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UNCP Home Node ETFL’s Award-winning Advisors and Student Organizations
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ETFL’s Award-winning Advisors and Student Organizations

February 5, 2016

Student organizations offer a vital role in adding to the intellectual and emotional journeys college students experience. They can expand the learning moments initiated in classrooms, expose students to new ideas, and unite people of common interests. They function as an essential opportunity for students to make friends, navigate team dynamics, and pursue goals. 

Reinforcing the notion that a teacher’s work is never done, club advisors accept the important task of guiding the members to fulfill the responsibilities and missions of each group. Advisors recognize that campus organizations should offer fun and engaging opportunities, yet these moments away from the classroom still involve a wide variety of educational benefits. Even though advising an organization adds to the time-consuming daily routines of research, committee work, grading, and class preparation, it provides personal rewards and learning moments that strengthen the reason why people became teachers. 

In the Department of English, Theatre, and Foreign Languages, several professors have taken on the responsibilities of advising clubs because they understand that a student’s work is never done.  Throughout each day, teachers, classmates, and friends work in tandem, aiming to make each student better with each interaction, each discussion, and each activity. 

Therese Rizzo

The English Club Advisor

 Melissa Schaub asked me to take over as the faculty advisor, and I jumped at the chance to work with the club. I love spending time with our students, and it is such fun to see how they interact with the world of literature and film outside of our classes. The English Club offers students the chance to participate in discussions and activities centered on the arts. We have also begun outreach activities to the community based on our love of books and reading. 

 As the faculty advisor, I'm here to help facilitate the events and activities decided upon by the club members. Because English majors tend to be busy and involved members of the campus, folks tend to come and go in the club, so I serve as a kind of club historian that can remind members about our previous activities--what worked, what proved difficult, and what might be possible. 

 The English Club often has a strong contingent of creative writers, so we have held lots of Open Mic Nights as well as poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction writing workshops to prepare for those readings. We have also held a handful of end-of-the-semester term paper workshops. In more recent years, the club, under the leadership of former President Katie West, began holding fundraisers to purchase books for the Scotland County Guardian ad Litem so that children who have been displaced from their homes can receive smart and often inspirational books. his past year the club raised nearly $100 to replenish GAL's library. Club members have committed their efforts to this cause so that young people in the community who might not otherwise have their own books can find some comfort in timeless stories of bravery and ingenuity. 


Teagan Decker

ReVisions Editor

 The first volume of ReVisions was published in 2001 with Drs. Jesse Peters and Susan Cannata as Editors and with Sara Oswald as the Managing Editor, starting out as a faculty idea. Susan asked me to co-edit the magazine with her when I came to UNCP in 2007. I thought it would be a good opportunity to become involved in editing a magazine of student writing. 

 ReVisions benefits student by providing a publication that showcases their work, and the campus befits because we are able to see the excellent writing that students do across the disciplines. My favorite essay from the latest volume (2015) is “A Holy Cause: Catholicism and Civil War Memory” by Charles Jackson because it is a unique look at civil war commemoration and taught me something new. . The essay was nominated by Dr. Jaime Amanda Martinez and was written for her HSTS 4330: The US Civil WAS at 150: Memory, Commemoration, and Mythology curse.

As the editor, I chair the selection committee, which is a group of faculty who select the essays every year. Also, I correspond with faculty who nominate essays, students whose essays are nominated, and students whose essays are published. I proofread the essays and organize the printing and distribution of the magazine, while Sara Oswald and her PRE 3450 class copyedit, design, and produce the magazine. 

Publishing the magazine is usually a pretty smooth process. The most enjoyable part is meeting with the selection committee as we discuss all of the nominated essays. It is interesting to hear what faculty from various disciplines have to say about student writing. Usually we agree, but at times, we have friendly debates about whether to include certain essays in the magazine. 

Yuanyuan Lin

The Chinese Club Advisor

The Chinese Club started as an idea I and my students had. There was no Chinese club when I first came to UNCP, so in order to promote the Chinese language and culture, we officially founded in 2014. I am very pleased that there is a group of students interested in establishing and maintaining the Chinese Club.

Most of the students who join are from Chinese language classes and are devoted to developing and promoting the cultural awareness throughout the UNCP campus. They always bring questions of Chinese culture to me every time before their meeting. As the advisor of the Chinese Club, I am very happy to give them more help and support.

All our events are designed to benefit both national and international students. Many of the international students, in fact, tell me that attending these events make them feel like they’re at home. They also provide good opportunities for international students to connect more with UNCP students.

I believe that a successful student organization should have a further and bigger picture, which is why we want to outreach and serve the community. For example, we invited local elementary school students to attend the Chinese New Year last year, which exposed these students to a wonderful cultural event that they would not have participated in or seen before.

My role as advisor is to lead our group to a better direction by acting as the role model. In my first year, I aimed to show students how to organize and lead the big events, while in my second year, my goal is to encourage students to strengthen their leadership skills. Lastly, it is always important to manage the safety and quality of the student events.

The Chinese Club is a very active student organizations on campus, organizing the Chinese New Year, Chinese Moon, and Asian dumpling festivals in the past year. All these events are open to UNCP students, faculty and staff. The Chinese club will keep hosting these events in this school each year, with more ability to improve the quality of these events because of the $1,000 award from the 2014 Chancellor’s Cup. Besides these events, we are planning to organize Foreign Language Festival for our department and Asian culture day every month.

In 2014, the Chinese Club won The Values Based leadership Award of 2014 and The Chancellor’s Cup of 2014.  Our president, Dana Reijerkerk, won the Emerging Leader Award.

Karla M. Amaro-Roque (Previous)

Jocelyn Rodriguez, & Alice Frazer (Present)

Ana Cecilia Lara

La Voz del Español Program

La voz” is a part of the Spanish degree program and run by students focusing on Spanish with a licensure to teach, typically when they are in their last semester of classes. Karla M. Amaro-Roque was involved in starting the program then running it, by making flyers, talking to classes, appointing the time and place to meet, and preparing the materials for the day the group would meet. She also needed to be in contact with the professors from the Spanish department letting them know who attended, what they did, and ask them to announce to their classes when “La voz”  would happen. Meeting with Dr. Lara, they would discuss what happened in the meetings and how many people attended.

La voz” has two main goals: to help spread Hispanic knowledge and provide students with guidance if they are struggling with any Spanish class or work, particularly by providing a space to practice their Spanish verbal skills. “My favorite moment would be our weekly conversations,” states Amaro-Roque, “To help them practice their verbal skills, we would form a circle then talk about what we did that day. It was a time to share and even have fun.”

The students in “La voz” worked together for the Spanish festival, operating their own table and cooking meals, which lead to the idea of making their own “La voz” cookbook. The group provides an important service by offering students a chance to exercise their language skills in a public setting as well as creatively apply their knowledge of Spanish-speaking cultures.

Karen Helgeson

The Aurochs Advisor

Karen Helgeson is the founding faculty advisor for The Aurochs, the student literary magazine of UNCP. Since 2001, the magazine has published poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and art by UNCP students. It began with students wanting a publication that showcased the wide variety of creative effort put forth by UNCP students. Along with ENG 2860 Literary Magazine Production, students learn valuable lessons in professional publishing, such as editing and designing techniques, budget management, and selection processes.

The Aurochs has a long history of success as demonstrated by the numerous awards the magazine, staff, and contributors have received over the years.  The 2009 edition won a Best of Show award from the North Carolina College Media Association for universities with more than 6,000 students. Craig Wilson, who was the issue’s editor, won second place in fiction for the “Dime,” Jake Bayog won third place in nonfiction for “Passport to Nowhere,” and Oliver Spivey won third place in poetry for “In the Projection Booth.”

The 2014 issue has earned acclaim, receiving awards at national and state levels. In national competitions, it secured the Gold Medalist award from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and First Place with Special Merit as well as the award for Best Collegiate Literary Magazine from the American Scholastic Press Association. At the state level, it won another North Carolina College Media Association Best in Show for Literary Magazines in the category of colleges and universities with enrollment under 6,500. Chelsey Parsons, the art editor, won First Place for Two-Page Spread (design) and Kayla Seedig was awarded an Honorable Mention for her artwork, a mixed media piece entitled Disturbance.

Sara Oswald

Indianhead Yearbook Advisor

The Indianhead has been published annually since 1946, and I have served as faculty advisor since the fall of 1988, teaching the Yearbook Production classes and working with the student editors, photographers, and staff on all aspects of each book’s production and distribution.  “Working with” is the key phrase here:  The opportunity to collaborate with a group of dedicated, creative students to produce a book that will serve as a lasting memory for their fellow students and the entire university community has been the most rewarding aspect of this job.  .

When I took over from Dennis Sigmon in 1988, the yearbook office was in the Dial Building—we were then the Communicative Arts Department, encompassing the mass communication disciplines as well as English, theatre, and foreign languages, and the two student publications associated with the journalism program were both housed here.  With the creation of a separate Mass Communication Department, The Pine Needle and its faculty advisor relocated to Old Main, but the yearbook remained in Dial until our move to the office designed for us in the newly-opened UC Annex and our later (involuntary) move to our current space in Wellons Hall. The move has added daily commutes across campus to the advisor’s job—but at least I get a lot of exercise.

Technology has changed radically, and rapidly, during my years as yearbook advisor.  Back in 1988, we had only one computer on which we wrote copy, which was saved on 5¼″ floppy disks.  Those were sent to the printing plant with hand-drawn layouts and cropped and labeled photos—thousands of them over the course of each year. The tasks were often tedious and time-consuming, with staff members working late into the night and on weekends to meet deadlines.  Much has been gained with our conversion to digital technology—we can be more ambitious with design and color—and keeping up with the changes has benefited my teaching in my other classes, too.  But some things have been lost, including the greater sense of camaraderie that came out of those late-night work sessions.  I especially miss working with students in the darkroom; the look on a student’s face when she turns a print over in the developing tray for the first time and sees the image gradually materialize was always a very rewarding experience, and one that cannot quite be duplicated when working with digital images in PhotoShop or LightRoom. 

Despite the changes, the rewards gained from working collaboratively with students have remained constant.  Every year, one of the first things students who are new to the process learn is that there is a lot of work involved in producing a yearbook, but there are always some staff members who really take ownership in the project and work hard to master the skills needed to bring it to completion.  I am grateful to all the students I’ve worked with over the years, but special mention should be made of the ones who served as editor-in-chief for multiple books:  Allison Alvarez, Sarah Lynn Brown, Jennifer Key, the late Ellen Inman Church, and the current editor, Robert Hamilton.  The Indianhead has won many awards over the years, including Gold Medalist Certificates and All-Columbian Honors from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and Best in Show awards from the NC College Media Association.  But the biggest one comes when the book arrives each April and staff members flip through the pages, remarking on the layouts they helped design, the photos they chose, the copy they wrote; that, and the skills and attitudes they developed to make it possible, it the most important award for me. 

Michael J. Berntsen

Secular Student Alliance Advisor

 The students in the Secular Student Alliance have taught me to cherish my family and my friends even more than I ever thought possible. The first meeting I attended as advisor showed me how ignorant I was to the experiences of American atheists and seculars. Certain students discussed how they hide their beliefs from their families and friends. Others revealed that parents and other family members disowned them after they “came out” as atheists. I wanted to offer my shoulder to cry on, but they did not need such a gesture. What they required more were more ears to listen to their experiences and more caring individuals to remind them of their worth. I thought about my 100 year-old grandma who wanted to know everything about me and never judged any idea, whether good or bad, that tumbled out of my head.

Those students helped me to help other students and people, leading me to join Fort Bragg’s Military Atheist Secular Humanists (M*A*S*H). Hearing how even the most heroic Americans suffer harassment and discrimination based solely on their philosophies reinforced my dedication to the mission of the SSA. My job as advisor is to make sure students at UNCP feel safe to express ideas and share diverse perspectives. During my three years of advising, the students have led presentations covering a variety of topics, including the history of American witches, gender roles in media, and unmasking myths about evolution. Most recently, we celebrated Darwin’s birthday in the UC Annex, explaining to passersby the importance of Darwin’s contributions to science.

In Spring 2014, our president, Krystal Dean won two awards, The Values Based leadership Award and The Emerging Leader Award. These awards reveal the nature of this group since our goal is to inspire critical thinking and to correct the notion that a code of morality derives solely from religious doctrine.