Friday, April 21, 2017

Legal Consultant Chris Church Loves the Big Apple

Born in Cedar City, and a graduate of Cedar High, Chris Church completed his bachelor of science in history at SUU in 1994, then moved to Salt Lake City before taking off to New York City to attend Fordham Law School. Twenty years later, Chris now owns a condo in Manhattan and loves living and working in the Big Apple. 

Chris remembers his time at SUU as a period of tremendous growth and opportunity that prepared him for graduate school, and learned that anything was possible if he worked hard and had the courage to follow his dreams.

He also has fond memories of being in classes with great professors, completing a six-month fellowship in Moscow, Russia, and performing with the American Folk Ballet. But his interest in attending law school was always his driving force, and he had dreams of becoming a litigator.

Today, he is a legal consultant in banking regulations at Citibank where he specializes in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reforms and the Consumer Protection Act. Professionally he is most proud of being able to survive in New York City and live in a city he loves.

In his spare time, Chris loves cooking for friends and attending the theater. He also enjoys traveling and makes it back to Cedar City as often as he can to visit family and friends. He is also a first-time dog owner and enjoys having brunch with Dash on the Upper West Side of Manhattan on the weekends.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Anna Ables Searched for the Best Graduate Program and Found It at SUU

Anna Ables, a native of Midwest City, Oklahoma, and a Choctaw High School graduate, searched the nation for the best graduate program in arts administration and found it at Southern Utah University. She is now the director of marketing and public relations at the Theatre School at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois.

Because arts administration was a relatively new field and at the time not many universities were offering such a program, she found SUU’s graduate program very appealing, largely due to its association with the Utah Shakespeare Festival and The American Folk Ballet.

Under the direction of SUU’s then-dean of performing and visual arts, Bill Byrnes, Anna immersed herself in the MFA arts administration program that puts theory to practice in a very real way, one that allowed her to create an actual marketing strategy plan for a dance company in Salt Lake City. She says that opportunity gave her the confidence to enter the job market fully confident with real-world experience under her belt.

Some of Anna’s fondest memories of SUU were the landscapes of southern Utah, particularly the canyons around Cedar City where she would often run and hike.

“It was a secluded space to study and learn, which allowed me to focus on my studies,” she says.

After earning her MFA from SUU in 2006, Anna moved to Chicago and began her first job as a marketing intern with the world-renowned Chicago International Film Festival, which was a quick introduction to the fast pace of marketing and promotion in a vibrant and artistic city. Her duties at the Theatre School now include overseeing and directing all marketing in print, social media, and online, as well as handling all press requests for the entire theatre department and three theatre performance spaces.
She previously held the position of director of public relations and outreach for the Oklahoma Arts Institute (OAI), a non-profit organization that provides pre-professional training for talented young artists and performers, as well as arts education training for public school teachers and university and college faculty.
Anna says that her greatest accomplishment professionally has been the 2013 opening of the new Theatre School building, which was designed by the internationally renowned architect C├ęsar Pelli, and his firm Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. The school houses two theatre spaces—a 250-seat theatre and a 100-seat flexible theatre—along with costume, makeup, prop and scene shops, rehearsal studios, lighting laboratories, movement studios, and more.

She has a background in dance performance and instruction and was a member of the American Spirit Dance Company at Oklahoma City University, where she earned a BA in 2001. ​She has since channeled that passion for dance by completing her yoga certification training and teaches regular yoga classes for students at DePaul, as well as at Bloom Yoga Studio in Chicago. 

Riding her bike to work along the lakefront in the summer, and high power spinning classes at the gym are two great enjoyments in her life, and in her spare time, Anna also loves rebuilding and refurbishing, and is currently at work restoring a wooden desk for her new home office.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

SUU Helped Marlyn King Nay Fulfill Her Lifelong Dream

Marlyn King Nay, a native of Antimony, Utah, and Richfield High School graduate, loves and respects Southern Utah University because of help she received in fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming an elementary school teacher.

Growing up in the small farming community of Antimony, Marlyn wasn’t sure her four-year college degree would ever be possible or affordable. Following high school graduation, she attended a junior college, earned an associate degree in general studies and married her high school sweetheart, Lance Nay. The couple moved to Salt Lake City so Lance could finish his education, and then they moved back to Richfield and began their family, which includes three children: Chase, Larissa, and Colton. When her children were of school age, Marlyn began helping at a local elementary school and was eventually named as an instructional assistant at Ashman Elementary School. 

But her desire to be a school teacher never faded. After working at Ashman Elementary for a few years, Marlyn learned of a somewhat nontraditional path to earning a four-year degree: SUU professors would travel to Richfield to teach, and at other times students would make the trip to SUU for classes on campus. Noting that “SUU is very well respected and has an excellent reputation in Sevier County,” she jumped at the opportunity and met with representatives from the University who mapped out her course work which led to a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1999. She was so impressed with her undergraduate experience that five years later she earned a master’s degree in education.

Like many alumni, one of Marlyn’s fondest memories of SUU is of the people. “The professors at SUU were so good to me. They went above and beyond to help me obtain my bachelor’s degree. They want to see the students succeed. They understood my needs and helped me achieve my goal,” she says.

She fondly remembers both of her commencement ceremonies and the unpredictable Cedar City spring weather. It rained at both ceremonies and she was grateful for the friendly and warm confines of the Centrum Arena. Another of Marlyn’s favorite aspects of SUU is the beautiful campus, it buildings and how the University respects and maintains the history of campus.  

Marlyn is now in her 20th year of teaching first grade at Ashman and says of her role as teacher, “Children need multiple opportunities to grow with positive character traits representing the person that they are and the person they can become as a positive contributor to society.”

Principal Jill Porter says that Marlyn is a wonderful teacher and adds, “She has a passion for teaching, a strong content knowledge and a true love for her children!”

Marlyn enjoys spending time with family, particularly her five grandchildren, playing games and cooking. She also readily shares her philosophy of life: “If you want to do something, you can find a way to do it!” SUU certainly played a key role in that philosophy for Marlyn.  

Monday, March 13, 2017

Las Vegas Photojournalist Brad Boyer Remains a Strong Advocate for SUU

Brad Boyer, a native of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and a graduate of Central High School, is a strong advocate of Southern Utah University and is quick to recommend SUU to prospective students or proudly wear an SUU shirt while working for Channel 3, the NBC affiliate in Las Vegas, Nevada.

A 1999 graduate of SUU with a degree in broadcasting and communications, Brad was introduced to SUU by his older sister who was a member of the track team. Brad watched her success and enjoyment of SUU and knew from his very first visit to campus that this was where he wanted to attend college too. 

Brad arrived in Cedar City in 1993 and walked-on to the SUU cross country and track teams. He has fond memories of Coach Eric Houle ('81) and his willingness to give him a chance. Brad served a two-year mission for the LDS Church after his first year of college and was back on campus in 1996 and once again, Coach Houle gave him the opportunity to be a member of the team. Brad credits the opportunity to be part of the cross country and track teams with helping him gain confidence in himself and strengthen his interaction with other people. He has fond memories of traveling with the team and building strong friendships.

After graduation, Brad moved to Las Vegas with plans to eventually relocate to California and work in film production. He found odd jobs filming various events in Las Vegas and remembers watching the band KISS walk by him and thought, “This is crazy! I want to do this forever!” By luck, SUU alum Kim Turley Chambers (’89), part owner of DK Productions, gave him a job at her company. One of Brad’s highlights from working at DK Productions was being on stage during a David Copperfield show and actually being in a couple of the illusions. A year later, Brad took a job at Telemundo and attended large Las Vegas events as a member of the media interviewing the likes of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Manny Pacquiao, Shakira and Oscar De La Hoya.  

Now, as a photojournalist with Channel 3, Brad enjoys reporting on local high school sporting events and notes, “There are a lot of good kids doing good things!” And he is never shy to introduce them to his alma mater. 

He credits great relationships with SUU professors as being a crucial part of his success. “I knew my professors and they knew me,” Brad says. Professor Jon Smith gave him the advice to never be afraid, and Brad took that advice to heart, particularly as he began his career. “SUU was a great environment and it changed my life for the better,” he explains.

Brad’s favorite place on campus is the Centrum, and that is where he spent a lot of time cleaning the building and working events. He even made small films there and filmed countless highlight videos of Thunderbird athletes. It was the beginning of his career.

When asked what stands out from his time at SUU, Brad cannot identify just one moment, but rather it is a combination of friendships, dances, professors, ultimate Frisbee on the Quad, graduation and the overall charm of Cedar City.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Cindy Lamb Hatch: Proud of the Honor to be Entrusted with Outstanding Students

Cindy Lamb Hatch is a St. George native and Pine View High School graduate, who earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education and later an M.Ed. from SUU, and she made a pronounced difference in the lives of hundreds of children in her 14-year teaching career.

At St. George’s Sandstone Elementary School, she taught second grade for a decade and taught first grade students for three years before teaching science in her final year to Sandstone’s 600-plus students from kindergarten to fifth grade on a rotation schedule for the school's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program.

“When I taught science,” she says of her STEM experience, “I helped reinforce concepts taught in the regular classroom. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work. Every grade level project had to be prepped for about 100 students. I loved it though because the kids were always excited to be there, and our class deepened their love and knowledge of science.”

Cindy left her second home and family at Sandstone last year and is now staying home with her daughter, born in July. She and her husband of three years, Ryan, have three children, two of whom Cindy says she is “lucky to be a bonus mom” to, plus the newest addition to the family.

When she first started at SUU, Cindy, like many students, explored a few other majors before finally choosing an education major. She was drawn to the program by her love of helping kids, and she thought the program would be fun, too. She reports that an education major was a lot more work than she ever anticipated.

While in the BLOCK program, Cindy really started to find her creative side when it came to teaching. The BLOCK experience helped carry her through all of her years in the classroom.

 “It's no secret that teachers don't have large yearly budgets, so I really learned how to create my own projects and put my spin on things,” she recalls. “The creative aspect of teaching was my favorite part. The challenge was always in finding ways to make lessons memorable without spending any money, or basically making something out of nothing.”

A highlight of Cindy's experiences in education was her association with her colleagues, she says, and adds that she loved working with parents, especially parents of first graders, because first grade students made significant growth progress throughout a school year.

Cindy credits her undergraduate studies for giving her a strong foundation to begin her teaching career. She says, “I felt like I always had a lot of support from the professors. They were very personable and created environments where we could all learn from each other.”

In the graduate program, Cindy says she really learned to “dig in deep,” which took her teaching to a higher level.

“When I got my master's degree in education,” she says, “I learned that I was an effective teacher based on the research I did for my thesis project. My project gave me a lot of confidence in myself as an educator. It showed me that all my efforts were making a difference. Getting my master's degree was one of the best things I've done.”

“I am the most proud of the kids I was able to teach,” says Cindy when asked about her proudest career accomplishment. “I hope I was able to make even the smallest impact on their lives. I always felt like it was an honor to be entrusted with such outstanding students.”

Monday, February 13, 2017

Brett Barney Found His Career Purpose at SUU's School of Business

Brett Barney, a native of Richfield, Utah, and a graduate of Richfield High, is never hesitant to speak of the education and experiences of Southern Utah University, from which he twice earned degrees.

He received his bachelor's degree in accounting in 1999 and his Master of Accountancy degree the following year. He and his wife Julie (McIff, ’96) reside in Mapleton, Utah, with their three sons.

Brett serves as the U.S. controller for doTERRA, the worldwide leader in essential oils manufacturing and sales, in Pleasant Grove, Utah. His position entails making sure that all of the accounting and financial reporting is done correctly and on time each month, quarter, and year. As manager of his staff, he is responsible for creating a productive and positive work environment.

He says he really found his career purpose in the SUU School of Business. Although he enjoyed exploring various majors across campus, once Brett tried business courses, he says felt he had found his home. He was particularly drawn to accounting because “there is usually a right answer,” and because he could employ problem-solving skills.

“I remember my days at SUU very fondly,” he says. “The small university setting, which is more intimate and personalized, worked well for me. I was not just a face in the crowd. I loved Cedar City and SUU. Additionally, I felt very comfortable and well prepared moving into my career. SUU was the right choice for me. I have never regretted it.”

Brett was confident in his preparation for employment, landing a job following graduation with Deloitte & Touche, one of the world’s Big Four accounting firms. While going through interviews on campus with Las Vegas employers, Brett was impressed when recruiters remarked that SUU graduates were better prepared, more responsible, and more mature than their peers. He has worked with many colleagues from bigger universities but always felt that he was equally prepared and equally capable of doing the job.

In addition to being well prepared for employment tasks by SUU, Brett says he also learned about developing a strong work ethic and strategic study habits, which greatly assisted him in passing the CPA exam. He was always proud that SUU ranked very favorably among all of the other Utah private and public school programs in the CPA passage rate.

When reflecting on his career, Brett says he is grateful to have made consistent, steady progress from a staff accountant in public accounting to a controller position at a private company.

“I'm proud of my work ethic,” he says. “I don't stop and reflect very often, but I'm proud that I've tried to work hard, be honest and ethical, and show fairness to my co-workers and clients."

When he is not working, Brett enjoys spending time doing anything involving his kids, like sporting events and traveling. He also loves to golf, read, watch movies, and to enjoy the outdoors, especially Fish Lake and Yellowstone.
“Whenever we are in Cedar City, we always find ourselves driving past campus, sometimes stopping and walking around reliving great memories,” Brett says. “You don't make a point of doing that with a place that doesn't mean something to you. For me, SUU is full of good memories and good people, people who care about developing students and relationships.”

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Keri Mecham is Transforming Students into Lifelong Leaders

While Keri Mecham is distinctive in her vocation and how she discharges her responsibilities, she is among a significant number of Cedar City residents who have chosen to live here after matriculating from elsewhere to Southern Utah University.

She grew up in Magna, Utah, and had youthful dreams of a life as a ballerina, a firefighter, an actress, or even a real-life Indiana Jones. She never imagined she would one day serve as the director of student involvement and leadership for a state university. But, she has distinguished herself as particularly adept in that role, which includes programming and advisement of students in leadership positions. That work, of course, impacts the entire student body and the community and world beyond.

Mindy Benson is SUU’s vice president for alumni and community relations, but served in the equivalent of Keri’s post for a number of years, and in doing so, embraced the legacy of her father, Ken Benson. She knows full well the value of that position in enhancing the future of students.

“Keri is a joy to work with and has a longstanding history and commitment to SUU,” says Benson. “In an important role, she always has the students’ best interests in mind and helps them transform into lifelong leaders.”

A 1991 graduate of Cyprus High School, Keri was among the first fall freshmen at the newly designated university and threw herself into collegiate life, drawing upon her extensive high school involvement.

She chose SUU partly because others had praised the school as a great place to be involved and decided it would also be a good fit for her. The history major and art minor went on to activity in Alpha Phi Beta sorority as a charter member of Alpha Phi national sorority, and service in a variety of other roles here, including a year as activities vice president in the year of the University’s centennial celebration.

Steeped in her SUU studies, she took off from school between her sophomore and junior years and embarked on a tour of Europe, where she fell in love with the charm and vibrancy of London, with its West End theater life, with Paris and its art and history, and with the beautiful mountains of Germany, all of which she says greatly contributed to her education.

Following her 1997 graduation, she was influenced by her own student government advisor, Tiffany Evans, to follow that career path, and went on to serve an internship at Utah State University and work in the field at Utah Valley and USU while earning a master’s degree in the discipline from the University of Utah.

When the position opened here, she jumped at it.

“I was excited to return to SUU and Cedar City,” she says, praising the culture and beauty of the area, and the attendant opportunities, including hiking, camping and backpacking.

She says her favorite aspect of her job is helping others grow and develop as leaders of their fellow students and as future leaders of their chosen communities.