Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College

FromStephens masthead

March 2017 

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A Legacy of Excellence

Stephens College hosts concert to benefit organ restoration

organ benefit concert 

On March 8, members of the Stephens and local community gathered in the Firestone Baars Chapel for “Make A Joyful Noise,” a benefit concert to raise funds for the Stephens College Chapel organ. The occasion marked the official launch of an appeal to restore the 60-year-old Aeolian-Skinner 1186 to its original splendor. 

“This was a magical evening, enjoyed by all, including sections of the local community and alumnae who have not returned to campus for many years,” said Meichele Foster, vice president for institutional advancement and initiatives. “We have rediscovered a space and an instrument made for each other and in which we can look forward to providing more recitals and events.”

The evening’s event raised $20,000 toward the goal of $190,000, including an anonymous gift of $5,000 in honor of Dr. Gail Humphries Mardirosian, dean of the School of Performing Arts.

The audience of over 150 people enjoyed selections played by organist Haig Mardirosian, who gave a glimpse into the range, tonal variety and acoustic potential of the Stephens organ. Performers also included Trent Rash, tenor, and Darrell Jordan, baritone, the Prairie Strings Quartet and the Stephens College Concert Choir. 

The concert was made possible with the support of Margaret Lynn Koegle ’48, who watched the concert via livestream from her home in Ohio. Her donation enabled necessary interim repairs to the organ. 

Watch the concert and donate to the organ project here.

See more event photos.


Academic Innovation

Stephens adds emphasis area in Theatre for Young Audiences

theatre performance

There is growing interest in using children’s theatre as a way to foster the educational and emotional growth of young people. Stephens College is expanding its theatre curriculum to provide students with an opportunity to join this growing field of theatre with, for and by youth.

Beginning in Fall 2017, the School of Performing Arts will offer a new emphasis area in Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA) through the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts program. 

Dr. Gail Humphries Mardirosian, dean of the School of Performing Arts, said Stephens is looking forward to offering theatre students more options in its highly ranked program.

“TYA programs truly pay it forward as we focus on the future of education and artists, educators and audiences for the 21st century,” she said. “Training artists and educators of tomorrow is a calling for us at Stephens and should be essential in higher education and for all of us who respect the power of arts education.”  

Dr. Brian Sajko, vice president for enrollment management at Stephens, said TYA is a growing part of the arts industry, and Stephens wants to prepare its students to take advantage of this emerging field.

“We want our students to have all the classes and options at hand to find the path that’s right for them so that they can leave prepared to secure a position or fellowship upon graduation,” he said.  

Students seeking the TYA emphasis will participate in eight productions at Stephens’ various theatre companies. They will also receive hands-on experience at the TRYPS Institute, a children’s theatre located on the Stephens College campus that introduces children ages 10 months through high school to the magic of theatre.

The Princeton Review ranks the Stephens theatre program No. 6 in the country. The other areas of emphasis in the B.F.A. Theatre Arts program are acting, directing, musical theatre, stage management or scenic, costume and lighting design. 


A Vibrant Campus

Human anatomy class offers peek into variety of health fields

human anatomy class

The students in Dr. Jeff Phillips’ human anatomy class at Stephens College have big dreams.

Amanda Diaz ’19 wants to be a neonatal nurse. Staci Howard ’17 aspires to be a veterinarian. Jenica Bohon ’19 is determined to work with children in the healthcare field.  

Human anatomy is a window into what those career paths and others in the health sciences might look like.

“My approach is to have a strong emphasis on functional anatomy, which means knowing various structures, plus how these structures function, interact, and how injuries or disease affect normal structure or function,” said Phillips, an associate professor of life sciences. 

During the course, students become comfortable using anatomical terms to describe the human body and how it moves. They learn to identify basic structures in the human body such as tissues, organs and organ systems as well as how those structures function and are affected by disease and injury. Students also participate in hands-on learning in the lab, where they practice dissection skills and apply their knowledge. 

Because of the demands of the lecture and lab, the class is recommended for juniors and seniors.

“It’s a pretty involved course,” Phillips said.

However, for the students who do attend, the class size is small—11 this semester—which leaves room for plenty of individual attention.

Students generally work in pairs during the lab where recently they were identifying human muscles using models and pictures from their text. Each team of students was given a small pile of model human bones on which they were asked to identify the origin and insertion of the muscle.

“I want you to know the action of all the muscles,” Phillips told the class.

He then asked the students to stand up and run through some simple demonstrations of muscle movement.

“What would the lateral abduction of the right arm look like?” he asked.

The students lifted their right arms straight up from their sides.

“What about a left femur abduction?”

“Head hyperextension?”

Once the students sit down and get down to work, Phillips circulated through the room, stopping to give feedback or answer questions.

“I’m mostly a facilitator during lab, but I’m always here to help,” he said.

During the different units, students learn about the different structures as well as problems that can develop. For example, when students were learning about the cardiovascular system, Phillips introduced them to a variety of heart problems and how they differ. 

“Cardiac tamponade causes knife-like, sharp pain on the left chest, shoulder and arm, whereas angina pectoris and a heart attack cause a more diffuse crushing pain over the same area,” he explained.

In a unit about bone tissue, Phillips compared the difference between osteogenesis imperfecta, commonly referred to as brittle bone disease, and osteoporosis to broaden students’ understanding of bone.

“Both diseases cause breakage in the bone, but structurally, they look different,” he said. “That can help students better understand what is going on with bones.”

Although Howard wants to become a veterinarian, she said the human anatomy class has opened her eyes to how much information she will need to know to treat animals. So far, her favorite part of class is learning how to dissect.

“Being able to open a body and examine what’s inside fascinates me,” she said. “The formaldehyde smell takes a little bit to get used to but after that, the labs are always interesting, and I always find something new that surprises me.”


Student Success

Shelly Romero ’17 to attend renowned NYU Summer Publishing Institute

Shelly Romero

Last year, Stephens College student Shelly Romero ’17 fell in love with New York City during the English/Creative Writing program’s spring break trip.

This summer, she’ll return to the city, this time to attend NYU’s prestigious Summer Publishing Institute (SPI) program, an intense, six-week study of book, magazine, and digital publishing. 

“I’m looking forward to everything this amazing opportunity has in store for me,” said Romero, who recently received early acceptance into the program. “I feel extremely prepared to take on the Big Apple and SPI.”

During the program offered by NYU’s School of Professional Studies, students attend guest lectures with leading book, magazine and digital industry professionals. The program also offers workshops, group projects, various networking events, and resume reviews and mock internships.

Romero, who will earn a B.A. in English from Stephens in May, credits Stephens with preparing her for this opportunity.

“I often tell people that I wouldn't be who I am and I wouldn’t have had all the opportunities that I have had without Stephens,” she said. 

At Stephens, Romero has had invaluable experiences working on the staffs of Harbinger, Stephens’ literary magazine and Creative Ink, the student marketing firm. She also has taken graphic design classes, which, alongside her acquired editorial skills, will make her more marketable to employers. 

At the conclusion of SPI, students attend a career fair, where they have the chance to interview with top publishers in the industry.

Romero will also receive a graduate certificate, as well as six graduate credit hours that can be applied to NYU’s M.S. in Publishing: Digital and Print Media. 

Romero is the second Stephens College graduate to attend SPI in the last two years.

Maya Alpert ’16 attended last summer and now works as an editorial assistant at Insight Editions, a publisher in San Rafael, Calif.

“I hope that my experience with the program will be seen as a potential path to take for other students in my program interested in publishing,” Romero said.


Outstanding Faculty

Stephens M.F.A. program co-hosts WGA diversity panel


Pictured (L-to-R): Monica Macer, Shernold Edwards, Dawn Kamoche, Dee Harris-Lawrence, Valerie Woods

When five women writers of color—show runners, innovators, groundbreakers—discuss the craft of writing, you discover the diversity within the diversity. That’s what happened when the Stephens M.F.A. in TV and Screenwriting program co-hosted a Writers Guild of America event titled “Writing Outside the Color Lines: Women Writers of Color on Storytelling and Perspective” in January.

Faculty member Valerie Woods (Soul Food, Any Day Now) moderated the discussion with panelists Dee Harris-Lawrence (Star, Shots Fired), Monica Macer (Queen Sugar, Nashville), Shernold Edwards (Sleepy Hollow, Haven) and Dawn Kamoche (Hand of God, Sharp Objects) about bringing authenticity to telling stories across all color lines. 

This May, our first cohort of 20 students will receive their master’s degrees.

Interested in joining our next class? All admission materials are due by April 15 for the cohort beginning in August. Learn more and apply.


Leadership event
free live streaming

What’s the biggest risk you ever took? Stephens alumna and director/writer Tricia Brouk invites the Stephens community to consider their role in risk taking and change making. She is the organizer of the TedXtalk leadership event “TedxLincolnSquare: Risk Takers and Change Makers,” a sold-out day of leadership programming—available for live streaming on March 28 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Speakers will include Karith Foster ’96, humorist and diversity engagement specialist. Stephens alumna Denise Wilcox will be stage managing. The event is a great way to support alumnae while learning to be a better leader. 

Learn more.

reunion registration

Register for 
Alumnae Reunion 

Celebrate Stephens Alumnae Reunion with us from April 27-29. Come home to Stephens and help us celebrate the legacy, leadership, friendships and traditions that have made Stephens College a place like no other. Classes ending in 2 and 7 will receive special recognition!

Check out the schedule of events and register on our Reunion 2017 website or contact the Office of Institutional Advancement and Initiatives for more information at (573) 876-7110 or [email protected].

Anita Parran

Anita Parran ’73 discusses
black entrepreneurship

Anita Parran ’73, a Stephens Board of Trustees member, met with students in February to discuss black entrepreneurship. Her appearance at the Lunch & Learn event in the Center for Student Engagement was part of Black History Month activities on campus.  

A native of St. Louis, Parran is the associate state director for public affairs for AARP Missouri and lives in Kansas City, Mo. She is responsible for the organization’s communications efforts that support AARP’s social mission, including legislative advocacy, financial security, caregiving and healthcare issues. Parran is also principal for KK Charles Communications, LLC, an award-winning firm she founded in 1998 that specializes in public and media relations, professional writing and special events management.

In 2006, Parran was selected the National Headliner Award recipient by the Association for Women in Communications for communications excellence. That same year, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kansas City Association of Black Journalists. Parran was named one of Kansas City’s Most Influential Women in 2014 by the KC Business Magazine, an honor she received in 2007 as a member of the Charter Class. 

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