Cheryl (Fuller) Torres, ’05, began her new role with Southern in June, filling an important opening created when longtime Alumni Relations director Evonne (Kutzner) Crook, ’79, announced her retirement earlier this spring. The transition is simplified by Torres’ familiarity with campus, both from her time studying here and her previous employment at Southern as its annual giving coordinator from 2013-2015.

Cheryl TorresFuture installments of QuickNotes will feature short videos of Torres interviewing Alumni Council members about this year’s Homecoming Weekend, giving readers a good opportunity to get to know her in the process. In the meantime, a quick Q&A will provide alumni and friends of the university with an immediate snapshot of this campus leader. 

Where did you grow up and what attracted you to enroll at Southern? My dad was a pastor, so I moved around quite a bit as a kid—California, Florida, Washington State, then to Tennessee, where I went to Spalding Elementary School and Collegedale Academy. Then I came to Southern, which is a bit of a tradition for my family. My great-grandfather, both paternal grandparents, and my dad all attended Southern, as did my brother. Although I considered a number of options, I chose Southern because many friends were coming here, and as an Adventist school, I knew I wouldn’t have a lot of conflicts with my faith and the activities I wanted to join.

What was your major? It took me a little time to settle on a degree path. After exploring math, accounting, and journalism, I finally landed on public relations because it included a variety of classes, ranging from research and journalism to design and advertising, and laid a foundation for many potential careers.  

You spent time as a student missionary while at Southern. Where did you serve? I landed in Norway, where I volunteered as what’s called a friendship evangelist. I helped in many areas at a supporting ministry there, the Heartgood Foundation, working in the bakery, on the farm, etc. Though not what I pictured when I was thinking of going as a student missionary, it’s definitely where God wanted me, and the experience was incredible! After graduating from Southern, I even went back to Norway and worked as a public relations specialist for the European Bible School, which was part of the foundation I had served as a student. I love working in the nonprofit sector.

What drew you back to Southern for the Alumni Relations director position? My experience as a student here was formative in ways I can’t even describe. It helped me grow from a kid into an adult, provided a space where I developed lifelong friendships, and offered an atmosphere that was academically challenging, spiritually meaningful, and fun—all at the same time. The whole experience is something I deeply want every college student to enjoy, but those things that make Southern great don’t have to stop after graduation. I’m eager to invest in my fellow alumni, seeking out opportunities for graduates and attendees to continue connecting to these same campus and community resources as we seek to live full, Christ-centered lives.

Who else is journeying alongside you in this return to Collegedale? My husband Alejandro, ’15, our four-year-old son, Ezra (who we’ve registered in Southern’s Future Alumni program!), and two big rescue pups, Taco and Mocha.

As you lean into your new role, have there been any “wow” moments, even as a returning employee? In the first weeks that I’ve been here, I’ve already met with so many alumni who are eager to help students succeed by sharing internship connections, job postings, and mentoring opportunities, just to name a few of the ways they offer to assist. And I’m always humbled by talking with alumni who are passionate about inspiring others to join them in making financial gifts that support our students.

-Staff Report

This June, a group of 24 Southern Adventist University students and employees traveled to Bucharest, Romania, for a week to help Ukrainian refugees. Southern partnered with Adventist Medical Evangelism Network (AMEN) to provide medical and emotional care to Ukrainians who left homes and often family members behind to flee the devastating war in their country.

Southern’s volunteers helped set up an outdoor medical clinic and assisted AMEN’s medical and dental professionals. They also organized activities for the children, prayed with patients, and participated in health and spiritual talks. Every day, Southern’s team came together to pray over those who had visited the clinic.

Romania Trip

“I was so proud of our students. Their spirit of service, leadership, and hard work was evident from the beginning, and I saw the love of Jesus shining through them,” said Sandra Araujo-Delgado, the university’s annual giving manager and a trip chaperone. “I was also moved by the heartbreaking stories of loss from the refugees and their sincere gratefulness for everything, from dental care to a simple gift for their children.”

For Aron Mariano, junior music major, working with the refugees left a big impression as he came face-to-face with the fragility of life.

“Many of the people who sat on our makeshift dental camping chairs were people with college degrees,” Mariano said. “One of our patients was a lawyer. Others were doctors, pastors, and teachers who were employed before being driven out of their homes. I learned not to take our houses, families, and jobs for granted.”

“As Southern students take part in mission trips like this, they learn firsthand what it’s like to serve others, and it changes them,” Araujo-Delgado said. “I love that these opportunities are part of shaping our students for a life of service and eternity.”

-by Anaya Miller, sophomore fine arts major

This fall, Southern will launch a new whole-foods, plant-based eatery on campus called The Garden at KR’s, thanks to a generous grant from Ardmore Institute of Health. As a granting organization with a vision for “a future where healthy lifestyles will be the preferred method to prevent, treat, and reverse chronic diseases,” Ardmore Institute of Health has shown its support for this project with a total of $160,000.

Southern’s Food Services, School of Nursing, and Vegetarian Culinary Arts program have partnered to create The Garden. The idea originated with a group of faculty and staff who shared a passion for increasing the plant-based food options on campus.

Whole Foods Plant Based

“Our vision of providing more food options that nourish the body, soul, and spirit is becoming a reality,” said Cindy Rima, DNP, ’86 and ’18, a professor in the School of Nursing who was instrumental in securing the grant. “I look forward to these vibrantly flavorful meals being shared in a space that invites all to engage in this culinary adventure.”

The university hired Maggie Pickens, ’15 and ’18, a graduate of Southern’s Vegetarian Culinary Arts program, to serve as the chef and director of the new eatery. To gauge student interest, this spring she offered food tastings, allowing students and employees to sample possible recipes.

“The meals I tried were healthy, tasty, and affordable,” said Lisa Clouzet, ’01 and ’06, counselor in Student Support Services. “I am grateful for this new lunch option and look forward to trying more good food at The Garden this fall.”

The new eatery will complement Southern’s existing campus food options, which include CK2, the Dining Hall, The Kayak, and Village Market Deli; they offer a variety of hot and cold menu items throughout the day.

“Our goal with The Garden is to provide a plant-centered dining experience for Southern’s students, faculty, and community,” Pickens said. “We look forward to bringing new menu items for the start of the new school year!”

-by Anaya Miller, sophomore fine arts major

Many employers will match their employees’ charitable donations. Southern launched a new system in April that makes it simple for our donors who work for matching gift companies to request those funds and double their contributions. Already more than $2,000 in gifts have been matched through this system.  

Not sure if your company will match your gift to Southern? Find out here. It’s quick and easy, and you could double your impact on students’ lives.

We love to share highlights from the lives of our alumni in each issue of Columns magazine. If you’ve celebrated a marriage, a new family addition, a work achievement, or another moment to remember, let us know by filling out the Alumni Update Form!

Upcoming Events
ASI International Convention in Orlando, August 3-6
We’d love to connect with our alumni in and around Orlando, Florida, at the ASI International Convention! Southern will have a booth there, and we invite you to drop in for a visit and a cool treat. Several campus departments will be represented, and President Ken Shaw, ’80, EdD, will be there as well. Learn more online.

Southern Prayer Walk, August 13
As we prepare to begin each new school year, Southern employees unite in prayer for our students, faculty, staff and administration. We invite alumni to join us, either in person or in spirit, as we seek God’s blessing, guidance, and protection. The prayer walk begins 7 p.m. at the flagpole in front of Wright Hall, and we will take an hour to pray and read scripture together across the campus.

Homecoming Weekend 2022, October 27-30
Join us on campus or virtually the last weekend in October to reconnect with fellow alumni, faculty, and staff. Benjamin Lundquist, ’04, will speak at Friday vespers and Marla (Samaan) Nedelcu, ’02, will speak at the Sabbath worship services. We look forward to seeing you there! Learn more and register online.


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