Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College


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Stars issue clean sweep of Southwestern, Hillsdale Free Will Baptist

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director

WINFIELD, Kan. – After beginning the year 0-2, the Stars worked their way back to .500 on Wednesday with a 25-15, 25-20, 25-16 straight-set victory over Southwestern College (Kan.) and 25-5, 25-22, 25-19 sweep of Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College (Okla.).

The early season jitters from opening weekend were non-existent this afternoon as the Stars were much more effective offensively with fewer errors. Collectively, Stephens hit .280 against Southwestern and .327 versus Hillsdale Free Will Baptist.

In the second match, Stephens tied a program-best margin of victory in a single set, while recording the highest hitting percentage on record with a .650 clip in Set 3. The last time the Stars won a set 25-5 was in 2011 against St. Louis College of Pharmacy.

Match One – Stephens College def. Southwestern (Kan.), 3-0 (25-15, 25-20, 25-16)
Stephens cruised through the first set, winning by a score of 25-15. After struggling on offense against Morningside College, the Stars reversed the curse and hit .269 in Set 1. Kerri Kircher and Halan Mann paved the way with four and three kills, respectively.

In Set 2, the Stars jumped out to an early lead and maintained at least a four-point margin following the 7-3 mark.

Stephens broke away from the Moundbuilders in the third set with a 15-7 run to conclude the match. Kircher provided a strong presence at the net and aided the stretch with four kills in the Stars’ 25-16 win. SC limited the home team to a match-low eight kills in Set 3, while the Stars finished on a high note with a match-high 16 kills and .414 hitting percentage.

Individually, setter Danielle Craven posted a career-high in both kills (3) and assists (32), surpassing her previous best in assists by six. The sophomore distributed the ball well with six teammates hitting above .250.

Kerri Kircher and Halan Mann led the Stars in kills with nine apiece with the latter posting an impressive .412 attack percentage, eight digs and a team-high two service aces. Other notable performances included Shelby Johnson, who hit .417 with seven kills, and Kandace Cook with six kills.

Match Two – Stephens College def. Hillsdale Free Will Baptist (Okla.), 3-0 (25-5, 25-22, 25-19)
The energy carried over into the Stars’ match with Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College as the Stars steamrolled the Saints in the first set, 25-5. Midway through, Stephens won eight straight rallies and picked up consecutive points in several other stretches.

Stephens head coach Rose Obunaga went deep into her bench in the final two sets and kept HFWB at bay for the remainder of the contest.

Kerri Kircher was near perfect on attack with 14 kills and just one error. The junior middle hitter hit .500 for the match. Setter Danielle Craven followed up Match One with another breakout performance, bettering her career-highs in kills with five and assists with 36.

Four players finished with 5+ kills including Kircher, Craven, Kandace Cook and Shelby Johnson. Key reserves that also had strong showings were Shay Wilkerson (.800, 4 kills) and Darby Jones (.500, 3 kills).

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First-year biology student takes Crossing the Bridge ceremony into her own hands

Like a true Stephens woman, first-year student Marisela Cruz took things into her own hands when Move-In Day did not go as planned.

Cruz, from Texas, got held up in a line at a local Wal-Mart on Move-In Day and missed the Crossing the Bridge ceremony. Her parents were preparing to make the drive back home and had wanted to make sure she had last-minute supplies before they left. By the time they got back to campus, however, the ceremony had already begun.

“We pulled up and saw the president walking all of the students over the bridge, and my dad said, ‘Aren’t you supposed to be up there?’ I was so sad I missed it,” she said. “Then I kept reading about it on social media and it sounded so cool.”

But Cruz did not let it stop her from participating in the ceremony altogether. Rather, she asked President Dianne Lynch if she would recreate it and walk her over the bridge at a later time.

Crossing the Bridge is a tradition that marks the beginning of students’ journey at Stephens. It begins in Historic Senior Quad, where the president explains what it means to be part of the Stephens community. Lynch then walks the incoming class over two pedestrian bridges into Journey Plaza in the heart of campus, where the group is greeted and welcomed by family, as well as College administrators, faculty and staff. Prior to graduating, students cross the bridges again, starting at Journey Plaza and crossing the bridges away from campus into the community, where they are greeted by Stephens alumnae.

Lynch and Cruz made the symbolic crossing around lunchtime yesterday. Although it was a solo trip, Lynch gave her the full experience, explaining Stephens traditions to her and assuring her that the president’s office is always open if she needs anything.

Cruz came to Stephens to study biology and ultimately matriculate into medical school. She said she was impressed with the college’s record of high acceptance rates into graduate school. She also liked the friendliness of those she worked with through the admissions process. That Stephens is an all-women environment sealed the deal.

After crossing the two pedestrian bridges into campus, Cruz was all smiles, thanking the president for taking time to do it.

“Thank you for caring enough to ask me,” Lynch said. “That means a lot.”

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Stephens fashion program is in Top 5 in U.S., according to Business of Fashion

The Stephens College fashion program is among the Top 5 in the U.S., according to new international rankings from The Business of Fashion, London.

The news website is a respected leader in the fashion industry and includes a network of writers and fashion insiders from style capitals around the world.

Stephens' program also ranked No. 1 for long-term value across B.A. programs and is the 13th best in the world.

BoF’s first-ever rankings, released Sunday evening U.S. time, include 21 schools with Central Saint Martins in London topping the list; Parsons The New School for Design, Fashion Institute of Technology and London College of Fashion coming in the top 10, and other well-known schools such as Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology falling behind Stephens at 15th and 18th respectively.

“The company in which we find ourselves in this list is truly staggering,” said Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design. “We know we have a strong, industry-focused fashion program here at Stephens, and it’s wonderful to be acknowledged and recognized by such a prestigious entity.”

The ranking comes on the heels of another major achievement for the fashion program. This summer, Stephens officially became a member school within the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

CFDA is a 400-plus member trade organization that offers scholarship and networking opportunities to students from a highly selective pool of colleges.

CFDA invited Stephens to participate in scholarship contests two years ago; then, representatives from the organization visited campus to get a better feel for the program. Additionally, Stephens faculty have been part of the CFDA Educational Symposiums for the past couple of years.

Currently, 18 other colleges, including SCAD, Parsons and FIT, are participating CFDA schools. This past school year, the fashion program also was included on’s list of Top 50 Fashion Schools in the World.

Learn about Stephens' fashion degrees here.


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Welcome Week helps new students transition to Stephens College

New Stephens students spent last week getting familiar with the campus and community as part of the annual Welcome Week.

The week began with Move-In Day when faculty and staff rolled up their sleeves and helped new students and their families move into the residence halls. As in the past, parents of first-year students expressed gratitude for the help.

“It was great—it was smooth sailing,” said Melissa Russell, a Stephens alumna whose daughter, Sally, is majoring in event and convention management.

Welcome Week also included day trips throughout the community, allowing students to bond over activities such as painting and rope climbing.

“These trips serve as ice breakers, but also help our students know that they can rely on one another for support," said Ada Gallup, director of programming and student leadership at Stephens.

On Saturday, first-year students volunteered at the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri while transfer students enjoyed brunch at the President’s Home.

Welcome Week concluded with Songfest, a tradition that allows new students to perform for the entire campus. This year, students competed in a lip-sync battle.

Watch a video of highlights from Welcome Week:


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Fashion library contributes to upcoming Saint Louis Art Museum exhibition

Four important garments from the Stephens College Costume Museum and Research Library will be part of an upcoming exhibit at the Saint Louis Art Museum.

Curators from the museum visited the archives this summer to get ideas for “Blow-Up: Graphic Abstraction in 1960s Design,” a show that will run concurrent to a major exhibition “St. Louis Modern.” The side gallery will explore the emergence of large-scale abstract pattern and form in textiles, fashion and furnishings of the 1960s. The exhibit opens Nov. 8 and runs through January.

Stephens is loaning two garments by Marimekko, a Finnish company, and two additional garments from the company’s primary designers, Vuokko Nurmesniemi.

“These objects are fine examples of Finnish textile and fashion design of the 1960s and early 1970s and would complement the Museum’s own collection of Marimekko textiles from the same period featured in the exhibition,” said Brent Benjamin, museum director.

That garments from the Costume Museum and Research Library will be displayed at the Saint Louis exhibition reinforces the fact that the collection includes pieces that are important not only to the College but to the history of American fashion, said Jennifer Cole, assistant curator of the Historic Costume Gallery.

“We know our collection is important to researchers and historians outside of Stephens, and this confirms that,” she said.

Curators praised the College’s costume library when they visited in June.

“I’ve been well aware of this collection for decades, but never had the chance to visit,” said Zoe Perkins, textile conservator curator for the museum (pictured). “It’s a very well-organized and broad collection.”

During their visit, curators worked with Cole to “scout around” for ideas and possible display pieces.

“This is illuminating,” said David Conradsen, The Grace L. Brumbaugh and Richard E. Brumbaugh Associate Curator in Charge/Decorative Arts and Design, during the visit. “We weren’t prepared for how amazing this was going to be. And Jennifer is so knowledgeable of her collection.”

The Costume Museum and Research Library includes more than 13,000 garments donated from designers, alumnae and friends.

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Stephens increases minimum wage to $10

Stephens College has increased its minimum wage to $10 an hour effective immediately.

The increase will impact newly hired full-time employees starting entry-level positions.

“It’s the right thing to do,” President Dianne Lynch said. “We know $10 an hour is still not enough, but it’s what we can do and want to do for our employees.”

Lynch made the announcement during an all-campus meeting prior to the start of the semester. The news was followed by cheers from faculty and staff. 

Minimum wage in Missouri is $7.65 an hour, and the federal minimum wage is $7.25.

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Hammond takes helm as director of safety and campus security

Longtime Columbia police officer Ken Hammond has been named the new Director of Campus Safety and Security at Stephens. 

Hammond began duties on  Aug. 10 and will oversee all aspects of safety and security on campus, including emergency planning.

Hammond comes to Stephens from the State of Missouri, where since 2010 he has been the Chief Investigator with the Division of Professional Registration, Board for the Healing Arts. Prior to his work with the state, Hammond retired as a lieutenant from the Columbia Police Department.

During his 22-year career with the city police department, Hammond worked as a police officer, a juvenile crimes detective, a supervisor in the Patrol Division and as a detective sergeant prior to being promoted to lieutenant in 2009. He also served on the Crisis Intervention Team, Crisis Negotiation Team, Forensic Evidence Team and the Mid-Missouri Major Case Squad.

Hammond has a Bachelor of Science in Administration of Justice from Southern Illinois University and graduated from the University of Missouri Law Enforcement Training Institute.

"Ken will be an invaluable asset to the Stephens community," Stephens President Dianne Lynch said. 

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Students bond on day trips throughout community

Incoming Stephens students today took a number of day trips around the area to get to know one another better and to get familiar with their new home.

This is the second year the College has offered trips as part of new student orientation. Getting the students off campus early in their experience is important, said Ada Gallup, director of programming and student leadership.

“We want them to feel comfortable around one another both on campus and in new settings,” she said. “These trips are designed to not only serve as ice breakers but also demonstrate to our students that they can rely on one another.”

Students certainly had to rely on each other at Venture Out, where they completed several ropes courses. While executing courses are challenging, it also shows students just what they're capable of, especially when they work as a team, Gallup said.

Other groups of students went to The Canvas on Broadway, where they painted an abstract of dandelions. Some Stephens women also added words to their paintings, including the College’s motto, “dream up.”

One group of students went to Lyceum Theatre in Arrow Rock, and another explored the Rocheport community.

“While we know our students have fun on these trips, they’re really an important part of orientation,” Gallup said. “They come back to campus a little more at ease with one another and the transition to college.”

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Stephens welcomes more than 260 new students

Alex Cole didn’t want to fall in love with Stephens College. She’s from Virginia and thought Columbia sounded a little too far from home.

“I tried to find a reason not to love it,” she said, “but I couldn’t.”

Cole is one of more than 260 new students from around the U.S. moving into the residence halls today.

Students cited various reasons for selecting Stephens, but all agreed they fell in love with the beautiful campus and friendly faculty.

Cole’s mom, Christy, attended Mary Baldwin College and worked for Sweet Briar in Virginia before it announced closure this past spring (a decision that’s since been reversed). She expressed appreciation for Stephens faculty and staff who called her to support her through it.

When a representative from the equestrian program traveled to Virginia and had dinner with the Coles, it sealed the deal.

“It felt like I was having dinner with family,” Alex said.

Hallyn Hatfield is here from San Diego. “I found the school and fell in love with it,” the fashion marketing and management major said. “I’m looking forward to learning about something I’m actually interested in.”

For Sally Russell, going to Stephens was a given.

She’s a third-generation Stephens woman, with her mom Melissa Mathieu Russell ’85 and grandmother Sally Ann Dunfee Mathieu ’49.

“I’ve known I was going to Stephens my whole life,” the Minnesota native said. “I’ve always wanted to come.”

Melissa Russell said campus is just as beautiful as she remembers, although she joked that the move-in process wasn’t as easy in the 1980s as it is today. In recent years, Move-In Day has become a campus-wide event with faculty and staff moving in students' belongings for them.

“It was smooth sailing,” she said.

Dad John also praised the College’s summer communication to students, saying it kept everyone enthusiastic about coming to college.

Cailyn Santee comes to Stephens from Waller, Texas, to study English.

“She did her research,” Mom, Cheryl, said of her daughter’s college search. “I’m proud of her.”

Santee liked the program and the fact that she could bring her cat, Azrael.

“I’m looking forward to meeting people,” she said, “and making friends and memories.”

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Starlets stand out at NDA camp

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director

MARYVILLE, Mo. – On Wednesday, the Stephens College competitive dance team wrapped up its first National Dance Alliance (NDA) camp, held on the campus of Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville.

Similar to last summer when the Starlets earned several awards and honors at the Universal Dance Association (UDA) camp in Springfield, the group of returning and incoming Starlets once again made a name for themselves at the camp. In total, 16 dance squads and 26 cheerleading squads from across the region were present at the NDA/NCA camp.

“We definitely made a strong impression as a smaller team against larger NCAA Division I schools such as Iowa State, Kansas State, Nebraska-Omaha and even DII Truman State,” head competitive dance coach Danyale Williams said. “Our girls work so hard and really stood out.”

The Starlets started off the event with a bang, earning the Spirit Stick, which was awarded by the camp staff on the first night. In addition, two Stephens student-athletes were singled out by the staff for their outstanding sportsmanship – Catherine Hake and Destiney Lockhart.

As a team, the Starlets received an overall Superior rating in the performance portion of the camp and also earned a partially-paid bid to the NCA & NDA Collegiate Cheer & Dance Championship. The NCA/NDA Championship is annually held in Daytona Beach, Fla., and nationally televised.

To cap things off, three dancers were nominated for the NDA All-American award and it was veteran dancer Destiney Lockhart who came away with the prestigious honor.


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Location, Stephens programs part of college decision, student-athletes agree

Alexis Alexander of Sparta, Mo., always assumed she’d attend the state’s flagship public university in Columbia.

Then she discovered Stephens.

“I found Stephens at a college fair and fell in love with it,” she said. “I’m happy because it’s a small campus, but still in Columbia, which seems like a fun city.”

Not only is it fun, the city also ranks No. 3 on’s “Top 10 Best College Towns” thanks to educational choices such as Stephens and the University of Missouri. The rankings, out today, looked at places that thrive academically, socially and culturally.

Alexander and the other student-athletes who moved in today are looking to thrive athletically, as well. Alexander will be playing volleyball for the Stars this fall when she’s not studying fashion marketing and management.

She and teammate Shelby Johnson, of Nixa, were already friends before both deciding to come to Stephens, although Johnson has a different story of how she came to be a Star.

“Stephens found me, remarkably,” she said. “I wasn’t sure about it and had changed directions, but my family asked me to check it out. They were sold on Stephens from the start.”
Johnson said she was on board after learning more about the fashion communications program, speaking with faculty and meeting with financial aid counselors.

“Everything fell into place,” she said.

Amber Steinwachs, of Blue Springs, was researching equestrian programs when she found Stephens, although she ultimately decided to pursue an elementary education degree. Asked what she’s looking forward to as a college student, Steinwachs didn’t hesitate. “Freedom,” she said.

Alexis Dieckmann, of Cole Camp, is a biology pre-med student who will also be on the volleyball team. Stephens was her first and only college visit.

“I love how friendly and small it is, and campus is gorgeous,” she said. “I’m ready for a totally different experience. I’m ready to see the world.”

Columbia is a good place to start, according to the Livability rankings.

“For most college-bound kids, this is really the first time they are choosing where they get to live,” said editor Matt Carmichael. “It shouldn’t be the only consideration when selecting a college, but it should be factored in.”

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Columbia named No. 3 'Best College Town'

Stephens’ home city of Columbia was recognized today as the No. 3 “Best College Town” by, a site that explores the best places to live and work.

The city is consistently ranked on the site, and is also included on the “Top 100 Best Places to Live” list.

Stephens is just steps from the city’s downtown District, which has numerous restaurants, coffee shops, clubs and boutiques. Also near campus is the sprawling Stephens Lake Park, which houses festivals such as Art in the Park and Roots, Blues & BBQ. Stephens itself hosts the annual Citizen Jane Film Festival, the only film festival dedicated to showcasing female filmmakers.

When choosing the best college towns, Livability editors first analyzed data from the Census, Esri and other sources to find cities with a high concentration of a highly educated population. They looked at cities that have a high population of 25- to 29-year-olds as an indicator of the town’s ability to retain graduates who decided it’s a cool enough place to stay after graduation.

Editors then narrowed down a short list based on their experiences crisscrossing the nation and based on further research into town and gown relationships.

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Stephens among Princeton Review's 'Best Colleges' guide, theatre program is No. 11

The Princeton Review has again named Stephens College one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education.

Stephens is featured in “The Best 380 Colleges,” which was released on Aug. 3. The College is also ranked No. 11 for its theatre program, up a notch from last year.

About 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges are featured in the annual college guide. It includes detailed profiles of the colleges with rating scores for all schools in eight categories, plus lists of top 20 colleges in various categories.

The Princeton Review bases selections on data, campus visits and feedback, including student surveys.

"Our 62 ranking lists provide students with a way to see the types of colleges that could help them achieve their future goals and dreams," said Robert Franek, Princeton Review's Senior VP-Publisher. "Every college in our book has outstanding academics.”

Students who were surveyed praised Stephens for empowering women to take on leadership roles in the workplace and the world. They also said the College offers strong academic programs and “gives its students everything they could possibly need to pursue their dreams,” encouraging them to “think independently” while offering “a plethora of opportunities to build a résumé and gain connections” in their field. They praised class sizes for being small and personal, as well.

“We’re thrilled to again be included in this prestigious college guide,” said Dr. Suzan Harkness, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “While college rankings provide just one snapshot of a larger academic picture, we are pleased to be recognized for our academic excellence and student satisfaction.”

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New M.F.A. program begins in L.A.

The first class of students enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts in TV and Screenwriting began coursework in Los Angeles this week.

Already, the group has heard from visiting lecturer Winnie Holzman, a dramatist and screenwriter known for having created the popular ABC series “My So-Called Life,” as well as the smash hit stage musical, “Wicked.”

“Winnie’s visit was really inspirational,” said Chase Thompson, an assistant professor of digital film at Stephens and a student in the program. “To hear from someone of her caliber was a great way to start this program. I’m excited to be a part of it.”

The M.F.A. is a low-residency program that allows students to work under professional mentors, including Director Ken LaZebnik, a screenwriter with credits including Hallmark’s “When Calls the Heart,” and “Touched by an Angel.”

The program is online with 10 days each semester at the Jim Henson Studios in L.A., where students engage in workshops with working writers, visit studios, connect with agents and learn the business of Hollywood.

While open to both women and men, one goal of the program is to boost the number of women working as screenwriters. Women accounted for just 11 percent of writers working on the top 250 films of 2014, according to a Celluloid Ceiling Report.

The M.F.A. has garnered much support among working professionals. Faculty members include Dr. Rosanne Welch, a veteran television writer whose credits include “Beverly Hills, 90210;” Carol Barbee, a writer and producer who has written for “Judging Amy” and “Providence;” Philip LaZebnik, best known for writing screenplays for films such as “Pocahontas” and “Mulan;” and Kathleen McGhee-Anderson, a writer and producer whose credits include “Little House on the Prairie” and “Any Day Now.”

“We’re off to a great start in L.A.,” LaZebnik said. “Our students, faculty and network of advisers are enthusiastic, ready to work and determined to make history in Hollywood.”

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Stars place seven eligible squads on NAIA Scholar-Team

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In recognition of student-athlete performances in the classroom, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) recently announced that 1,502 teams received Scholar-Team status during the 2014-15 academic year. Stephens College was well represented as all seven varsity teams eligible for award made the list.

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. All eligible varsity student-athletes contribute to the team’s cumulative GPA.

The softball program, coached by Tracy Dean, led all SC teams with a 3.61 grade-point average, followed by cross country (3.43), volleyball (3.39), golf (3.21), basketball (3.17), tennis (3.10) and soccer (3.03). Competitive dance (3.06), which is an emerging sport in the NAIA, is not eligible for the award until it has reached championship status.

“We are extremely proud of our Star athletics programs that were named NAIA Scholar-Teams,” Interim Athletics Director Ray Fron said. “These awards are a clear indication that our student-athletes put their best foot forward when it comes to academic achievement. We continue to recruit student-athletes who embody excellence in the classroom and on the field of play.”

Collectively, the Stephens athletics department posted an impressive grade-point average of 3.24 in 2014-15.

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Deputy police chief talks M.S.L., "dreaming up"

CLICK HERE TO WATCH: Jill Schlude, deputy police chief for the Columbia Police Department, discusses the Master in Strategic Leadership program at Stephens College.


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Senior interning at Calvin Klein fashion office

Senior Emily Csengody is interning for Calvin Klein in New York City this summer, a position she equates to winning the lottery.

“At least that’s what it feels like to me,” she said. “I work in the brand’s fashion office with 11 of the most creative, talented, knowledgeable and influential individuals that I’ve met in the fashion industry.”

Csengody is working as an assistant to photographers and stylists, helping coordinate fashion shoots and fittings.

One of her most memorable experiences to date was assisting famous French stylist Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele with an upcoming fragrance campaign.

“I got to spend the entire day working alongside Carlyne observing her styling tactics and admiring her remarkable French accent,” Csengody said.

While in New York, Csengody has been taking the opportunity to network with professionals, making sure she introduces herself and follows up with them on social media. She is also assisting her sister and brother-in-law as they prepare to open a restaurant in the city.

Although she feels fortunate to have snagged the internship, it’s taken more than luck to work for the prestigious company.

“I cannot thank Stephens enough for the preparation for my internship with Calvin Klein,” Csengody said. “From the fashion terminology I learned and all the classes I have completed, I have been able to confidently accomplish all projects and tasks assigned to me. My first week, I was asked to pack a styling kit to send abroad to Amsterdam. I felt incredibly prepared and even contacted my teacher thanking her for her excellent advice.”

What she loves most about the fashion program at Stephens are the real world opportunities.

“It allows us to experience real life situations that would happen in the fashion industry,” she said. “Last semester, I was a part of the Fashion Show Production class and got to be a part of building the fashion show from the ground up. The whole experience took months of work, but my classmates and I had something to show for it. This experience prepared me for entering the fashion industry and to know what to expect if I ever decide to go into fashion show production.”

Csengody said her internship has given her a better understanding of the modeling industry, as well, experience that will come in handy when she goes after her dream job of styling editorial spreads for a high fashion magazine.

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School of Design faculty to present at ITAA conference

Three faculty members from the Stephens College School of Design will present an abstract at the International Textiles and Apparel Association Conference in Santa Fe, N.M., this fall.

Presenting will be Dr. Monica McMurry, dean and professor; Courtney Cothren, an assistant professor; and Kirsteen Buchanan, an associate professor.

The group will discuss the fashion program’s market day—a unique event that lets students experience the industry from all angles.

“We’ve figured out a way to replicate that market experience,” Cothren said. “Designers set up booths, fashion marketing and management students get assignments on how many pieces to buy, and then they have a chance to practice negotiating.”

Fashion marketing and management students have to actually buy garments and pieces as part of their senior capstones, so this gives them an introduction into that experience, Cothren said.

Fashion communication students cover the market day event and later style and feature the collections.

“Market day brings together all of the things we emphasize and value in the School of Design, and that’s the real-world scenario experience,” McMurry said. “It allows all of the components to come together so students can see the larger picture.”

The ITAA Conference will be held Nov. 11 to Nov. 13, and several members of the fashion advisory board will be present.

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Johnson serving as director of the Master of Physician Assistant Studies

Eric Johnson is overseeing the creation of a new Master of Physician Assistant Studies program at Stephens.

Johnson, who is director of the program, is currently working with accrediting agencies to ensure the PA is ready for the first class to matriculate in fall of 2016.

Prior to coming to Stephens, Johnson was a Physician Assistant and Clinical Assistant Professor working in critical care and emergency medicine in Columbia. He served as Vice President for the Missouri Academy of Physician Assistants and was the program’s Director for the University of Missouri’s Physician Assistant Residencies in Acute Care Medicine and Hospitalist Medicine. He also was the academic advisor for the University of Missouri’s Pre-PA Association; helping future PAs attain admission into PA school.

Johnson earned his undergraduate degree in General Studies with an emphasis in biology, chemistry and philosophy from the University of Missouri–Columbia. He graduated from Missouri State University in 2009 with a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.

Prior to his career as a physician assistant he was a paramedic and volunteer firefighter with 14 years of experience. He considers himself privileged to have assisted at both Ground Zero on 9/11/2001 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Specialist with Missouri Task Force One.

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Senior interning for game development company

Senior Fiona Kerr is breaking into the male-dominated field of gaming with an internship at Serenity Forge, a video game development company in Boulder, Colo.

Kerr is working with a team of six other interns to develop a new game that is scheduled to be released at the end of the summer.

A native of Scotland, Kerr is an avid gamer who is majoring in graphic design communications at Stephens, where she has been able to tailor her studies to her interests.

“My advisor, Kate Gray, has been with me every step of the way,” Kerr said. “Even though she doesn’t personally have experience in the video game industry, she has been 100 percent supportive and one of my biggest advocates. She was the one who suggested I take a summer class on 3D modeling, which gave me skills I still use and is also where I met my game industry teacher and mentor, Jeff Byers.”

Kerr is an avid gamer who only recently decided to make it a career path.

“I have played video games since I was a kid, and I kept saying for the longest time I wanted to make video games or work for a game company some day,” she said. “Last year, I decided I should stop daydreaming and make it a reality.”

She credits attending Stephens for giving her the courage to pursue opportunities.

“Stephens has definitely helped me grow more confident, and part of that is because it is a women’s college,” she said.

Kerr found the internship through networking at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, where she went to present her portfolio of work from her graphic design classes at Stephens. There, she met the Serenity Forge team, and representatives suggested she apply.

“It might seem like an intimidating field to get in to,” she said, “but if it’s something you’re passionate about, it’s well worth it.”

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Students create commedia dell'arte masks

Students studying costume design and technical theatre in this year’s Summer Theatre Institute had the opportunity to design and create commedia dell’arte that was used in the program’s acting classes.

Students were tasked with coming up with a character, designing it in clay and painting and decorating the pieces.

“Festival masks date back to the 16th century and are becoming more and more popular again,” said Cynda Galikin, who taught the course. “The art form never really goes away, and there’s been a resurgence of interest within schools that teach acting.”

Traditionally, commedia dell’arte masks were used to make characters clear to audiences through exaggerated expressions. In some cases, the masks also helped convey the story in less than ideal lighting conditions and to audience members in the back of the theatre, Galikin said.

The art form came to the U.S. in the 1960s and was perhaps most famously featured on “The Masks,” a 1964 episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

This was Galikin’s last class at Stephens, where she’s been an assistant professor of costume design for more than six years. She left the College to return to professional theatre work.

“I’ll miss it,” she said. “There are a lot of things I love about Stephens. The costume program at Stephens is growing, so I’m leaving at an exciting time.”

Students in STI wrapped up work with a musical revue on June 22 after producing five shows this summer.

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Guest artists bring experience, passion to Summer Dance

Students enrolled in Stephens Summer Dance are studying new techniques and movements to express themselves—culminating in dance pieces that will be featured in the upcoming Summer Dance Concert.

Guest artists Martha Tornay, founder and director of the East Village Dance Project in New York, and Tawanda Chabikwa, a Zimbabwean artist, are both emphasizing self reflection and appreciation in the new works they’re choreographing for the concert, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, June 26-27.

Tornay’s piece, set to Gustav Mahler’s Adagietto, part of his popular Sympathy No. 5, is a reworked version of a dance she choreographed in New York that reflects the notion that every ending is a beginning.

“It recognizes the value of moving on and that the end of something is always the beginning of something else,” she said. “The book is never closed, but rather each experience leads to the next.”

Likewise in her choreography, “the end of every step is the beginning of the next,” she said. “Any pause is purposeful.”

Stephens dancers have put their own touches on it, essentially creating a new work.

“It’s very sophisticated and the choreography is very challenging,” Tornay said.

Chabikwa’s piece is a more contemporary dance that pays tribute to tradition while also celebrates the personal experiences of the young women.

“We play with the understanding of why we dance and finding one’s own voice and inner power,” he said. “And they explore what it’s like to be a woman through their stories, both personal and their communal experiences.”

The piece is grounded in African traditions and Zimbabwean church music with elements of martial arts and Haitian dance influence, Chabikwa said. He is allowing the students to pick out their own costumes, which will be everyday wear.

“I like the idea of being grateful and thankful and allowing our bodies to express that gratitude,” he said. “They’ll be wearing pedestrian clothing as though they could dance this piece down the street.”

Chabikwa has a collaborative style. He traveled the world learning various forms of martial arts and explored painting before turning to dance. He has a Master of Fine Arts in Dance, has worked with professional dancer and his mentor, Alison Chase, and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Dance at The Ohio State University.

Students have been receptive of Chabikwa’s unique style.

“They’re amazing,” he said. “They’re here to dance, and they give it their all. They are taking risks, discovering all of these things inside them. And they’re teaching me, too, concepts like mind over matter.”

Tornay’s students had to get beyond a bit of intimidation: She has a long and incredible dance background. A retired ballet dancer, Tornay worked with masters such as Madame Gabriela Darvash and Merce Cunningham before turning her attention to teaching and choreography.

“The notion of a ballet teacher with Russian training from New York—it took a couple of classes for them to realize I’m human with experiences I want to share with them,” she quipped.

That’s the beauty of bringing in guest artists, said Elizabeth Hartwell, Stephens Summer Dance director. Students have to learn to work alongside the best professional dancers in the country.

Columbia audiences, though, might benefit the most, when Tornay and Chabikwa’s original pieces debut at the Summer Dance Concert.

“There will be many styles,” Hartwell said, “and each is delicious to watch.”

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Senior film will explore passage of time

When she returns from conducting an internship in Guatemala, Livvy Runyon ’16 will start work on her senior film, a story grounded in the universal truth that everyone eventually passes on, leaving loved ones behind.

“It wasn’t necessarily my intention to write a melancholic film, but when I sat down and thought about the story I felt I truly needed to tell, it had a lot to do with our impermanence in this world,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed contemplating the passage of time—how one generation takes the place of another in a continuous cycle of individual lives, thoughts, emotions and relationships.”

“Home” will tell the story of a solitary farmer who, after the death of his dog, clings to routine to try to fill the days before his own passing—discovering that life can be more painful than death.

It’s partly based on Runyon’s own experience after losing a close friend in 2013.

“I think that loss solidified my personal need to tell a story about being left behind in this world when those you love are gone,” she said.

Runyon and the crew will be shooting on location on her family’s 36-acre farm in Rolla later this summer. Runyon’s father, Stanley, and brother, Logan, are writing and performing the soundtrack.

“Every step of the way, my family has been my support system for this project,” Runyon said.

She’s also getting plenty of help from the Stephens community. Haley Padilla ’15 is serving as producer, Jordan Laguna ’14 is assistant director, and other students and alumnae are also on the crew.

“I’m really excited to work on this project,” Padilla said. “I know Livvy is a wonderful filmmaker with a great vision, and I wanted to help her make that happen. I love working on film sets, and I know this will be a fun one to be on, despite the somber subject of the film. It’s a story that many people can relate to. I’m excited to see how the film does after it’s finished and am thrilled for all for the support we already have.”

Runyon is currently raising money for the project, hoping to raise $2,500 to pay for lodging, transportation, equipment and compensation. Contributions can be made through her Indiegogo campaign.

Runyon plans to screen “Home” at the Senior Film Showcase next year before submitting it to SXSW, the Chicago International Film Festival, Kansas City FilmFest and other film festivals. She believes the film will resonate with audiences.

“Ultimately I hope that my film can take people to a real place in their heart,” she said, “where they understand just how beautiful and important it is to measure life’s riches not in money but in the relationships you have with other people.”

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Trends to the Runway participants study fashion

Girls participating in Trends to the Runway, the Stephens summer fashion camp, oohed and awed—but also heckled—at fashion from the 1960s through early 2000s during a trip to the College’s fashion archives yesterday.

Students in the camp are studying trends from 1900 through 2000 for a timeline project they’re wrapping up this week. Yesterday, Jennifer Cole, assistant curator of the collection, pulled selective garments to show just how much fashion has evolved—or devolved—over the past 50 years.

A sleeveless A-line striped dress with a large pocket watch graphic from the 1960s was a hit among the middle school girls, as well as a sheer white jumpsuit complete with ruffles. Patchwork denim short-shorts for men and crocheted vests from the 1970s, not so much. (Those in the room who experienced the ’70s attempted to explain the collective cultural mindset.)

Understanding the history of fashion is one of the main goals of the Trends to the Runway camp, said Sheryl Farnon, assistant professor and camp director.

“Clothing is simple now, disposable, but people didn’t always look at it that way,” she said. “People took care of their garments. They altered and restyled them to keep wearing them.”

The camp also teaches students how clothing is made. Participants have a chance to experience it first hand by making tote bags, complete with an originally designed and embroidered logo.

“Some of our participants are interested in fashion as a career, and that’s great, but I really hope students just get a better understanding of how clothing is made,” Farnon said. “It’s not an easy process.”

Parents and friends will have an opportunity to see the girls’ designs during a showcase from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. tomorrow in Room 108 of Catherine Webb Studio.

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Camp Citizen Jane teaches girls filmmaking

Samantha Harrison, a rising seventh grader at Smithton Middle School, signed up to participate in Camp Citizen Jane this year because she was interested in films.

She’s since discovered that there’s a lot more that goes into movie making than Hollywood magic.

“I’m learning just how much goes on behind the scenes, like how important light and sound are,” she said. “I now have a lot of respect for the process.”

Camp Citizen Jane, open to middle and high school students from Columbia Public Schools, introduces girls to filmmaking concepts and also allows them to experience it firsthand.

“We introduce them to media literacy and women in film, then talk about story choice and how to film it,” said Paula Elias, executive director of Citizen Jane. “Then they break into modules and learn about light, sound, camera and the importance of each of those roles.”

Students were then challenged to create a story that included conflict and resolution, prepare a storyboard, find a location and explore all of the jobs that happen on set. Yesterday, they filmed footage that is now being edited and prepared for a screening on Friday.

Gabby Guerra, a 10th grader at Battle High School, is interested in a career in lighting. She’s a Camp Citizen Jane veteran—she’s participated since she was in sixth grade. Yesterday, she was part of a team working on a short film in Windsor Auditorium about a cellist who has an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction on stage.

Across campus, Kaite Ritchie, a 10th grader at Rock Bridge, was working on the set of a film involving a mysterious pit. (She and teammates adjusted lighting to make the ball pit in the Student Union seem spookier.)

“Learning film is interesting,” she said. “And because I’m older than a lot of the girls here, I’ve gotten to develop leadership skills, as well.”

A camp for more advanced young filmmakers begins on Monday.

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Collins conducting internship for Television Academy Foundation

Senior Jordan Collins is participating in the Television Academy Foundation’s student internship program in North Hollywood this summer.

As a production management intern, Collins is working in both an office and on set of a television show.

“Each intern is assigned a host production company to work for,” she said. “I will be working for Tremendous Entertainment. They produce shows like Bizarre Foods, Ghost Asylum and many more.”

The academy—which bestows the prestigious Emmy Awards—also hosts networking events for interns throughout the summer, and Collins is eager to take advantage of them.

“I hope to gain many connections through professionals and other interns in the program,” she said. “TV is my passion and what I plan on doing after graduation, so I will gain so much knowledge and experience from this internship to prepare me for the job. This is my dream internship because I know it’s one step closer to a great career in the industry and a chance for me to learn.”

The foundation selects roughly 50 college students from around the country for the program each year. Collins learned about it from an alumna who also participated in the program. She credited faculty and her collegiate experiences for the internship.

“I don’t think I would be here if I hadn’t transferred to Stephens three years ago,” she said. “I have learned so much both through classes and opportunities provided by Stephens. I work for both True/False Film Fest and Citizen Jane, I work in the School of Performing Arts’ box office, and I stage manage the senior dance concerts. All of these opportunities have helped me gain skills I need for this internship. The faculty is so supportive in everything I strive to do—which is a lot since I am a film major, theatre minor and business minor.”

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STI's 'Funny Ladies' promises lots of laughs

Women just aren’t funny, the late essayist Christopher Hitchens concluded in a 2007 Vanity Fair essay.

Au contraire. The women of Stephens Summer Theatre Institute are out to prove just how wrong Hitchens was—by honoring some of the great female comedians in American history. “Funny Ladies” starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Warehouse Theatre and is free and open to the public. It’s rated PG-13 for mature themes.

Attendees can expect to be greeted with an over-the-top impression of Maya Rudolph's parodoy of Beyonce singing the National Anthem followed by a re-enactment of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s Golden Globe Awards banter. Then, Hitchens will opine on his theory of unfunny females followed by a parade of some of the funniest comedians over the last century—all of whom, of course, happen to be women.

“This is a salute to American women comedians and great comedic writing,” said director Lamby Hedge.

The production will follow the evolution of female comedy, starting with the worldly wit and wisdom of Dorothy Parker, Fran Lebowitz and Nora Ephron showcasing the sophisticated comedy that dominated in the 1930s.

“World War II changed everything,” Hedge said. “When the boys came marching home, women were put back in the box. The comedy that came out of that era was domesticated. It was still very smart, but very down-to-earth.”

That era will be represented by a portrayal of author Erma Bombeck, whose columns and books chronicled life of the everyday suburban wife.

Housewife humor was followed by what Hedge calls the “restless spirits”—Roseanne Barr as the disgruntled mom and the no-holds-barred Joan Rivers, both of whom will be featured in the production.

“Then something wonderful happened,” Hedge said. “The Saturday Night Live phenomenon. Finally, there was a place for smart women to write about something other then relationships.”

In addition to Poehler and Fey, STI will highlight the work of Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer—as well as Samantha Bee from John Stewart’s “The Daily Show” and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

While audiences can expect lots of laughs, portraying great comedians has also proven to build some foundational skills for budding actors. It’s allowed them to practice delivering monologues—which are required at most auditions.

Students were also charged with researching and studying their respective characters to mimic voice patterns and mannerisms without necessarily trying to impersonate them.

“It’s a fine line,” Hedge said. “There’s a level of responsibility having to walk in the shoes of someone else.”

STI concludes Monday, June 22, with the annual musical revue.

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Muller named dean of School of Health Sciences

Dr. Susan M. Muller—an experienced higher education leader with a strong background in health and exercise science—has been named Dean of the School of Health Sciences at Stephens College.

Muller most recently served as Director of the School of Health Sciences at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, where she developed a new vision, mission statement and values for the school. She also helped begin the process of developing a new M.S. degree in Athletic Training and worked with faculty to complete a proposal for a B.S. in Nutrition and Fitness.

Prior to that, she was on faculty at Murray State University, where she served as Dean of the College of Health Sciences & Human Services, and at Salisbury University, where she served as Chair of the Department of Health and Sport Sciences and Director of the Health Education Program.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Muller to Stephens,” said Dr. Suzan Harkness, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “An experienced health educator, administrator and leader, she has the qualifications we were seeking to take our health sciences programming to new levels. Her proven ability to provide strategic planning, develop new programming and identify innovative partnerships will solidify Stephens’ reputation as a leader in health sciences.”

Muller takes the helm of the School of Health Sciences at an exciting time, Harkness said. The school recently became independent of humanities as part of a college-wide restructuring that aligns programs into four schools, each with a clear, focused mission—the School of Health Sciences; the School of Design, which includes fashion and marketing programs; the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, which includes film, education, equestrian, English, creative writing and psychology; and the School of Performing Arts.

Science programming at Stephens is evolving, as well. This summer, the college will begin accepting applications for the new Master of Physician Assistant Studies with the first cohort expected to matriculate in August 2016. Last year, the college also added a Bachelor of Health Science and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Pre-Health Professions that will allow college graduates to pick up the science credits they need to apply to medical, veterinary science or other pre-professional programs. Earlier this year, the college created the Academy of Health Sciences to promote additional science programming on campus.

“I am excited to be joining the faculty and staff at Stephens College during this time of academic restructuring and growth in the health sciences,” Muller said. “The Health Sciences faculty and I will work with Dr. Harkness to further develop our academic offerings. I anticipate new opportunities for Stephens College students to study in the health science disciplines in the near future.”

Muller holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in Health Education from the University of Maryland; a B.S. in Biological Science from Salisbury University; and a B.S. in Health and Physical Education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She was elected a Fellow for the North American Society of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Sport and Dance Professionals in 2013, and in 2011, was selected as a Fellow for the American Association of Health Education. While at Salisbury, she earned the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2006. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), is a Certified Sports Nutrition Consultant, and a Master Certified Health Education Specialist.

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Hudson to intern at Kentucky Horse Park

Alexis Hudson ’16 will conduct her summer internship at Kentucky Horse Park, one of the largest and best equine competition facilities in the world.

“It’s huge,” she said. “Kentucky Horse Park is more than 1,000 acres, an equine theme park and a working horse barn—one of the only facilities of its kind.”

This summer, Hudson will take care of grooming in the park’s three barns: the Hall of Champions Barn, Horses of the World Barn and Big Barn.

“I’m really excited about the Big Barn and working with draft horses, which are a bigger breed of horse than I work with at Stephens,” she said.

During her internship, Hudson will also help prepare tours, presentations and horse shows.

Hudson applied for the internship at the suggestion of barn manager Sharon Marohl. After sending a cover letter and resume, the volunteer coordinator contacted her and invited her to the May 12 orientation.

Hudson transferred to Stephens from the University of Missouri to get a more equine-focused education. She praised Stephens’ program for preparing her for the internship.

“Stephens has done a great job of preparing us for the real world,” she said. “I’m more excited than anything. I’m ready to put my skills to the test in the equine industry.”

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STI 'sets the bar' for other schools, NYC director says

Stephens theatre students have set a new standard of expectations for other schools, according to Matt Opatrny.

“We teach at a lot of other places, including other countries, and Stephens is the bar for us,” he said. “We always compare other places to Stephens, and that includes graduate-level programs.”

It’s high praise from a wildly successful professional. Opatrny and wife Jessica Burr are co-founders of Blessed Unrest, a revolutionary theatre in New York that recently received the New York Innovative Theatre Award recognizing the company’s body of work. They have been invited to perform their work, “Doruntine,” a collaboration with Teatri ODA out of Kosova, in Switzerland in 2016.

This is the second time the duo has been to Stephens to work with students in the Summer Theatre Institute. Last year, they produced an original show based on the life of a cave explorer. This year, they’re guiding students through the creative processes.

“Last year was our first time here, and we weren’t sure what to expect,” Burr said. “This year, knowing how amazingly resourceful and creative the students are and how hard they work, we gave them more control over the creative process.”

Six student writers have created various narratives around the theme of separation. Others have choreographed dance numbers.

Creating an original, high-quality piece in two weeks is challenging; students are working from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Even with long hours, it’s not something Opatrny would tackle anywhere else.

“We would not take on a two-week devised theatre production at other places like we do here,” he said. “At other places, we have to teach how to work first. We come here and just start working—we don’t have to teach them how to work first. It’s a pleasure to work.”

The end result will be a tapestry of narratives that will tell a clear story but that will still leave room for audience imagination and interpretation. Attendees can expect tales of separation, beautiful costumes and a minimalistic set involving water.

“What’s unique about this project is it’s not girls putting on a play that’s been done a hundred times,” Opatrny said. “It’s a beautiful show. There’s a lot of movement, great humor and wonderful singing.”

Burr and Opatrny held their first production in New York just days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In the nearly 15 years since, they’ve seen other companies embrace devised theatre.

“A wave of experimental theatre came about in the 1960s, but died in the ’80s because of political and cultural changes,” Opatrny said. “We’re seeing a resurgence of it. Theatre is more physical and dance and theatre are overlapping.”

Having the opportunity to experience devised theatre has allowed Stephens students to explore a wide range of freedom, Burr said. “We’re empowering them as actors and creators. And we hope they continue to work on and create their own work because they’re so good.”

Audiences can catch the original The Blessed Unrest Project at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Warehouse Theatre. It’s free and open to the public.

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