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.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Michael Don Bahr Loves the Power of Theater as an Educational Tool

Michael Bahr headshot If there’s one thing SUU’s Michael Don Bahr knows, it’s teaching. If there’s another, it would surely be youngsters

Want another? How about William Shakespeare and the Bard’s works?

He rolls all that interest and knowledge into a position that could very well be tailor-made for him. As the education director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival and the director of Shakespeare studies for the College of Performing and Visual Arts, responsibilities he both loves and magnifies, he is fully immersed in teaching Shakespeare to young people.

“I am in love with the power of theater as an educational tool,” Michael says. “It can teach any subject.”

And, his passionate works over the past 30-plus years underscore that belief.

He directs the USF’s Shakespeare-in-the-Schools Tour, a traveling roadshow of sorts that treks to schools around the intermountain West, delivering professional Shakespeare productions to 40,000 students annually and providing innovative looks at theater. He also runs the Thunderbard program for the University, exposing all incoming SUU students to Shakespeare on stage via the USF, and he manages the renowned High School Shakespeare Competition for SUU, an event that brings to Cedar City more than 3,000 students from 105 schools throughout the intermountain West and beyond. It recently celebrated its 40th anniversary of filling area motels, hotels, restaurants and stores for a vibrant weekend.
If all that were not enough, he created and directs the Bard’s Birthday Bash for local elementary school students, who have come to campus over the past 14 years to celebrate and to learn of the life of the most revered writer in the western world.

Michael is known for his youthful enthusiasm and boyish charm, which belie the fact that he came to SUU in 1982 as a wide-eyed freshman from Richfield High School and was among the stars of SUU’s vaunted theatre arts program, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1989, his years here interrupted by an LDS mission. He went on to teach for 14 years in the public school systems of Utah and California, and garnered a fistful of awards for teaching excellence. He returned to the University in 1998 and has become an integral and indispensable part of the campus and community as his works at SUU help buoy Cedar City in myriad ways and his work with the Cedar Valley Community Theatre entertains, enriches and edifies the populace and gives voice to the creative dreams of everyday citizens.

He calls himself a “theater advocate,” and still performs on occasion, as he will in December as he reprises his popular role of Bob Cratchit in the USF’s production of A Christmas Carol on the Air. However, he prefers to direct, as he will with the CVCT production of Oliver!, now in rehearsals and slated for a January 27-February 4 run in the Heritage Theater.

Michael met his wife Kris (Michie) of Kaysville, Utah, at SUU and they are now parents to four and grandparents to five, “going on six,” he says.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Alumni Spotlight: Megan Grover

Megan Grover (’06, Elementary Education) is putting her SUU education and experiences to great use as a 5th/6th grade elementary school teacher at Grantsville Elementary School, in Utah’s Tooele School District.

Her duties are many and varied, she says, and she is primarily responsible for teaching the state core curriculum, making sure her students enjoy learning, collaborating with team members and maintaining good rapport with parents and people in the community.

From her earliest years, Megan always wanted to be a teacher, as she watched her greatly admired father set the example as he touched the lives of his students. 

“I want to make a difference in the lives of other people,” she says. “Being a teacher is one of the most rewarding jobs around, in my opinion.”

Megan says that while at SUU she learned how to be confident in the person she is, and to go after her dreams. SUU gave her a lot of opportunities to be herself, follow her dreams, and accomplish what she wanted to get accomplished.

One thing she learned, she says, is that “It is OK to fail as long as I have tried my best.”

The education that she received at SUU thoroughly prepared her to be a teacher because while she was in the education program at SUU, she was given a lot of hands-on, in-classroom experiences. During her practicum, also known as, “the block,” she was able to work in the classroom and really experience what it was like to be a teacher, rather than just learn about it in a textbook.

What Megan is most proud of professionally is her ability to interact and work well with others, and touch the lives of those she teaches.

“I feel like in my 11 years of teaching that I have really made a difference in the lives of other people,” she says.

Originally posted on in October 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Alan Neves - Homecoming Outstanding Alumnus

Alan Neves’ desire to enrich the lives of others might well have been forged in a distant past by genetics and by circumstance, but his path of fusing performance and photojournalism to benefit an audience has brought him success, acclaim and happiness.

What is clear is that a generous sampling of talent was key in the career of the SUU Alumni Association’s 2016 Alumnus of the Year.

Alan, a multi-Emmy award-winner, spent more than two decades telling stories as a photographer for Salt Lake City television stations with a reach and impact of uncommon dimension, and has augmented his mainstream work with a busy slate of freelance projects that have allowed him to expand his reach.

Now, he is excited to be on a new course of service in his very first week as the broadcast lab production manager for Brigham Young University’s School of Communications.

He’s teaching, mentoring and guiding BYU students to tell stories as he has and still does: with the goal of enlightening and elevating lives.

He grew up in several locations around the country with his journalist parents, Les and Gay Neves, who raised a large family and also sponsored refugee families. Alan learned well to give back as he landed in Tooele, Utah, for high school, and grew in an all-purpose fashion, playing saxophone in the Buffalo band and filling the lead role in a number of school stage productions, displaying a talent that won him a theater scholarship to SUU.

As a freshman in 1985, he dated fellow theater student Glynis Adams a few times before leaving to serve an LDS mission to Ventura, California. Upon his return he gravitated to journalism as he performed on-camera and production work for SUTV. But, he also trod the boards, as they say, in a number of SUU theatre productions. That placed him in proximity to Glynis, daughter of SUU icons Fred and Barbara Adams, and the couple married in 1990 upon her graduation. Living in Alpine, Utah, they are parents to five children, including Katie, an SUU sophomore majoring in English and Shakespeare Studies.

Alan’s own SUU career portended great things. Vocal coach Doug Baker, then of the theatre arts department, says, “Alan always demonstrated the cornerstones of a fulfilling life and career: integrity, strong ethical behavior, sincerity and generosity.” Jon Smith, who taught him in television work, says, “We are extremely proud of Alan and his achievements and how he has carefully polished his storytelling and photography skills to a masterful level.”

And among his colleagues at KSL Television over the years is Carole Mikita: 

"Alan Neves is one of the good guys. We have been colleagues for more than 20 years and whether its news stories or traveling the country or the world for special projects, he has been superb. Whether it is shooting, or editing, coming up with creative ideas, I know that I speak for anchors, reporters, photographers, editors, he's the number one go-to-guy and everyone's favorite. Not only is his work ethic superior, but he's a man of good cheer. Always delightful to work with. So from all of us to you, congratulations dear friend."

Following his 1992 graduation from SUU in communication with a minor in theatre arts, Alan spent a year on the studio crew at KUTV Channel 2 before moving over to KSL where he relished being out-and-about, taking people places they could not themselves go.

His travels included work in Jerusalem, Japan, Great Britain and Europe, and the White House. He has filmed inside a nuclear submarine and the tombs that held the Dead Sea Scrolls and has covered earthquakes and the Olympics. And, in KSL’s unique role in the LDS Church, he has crafted more than 30 documentaries.

Alan found time to earn a master of fine arts degree along the way, as well. While his fruitful career marks him as an exemplary SUU graduate, his stated desire to tell stories that make a difference, that inspire people to be better, truly cements him as such.