campus life
Giving Day Sets Records for Participation and Funds Raised
Drum roll, please … The results from Southern’s third annual Giving Day are in! A grand total of 945 donors contributed more than $168,000 during the 1892-minute challenge. Together, generous alumni, employees, and friends surpassed last year’s results, making this the university’s biggest Giving Day yet.

Giving Day 2018Several special challenges helped spirit the Southern community toward record giving levels.

In the Academic Area Challenge, donors were invited to make a gift to an academic area of the university that meant the most to them. At the end of Giving Day, an additional $15,000 was divided between the five areas with the most individual gifts.

Then, for each gift a donor made, he or she could cast one vote for a student club as part of the Student Organization Showdown. The five clubs with the most votes at the end of Giving Day received a total of $2,000 in cash prizes to use for campus activities. 

Winners of Southern’s bonus challenges include:

School of Social Work ($6,000)
School of Nursing ($4,000)
School of Business ($2,500)
School of Visual Art and Design ($1,500)
Chemistry Department ($1,000)

• School of Nursing Club ($800)
• Social Work Club ($600)
• Enactus ($300)
• Chemistry Club ($200)
• Creature Kind SAU ($100)

To ensure alumni and friends knew that every gift matters, regardless of size, the Donor Challenge included several participation benchmarks. Five different milestones, representing levels between 100 and 650 donors, were set up as goals and unlocked throughout Giving Day. Successfully passing those benchmarks helped secure $18,000 in additional support for The Southern Fund.  

“The success of this day is due to everyone who helped share, support, and vote during this year’s event,” said Ashley Fox, ’15, annual giving officer. “This was truly a team effort, and I’m so grateful for each person who played a role in making this day possible.”

Church Community Helps Send Student Missionary Care Packages
Every Christmas, Southern’s Student Missions team sends gift boxes to student missionaries who are serving internationally and are unable to be home for the holidays. This year, members of the joined in the fun.

Each care package is tailored specially for an individual missionary, with gifts and notes from friends as well as snacks, clothes, and toiletries. Those teaching overseas also receive decorations and teaching materials from the School of Education and Psychology.

Care Packages“The fact that there were people on this campus who cared about me enough to ensure I received a little token of appreciation was amazing,” said Jared Powrie, senior computer science major, who served as a student missionary in Indonesia in 2015. “The notes that were included in the package were especially meaningful, and I still have them.”

This semester, 70 student missionaries are serving in approximately 20 countries around the world including Peru, India, Poland, and the Marshall Islands. After the Student Missions team packed and labeled all 70 boxes, they brought them to the Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists on Sabbath morning, where willing individuals could pick up a box to ship to the intended recipient.

“We were overwhelmed by the response,” said Samantha Yoon, a senior nursing major who works in Student Missions. “By the time the second church service began, half of the packages had already been claimed.”

“We had more people willing to participate than we had packages,” said Christian Bunch, ’17, Student Missions director. “We’ll definitely be doing this again next year!”

-by Rachel Beaver, senior public relations major

Community Connections
Professors’ Podcast Explores Relationship Between Faith and Science
The very first sentence in Ellen White’s book Desire of Ages reads “Nature and revelation alike testify of God’s love.” Some might think that the truth of this statement would be obvious, especially those raised in religious homes who also have a deep love of nature. However, the reality can be more complicated.

Nature and Revelation, a new podcast by two professors in Southern’s Biology Department, is providing a safe spiritual space for conversations to help reconcile worldviews seemingly at odds with one another.

“The unfortunate fact is, the deeper you delve into science, the more you will be exposed to ideas and philosophies that challenge your faith,” said David Nelsen, PhD, biology professor. “Nowhere is this more true than in modern biology, where the overwhelming opinion is that living things have their origin in processes that don’t need a Creator. For those wanting to pursue biology as a career, a tension will likely emerge—one between personal faith and the weight of the scientific consensus.”

Nature and Revelation PodcastNelsen, who was raised a Seventh-day Adventist, saw this tension come to a head during his senior year of college at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. In a mammalogy class, he first learned about the fossils that are said to document the evolution of modern mammals from more reptilian ancestors. He felt the weight of the evidence in favor of the evolutionary story. Could this fossil sequence be reconciled with a biblical worldview?

He didn’t know, and he also didn’t know who to turn to for answers. His parents were not into science, and he was sure they didn’t have the background to even begin to address this issue. He assumed his professor was an atheist, not sympathetic at all to his inner struggle, and he was too afraid to ask his classmates. He felt alone.

The educational journey of Biology Professor Aaron Corbit, PhD, followed a similar path. A lifelong Adventist, he, too, felt the weight of the scholarly consensus and had questions about science and faith. But when he brought these questions to those in his church, he was met with a lot of misinformation and unhelpful attitudes.

Ultimately, both of them found their footing through personal study and dialog with others—especially caring professors in the Department of Earth and Biological Sciences at Loma Linda University, where both Corbit and Nelsen received doctoral degrees. But the realization that they had such similar experiences left the two Southern professors wondering how many others have gone, or are going, through similar trials without the benefit of a community that could take their questions seriously.

This is why Corbit and Nelsen launched Nature and Revelation in July and have already shared five podcasts about faith and science. Their conversations can be downloaded from, as well as iTunes and Google Music Play.

“We want to create a place where we can discuss issues deeply and honestly while providing a community for those who may resonate with our experience,” Corbit said. “Our ultimate aim is to help people find their footing and be able to fully affirm that both nature and revelation do, indeed, testify to God’s love.”

Students and Professors Partner with Police to Break Down Barriers
Southern’s School of Social Work conducted its first poverty simulation this October in partnership with the Chattanooga Police Department. In total, 75 students, alumni, community partners, and police academy cadets participated in the exercise, which demonstrated what it would be like to live in poverty for a month.

Held at Chattanooga’s Family Justice Center, the three-hour exercise consisted of tables managed by Southern students representing different entities of a community, including a bank, social services offices, schools, stores, and law enforcement. In the center of the room, cadets, students, and community members each received a scenario card and an assumed identity; their goal was to survive while facing social challenges, such as being denied funding by the bank or threats of eviction from their home. 

Poverty Simulation“This simulation made me realize that there are so many people who are just trying to get by, and our communities take advantage of people living in poverty,” said Denise Angel, senior social work major. “As a social work student, it helped me see all the outside factors that impoverished people experience and gave me resources to use so I can help them in my future career.”

School of Social Work dean Kristie Wilder, ’03, JD, facilitated the simulation. She has spent more than three years researching law enforcement in Chattanooga and saw this as an ideal way to provide continuing education for cadets.

“Our research has informed us that members of law enforcement want more trainings on soft skills,” she said. “Our goal is to respond to this data by providing a training program that is interdisciplinary and that positions everyone as teachers and learners. The poverty simulation is just one tool that will aid law enforcement and social workers with their interactions with people of poverty and color in a way that dignifies victims and offenders without compromising community safety.”

Caroline Huffaker, victim services coordinator for the Chattanooga Police Department, emphasized the importance of exposing cadets in the police academy to diversification and helping them become well-rounded police officers.

“This is our first cadet class that has gone through a poverty simulation, and we have received great feedback,” Huffaker said. “Moving forward, we will continue to partner with Southern to conduct simulations that will help our cadets.”

The poverty simulation was part of a broader collection of programs by Southern’s School of Social Work in Chattanooga being funded by a grant from Versacare. The California foundation’s goal, according to its website, includes efforts “to serve humanity by engaging in activities that will further the kingdom of God and restore the ‘Image of God’ in man.”

-by Oksana Wetmore, senior public relations major

alumni highlights

Southern Graduate Receives Full Scholarship to Medical School
Matthew Lopez, ’18, recently received the National Health Service Corps Scholarship, which allows him to attend Loma Linda University in California for free. 

“When I first got accepted to medical school, I couldn’t help but think about the debt I was going to accumulate in the next few years,” Lopez said. “Someone mentioned to me about the National Health Scholarship program, which would pay for my medical school in exchange for a service commitment to underserved areas.”

The application process for the scholarship is quite selective. According to Lopez, more than 4,000 people apply each year, but only 150-200 applicants get awarded the scholarship.

Matthew Lopez“In spite of the odds, I applied,” Lopez said. “I give all the glory to God.”

Lopez began attending Southern in 2014 and faced some initial challenges before acclimating to campus life.

“Moving to Southern was an exciting but also difficult transition period,” Lopez said. “I knew almost no one at first and often felt homesick because my family was thousands of miles away. Nevertheless, I made lifelong friends and had transforming experiences. My time at Southern was well spent.”

Now at Loma Linda, Lopez is facing new struggles associated with medical school.

“The workload is so much harder because I am constantly bombarded with new information. God has definitely been helping me through this challenge. So far, it has been a humbling experience.”

Lopez said that his goal for the immediate future is to specialize in internal medicine and pediatrics so that he can be well-equipped to serve his island community in Saipan. That is both his native country and one of the unserved areas he will serve after graduation.

-by Autumn Dunzweiler, junior mass communication major

This article originally appeared in the Southern Accent. Reprinted here with permission.

Registration for Group Tour of Italy Open Through March 1

Alumni Relations ToursJoin alumni and friends of Southern May 26 through June 7 for a unique tour of Italy. Explore lakes, mountains, and cities with experienced tour leader Bill Wohlers, PhD. Highlights will span Lake Garda, the Dolomites, Da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” Milan, Venice, Rome, Florence, and the Tuscan countryside.

This is the fourth European tour sponsored by Southern’s Alumni Relations office; its last trip had more than 25 participants. The tour price of $3,995 includes air fare, coach travel, lodging, and two Italian meals per day. Email or call 423.236.2830 to learn more and to reserve your space on the tour by March 1.


Christmas Video 2018"O Holy Night"
This season, we pause in the midst of our busyness to remember the greatest, most significant, gift of all—"The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us..." (John 1:14). 

We hope you enjoy this version of "O Holy Night" that was recorded in Talge Chapel by talented music performance majors Daniel Esperante Doménech (flute) and Kaili Kimbrow (harp).

Southern wishes you the merriest of Christmases!

Year-End Giving Reminder
Your year-end gift can provide peace of mind for many students who, without your help, would not be able to continue their studies at Southern. Learn more about how you can share the joys of the holiday season and enjoy tax benefits at the same time. To make your gift count toward 2018 taxes, give online by 11:59 p.m. EST on December 31, 2018 (the transaction must be completed by this time). Checks must be postmarked on or before December 31, 2018, and mailed to:

Year-End Giving ReminderSouthern Adventist University
P.O. Box 370
Collegedale, TN 37315

If you are 70.5 or older, you may make a rollover gift from your IRA to a charity without any federal income tax on your gift, and it may qualify as your required minimum distribution. To make an IRA rollover gift to Southern, simply contact your IRA custodian and request that an amount of your choice be transferred directly to the university. Your gift could be $1,000, $10,000, or even as much as $100,000. As always, you should consult with a qualified financial adviser before making a gift that may impact your tax status. Visit or call Southern's Planned Giving office for more information: 423.236.2818.

Upcoming Events
Unless otherwise noted, all events are free and open to the public.

Commencement Ceremony. December 13 at 7 p.m. in Iles P.E. Center with overflow seating in the Collegedale Church sanctuary. Tickets are required; the event can also be viewed live online. For more information, visit

Isaac Duncan III Art Show Opening. January 17 at 6 p.m. in the John C. Williams Art Gallery (Brock Hall). Admission is free. Duncan’s sculptures will be on display through February 15.


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