COLUMBUS STATE The Magazine of Columbus State University for Alumni & Friends
COUGAR HEROES: CSU ALUMNI TAKE ON COVID-19 Page 14
HOMECOMING 2020: PHYSICALLY DISTANCED, SOCIALLY ENGAGED Page 22
ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: CHAVALA BURSE Page 24
CREATIVE TO THE CORE
FROM THE PRESIDENT
A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT Dear Cougars: There is an old combat adage that describes war as “long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.” I have thought of that adage often over these past several months while dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. Our shared battle with the common enemy of coronavirus — both in our institution’s long march back to campus and in the personal skirmishes every member of our extended CSU family has faced in their own lives — shares a similar duality: incredible feats of coordinated, creative problem-solving bursting forth from the hearts and minds of tens, hundreds, and even thousands of separate, solitary, socially distanced Cougars. Moments of blinding brilliance in a season unstuck from time. We have accomplished so much together despite our responsibility to remain apart; and in the chaos and quiet of our quarantined endeavors, I sometimes must remind myself to pause, to be still, and to realize the magnitude of our accomplishments. In this issue of the Alumni Magazine, I would like us all to take stock of just how far we’ve come and, in doing so, to steel ourselves for whatever the future holds. The following stories represent to me the epitome of 2020. They portray a world in turmoil, reeling from a series of earthshaking circumstances. A worldwide pandemic that continues to separate us physically and socially. Our grappling with serious issues like race and equality. On paper, sure, 2020 has been a nightmare. But in real life, where it matters most, it has shown us at our best. This issue is about heroes — Cougar Heroes, to be precise. The ordeals of 2020 have recontextualized what it means to be a hero. In the comics, heroes wear masks to hide their true identity. Today, heroes wear masks to show their true identity: compassionate people driven to make a difference in this brave new world in which we live. Our healthcare workers, our educators, our front-line workers, from food service to checkout clerks — by putting on a mask, we have seen each other — really seen each other. As Cougars, we have cared for each other. We’ve stood with each other. Marched with each other.
And when necessary, we have fought for each other. Following in the footsteps of the late Georgia Congressman John Lewis — in bad times, we have found “good trouble.” With this issue, we spotlight a handful of heroes, but we celebrate each of you across Cougar Nation who strive to protect your communities and make the world a better place for us to live, learn, and love. I hope that reading these stories brings as much hope, joy, and courage to you as it did to me. Keep caring for yourself and others. Keep fighting the good fight. Keep loving and respecting your neighbor. And, as always, I am thankful for all that you continue to do for our students, our community, and Cougars everywhere.
Chris Markwood President
VOL. 27 NO. 2 • FALL 2020
Josh Becker CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS
Kristin Andris Josh Becker Chavala Burse Dr. Marvin Crumbs CSU Archives CSU Staff Dr. Michelle Folta Aaron Litchfield MAGAZINE LAYOUT & DESIGN
Rowland Publishing, Inc. VICE PRESIDENT FOR UNIVERSITY ADVANCEMENT
Rocky Kettering ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT OF ALUMNI ENGAGEMENT & SPECIAL EVENTS
Jennifer Joyner CHIEF OF STAFF
Ed Helton DIRECTOR OF UNIVERSITY RELATIONS
Greg Hudgison ADDRESS CORRESPONDENCE TO:
Columbus State Alumni Magazine Office of University Relations Columbus State University 4225 University Ave. Columbus, GA 31907 firstname.lastname@example.org @COLUMBUSSTATE @CSUCOUGARALUMNI FACEBOOK.COM/COLUMBUSSTATE FACEBOOK.COM/ COLUMBUSSTATEUNIVERSITYALUMNI
TABLE OF CONTENTS IN THIS ISSUE
0 2 PRESIDENT’S LETTER 0 5 CAMPUS NEWS 11 WHAT’S TRENDING 12 Q&A: MARVIN CRUMBS 22 HOMECOMING
14 COUGAR HEROES 24 ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: CHAVALA BURSE
CLASS NOTES ALUMNI SCENE
ON THE COVER. The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge to the world. Learn how the Cougar family is making a positive difference in the community, Page 14. CREATIVE TO THE CORE
5 UNDER 40 RECIPIENTS
Columbus State University faculty and alumni are exceptional educators and leaders on campus and in our communities. They are passionate, creative, and innovative. They also help our students build their creative muscles â€“ to see things in new ways, collaborate across disciplines, and discover unexpected solutions, whether theyâ€™re in business, technology, sciences, education, health sciences, or the arts. Today, we watch with pride as they use their skills, knowledge, and wisdom to change this community and our world.
Every year, Columbus and the Valley Magazine shines a spotlight on the accomplishments of the young and future leaders of our community. We would like to once again thank Columbus and the Valley for recognizing the incredible achievements of Columbus State University alumni.
Brittany Haines B.A. in Communication
MS, Secondary English Education and Ed.S, Educational Leadership
Natalia Temesgen Assistant Professor of Creative Writing
Derik Roberts B.A., Secondary English Education
B.B.A., Business Administration Associate Professor of CSU Alumni Board member Choral/General Music Education
Sendreka Lakes B.B.A. Marketing and MSOL 4
CAMPUS NEWS CSU students & faculty practice stream restoration
CSU STUDENTS, FACULTY FEATURED IN FILM
olumbus State University’s Earth and Space Science faculty and students were recently featured in a film that was livestreamed at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour. The short film, created by The Nature Conservancy, highlights a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy and CSU students and faculty. CSU professor Dr. Troy Keller was also a panelist in a live chat discussion following the film’s premiere. “The partnership provides an unparalleled opportunity for CSU students to get first hand experience working on an innovative project that will serve as a model for restoration in the region,” said Dr. Keller. CSU began a partnership with The Nature Conservancy in 2019 as The Nature Conservancy worked on a stream restoration project in the Upatoi Creek watershed near Fort Benning. While The Nature Conservancy worked to remove several dams and restore streams on their own land, CSU students and faculty monitored the area before and after restoration to understand potential habitat improvements resulting from the project. CSU professor Dr. Stacey Blersch is a principal investigator on the project and is featured prominently within the film. “Being a part of this restoration effort has been an amazing experience for myself as well as my students,” said Dr. Blersch.
“Seeing the project evolve from a plan on paper to physical structures in a stream is something most students don’t get to experience. We hope this project will serve as a model of partnership for restoration in our region and provide restoration practitioners with new tools to assess the outcome of these efforts in a changing climate.” For the third year in a row, the Trees Columbus Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour custom-curated a collection of environmental films and documentaries for viewers to enjoy. The live stream event also featured a continuous live chat during the program, so the audience could converse with filmmakers, special guests, and with each other — all in real-time. The Wild & Scenic Film Festival was established by the South Yuba River Citizens League in California. They invite partners to produce nearly 250 On Tour events annually. Festivals aim to inspire environmental activism and a love for nature through the power of film. The On Tour festival in Columbus benefits Trees Columbus, a local environmental nonprofit member organization founded in 2000, which leads the effort to protect Columbus’ urban tree canopy. As of 2019, the On Tour event in Columbus has been the largest in the country. For more information about tickets and films, please visit TreesColumbus.org/wsff.
CREATIVE TO THE CORE
CSU STUDENTS, PROFESSORS CREATE VIRTUAL WORLD FOR FIRST-YEAR STUDENTS
ncoming Columbus State University students now have the opportunity to experience the CSU campus through the virtual world of Minecraft. Created by a team of CSU computer science students and faculty, the virtual world and its activities were first offered as part of P.R.O.W.L., an annual extended orientation that provides incoming students a preview into cougar nation. Typically held as a four-day, three-night, in-person event, P.R.O.W.L. allows new students to make lifelong friends through leadership development opportunities and interactive games. The camp usually includes activities such as bonfires and mud courses, but social distancing guidelines and the evolving nature of COVID-19 created obstacles in the planning of the event for this year. Fortunately, at CSU, challenges spark creativity. CSU President Chris Markwood asked Dr. Mariko Izumi, CSU’s Director of Center for Experiential Learning and Career Design (former Office of Quality Enhancement Plan), to build a team to create a virtual environment for the event. “At Columbus State University, we view obstacles as an opportunity for growth,” said President Markwood. “I knew our innovative students, faculty, and staff could rise to the
challenge of creating an exciting virtual adventure for our incoming students.” Dr. Izumi recruited the help of CSU computer science professors and students, as well as staff from the University Information and Technology Services (UITS), to take on the monumental task of building and setting up hosting for both CSU campuses in less than two months. After much research on various video games and platforms, Dr. Izumi settled on Minecraft, a popular sandbox video game that allows users to build virtual worlds and adventures. “I am incredibly proud of our team of students, faculty, and staff who made this world possible,” said Dr. Izumi. “They spent countless hours of hard work, and the end result is absolutely incredible.” Creating a virtual CSU from scratch was not an easy feat. With CSU’s main campus having many hills, the team had to consult CSU’s GIS coordinator and obtain various types of maps from multiple sources, including ones from the City of Columbus. The team used engineering maths for scaling the campus to size. Then the team of CSU computer science students, volunteers from the Campus Nerds student organization, and P.R.O.W.L. leaders created the designs. Some of the faculty allowed
CREATIVE TO THE CORE
their children to help create the buildings. The team used maps and pictures to replicate all of CSU’s unique characteristics, from the clock tower to the art mural on the exterior of Davidson. There is even a virtual CSU shuttle bus that will take students from the main campus to the RiverPark campus. CSU faculty were also essential in the creation of the Minecraft world. A team of computer science faculty designed activities inside Minecraft, provided essential support to the student designers, and helped answer questions throughout the process.
With the virtual world designed, the next hurdle became training CSU faculty about Minecraft. CSU’s P.R.O.W.L. is unique in that it brings new faculty to start their CSU journey with the first-year students. During any other year, faculty members join first-year students and participate in interactive challenges, leadership development, and active learning situations along with first-year students. However, this year, the faculty — many of whom were unfamiliar with Minecraft — had to also learn how to navigate the video game.
BELOW IS A LIST OF INDIVIDUALS WHO HELPED WITH THE CREATION OF CSU’S MINECRAFT WORLD. Minecraft Team Director Dr. Mariko Izumi, Director of Center for Experiential Learning and Career Design Minecraft Builder Team Adam Davies, Computer Science major/ project leader James (Joey) Ellerbee, Computer Science major/communication leader Taylor Woods, Computer Science major Anthony Obando, Computer Science major Justin Lesh, Computer Science; graduated in May 2020 Bryson Colbert, Kinesiology & Health Science Major/ P.R.O.W.L. leader Minecraft Faculty Team Ms. Hillary Fleenor, Director of the Academic Center for Tutoring & instructor in the School of Computer Science Dr. Rania Hodhod, Associate Professor & Assistant Chair of the School of Computer Science Dr. Rodrigo Obando, Associate Professor in the School of Computer Science Dr. Lydia Ray, Associate Professor in the School of Computer Science Mr. Ehab Bedir, Cyber Range Administrator in the School of Computer Science UITS Team Barbara Psalmond, Project Management Officer David Williams, Manager, IT Support Services Brandon Lindley, Sr. Manager, IT Support Services Vincent Gammage, Interim Senior Manager, Infrastructure & Database Services Robert Gordy, Manager, Enterprise Applications Plant Operations Thomas Rice, GIS Coordinator P.R.O.W.L. Team Dr. Mark McCarthy, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education & Assistant Director of Exp. Learning & Career Design Amy Edge, Administrative Coordinator Derrick Warnock, Graduate Student, Teacher Education Jordan Garrett, Camp consultant Volunteers Shanice Smith, Biology major Chase Graham, Theatre major Tyler Wenndt, Computer Science major Sam Postell, Computer Science major Caroline Murphy, Biology major Alex Walston, Computer Science major Gina Bedir, Art major Sampan Bhattacharyya Fabian Weidler
AT&T FOUNDATION SUPPORTS VIRTUAL PROGRAMMING AT CSU’S COCA-COLA SPACE SCIENCE CENTER
n response to the coronavirus panthe AT&T Foundation will allow our demic, Columbus State University’s team to pivot our offerings to new forCoca-Cola Space Science Center mats and continue to serve students and (CCSSC) has received a $25,000 confamilies in our community with engagtribution from the AT&T Foundation to ing and inspiring experiences in science,” support the development of new, virtual explained Dr. Shawn Cruzen, Executive programming that will expand the cenDirector of the CCSSC. ter’s abilities to offer exciting, cutting“We know our continued investment edge STEM education for in Georgia is vital to constudents, the community nections — from students We know our and virtual guests around continued investment for educational opportunithe globe. ties to friends, family and in Georgia is vital The CCSSC is Georgia’s loved ones on a daily basis, to connections only science center and to front-line heroes amidst — from students museum dedicated to asthe pandemic,” said Rich for educational tronomy and space science, Johnson, AT&T Georgia opportunities to and typically serves tens of Assistant Vice President of friends, family and thousands of guests annualloved ones on a daily External Affairs. “We are ly. However, the coronaviproud to work with CSU’s basis, to front line rus outbreak has temporarCoca-Cola Space Science heroes amidst the ily shuttered museums and Center to connect stupandemic. science centers to in-person dents, community memRich Johnson guests worldwide. Through bers and visitors around this donation, the center is the globe with exciting, developing new, innovative virtual learning experiprograms in response to circumstances ences in astronomy and space science. brought on by the pandemic. More than ever before, connecting peo“In the current circumstances, science ple with resources needed to maintain a centers and museums need to reimagine sense of normalcy is critical, and we are how to connect with their communicommitted to supporting our Georgia ties. This generous contribution from communities.”
The contribution will enable the center to develop and present a variety of new opportunities for public engagement. These experiences include observing the night sky live via the internet using telescopes at the center’s WestRock Observatory. This will enable guests anywhere in the world to explore the universe while interacting with astronomy experts from CCSSC. Additionally, the center’s education team will develop new interactive activities for students and schools available in multiple formats, allowing the center to adapt readily to changing demands caused by the pandemic. These educational experiences will be available fully online in a live virtual classroom, in-person at schools (if permitted), or in-person at the center. Finally, the CCSSC team expanded its live webcasts of space events, such as October’s encounter between NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft and the asteroid Bennu. CCSSC webcasts provided live views and interactive commentary from staff and former CSU students who now work in the space industry. Peter Bowden, President & CEO of VisitColumbusGA, shared, “We are very pleased to learn about this contribution and that the Coca-Cola Space Science Center continues to look for ways to provide great experiences with visitors — both local and from out of town. As we all look to reinvent ourselves in ways that we could never imagine, the CCSSC team are great examples of vision and imagination.” AT&T has been a significant supporter of CSU for almost 30 years. The funding priorities for the AT&T Foundation include high school retention programs and college/workforce readiness programs, especially for non-traditional and underserved students. The current donation will enable the CCSSC team to reach thousands of students and community members in the coming year.
CREATIVE TO THE CORE
Your Impact. Their Future.
The CSU FUND
#Create You #CreateYou #GoCSU
A LESSON FROM HISTORY
FIND US ON FLICKR New campus photos are always available for download at flickr.com/ ColumbusStateU
CSU ON MINECRAFT
CSU’s History & Geography Department reminds us how history repeats itself. They posted a series of newspaper clippings from the 1918 Spanish flu, which they obtained from the CSU Archives.
A team of CSU students designed a virtual CSU world on Minecraft. The world was used as part of an activity for P.R.O.W.L., CSU’s extended orientation for first-year students.
WHO TO FOLLOW Follow the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University for webinars and tips on navigating the challenges of COVID-19.
CREATIVE TO THE CORE
ALUMNI Q&A: DR. MARVIN CRUMBS Story by JOSH BECKER
r. Marvin Crumbs graduated from then Columbus College with a Bachelor of Science in Allied Health in 1994 before returning for his masters in Middle Grades Education in 1997. He would go on to attain a specialist degree in Early Childhood Education from Troy State and then earn a Doctoral in Administration from Argosy University in Sarasota, Florida. He served as assistant principal at Columbus High School for three years before assuming the role of principal at Baker Middle School for two years. He then returned to Columbus High School as principal and has served in that capacity since 2012. What are some of your fondest memories of your time at CSU? Some of the highlights of my time at CSU were sports, Greek Life, and campus life: playing basketball, spending time with my teammates, and being a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. We did a few step shows, and one year we hosted the state convention; this must have been 1992. We always did our youth outreach program to help with our alumni chapter here of Alpha Phi Alpha. I have a lot of good memories with that and helping the community. It was important to have a presence on campus, and I’m proud to see that that presence has continued to grow at Columbus State University — and not just the Alphas, but for all fraternities and sororities. I’ve had a lot of students leave Columbus High for CSU, and I always tell them they are going to love it. I loved it while I was there, and I’d love it even more if I was there now with all the growth.
What did you learn from your participation in college athletics? That part of my time at CSU means the world to me. I would not be where I am without that aspect of my time there. I am so blessed that Coach Herbert Greene came into my life, mentoring me, bringing me into the Columbus State family. I was a forward on the team, and we won the inaugural Peach Belt Conference title back in 1992. (Editor’s note: the Cougars beat USC Spartanburg 86–76). Ever since the day I stepped on that campus, I’ve been on a path to have a better life, to be a better person. What is your perspective of Columbus State University’s leadership role in regional education and its impact on Columbus specifically? Since I left, Columbus State has definitely taken major strides in making sure they have increased their presence in the community. I think a lot of it has do with having a progressive administration, one that not only knows it needs a larger presence in the community, but in the Chattahoochee Valley and across the state. I can remember the first time I saw a billboard for CSU on my way up to Atlanta, and I was just so amazed and so happy to see that we were reaching outside of Columbus. It showed that we were beginning to attract students not just from the furthest reaches of Georgia, but from outside of the state and that CSU was their first choice. We have made major leaps in the past couple years, especially
since Dr. Markwood has come on board. I know we’re going to continue to grow because he has a great plan for the university, though I don’t know how that is going to be affected by what’s going on now with the coronavirus. Right now, everybody is having to either drop back and punt or go back to the drawing board based on where we’re at now, worldwide. What are the most important ways CSU is meeting the needs of the next generation of college students? I think that Columbus State University is meeting the needs of the next generation of college students by adding to the classes that they offer, especially those classes added with the benefit of student input. I think CSU has done a great job of looking forward, making strides, adding courses that are relevant to today’s world — like, for instance, cybersecurity and the nursing program, which is world-class. Some of the students have even gone on to med school, some have become doctors, and they started here at Columbus State University. And that is something
the world needs right now and something for CSU to be proud of. As for the students coming in today, they have changed the way they are recruiting. They have recruited in ways that promote growth, but they have done so without lowering standards and the expectations of the students who come to campus. You were honored by the College of Education and Health Professions at an annual Alumni Awards luncheon. What did that mean to you, and how does it feel to be recognized for your role in transforming the community and the world? I never start anything for accolades, like I never played sports for awards. I have always been competitive, and I understand why people pursue them, but the reason I went into education is that I wanted to make a difference, I want to help young people. That part came easy to me, but being the person that I am, to be recognized for doing it, is an honor — and even more so it coming from Columbus State University, who made it all happen from the beginning. That was even greater.
Photos courtesy of Dr. Marvin Crumbs
You are actively involved in CSU as a member of the Alumni Board. How has taking on this role impacted the way you feel about CSU? Being a part of the Alumni Association board has been great for me, allowing me to see it from a totally different side. What I appreciate most from this particular view is I see how much they include students in the decision-making now. That is very, very important. If you don’t listen to the client, to the person paying for the service, you’re never going to provide a product that someone is going to want; so I love that they have included the students more in decisions. Being a member of the Alumni Association board allows me the opportunity to view that process up close. I often tell the people that I graduated wanting to come back, to check in, to be a part of what we have continued doing.
How has CSU changed since you graduated? CSU has changed so much and not just physically. I was actually joking with my best friend, Michael Speight, who works at CSU in the recreation department, and I told him I need to come up there and get a tour because I don’t know where anything is anymore. Some things aren’t there anymore, and something new has risen in its place. I love that they are making a footprint in the community. When you look at downtown Columbus and the CSU campus — the nursing program, the art department — it’s just absolutely beautiful. And that is a huge selling point to students looking for a university. Not only do they get to come to CSU for education; when I was there back in 1989, I had absolutely, positively no reason to go downtown. It’s totally different now. So, I have gratitude for the people at the university working to make this community that we live in, the Valley, a better place to live. How did you and your staff adapt to the COVID-19 outbreak in the spring? The biggest change was instructional. It just all happened so quickly. One day, there were kids all over school, and next day, we were all at home. There really wasn’t time to make adjustments to what we were doing on a daily basis. It was basically like playing a game, coming back from halftime, and instead of returning to the field, you had to finish playing on a video game console. There is no playbook for this. The last time we had anything like this was 1918 with the Spanish Flu. Needless to say, the playbook they called plays from is irrelevant because the world is a much different place now. What worked a century ago isn’t necessarily going to be much help in making informed, adequate decisions about what we should do next. But we did our best, which is what you do when you’re forced to change courses in midstream. Most importantly though, at the center of it all, the student remains. With that being our guiding light, we just tried to make it
as user-friendly as possible, knowing that there would be additional needs from our students. But our job was to meet those needs and educate them at the same time and reduce as many stressors as possible in lives — in regards to the pandemic or anything else for that matter. We still have to fill that role in their lives, and that was our mission. In what ways do you think this pandemic has changed the future of education? Education has changed, and it will never be the same again. I think parents are going to expect more online options. Even when they come up with a vaccine for this virus, it’s going to be a slow process making sure everyone gets it, and there is no guarantee how effective that the first round of vaccinations are going to be. We just don’t know how much longer this “new normal” is going to be around. We still don’t even know what it’s really going to look like — and that’s whether you’re an educator or a restaurant owner, whether you own a trucking company, whatever you do. We just don’t know, because the “old normal” just isn’t going to come back, in my opinion. And a lot of educators and administrators that I’ve talked to have said the same thing.
Dr. Marvin Crumbs played basketball at then Columbus College under head coach Herbert Greene.
CREATIVE TO THE CORE
THE CSU FAMILY TAKES ON COVID-19 Story by
KRISTIN ANDRIS and JOSH BECKER
The year 2020 has been extraordinary, a bizarre period of unprecedented challenges faced in exceptional circumstances. Our world has been upended, our personal and professional lives transformed in ways that none of us could have imagined or foreseen a year ago. This time last year, CSU proudly and passionately launched our new “Create You” branding campaign, a public promise to faculty, staff, and students — past, present, and prospective alike — that we, in every action and endeavor, would strive to be “Creative to the Core.” It was a bold claim then. Today, it is a statement of fact. This year has demanded creative problem-solving in every facet of our lives. Every obstacle encountered has been an opportunity to learn, to grow, to improve. This year has been a proving ground from which heroes have emerged, trading capes and superpowers for face masks and compassion. The following stories are born of confusion and uncertainty, of dislocation and fear; but they triumph in empathy, in ingenuity, and the indomitable human spirit.
CSU STUDENTS, ALUMNI HELP FULFILL COMMUNITY NEEDS IN COVID RESPONSE EFFORTS
hen COVID-19 began to hit the Chattahoochee Valley, MercyMed of Columbus found itself in a sudden, unexpected need for additional volunteers and staff. Before COVID, MercyMed served the community by providing affordable healthcare to people from all walks of life. However, in March of 2020, MercyMed answered the sudden call to provide a new service: COVID-19 testing. Soon, it became clear that MercyMed would need an entirely new team just to run its COVID-19 testing. But where would they find a niche group of professionals with a passion for healthcare? Thankfully, there was Columbus State University. “CSU is a huge part of Columbus’ community, so we always have them on our radar,” said Brooke Franklin, office manager at MercyMed. “When we needed this specific COVID team, we emailed CSU Biology Professor Dr. Kathleen Hughes and asked if this was something that students would be interested in. From there, we were able to get people who have some medical experience, or people who are at least eager to gain medical experience.” MercyMed has since hired one fulltime CSU graduate, recruited three current CSU students as paid part-time employees, and filled a team of 10 volunteers who are each affiliated with
CSU. The CSU students help with everything from screening nonCOVID patients before they enter the front door to testing COVID patients in the clinic’s drive-through testing program. “I knew early on — when all of this started — that I wanted to get out in the community and help out,” said Meenal Joshi, a biology major and pre-med student at CSU. “I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to help people when they need it the most.” While CSU students give back to their community, they also gain from the experience as well. Many medical schools require clinical volunteer experience, and joining the COVID-19 team at MercyMed helps to check that box while providing students with valuable exposure to a clinical setting. “You hear about becoming a doctor and see things on TV, but you never see the behind-the-scenes stuff. Through this experience, I have been able to see how doctors have to chart their information for each patient, and I’ve had the opportunity to speak with different nurses and administrative staff about their experiences,” said Charles Asouzu, pre-med student at CSU. In addition to current students, a CSU alumnus also joined MercyMed’s team. Daniel Kim, 2018 graduate of CSU’s
biology program, found a full-time job opportunity at MercyMed after volunteering with its testing efforts. Kim now helps with administrative work, as well as filling gaps on the COVID-response team. Kim also has helped to recruit new volunteers for the response team by reaching out to his alma mater. “One thing I noticed from reading different forums online was that finding clinical or non-clinical volunteering was difficult for pre-med students, especially during the pandemic,” said Kim. “I thought that it would be a great opportunity for students to serve the community and gain some experience. They have been a tremendous help, especially keeping the other patients and staff safe from exposure to COVID.” Receiving an opportunity to help the community is just what Rachel Bello, a freshman health science major, expected when she chose CSU. With goals of becoming a pediatrician and as a member of CSU’s servant leadership program, Bello currently volunteers on MercyMed’s COVID response team. “CSU attracted me because of the community feel. It feels homey. It feels like family and a community of people supporting and leading each other,” said Bello. “I also like that Columbus State is very hands-on when reaching the community.”
CREATIVE TO THE CORE
pulmonary function for that human. You really have to take into consideration the whole body when you start dealing with somebody who’s lungs just no longer work.” Fortunately for his patients, Litchfield was well prepared. As a former specialist in the Army, a graduate of CSU’s B.S. in science and nursing program, a class president in CSU’s School of Nursing, and a member of CSU’s Student Nursing Association, Litchfield was ready for this high-stress challenge.
A RECENT CSU GRAD’S STORY FROM THE FRONT LINES
hen May 2020 nursing graduate Aaron Litchfield stepped into his first day of work at the ICU at St. Francis Hospital, he described it as “jumping in the fire.” It was mid-July, and COVID-19 cases were soaring while hospitals across the country faced a shortage of ICU staff. Typically, an ICU nurse will be responsible for the care of only one COVID-19 patient at a time. In his first hour on the job, Litchfield was assigned three. “On the plus side, if I can handle that on my very first day, I’m either going to sink or be an amazing nurse. There’s no middle ground,” said Litchfield. “So I don’t think it’s a bad idea. Let’s see
whether or not I actually have the chops to do this thing, right?” COVID-19 cases have since declined, but the extensive care that COVID-19 patients require remains. COVID-19 patients in the ICU are typically placed on ventilators to ensure that they receive enough oxygen. Their healthcare team must then determine the correct ventilator settings, monitor arterial blood gas, regulate blood pressure, and help the person stay alive until their body can develop the antibodies to fight the virus. “You’re constantly fighting to keep these humans alive,” said Litchfield. “When you have a patient who is that sick, what we have to do is take over the
From Soldier to Nurse Litchfield’s journey to become a nurse began at CSU in 2016. Coming out of the Army, he knew he wanted to become a nurse and quickly found that CSU was the perfect place to pursue that dream. “The military enrollment department made the process super seamless,” he said. “They wave the application fee for military, and they basically hold your hand through all of it. It took me about 45 minutes before I had everything I needed done. In a day I went from thinking about attending CSU to being enrolled.” In addition to providing support through the application process, CSU’s military enrollment department also offers job opportunities, assistance with VA benefits, a student center specifically for veterans, and an active student veterans association. Another program offered by the department — the Suits for Veterans program — matches veteran students with suits donated by retailers within the community. Through the Suits for Veterans program, Litchfield received a suit from Chancellor’s to help him begin his career as a nurse. “Chancellor’s made me a really nice suit. They measured me, they made it, and then I actually wore it,” said Litchfield. “I wore it on the day that I was orienting at St. Francis for the first time. The lady in HR was actually surprised that a nurse came in wearing a full suit. I like to dress
for the job I want, not necessarily the job I have. At some point, I’m going to take the scrubs off and start running things. I may as well dress for that now. Chancellor’s did a fantastic job for me!” While CSU helped Litchfield dress the part, it also helped him prepare for the job in so many other ways. Litchfield credits CSU professors Dr. Darius Tillmon and Dr. Emily Taylor for helping him understand the heart and kidneys, which has been incredibly valuable knowledge on his current job. He also looks back fondly at an opportunity he received to serve as a floating nurse in the surgery ward at St. Francis. There, he was able to watch complex surgeries, including an openheart surgery and a coronary artery bypass graft. However, the most prominent impact that CSU had on Litchfield was helping him to find his love of critical care nursing. “I was really fortunate that CSU has a great critical care program. Senior year in the nursing school they have some fantastic instructors who really go out of their way to make sure you understand the balancing act that is critical care, and I fell in love with it, just from class,” said Litchfield. “I loved every single minute of critical care, and I knew just from those lectures that’s what I’m going to do. I didn’t even apply for any other job other than ICU because there was no point. I knew what I wanted to do and that was it.” Disruption of COVID-19 Although Litchfield has wonderful memories of playing Yu-Gi-Oh in the Davidson Student Center and climbing the rock wall in the Student Rec Center, life as a student at CSU was not always easy. In his final semester, COVID-19 led to a transition to all online learning. In lieu of a preceptorship at the hospital, senior nursing students were assigned difficult case studies every week. “I will say that I griped and moaned the entire time, but I definitely have a better understanding of especially critical care because of it. They forced us to really understand drug interactions and how the kidneys process stuff and what happens
to the body when the kidneys shut down and what happens to the lungs. And we were really forced to put a lot of stuff together because of those case studies,” said Litchfield. “They were annoying, but they were helpful. That’s a very good way to describe the last year of college. It wasn’t ideal, but we still got something out of it, right? Our whole class, we didn’t have a graduation, we didn’t have a pinning ceremony, we didn’t even get our pictures taken and put up in the hall in Frank Brown Hall. All of those things that normally happen in nursing school, we didn’t get because of the pandemic, but on the plus side, we all got thrown into these really critical jobs that are really needed, and so we immediately get to practice what we’ve been learning for the last two years.” Litchfield credits the military for helping him overcome the challenges of nursing school. “Being in the military really prepares you for life as a civilian because life as a civilian is incredibly easy in comparison with life in the military. I feel like the military makes you really capable, like you really understand your own limits. I feel like the stress preparation helps for being in the military and also just being in the military just teaches you to be self-reliant, like you really can rely on yourself to get stuff done.”
know its weaknesses, know how to fight it,” said Litchfield. “Google is actually your friend. Google Scholar is even better because you can find peer-reviewed research. Just go on Google Scholar and type in method of transmission for coronavirus, and you will get a ton of information that is actually peer-reviewed, factual, and non-biased. If you understand those things, you can stop the spread really quickly. I get exposed to coronavirus patients every single time I go to work, and yet I do not have the virus. This means things we do as nurses to protect ourselves are extremely effective, and if the general population would take the same precautions, you would see this thing fall off the map. “I think the best thing people can do for healthcare workers is to take care of yourself so I don’t have to. I can take care of you if your lungs stop working, but I really, really hope you never get there. It would just be way easier if you exercise and use some very simple common sense and take some very simple precautions. “What I tell my friends is treat people like zombies. If a zombie is close enough to touch you and bite you, it’s close enough to give you coronavirus.”
Help Healthcare Workers Help You COVID-19 cases are beginning to decline, but many health professionals like Litchfield warn that flu season could put an additional strain on the healthcare system. With that in mind, Litchfield urges everyone to educate themselves and take proper precautions, both for their own safety and to help healthcare professionals on the front lines. “If you want to fight something, you should understand it, know your enemy, know how it behaves,
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DR. FOLTA’S PORCH PICNIC
ometimes food is just food, caloric energy burned by our bodies to fuel our every endeavor. But sometimes — often times, even — food is a form of communication. It is storytelling. It is a travelogue. It is both an autobiography of someone who cared enough about you to break bread with you, and an almanac as old as time that reminds us that even in our differences, we have more in common than we do not. There is history on the plate, shadows of ancestry, remnants of wars fought and lost, lean times made delicious from creativity born of scarcity. Food has the ability to forge connections, to bridge divides, and bring people together. Calories nourish the body; a homecooked meal nourishes the soul. Dr. Michelle Folta, CSU’s associate professor of Choral and General Music Appreciation and the artistic director of Voices in the Valley Children Chorus, was born in Texas and came of age in a house always filled with the sound of music and the scent of Spanish rice. She has always loved to sing, and coming from a musical family, it was only a matter of time before she began taking piano lessons and learning songs on the guitar. “I would play guitar and sing old folk songs from the ’60s,” Folta recalled. “I learned how to harmonize on guitar. And then of course, I entered choral education in middle school. And it was not ideal, but I loved the feeling I got when I was making
music. It was the best feeling I could have — to make music with others and to create that sound. So singing took over after that. I took voice lessons and just really grew to love the choral world so much. I was just captivated by it.” While she always felt the music, her experience in music education was often less than harmonious. “I wanted to be a teacher since I was 14,” admitted Folta. “And honestly, I don’t have the most traditional story, like many of my students. I had really terrible music educators growing up and just thought that children deserved a better opportunity in music-making. So, I basically begged my way into college because I couldn’t read music. But I really, really wanted to teach, so I basically told my alma mater: ‘Hey, if you let me in here, I will be the best teacher that ever comes out of this university’ — and somehow they believed in me and let me in. So, here I am!” It was during the pursuit of her undergraduate degree at the University of Texas in Austin that her now-famous “Dr. Folta’s Porch Picnic” began to take shape, inspired unsurprisingly by a caring educator. “I had a professor there, Hunter Marks, who always had his students over every semester for a dinner party. And I’m very familiar with it because when I was a student, he would say, ‘Michelle,
here is my credit card, I need you to go plan this.’ It was a really nice way to hang out with our professor outside of class. I just loved that tradition, and I knew that I always wanted to carry it on.” A cornerstone of Folta’s teaching philosophy is building relationships with her students. What better way to strengthen and deepen those budding relationships than to serve her students a warm plate of home-cooked Tex-Mex cuisine. “My students would request my enchiladas and my Spanish rice, and I’d make homemade guacamole and homemade queso and salsa. All they would have to do is bring the drinks, and we would either watch our end-of-the-semester projects or the choral festival we put on in the spring. Or sometimes in the fall, we’ll have a Mario Kart tournament. There is lots of trash talk involved. It’s a great way for them to have good food, to connect with each.” The importance of connecting with friends, family, and familiar acquaintances took on an even greater significance when the coronavirus pandemic hijacked the human need to socialize, forcing us into physically distanced bubbles. It also forced us to get creative, to find ways to connect, to stay engaged, and to be in this together while necessarily apart. In the rush to combat the coronavirus,
I don’t know how to cook for one person, so I just made a bunch of Spanish rice, some taco meat, and I think I was able to find some tortilla chips. That first night, I think I fed about six people, and it occurred to me then that this probably wasn’t going to be a one-time thing. Dr. Michelle Folta
the University System of Georgia opted to shut down college campuses. But the answer to one problem would raise the question of another. What is going to happen to those students who are unable to leave Columbus? Where will the international students shelter in place? What will become of the students striving to keep their jobs? Where will the students go whose living situations were upended? Uncertainty abounded in those early days, but it didn’t take long for Dr. Folta to come up with a plan to combat the newly food-insecure students affected by COVID-19. Just as the gravity of the pandemic was being realized across the nation, she launched her pop-up porch picnic. “The idea actually came from a Facebook post,” Folta recollected. “One of my students said, ‘Man, I would kill for some good Mexican food right now!’ And I responded, ‘What do you want? I’ll make it and have it ready for you.’ Several other students who had already come over in previous semesters said, ‘Ooh, I want some, too!’ And of course, I don’t know how to cook for one person, so I just made a bunch of Spanish rice, some taco meat, and I think I was able to find some tortilla chips. That first night, I think I fed about six people, and it occurred to me then that this probably wasn’t going to be a one-time thing.”
With classes then fully virtual, Folta began reaching out to her classes online, compiling grocery lists, taking requests, sometimes just offering kind words and a compassionate ear. It wasn’t long before the news was out. Everybody knew Wednesday night was Dr. Folta’s Porch Picnic, and a tradition was born. “At that point, it just kinda spread like wildfire,” Folta said. “There were some students, though, who were really struggling, so I tried to do more on an individual basis, maybe cooking again on Sunday and buy some groceries to add to their particular package, just to make sure they had everything they needed. I would also try to write little notes on the Styrofoam to-go boxes, just to try to encourage them. I’m that nosy professor who always wants to know what is going on in everyone else’s life. Occasionally they would post, ‘Oh, it’s my birthday next week,’ so I would say, ‘Happy Early Birthday,’ or ‘Congrats on the new cat!’ or ‘It’s going to be okay, don’t worry about that science test!’ Sometimes it just helps to let somebody know that they matter.” For Folta, it all comes back to connections, to building relationships. “I’ve said this many, many times, in a variety of
contexts over the past seven months — that it’s during these times that are very hard that we show who we really are, as educators and as people,” shared Folta. “If I can continue to find new ways to give back during this time, then I’m a better teacher for it, and therefore showing by example what my students need to be doing in their own classrooms. When it gets hard, you dig in, and when students need things, you find a way to get it for them and you try to make your little corner of the world a little bit better. That’s how we can all change the world. I mean, we can’t all be Greta Thunbergs. We have to start from our own little corners and build from there. So I thought it was a good opportunity as an educator, too, to show what it looks like when you are truly focused on relationship-building in education. You make sure your students have what they need.”
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CSU FOOD PANTRY HELPS ENSURE STUDENTS HAVE FOOD THROUGH SHUTDOWN
s COVID-19 impacted businesses across the country, many CSU students suddenly lost income. As a result, CSU’s food pantry, which is housed within the William B. Turner Center for Servant Leadership, saw a significant increase in the number of requests by students. Prior to COVID-19, the food pantry regularly served about 20 students each year, averaging about two requests per week. However, from March to August of 2020, the food pantry received more than 200 requests from nearly 95 students. “These students are expressing need,
and they are asking for help,” said Cortney Laughlin, director of CSU’s Center for Servant Leadership. “We do our best to let them know the food pantry is safe and secure, and that whether they need help for one week only or whether they’ll need weeks of help, that we are happy to help them in any way we can.” In true Cougar-spirit, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the Columbus community pulled together to ensure the food pantry was wellstocked to meet the increased needs of CSU students. “We’ve had really tremendous support since COVID-19 happened. We have been extremely fortunate to be well supported by our campus community during all of this,” said Laughlin. Among the efforts were donations from student organizations like the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Delta Sigma Theta, and Chi Alpha, who all helped to collect both in-kind and monetary donations. The Columbus community and generous donors were also vital to the food pantry, including a $1,000 grant from the Chattahoochee Valley Community Foundation and its coronavirus relief fund. In fact, support for the food pantry was so positive that it inspired CSU staff to launch a Cougars Care initiative,
which expanded support to services like the CSU Health Center and Residence Life. These services were also vital, as some students were still on campus and unable to go home at that time. Donors contributed more than $18,000 total to the Cougars Care initiative. CSU Servant Leadership students also stepped up the plate, volunteering to keep the food bank organized and clean. They check all donations to ensure food is unopened and has not been tampered with, and they clean all donations before redistributing to students. They even help deliver pantry requests directly to student’s cars for curbside pick-up, helping to minimize foot traffic in the pantry. Of course, the food pantry could not have fulfilled its increased demand without the hard work of one crucial CSU alumna: Cortney Laughlin. Laughlin’s passion for servant leadership began at CSU, where she received a bachelor of arts in English, Literature and Language in 2011 and a master’s in organizational leadership in 2012. In addition to cheering her way to a national championship and the firstever Team USA International World Cup Competition, Laughlin was a student ambassador, a tour guide, a graduate assistant, and served in the undergraduate Servant Leadership program. Now she gives back to the university she loves, ensuring current students have all they need to thrive. “Working with the food pantry during COVID-19 has definitely given me a sense of hope,” said Laughlin. “It has shown me how resilient our students are, and that even through all the chaos that they have gone through this year, they are still on top of things. These students aren’t going to let a pandemic or any other circumstances keep them from getting their college degree. So, I’m really proud of them for that, and I’ve really gotten to enjoy getting to know a wider range of our students.” A special thanks to all who have donated to CSU’s food pantry. Anyone interested in making a monetary or in-kind donation to CSU’s food pantry should visit ServantLeadership. columbusstate.edu/thefoodpantryatcsu. php for more information.
CSU G VES
October 20, 2020 CREATIVE TO THE CORE
Join Columbus State University students and alumni for a Homecoming like none before. Events will include traditional favorites, like the Alumni Recognition Awards in a virtual format, and new experiences hosted by our colleges and departments. These virtual events will allow students and alumni to come together from the comfort and safety of their homes. Weâ€™ll have something for everyone! Visit Alumni.ColumbusState.edu/Homecoming for our offerings and latest information.
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Photo by AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images Plus
W ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: CHAVALA BURSE MOTHER OF FIVE BEATS CANCER TO EARN CSU GRADUATE DEGREE Story by KRISTIN ANDRIS
hile COVID-19 might have delayed her graduation, Chavala Burse isn’t letting it stop her from savoring her monumental accomplishment. “I never thought I would actually come to this place to even experience it or see it. I’m so grateful,” said Chavala. “I’m just so grateful to be able to face difficulties, for my kids to see the example of me as a strong woman, and to be able to stand against the odds.” Chavala is a 2020 graduate of CSU’s M.S. in Teacher Leadership program. Chavala is also a single mother of five, a math teacher at Kendrick High School, and a recent breast cancer survivor. In fact, Chavala’s diagnosis with cancer is what brought her to CSU. Chavala was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in November of 2017, and she underwent surgery the following month. After the effects of chemotherapy began to take a toll on her ability to teach, she took a sabbatical from her job at Kendrick High School. However, she quickly began to feel as if she needed a goal to keep her motivated. That is when she learned about a program that allows Muscogee County School District teachers
feeling a lack of confidence due to the to earn their master’s degree in teacher physical effects of chemotherapy. leadership at CSU. She was sold, and she “Going through breast cancer and treatsays that the program “saved her life.” ments can really tear you down,” said “Communicating with my teachers Chavala. “Beyond the Runway helped me and classmates at CSU, reading articles to find that inner beauty that I once knew.” that we were required to read in the The road to recovery — and to her courses, and completing assignments — I degree — was not easy. was able to see the progress With little family nearby, in my education that really “Communicating Chavala’s oldest daughter, helped me to feel like my with my teachers and Chaquiria, took on a lot of life was still worth living,” classmates at CSU, the responsibility for her said Chavala. “This proreading articles that siblings and caring for her gram at CSU gave my life mother. She would help we were required to purpose.” her siblings get ready for During her time at CSU, read in the courses, school and set reminders for Chavala also got to particiand completing Chavala to take her medicapate in something that she assignments — I tions. During that same year, had always wanted to do: was able to see Chaquiria’s dad also passed a fashion show. She came the progress in my away. However, like her across an announcement education that really for a campus event called helped me to feel like mother, Chaquiria stayed determined. She finished “Beyond the Runway,” my life was still her school year with all A’s which was soliciting volworth living.” despite all the hardships. unteers to model in a fashDr. Anna Hart With so many personal ion show. Chavala decided challenges going on at to give it a shot, despite
home, Chavala’s professors at CSU offered her extensions. But Chavala refused to accept special treatment. “Through all of this, she has never been late on an assignment,” said Dr. Anna Hart, program coordinator for the Teacher Leadership M.Ed. program. “She’s had the most positive outlook and attitude of anyone I’ve ever met.” Now that Chavala has earned her degree, she is anxiously awaiting her delayed graduation ceremony. She says it will be her first real graduation ceremony. Her father passed away prior to her high school graduation, and she obtained her undergraduate degree online. However, like most unforeseen circumstances in life, the delayed graduation hasn’t dampened Chavala’s spirits. She simply hopes her story can inspire others. “Never put aside your desires, because of what you are going through right now. A motto I use with my students is ‘no excuses,’” she said. “There is always going to be issues with personal life. Don’t let those things get in your way. Get started now.”
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ALUMNI NEWS AND UPDATES 1970s
inaugural Points of Light Award by the Black History Month committee in Columbus. They selected individuals who embodied servant leadership and make a difference in the community by selfless service and volunteerism. 1990s
Carroll S. Taylor M.Ed. ’79 & Ed.S. ’09 is the author of a
new children’s book, Feannag the Crow, published in 2020 by Catch the Spirit of Appalachia. Two of Taylor’s poems, “Circling Magic” and “Irises,” were chosen for the Georgia Poetry Society’s 2020 edition of The Reach of Song, an anthology published by the society. She is also the author of two young adult novels, Chinaberry Summer (2013) and Chinaberry Summer: On the Other Side (2017).
supervision of the Special Agents in Region 13 Field Office in Perry, GA within the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Franciska Kocsner B.S. ’99
graduated with a doctoral degree from Argosy University. She currently works at the Brain Center, where she specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders and various neurologist conditions. 2000s Eric Carlyle Ed.S. ’01
Eddie Tyner B.B.A. ’95 was named president of the Detroit Free Press and Michigan.com.
Dr. Eric Carlyle was named principal at Midway Hills Academy in Baldwin County. Butch Ayers M.P.A. ’02 was
Stephanie Douglass B.S.Ed. ’07 successfully completed
her doctoral degree with Keiser University and earned her PhD in Instructional Design and Technology. She currently works at Jacksonville State University as an Instructional Designer.
named the executive director of the Georgia Police Chiefs Association, based in Duluth.
Matt Adams M.Ed. ’98 & Ed.S. ’03 was named deputy
Gwen Ruff M.S. ’88 was
selected as a recipient of the
superintendent for Baldwin County Schools. Previously, he served as assistant superintendent for the Franklin County School System.
Brooke Marcum M.Ed. ’08
Rhonda Daniel M.P.A. ’04
was promoted to Assistant Special Agent with the
was named 2019-2020 Educator of the Year at Georgia Military College. Brooke is a Professor of English at GMC’s Columbus campus.
Operations Business Specialist for the Tuberculosis and Refugee Program.
in Nurse Anesthesia from Keiser University. She is currently working as a CRNA in New York.
Monica James M.Ed. ’13 & Ed.S. ’15, was named head
coach of the girls basketball team at Effingham County High School.
Mike Hunsinger M.P.A. ’09
was elected probate judge in Oconee County. 2010s
Audrianna Hayes B.S. ’13
In 2017, Audrianna completed her Masters degree in Epidemiology from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Audrianna works with the Dekalb County Board of Health as the Data
Kaitlyn Given B.S.N. ’15
completed her Masters
Todd Vickery Ed.S. ’18 was named Principal at Sumter County Middle School in Americus, GA. He most recently served the county as Assistant Principal at Sumter County High School.
Want to share your exciting news with fellow alumni? Submit to Class Notes! Chuck Atkinson M.P.A. ’11
was named Chief of Police for the city of Doraville. He has served in the Doraville Police Department for over 26 years.
Email Alumni@ColumbusState.edu. Visit alumni.columbusstate.edu to learn more about alumni engagement and the CSU Alumni Association. Also, call (706) 507-8946, or email email@example.com for more information about upcoming events.
Casey Hall B.M. ’12
was named Fine Arts Specialist with the Georgia Department of Education.
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1 1. Rocky Kettering, Vice President of University Advancement, Peter Anderson, Assistant Professor, and Ben Thames, Alumni Association Immediate Past President, during the CSU Mardi Gras Celebration. 2. Kane Kettering and Safiyyah Abdullah, B.A. ‘20, during the CSU Mardi Gras celebration at Wild Leap Brew Co. 3. Solomon Whitfield, B.B.A. ‘13, and his fiancé, Elizabeth Arena, celebrating Mardi Gras at our LaGrange Regional Event. 4. Charles Hays, B.B.A. ‘04 (R), and friends during the CSU Mardi Gras celebration at Wild Leap Brew Co.
5. Young alumni showing their paws during the Young Alumni Virtual Networking event.
6 6. Alumni Lana Cook, B.B.A. ‘18 and Tom Kirkbride, B.A. ‘01, and their guests during the Peachtree City Regional Event. 7. Devereaux Lindsey, M.P.A. ‘16, Keigan Evans, B.S. ‘05 & M.P.A. ‘07, Gloria Wonnum, M.P.A. ‘00, and DeWann Lindsey, M.P.A. ‘17, faithful attendees of Macon’s Regional Event at Natalia’s.
8. Future cougar Amelia McInnis and her mother, Heather, posing with alumna and actress Erin Burns, B.A. ‘04. 9. President of the Alumni Association, Cortney Laughlin, B.A. ‘11 & M.S. ‘12, with student Addison Webster, during the Professional Networking Dinner. 10. Alumni showing their Cougar pride during the virtual First Thursday in April.
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CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR ALUMNI RECOGNITION AWARD WINNERS THOMAS Y. WHITLEY DISTINGUISHED ALUMNUS AWARD Gwen Ruff, M.S.A. ‘88 FRANK D. BROWN ACHIEVEMENT & LEADERSHIP EXCELLENCE AWARD John (Johnny) W. Walden, Jr. DISTINGUISHED ALUMNUS IN MILITARY/PUBLIC SERVICE Mark Lott, B.S. ‘08 & M.P.A. ‘09 YOUNG ALUMNI AWARD De’smond Henry, B.A. ‘10 ALUMNI SERVICE AWARD Jimbo Davis, B.S. ‘94 & M.P.A. ‘96 FACULTY/STAFF APPRECIATION AWARD Suzanne Maynard, B.B.A. ‘87 HONORARY ALUMNI Meri Robinson HONORARY ALUMNI Lieutenant General Gary Brito