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” in 2014. He said that this sparked a fire in him to perform. “My voice teacher, Mrs. Marie Roberts, has really helped me grow . . . as far as what I would like to do in the future,” Young said. “She’s been a great teacher and really knows how to cultivate talent.” He said that she has also helped him expand his abilities and encouraged him to get out of his comfort zone. “At first, I felt like I had a shell when I was a freshman coming into Mercer and didn't really know about performance. I know I enjoyed doing it, but I didn't exactly know the way to go about it,” Young said. “But she took me in, took me under her wing basically and just said, 'Look, I'm gonna teach you how to do this, and you're gonna shine.' And she's done that . . . and it's been a great experience.” While in his undergraduate years at Mercer, Young also participated in multiple singing competitions, such as the Georgia National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition, where collegiate voice professors across Georgia bring in their students to compete. Young placed first in his category at NATS in both 2014 and 2016. Young said that his experience has helped him to be better prepared for singing in a smaller setting with only a few people, such as in an audition. “Those competitions give you good constructive criticism every time, and they tell you what you need to work on,” Young said. “What was great, what could be better, and how to take that and use that moving forward.” Looking forward, Young said that he would love to end up at a young artist program with an opera company. He said that some of his friends have worked with young artist programs in Atlanta and at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He also said that he would love to grow into his voice and receive a role on the “big stage.” “When I was in New York for [the Mercer Singers performance at] Carnegie Hall, I went to go see an opera at the Metropolitan Opera, and it really sparked my fire,” Young said. “It really gave new life to what I wanted to do, and that's something that I would really like to continue to pursue in moving forward after this degree.” Though he is focused on a future career, Young emphasized the heart of what it means to be a musician. “Music is a choice. And not only is it a choice, but it's an opportunity to not only inspire others but also to inspire yourself,” Young said. “You never know who you're going to perform for in some cases. You may inspire someone someday that has been down, that has been through a rough patch, and you may sing one note that really inspires them and that really lifts their spirit. And that's what we're all here to do. No matter what, music lifts the soul, music lifts someone's spirit, and that's the ultimate goal. And that's what I love doing every day.”
The Director of Percussion Studies at Mercer University, Marcus Reddick, will be hosting and performing a faculty percussion recital on April 21 in Fickling Hall. Reddick said he used time as a theme for the recital. “This concert is going to be like a passage of time,” Reddick said. “There's gonna be elements in almost every piece where you're going to hear ticking of clocks.” Most of the pieces included will be solo pieces by Dr. Reddick. However, the Mercer Wind Ensemble will be helping with one piece, and Mercer graduate Emily Hall will be joining him for another. Hall studied in the Townsend School of Music here at Mercer and graduated “about five or six years ago,” Reddick said. The piece they will be playing together is titled “As One.” The piece, Reddick explained, will be played on a marimba. Both of them will be on either side of the instrument playing it at the same time. He will also be playing two marimba pieces and two pieces composed by Casey Cangelosi. Cangelosi is a contemporary composer who incorporates the trinome, essentially a rhythmic metronome, into many of his pieces. “You’re definitely going to be treated to some really interesting explorations in rhythm,” Reddick said when talking about the Cangelosi pieces. On top of this, there will also be a three-movement piece titled “Therapy,” which was composed by John Serri. The piece will include a variety of instruments and objects to create different effects and combinations of sounds. “It's kind of an interesting effect. It's almost like mice scurrying across the floor when you hear some of this stuff," Reddick said. "It's kind of a bombastic piece that draws to an interesting conclusion." Altogether, the pieces total to about 62 minutes of music over the course of the recital. Reddick said that the recital will include very tuneful things on the marimba, but some of the other instruments he will be playing, like the cowbells and woodblocks, will not provide those kinds of sounds. They will be different from what most audiences are used to hearing, but Reddick said that if “you're open to the sounds of it, it's just as amazing." He also said that he wanted this to be an educational experience for those who come to the recital. "I really like the education through performance,” Reddick said. “It's one thing to stand up there and play great music, but when you're not educating people about what you're doing, you're just up there for no reason." “Entertainer” is another important role Reddick wants to play in his recital. He said that entertainment is his “first and foremost” job as a musician. Additionally, Reddick urged students to come to his recital, as this is an opportunity students might not have after graduating. Not only will those who come be able to hear contemporary pieces being played professionally, it is also be completely free and open to the public. "I always say the more people that are out there, that are listening, the better the concert is because I feed off that energy, and then I feed it back to them,” said Reddick, “And then they feed it to me . . . it's totally symbiotic."
Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music will host a Jazz Combo concert on Tuesday, April 18. The concert will be held in Fickling Hall at 7:30 p.m. Monty Cole, director of jazz studies at Mercer, said that the Jazz Combo concert will include pieces such as “On Green Dolphin Street,” “Ecaroh” and “Street Beater.” Additionally, there will be some pieces in the combo concert composed by Mercer student Banks Daniels. “Banks is a performance major in saxophone and is a gifted composer,” Cole said. Daniels has composed four different pieces for the combo concert, and it will be the first time that pieces he has composed will be performed live. “I've been doing it on and off for a few years now, but it wasn't until this year that I've started to really take to it seriously,” Daniels said. “Generally speaking, the music I listen to inspires me to want to write similar things . . . if I hear something and I like it, I tend to want to make something like it.” The four pieces that he composed are titled “Back to the Drawing Board,” “Blues for Frank,” “Spring is Here,” and a fourth unnamed piece. “Spring is Here” was composed while he was coming up with ideas for jazz ballads at the piano, and “Blues for Frank” drew inspiration from the works of Frank Zappa. In addition to the Jazz Combo concert, the full Jazz Ensemble will present a concert focusing on the music of Thad Jones, a 20th century trumpeter, on April 27. “Moments of existential bewilderment are not unknown to occur while listening to talented students improvising,” Cole said. “Jazz music frequencies are part of a celestial transmission which connect and guide all life forms to their ultimate source and destiny.”
Marcus Reddick, the Director of Percussion Studies at Mercer University, will be hosting a performance by the Mercer Percussion Ensemble on April 8 in Fickling Hall. The concert will include a variety of pieces and styles of music, including two pieces written specifically for this event by Darren Pettit, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Student musicians will perform the majority of the concert, and Reddick will join them for a few of the pieces that require an additional musician. “We had a mass exodus in personnel at the very beginning of this semester,” Reddick said. After the previous recital last semester, Reddick was prepared to teach an ensemble of seven people. However, more than half of its members dropped out for various reasons, leaving him with only three musicians for this upcoming recital. Reddick was forced to change things to accommodate the new number of musicians, which he said put a large strain on the program this semester. He even had to call Pettit to ask him to re-work the pieces for three people instead of seven. “So of course I had to call him immediately [because] I commissioned [the pieces] last March,” Reddick said. “He's graciously re-written it. He's got us the parts out and everything, and it's great. It's written for three people, so we'll make it work.” While the change in personnel made programming more difficult, Reddick devised a new list of pieces that will be played at the event. The pieces that will be featured in this recital include Rosauro’s “Cenas Brasilieras,” Tompkins’ “Board Games,” Peyton’s “Primitive Echoes,” Gottry’s “Heads Up,” Romig’s “Parallax” and Peters’ “Study in 5/8.” The concert will also include Bear Steel, a steel drum ensemble that will play a few pieces in between performances by the percussion ensemble. “I try to, as much as possible, create an environment that's indicative for the professional, but also something that's going to challenge the listeners. Always,” Reddick said, “Because professional music isn't always readily accessible.” On top of the variety of pieces, Reddick said that he also wanted to have at least one piece that urged people to get on their feet and dance. He said that he wanted those who attended the recital to enjoy the music in a way that not many people do at other professional recitals. “I always encourage audiences . . . that if you feel like dancing, go ahead,” Reddick said. Reddick also urged Mercer students to come and enjoy the recital while they can. He said that unlike the recitals the music school puts on, the concerts you can attend outside of college often cost $20-50 or more. “I like people to . . . have fun listening to music, and I like for my students to go up there and have fun playing the music,” Reddick said. “I have a very simple motto: If you're not having fun, don't get on the stage.” *Editor's note: The initial posting of this article included an incorrect date. It has been fixed and we apologize for any inconvenience.
Moviegoers are abuzz over the newest X-Men movie, “Logan” — and for good reason. Silver screen X-Men mainstays Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Professor Xavier (Sir Patrick Stewart) star in their deepest and most emotional roles yet. As many other reviewers have also said, this movie doesn’t quite feel like most other superhero movies. This mostly comes from the film’s tone and atmosphere. The superhero elements you have come to know are still there, but the effect is less flashy. Instead of providing an exciting thrill ride full of one-liners and explosions, this film steps back a bit and focuses on the characters and their personal struggles. [video credit="20th Century Fox" align="right"][/video] There are a number of scenes filled with serious tension and action, but there are also many heartfelt moments that provide a deeper understanding of these characters than we’ve ever seen before. The inclusion of the child in the story forces Wolverine to adapt to a more family dynamic and to learn to care about this new part of his life despite everything he’s experienced and the pain and struggles he’s known throughout his many years. In an interview with Yahoo Movies, Jackman said that much of the inspiration for the film came from Clint Eastwood’s 1992 western film “Unforgiven.” It’s very easy to see the inspiration in the themes and various cinematic elements present in “Logan.” If you have the time, I suggest watching this movie after watching “Logan” to see where some of the inspiration for the movie came from. This movie will keep you with tears in your eyes and on the edge of your seat with its well-written and directed scenes. The cinematography and lighting direction help to bolster the atmosphere this movie creates and leave you with a fantastic cinematic experience. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly suggest it. And if you have, then I’m sure you can agree with me that it’s worth going to see a second time.
David Torres’ left arm ends just below his elbow. Doctors believed it was a lack of nutrients in the womb that led to his arm not forming properly. Torres, who lives near Lawrenceville, has not let this keep him from doing the things he loves. He even wrestled in high school at the state level. But, a close friendship with a Mercer University student who is president of Mercer Entrepreneurship Engineering Education Program (MEEEP) could extend Torres’ reach with a specially-designed prosthetic arm. “I think a lot of the time, amputees are viewed as disabled, and I don’t necessarily think of myself as disabled,” Torres said. “The prosthetic is only an enhancement. It’s a tool I’m willing to use, but it’s not what makes me ‘me’ because even with or without a prosthetic, I’m still a fully functional human being.” Torres, who is originally from El Salvador, said while he never let his arm hold him back, he began to think having a prosthetic would be very beneficial. He said he liked the idea that a prosthetic could assist him in simple tasks and hobbies that are more difficult with only one arm. “It’s more for my environment, especially people around me who didn’t need to feel uncomfortable. And I need it for comfort too,” Torres said. “It provides a sense of trust that a lot of people like. If you see me doing an activity with one hand, they wouldn’t feel as confident as someone that was doing it with two hands.” In stepped close friend Mark Boland, a sophomore business major at Mercer and president of MEEEP — a club centered around engineering and entrepreneurial projects. MEEEP has been involved in various community service programs such as Real Impact, which is an organization that works to increase female involvement in STEM programs in schools. The MEEEP group was also responsible for Macon’s first TED Talk, which took place in 2012. “We have people from [various majors] (in MEEEP), and we have a bunch of people who were interested in prosthetics,” Boland said. “I feel like it’s not only something really good for my friend David, but it’s also sort of a learning experience for the people in my club.” Boland got in contact with Dr. Ha Van Vo, a Mercer engineering professor and head of the department’s prosthetics program. Dr. Vo has been working with prosthetics since 2009, and he is in charge of the Mercer on Mission trip to Vietnam, where biomedical engineering majors build prosthetics for people injured by mines left over from the Vietnam War. Dr. Vo agreed to help create a prosthetic arm for Torres. “We right now [are capable] for fitting low extremities. Below the knee, above the knee, different type of forceful amputation of that,” Dr. Vo said. “We’re working on the upper extremities and hoping in a few years we’ll have the device for upper extremities like David Torres. But in here, we can help him to do a functional device. But in order to give it to him, we have to get all the material testing, human testing and get approval before we give it to him.” Torres made the three-hour drive down to Mercer on a Saturday in late November to sign the paperwork and be measured for plans for the prosthetic. Once he arrived, he and Boland met with Dr. Vo in order to discuss the prosthetic and how Torres might use it. As the paperwork began, Boland and Torres were taken to the engineering department’s prosthetic lab to create a mold of Torres’ residual limb. There, they met with Andrew Roy, a graduate biomedical engineering student focused on the field of prosthetics. He began the process of building the prosthetic by creating the mold. “We take a negative mold, which we later fill with plaster to create a positive mold, which is an exact replica of the patient’s limb,” Roy said. “We do minor modifications, and we create an inner socket which will conform to their limb.” He said they use a lightweight foam to create the length and the shape of the missing forearm and then laminate it in carbon fiber to give it a sleek appearance that will hide all the internal workings and force structural integrity. “And then the last thing we do is we decide on a terminal device which is usually bolted onto the end,” Roy said. The prosthetic will be created based on measurements Roy took when creating the mold. It is expected to be completed sometime in February. At that time, Torres will then return to Mercer again one final time for the fitting of the finished prosthetic, along with any last adjustments. Boland is currently pursuing funding for the project from outside sources as well as Mercer’s Bear Grant and special funding programs, which fund clubs and their activities and projects.
If you look out at the night sky from Mercer’s campus, you may be able to see some of the major constellations among a few of the brightest stars. But the naked eye can only see so far. Even with a telescope, the stars can be difficult to see and track in Macon due to light pollution. Mercer’s close proximity to downtown doesn’t help. So astronomy and physics professor Matt Marone is planning to build an observatory for Mercer students and the community. “It’s not just a Mercer thing; it’s more of a Middle Georgia thing,” he said. The stargazing setup would be located 20 miles from campus in Crawford County. Macon Water Authority will be leasing 125 acres of land for the observatory to Mercer. Marone said that the building is still in its design phase. Plans include a classroom for both astronomy classes and classes to teach people how to operate the observatory equipment. It will also contain a room for students and professors to stay at the observatory overnight during research. Some of the observatory equipment has already been acquired and will be moved to the observatory when it is eventually built. There will also be a control room on Mercer’s campus that can control the observatory telescope, so students can still use the equipment without having to leave campus. Once the observatory is complete, Marone said, there will be many chances for people to get involved. Astronomy students and members of the astronomy club are first in line for stargazing and research in the observatory, but access is not only limited to these people. Marone said that there will be many programs offered by the observatory for both Mercer students and the surrounding community, opening it up for middle Georgia students, teachers and astronomers.