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Feature Story
Spotlight On Seniors Choosing to Put Others First

Many students graduate college and head straight into their intended career path. But some students choose to devote a year or two to service work. Two of such students, Abby Coakley and Asia Hudson, are graduating from Spring Hill College this week.

During her time at Spring Hill, Asia Hudson majored in sociology with a concentration in criminology. She is a star student with an ‘A’ average and was involved with numerous on-campus organizations. What kept her most busy was her favorite organization, the Campus Programming Board. The club is responsible for organizing most of the events at SHC, including the Winter Formal, Sunset Sail, karaoke nights, and more. Her favorite event this year was the Mardi Ball. She said, “It’s the biggest event that we throw. The ball was very special to me this year because it was my last one since I’m graduating.”

Hudson is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and she is returning to her hometown for a two-year service position with Teach For America. Hudson feels that her knack for planning and organizing will make her a great teacher. TFA teachers do not have to be education majors. They just need to pass an interview process and GPA review. TFA is a non-profit organization that places graduates in low-income classrooms and aims to enrich the potential of impoverished students. According to TeachForAmerica.org, one in three of over 16 million impoverished children will not graduate from high school, and their members work to change those statistics.

TFA’s mission to help under-privileged children aligns with Hudson’s mission in life. Hudson said, “I like helping low-income communities and communities that are historically under-represented. And I think that I kind of have a calling there because I share values and a socio-economic background with them.”

Hudson first got involved with service work when she was a junior. She said, “When I was a junior, I became involved in service organizations. I enjoyed the teaching programs. I did LEAP for two years. Then, I also did TA for two years.” When asked about she hopes to gain from the experience with TFA, Hudson said, “I hope to gain building a relationship with the kids that I will be serving and with the community that I’ll be serving in. I think it’s a vital component in life to build relationships with these people and to help people help themselves.”

Hudson said the process to get into TFA was nerve-wracking because of the long decision periods. She said of the process, “It started off with a basic online application. And from there, they either invite you for a preliminary phone interview or you go straight to the final interview. I was fortunate enough to go straight to the final interview process based off the answers I gave online. Then, there was a three week wait to find out if you’re accepted into the corps or not. The waiting was the hardest part.”

When asked about her plans for after TFA, Hudson said she’ll consider becoming a permanent staff member because she is committed to making the world a better place. When asked about how she’s feel about moving back home, she said, “I’m nervous mainly because I’ll be dealing with a new population of people. But I’m also excited. It’s a good kind of nervous!”

Abby Coakley is also a model student with an ‘A’ average. The organization that consumes most of her time is her sorority, Phi Mu. Coakley said she’s loves volunteering and meeting new people, which is achieved through her sorority’s philanthropy, the Children’s Miracle Network. While at SHC, she was a psychology major. Coakley has enjoyed doing service work since her freshman year.

When asked about her post-grad plans, Coakley said, “I’m going to be in La Vallee-de-Jacmel, Haiti, working with [the non-profit organization] Be Happy Haiti. I will be teaching conversational English at a high school there. I’ve always wanted to some kind of service work after I graduated as kind of a gap year, but I wasn’t really sure what area of service work I wanted to do.”

Coakley said she is lucky to have found the position because she said, “It just kind of fell in my lap. I have some connections there, and they offered me the job.” Her position will go from September to June. She said she is nervous to be away from her family for such a long period of time, but she excited and eager to get started. She added, “When I went down to Haiti, it was the first time I’ve ever been there. I got to see the school and meet the students, and it was just incredible—and I fell in love instantly.

When asked what she hopes to gain from the experience, she said, “I hope to gain a lot. I hope to gain perspective and learning about how people of other cultures and races live. I hope to gain patience in working with students who come from different backgrounds than me.” After her service year, Coakley said she will return to her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, and hopefully enroll in nursing school.

These two students are very special and very thoughtful for choosing to put others before themselves after graduation. They are also making sacrifices as their positions do not pay much. Hudson’s position is a full-time position with a small salary that will entail 40 hours per week, but as we all now, much more time is spent as a teacher because lesson plans must be prepared and papers graded after hours. Coakley’s position entails a small weekly stipend. Hopefully, more students will choose this option as they graduate because volunteers are constantly needed to make the world a little brighter and better.

Feature Story
Devoted to Helping Others, She Finally Helps Herself

A local woman who dedicated over 33 years to the teaching and nurturing of children has recently decided to do something for herself and start a business.

The woman sits down to be interviewed on camera, and mimicking a 1950’s actress, says “I’m ready for my close up!” and flips her mid-back length hair. Her favorite perfume, White Diamonds by Elizabeth Taylor, fills the air. Her name is Barbara Phillips, and while she is from Pennsylvania, she has lived in Mobile since she was 9 years old. She attended Vigor High School, where she enjoyed taking Home Economics and working at an after school job. When she was 15 years old, she cared for babies and toddlers at Child Day Care Association, where she continued working for seven years.

Phillips tilts her heads and recalls memories of a little boy from that child care center. His name is Jostin. She says she remembers him because of his “crazy curly hair” and “that funny name.” She says Jostin was extremely fond of her because he had a club foot and wanted to walk and play like the other children, and Phillips would take the time to help him walk and make him feel no less than the other children. She smiles a big grin and nods her head approvingly when recalling these memories.

Upon high school graduation, Phillips knew she wanted to continue working with children, but she wanted to teach them as well. Although Phillips, 58, loves children of all ages, her favorite age groups to work with are toddlers, kindergarteners, and first graders. Because of this, Phillips started on the path to become an early childhood educator, whose aim is to teach children of those age groups. Phillips likes this age group because she says they are at that stage where they are just learning how to read and write, and they are also “so sweet and cute.” She also enjoyed teaching them how to count and do basic math.

When asked about the schooling she underwent to become an early child care educator, Phillips replies, “I graduated from Bishop State…that was [a] two years [degree], then I also went to University of South Alabama for another year because I needed more education for child care. And I also went to Alabama Christian College on Government Street for two years [for] business, so I have a business degree.” Phillips, however, faced many hardships when it came to achieving her dreams.

When Phillips was pursuing her Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Bishop State Community College, she almost faced homelessness due to the death of her parents and not having any local family. While she continued working at Child Day Care Association, she also took on a work-study job at BSCC. She says, “I had a work-study job at Bishop cleaning the bathrooms. I think that’s the grossest job I ever had. The toilets were always nasty. I was so happy when I graduated!” She squints her face and shakes her head in disgust then reshapes it when she laughs. Throughout her college career, she would take on multiple jobs to make ends meet, including a bartending job when she was younger than 21-years-old!

Over the course of her professional career, Phillips worked at numerous child care centers, such as Sage Avenue Baptist Church Day Care, Dauphin Street Presbyterian Church Day Care, and Donald Duck Day Care. She worked at so many because she says, “Many of them were always closing down. It would be because of the economy or because of competition with another day care. No matter what, I said I was gonna stick with day cares.”

When asked why she loves working with children so much Phillips says, “I like being around kids and watching them grow up!” She says many of the children she taught will recognize her in the grocery store and tell her how much they appreciated her. She also recalls the mothers who approach her, and they’ll tell her about how their children would come home and talk about her as “Ms. Bob” because they couldn’t pronounce Barbara.

While Phillips spent most of her time with other people’s children, she did not have her first child until she was 27 years old. She has three children—two daughters and one son. When her son was in elementary school, she went through a divorce and became a single mother to her three children. Phillips says, “Being a single mother was hard. I took on multiple jobs to keep my kids fed with a roof over their head. But if I had to do it all over again, I would.” She continued working at day cares and would frequently take on second jobs with places like Food World and Checkers.

In 2007, Phillips became tasked with raising three of her grandchildren from one of her daughters. During this time, Phillips retired and became a stay-at-home mother to the youngest granddaughter, who was 3 years old at the time. Their mother became fit again to take care of them six years later.

Phillips is a grandmother to nine grandchildren. And for the grandchildren who have siblings whom Phillips is not a grandmother to, she still opens her home to them for when they want to visit or if they need a babysitter. One of these children, who Phillips calls “adoptive granddaughters” is Maya. Maya affectionately calls Phillips “Nana”, and says “I love going over Nana’s house because it’s lots of fun there. And she always helps me with my homework. And she always cooks, too.” Phillips says no matter how busy she is, the children are always welcome to come visit.

While Phillips says she is retired, she continues to freelance. She said, “Well, you know, I babysit a little, sit with the kids. And then I’m also a part-time seamstress now. I sew clothes…and pillow slips and pillows…and curtains.” As she says this, she points to her numerous creations in her bedroom/sewing room as she pauses between each phrase. She made the silky, sky blue curtains and sheer panels that are in the background of her video interview. Every pair of curtains in her home is a creation of hers.

She made the pillows that sit atop her bed. These pillows are feel fluffier and softer than pillows bought in a store. Phillips said, “I haven’t bought a store pillow in probably 10 years. Those things don’t have enough stuffing!” She then laughs and points to the five bags of pillow stuffing sitting in the corner of her bedroom/sewing room.

Phillips said, “For so long, I [have] lived my life for other people. I think it’s time I do something for me.” She said she is working on launching an actual business with a website where people will be able to place orders for the creations they would like. She says she’s not sure how long it will take, but she will “definitely need the help of one of the grandkids!” because she is not too computer savvy. She laughs and points at her laptop, which is filled with search and find games, her favorite.

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Journalistic Reporting
Commuter Parking Issues Addressed

This week the director of Spring Hill’s Public Safety addressed commuter students’ concerns that they do not have enough parking spaces, and that the resident students are taking what they do have.

In a Facebook discussion among commuters, Erin Bryars, a junior, wrote, “It seems like there are less spaces to park now that they redid the parking lots over the summer.” In a video interview, Hali Gibson, a freshman, stated that commuter parking is “sometimes good and sometimes bad.” Gibson said it is hard to find a parking spot in the designed area for commuters alongside the bushes near the cemetery. She said this forces her to park in the area behind the baseball field, which makes the walk to the Lucey Building “really a pain.”

Director Todd Warren responded to these claims by stating, “Actually, if you really look at our parking, there is plenty of parking on campus. There’s not plenty of parking up close to the buildings like everybody wants. The lot down behind the baseball field is always empty. There’s 50 spots in there. People that are heading to the LAC could park down there, and walk up the lawn, but no one wants to walk that far.

Commuters claim that parking issues are also arising from resident students parking in designated commuter spaces. Bryars wrote in the Facebook discussion, “The parking lots are too far away from some buildings, and it’s irritating how people that live on campus will park in commuter parking.” Amy Zanaty responded to Bryars and wrote, “In order to not be late for class, we park in professor spots and get ticketed for it.”

Warren confirmed this claim and stated, “I actually think the commuters are being forced to park where they shouldn’t because of the resident students. The resident students are not walking to class. They are wanting to drive to class, and therefore they’re taking parking spaces designated for commuters, which is forcing the commuters to end up taking faculty parking because they don’t want to walk further than they have to. [This] has the faculty in an uproar.”

To combat this issue, Warren said the public safety department is increasing parking enforcement. Students parking in an area that is not designated for them will receive a citation. Parking in an unauthorized space results in a $35 fine. Warren said he also implemented a new policy this year, which states that after a student receives four tickets, his or her driving privileges on campus will be revoked. If their car is seen on campus afterward, it will be towed. He said this has yet to happen to any students.

Some commuters feel that Spring Hill should change the parking policy or create new parking lots. Pointing to the faculty and staff parking lot behind the Lucey Building, Gibson stated, “I’d really like to be able to share over here with the staff because really we only have these few spots over there by the cemetery. But a lot of these back here are open most of the times in the morning.” Aedan Stranahan, a senior, said, “I think that they need more parking spaces. I think that there’s a lot of wasted space on campus, and if we had more parking spaces, that would just solve the problem all together.” Stranahan said she misses when commuters were able to share the faculty and staff lot because getting to class was quicker.

When asked if Spring Hill is planning to add more parking, Warren responded, “The college is doing some strategic planning now, and so we’ll see what comes out of those strategic plans. Nothing in the near future will happen. Hopefully down the line, there may be more parking.”

Warren said the reason behind separating the commuters from faculty and staff at the beginning of the fall 2015 term was because it previously caused confusion as to who could park where. He said commuters were to use to back half of the Lucey lot, but were not following the rules. When asked if commuters would ever be allowed to share this lot again, he said that is highly unlikely because the faculty and staff were dissatisfied with not being able to park close to their classrooms, and then get there quickly. Faculty and staff felt that students were taking their spaces. Warren stated, however, that, “They [faculty and staff] are coming in five minutes until class starts, and are expecting to pull up to the front curb and run into class. And I don’t know if that’s a very realistic expectation.”

Logic professor Dr. Victor DiFate said that he does not have an opinion on whether or not commuters should be allowed to share the Lucey lot again. However, he shared that in a recent faculty and staff meeting, some attendees expressed outraged over resident students illegally parking there. He said these faculty and staff members would probably oppose to a shared lot.

Both commuter and resident students should be wary of where they park. Being mindful will spare you the expense of a citation. There are purple and white parking signs in every lot that were put in place last semester to point out who can park where. Warren said Public Safety has been “pretty relaxed” about enforcement, but that can change if students continue to not follow the rules.

Journalistic Reporting
SGA Addresses Student Safety & Campus Improvement

The Spring Hill Student Government Association addressed concerns about student safety on campus and discussed the measures it will be taking to increase lighting and dorm door eye holes at their weekly Wednesday night meeting.   

Secretary of Campus Life Brian Schmitt stated, “I’ve had several students come up to me saying they wish there was a light here or there because certain areas are dark.” Schmitt said that students have expressed to him that walking in dark areas of the campus is “a little scary.” One main area of interest is the Avenue of the Oaks as many students like to jog there during nighttime. Increased lighting will not happen overnight and will be an ongoing project for SGA to complete.

Schmitt also addressed the students’ request of eye holes for their dorm doors. The eye holes were originally to be installed over fall break, but they now will be installed over winter break. The eye holes are a safety measure because they will allow students to see who they are about to open their doors for. The project was moved to winter break because, according to Peter Rivera, interim director of residence life, installers will be able to do everyone’s door at once.

SGA is also putting together other ways to improve campus life. Schmitt delivered an update on the much anticipated baseball platform. This platform will be a space for spectators to socialize and cheer on the team and is projected to be completed before spring semester. The contractor working on the platform has connections with SHC, so he is choosing to not charge for labor. Because of that, Schmitt will be recruiting campus organizations to volunteer labor.

Many students have expressed that they want to be able to enter academic buildings after normal hours. Schmitt said he has spoken with the director of public safety and security Todd Warren, and reported, “We’re trying to get card swipes installed on certain academic buildings, so you can get into specific entrances and leave specific [exits] after certain times at night.” If the project is approved, students would be able to access the Lucey, biology, chemistry, and math buildings during night hours.

The faculty advisor for SGA, Rosalie Carpenter, provided remarks during the meeting. Carpenter, who is also the vice president of student affairs, provided an exclusive update on the Student Experience Fundraising Campaign that was started last year. She stated, “We have a donor that, once we hit $130,000, they generously agreed to top it off with $70,000. We’ve just gone over the $100,000 mark [with $102,000].”

The funds from the campaign pay for things that tuition doesn’t cover such as keeping up the trolley and extending the library hours. This campaign also funded the picnic tables, fire pit, and residence hall signage. Carpenter also spoke with SHC President, Dr. Christopher Puto, about the prices charged for Parents’ Weekend. She said that Puto expressed he doesn’t like the idea of charging parents to visit their children. Carpenter and Puto are now working towards making Parents’ Weekend free.

SGA, with all 22 members present, voted on approving the student appointments to the Shared Governance Senate and Councils. Attorney General Patrick Lameka explained to the members and the five spectators what Shared Governance is. It’s a legislative body that considers “matters of institutional concern to the college.” It is part of the college and works in conjunction with President Puto. The body consists of faculty, staff, and students. The student appointees, who were unanimously approved, act as a voice for all SHC students.

Christmas on the Hill will soon be underway as Schmitt enthusiastically discussed it. He said, “That’s an initiative that I’m very excited about!” Students will be receiving a memo from SGA telling them to bring Christmas lights back to campus from when they visit home during Thanksgiving break. SGA hopes to get a decoration competition started as well.

Brennan McLean, secretary of the treasury, addressed the students’ requests for health and fitness classes. He is currently contacting local businesses who could possibly teach those classes, such as Glow Yoga studio and Mobile Ballet. SGA will be e-mailing a survey to ask students what classes they are interested in.

​According to the course schedules found on Badger Web, there are two health and fitness classes that are ongoing for the current semester. However, none are scheduled for the spring semester, and what will be scheduled will be determined by the students’ e-mail responses.

Journalistic Reporting
Friendly Fruit War Helps the Community

Over 170 students participated in the annual Watermelon Bash held at Spring Hill College on Saturday, and gathered over 4,000 canned goods that will feed thousands of local families.

The annual Watermelon Bash was one of numerous national philanthropic events held by Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity chapters across the United States. On Saturday, Sept. 12th, seventeen teams of young women gathered on SHC’s Dorn Field for a day of watermelon themed games for a local charitable cause. At the end of the day, three different teams would receive the recognition of being named the bash’s winner, the most spirited team, or the toughest team. 

Andrew Pettus, president of Delta Delta Zeta, SHC’s Lambda Chi Alpha chapter, said they had been planning the bash since the summer. Brian Schmitt, vice president, led the planning efforts and reached out to local businesses for the watermelons and pizza. 

Very early that morning, trucks were seen pulling up with several hundred watermelons in tow. Father Michael Williams, faculty adviser for Delta Delta Zeta, said that the watermelons were donated by local grocery markets and other businesses. The businesses sought nothing in return. 

The watermelon themed games included a watermelon eating contest, a pass relay, a watermelon toss and bust, and a wheel barrow race. The wheel barrow race involved the player on the ground having to move a 15-20 pound watermelon using just their head. Those participating in the eating contest were declared winners by how many seeds they were able to spit out into a bucket. Teams also participated in muddy games of tug-of-war and water slide races. 

​While the day started out as cloudy and somewhat chilly, that didn’t deter turnout. Fraternity members and other students were there as volunteers and spectators. Eventually, the sun did come through the clouds, and the air became hot and humid. 

​Some of the teams in attendance were made up of members from the sororities Delta Gamma, Sigma Kappa, Delta Delta Delta, and Phi Mu. The remaining teams were formed by friends, dorm mates, and sports teammates.

​Some teams also had unique names for themselves, such as Fresh Produce, an all-freshman group; Club 320, a group of dorm mates from Pod 320 in Viragh Hall; and Water Those, a word play on the viral video “What Are Those!.” Sydney Clark, a member of Club 320, said she enjoyed the Watermelon Bash because it was a unique bonding and teamwork experience for her.

They quickly flooded the clear, clean greenery with chunks of bright red watermelon and their green rinds. Anyone arriving late would have been greeted by a lingering smell of watermelon and pizza. 

At around 1 p.m., it was announced that the teams should start loading up their cans onto the trucks for transport. Then, after posing for pictures, some teams went on to compete in a double-elimination tournament of tug-of-war. At the end, Phi Mu was victorious and dubbed the toughest team. Brian Schmitt then announced that the cheerleading team had won the spirit award.

​​After the excitement calmed down, Schmitt was finally able to announce who were the winners of the Watermelon Bash. For the fifth year in a row, Delta Delta Delta won as the women donated over 2,500 canned goods. 

The official amount of food that was donated is 7,508 pounds. Father Williams said the bash is “the largest philanthropic event in Mobile for the [Bay Area] food bank.” The food will benefit 5,700 families.

According to Delta Delta Zeta’s Facebook page, this year’s Watermelon Bash set a new record for the number of participants.

The sounds from the bash’s numerous participants could be heard all over campus, as teammates were either shouting commands to each other or were just shouting sounds of glee. When teams weren’t competing, they could be seen dancing near the DJ’s booth and heard singing along to the latest pop songs.

A new record was also set for the amount of cans donated as each participant was required to donate at least five canned goods. 

The Bay Area Food Bank is one of the numerous Feeding America non-profit food banks across the country. According to Forbes, Feeding America is the nation’s third largest charity.