More than 100 Southern alumni and their families enjoyed an afternoon together at a Chattanooga Lookouts baseball game hosted by President David Smith, PhD, and the Alumni Association on April 7. Southern’s guests were treated to a complimentary buffet of veggie burgers and veggie dogs prior to the game.

Cookout with the LookoutsWhether it was underneath a private pavilion or in the stands overlooking right field, young and old(er) alumni were able to network while also enjoying the game. Michael Looby III, future Southern alum, even caught a foul ball with the help of his father, Michael Looby, ’09. The day ended in excitement with the Lookouts winning 11-7.

We look forward to reconnecting with alumni across the country at upcoming events. Follow the Alumni Association on Facebook to stay informed of similar activities in the months ahead.

-by Ashley Fox, ’15, assistant director for Alumni Relations

On April 14, a large group of Southern alumni and friends came together at Garden Plaza in Collegedale for the annual Legacy Society Lunch. This event honors generous individuals who have chosen to include the university in their estate plans through family-named scholarships or designations to academic departments for any affinity area on campus. In the past year, 14 individuals joined the Legacy Society, bringing its total number of members to nearly 500.

Legacy Society LuncheonDuring the luncheon, President David Smith, PhD, and other Southern staff shared messages of gratitude and encouragement with attendees. Guests also heard testimonies directly from students who told how scholarships had played a critical role in their Adventist education. Alex Staton, a sophomore mathematics major studying to become a teacher, spoke enthusiastically about his improved academic experience thanks to receiving a scholarship. Increased financial aid from the WISE program helped him reduce the numbers of hours he needed to work each week, allowing him to register for a full course load. As a result of this sharper scholastic focus, his grades increased as well!

Legacy Society estate gifts are made through insurance, real estate, retirement assets, stocks, and other options. In addition to their future planned gifts, many legacy members are inspired to make current gifts to support students who have financial needs, giving to both the endowed and immediate Legacy Society scholarship funds. For more details, visit southern.edu/plannedgiving or call 423.236.2818.

-Staff Report

campus life
Academic Administration leadership recently announced that Tammy (O’Quinn) Overstreet, ’92, PhD, is moving from her role as director of Online Campus to dean of the School of Education and Psychology. She will lead a team of more than 20 full-time faculty and staff as well as teach a graduate-level course on literacy education—her area of specialty.

Overstreet has worked at Southern for four years and holds previous experience as a K-12 teacher and university professor. She is married to Bob Overstreet, ’94, PhD, and has two daughters: Becca, a junior English major, and Laura Sias, attended.

We interviewed Overstreet recently about the forthcoming transition.

Tammy Overstreet, PhDWhat led you to pursue this dean position? I worked in teacher education before coming to Southern and have had the opportunity to get to know the faculty and staff from our School of Education and Psychology through my responsibilities with Online Campus. They are a fabulous team and I found myself dreaming of how my work with them could contribute to bettering the world as we are led by God to accomplish His plans.

What are some of the strengths of our education and psychology programs? We believe our graduates will go out and change the world for the better through important work and research, which is why our faculty and staff crafted a departmental mission statement framing their commitment to prepare “effective Christian professionals who demonstrate a commitment to the pursuit of truth, wholeness, and a life of service in a diverse society.” 

What opportunities exist for growth? One good example is our outdoor education program. Its unique approach to using nature as the springboard to learning has seen an upswing in interest recently, especially since adding forest kindergarten workshops. The graduates of our education programs, both undergraduate and graduate, are in demand—especially as large segments of the Adventist teacher population approach retirement. 

What is your approach to leadership? I enjoy helping others set goals for their own development. That takes many shapes in higher education. Sometimes it means assisting faculty as they hone their craft as professors; other times it manifests itself in the form of supporting their research agendas and encouraging a critically inquisitive spirit. Above all, I want to help them find a balance that helps them have strong families and be healthy themselves—physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Who or what at Southern most influenced your personal and professional growth? I vividly remember one of my professors, Jeanette Stepanske, PhD, taking me out to eat for a discussion about my future and my potential. She taught me so much that I didn’t even begin to fully understand until I was in my own classroom! She still lives in the Collegedale area, and when I was considering the dean position, I asked her to spend time with me over a meal. She readily agreed and once again invested herself in me. Lifelong relationships are a huge part of what makes Southern so special.

-Staff Report

Adventist Review shared a story in April about Southern’s Thatcher Farm, which functions both as a lab for courses on sustainable agriculture and for year-long production. An audio version of that article is available online without subscription.

Thatcher Farm ProduceSeth Shaffer, ’13, and a team of student workers help keep Thatcher Farm running smoothly. Students learn how to start seeds, transplant, cultivate, and harvest the produce. The farm yields crops for Southern’s community supported agriculture (CSA) program, local restaurants, and area farmer’s markets. All proceeds are re-invested back into the farm to help fund seed and equipment purchases.

To learn more about Thatcher Farm, call 423.236.2792 or email sshaffer@southern.edu. Financial contributions in support of the farm may be given online.

-Staff Report

Community Connections
Southern’s Evangelistic Resource Center (ERC) is extending an invitation to Adventist students attending other colleges and universities to join in its mission of preparing young people from all majors for public evangelism. ERC recruits, trains, and sends students throughout the world on short-term trips that occur during spring break and the summer, sharing the gospel by preaching as many as 16 sermons.

ERC sent 1,345 students abroad between 2001 and 2018. Their work helped contribute to 31,667 baptisms. In 2019, ERC is sponsoring trips to Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Colombia, Zambia, and France.

Evangelism Resource Center TripIn order for non-Southern students to qualify for an ERC trip, they must be a member of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference (GCC) or the Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF). ACF is a ministry run by students, for students, which seeks to engage Adventists enrolled in public colleges and universities. The organization will take an active role in recruiting students for the ERC trips. After an application and interview process, students will undergo the same training that Southern’s ERC students obtain before departing for their mission location.

“It’s great that ERC is extending this opportunity to others outside of Southern,” said Paola Mora, sophomore journalism major and former ERC participant. “Although mission trips are typically meant for us to reach out to others, in many ways it feels like the opposite. You learn a lot about yourself, the church, and God.”

-by Brittny Desvarieux, junior English major

Mountain biking enthusiasts received exciting news recently as Southern announced plans to expand the White Oak Mountain Trail System, adding at least one new downhill mountain bike gravity trail that will open this summer.

Southern's Biking TrailsThe new intermediate trail—4,700 feet in length—will provide riders with a quick elevation drop of more than 300 feet, which offers an exciting change of pace for mountain bikers. Most local trails, including those at Southern, descend at a slower pace. Prior to the new trails’ completion, riders have needed to travel at least an hour away from Chattanooga for a similar experience.

Southern is already home to more than 35 miles of hiking and biking trails, which are used frequently by the public. The gravity trails will increase outside attention and help strengthen Southern’s community connections.

"Nature is a gift from God. We’re really blessed to have so much of it around us and to share it with a community that has done so much for Southern," said Janell (Pettibone) Hullquist, ’05, editorial manager for the university.

These extensive trail systems are integrated into the university’s strategic plan and represented by the Campus Life impact area of Southern’s Campaign for Excellence in Faith and Learning. Alumni and friends with a desire to financially support trail maintenance and development are invited to make a gift online.

-Staff Report

Thoughts of summer camp may be accompanied by fond memories of cabins and horseback riding, crafts and sitting around a bonfire, making new friends and drawing closer to Jesus. While Southern’s Academic Summer Camps don’t involve cabins and bonfires, they do offer high school students a chance to try out a potential career field, make friends with like-minded young people, and start thinking about God’s purpose for their lives.

Since 2016, Southern has offered a variety of three-day camps for both day students and overnight campers. Last year, 112 students from 13 states came and experienced a small taste of Southern as they explored topics ranging from business and medicine to creative writing and filmmaking. For many, this was their first experience with Adventist education, since half of the participants were either homeschooled or public school students.

Academic Summer CampsTahkai Martin attended the camps for two summers in a row. He took part in the graphic design camp one year, which reaffirmed his interest in the creative arts. Now a sophomore psychology major at Southern, he chose graphic design as his minor.

“The camps are kind of a college simulation; they give participants a chance to garner some practical life skills, such as having a roommate, being away from home, interacting with other people, and having accountability,” Martin said. “It was a great experience.”

This year’s Academic Summer Camps will be held June 17-19. Topics include:

 Automotive Repair
 Business Entrepreneurship
 Computing / App Development
 Creative Writing
 Journalism (50% off registration)*
 Outdoor Adventure Leadership
 Social Work and Missions
 Vegetarian Culinary Arts

Academic Summer Camps cost $150 for day students or $200 for those staying overnight in residence halls. For more information, visit southern.edu/camps.

*The Southern Union Communications Department is underwriting Journalism Camp, cutting registration costs in half to just $75 for day students or $100 for those staying overnight in residence halls.

-by Natalia Perez, senior mass communication major

alumni highlights

Alexandria Cooke, MD, a third-year resident with the University of Tennessee’s College of Medicine in Chattanooga, has consistently earned the respect of her faculty and peers by demonstrating compassionate care. During a March ceremony, she was recognized publicly for her integrity and community service by being named 2019’s winner of the Alper Humanitarian Award.

Dr. Alenaxdria CookeThose submitting Cooke’s nomination cited a variety of ways she exemplifies such excellence. One of the faculty physicians said: “It is a pleasure working with Dr. Cooke. She remains calm in stressful situations, has an excellent fund of medical knowledge that she applies to patient care, and shows compassion to her patients and their families. She shows maturity beyond her years of training.”

A press release from the College of Medicine highlighting Cooke’s award also cited numerous community service efforts, ranging from spending eight months abroad as a health and lifestyle educator in Guinea to participating in health fairs at her home church in Georgia.

Cooke will complete her residency soon but has chosen to remain in Chattanooga for a two-year fellowship focusing on women’s health at Clinica Medicos, an organization dedicated to caring for the underserved Latino population. In an article by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Cooke further elaborated on her interest in obstetrics and the special bond that this specific form of doctor-patient interaction fosters.

"I really enjoy the relationship you build with a woman over nine months, and then you get to see the baby be born and you have that instant connection. It's very special, and very much a privilege and an honor to be allowed to be part of such a sacred journey."

-Staff Report

Upcoming Events
Carolina Camp Meeting Picnic: May 31 at noon under the tents beside Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. Alumni and friends of Southern are invited to this free event. Sign up online or call 423.236.2829 before May 24 to reserve a ticket for your seat. Tickets can be picked up on site Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Southern’s table in the Harrell Center exhibition area.

WELLkids in the Wild Day Camps. June 3-7, June 24-28, and July 15-19 on campus. Each weeklong session offers outdoor adventures facilitated by graduate students in the Outdoor Leadership program. Activities include rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, ropes course, caving, rafting, and more. Available for ages 10-16. For more information and to register, visit southern.edu/wellkids.

Academic Summer Camps. June 17-19 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at various locations on campus (overnight housing available). Students entering grades 9-12 can choose from a variety of potential majors for a three-day immersive experience in career and calling. For more information and to register, visit southern.edu/camps. 

PreviewSouthern. June 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Prospective students (high school juniors, seniors, and transfers) and their families are invited to view our beautiful campus, talk one-on-one with faculty, find out about multiple scholarship options, and visit downtown Chattanooga. Register online at least two weeks before the visit.

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