Homecoming ConversationMoses Maier, ’17, Alumni Association council member, shares what he enjoys about Homecoming Weekend with new Alumni Relations director Cheryl (Fuller) Torres, ’05.

Learn more about this year's Homecoming Weekend – and register! – by visiting

-Staff Report


This summer, two brothers attending Southern Adventist University received gold medals during the SkillsUSA’s national championships held in Atlanta, Georgia. Allen and Brandon Gustrowsky, sophomore and junior computer science majors, participated in the collegiate division for Web Design and Development.

“We are so proud of Allen and Brandon’s accomplishment,” said Rick Halterman, PhD, dean of the School of Computing. “Special thanks to their coach, Dakota Cookenmaster, ’22, and Professor Robert Ordoñez, who mentors our SkillsUSA chapter.”

computing competition

The annual SkillsUSA national conference is a showcase of career and technical education where this year more than 5,200 outstanding career and technical education students—all state contest winners—competed hands-on in 108 different trade, technical, and leadership fields.

The Gustrowsky brothers (shown in center, front of picture) qualified for the national championship by winning first place in the Tennessee competition. In that event, Southern students earned both first and second place, with junior computer science majors Simon Sierra and Adrian Morales receiving silver.

The national competition involved each team completing an interview and written test, as well as building a website from start to finish in six hours.

“It felt good to walk away knowing we had built a website that was organized, clean, and strong on its fundamentals,” Allen Gustrowsky said. “I came away with good memories of the competition week.”

“We finished with no time to spare; I remember rushing for the last 10 minutes to add a few small features to hopefully give our website a fighting chance for second place,” Brandon Gustrowsky said. “Receiving the gold medal on stage in front of an audience of 10,000 people is an experience I will not forget.”

-by Anaya Miller, sophomore fine arts major

Southern Adventist University is pleased to announce that Kathy Goodridge-Purnell, PhD, has joined our team as new senior advisor to the president on diversity and strategic planning. Originally from England with roots in the Caribbean, Purnell is a gifted communicator and leader, bringing decades of relevant experience to our campus.

Kathy Goodrudge-Purnell“I look forward to working closely with our new team member,” said President Ken Shaw, ’80. “She brings a strong background in change management strategy and experience from several higher education institutions related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Most recently she served as chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at Pacific Union College in California. And she is no stranger to Southern Adventist University; she has served as an adjunct instructor in the School of Social Work.

With a doctorate in education and professional studies from Capella University, Purnell also holds master’s degrees in social work and instructional design/online technology. She is married to Franklin Purnell, and the couple has three grown children. In her free time, Purnell enjoys traveling the world, meeting new people, engaging in digital and visual storytelling, and photography. She looks forward to working closely with campus leadership, faculty, staff, students, and all university stakeholders.

“I hope that our collective efforts and goals will ignite innovation and intentional planning around diversity and strategy across the institution, nationally, and globally,” Purnell said. “This begins with important relationship building to assess the climate and needs. I consider it an honor to be part of the Southern family and the global community of faith-based leaders spearheading diversity and strategy efforts.”

-Staff Report


On Sunday, October 2, Southern will host an inaugural special event in downtown Chattanooga called A Taste of Southern. The event, held at the alumni-owned Westin hotel on Pine Street, will showcase various aspects of the university to local business and organization professionals.  

This community-focused evening is the first of its kind for the school. Throughout Southern’s 130-year history, partnering with and serving the surrounding community has been important, and this special annual event will be yet another way to connect in a meaningful way.

“We want to share with our Chattanooga community a little bit of what we have the privilege to enjoy every day on this campus,” said Ellen Hostetler, vice president for Advancement. “That’s why it’s called ‘A Taste of Southern.’” 

The Westin ChattanoogaEach year, the event will feature different aspects of the university. This fall, the evening will highlight Southern’s Steel Band, an art gallery curated by the School of Art and Design, a farm-to-table dinner provided in part by Southern’s own Thatcher Farm, and a mini-concert by the School of Music's I Cantori.

Proceeds from the event will support a scholarship for first-generation students at Southern, and the program will include stories from a current first-generation student, as well as from a first-generation alum who is now impacting the local Chattanooga community.

More than 2,000 first-generation college students have benefited from the Southern experience, including nearly 300 who are enrolled this year. This means Southern has the privilege of opening up networking and educational opportunities that these students and their families have not had before. 

An economic impact study on the 2020-2021 school year revealed that Southern’s presence in the Chattanooga metropolitan area directly and indirectly contributed $152 million dollars to the local economy. Additionally, many of the university’s alumni stay in the area, working at and owning local businesses. Alumni work for large and small organizations all over the Chattanooga region, such as Pinnacle, ClinSearch, and Howe Farms, and A Taste of Southern will give them the opportunity to share their Southern story with the local community. 

To learn more about the event, visit

Special thanks to our Platinum event sponsors:
The Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
San Sebastian Development

-Staff Report

The Federal Government has announced a Student Debt Relief Plan. If you have student loans and questions about how this may affect you, this Q and A prepared by the government may answer some of your questions about the borrower relief funds.

Upcoming Events
Special Guest Organ Recital
Organists Peter Westerbrink and Patrick Rice will perform at Southern on Thursday, September 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists. Westerbrink has performed throughout Europe, South America, and the United States. Rice, a native of Chattanooga, studied the organ in the Netherlands and completed his Master of Music in 2022. To learn more, visit or contact the School of Music at 423.236.2880.

Symphony Orchestra Concert
Southern will present its Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Laurie Redmer Cadwallader, in concert on Thursday, September 29, at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and will be held in the Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists. For more information, visit or call 423.236.2880

Homecoming Weekend Golf Tournament
Join fellow alumni for a round of golf the Sunday of Homecoming Weekend, October 30, at The Ooltewah Club. Learn More/Register 

Ask an Attorney Workshops
Gain practical advice about wills, estate planning, and more in a four-part series, beginning October 4, presented by attorneys from Chambliss Law. Participants are welcome to attend in person at the Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists or virtually. Learn More/Register


When you use AmazonSmile, you can also support Southern students. It provides the same products, prices, and shopping features as The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile and select Southern as the charitable organization of your choice, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to Southern.

AmazonSmile works on your computer browser and Amazon Shopping phone app (available for IOS and Google Play for Android). In the phone app, find “Settings” in the main menu (☰), then tap on “AmazonSmile” and follow the on-screen instructions to enable the service on your phone.

Support Southern when you shop at AmazonSmile!  

amazon smile

                                                                            gfh   gh