Wednesday, November 7, 2018

SUU Prepared Kimmy Soper for the Challenging Work of Education

Teaching has been described as one of the noblest professions in society because of the impact an educator has on shaping the character, caliber, and future of a child. That philosophy describes well the impact Kimmy Soper (’01 & ’08) has on her third grade students at Enoch Elementary in Enoch, Utah,

“I just do my thing and hope that I make someone’s world a little better each day,” she humbly says of her role as a teacher.

A graduate of Cedar High School, Kimmy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education with an early childhood education license and a concentration in physical education from SUU in 2001. She went on to earn a Master of Education degree in 2008, and has mentored countless numbers of pre-service teachers and students at SUU.

“My education at SUU prepared me to an effective teacher prepared to enter the challenging work of education,” she says. “My favorite thing about SUU was the faculty and staff that took a personal interest in me and my education.”

A self-proclaimed “non-conformist,” Kimmy’s favorite college memories include developing life-long friendships, being the president and founding member of the Corndog Club, and organizing numerous parties for her college friends.

“I was the official party planner and provided venues for many people to meet their future spouses,” she says.

What was the most random thing that happened to her at SUU?

“I passed out in the copy center and was kindly humiliated as I was rolled through the library on a gurney in front of all my study buddies,” she responds.

While friendships, corndogs, and parties were all an important part of her SUU experience, what took place inside the classroom was exceptional, including what she learned about herself.

“I learned that I can do hard things, make friends easily, and I learned the importance of making a difference in the world,” she says.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Clair & Suzanne Morris Have Filled Their Lives With Service & Involvement

Clair and Suzanne Morris have lived lives of singular service and sterling consequence in Cedar City and the greater world, and in doing so have always championed Southern Utah University and its students. Their presence in our midst has greatly contributed to the quality of life here.

Clair, born in 1932 in Parowan, grew up working on the family farm and was an eminent champion at marbles, winning a bounty of some 20 marbles a day at “keepsies.” To this day he maintains an immense collection of his winnings. At Parowan High, he was a multi-sport athlete and student body president, went on to the College of Southern Utah (SUU), and in 1954 began a 33-year career in education that began with him teaching and serving as principal in a variety of schools. Those included several of Iron County’s elementary schools and BYU’s laboratory school as well as Cedar High. He spent a year at SUSC working in student services before beginning an 18-year career as superintendent of Iron County schools and is most proud of his championing of individualized instruction in the district. He earned a master’s degree from USU and a doctorate from BYU.

Suzanne Cardon Morris, while born in Logan, grew up in Cedar City and was an active student at Cedar High. She enjoyed journeying to Parowan’s Brown Derby roller rink, where she made a few turns around the rink with a local boy named Clair, and the two were married on September 7, 1951, a few months after she graduated from high school, and have now been married for nearly 67 years. She and Clair raised four children (and now have 19 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren) and in 1971, Suzanne earned a bachelor’s degree in business education, and taught at Cedar High and Junior High. She subsequently became the secretary of SUSC Dean of Education A.W. Stephenson, and later embarked on a new career as among the first two-full-time employees of the Utah Shakespeare Festival as administrative assistant to Fred Adams and then as a stalwart of the finance area of the festival where she was a pivotal figure in the vaunted program’s growth.

In retirement, the Morrises run their farm, which they purchased from Clair’s father in 1977, and produce some 300 tons of hay per year. Highly active in University activities, they enjoy Thunderbird sports as well as campus cultural events. Clair served a year as president of the Alumni Association and each makes a decided contribution to the success of the SUU Emeriti Association. The couple served an LDS mission to Vladivostok, Russia, in 1995. They are proud of the fact that three of their children have graduated from SUU, that many of their grandchildren have attended, and that they now have a great-grandchild who is a Thunderbird.

The Morrises were presented with the Carmen Rose Hepworth Alumni Award during the 2018 Thunderbird Awards Ceremony. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Karen Golberg Parker Discovered Her Career Path in Corporate Communications at SUU

Even though Karen Golberg Parker was born and raised in Woodland Hills, California, her ties to Cedar City and Southern Utah University run deep.

Both of her maternal great-grandfathers, Daniel Macfarlane and William Dix, were instrumental in the formation and early construction of SUU, and their names are listed on the founder’s plaque that hangs in Old Main today. Perhaps Karen’s destiny was to attend SUU all along.

SUU Founder's plaque inside
Old Main. Daniel Macfarlane
and William Dix were "hod
carriers" which means they 
both carried supplies to the
bricklayers and stonemasons. 
In fact, she says today that she does not remember a time that she did not want to attend SUU. When Karen was just a little girl, her family would visit Cedar City often, primarily to attend family reunions on her mother’s side, and it was during those visits that her love of the campus and the idea of attending school here took root and began to grow.

Karen enrolled at SUU (then SUSC) in the fall of 1981 as an English literature major. While most of her friends assumed Karen would become an educator, she was not so sure. A chance job with The Thunderbird student newspaper showed her a career path that, ultimately, was perfect for her.

At the beginning of her junior year Karen’s friend Stewart Smith (’85), who was the editor-in-chief of The Thunderbird, mentioned that the newspaper was looking for a copy editor. The job entailed proofreading and editing the paper before it was sent to print. A self-proclaimed “proud grammar nerd,” Karen thought the job sounded fun and she was hired.

“This was another benefit of being a student at a smaller university,” she says. “I doubt I would have ever sought this out at a larger school.”

Karen gives a big shout-out to Larry Baker, the newspaper advisor, for teaching her so much about grammar and proofreading. She loved the entire student-newspaper experience.

After graduation, Karen began the process of finding employment. It was her writing samples and copy editing experience at SUU that landed her a job in the marketing department at a large bank in Beverly Hills, California, working in employee and corporate communications. After she had worked for the bank for a couple of years, it become apparent that her department needed more help and so the hiring process began. And who should happen to apply for that position?  None other than Karen’s friend from SUU, Stewart Smith! Karen hired Stewart (he was the most qualified for the position) and they enjoyed working together again for several years. A true example of T-Birds helping T-Birds!

Today, Karen works as a senior communications specialist in the marketing department at Loring Ward, a financial services business in California’s Silicon Valley that has more than $17 billion in assets under management. Her job entails writing and editing materials for her company’s financial advisors and their clients. The company is located in San Jose, California, but she works from home and travels to the office once a month.

Reflecting on her time as a student at SUU, Karen fondly remembers many wonderful experiences, such as attending the M*A*S*H finale party, participating in student dances, and working with the staff of The Thunderbird all night long, on many occasions, to get the newspaper to print by deadline. She keeps in touch with several of her SUU friends including Elyce Jones Schmutz (’85) and Tracy Dewsnup Page (’84), with whom she did once did a Saturday Night Live skit at a campus activity with Karen playing the part of Jane Curtin to Tracy’s Roseanne Roseannadanna. It was a hilarious and memorable college moment.   

When it came to academics, she loved her English classes, particularly those taught by Dave Lee and Sarah Solberg, along with business classes from Professor Gary Giles. Karen graduated from SUU in 1984 with a degree in English literature and a minor in business administration.

Karen married Matt Parker in 1990, and they have four children: Jessica (Gwilliam), Sarah, Will, and Alex. The family has lived in California’s Simi Valley since 1998 and will soon move to Denton, Texas, where she will continue to work from home for Loring Ward and looks forward to discovering what SUU connections await her in Texas. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Ron Bliss Belongs to a Strong Legacy Family

Ron Bliss, like a great many alumni, belongs to a strong SUU legacy family that through the years has been an enthusiastic advocate of T-Bird Nation. 

A graduate of Spanish Fork High School and transfer student from Stevens-Henager Business College, Ron graduated from SUU (then SUSC) in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He was introduced to the institution by his father, Ferron Bliss, who attended the BAC from 1938 to 1939 and was student body president, a fullback for the Thunderbird football squad and a member of Adagio, a dance and performing group coached by LaVeve Whetten. In addition to his father, Ron’s aunt and several cousins are also members of the Thunderbird family.

Ferron Bliss, BAC Football Team
While a student, Ron was an active member of Phi Beta Lambda (PBL), a campus business club then under the direction of Professor Doris Williamson. He helped organize PBL’s Business Person of the Year Banquet, worked on homecoming floats, and decorated the organization’s Christmas tree for the annual Christmas Tree Walk. Through his PBL experience Ron created some of his closest friendships and today stays in touch with those friends. 

In 1983, Ron represented SUU at the Utah State PBL Convention/Competition winning first place in the business administration category, and was among five first-place winners from SUU that year, a record for the Thunderbirds at the time. All five individuals went on to represent the state of Utah at the national PBL convention in San Francisco that summer, and each finished in the top 10, with Ron and two others finishing in the top three in the national competition.

PBL Conference in San Francisco, CA
“It was a great way to end my college career at SUU,” he says of the experience. 

Following graduation, Ron decided to stay in Cedar City and took a job with the Leavitt Group, a step he credits for “turning him into an accountant,” which was a career path he had never anticipated. 

After several years there, Ron pursued another opportunity elsewhere but found that his heart longed for southern Utah, and so he returned, eventually landing in Enterprise, Utah, working for Holt farms in exports and, you guessed it, accounting. Ron oversees the exporting of agriculture products to the Pacific Rim, along with accounting, scheduling, safety, insurance, IT, and regulatory compliance.
Ron credits his SUU professors and their encouragement and care that taught him how to learn and how to study. Besides the aforementioned Williamson, among his favorite teachers were Richard Dotson, Dean Harold Hiskey, Vic Isbell.

He says that among the things he learned about himself at SUU is “that great things can happen when you step outside of your comfort zone and try something new and challenging.” He found that his empowering professors were ever supportive of him trying something new. 

His favorite place on campus, he says, was the War Memorial Field House (1950-1986), which held fond memories of SUSC basketball games and concerts. 

Ron Bliss Family
Ron and his wife, Trina, have two sons. His oldest, Cameron, lives in Enterprise, Utah, with his wife and three daughters, and his second son, Riley, continued the family legacy and attended SUU for his first year of college and currently attends the University of Arizona. 

An Enterprise volunteer EMT for 18 years, Ron loves serving in his community and has a special interest in amateur radios. He holds an Amateur Extra Class license that spun from a licensing class at SUU.

Ron comes back to campus often and maintains a strong connection to the University, cheering on the Thunderbird football team at both home and away games while proudly wearing his SUU red. For the last several years, he and his two college roommates Scott Johnson (’84) and John Reidhead (’83) make an annual pilgrimage to SUU for homecoming.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Making a Difference in Her Community Through Public Service

Knowing she could make a difference in her community, Brooke Broadhead Christensen ran for public office and was elected last November to the city council in Sandy, Utah.

“I wasn’t happy with the direction of my city so instead of complaining and doing nothing, I decided to get involved,” she says. “I wanted to try and make positive changes in Sandy City.”

Brooke is focused on remembering that her job is working for the citizens of Sandy City and representing their best interests at weekly city council meetings. She spends ample time researching, presenting, and then voting on issues at those meetings, and also holds community meetings to stay accessible to residents in her district.

A graduate of Utah’s Jordan High School, Brooke enrolled at Southern Utah University in the fall of 1996. She was a double major in business administration and communication, graduated from SUU in 2000, and went on to earn an MBA from Westminster College in 2003. For 10 years she worked in supply chain management before becoming a stay-at-home mom for seven years. Now, she is proud to call herself Mom and Council Member Christensen.

“I loved my time at SUU,” she exclaims. “Being able to get involved in so many areas that were outside my comfort zone gave me confidence to try new things. SUU also taught me to work together with diverse groups of people and find middle ground. SUU also encouraged me to ask questions and explore options before making a decision. All of these things have helped me manage international supply chains for major companies and to navigate the interpersonal relationships on the city council.”

Brooke loves spending time with her husband Ben and their three children, and enjoys reading, and the whirlwind of carpools, PTA, girl and boy scouts, little league (of all sorts), LDS church service, the Arthritis Foundation (her daughter was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 3), and, of course, the city council.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Accountants are Nerds, But the World Needs a Good Nerd to Keep Track of Its Money

Upon taking his first accounting class in high school, Jeremy Walker knew he was hooked. So following graduation from Utah’s Tooele High School, he brought that love of numbers to SUU and became an accountant. Today, he is the manager of his native local government division of the Utah Office of the State Auditor.

“I have always been good with numbers. I just knew this was my thing,” he explains of becoming an accountant. “There are many jobs I am glad I don’t have to do, and I know many feel that way about accounting, so I do this and thank them for doing what they’re good at.”

Jeremy’s team at the Utah Office of the State Auditor provides training and guidance, and monitors financial reporting for more than 1,000 local government entities including cities, towns, and counties, as well as local and special service districts. He has established himself as an expert in the field, and he enjoys helping other government accountants, auditors, and elected officials understand the laws concerning government spending and to navigate difficult situations.

“I feel like I can make a difference every day when I go to work,” he says.

Jeremy graduated from SUU in 2000 with a bachelor of arts degree in accountancy, and earned a master’s degree in accountancy the following year. He loved his experience at SUU and says his memories revolve around three things: The beautiful campus and surrounding public lands; the strong friendships he made that continue to this day; and the professors and staff that truly made the student experience their top priority.

He credits SUU for giving him the technical knowledge he needed to succeed in his field, opportunities to develop leadership skills that have benefited his employers and community ever since, and an understanding that what he had to offer had a place in any organization.

“Accountants are nerds,” he says. “But the world needs a good nerd to keep track of its money.”

Jeremy and his wife Melissa, along with their four children, live in Stansbury Park in Tooele County, where he enjoys hiking the scenic Oquirrh Mountains, beautifying his yard, and squeezing in a round of golf now and then.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Jennifer Durcan Andrews is Making Her Mark in Puget Sound

Jennifer Durcan Andrews is making her mark in the Puget Sound region as partner in Andrews & Arbenz, PLLC, a boutique law firm in Old Town Tacoma. Jen specializes in domestic relations, which means she covers everything from divorces to surrogacy contracts, and de facto parentage to same-sex adoptions.

A recognized leader throughout her career, Jen has served as president of several professional organizations and will soon begin her term as president of the Robert J. Bryan Chapter of the American Inns of Court, an organization which fosters excellence in professionalism, ethics, civility, and legal skills.  Jen won a 2017 Community Service Award from the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association, was voted “Best Lawyer” in 2015 by South Sound Magazine, and was recognized as a “40 Under 40” in 2014 by the Business Examiner magazine.

Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, Jen arrived at SUU on scholarship in the fall of 1994. She chose history as her major and combined it with a political science minor. She also took a variety of English literature and social science classes, which were areas of personal interest to her. Following SUU graduation in 1999, Jen enrolled at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law and earned a juris doctorate in 2002.

Following law school graduation, Jen’s heart was with the civil legal aid community, which is how she ended up in Seattle. “I loved helping the underserved and empowering people with legal knowledge and action,” she says.

Jen went to a private firm taking these sorts of cases, doing family law, bankruptcy, and some general civil litigation. After about five years, she was ready for a change and got a job with the prosecutor’s office. She stayed there five years and then decided to branch out to form Andrews & Arbenz, PLLC. This current iteration of Jen’s career is “the first time I haven’t become dissatisfied with a job, which I think is due to the control I have over it and my level of experience.”

Of running her own business, Jen says, “I have the best employer on earth. My boss is super smart, kind, funny, and has the best clothes. It’s me!” she exclaims. “I have been a partner in my firm for a little over six years. I love the flexibility of it and being my own boss. I also love managing people. Sometimes it can be difficult, because running a business and practicing law are two very different things, and sometimes the values of those two things can conflict. But I love a challenge, and every day there is (at least) one waiting for me.”

Jen looks back on her undergraduate days at SUU as an excellent training ground for becoming a successful attorney and business owner.

“The hands-on education at SUU was invaluable. I was taught by PhDs, not teaching assistants. My professors knew my name, and would call me out when I was missing class too much or not giving my all,” she says. “My academics were as rigorous, if not more so, than many others I know who have gone to bigger name schools. SUU taught me to study; I never really needed to until college, and my chosen areas of study really taught me how to think critically.  Frankly, my job boils down to one thing: I fix problems. To do this, I must be objective. I must have the ability to think critically, to distinguish facts, and to pick apart an argument. I began learning to do this in my history, English, and sociology classes at SUU.”

She also learned lot about herself as a student at SUU and discovered who she was and found her voice. Jen learned how to navigate life, how to befriend and respect people whose beliefs were different from her own, when to speak and when to keep quiet, and numerous other long-lasting lessons. As a member of Alpha Phi and a student senator in SUUSA, Jen gained confidence and a desire to help others.

“My SUU friends are the best. I still keep in contact with many of them and travel with some of them,” she says. “They continue to teach me about myself every time we get together.”