Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College


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The Jeannene Booher Fashion Lecture Series to host Nov. 8 public lecture with N.Y.C. designers Stan Herman and Michael Harlan

The Stephens College School of Design has invited New York designers Stan Herman and Michael Harlan Schwarz to share their experience creating “Designer Uniforms” – think Federal Express and JetBlue Airlines – and how they integrated the concepts of function and form into their own lines of accessories and apparel.

The duo will speak at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8, 2017, at the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall, 6 N. College Ave. They will talk about their experience in the fashion industry and where they think the industry is going and what opportunities await new graduates.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Herman and Schwarz’s appearance is sponsored by The Jeannene Booher Fashion Lecture Series, which launched in November 2016 with a $1 million gift from Booher, a 1956 alumna of the Stephens College fashion program.

“The lecture series was created to honor the influential mentoring Ms. Booher received while a fashion design student at Stephens College, “ said Dr. Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design. “Ms. Booher carved a path through all that is 7th Avenue, to become a well-known dress designer with her own label among others.  One of her dear friends and colleagues is Stan Herman, who is a master of listening to the client and applying their feedback into the products he designs.  

“His interests in making a better life for people extends to his work with Fashion Targets Breast Cancer and designing uniforms that reflect the integrity of the wearer for large corporations,” she said.  

For more than 40 years, Herman has been a leader in uniform designs. He started with brands like Avis, TWA and McDonalds and has most recently, along with Harlan, created signature looks for FedEx and JetBlue. He has used his talent for designing functional wear to become America’s foremost designer of robes and loungewear, which he has been selling on QVC, QVCUK and QVCItaly for 24 years. With a return customer base of more than 300,000 people, Herman has sold more than $100 million worth of robes alone.

He also has designed evening clothes and bridal gowns and presented the first walking shorts to the corporate world as well as the first knitted shirts to meet the quality demands of uniform wearability. Herman Was president of the Council of Fashion Designers of American for 15 years and was instrumental in many of the group’s humanitarian fundraising efforts while also overseeing the first decade of New York Fashion Week in Bryant Park.

“Stan is a mentor at heart,” McMurry said. “He has seen many persons grow in their work and encouraged them to pursue their dreams.  Marc Jacobs and Donna Karen were both noticed by Mr. Herman well before they became household names.

Today, Herman works alongside Schwarz, who is a designer and project manager at Stan Herman Studio.   

Schwarz, who goes by Michael Harlan as a designer, graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in fine art and has been creating apparel and leather goods for men and women since the late 1990s. He began working at Stan Herman Studio in 1998 where designing uniforms influenced his own process for creating and making clothes.

Most recently, Schwarz has launched a signature collection of handcrafted leather accessories and select clothing that are being sold exclusively at Patina, a boutique in Nantucket, a tiny, isolated island off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. So popular are his clothing line, Michael Harlan Studio LLC, that Pantina clients are now requesting his clothing in advance of the upcoming season.  

“From conversations with Stan and Michael, it is evident they each honor one another’s skills and viewpoints and mentor and challenge each other,” McMurry said. “I believe students will feel instantly at home with Stan and Michael as they ask questions about their own futures and dreams for a life in fashion from some of the best mentors the fashion industry has to offer.”  


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Welcome Home Family & Friends Weekend brings families back to campus

When Brianna Bunker began looking at colleges, she searched for a small school in a hip university town that also offered her major, digital filmmaking.

Her dad found Stephens College, which had an added bonus in his eyes: it’s a women’s college.

Today, Daryl and Sarah Bunker of Lumberton, Texas, are visiting their daughter during Welcome Home Family & Friends Weekend at Stephens. Though she’s only a couple months into her freshman year, Brianna Bunker couldn’t be happier – and neither could her parents.

“Stephens has been perfect for her,” said Sarah Bunker. “She was looking for a school where she wouldn’t feel like a number but in a college town that was fun. She found both at Stephens.”

The Bunkers were among 90 families expected to attend the annual event designed to give family and friends a chance to reconnect with their student and see what her life is like at Stephens.

Today visitors had an opportunity to go back to college and attend a number of select classes. Administrative offices were also open for family and friends to drop in and ask questions.

“Friends and family can see what their student has been doing in their department, enjoy student performances and further connect with the Stephens College community,” said Laura Nunnelly, director of Student Life & Engagement in the Department of Student Development. “This year we are hosting a fall festival and outdoor barbecue lunch, where families can mingle, enjoy music, take a family photo in the photo booth, create a fall craft and just have a fun time with our community.”

The day also included saddle seat riding demonstrations at the Equestrian Center as well as a study abroad presentation at the Student Union. Visitors were encouraged take in a showing of “Blithe Spirit,” at the Macklanburg Playhouse during their weekend stay. 

Julie Roth can’t wait to see the production. He daughter, Sydney Sutherland, who transferred to Stephens this year from George Washington University, is working behind the scenes on the play. Sutherland is majoring in musical theatre. 

“I can’t wait to see the play and learn more about the performing arts here,” said Roth, who recently moved from Arizona to Illinois to be closer to her daughter.

Roth said her daughter has been much happier with her transfer to a smaller campus.

“This has been a much better fit,” she said.

Activities on Saturday include open houses at the digital film and education departments, the School of Design and the English/creative writing program. The afternoon also includes events sponsored by the College of Creative and Performing Arts such as a Tap & Dance Fest, musical theatre and vocal performances and displays by costume, scenic and lighting design students. 

Visitors are invited to stop by the “Joan Crawford Effect” exhibit from 3-4 p.m. at the Historic Costume Gallery on the Mezzanine in Lela Raney Wood Hall.

The weekend concludes with a brunch from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Sunday in the Dining Hall in Stamper Commons. 

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Stephens College is exclusive college partner for Kansas City Fashion Week

Stephens College is pleased to announce that the college will be the exclusive college partner for Kansas City Fashion Week, providing students, faculty and alumnae unique opportunities to participate in the premier runway show.  

Among those opportunities is a chance for select fashion students to submit portfolios of designs to Project Runway alumni Michael Drummond and Joshua Christensen. The award-winning designer will critique the sketches and select a winner to show her collection in the spring 2018 KCFW. 

The winner, whose entry fee will be waived, will be announced during the bi-annual fashion show, which runs Oct. 10-14 at Union Station in Kansas City.

“This sort of direct access to the KCFW runway, speaks to the high caliber of design and construction of garments current Stephens students and alumnae bring to the KCFW each year,” said Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design. “They know we bring excellence to fashion.” 

KCFW has historically provided emerging designers with a solid platform from which to launch their lines of clothing or accessories. The exclusive partnership provides Stephens with special behind-the-scene access to the event, which features local, national and international designers. Students will serve as interns and alumnae will enjoy a special VIP night. 

The Stephens’ Admissions team will also be on hand during a daylong seminar for fashion educators and students put on by Rightfully Sewn, a program in Kansas City that provides seamstress training for at-risk women. Maureen Lowary, assistant professor in fashion at Stephens, will be a featured speaker.

“This is a major showcase for us and exposes us to exactly the audience we want to know about us,” said Brian Sajko, vice president for enrollment management. The Admissions team will be manning an information table and received an advertising package including television time and digital advertising that promote all undergraduate majors. 

KCFW considers itself “a nexus of fashion professions,” where designers collaborate with seasoned stylists, make-up artists, models and photographers to present their collections in a professional atmosphere. KCFW is popular among buyers from retail establishments, media personalities, online apparel entrepreneurs and celebrities.

This fall, 32 designers from across the country will be showing their spring/summer designs, including Stephens alumna Tonya Pesch and Tobie Marie Roberts, a senior majoring in fashion design and product development at Stephens. Last year, Irina Tevzadze, a Georgian designer and assistant professor of fashion at Stephens, showed a children’s wear collection at KCFW. Pesch will show her collection Wednesday evening, Oct. 11. Roberts had the opportunity to show her work at a preview event on Oct. 8. 

Stephens has the 14th best fashion program in the world, according to Business of Fashion, London. The fashion program also tied for second in the world for both learning experience and long-term value across B.A. programs.


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Historic Costume Gallery presents "The Joan Crawford Effect"

Hollywood star Joan Crawford and costume designer Adrian Adolph Greenberg were the dynamic fashion duo of the 1930s and 1940s.

Greenberg, who was known simply as “Adrian” in the fashion world, helped create Crawford’s signature broad-shouldered look, a design crafted to conceal the actress’s naturally broad shoulders.

The Stephens College Costume Museum and Research Library’s latest exhibit, “The Joan Crawford Effect,” looks at the collaboration between Crawford and Adrian and how the pair influenced glamour, style and sophistication. The designer was adept at transforming leading actresses, such as Crawford, Jean Harlow, Norma Scherer an Greta Garbo, into glamorous movie stars. The exhibit also includes never-before-exhibited archives related to Crawford’s short time as a student at Stephens College in the 1920s, including handwritten letters from Crawford to Stephens President James Madison Wood.  

The show opens Oct. 6, 2017 with a reception from 5-9 p.m. in the Historic Costume Gallery on the mezzanine level of Lela Raney Wood Hall, 6 N. College Ave.

“In the ’30s and ’40s, filmmakers were appealing to women moviegoers and so would release publicity stills of the stars in their costumes to get moviegoers excited about the upcoming movie,” said Lori Hall-Araujo, an assistant professor in the fashion program and curator for the Stephens College Costume Museum and Research Library. “This led to costume copies and home-sewing patterns being sold in connection with a film, sometimes these were even sold before the film was released.”

The exhibit includes 1930s and 1940s suits and evening gowns from the permanent collections—including a gown inspired by the one Crawford wore in the 1932 film “Letty Lynton.” Dress history has it that more than 50,000 copies of the original white cotton organdy dress with large ruffled sleeves, puffed at the shoulder that Adrian designed were sold at the New York Macy’s store alone.

At the time Vogue reported: Every little girl, all over the country, within two weeks of the release of Joan Crawford’s picture, felt she would die if she couldn’t have a dress like that.”

“What we have is a gown that appears very much to have been inspired by the ‘Letty Lynton’ gown,” Hall-Araujo said. “Moreover, I am able to date it to within three years of the film’s release.”

If You Go

Gallery Dates: Oct. 6-Dec. 17, 2017

Gallery Hours: 12-1 p.m. Wednesdays, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays, and 12-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Closed during Stephens College holidays. 

Location: Historic Costume Gallery, mezzanine level of Lela Raney Wood Hall

The exhibit is free and open to the public. 

Opening Reception: 5-9 p.m. on Oct. 6 

More about the Gallery. 

More about the School of Design and fashion program. 








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Esports team gears up for first-ever varsity match tonight

October is esports month at Stephens College, and the games begin today with a match against Georgia Southern University.

The competition in Overwatch will be aired at 6 p.m. on the big TV in the Student Union of Stamper Common. The event kicks off a month of events. The campus community is invited to watch at 6 p.m. each Monday. You can also tune in at

“Our players can’t wait to get started,” said Coach Ernest Utterback. “They have been working hard to prepare for this match.”

Stephens College made history in April when it became the first women’s college to sponsor a varsity esports program. Tryouts were held this fall, and a team of 12 players, ranging from freshman to senior, was selected.

Stephens is a member of the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE), which includes 90 percent of varsity collegiate esports in the country. 

Other matches this month include:

  • Oct. 9 vs. Morningside College
  • Oct. 16 vs. Midland University
  • Oct. 23 vs. Kansas Wesleyan University
  • Oct. 30 vs. University of South Carolina-Sumter





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More national nominations pour in for Stephens Life magazine

Stephens Life, the student magazine of Stephens College, is on a roll.

For the second time in less than a month, the magazine has been nominated for a national award. This time, the Associated College Press (ACP) nominated the “Eat” story in the Fall 2016 issue for Design of the year in the Yearbook/Magazine Page/Spread category.

“The latest nomination for Stephens Life magazine places us alongside prestigious schools from all over the United States,” said Dr. Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design. “The students and faculty continue to show their eye for design and the School of Design tagline: ‘What’s next.’

“Stephens Life  is a shining example of how design thinking and teamwork results in a product that meets, and exceeds, market needs and desires,” she said. “The magazine captures one’s attention and imagination, thus the Stephens Life experience.”

The “Eat” story has already named a Best of Collegiate Design Pinnacle Award finalist in the Best Magazine Entertainment Page/Spread Category. The Spring 2017 issue of Stephens Life is a Pinnacle Award finalist in two categories: the Best Magazine Contents Page/Spread for its innovative table of contents and the Best Magazine News Page/Spread for “Men & Feminism.”

The Pinnacle Awards are presented by the College Media Association, the national association for collegiate media and its advisers, and honor the best in college media organizations and individual work.

Stephens Life was recognized last year for its award-winning work. The magazine won a first place Pinnacle Award for “I Like Fashion and Naps,” a spread in the Spring 2016 issue, in the category of Best Magazine Entertainment Page/Spread. “Disruption: A Year of Fractured Fashion,” the cover story from the same issue, received an honorable mention for Best Magazine News Page/Spread. The Associated College Press also honored the magazine for its “Superfoods” story from the same issue. The story was nominated in the Yearbook/Magazine Page/Spread category and received fifth place for Design of the Year.

“Being honored in design categories with other prestigious universities and colleges further validates our recent rebranding as a modern, photo-centric magazine that articulates the hopes, dreams and voices of young women today,” said McMurry. 

Stephens Life is produced by Stephens students as part of a practicum class available through the School of Design. However, students from any major can enroll. The practicum encourages a real-world publishing environment where students take on the roles of creative director, art director, graphic designer, photographer or writer, and work together to produce a high quality magazine publication.

Stephens Life underwent a rebranding process in 2016 that included the students and reflected a more modern, photo-centric approach to journalism. Students on the magazine staff get hands-on experience from pitching articles to the final production and every step in-between.

“Eat” included the work of Madisson Alexander ’18, Alexandra Martin ’18 and Kalynn Coy ’17. “Men & Feminism” was written by Mary Kate Hafner ’18 with photographs by Julie Valentine ’17.

The awards cover submissions from the 2016-2017 academic year.

Winners will be announced at the association’s National College Media Convention, which will be held Oct. 25-29 in Dallas.







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Animal communicator Joan Ranquet '82 helps students work with foster pets

One of Joan Ranquet’s favorite ways to give back as an animal communicator is to help make homeless animals more adoptable.

That’s why when Ranquet ’82, one of the country’s most renowned animal communicators, returned to Stephens College in September to help equestrian students better relate to their horses, she requested to meet with students fostering pets through Second Chance, a local no-kill shelter.   

Six students and their foster dogs gathered in the indoor arena at the Stephens Equestrian Center where Ranquet talked about how to connect with their foster animals and bring out the best in them. 

Ranquet told the students she uses telepathy to communicate with animals, which is the transference of pictures, words and feelings.  

“Every single person I’ve ever met picks up on feelings,” she said. “So, that’s pretty much makes us all animal communicators.”

Ranquet said animals are almost always tuned in to our feelings, taking cues from our emotional state. The problem is we aren’t always tuned in to them.

“If we can change our energy, we can change their behavior,” she said. “By just getting really quiet, we can begin to understand why they do what they do.”

At the indoor arena, Ranquet picked out a Schnauzer-mix named Coors and placed her on top of the boards encircling the horse arena. Then, she asked the students to close their eyes, get quiet and concentrate their energy on Coors, the idea being to pick up on what Coors was telling them. All the while, Ranquet stroked the dog from the top of her head to the base of her tail, helping it to calm down.

Eventually, Ranquet asked the students to share their insights.

“Who is she at her core?” Ranquet asked.

“I think she’s a princess,” said one student.  

“A princess warrior,” said another.

Ranquet agreed and continued to stroke and massage the dog while also talking about the importance of seeing the animal in a positive light. Soon, Coors was perking her ears and enjoying the attention.

“I think she’s Princess Warrior not Coors,” Ranquet said.

Ranquet said the demonstration showed that just by getting quiet and tuning in, we become more available to what is going on with an animal and run a much better chance of recognizing their true personality. And when we do that, we help instill confidence in the animal and bring out its best qualities, which can help a dog like Coors get adopted sooner.  

She said the worst thing to do is to keep projecting the rescue animal mentality on the animal.

“If it was a really bad story, the animal wants to give it up as much as anybody,” she said. “The more we can get away from the word ‘rescue’ the better off we will be. When we have rescue animals, we feel sorry for them, and they pick up on those feelings, and they think there is something more wrong. It becomes a vicious cycle.”

Approach the animals with fun and confidence, she said. 

“Animals respond to fun faster than anything else.”





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Caroline Bartek, creative director at Cintas, will return to campus as guest critic

Designing company uniforms is tougher than you might imagine: It’s not just about fashion, but function and image, too.

One of the industries leading designers of “image apparel” will be at Stephens College later this month.

Caroline Bartek, who recently redesigned uniforms for Southwest Airlines, will be visiting the School of Design on Friday, Sept. 29 to critique the designs of the contemporary sportswear class. The critique will take place from 11:00 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Davis Art Gallery.

Bartek, who has been an adjunct professor at Stephens, is creative director at Cintas in Chicago, where she is responsible for a $123 million apparel design portfolio that includes such recognizable clients as AT&T, United States Postal Service, Sprint, Coca-Cola, Crowne Plaza and Spire. She is the subject-matter expert in designing for Cintas’ Fortune 1000 Global Account & National Rental clients.

“Ms. Bartek is a shining example of how an instructor with fashion industry experience and contacts better prepares our students to reach their employment goals. While teaching in the fashion program, Caroline worked at the Cintas Corporation as a senior apparel designer and was promoted to creative director,” said Dr. Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design. “She brought up-to-the-minute, real-world examples to classes such as product development, current issues in the fashion industry and product analysis.  

McMurry said Bartek values the training and forward thinking of the graduates in the School of Design and has hired two Stephens graduates, Emily Horner ’15 and Amy Shank ’15, to work alongside her at Cintas.  

“Caroline is known in the fashion industry for her work with international corporations on uniform design,” McMurry said. “Fashion design and product development juniors will benefit from her knowledge of workwear and the fashion industry.”


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Inaugural class of the Physician Assistant program commits to the profession

Kara Kinnison always knew she wanted to work in the health care field and originally enrolled at Saint Louis University as a pre-med student.

But the fit wasn’t right. Then, the Saint Charles, Mo., native learned about physician assistants, members of a healthcare team who can begin working in the medical field in about two years, a fraction of the time it takes to become a practicing physician. 

Kinnison, who eventually received a B.A. in chemistry from SLU, was sold.

“I knew right away becoming a PA was what I wanted to do,” she said.

Kinnison was among the inaugural class of 20 students of the Stephens College Master of Physician Assistant program who committed to the profession on Sept. 16 during the program’s first White Coat Ceremony at the Firestone Baars Chapel. The event marked the end of 13 months of didactic education and the beginning of 14 months of clinical training.

Medical Director Dr. Sayed Naqvi told students that wearing the white coat is a huge responsibility.

“Once you touch the patient, it is not only their body, “ he said, “you are touching their heart, you are touching their soul, you are healing them.”

Naqvi also said the PA students will play an important role in shoring up a physician shortage expected to reach 100,000 in the United States over the next 10 years. PAs can practice in a wide variety of medical fields, including all primary care, as well as all specialty areas. They work in rural settings, major metropolitan areas, in the armed forces, and in doctor’s offices, clinics and hospitals.

The ceremony’s keynote speaker, Dr. Sam Simms, who works in emergency medicine at St. Mary’s Hospital in Jefferson City, said medical personnel who wear the white coat are afforded special privileges because they often witness a side of humanity few others view.

“You will see courage like you’ve never seen before,” he said. “When someone says to you, ‘Thank you for saving my life,’ it’s an incredible feeling.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of PAs is expected to grow by 39 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Classroom instruction in the Stephens’ PA program occurs in the state-of-the-art Center for Health Sciences in Sampson Hall. Clinical rotations include family medicine, women’s health, pediatrics, general surgery, general internal medicine, behavioral medicine and emergency medicine. Stephens’ PA program is a revitalization of a PA program the college offered in 1975, which was one of the first such programs in the country.

Ty Scheets of Houston, Mo., said he knew he wanted to become a PA the moment he realized he wanted more out of healthcare than a job.

“I’m proud of how far I’ve come,” said Scheets, who received a degree in radiologic sciences from the University of Missouri. “But I have a long way to go, and I am in awe of what there is to learn.”

Kinnison said the Stephens PA program has made the journey worth all her hard work.

“As cheesy as it may sound, the people are really what make this program unique,” she said. “The staff has an unparalleled dedication to our education and success, while as students we all support each other in both our academic and personal lives.”

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Linda Woolverton to be recognized with screenwriting award at 2017 Citizen Jane Film Festival

For the first time this year, the Citizen Jane Film Festival at Stephens College will present the Frances Award for screenwriting achievements during the 10th annual festival, which will be held Oct 26-29, 2017.

The award will go to Linda Woolverton, an American screenwriter, playwright and novelist best known for her screenplays and books of several acclaimed Disney films and stage musicals. Her screenplays, including “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King” and “Maleficent,” are known for their strong female characters. She is also a regular visiting lecturer for Stephens’ Master of Fine Arts in Television and Screenwriting.

“Linda is the most accomplished female screenwriter still making strides in Hollywood,” said Barbie Banks, director of the annual celebration of female filmmakers. “We don’t always see screenwriters being honored in the animation field, or even recognized for being an integral part of what makes an animated film great. That changed with Linda Woolverton. She made the story of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ equally as important as the animation.”

Woolverton will be recognized at the festival but cannot be present to accept the award.

The Frances Award will be presented each year at Citizen Jane to a female or gender non-conforming screenwriter of high stature, who has advanced the creative writing of film through the years and who has made outstanding contributions to the profession of screenwriting. This year’s recipient was selected by the leadership of Citizen Jane along with professors from Stephens’ digital filmmaking and M.F.A. in Television and Screenwriting programs.

The award is named after Frances Marion, an American journalist, author, film director and screenwriter often cited as the most renowned female screenwriter of the 20th century.

In 1991, Woolverton wrote the screenplay of “Beauty and the Beast,” becoming the first woman to write an animated feature for Disney. The movie was the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the 64th Academy Awards. She also wrote the screenplay of “Alice in Wonderland,” a box office smash that made Woolverton the first and only female screenwriter with a sole writing credit on a billion-dollar film.

“While that is great for Disney, it also paved the way for women writers,” Banks said. “Executives who think in terms of dollars finally see that women can bring in the big bucks.”

Reflecting on her female characters, Woolverton has said: “I came up as a feminist, in my day. And when I was first approached to do ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ I knew that you couldn’t do a throwback Disney victim/heroine. We weren’t going to buy it as women after a whole awakening in the ’70s. No one is going to accept that. So that started me on a path at relooking at these Disney princesses in a sort of different way. I feel that you have to have an empowering message or you’re not going to be relevant. If you don’t stay relevant to how people are and how women are approaching life now, it’s not going to feel true.”

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Academic Opening Convocation held in uniquely ‘Stephens way’

Stephens College decided to do Academic Opening Convocation the “Stephens way” this year.

Instead of bringing in an outside speaker, Stephens turned to its own faculty and student leaders to address the campus-wide gathering and mark the start of the academic year.

After all, who better to talk about what it means to be a member of the Stephens community and a part of all its traditions than the people who call it home?

“Stephens is not a typical academic community, and this is not your typical academic convocation,” said Dr. Leslie Willey, vice president for academic affairs and a Stephens alumna. “We like to do things our way.”

Speakers addressed six questions critical to the Stephens experience: What makes Stephens Stephens? What are the Ten Ideals? What does it mean to be an intellectual? What does it mean to be a leader? What does it mean to attend a women’s college? What does it mean to be a member of the Stephens community?

“We decided we could tell the story about why Stephens is so important and life-changing better ourselves,” Willey said.

This isn’t the first time Stephens has blazed the trail of a new tradition.

About five years ago, the College decided to do away with an outside speaker for commencement and established the senior video, a sort of home movie starring graduating seniors, faculty and staff talking about what Stephens has meant to them and their hopes for the future.

Dr. Dianne Lynch, president of Stephens, said the senior video tradition has become the part of commencement that graduates cherish the most.

“We’re big on traditions here,” she said. “They’re the threads that bind us.”

During the convocation Stephens Faculty Chair Kirsty Buchanan, an associate professor in the School of Design and an alumna, told students that much of what makes Stephens Stephens is the lifelong friendships they will make and the indispensable connections with faculty.

Dr. Tegan Zimmerman, an assistant professor in English/creative writing, explained that being an intellectual is understanding that “there is always another side” to an issue and being open to it.

“I hope during your time at Stephens, you won’t willfully block out the other side,” she said.

Elissa Fochtman ’19, president of the Student Government Association, encouraged students to take risks and do what they don’t think they can do while at Stephens. 

“Dream up is a promise to reach our full potential at Stephens,” she said. 

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Stephens College announces ‘Season 70: A Season That Will Move You’


The School of Creative and Performing Arts is celebrating 70 years of inspiring, entertaining and often thought-provoking theatre, music, dance and film performances at Stephens College.

“Season 70: A Season That Will Move You” will showcase a blend of classic works and those with a modern twist. The box office opens ­­­Aug. 31.

Dr. Gail Humphries Mardirosian, dean of the School of Creative and Performing Arts, said the season marks a vibrant time for the arts at Stephens.

“The talents of our wonderful Stephens women are complemented with the talents of visiting guest actors, designers, choreographers and directors,” she said. “The legacy of the performing arts at Stephens is rich and deep and will be honored with an enormously varied repertoire in theatre, music and dance. We hope that Columbia can join us for a season that is really on the move.”

The first show of the season is “Intimate Apparel,” a classic story set in 1904 New York City by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage that is told through a contemporary lens. The show opens Sept. 15. 

Other productions from the Playhouse Theatre Company include “Blithe Spirit,” a comedy for all ages; Cole Porter’s musical extravaganza “Anything Goes”; “The Heiress,” a drama about self-identity and awareness; “When We Were Young and Unafraid,” a resonating dialogue around the issues of domestic violence; and “Into the Woods,” a classic fairy tale musical filled with characters from “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Cinderella” and many more.

The student-run Warehouse Theatre Company will offer four performances, including “5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche,” “A Gulag Mouse,” “Twelfth Night” and a “One Act Festival,” featuring four one-act plays.

Stephens’ dance program will present its “Annual Dance Company Spring Concert” and “New Works Dance Concert.”

New this year for music at Stephens is “March Family Christmas,” a different take on the annual Victorian holiday celebration. This year, the show will focus on the exceptional women in the March family portrayed in “Little Women,” penned by Louisa May Alcott. There will also be the Bach’s Lunch, the free monthly recital series as well as fall and spring choral concerts.

TRYPS Theatre for Young Audiences will feature “G2K Cinderella” in December followed by “Madagascar: A Musical Adventure TYA” and “Seussical Jr.” in the spring.

Stephens’ film program will showcase “Best of the Year Student Films” in the fall and “Senior Film Showcase” in the spring. The Citizen Jane Festival, celebrating 10 years of independent film by independent women, runs from Oct. 26-29. The festival features works of women filmmakers from around the world.

To secure your tickets, contact the Stephens College Box Office at (573) 876-7199 or [email protected].

Get complete details for the 2017-2018 season, including dates, times and locations of events and ticket prices.

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Stephens Life magazine named Best of Collegiate Design finalist in three categories


Stephens Life, the student magazine of Stephens College, has been named a Best of Collegiate Design Pinnacle Award finalist in three categories. The Pinnacle Awards are presented by the College Media Association, the national association for collegiate media and its advisers, and honor the best in college media organizations and individual work.

The Spring 2017 issue of Stephens Life is a finalist in two categories: the Best Magazine Contents Page/Spread for its innovative table of contents and the Best Magazine News Page/Spread for “Men & Feminism.” One feature story from the Fall 2016 issue was also named a finalist: “Eat” in the Best Magazine Entertainment Page/Spread category.

Stephens Life is no stranger to producing award-winning work. The magazine won a first place Pinnacle Award for “I Like Fashion and Naps,” a spread in the Spring 2016 issue, in the category of Best Magazine Entertainment Page/Spread. “Disruption: A Year of Fractured Fashion,” the cover story from the same issue, received an honorable mention for Best Magazine News Page/Spread. The Associated College Press also honored the magazine for its “Superfoods” story from the same issue. The story was nominated in the Yearbook/Magazine Page/Spread category and received fifth place for Design of the Year.

“We are pleased to be finalists in the College Media Association: Best of Collegiate Design contests for the second year,” said Dr. Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design. “Being honored in design categories with other prestigious universities and colleges further validates our recent rebranding as a modern, photo-centric magazine that articulates the hopes, dreams and voices of young women today.”

Stephens Life is produced by Stephens students as part of a practicum class available through the School of Design. However, students from any major can enroll. The practicum encourages a real-world publishing environment where students take on the roles of creative director, art director, graphic designer, photographer or writer, and work together to produce a high quality magazine publication.

Stephens Life underwent a rebranding process in 2016 that included the students and reflected a more modern, photo-centric approach to journalism. Students on the magazine staff get hands-on experience from pitching articles to the final production and every step in-between.

“Eat” included the work of Madisson Alexander ’18 and Alexandra Martin ’18. “Men & Feminism” was written by Mary Kate Hafner ’18 with photographs by Julie Valentine ’17.

The awards cover submissions from the 2016-2017 academic year.

Winners will be announced at the association’s National College Media Convention, which will be held Oct. 25-29 in Dallas.

Review the complete list of finalists.

Read the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 issues of Stephens Life

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Stephens theatre students act out stories in community


This was no ordinary Saturday morning at Barnes & Noble at the Columbia Mall.

A voice over the loudspeaker had just announced that two Disney characters will be arriving soon to read stories to children at the bookstore. Boys and girls gather around the children’s reading stage, wiggling and giggling with excitment.

But when Anna and her sister, Snow Queen Elsa, the stars of Disney’s “Frozen,” arrive, the children fall silent, stunned to be in the presence of two of their favorite movie characters.

“I have a dress with a picture of you on it!” a girl says.

“Me, too!” says another girl. 

Little did the children know that Anna and Elsa are actually Alexandria Borisenko ’20 and Natalie Botkins ’19, theatre students at Stephens College, where this fall the School of Creative and Performing Arts is offering a new emphasis area in theatre for young audiences through its Bachelor of Fines Arts in Theatre Arts program.

The students’ appearance at Barnes & Noble is part of the many outreach programs put on by the Theatre Reaching Young People and Schools (TRYPS) Institute at Stephens.

Live at Eleven is a free 30-minute workshop for children ages 2-8 that happens once a month at the Columbia Public Library and Barnes & Noble. The idea is to help children connect literacy, theatre and creative play.  

“Our Stephens students appear as a princess or storybook character, read a book and interact with children as they color or fill in activity sheets,” said Jill Womack, executive artistic director at TRYPS Institute and assistant professor of children’s theatre. “Children love interacting with their favorite characters.” 

TRYPS Institute also sends princess characters to the Children’s Hospital for monthly visits.

“The Stephens students gain invaluable outreach experience as workshop leaders, as well as providing enriching theatre arts experiences for the mid-Missouri community and children,” Womack said. 

In Spring 2017, six B.F.A. students created the Royal Readers program, which is a reading readiness program that they bring into area preschools. The Stephens students create a leave-behind book featuring activities and content tailored to their book and princess character. They dress as a princess, read a book, play a theatre game or sing a song with children before leading them through one activity in the booklet.

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Stephens College welcomes new students to campus


Brianna Duncan and her parents drove 200 miles in the pouring rain last night to arrive in time for her first day at Stephens College this morning.

She had already tamped down one case of nervous hives on the long ride and was hoping her excitement about moving in would override her nerves.

“I’m so happy to be here!” Duncan said.

The Cape Girardeau, Mo., native is the first among her family’s four children to attend college. Her parents couldn’t be more proud or more certain that Stephens is the right fit for their daughter.

“We come from a very rural area, and we didn’t want her jumping into a major university where she might feel overwhelmed,” Amanda Duncan said. “Stephens is just the right size and has everything she needs.”

Roblee StaffDuncan, a pre-med major, is one of about 200 new students moving into their residence halls today. They will enjoy four days of orientation before classes begin next week. Faculty, staff and student volunteers were on hand to help unload cars and carry belongings to dorm rooms.

Amanda Debevec and her parents traveled 850 miles from their home in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Stephens was one of the few schools that offered a major in event and convention management. But the icing on the cake was the beauty of the campus and the people she met when she came to visit.

“I fell in love with Stephens,” she said.

It was Madelaine Manyx’s mom who first discovered Stephens online and thought a women’s college would be the perfect fit for her daughter. Once Manyx, a psychology major from St. Louis, toured the campus and learned more about the college, she was convinced her mom was right.

“I’m pretty excited to be here,” she said.

In Pillsbury Hall, Brittany Adams of Charleston, Mo., sat on her bed, clutching her Chihuahua/terrier mix named Lucky close to her chest. Her mom and grandma busied themselves, unloading boxes and putting away clothes.

“I’m pretty nervous about fitting in,” Adams said. “But I’m rooming with my best friends, and I have Lucky who will help me make friends.”

Adams said it was Stephens’ pet program that first attracted her to the college. Then, when she learned she could major in pre-vet, the decision to attend was easy.

Her mom, Traci Jaynes, is still getting used to the idea of her first child leaving home.

“I’m a bundle of nerves,” she said. “I’m feeling all kinds of emotions.”

Natalie Irlmeier of O’Fallon, Mo., was auditioning at the International Thespian Conference in St. Louis, when Rob Doyen, a theatre professor at Stephens, saw her and recommended the college.

Her parents are thrilled with their daughter’s choice. She’ll be majoring in musical theatre. Plus, Natalie’s older twin sisters will be starting their senior year at the University of Missouri and can keep an eye on her. 

“We’re so excited to have her here,” Sharon Irlmeier said. “This is a great fit for Natalie.”

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Two visiting guest artists join performing arts faculty

Two outstanding visiting guest artists have joined the faculty this academic year in the School of Creative and Performing Arts. Each artist will stay one semester and teach technique classes in all dance styles.

The first to arrive is Carol Schuberg, a seasoned educator who will not only teach dance classes, but work as the choreographer on “Anything Goes,” which will show at the Macklanburg Playhouse in early December. 

Over the years, she has taught ballet, jazz, tap, yoga, Pilates, Alexander techniques, hip hop, salsa, musical theater dance and dance audition technique courses at various institutions, including New York University, Baldwin Wallace University, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, American University, Georgetown University, Florida State and Pennsylvania State University.

Schuberg has presented master classes at various institutions, including the University of Utah and Point Park University. She performed on Broadway in “Meet Me in St. Louis,” and in the national tours of “Cats,” “Promises,” “Tap Dance Kid,” “Barnum” and “Gigi.” She received a B.F.A. in Ballet from the University of Utah.

In the spring, Darren Gibson will arrive on campus where he will teach dance classes and serve as the artistic director for the spring dance concert. Gibson is a former artistic director for TexARTS Academy and the TexARTS Broadway Company in Austin, Texas, where he choreographed and directed 30 musicals and ballets.

He grew up in New York where Eliot Feld discovered him. Gibson went on to became the first student to graduate from The New Ballet School (known now as Ballet Tech), where he worked as principal dancer and ballet master. He would eventually serve on the Ballet Tech Board of Directors. Since then, he has accumulated numerous ballet credits, staged ballets for Richmond and Boston ballets, and assisted Ann Reinking in an original work for the American Ballet Theatre.

In addition to ballet, Gibson has been involved in musical theater, appearing as a featured performer in both the New York Shakespeare Festival production and Broadway revival of “On the Town,” directed by George C. Wolfe. He later became a featured performer and resident director/choreographer in London’s West End production of “Fosse.” 

He is a former dance instructor in the Texas State University Musical Theatre Department and was also a co-artistic director/director of the Dance Department for the Broadway Theater Project (BTP) and artistic director of BTP2.

Updated 10/4/2017

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Stephens alumna Amy Bond ’92 to compete on Lifetime’s ‘Project Runway’


Amy Bond ’92 is one of 16 fashion designers who will compete on the 16th season of “Project Runway,” the popular, Emmy-Award winning reality television contest.

The season premieres at 7 p.m. CST, on Aug. 17, 2017, on Lifetime.

Bond, 46, isn’t the first Stephens alumna to appear on the show. Qristyl Frazier ’91 competed in season six in 2009 and made it through episode four of the competition. 

In an interview posted on the “Project Runway” website, Bond, who lives in Los Angeles, said she received an email inviting her to audition for the show. Although she has many years of experience, Bond said winning the competition requires more than sheer talent.

“We all have talent,” she said. “We wouldn’t have made it to the cast if we didn’t. Therefore, I don’t think it is a matter of discovering who “has it” and who doesn’t, but rather who can keep on task and on point. As an educator and seasoned professional, I have a thorough set of relevant skills and experiences to draw from and the maturity to implement them.”

After graduating from Stephens with a B.F.A. in Fashion Design, Bond worked as an assistant designer at St. Pucchi in L.A., before starting her own contemporary women’s clothing line in 1999. Eventually, she completed her M.F.A. in Fashion Design through the Academy of Art University’s online fashion program.

Bond has been a featured designer at many shows around Los Angeles and her previous residence of Las Vegas. She also showed at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York in 2012. She has taught for several schools, including The Art Institute of Las Vegas, Otis College of Art and Design in L.A. and Kadenze Inc., which brings together educators, artists and engineers from leading universities across the globe to provide online education in the fields of art and creative technology.

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College reorganizes into three schools

Stephens College has reorganized its majors this academic year into three schools, each focused on providing students with the best learning environment and opportunities. 

“The reorganization does not affect programs, curriculum or faculty,” said Leslie Wiley, vice president of Academic Affairs. “The change is at the leadership and administration level.

“Stephens College administrators, deans and faculty members are always looking for opportunities to serve students better.

Students in the School of Design, led by Dean Monica McMurry, will experience no changes. The School was formed recently through the merger of School of Fashion and Design and the School of Organizational Leadership and Strategic Communication, and is focused on cultivating creative leaders who will thrive in human-centered, market-driven careers.

The School of Health Sciences, led by Dean Susan Muller, will now include the equestrian studies program, the psychology program, human development and the master of education in counseling. These programs will join a school focused on the growing and diverse health sciences industry.

The School of Performing Arts, led by Dean Gail Humphries Mardirosian, will welcome undergraduate programs in English and creative writing, education and digital filmmaking along with the master’s degree in TV and screenwriting. To reflect these changes, the school will also introduce a more comprehensive name: School of Creative and Performing Arts.

“We look forward to rolling out these changes with the new school year and to seeing everything that our amazing schools will accomplish in the 2017-18 school year  - and beyond,” Willey said.  


Schools and programs of study as of 2017/18:


School of Creative and Performing Arts


Digital Filmmaking


English/Creative Writing

Music: Vocal Performance

Musical Theatre

Theatre Arts (6 tracks) 

Theatre Management

Theatrical Costume Design

Master of Fine Arts in TV and Screenwriting 


School of Design

Apparel Studies

Event and Convention Management

Fashion Communication

Fashion Design and Product Development

Fashion Marketing and Management

Graphic Design Communications

Integrated Marketing Communications

 (Minor in Art)


School of Health Sciences 


Equestrian Studies

Exercise Science

Health Information Administration

Health Science (7 tracks)

Human Development


Master of Education in Counseling

Master in Physician Assistant Studies


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Stephens’ theatre program ranked No. 6 in the nation for second consecutive year

The Stephens College theatre program has been ranked No. 6 in the nation for the second consecutive year, according to The Princeton Review

The ranking is part of the new “The Best 382 Colleges: 2018 Edition,” which names Stephens one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduates and places it among the “top 20” in several categories, including Quality of Life.

2018 princeton review“We’re proud to be included in this national list of the ‘best of the best’ of the nation’s colleges and universities,” said Dr. Dianne Lynch, president of Stephens College. “In particular, these rankings reflect Stephens College’s core mission: exceptional academic programs; the best overall college experience for every student—from residential life to access to the administration; positive relationships with our broader community; and a commitment to inclusion and diversity.”  

Stephens was the only local college to make any of the “top 20” lists.

For the first time, Stephens ranked #7 in Town-Gown Relations are Great, #16 for Lots of Race/Class Interaction and #17 in Best Quality of Life.

Dr. Gail Humphries Mardirosian, dean of the School of Performing Arts, said the Stephens theatre program consistently has been recognized in the Top 20 nationwide.

“Stephens has a rich history in the performing arts, and we value the significance of truly robust arts training,” she said. “The ranking indicates the standards of excellence embodied by our students, faculty and staff in performing arts. With more than 60 performance opportunities each year, more than 20 guest artists across all disciplines, and a thoughtful experiential curriculum, we develop students who are well prepared to make a contribution to the arts and the world upon graduation.”

Here’s how The Princeton Review work: It doesn’t rank the colleges from 1 to 382 in any category. Instead, it uses students’ ratings of their schools to compile 62 ranking lists of top 20 colleges in the book in various categories. The lists in this edition are entirely based on The Princeton Review’s survey of 137,000 students (358 per campus on average) attending the colleges. The 80-question survey asks students to rate their schools on several topics and report on their campus experiences at them. Topics range from their assessments of their professors as teachers to opinions about their school’s career services.

‘Your school’s inclusion in the book is solely due to our high opinion of your college’s outstanding academic programs,” said Robert Franek, editor-in-chief of The Princeton Review and author of the guide. “Your school’s appearance on any of the book’s ranking lists is solely due to what students we surveyed at your school reported to us about their opinions of and experiences at your school.”

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Seven Stephens College teams earn NAIA Scholar-Teams Distinction


Republished from the Stephens College Athletics website 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Stephens College Department of Athletics had seven of their eight varsity teams earn the distinction for Scholar-Teams for the 2016-17 academic year, as released by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Office on July 18.

"We are extremely proud of the Star athletics programs that were named NAIA Scholar-Teams," stated Athletic Director Adam Samson. "Our student-athletes had a phenomenal year academically and this recognition reinforces that. Day in, day out, these young women navigate through numerous life challenges all while displaying an excellence and dedication to both their studies and their sport."

The competitive dance team, after competing in the NAIA Nationals for the second consecutive year, finished with the highest cheer and dance GPA out of 34 eligible teams with a 3.53 GPA.

Softball placed fifth in their sport out of 124 eligible teams, finishing the year with a 3.61 GPA. Women's basketball tied for fifth place out of 49 with a 3.49 GPA.

Sporting a department high 3.67 GPA, the cross country team tied for 12th place out of 130 teams.

Tennis finished in a three-way tie for 13th with their 3.58 GPA. Volleyball held a 3.44 GPA and fell 51st on the list out of 141 teams. Golf completed the year with a 3.13 GPA.

As a department, the Stars held a 3.38 GPA for the 2016-17 academic year. Individually, the Stars had 21 NAIA Scholar-Athletes in the academic year.

For a team to be considered for the NAIA Scholar-Team award, it must have a minimum 3.0 grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale) as defined by the institution. The team grade-point average includes all eligible varsity student-athletes through the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters. 

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Leadership Academy provides middle schoolers glimpse of college life


When 13-year-old Ferrah Reid arrived on the Stephens College campus last week, it was the farthest from home she had ever been without her parents and the first time she had flown in a plane.  

But the soon-to-be eighth grader from New York City was determined to leave her comfort zone behind and experience the possibilities of college life.

“I really wanted to do this because I knew it would benefit me and help me grow as a person,” Reid said. “Plus, it will look really good on a high school resume.”

Reid was among 10 middle-school girls from Girls Prep in the Lower East Side and the Bronx who spent a week at Stephens participating in the Public Prep Leadership Academy, now in its sixth year. Participants attended classes, visited the Equestrian Center, slept in a college dorm, and braved a ropes course at the University of Missouri, all while developing leadership skills and getting a glimpse at higher education.

team celebration girls prep

The students also traveled to St. Louis to visit the zoo and tour Busch Stadium with Stephens alumna Lindsey Weber ’08. They played Overwatch in Stephens’ new gaming room, ate S’mores around a bonfire and attended dinner with Stephens President Dianne Lynch.

“The idea is to put the girls in a new environment that might challenge them in new ways and help them discover who they are,” said Ali Kullman, director of high school admissions and college completion at Girls Prep.

To be selected for the Leadership Academy, students entered a competitive application process that involved putting together a resume and cover letter and writing an essay about what they hoped to learn from the experience. The Girls Prep students were expected to demonstrate how they would live out their core values of scholarship, merit, sisterhood and responsibility—values that closely align with Stephens’ Ten Ideals around which this summer’s academy was developed.

Reid said the experience has made her more empathetic toward others.

“I’ve also grown more responsible,” she said.

Sabrina Colon, 13, said the experience has revealed she is far more open to adventure than she ever imagined.

“I don’t usually leave the house much when I’m at home,” she said. “But I came all the way here, and I’m making friends and trying new things.”

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Students present medical cases during Grand Rounds

Physician assistants are trained to examine patients, diagnose injuries and illnesses and provide treatment.

They must also know how to effectively work as a member of a healthcare team and to communicate patient cases to their attending physician.

Grand Rounds is a teaching tool used in the Stephens College Master of Physician Assistant Studies program that gives PA students an opportunity to practice those communication skills and work as part of a team while presenting medical cases to faculty members.

Melissa Lewis, a Stephens PA program staff member, said the importance of honing such skills is sometimes overlooked in PA education, but not at Stephens.

“The faculty for our PA program knew early on that they wanted additional emphasis on these important communications skills and therefore, we hold more Grand Rounds than most schools,” she said, adding that Stephens PA students generally participate in eight to 10 Grand Rounds a semester.

“In its essence,” Lewis said, “Grand Rounds represent a long tradition of teaching.”

The topic for each Grand Rounds is based on the medical cases presented to students during their Case Based Medicine Seminar. The instructor plays the role of a patient with an undiagnosed medical condition. Students then work as teams to take the patient’s medical history, to examine and treat the patient, order and interpret laboratory tests and X-rays and ultimately, to make a diagnoses and treatment plan.

“The student then picks one of these cases to present during Grand Rounds,” Lewis said.

On this day, a team of six students presents a case involving a 62-year-old woman with progressive tremors. During the presentation, faculty members and other students sit in the audience and listen to the case. Later, they ask questions about the presentation.

Eric Johnson, director of the PA Studies program, said although Grand Rounds are part of the PA program, they are open to the entire Stephens community and the general public, and anyone in attendance is encouraged to ask the students questions.

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Camp Citizen Jane empowers young girls to tell their story


Libby Cleavinger couldn’t wait for Camp Citizen Jane.

The 15-year-old from Columbia had finally worked the girls-only film camp into her schedule this summer, and the experience was living up to everything she imagined it to be: fun, challenging and the perfect place to make new friends. 

“I think it’s amazing,” she said. “The environment is so encouraging and creative. You can bond over your love of filmmaking and over everything we’ve learned about the empowerment of women.

At the beginning of the week, I didn’t know anyone here. But now I consider everyone my friend.”

film student and campersCleavinger is one of 18 middle and high school girls who have converged on the Stephens College campus this week to spend five days learning how to tell their stories through film. Cleavinger’s older sister graduated in May from Stephens and had long encouraged her younger sibling to attend the film camp. 

“I’m excited to finally be here,” Cleavinger said.

Camp Citizen Jane, now in its eighth year, is designed to connect young women with the world of film. During their experience, campers have total access to Stephens’ film equipment, students and faculty.

“There is a little bit of media literacy work, lots of discussions about women in media and hands-on work to create a short film,” said Barbie Banks, director of the Citizen Jane Film Festival and the summer camp. 

During the week, campers explore the industry basics of filmmaking, which comprises screenwriting, directing, cinematography, lighting, sound and editing. They also discuss how girls and women are portrayed in life and media.

Eventually, the campers split into “production companies,” in which they learn the roles of director, cinematographer, sound mixing, lighting and in some cases, acting.

Once in their respective production companies, the campers create a narrative film as well as a PSA that will be shown at the Citizen Jane Film Festival, which runs Oct. 26-29. The PSAs will remind viewers to turn off their cell phones and to refrain from talking during the festival films.

“For their short films, each production team of campers is randomly assigned a genre, a line of dialogue, and a prop to make the creative process a little more interesting,” Banks said.

Cleavinger’s team scored a stuffed reindeer head as its prop. And like any creative production team, the campers cleverly wrote the prop into their script, making the stuffed reindeer head a treasured family heirloom that is stolen but then rescued by a brave heroine. Of course, there’s a ransom note and plenty of theatrics.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Fin Crowder, 15, of Columbia, who’s at camp for a second summer.

This is also the second summer Molly Murphy ’18, a digital filmmaking major at Stephens, has volunteered at the camp. This year, she is working with the youngest production team, a spirited group of 10-year-olds.

“It’s very rewarding,” Murphy said. “They’re really enthusiastic and all so creative.”

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Stephens College names vice president for finance and administration

Stephens College has named Timothy Klocko to the position of vice president for finance and administration. He replaces John Shipley, who had served as interim VPFA since October. 

Klocko, who began work on July 10, is back in familiar territory after having served at Stephens from 2001-09 as controller, and then vice president for finance and administration. He also served as interim president in June 2003.

“Tim brings to Stephens an outstanding background in higher education finance, business process redesign, investment, financial aid, strategic planning, human resources, facilities, dining services, auxiliary operations and risk management—plus, he knows and loves Stephens College,” said Stephens President Dianne Lynch. “Our colleagues who worked with Tim remember him as a great manager—of both people and processes—a team player, a creative problem solver who never loses his cool, and a man of his word.”

Klocko says he is happy to back on campus and looks forward to his new role as VPFA.

“Not only does it allow me to return to an institution that I love, but it also allows me to return to my roots geographically,” he said. “I’ve been inspired to return to Stephens because I admire the direction that Stephens is moving. Dianne Lynch has been focusing on moving Stephens in a strategic direction that will not only benefit the school in the near future but will also continue to carry Stephens into the future.”

Klocko previously served as vice president for finance and treasurer at Sweet Briar College. Prior to that, he worked for almost seven years at Thomas University in Thomasville, Ga., where he served as vice president for finance and administration, and later as senior vice president. Before his first stint at Stephens, Klocko worked for the Columbia Public School District and Grand View College in Des Moines, Iowa, where he was controller as well as a professor of business administration. He also was an instructor at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Tarkio College in Tarkio, Missouri.

Klocko said that his experiences since leaving Stephens in 2009 have allowed him to see the inner workings of two other institutions and to better understand the complexities of higher education.

He holds an M.B.A. with an accounting emphasis and a B.S. in Accounting and Finance, both from Northwest Missouri State University. 

Klocko is joined by his wife of 36 years, Beverly. They have one child, Douglas, who just graduated from Brookwood School in Thomasville, Ga., and will be attending Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, in the fall.

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Equestrian overnight camp gives young riders immersive saddle seat experience

Gwyneth Hamrah got hooked on horses when she was 5.

A friend had invited Hamrah, now 16, to join her at a horse camp. The Columbia teenager has been riding ever since, often traveling across the country to participate in American Saddlebred competitions.

“I just really like working with the animals,” she said.

equestrian camper in barnHamrah is just the kind of young, experienced saddle seat rider Stephens College had in mind when it designed its Equestrian Overnight Experience: Saddleseat camp, now in its third year. Hamrah was among seven teenage girls from across the country who spent seven days last week immersed in riding, field trips and exploration of equestrian industry careers.

The campers, most of who knew each other from the horse show circuit, stayed in Tower Hall.

“All of the campers are serious show riders who are invested in the sport,” said Kelly Hulse, camp director and assistant professor of equestrian studies at Stephens. 

Many of the campers said they knew Hulse from the horse show circuit, which made working with her at camp even more fulfilling. They also enjoyed the opportunity to ride a wide variety of horses during the weeklong camp. 

“Kelly knows what we need to work on, and she also knows all the horses in the barn and can pair us with the horse best suited to helping us develop the skills we need,” said Kali Lachner, 16, from Omaha, Neb.

Lachner and Hamrah were among four riders who’ve participated in the overnight camp every year it’s been offered. Several are considering coming to Stephens once they graduate from high school.

“I love this camp because we get the chance to ride so many different horses,” Hamrah said. 

Camille Talkington, 15, from the greater Kansas City area, said she enjoys visiting professional horse farms and learning about the industry. 

“If you want to make this a career and make connections, camps like this help,” Talkington said.

Campers visited Fairview Farm in New Bloomfield as well as High Spirits Farm in Ashland, which is owned and operated by Stephens alumnae Anna Marie Knipp.

“The girls get to see a big horse operation up close,” Hulse said. “They can talk with the trainers and watch them work.”

Campers also participate in various barn activities, which included learning how to set up a tack room, a makeshift enclosure of boards, curtains and zip ties used to store saddles, bridles and other equipment during shows. Tack rooms are generally set up by the trainers, but Hulse wanted the campers to know the work that goes on behind the scenes that riders sometimes take for granted. 

With a pile of long narrow boards, curtains, zip ties and staple guns, the campers split into tow teams and went to work. Hulse and three camp counselors sat down to watch as the campers scrambled to put the pieces together.

“This is hard!” one camper shouted.

As Hulse smiled, she said: “We want them to know the work that goes into this.”

Besides riding, training and exploring the horse industry, campers also enjoyed the camaraderie of hanging out with other teenagers who understand their sport and share their desire to ride.

“I’ll tell people at school that I ride and they’ll be like, ‘oh, I’ve ridden a horse before on a dude ranch,’” Lachner said. “I try to be nice about it, but they don’t seem to understand that this is our sport.”

The campers agreed that a passion for horses and competing in the ring is tough to explain to the uninitiated.

“It’s one of those sports that once you’re in it, you can’t get out,” said Emma Wood, 17, of Oklahoma City.

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Stephens alumna Shelby McCoy ’15 has dream job with Budweiser Clydesdales


Since the time she was a young girl, Shelby McCoy ’15 saw the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales as the celebrities of the horse world.

Today, she works as a handler for one of the traveling teams that takes care of the iconic gentle giants. Of her seven-member team stationed in Merrimack, N.H., McCoy is notably the only woman.

She credits Stephens with helping her dream up to land the position.

“I have never once been intimidated by the job,” says McCoy, who graduated in 2015 with a degree in equestrian studies from Stephens College. “I had three years of support at Stephens College, where I was surrounded by people who told me over and over, ‘You can do it!’ All of those people helped me get to where I wanted to be.”

Shelby and SonnyIn her role, she drives one of the team’s three 50-foot tractor-trailers used to haul its 10 horses, the famous red, white and gold beer wagon and other essential equipment. On show days, which can last up to 12 hours long, she helps prepare the horses, wagon and Barley the Dalmatian. She also cleans the trucks, sorts equipment and ensures the Clydesdales are back in their stalls, brushed, fed and watered.

Sara Linde Patel ’02, equestrian studies program coordinator and a hunter/jumper instructor at Stephens, isn’t surprised by McCoy’s success.

“Shelby took advantage of every opportunity the equestrian program offers all its students,” says Patel, adding McCoy had no qualms about joining the stable crew and working long hours. “She cleaned stalls, fed and watered the horses and worked during breaks.”

So when McCoy later asked Patel for a letter of recommendation, she was more than happy to help her former student become a handler for a team of Budweiser Clydesdales.

“It was so easy to write about her passion, work ethic and love of horses,” Patel says. “It was easy to say why Shelby would be phenomenal for the job.”

The letter certainly helped, but so did McCoy’s dogged determination.

Before securing her post with the Clydesdales, McCoy started her career with Anheuser-Busch straight out of college at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis, the former Busch family estate and home to more than 100 species of animals.

In the beginning, McCoy worked in merchandizing but was soon outdoors mowing grass, all the while asking about jobs with the horses. Four months later, a full-time position opened with the Clydesdales.

McCoy applied.

The job was a dream come true for the horse lover, whose family settled in Marshall, Mo., when she was 13.

“I remember thinking, ‘Man, nothing would be cooler than working with the Clydesdales,’” she says.

McCoy was 7 when she received her first horse, Pepper, a 30-year-old pony who lived on a farm in Kentucky where she was taking riding lessons. Though he appeared tall to young McCoy, Pepper was short for a pony. He had a dark reddish-brown coat peppered with white and a coal-black mane and tail. 

Because her father was in the military, McCoy’s family moved often. But riding horses gave her an instant connection, no matter where she lived.

“I really loved doing it and had a passion for it from the beginning,” she says.

By age 10, McCoy was traveling to horse shows around the country to compete in Western-style riding events. She had a new Quarter Horse named Sonny, who she earned one summer in exchange for training, cleaning stalls and taking care of horses at a stable.

Years later, Sonny, a brown horse with white legs and a big personality, would come with McCoy to Stephens, where together they trained, and he lived in the campus stables. She still owns Sonny, who is spending his golden years at a private stable in Columbia.

As for her team of Clydesdales, McCoy loves them all, but she has a soft spot for a 7-year-old lead horse named Ivan. Like Sonny, he’s a born star. 

“When we’re out showing, he likes to look at the crowds and shake his head,” McCoy says. “He’ll show his teeth, and people think he is smiling. Ivan has a sense of pride when we put on his harness.

He holds his head high, snorts and says, ‘I’m here to do my job!’”

Jeff Knapper, general manager of Clydesdale operations for Anheuser-Busch, says besides McCoy’s team in New Hampshire, two other hitch teams are based in Fort Collins, Colo., and St. Louis. Each team is made up of seven employees.

“Because the Clydesdales are an enduring symbol of Budweiser’s heritage, tradition and commitment to quality, we look for enthusiastic and passionate people who love horses and are also committed to providing quality care,” Knapper says. 

Each team member completes extensive training before joining one of the Clydesdales teams. They make hundreds of appearances each year and draw crowds wherever they go.

With her team, McCoy has traveled to such places as Game 7 of the 2016 World Series in Cleveland, where fans lined the streets for a chance to see the Clydesdales.

The team also appeared in New York City recently to reenact the delivery of beer to local bars, marking the anniversary of the 1933 repeal of Prohibition.

“The more people who are there, the more excited the horses get,” McCoy says. “They really like the attention; it’s a lot of fun.”

What McCoy likes best about working with horses is the unspoken bond that develops once she has earned their trust.

“I love being able to communicate without ever saying a word,” she says. “Horses aren’t like dogs and cats; they are mysterious and have a sense of wildness about them. You have to earn their respect and trust before having a great connection with them. What has always drawn me to horses is that quiet connection.”

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Vocal Performance student explores business side of music in Las Vegas


Perhaps it’s fate that Dana Degnan ’17 is interning with Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas this summer, learning the ropes of arts administration from the best in the business while rubbing elbows with the likes of Wayne Newton and Donny and Marie Osmond.  

After all, as the daughter of an accomplished jazz musician, she grew up being lulled by the sounds of Ella Fitzgerald, the first lady of song, and Frank Sinatra.

Vegas is the perfect place for Degnan, a vocal performance major at Stephens College, to explore her professional ambitions.

“I have never done anything like this in my life,” she said. “But I have really enjoyed the experience because it has reaffirmed that this is what I want to do. I hope that in the coming years, I can have a successful career in entertainment.”

That’s the whole idea behind the second-summer apprenticeships tailored specifically for each student majoring in vocal performance in the Stephens vocal arts-music program. Students in the three-year, two-summer degree program spend at least 300 hours, during the summer after their second year, expanding their musical horizons through traineeships unique to their professional interests.

vocal performance studentsBesides Degnan, three other vocal performance majors are participating in summer apprenticeships. Rachel Cornell ’18 (pictured top) is exploring the business of jazz at the “We Always Swing” Jazz Series in Columbia while Emma Wicks ’18  (pictured middle) is learning how to be a freelance singer, songwriter and performer in the Okoboji (Iowa) area. Finally, Lauren Harmon ’18 (pictured bottom), who’s interested in classical music and musicology, is attending an Alexander Technique workshop in North Carolina and taking part in Summer Singers at Mizzou and La Traviata by Verde with the Missouri Symphony Society.

The students are among the first cohort in the vocal arts-music program. Last summer, the students explored their craft in a Summer Music Institute in which they engaged in

hands-on performances with guest artists, including country singer Candy Coburn and Show Me Opera’s Christine Seitz, and faculty who are practicing professional musicians.

Program Coordinator Rusty Elder, Associate Professor Pam Ellsworth-Smith and Tom Andes, an instructor, wanted to enhance their students’ musical repertoires during their second summer by providing them with apprenticeships unique to their interests and talents.

“What is wonderful about our music program is we can actually know every one of our students,” Andes said.

Degnan, who is from Villa Park, Ill., decided to pursue a career in the music industry after she won a spot on “The American Idol Experience” at Walt Disney World while on a family trip. Though she still enjoys singing and performing, Degnan would prefer a career on the business side of the music industry.

“I’ve learned during my apprenticeship at Caesars that working in the entertainment business is just as exhausting and rewarding as working in the performing arts,” she said. “Both sides work extremely hard; it’s just a different kind of work.”

At Caesars Entertainment, Degnan has been paired with the vice president of entertainment operations and has worked on creating new and exciting shows on the Las Vegas strip, where Caesars owns nine properties. She also works on projects, fills out paperwork and often comes in at night to assist or shadow employees working on shows.

“I think most of my family and friends expected I would be meeting and working with famous people every day,” she said. “That’s only a small part of the work. What I’m really learning is how to make sure that celebrities’ or performers’ showrooms are perfect for them and how to get more people in to see them.”

Before interning in Vegas, Degnan had planned to work in Chicago after graduation. Now, she’s eyeing a career in Las Vegas.

Cornell, who is from Columbia, has been impressed with the jazz musicians she’s researching for the upcoming “We Always Swing” Jazz Series. Among her duties are writing biographies about the artists for the jazz series’ brochure, and what she’s discovering is inspiring her to consider singing professionally. 

“Reading how they made it makes the business seem possible,” Cornell said. “A lot of these jazz musicians have a few things in common: They put themselves out there, they practiced, networked and actually played to build up a following.  

“I think the biggest thing I’ve learned, “ she added, “is procrastinating will get me nothing.” 

Wicks, who grew up in Spencer, Iowa, where she began teaching herself piano chords at the age of 8, isn’t sure being a professional performer is her true calling. 

“Music is not the only thing that I wake up every day wanting to work on,” she said. “I am an artist in so many different aspects: drawing, writing, video production and editing, photography, editing, music production, fashion and really just about anything creative.” 

Still, this summer’s experience as a solo musician has opened her eyes to the possibility and what it would take to build a music career. She’s learning to haul her own equipment, collaborate with other musicians, promote herself online and with business cards, record her own music and write set lists.

She even had a chance to perform at a show along with Nashville star Shawn Mayer.

“It was kind of crazy, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re a live performer,” said Wicks, who added most of her performances have been on a much smaller scale. 

“Still, I’ve learned through playing these small gigs that nothing is truly a small experience,” she said. “In fact, all these experiences added together have made me much better in such a short amount of time.”

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Stephens School of Design rises in national Fashion-Schools rankings


The Stephens College School of Design has risen three places in the ranks to become the #12 Private Fashion Design School or College in the nation, according to, which released its fifth annual list.

Stephen’s fashion design program also rose nine places to be named #22 nationally and up two places to be recognized as #6 in the Midwest by the national website.

“The newly released rankings show the fashion program at Stephens College continues to increase its global footprint as a fashion school of choice to learn from the best and brightest faculty and practicing professionals,” said Dr. Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design. “Fashion-Schools looks at curriculum, faculty, staff, facilities, outreach and industry contacts or partnerships and job success rate. Being in the top 20 percent is an honor as each of the schools were to rank who they considered to be the best of the best.”

Among the reasons for the high rankings were study trips to international fashion capitals and opportunities to intern at places such as Escada, Cosmopolitan, Baby Phat and WWD as well as participation in The Collections juried fashion show. 

“I believe the Stephens College fashion program shines because of our involvement or rankings with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund and The Business of Fashion, London,” McMurry said. “Students gain an international perspective of the quickly changing fashion landscape by being part of these organizations and having a diverse faculty with members who are doing international research/projects.

McMurry added that students are also given the opportunity to work one-on-one with industry professionals and faculty who have all worked in the fashion industry.

“Our new Jeannene Booher Fashion Lecture series is providing students and the community a chance to hear from major players, such as Dame Zandra Rhodes, in the world of fashion,” she said.   

Stephens was also recognized by Fashion-Schools for student access to the Historic Costume Museum and Research Library with its 13,000-piece collection.

“The collaboration of fashion programing within the School of Design’s other programs in strategic communication and event and convention management make for a truly real-world, team, collegial experience additionally realized through new initiatives in design thinking embedded in our students’ course of study,” McMurry said. “Our increased rankings, in each of the measured areas, is due to our outstanding faculty who stay abreast of best practices and the global context to train the next generation of fashion leaders.” 

The Stephens College School of Design and its fashion program have also been recognized by The Business of Fashion, London, and The College is considered a Top 381 College by The Princeton Review. 

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Musical revue to wrap-up six-week summer theatre intensive

Students in the Summer Theatre Institute (STI) are preparing for their grand finale, “Crazy for Broadway: A Musical Revue,” a three-musicals-in-one production that is the pinnacle of their fast-paced, high-intensity six-week experience. 

The show promises to be a crowd-pleaser.

“What makes this show special is that it is less story-driven and more about treating the audience to spectacular singing and dancing,” said Trent Rash, assistant professor of music at Stephens College and director and music director for the show. “For the students, it gives them the opportunity to hone their skills as dancers and singers in a company ensemble.”

Crazy for Broadway posterThe show includes mini versions of “Crazy for You,” a romantic comedy musical by George Gershwin; “Little Women,” a 21st century musical based on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel; and “Hairspray,” an American musical with music by Marc Shaiman.

The soon-to-be-second-year students have had two weeks to learn the music, dances and additional staging for each song. But at this point in the summer program, the students are accustomed to the rigorous pace and have plunged head-first into the final production.

“I knew it would be a lot of hard work, and I was right,” said Lili Marean, 19, an acting major with a musical theatre emphasis from Louisville, Ky. “But it’s been a good kind of hard work.” 

STI brings top-notch guest artists to campus to provide students with state-of-the-art theatrical education that culminates in five fully staged shows. Choreographer David Ollington is the guest artist for the Broadway finale.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind program,” said Lamby Hedge, artistic director of STI and an associate professor of theatre at Stephens. “We have compressed an entire semester into six intense weeks. The students learn so much and grow so quickly that by the time they are done with STI, they are ready to come back for year two in the fall, more focused and ready to face intermediate work.”

This summer, guest artists have provided students with professional instruction in acting, physical theatre, devising, stage combat, musical theatre performance techniques, commedia dell’arte, voice, theatre-dance and fitness. Classes also were held in technical theatre and theatre design, costuming, public relations and theatre management.

“Students spend 35 to 40 hours with each guest, which is a dream scenario if you are an artist,” Hedge said.

Hope Peña, 18, an acting major from Orlando, Fla., was concerned learning stage combat might overwhelm her, but the experience turned out to be her favorite intensive of the summer.

“I fell in love with it,” she said. “The artist we had was amazing, and the techniques he taught blew my mind.”

Peña said she has broadened her skill set this summer and learned to be more open to the possibilities of new experiences.

“I’m physically and mentally stronger,” she said.

For Hannah Sutton, 19, an acting major from Gardner, Kan., STI pushed the limits of her acting abilities and helped her build confidence as a singer and dancer.

“I’m traditionally an actor, not a singer or dancer, but at STI, everyone sings and dances,” she said. “STI helped me to develop those areas and to realize that I will need those skills to be competitive in the business.”

Sutton also enjoyed learning more about the business side of the theatre industry and arts advocacy.

Rash said it’s gratifying to see students benefit from the summer program. 

“They have all, in their own unique ways, grown tremendously in their skills and confidence as performers of musical theatre,” he said.

STI is part of what makes earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts at Stephens possible in three years and two summers. The summer after their second year, theatre students attend Okoboji Summer Theatre, a professional summer stock theatre in Spirit Lake, Iowa that is celebrating 60 years this summer. The Stephens theatre program is ranked No. 6 in the country by The Princeton Review.


Crazy for Broadway (Family friendly)

Monday, June 19, 2017

7:30 p.m.

Macklanburg Playhouse, 100 Willis Ave.

Free and open to the public.

Arrive early. Seats fill quickly. 

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CoMo Girls Rock! camp teaches empowerment through creative expression, social awareness


This isn’t your typical summer camp—and that’s exactly what participants love about CoMo Girls Rock!, which is taking place this week on the Stephens College campus.

Here is where 24 campers are building self-esteem and finding their voices through unique programming that combines music education and performance, empowerment and social justice workshops, positive role models, and collaboration and leadership skill building.

rock show posterThroughout the week, campers, who are grades 7-12, learn an instrument, start a band and write an original song.

Now in its fifth year, the camp culminates on Saturday, June 10, 2017, with a live rock show at 2 p.m. at The Blue Note in downtown Columbia, featuring performances of the campers’ original songs. The show is open to the public, and admission is $10.

Luci Cook, one of the camp’s organizers, said 40 volunteers who run the camp provide mentorship and facilitate a space where campers can be themselves.

“Every day there is a theme such as ‘Rockin’ Together,’ and the day’s activities and workshops support that theme,” Cook said.

Each day campers attend instrument instruction, band practice and two workshops, among other surprise activities like dance parties, open mic and karaoke. Among the workshops this week were discussions about sexism in advertising, self-love and songwriting. 

Campers have the opportunity to learn guitar, drums, bass or keyboard, or to focus on vocals. After forming a band with up to five fellow campers, they then name the band and design a logo, which is stamped onto a camp T-shirt and worn during the live performance.

High schoolers Alexis Harper and Lauren Stokes, both of Columbia, are members of a band they dubbed Deep Sea Veins. Harper is learning drums while Stokes is working to master guitar. While designing a logo for their band, the teenagers took a risk with their band T-shirts by slicing off the sleeves and adding a V-neck. Stokes even cut fringe into the bottom of her shirt. 

“I love all the opportunities to be creative and learn new things about the world,” Stokes said about the camp.

Cook said CoMo Girls Rock! is part of the Girls Rock Camp Alliance, which supports dozens of similar camps with the same mission around the world. The alliance values diversity of age, race, economic status, gender expression, size, physical ability, developmental ability, musical interests, learning styles, nationality, religion, thought, citizenship status and sexual orientation.

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