Graduation 2013



An astounding 435 students walked down the aisle of the Chattanooga Convention Center to reach their final destination...Graduation! We can now proudly call them Southern Alumni and are excited for each and every one of them.

For a full story on the events of this year's graduation, keep an eye out for the 2013 Spring Edition of Southern Columns magazine scheduled to reach doorsteps at the beginning of June. Or view it now online by clicking HERE.

Not receiving Columns? Make sure we have your current mailing address by emailing

View photos from graduation by clicking on any of the above pictures or by going to our Facebook page at     




Alumni Homecoming Weekend Save-the-Date!

►  ►  ►  ►  423.236.2830


PHOTO CONTEST: Where do YOU read Southern Columns?

The 2013 Spring Edition of Southern Columns should reach your doorstep by the middle of June, and we want to know where you find yourself reading about your alma mater! On vacation in Hawaii? On your back deck with a glass of lemonade? Or on top of a mountain? Send us a picture and enter to win your choice of Southern gear, a selection of musical CD's, or a Southern hat autographed by Dr. Bietz. 


WHEN: Contest will begin Monday, June 15, 2013 and end Monday, July 15, 2013.

HOW TO ENTER: Have a picture taken of you (and/or your friends/family/etc.) holding your new 2013 Spring Edition of Southern Columns and submit it to

HOW TO VOTE: Go to Facebook and "LIKE" our Alumni Assocation page at Each submission will be placed in the "Photo Contest" album on our page and your "like" of the photo is your vote for the photo.

HOW TO WIN: Get the most amount of "likes" on your photo. 

*Limit one submission per person. All photo entries will become property of Southern Adventist University and can be used for Alumni Relations marketing.




Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Concert at Volkswagen

The Chattanooga Symphony and Opera (CSO) closed out their 2012-2013 Sunday Symphony series with a concert featuring two very famous, but very different musicians, Elvis and Gustav Mahler. The concert was sponsored by WSMC Classical 90.5 and Southern Adventist University.

Southern students organized a group that attended all five concerts in this series as a way to include more off-campus social activities into their busy schedules. This time they went to hear the performance of composer Michael Daugherty’s Dead Elvis. This composition was an orchestral homage to Elvis and features a guest bassoonist, Benjamin Kamins, impersonating the King’s legendary vocals. Daugherty was in attendance and spoke on the processes and influences of his compositions, providing unique learning opportunities for the students in attendance. The concert also featured Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp, Vivaldi’s Concerto in B-flat for Bassoon & Strings, and another of Daugherty’s works, Motown Metal, which was inspired by and celebrates the Detroit auto industry.

Another unique aspect of this concert was its location. Instead of taking place at the Tivoli Theater in downtown Chattanooga, the concert was held in Volkswagen’s Conference Center. This was the fifth concert the CSO has performed at Volkswagen and it came from an arrangement between the CSO and Hans-Herbert Jagla, Volkswagen executive vice president of human resources in Chattanooga.

"We're really excited we get to perform music for a different community that we may have not been able to reach out to until now," said Kayoko Dan, director of music for the CSO.

Jagla echoed her statement by expressing that Volkswagen has supported the symphony for several years now, and looks forward to more expansions in their partnership.

~ by John Reece
~ photo by Steven Clark


Honoring Our Lights Volunteers

“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Those who serve on our campus mean the world to us. They are known as Lights Volunteers. They set up, tear down, start conversations, welcome visitors, keep track, regulate, connect with students, share their time and talents — and all out of the goodness of their hearts. They have an enormous impact because they provide services that are equivalent to 6,500 hours of work and approximately $140,000 annually.

The Lights Volunteers program began in 2006, and since then Southern has hosted a banquet, outing, or celebration during April’s National Volunteer Week in their honor. This year, on April 28, a total of 29 volunteers and their family members braved the rain and cool weather for a special downtown Chattanooga tour on a British double-decker bus named, “Eleanor.” [pictured above] “We toured the city with Rufus [the tour guide] presenting descriptions and a history of places and events that proved to be both educational and entertaining,” said Clint Anderson, Lights Volunteer since 2010.

They visited some new eateries on the North Shore for lunch and dessert, such as Good Dog for veggie hot dogs and fries, and Milk & Honey for an exotic sampling of gelato flavors in double dipped cones and cups [pictured left]. They also experienced the Chattanooga Marketplace.

“I had a wonderful time on Sunday and want to thank [Southern] for rewarding volunteers in such a special way," said Carole Kilcher, volunteer. "The rain did not dampen our spirits. I also was able to have more fellowship with other volunteers than I would have at a banquet. I am proud to be associated with Southern as a Lights Volunteer!”

Sharon Robberson-Luke, Director of the Lights Volunteers and Conference Services and Events, said that the volunteers are wonderful people and a huge asset to the university. 

“Honoring our Lights Volunteers with a unique outing was particularly fulfilling for me,” Robberson said. “They are some of the most engaged, loyal and committed Christians that you will encounter on our campus. Our volunteers have been our best resource for recruiting more volunteers and the program has grown this year in number of people participating and hours served. I look forward to seeing what the coming year will bring.”

To learn about volunteer opportunities at Southern, contact Leslie Ann Schwarzer, volunteer coordinator, at 423.236.2832 or You may also discover more information at

~by Jaclyn Pruehs 

WELLkids Summer Activity Camp

Do you want your children to have a summer filled with a wide variety of fun physical activities? They can! Your children can spend two hours with WELLkids each day and keep moving this summer at the Hulsey Wellness Center on the campus of Southern Adventist University. Two-week sessions are available throughout June and July. Visit or call 423.236.2594 for more information and to register.




New Digital Welcome Sign Under Construction

Every academic year, the senior class deliberates over their legacy. When they move on from Southern Adventist University, what will they leave behind, and how will they have enhanced the university during their stay? These are questions they must answer when discussing their senior class gift, and the 435 seniors who graduated this May decided to shoot for the stars in one of the highest fundraising endeavors in Southern’s history.

For decades, one of the main visuals that visitors see as they enter campus has been the Mabel Wood Hall (the Music Building) sign. This being the case, the 2013 senior class officers decided that the sign could use a new look.

"In the past, the sign has shabbily displayed the recital dates of many seniors. [This] sign is desperately in need of replacement,” says Senior Class Campaign Manager, Simone Marshall.

With a $20,000 goal in mind, seniors began fundraising in the fall of 2012 for a new digital sign that will have the ability to brightly display many rotating pieces of information.

“The sign will be of lasting benefit and was needed as a replacement for the old music building sign. In addition, it will be an asset to the whole school, future students and visitors,” says Josianne Bailey, Senior Class President.

The campaigning began with senior class solicitation, but expanded to walk-a-thons, emails, Facebook petitions, phone conversations and even an appeal to the senior’s parents asking that “every parent donate alongside their graduate.”

In addition to the financial goal, class officers encouraged all seniors to give toward the project in an effort to achieve the highest number of class participation. Out of the 435 seniors, 164 — 37.7 percent — gave a gift of at least $20.13 to the new sign. Students who donated received a royal blue philanthropy cord to wear at graduation over their regalia.

The new sign is currently under construction and there is still plenty of room in the budget for your donation to this wonderful gift for the university. You can give online by visiting and check Senior Class Gift under the “general areas.”

~by Jaclyn Pruehs


Honoring the Life of Doctor Izak Wessels

Izak Frederick Wessels was raised in South Africa. He had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and was an eager student. He had an innate knack for explaining complex things in simple ways and loved teaching.

He was the first in his family to attain higher education by attending university and then enrolling in medical school. He became an Ophthalmologist after finding his professional calling in the mission field, where the miracle of restoring sight became his passion. He married Elaine in 1972 and they had three children: Gunter, Delia and Rhoda. He and the family permanently immigrated to America in 1986, where he was a faculty member at Loma Linda University Medical School and a diligent clinician. He moved to Tennessee in 1995 where he worked at Omni Eye Associates, Nova Med, and in 2002 started Allied Eye Associates where he worked until he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Many will remember visiting with him and Elaine at their home for Sabbath lunches. Others will recall the lessons he taught in the Round Table Sabbath School and his care as a physician. Dr. Karin Covi, colleague and friend, will always remember a life lesson that she learned from Izak while eating dinner at his home.

“Eating dinner at the Wessels home was a treat. The food was ready, the table set, yet Izak still seemingly wandered around muttering to himself as Elaine and I chatted," Covi said. "At some point, I noticed that he had his Bluetooth ear piece in place and had been on the phone the whole time. Izak explained that he checked on his surgical patients with a short phone call around dinnertime. He said that he could answer questions and give reassurance on issues that came up only after the patient arrived home. Needless to say, when I call my patients post-op, I give homage to the man who taught me that a well-timed phone call from the surgeon can go a long way to heal the whole patient, not just their surgical site.”

In addition to his greatness as a physician, teacher and friend, Dr. Wessels made a deep impact on many individuals whom he would never meet through his generous support of WSMC’s radio program, Southern Spotlight. This program, though only two-years-old, provides the community with many classical performances recorded live on Southern Adventist University’s campus.

He achieved the goals he set for himself in life and passed away on February 27, 2013 at home in his sleep, surrounded by family.


Click the links below for audio clip interviews and testimonies about Dr. Izak Wessels that were presented during a recent Southern Spotlight edition. 


INTERVIEW:  Dr. Gordon Bietz, Southern Adventist University President

INTERVIEW:  Pastor Dave Smith, Collegedale Church

INTERVIEW:  Doru Mihaescu, Information Technology 

INTERVIEW:  Sabbath School Class Attendee

INTERVIEW:  Don Walker

TESTIMONY: Tyler Rand, Host of WSMC's Southern Spotlight


QuickNotes is edited by Jaclyn Pruehs, Alumni Relations Assistant