The Singing Life at Oglethorpe ♪♫

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The 2013-2014 University Singers pictured in the new Turner Lynch Campus Center.

The first time I visited Oglethorpe I was nervous beyond belief. I was auditioning for a choral scholarship and I had no clue what Oglethorpe would be like. I had taken the tour online and thought it was gorgeous. But, I was just not sure about what the campus atmosphere would be.

Dr. Irwin Ray

Dr. Irwin Ray

I auditioned with Dr. W. Irwin Ray, earning myself a $500 conditional scholarship and I joined the University Singers as an alto. I have come a long way from that nervous high school senior. I have sung in the alto section for three years now and I am in my fourth and final year in the University Singers.

I have many wonderful memories of the singers but my favorite part is our concerts. We work hard to bring songs together and present them to the public. We have sung some hilarious pieces such as the folk song “I Bought Me a Cat” and pieces that are more recognizable like the “Les Miserables” medley we sang in the spring. Every year, the Boar’s Head Concert is a fun way to combine celebrating the winter season and our student organizations on campus. This concert is, in many ways, one of the more interesting events on campus throughout the school year and my favorite concert of the year. (After singing a variety of seasonal pieces, a feast is held in honor of our friend, the boar, who choked down more than he could chew when a student saved himself with his Aristotle book…or so the legend goes.)

Did I mention we have a lot of fun together?

Did I mention we have a lot of fun together?

The Singers is filled with hard-working, multifaceted students. I’ve watched Kyle Brumley ’12 go from being an actor in Oglethorpe theater productions to becoming a leading man in Atlanta theater. I’ve heard beautiful music composed and produced by John Burke ’11 on Pandora Internet radio. And I’ve watched Samantha Flynn ’14 revive the student newspaper. All of these students also served as section leaders.

Dr. Ray helps students who work hard to learn and improve. As I mentioned, I started out with a conditional scholarship at $500. I have currently doubled my scholarship and taken away the conditional status of it as well. Hard work pays off in the University Singers and it helps students experience a different side of the Oglethorpe University education.

So, I hope you will come see (and hear) us in action. Join us for the Singers’ Fall concert, this Friday, November 1, 2013 at 8 p.m. in the Conant Performing Arts Center at Oglethorpe. The concert is free and open to all.  You can also follow us on Twitter!: @oglesingers or on Facebook: Oglethorpe University Singers.

Watch the Oglethorpe University Singers perform the national anthem at the Feb. 2013 homecoming basketball game:

 

Gates Millennium Scholar Selects Oglethorpe

009Oglethorpe freshman Lila Siwakoti ’17 says that he’s thankful for many things. He should also be very proud of his accomplishments.

Lila was born in a refugee camp in Nepal and immigrated to the U.S. in 2009, thanks to a sponsorship from the International Rescue Committee. Founded in 1933 at the request of Albert Einstein, the nonprofit responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and offers lifesaving care and life-changing assistance to refugees forced to flee from war or disaster.

“Refugee life is not like a regular life,” says Lila. “You live at home in fear. You have food and medical shortages.” Adapting to a foreign culture and language was rough for him, he says. But over time, Lila and his family settled in to life in the U.S. and he says he is thankful to live here. Lila eventually became fluent enough in English to take AP and Honors classes and credits his religion, Hinduism, with helping him do well in school.

Gates-Millennium-Scholars-logoSo well, in fact, that Lila was awarded a Gates Millennium Scholarship, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The scholarship is awarded to outstanding minority students with significant financial need. This year’s applicant pool for the scholarship was record-breaking, according to Lila. More than 54,000 students applied but only 1,000 are selected each year. To put this into perspective, less than 2% of applicants were accepted this year.

To qualify, students must demonstrate leadership abilities and academic distinction. They must also have two nominations for the scholarship—one for academics and one recommending the student for their leadership qualities. Lila graduated with a 3.9 GPA from Clarkston High School and actively participated in his community through volunteer work.

Lila chose to attend Oglethorpe because of Oglethorpe’s small class sizes. He likes the fact that you are able to visit professors during office hours and they know who you are rather than be a nameless member of the class. Plus, his family is important to him and the campus’s proximity allows him to remain close to them. He considers the scholarship a “blessing” and is currently deliberating on majoring in computer science and minoring in economics.

As part of the scholarship requirements, Lila participates as an ambassador for the Gates Millenium Scholarship program and is currently helping students from his alma mater with the application process. Ultimately, Lila wants to go back to Nepal or Africa and volunteer: “My long term goal is to help people.”

OU Freshman Doubles as Advice Columnist

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Advice columnist Curtis Jones lounges in the Starbucks in Oglethorpe’s Turner Lynch Campus Center.

At first glance, Curtis Jones ’17 seems fairly typical amidst the throng of students in the campus Starbucks. You’d never guess that he has a “secret identity”: Curtis is an advice columnist for metro Atlanta teens.

The Oglethorpe freshman writes for Vox, a nonprofit teen magazine based in Atlanta that is “the voice of Atlanta teens.” It’s the city’s largest publication created by and for teens without censorship. The magazine is distributed to high schools and community groups. Vox also offers a blog, an after school program, and summer seminars for students interested in learning how to cover “new multimedia techniques for storytelling, the fundamentals of journalism, poetry, photography and design.

According to Curtis, he stumbled into his writing position when he was a high school senior. He had dropped by Vox’s office with friends already involved in the magazine and discovered that the Vox volunteers and students were “welcoming and friendly,” so he immediately asked how he could get involved.

VoxCurtis had always been interested in writing music and lyrics but has discovered that he also enjoys the kind of writing he gets to do for Vox. He worked his way up and took over the advice column at the end of the summer of 2013. The questions he answers tend to be staff-generated, but students are also encouraged to submit questions to the editor. The questions can range anywhere from academics to even more personal questions regarding relationships.

Curtis’ community involvement already extends to Oglethorpe as well. On campus, he’s active with the Black Student Caucus and OUtlet and is interested in joining the staff of the student newspaper, The Stormy Petrel. He hasn’t yet decided on a major, but is debating between communications or fields like counseling or social work. “I just want to help people,” he says,”That’s something that I’ve always known that I get joy out of.”

Ultimately, he chose to attend Oglethorpe for multiple reasons. Curtis says he “fell in love” with the campus itself during Admitted Students Day, plus the diversity of the campus was a determining factor. “It’s really big to me to be able to interact with so many different people.”

Curtis is a positive and determined student who by all indications will be a future campus leader.  Check out Curtis and his VOX colleague Akil singing about why “VOX rocks”:

Omicron Delta Kappa National Conference Gathers Student Leaders

Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) is a national leadership honor society. Jef Palframan ’13 is the current student president of Oglethorpe’s ODK Circle, which was founded 36 years ago.

I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive about attending the 2012 Omicron Delta Kappa National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. this past summer. I, like probably every conference attendee, was intimidated about how I would fit in with some the best and brightest students in the United States. The ODK conference was replete with the future innovators, scholars and leaders who will make a difference in the world for decades to come. Fortunately, I can report that the 2012 ODK National Conference was an engaging, motivating event that showcased the quality of leadership that ODK as an organization embodies and fosters.

In all, more than 200 delegates from almost 30 states attended the conference. The national convention is required every two years in order to ratify any changes that the National Board of ODK has approved. ODK National President Betsy Holloway reported that ODK initiated 15 new circles, and 2800 new members. These increases represent the largest growth in the organization’s history. As well, ODK set a new record in fundraising for scholarships for student members, and announced a new partnership with Nationwide Insurance.

Most exciting, the national branding initiative was announced. In the past, national guidance on official representation of the ODK logo has been undefined. The new logo, seen below, is sleek, simple and dignified. We are looking forward to implementing the new logo anywhere we can.

Besides the new initiatives and announcements, the greatest benefit of attending the conference was the opportunity to share the challenges that our respective circles face. Participation, fundraising, and member selection are some of the common challenges for circles across the country. It was invaluable to hear how others have implemented creative and innovative solutions to these challenges. This experience will allow the Oglethorpe Circle of ODK to improve our effectiveness and make our circle even more vital to the leadership culture on campus.

The conference concluded with a celebratory awards dinner that rewarded those members who had made inspiring contributions to their respective communities and ODK at large. This year’s recipient of the Crown Laurel Circle Award was Col. Ralph Hauenstein who was given the award on the eve of his 100th birthday. Col. Hauenstein served his nation in the European theater under General Dwight Eisenhower as head of intelligence. His service to ODK and his nation was rousing and exemplifies the values of our organization.

For those who are unfamiliar with our organization, ODK is the only national leadership honor society in the United States that focuses specifically on leadership. Induction into the ODK circle is considered one of the highest honors that a student can attain while at Oglethorpe University. ODK is highly selective and only the top 35 percent of students based on GPA are permitted to compete for membership. ODK inducts only one to three percent of the student body per academic year. Initiates are drawn from all pillars of campus life according to the ODK charter; those pillars are scholarship, athletics, campus and community service, journalism, and creative and preforming arts. If you are interested in ODK membership feel free to contact me at jpalframan@oglethorpe.edu to learn more.