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School of Performing Arts hosts high school students for an Afternoon with the Bard

“Shakespeare has a huge vat of riches, fun and drama – everything we love,” said Lisa Brescia, a Stephens College visiting guest artist in acting, to the students who joined her and others today for “An Afternoon with the Bard: Shakespeare in Action”.Students from three area schools came to Stephens College School of Performing Arts on Tuesday to explore Shakespeare for a contemporary society, and what it takes to bring a well-loved but more than 400-year-old play to life.

Brescia, who has performed on Broadway in “Mamma Mia!,” and “Aida,” worked with small groups on diction and speaking for the stage. Brescia is also the director for the Stephens College Playhouse Theatre Company’s production of “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and is teaching acting courses here this semester. 

Dean Gail Humphries Mardirosian led sessions on text and character connections.

“To understand text from another time, you have to look for the meaning behind the text—the subtext.” she said.

A third session explored scenic design, lighting and costuming – essential components for bringing the play to the modern stage. How that happens, what goes into to creating a set – and why – were discussed in the interactive session.  

Students were welcomed from Hickman and Battle high schools and Gentry middle school to the actual rehearsal and performances spaces that Stephens College students use, and had the opportunity to meet current students in the program as well.

The event was one of several tied to the current production of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" which continues Feb. 12 and 13. 

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Stephens hosts high school women for Health Professions Day

Local high school students came to Stephens College campus today to explore careers in the health professions, learn about health and wellness topics, and gain hands-on laboratory experience. 

“These young women are interested in pursing a career in the health science field, but they may not understand all of their options,” explained Suzan Harkness, Vice President of Academic Affairs for Stephens, “moreover, they may not know how to best prepare for college while they are still in high school. Taking the right sequence of courses in high school will ensure they are on the right track as they plan for and prepare for college.

“We hope that today gave them a taste of their options and opportunities,” she said.

Dean Susan Muller, faculty and undergraduate volunteers from the School of Health Science shared their expertise in health and wellness with chemical laboratory testing of foods and interactive presentations on the effects of nutrition and stress.

Representatives from Boone Hospital Center shared a diversity of career experiences in a panel discussion. Joining Stephens from Boone Hospital were Deanna Powers, RN-Patient Care Manager; Sharilyn Reedy, MSN-Clinical Staff Educator; and Teri Kaune, BS, PHR-Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist. The panel talked about hands-on patient care roles as well as the business and administration side of healthcare.

The director of Stephens’ Master in Physician Assistant program also spoke about that career path and Stephens’ career center staff provided additional perspectives.

Current Stephens students who are members of Tri-Beta Honors Society also assisted with the activities, and escorted visiting students around the Stephens campus. Visiting students were from Hickman, Rock Bridge and Battle high schools and sponsored by the schools’ AVID and EEE programs.



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Starlets capture first place at Stephens Dance & Cheer Challenge

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director

Rising to the occasion, the Stephens College competitive dance team took home top honors at the second annual Stephens College Dance & Cheer Challenge Saturday afternoon. The Starlets topped American Midwest Conference foes Missouri Baptist University and Lindenwood University-Belleville for their first gold of 2016.

Fixing mistakes from last weekend’s competitions, Stephens turned in a top-notch performance at Silverthorne Arena. With a final score of 90.85, the Starlets won by a significant 15-point margin over their next-closest competitor. Missouri Baptist edged the Lynx Line from Lindenwood-Belleville by a slim 0.60 points at 74.85 overall.

The Starlets won over all three dance judges with its energetic routine garnering scores of 86.00, 91.00 and a competition-high 96.00 points.

In the cheerleading competition, LU-Belleville snagged first place with a final score of 77.83. Missouri Baptist finished second with 71.92 points.

The Starlets now have two weeks to prepare for their NAIA Qualifying Competition. Placed in the South Regional, Stephens heads to Oklahoma City, Okla. on Feb. 18-19 and will vie for one of three automatic bids for the NAIA Cheer & Dance National Invitational in March.


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Writers on the Edge guest author shares advice on getting published

Stephens College English/Creative Writing program recently hosted novelist Laura McHugh as part of the ongoing Writers on the Edge series. The award-winning author of “The Weight of Blood” shared her journey as a first time novelist, offering advice to students and guests about the process of submitting work, getting an agent, and negotiating the terrain of the world of publication.

Of special interest to the audience of writers and readers was McHugh’s experiences seeking agent representation. She shared her less-than-successful query letters as well as a sample of a more successful one that interested multiple agents, including the one currently representing her work. “An important part of a good query letter is how well you describe your novel,” she said. McHugh also suggested that writers look at other work that is similar to their own so agents might have a better idea of where your work fits in the current market.

“It was a great event,” said Kate Berneking Kogut, associate professor of English/Creative Writing. “A wonderful opportunity for us to hear about the experiences of a talented writer.”

“The Weight of Blood,” published by Spiegel and Grau, was a winner of the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel. It was also a Barry Award Nominee for Best First Novel and was named One the of the Best Books of the Year by Bookpage.

McHugh’s second novel, “Arrowood,” also published by Spiegel and Grau, is due out in July.

The English/Creative Writing program’s next event is “Sparking Words” a workshop with Visiting Writer Tara Betts, Sunday, Feb. 7, 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Dudley 225. Every writer welcome!

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Contemporary documentary class hosts award-winning director

“There is always a deeper truth.”

Those were the words of Nick Berardini (pictured far right), the director, writer and producer of the contemporary documentary, “Killing Them Safely”. He joined Assistant Professor Chase Thompson’s contemporary documentary film class for a Q&A with filmmaking students on Thursday. 

His documentary examines Taser International, the company responsible for the worldwide sale of Tasers to law enforcement, and was released in November. It has since been named a Tribeca Film Festival Official Selection (Nominated Best Documentary Feature), Hot Docs Film Festival Official Selection, and a Sundance Selects.

He talked to the class about bias in the filmmaking process and urged them to be aware of their personal bias as they pursue their own documentary projects. “There is a bias in how you film, what you say is a reflection of you,” he said, urging students to consider the “ethical dilemmas of truth” because no documentary can be truly free from bias.

The class also explored trends in the documentary film industry including the growing popularity of episodic documentaries including “Making a Murderer.” They also discussed the need for and interest in “seeing people as real people not fictionalized version of people” and exploring “the complexity of human nature”.

“Journalism is best suited for information. Movies are completely different, they are about human nature and the question ‘Why do people do the things that they do?,’” added Berardini, who was a University of Missouri broadcast journalism major. There he learned to not give up, but instead to be persistent, when you need a source, he told the class.

When it comes to finding truth in interviews, he said, “Let them speak for themselves. Let them tell the story the way they want to.” 

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Scholarship essay contest winners announced by Office of Financial Aid

The Stephens College Office of Financial Aid recently awarded $500 in scholarships to three students selected on the merits of an essay application. Rachel Cooper, Gigi Kreibich and Erin Gately were named the winners of the contest and were presented with their scholarships immediately.  The essay contest focused on topics related to financial aid.

“I’m honored and excited to receive the financial aid essay scholarship and plan to put the funds toward professional clothing for interviews, so I can positively represent the incredible institution that is Stephens College,” said senior Rachel Cooper. 

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be selected as the recipient for the sophomore scholarship!” said Erin Gately, sophomore scholarship recipient.

Junior Gigi Kreibich wished to thank the Office of Financial Aid.

“Thanks to Financial Aid team for doing great educational work on managing college finances and making college possible for so many,” she said.

The scholarship was funded by a scholarship fund that the Stephens College Financial Aid team received after attending a meeting of the Missouri Association of Student Financial Aid Professionals this Fall.

“We saw this as an excellent opportunity to give back to our students. Working with students and families to make Stephens College and a quality college education affordable is our calling and we know that every little bit helps,” said Kim Stonecipher-Fisher, director of Financial Aid.

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Dates and preliminary line up set for Stephens Summer Dance

Dates have been set for the six-week intensive course that brings dance students to Stephens College campus each summer to study with internationally and nationally recognized guest artists and resident faculty.

“Our Summer Dance program allows students to interact intensively with exceptional dance professionals from all facets of the dance industry,” says Brandi Coleman, artistic director for the intensive. 

“For summer 2016, we are excited by the slate of faculty we expect and the opportunities they will bring to our students,” says Coleman. Guest faculty currently expected include Charissa Barton, Dance for Camera; Elizabeth Johnson, dual certified teacher of the Alexander Technique, founder and artistic director of Your Mother Dances, and a visiting professor at Texas Tech University; Jon Lehrer, founder and artistic director of Lehrerdance and former performer, associate director and choreographer for Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago; and Nancy Stoy, who will teach ballet and pedagogy.

Coleman was a guest instructor at the intensive last summer and currently serves as a visiting guest artist with the Stephens College School of Performing Arts.  

“After six weeks of immersive study with our guest faculty, our students demonstrate remarkable growth as artists and professionals,” says Dean of the School of Performing Arts Gail Humphries Mardirosian. “In addition to enhancing their technical proficiency in a multitude of genres, they continue to develop their skills as performers and creative artists by participating in nightly choreography rehearsals as well as the final two-night main stage productions.”

The complete six-week session, which includes college credit, will run May 11–June 25. High school student who have completed their junior year (and above) can join the program for a three-week session including June 6-25. Students outside of Stephens College are welcome to participate, however, all students must audition.

Stephens Summer Dance is part of the College’s B.F.A. in Dance program that allows students to earn their degree in three years and two summers.


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Middle school girls explore genetics at Stephens College


For 22 middle school girls, this past Saturday featured an exciting science-packed morning of genetics exploration at Stephens College. The “Saturday Science for Girls” event was held for students in the Jefferson Middle School Adventures in Science Club.

Dr. Erin Sellner in the Stephens School of Health Sciences, taught the two-hour college laboratory experience in the E.S. Pillsbury Science Center on campus.

With the assistance of three undergraduate Stephens students—Gabrielle Finley, Gigi Kreibich and Brittany Lucas—Sellner led the middle-schoolers in two lab activities: one that included visualizing DNA and the other genetic variation.

During the first activity, the students extracted DNA in the form of chromatin from strawberries by disrupting the cell and nuclear membranes and ethanol precipitation. They got the chance to use a vortex and compound light microscopes.

In the second activity, students used M&Ms to demonstrate the random inheritance of alleles in a multigenerational pedigree to simulate genetic variation.

“They loved learning at their own pace in a no-pressure environment,” says Debbie Brunner, Executive Director of the Academy of Health Sciences at Stephens, who arranged the Science Saturday.

She said they found the environment at Stephens to be both “supportive” and “accepting” and learned that “making mistakes was okay.”

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Stephens honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Diversity Conference

“We are not taking the day off, we are taking the day on,” said Stephens College Diversity Conference speaker Sean Olmstead, coordinator of the LGBTQ Resource Center, University of Missouri, echoing a sentiment shared throughout campus today as Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated with activities designed to promote inclusion and understanding.

For juniors and seniors, the day included a Diversity Conference sponsored by the Center for Career and Professional Development. Students chose from workshops centered around creating safe spaces, exploring diversity and inclusion through active listening and productive dialogue, and working in an increasingly diverse environment.

“What will the world look like when you head down your career paths? What will it feel like when you’re at the table with people with different experiences and backgrounds of all kinds?” asked Stacye Smith, director of human resources at Shelter Insurance Companies. The challenge came as part of a panel that focused on creating and sustaining a diverse network and working with an increasingly diverse population. The panel also included Dr. Amanda Andrade, chief people officer at Veterans United Home Loans and Lorelai Wilson, united initiator at Veterans United Home Loans.

“You need to be willing to have a conversation with someone different from you. Trust me, the person that seems the most different will have something in common with you,” Smith said. The workshop continued by pointing out that there will be five generations working side-by-side when today’s students graduate, and urged students to find common ground. “Seek first to understand before asking to be understood,” she said.  

Speaker Stan Hudson, associate director at the center for health policy at the University of Missouri held an interactive session that challenged students and faculty in attendance to share words related to “diversity.” Then the participants broke into pairs and small groups to share personal thoughts and experiences about those words. Learning to “step back and listen,” “connect person-to-person” and “get out of the comfort zone” were some of the results of the exercise. 

A third session, led by Olmstead, used stars to represent coming-out experiences from the LGBTQ community and challenged students to “be a point on the star for someone else.”

“All oppression is connected,” he said. “You can’t be an ally to one group and not the other.”

In her keynote presentation, Stefani Weeden-Smith (pictured above left), program director for the National Conference for Community and Justice of Metropolitan St. Louis, challenged the audience to look at where they grew up and explore their own biases. She urged the group to “enter into new conversations across borders by visiting a new neighborhood; church, temple or mosque; or even a new restaurant.

“Find a way to change your corner of the world,” she said.  

Stephens College President Dianne Lynch and Vice President of Academic Affairs Suzan Harkness also spoke at the event.

Concurrent to the conference, first-year and sophomore students participated in service projects benefitting Rainbow House, Room at the Inn, The Bluffs Nursing Home and the Ronald McDonald House. Other events planned for the week include an evening celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Peace Walk to be held Tuesday, and numerous student group-led sessions covering a wide range of topics related to diversity and inclusion. 

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Heggemann scores 1,000th career point

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director

Entering Tuesday night’s game at Park University, senior Dana Heggemann needed only seven points to reach the prestigious mark of 1,000 career points. There was just one minor roadblock in her path to the 1,000th point. The 6-foot center saw just 14 minutes of action due to first- and second-half foul trouble.

Before taking a seat on the bench, Heggemann went 2-for-2 in the first half with five points. Unfortunately, an early foul in the third quarter forced head coach Ray Fron to save the senior captain for the fourth quarter. She was still two points shy.

The final period didn’t lack excitement for a Stephens-heavy crowd at Breckon Sports Center in Parkville, Mo. Despite a heartbreaking 63-60 loss on a last-second shot, the Stars still had several reasons to hang their heads high. The steady progress made by Stephens basketball program was evident on Tuesday and was highlighted by Heggemann’s 1,000th career point.

Just as Park had closed within one, Angelica Medrano found an open Heggemann under the hoop for her monumental make. With 7:07 remaining, Heggemann recorded her 1,000th career point.

Heggemann, who currently leads Stephens this season with 10.8 points per game, became the third player in program history to reach the milestone. She joins Tia LaFavor (2007-10) and Jessica Platt (2000-03) in the 1,000-point club and is now tied with LaFavor for second all-time in scoring at 1,000 on the dot. Platt ranks at the top of the list with 1,127 career points.

Ray Fron, who has had the pleasure of coaching Heggemann for two seasons now, says that the senior has made the most of her time on the court.

“Reaching 1,000 career points is a huge milestone and it’s a testament to her productivity and understanding of the game,” head coach Ray Fron said. “Dana is a leader for us and really epitomizes a Stephens College student-athlete as well as what the NAIA is all about.”

Tuesday’s feat is yet another bullet point for Heggemann’s decorated career. The Warrenton, Mo. native earned AMC All-Conference Honorable Mention and Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete honors in 2014-15, and is a three-time AMC Academic All-Conference honoree. Prior to her junior year, Dana was named the 2014 AMC and NAIA Emil S. Liston Award winner, given out to the top junior basketball student-athlete in the areas of academics, athletics and character.

Coinciding with Heggemann’s 100th game played in a Stars’ uniform, the Athletics Department will recognize the 1,000th point prior to Thursday’s contest at home against Lindenwood University-Belleville. Tip-off for the AMC matchup is 7 p.m. at Silverthorne Arena.


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Jackson to be honored at Black Women Rock! event

Senior Brianna Jackson is being honored at Black Women Rock!, a celebration of the contributions of African American women in the Columbia area.

Jackson is up for the “M.A.D.: Making A Difference” Award at the Black Women Rock! 2016 event March 5 at the University of Missouri.

The local program began five years ago and is modeled after the B.E.T. network’s Black Girls Rock! show which aired in 2010.

Jackson is president of the Student Government Association, having been re-elected after serving as president her junior year. She has led diversity efforts on campus, including launching a “Breaking Barriers” series to allow students to have open dialogues about timely topics. She also led a “Hate Has No Home Here” campaign last semester that was well received by the Columbia community.

An integrated marketing major, Jackson is also a member of Creative Ink, the student-run marketing firm on campus, and has worked on 10 projects. Outside of Stephens, she competed in Columbia’s Start Up Weekend two years, one of which she was part of a winning team.

Jackson joins more than 70 women who have been recognized by the Black Women Rock! initiative. Past recipients include Lyah Beth LeFlore ’91, a New York Times best selling author and a former member of the Stephens College Board of Trustees.

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College welcomes two new faculty members

Stephens will welcome two new faculty members this semester. 

Dr. Ann Breidenbach has been named Sara Jane Johnson Scholar and will be on faculty in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies this semester in a full-time, tenure-track position. Broadway actor Lisa Brescia will join the School of Performing Arts this semester as a visiting guest artist for acting.

Breidenbach, who has served as an adjunct for three semesters, will teach women in film, a literature course focusing on memoirs and a women’s studies course, “Women and the Military.

Breidenbach earned her undergraduate degree in language arts and taught in public schools in California before returning to her home state of Michigan, where she taught junior high. That sparked an interest in counseling, so Breidenbach went back to school to earn a M.A. in Counseling Psychology. When she and her late husband moved to Columbia in 1994 to allow him to return to school, Breidenbach worked at the Family Counseling Center. She became interested in writing while earning her doctorate and took a creative nonfiction writing class to spruce up her doctorate. She enjoyed the class so much that she took it twice. That’s when she went on to earn a M.F.A. in creative writing.

Stephens is allowing all of my experiences to come together,” she said, adding that after she taught her first class here as an adjunct, “I immediately fell in love with it.

Breidenbach described her teaching style as reflective. “I take cues from my students and learn from them along the way, adjusting my teaching based on their interests,” she said. “Ultimately, I hope I’m teaching them how to see the world through a new lens, to think critically and examine the world around them.

Brescia will direct “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in February while teaching four acting classes throughout the semester.

Brescia has an incredible resume of credits, including playing Donna Sheridan in “Mamma Mia!,” Cleo in “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and Amneris in “Aida” on Broadway. Regional theatre credits include Victoria in “Victor/Victoria,” the Witch in “Into the Woods,” Elphaba in “Wicked” and Hermione in “A Winter’s Tale.”

Brescia is also head teacher and founder of The Actor’s Playgroup in New York. She has an M.F.A. in Classical Acting from the Academy for Classical Acting, George Washington University.

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Children's School moves to new home

There were a lot of “oohs” and “aahs” this morning when students from The Children’s School at Stephens College saw their new academic home for the first time.

CSSC has moved from the lower level of Tower Hall, a residential hall on campus, to the top-floor Penthouse at Hugh Stephens Library. The new open classroom will allow kindergarten through fifth-grade students to work as a large group or to split up into nooks with tables, computer stations and reading areas.

Families joined their children on the first day of school this morning to see the new space.

During a welcome, Stephens President Dianne Lynch said the move stemmed from a conversation between her and Leslie Willey, dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, about ways in which CSSC could better collaborate with the college’s academic programs. The school has already partnered with performing arts classes, science faculty and the fashion program, with more partnerships in the works. By being in the Penthouse, children will be in the academic heart of campus, allowing for even more collaboration.

“The new space is absolutely beautiful,” Willey said. “The move is also a strategic one that will give our young students the opportunity to really explore a variety of academic areas.”

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Children's school teams up with fashion to promote Historic Costume Gallery exhibit

The spring exhibit at the Historic Costume Gallery will feature garments that children often associate with certain characters or professions.

“Playing Dress Up” will feature uniforms, frilly “princess”-like dresses, western wear and costumes. Gallery curators are also planning to include an interactive feature in the exhibit that will let young visitors dress up, too.

Students from The Children’s School at Stephens College are helping promote the show. Last week, a select group of children were asked to sketch a vignette of a family of mannequins wearing typical garments from the 1950s. The Children’s School had just completed a unit studying that era. One or more of the drawings will be incorporated in marketing materials for the show.

When the exhibit opens early next semester, all of the children at the school will visit and be asked to write stories about the characters or sketch the garments.

The Historic Costume Gallery is free and open to the public. Check here for more information when the “Playing Dress Up” exhibit opens in January.

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School children enjoy holidays at President's Home

Students from The Children’s School at Stephens College visited the President’s Home today where they enjoyed decorating cookies, making crafts and hearing a winter-themed tale.

Earlier in the day, students from Lee Elementary spent an hour also participating in the events and also performing Christmas carols for President Dianne Lynch.

The event, now in its fourth year, is an end-of-semester field trip that also serves as a way to demystify college for children. Lynch also opens her home to the children at the end of the school year.

Today, Dr. Tom Prater, a longtime Missouri educator who is a consultant at CSSC this year, read “Owl Moon” by Jane Yolen. Speaking with a dramatic tone, Prater pointed out the book’s intricate shadowy illustrations and challenged children to see their own shadows this winter.

Children from both schools also had a chance to see their own works on display at the President’s Home. They previously created drawings, cutout snowflakes and candy decorations to adorn the first floor of the nearly 100-year-old house.

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Belle takes top design honors at Fashion Group International event in St. Louis

Senior Britta Belle took top honors in the design category at The Fashion Group International of St. Louis Inc.’s scholarship program this year.

She and two other winners were honored at FGI’s Spring 2015 Trend Report and Scholarship Presentation held at Caleres in St. Louis last week.

Belle submitted a portfolio that included designs from her collection, Aftermath, inspired by images of Prypyat, Ukraine, the city abandoned following a radiation leak in 1986.

She created the militant designs as part of a project for the Council of Fashion Designers of America. The FGI competition allows submissions that have been previously used elsewhere.

That was helpful, as I would not have had time to complete a new project,” Belle said. “And the CFDA collection was a lot of hard work. I put my heart and soul into it.

The FGI award came with a $1,000 scholarship and the opportunity to share her work at the reception.

Belle is pursuing a self-initiated major that combines fashion with creative writing.

She is now working on her senior collection, Desiderium, which means “longing for something lost. The collection includes dresses and separates inspired by the moon and oceans and combines silks and knits. Rather than unveiling her collection at the April student-designer fashion show, she will display her designs in the Davis Art Gallery and is planning to combine it with a public poetry reading next semester. Belle said she owes her success to Stephens.

This school has meant so much to me,” she said. “I’m continually impressed by the capacity of the instructors to care and constantly strive to make us really give our best. I’ve learned so much from them.

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Reale, Edwards named 2015 Daktronics-NAIA Volleyball Scholar-Athletes

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With the National Championship underway in Sioux City, Iowa, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced the recipients for the 2015 Daktronics-NAIA Volleyball Scholar-Athlete award. On Friday, 428 volleyball players were named Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes, including Stephens College senior Madison Reale and junior Taylor Edwards.

Reale, a two-time recipient of the award, is an Integrated Marketing major with a 3.55 cumulative grade-point average. This season, she also received her third straight AMC Academic All-Conference honor. The rightside hitter finished among the team’s top 5 in several categories including blocks (2nd), assists (2nd), service aces (2nd), kills (3rd), and digs (4th). Reale is a member of the newly formed Association of Student-Athletes (ASA) at Stephens and will play golf for the Stars in her final semester.

Edwards, a junior from St. Peters, Mo. is a Biology/Pre-Med major with a 3.69 GPA. This is Taylor’s first Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete award, adding to an impressive list of accolades including 2015 CoSIDA Academic All-District and two Academic All-Conference honors. The Stars’ primary libero finished the year with a team-best 277 digs and ranked among the AMC’s top defenders on serve receive at 94.3 percent. Outside of volleyball, Edwards is involved in the Alpha Lambda Delta and Beta Beta Beta honor societies, Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, and is the Vice President for the Association of Student-Athletes.

The Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete programs recognize excellence in the classroom by NAIA-member student-athletes who are juniors or above in academic standing with a 3.5 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale. In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student must appear on the eligibility certificate for two full years as a non-transfer or one full year as a transfer. Goshen College in Indiana led all programs with 14 individuals on the list.

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Six Stars earn Daktronics-NAIA Women’s Soccer Scholar-Athlete recognition

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced that 588 recipients were named 2015 Daktronics-NAIA Women’s Soccer Scholar-Athletes. Stephens College was well-represented on the list with seniors Rose Baka, Anna Martin, Bridget Teixeira, Sarah Vitel and Dani Wilson, and junior Sammy Dorman receiving the award.

The Stars and Freed-Hardeman University led the American Midwest Conference with six student-athletes apiece.

Anna Martin, who earned 2015 CoSIDA Academic All-District First Team honors, and Dani Wilson, are two-time winners of the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete award. The entire group listed below, also received AMC Academic All-Conference recognition last month:

Rose Baka – Biology – 3.66
Sammy Dorman – Graphic Design Communications – 3.85
Anna Martin – Strategic Communications (Graphic Design) – 3.73
Bridget Teixeira – Psychology – 3.56
Sarah Vitel – Fashion Communication – 3.78
Dani Wilson – Fashion Design & Product Development – 3.62

On the field, the Stars finished the year at 6-11-1, which was a new program-best. The team, which won its first-ever AMC match in a 2-1 victory over St. Louis College of Pharmacy, also set several single-season individual and team records on both offense and defense.

The Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete programs recognize excellence in the classroom by NAIA-member student-athletes who are juniors or above in academic standing with a 3.5 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale. In order to be nominated by an institution’s head coach or sports information director, a student must appear on the eligibility certificate for two full years as a non-transfer or one full year as a transfer. Goshen College in Indiana led all programs with 14 individuals on the list.

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Award-winning playwright to headline performance at Diversity Week event

Award-winning playwright and American University Professor Caleen Sinnette Jennings will be the headlining performer at the Celebration of Leadership in Honor of Martin Luther King Jr. on campus Jan. 18.

Jennings will perform several pieces, including “Hands Up,” a nine-minute poem that explores the struggles of African Americans throughout history, including contemporary triumphs bookmarked by recent violence against black youths. 

Jennings created the piece for a (Re)Acts event at the Forum Theatre in Washington, D.C., last winter following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. The artistic director of the theater asked her to create something in two weeks. Jennings said the long-form poem came out in a day.

“I had been wanting to say something and to express myself about recent events and this gave me a reason,” she said. “I didn’t realize this stuff had been brewing inside of me.”

“Hands Up” begins with praying hands in Africa; hands that were later bound and brought to America; hands that nursed the babies of masters and hands that eventually broke free. Jennings looks at more modern hands, too, from Beyoncé’s ring-bearing hand to hand-held devices. She concludes with hands up, questioning whether society has come as far as we thought in terms of race relations.

Jennings, accompanied by cellist and composer Jodi Beder, performed the piece at (Re)Act alongside young hip hop artists and said she was surprised by the overwhelming reaction.

She has since performed it at colleges and high schools. American University filmed the performance earlier this year, and the video has struck a chord with audiences.

Surprised by the attention, Jennings said she hopes viewers ask themselves what they will do with their hands in light of recent racial tensions.

“Ask yourself the same question, ‘What am I going to do with my hands?’”

Jennings said action sometimes comes in the form of protests and fists up, other times in the form of soothing strokes. But idle hands, she said, aren’t acceptable.

While at Stephens, Jennings will also offer a master class on dramatic literature, performing a semi-autobiographical piece before challenging students to share their stories.

“When telling your own story, you do something very powerful—you empower yourself and your experience,” she said. “Everybody should write and tell their stories.”

For Jennings, telling her own story initially came out of necessity. After earning an M.F.A. and having been trained in classical theater, she discovered that in 1976 there were no roles that represented her as an educated middle-class woman.

The commercial market was telling African-American stories of people living in poverty and surviving the odds. They were important, Jennings said, but did not accurately reflect diversity within the African-American community.

Her husband challenged her to write her own material.

Fast forward 40 years, and Jennings has written, produced and published numerous plays and stories. She received the Heideman Award from Actors’ Theatre of Louisville for her play “Classyass,” produced at the 2002 Humana Festival. She is a two-time Helen Hayes Award nominee for Outstanding New Play. She is also a founding member of The Welders, a Washington, D.C.-based playwrights’ collaborative.

She said she hopes to encourage Stephens women to listen and connect with one another.

“Sharing their stories is an important way to make connections and an important way to grow as human beings,” she said. “It’s an important way to start difficult conversations, and if they make a habit of finding a way to share their stories, I think that’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

The Celebration of Leadership in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King event is part of Diversity Week at Stephens, which will include programming and special events through Jan. 22.

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Students demonstrate world dance

Monique I. Jones led an African World Dance Lecture Demonstration in Kimball Ballroom during the lunch hour, allowing world dance students to showcase various healing movements they’ve learned in class.

Jones is a guest artist instructor for world dance this semester.

A Kansas City native, Jones is currently director of operations at Missouri Contemporary Ballet.

During the demonstration, students imitated various African animals, including elephants and birds; mimicked traditional gathering and weaving movements; and used colors to represent elements such as fire and air.

Among audience members were students from The Children’s School at Stephens College.

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Beger's play selected to be read at Kansas City venue this weekend

Senior Heather Beger’s play, “Snowman,” was one of four short plays selected to be read at Potluck Productions First Friday Play Reading this weekend.

Potluck Productions is a Kansas City-based organization that showcases scripts written by women playwrights.

This weekend’s event, which will begin at 8 p.m. Friday at the Uptown Arts Bar in Kansas City, features plays written by college students competing in a two-state competition.

Beger’s play centers on a 12-year-old girl who is coping with the death of her brother. She gets support from a surprising source.

Beger is earning a B.F.A. in Creative Writing with a Scriptwriting emphasis. She wrote a first draft of the play in Kate Berneking Kogut’s Intro to Scriptwriting class her first year and first presented it at a Scriptwriting Showcase on campus in 2013.

She has continued reworking the script over the years, and it is now part of her Senior Project.

“I'm very excited to see an interpretation of my play without being a part of the rehearsal process for once,” she said. “And getting to meet other playwrights is, I'm sure, going to be awesome.”

Kogut agreed that having it read by a new audience will be an advantage.

“Heather will gain a lot of insights about her play hearing it read by these professional actors,” she said.

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Stephens Life to host release party

The staff of Stephens Life will host a party on Friday releasing the latest edition of the student magazine.

The party is from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4, on the second floor of Hugh Stephens Library.

“We revamped the magazine and are excited to show our new look to campus,” said sophomore Allie Moorman, outreach coordinator for the student-produced magazine.

Copies will be available in Stars Café, the admissions office, fashion and design offices and in residence halls next week.

Moorman encourages students to attend the cocktail-attired launch party, saying attendees will enjoy refreshments, an award presentation and a look into the Stephens Life Snap Shots campaign.

“We are really excited about our ‘Above the Fold’ nominations,” she said. “These were students who were nominated both by our Stephens Life Staff and Stephens faculty for their advancements in their majors.”

The Snap Shots campaign involved quick interviews with students on campus.

“We asked them heavy questions, light questions and funny questions,” Moorman said. “The video will be shown at the launch arty for those who are interested to see it.”

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Holiday performances begin Friday

Stephens College is ready to start celebrating the holiday season with two upcoming performing arts events.

The Playhouse Theatre Company presents Roger Bean’s “The Winter Wonderettes” at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 4-5 and Dec. 9-10 with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Dec. 6, at Macklanburg Playhouse. Tickets.

Audiences can expect every holiday song one can imagine, said Gail Humphries Mardirosian, dean of the School of Performing Arts.

The performance will be set in a hardware store in the 1960s and will star Sydney Benton, Emily Chatterson, Madeleine Campbell and Shannon Cox.

"Audiences can expect to laugh, maybe cry a little and really get into the holiday spirit," said Lee Heinz, assistant professor of musical theatre. "It's a great choice for Stephens because it features four-part harmonies, at which Stephens women excel."

Then, starting Sunday, Columbia audiences can expect old-fashioned holiday fun at the annual Dickens Victorian Christmas event.

The musical program is an authentic recreation of a 19th century English Christmas hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Dickens. Period dance, music, refreshments and games will be provided.

A Dickens Victorian Christmas, held at Historic Senior Hall, will include a 4 p.m. matinee on Dec. 6 and will start at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6-8. Tickets.

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Students make, donate heart-shaped pillows to breast cancer survivors

Students in a sustainable fashion class recently created heart-shaped pillows to donate to area women who have undergone breast cancer-related procedures.

Dr. Suzan Harkness, vice president for academic affairs, delivered dozens of the hand-painted silk pillows to Ellis Fischel Center in Columbia last week.

For Harkness, the project was personal. She remembers a similar pillow bringing her comfort—both physically and emotionally—after her lumpectomy less than two years ago.

The pillows are specifically designed to serve several purposes, Harkness told the class prior to delivering them.

The pillows fit under an arm to provide pain relief and protect against accidental bumps. They can be placed under an arm for comfort during chemotherapy appointments. For someone who has undergone a mastectomy, lumpectomy or biopsy, the pillows can be placed between a safety belt and the surgical site to provide comfort and protection.

“And they’re great to cuddle with,” Harkness said.

The project was also meaningful for students.

“It made me re-evaluate my life and made me grateful for my health,” said Bianca Fitzpatrick ’16. “I put love into making it.”

“It feels good just helping someone,” Whitney Dixson ’19 added.

Harkness included a note with the donations encouraging survivors and letting them know that Stephens women are thinking about them.

The Creating Sustainable Communities class also created pink dresses from recycled materials in October to support Breast Cancer Awareness month.

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Strong shooting lifts Stars to 69-56 win over Hannibal-LaGrange

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Leading throughout the entire contest Saturday, the Stephens College basketball team came away with its first American Midwest Conference victory by defeating Hannibal-LaGrange University, 69-56. Playing in the familiar confines of Silverthorne Arena, all 11 active players scored and the Stars also notched their first win at home for the 2015-16 season.

Stephens improved to 3-5 overall and 1-1 in the AMC before its Thanksgiving break. Banged up during the recent stretch of games, the Stars luckily have 12 days off before they resume AMC action in Arkansas. SC begins a three-game roadswing with games at No. 17 Lyon, Central Baptist and an exhibition at NCAA Division I University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC).

Stephens set the tone early and got off to a perfect start thanks to an 8-0 run in the first four minutes. The Stars' two leading scorers – Dana Heggemann and Bailey Taylor – combined for the first eight points before Hannibal-LaGrange got on the scoreboard. Neither team did much in the back end of the first quarter as SC took a 12-4 lead into the second stanza.

What began as a low-scoring affair turned into the Stars' third-highest scoring output of the season (69). While the starting lineup got the ball rolling, it was the key reserves who pushed ahead in the second quarter. The group of Mariah Brisco, Katie Lamkie and Tayler Limpus provided 14 points off the bench, led by Brisco with two buckets and a pair of free throws.

At halftime, the Stars led by a comfortable 13 points after shooting 50 percent from the field. Unlike Thursday's AMC opener when the team relied heavily on 3-pointers in the first half, Stephens attempted just four 3s in the first 20 minutes of Saturday's game.

A different Star caught fire in the third quarter and helped the team keep a double-digit lead heading into the final period. Point guard Sadie Dugger found her rhythm out of the halftime break and provided Stephens with seven points on 3-of-4 shooting and 1-for-1 from beyond the arc.

With a 47-36 lead, the Stars looked to apply a dagger to the heart of the Lady Trojans (1-4, 1-1 AMC) and bumped the margin up to 18 with 8:01 remaining. However, HLGU wasn't going down without a fight as it scored eight unanswered points on back-to-back 3-pointers by Kenna Greenway and a two by Anna Bucher. Stephens was able to hold off any late pushes by the Lady Trojans and kept its double-digit lead.

Sadie Dugger led the team in scoring for the first time this season with 15 points and tied for a team-high in assists with three. While Dugger was the only SC player to reach double digits, it didn't set back the Stars as it was a collective effort. Seven players had 5+ points, including Dana Heggemann (9), Mariah Brisco (8), Bailey Taylor (7), Kayleigh Shanahan (7), Angelica Medrano (6) and Katie Lamkie (5).

Taylor, who had two consecutive 17-point performances coming into the game, more than made up for it with hustle plays against Hannibal-LaGrange. The 5-9 forward pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds, which is the most by a Stephens player this year.

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Valentine, Hitchcock headline NAIA, AMC Cross Country Academic Awards

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Prior to the National Championship event in Charlotte, N.C., the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced Friday that 210 women’s cross country student-athletes were named 2015 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athletes. Included on the list was a pair of Stephens College juniors including Julie Valentine and Juliana Hitchcock.

In order to be nominated by an institution's head coach or sports information director, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved a junior academic status to qualify for this honor.

Both Valentine and Hitchcock are first-time recipients of the Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete award. Valentine, a junior from Portland, Ind., sports a 3.89 grade-point average (GPA) in the Fashion Communication program. Hitchcock, a native of Warrensburg, Mo., is majoring in Biology and carries an impressive 3.92 GPA.

The Stars’ two upperclassmen also received recognition for their hard work in the classroom at the American Midwest Conference Championships. Along with sophomores Fey Chavez and Brittany Stanfield, the Stars placed four runners on the AMC Academic All-Conference team. To be eligible for the AMC Academic All-Conference award, a student-athlete must be in her second term at the institution and maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.

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Sigma Tau Delta to recognize Stephens chapter, faculty sponsor

Sigma Tau Delta is recognizing the Stephens College chapter, along with sponsoring faculty member Judith Clark, for its 20th anniversary.

“Supporting and maintaining a chapter for this length of time is a notable achievement, and you can be proud—as we are—of your own participation in the long history of the Alpha Epsilon Eta Chapter’s involvement with the International Honor Society,” Executive Director William Johnson wrote in a letter to Clark. “This milestone is certainly cause for celebration.”

Both the chapter and Clark will receive special plaques at the organization’s International Convention March 2-5 in Minneapolis. Alpha Epsilon Eta will be honored during the General Business Session of the convention, and Clark will be recognized at the Regents and Sponsors Luncheon.

Several Stephens students have also submitted works in hopes of presenting at the conference.

Additionally, Harbinger, the College’s literary magazine, will be up for Outstanding Literary Journal of the Year, an honor it has received four of the past five years.

Stephens has other connections to the convention this year, as well. Senior Maya Alpert recently won first place in Sigma Tau Delta’s Midwestern Region Blog and will have her entry posted on the society’s website soon. And junior Shelly Romero is currently serving as the Student Representative for the Midwestern Region, helping to plan the event.

In his letter to Clark, Johnson praised Stephens for contributing to the success of the international organization. “You and your school are to be congratulated for your contribution toward that legacy of quality,” he wrote. “We are proud to be affiliated with student-oriented, actively-involved faculty such as you, and with schools such as Stephens College, where a real commitment to excellence is both obvious and ongoing.”

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Broadway star, Tony Award nominee speaks to theatre majors

Broadway star and Tony Award nominee Marin Mazzie encouraged Stephens theatre majors to embrace their own unique voices and styles during a Skype interview today.

“Be yourself,” she said. “Admire other people, but don’t try to be them. Believe in yourself, that’s the most important thing.”

Mazzie, whose mother and grandmother both attended Stephens, has enjoyed a long career on Broadway that began with a role in “Big River” in 1985. It was a crash course in the world of Broadway, she said, but helped her make connections that she would enjoy throughout her career. One such connection was Elmore James, who is a guest artist in the School of Performing Arts this year and helped bring Mazzie to campus through videoconferencing.

Her next role in “Passion” earned Mazzie her first Tony nomination, which took her career to another level, she said. Most recently, she starred on Broadway in Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway,” which earned her an Outer Critics Circle Award. She’s also starred in “Next to Normal,” and received Tony and Drama Desk nominations for her performance in the revival of “Kiss Me, Kate.”

Speaking to a class via video conferencing from her home office this morning, Mazzie shared her experiences both on stage and in front of the camera. She discussed the differences between coming onto a show that’s already running and having the luxury of playing an original role, such as her role in “Ragtime.” The latter produced one of the most beloved musical theatre songs of all time, “Back to Before,” which she continues to perform.

Mazzie also stressed the importance of treating everyone with respect, from the doorman to members of the orchestra; being on time; and earning a reputation for being dependable.

Asked for vocal tips, Mazzie urged students to find their own voice rather than trying to mimic others.

“You don’t sound like anyone else, and you shouldn’t,” she said. “Develop your voice and how you sing, that’s how you stand out.” If the song is in a key that doesn’t match vocal abilities, she said, “change the key, not your voice.”

Mazzie is currently preparing for a New Year’s Eve show at Feinstein’s/54 Below in New York. Next year, she is planning additional concerts abroad.

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Alumna shares advice at First Year Experience breakfast

Self-acceptance, taking time to educate oneself, loving what you do and being fearless enough to conquer your dreams—those were nuggets of advice Lindsey Weber ’08 had for first-year students this morning.

Weber was the keynote speaker at the third annual First Year Experience Networking Breakfast.

The event allows first-year students to network with area professionals.

Weber—who is communication coordinator for the St. Louis Cardinals—used the “S.E.L.F.” acronym to drive home the point that students can be successful by doing what they love if they accept themselves, stay educated on current events and aren’t afraid to go after their dreams.

Weber said she discovered that at Stephens, where she studied digital filmmaking.

Assigned a documentary, Weber recalls being so fixated on the St. Louis Cardinals that she could barely concentrate on schoolwork.

She decided to combine the two and ended up making a short documentary on what it means to be a St. Louis Cardinals fan during a World Series bid.

“That was a pivotal moment,” she said. “I realized you can take your passion and turn it into a profession.”

Weber also recalled a moment during an internship she had where she was challenged for being female. She was paired up with sportscasters during a celebrity golf tournament with members of the Cardinals, and the man to whom she was assigned publicly bemoaned the fact he got stuck with a “girl.” Today‚ that “girl” creates the news that the sportscaster reports. She used the story to stress that students should own who they are—regardless of gender, race or sexuality.

The networking breakfast gives students an opportunity to meet professionals outside of their area of interest, as well as in their chosen fields. Professional guests included administrators from the University of Missouri, local bankers, writers and performers, film professionals and business owners.

“This is an opportunity for our first year students to meet women of high achievement and to be inspired,” Associate Professor Mark Thompson said. “It broadens their horizons.”

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Project lets freshmen explore self and society

First-year students took to Vine to express themselves and how they fit into society as part of a class-wide project.

Vine is a social app that allows users to combine images, videos, text and sound to create six-second videos that continuously loop.

All freshmen are required to take a First-Year Experience class. While all are focused on self and society, each section has a unique theme.

Yesterday, students and faculty from all FYE classes came together in Windsor Auditorium to share select Vines and talk about the project.

Associate Professor Kate Berneking Kogut’s class is focused on personal passions, creativity and leadership. One of her students, Stephanie LeBlanc, merged her passion for art with her love of dogs, creating a colorful Vine that shows puppies being painted different colors.

Ghadah Alshuwaiyer, assistant professor of health science, is using her FYE class to educate students on societal issues as they relate to health and wellness. Mariah Homan used her vine to show the effects of stress on eating habits.

Several students challenged images in popular culture such as women’s magazines and movies, proving in six seconds that appearance does not reflect reality.

Harli Harris took a different approach, using an albino hedgehog to show how “living up to society’s standards creates a fake you.” The hedgehog, lodged with insults, conducts an online search for how he’s supposed to look, only to transform into a stuffed hedgehog.

Savannah Thibault, a student in Lee Heinz’s Shakespeare-themed FYE class, created a vine of herself playing soccer with the “some are born great. Some achieve great. And some have greatness thrust upon them,” a quote from Twelfth Night.

This is the second year FYE students have created vines for class.

"The idea is that students can use this platform to make short videos that explore how their FYE courses have shaped their view of themselves and their society" said Associate Professor Mark Thompson.

One of his students, Jesse Roan, created a video showing the evolution of women from the 1950s through today, ending with a photo of Stephens President Dianne Lynch. She told the group she wanted to portray that mothers can do more than stay at home.

“I ended with Dianne Lynch because she does have a teenage daughter,” Roan said, “but she also runs all of this.”

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Stephens firm to help Columbia Regional Airport with re-branding

Creative Ink's Creative Director, Bree Martino, left, and firm Director Michelle Niewald at a recent staff meeting.

A student-run marketing firm at Stephens College has been selected to help the Columbia Regional Airport come up with a new brand.
Airport staff finalized the contract with Creative Ink last week. Students who work at the firm now have the semester to come up with a logo, tagline, marketing campaign and style guide that will be used by airport staff.
“I’m so excited for Creative Ink,” said Bree Martino, the firm’s creative director. “This is such a good thing for the firm and a huge opportunity for the college.”
Columbia Regional Airport is a division of the City of Columbia’s Public Works Department and currently offers direct flights to Chicago and Dallas.
“This is an exciting period of time at Columbia Regional Airport,” said Steve Sapp, public information officer for Columbia Public Works. “Our new relationship with American Airlines and new destination cities, significant upgrades to the runways and taxiways and, recently, conceptual images of a future new terminal—working to re-brand the look of Columbia Regional Airport was a natural next step. Working with Creative Ink brings a youthful insight and enthusiasm to our re-branding and marketing efforts.”
The airport has been using the tagline “Fly COU—Why drive when it’s so easy to fly?” The Creative Ink staff anticipates an entirely new look and feel that is “forward moving,” said Michelle Niewald, firm director.
Creative Ink will roll out preliminary ideas this winter. Sapp said the city is looking forward to “hearing and seeing their ideas like children waiting to see what Santa has brought them.”
Although the largest client to date, this isn’t the first time Creative Ink has partnered with the community. The firm has also designed materials for the Office of Cultural Affairs, Ronald McDonald House and the Heidelberg. This year, Creative Ink is also working with the Men’s Minority Network.
“Regardless of the size of our clients, we strive to put out the best possible work,” Niewald said.
That said, Niewald and Martino agreed it’s overwhelming to think the firm will have a hand in shaping the look and feel of the city’s airport. Martino remembers checking into flights at the Columbia airport when she was coming to Stephens as a freshman.
“I would never have imagined being a part of helping develop a logo for the airport,” she said. “I’m excited, and just as excited for Creative Ink.”