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When a 5-year-old girl starts dancing to “I’m Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO with a bunch of college students, you know that the night will be one of joy and entertainment. Phi Mu’s recent philanthropy project, a dance marathon in support of the Children’s Miracle Network, was just that kind of night.
In the past, Phi Mu has organized Hoop-a-Palooza to raise money for its philanthropy but decided to turn to a different event this year. Junior Laura Miller, the philanthropy chair, proposed the new idea to the chapter only a few months ago.
“I was really thrilled with how my chapter responded to the change,” said Miller.
While Hoop-a-Palooza is an event that Phi Mu holds nationally, the Transylvania chapter discovered that it just wasn’t having the same effect on Transy’s campus. The idea of a dance marathon quickly became a reality after Miller found out about the Children’s Miracle Network and the idea of Dance Blue, a dance marathon held at the University of Kentucky.
Transy’s event, however, directly benefited the Kentucky Children’s Hospital rather than the general organization of the Children’s Miracle Network, which UK chose to support.
The dance marathons are sponsored nationally by the Children’s Miracle Network at over 150 universities. These marathons typically range from 12 to 40 hours, but the Transy marathon lasted only four hours.
“Full-fledged, 12-plus-hour dance marathons usually take eight to 10 months to plan,” said Miller. “Because our chapter had only had a few months to pull this event together, we advertised it as a ‘preview event’ (for marathons to come).”
During the event, participants danced to music from all different genres, made cards for the families of the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, took pictures in a photo booth and watched the UK vs. University of Louisville game on one of the two screens set up.
Part of the dance included meeting one of the families that benefits from the Children’s Miracle Network, the Schmidts. Kyleigh Schmidt, age 5, and her mother Amber Schmidt spoke briefly at the beginning of the event before the dancing started. Kyleigh even once grabbed the microphone and said, “Thank you all for being here.”
Once she left the stage Kyleigh began to run around and dance with everyone she saw, including Stitches, the mascot for the Kentucky Children’s Hospital, who made a brief appearance at the event.
“This is why we’re here, to do this for the kids,” said first-year Nzinga Donovan, a member of Phi Mu.
The fraternity raised a preliminary amount of over $3,750, with other sponsorships and donations still being tallied.
Of the 100-plus participants who showed up to the dance over the course of the night, Miller reports only hearing good things.
“At the end of the night I kept hearing people say how they wished ‘so-and-so’ had come. That really is encouraging for next year,” Miller said.
Phi Mu hopes to make this event a yearly occurrence with increasing size and awareness as its knowledge of and experience with holding a dance marathon expands.
Although the event is over, people can still donate and those interested should contact Miller via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students take a break for a picture during Phi Mu’s dance marathon event Saturday, which raised money for the Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
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Ever wonder why we’re required to submit writing samples to the school at the end of each year? And, not to mention, to do so during a time in the term when we’re all fighting to make it through the most treacherous parts of our classes and our millions of extracurricular activities?
Logging on to Moodle and clicking a few buttons might seem to some like another mindless and pointless task to add to your to-do list. Others, however, including Dr. Scott Whiddon, the director of the Writing Center, see it as helping the university improve its curriculum.
This portfolio project, which has been under way for several years, is not solely for major courses and classes with a writing focus.
“It allows students to turn in pieces of sustained writing from a variety of genres, from a variety of disciplines and from a variety of rhetorical situations,” said Whiddon. “This is not to assess the students but to assess ourselves as faculty.”
The project is meant to answer questions such as “How successful is Transy at teaching writing?” and “How successful is the faculty at developing a culture of writing at Transy?” and “How can the faculty help students become better writers both in their own disciplines and across disciplines?”
“In this job market, biologists have to have the skills not only to write in their discipline, but also to explain themselves to people from other disciplines,” said Whiddon.
At the end of the academic year, first-years are required to submit four writing samples, and students are required to submit two for every subsequent year. While in the past this has been a paper-based initiative, those in charge of the project have jumped on the “going green” movement and, with the help of Instructional Technology Coordinator Steve Poynter and Vice President for Information Technology Jason Whitaker, the project is now paperless.
Whiddon emphasized that by submitting their writing samples, students are contributing to the intellectual mission of the college.
The committee hopes to measure growth in writing from the first year to the fourth year and how Area V classes play into student growth.
“We are looking at such questions as ‘Does the number of Area V classes that a student takes overall in her or his time as a Transylvania student drastically affect their overall growth as a writer?’” Whiddon said.
With great success, Whiddon and one of the writing assessment committee’s chairs, Dr. George Kaufman, assistant professor of chemistry, presented the project at a faculty open hour meeting. It has now been accepted to the International Writing Across the Curriculum Conference this June.
Other members of the committee include Dr. Melissa Fortner, associate professor of psychology, and Dr. Jeremy Paden, assistant professor of Spanish.
“This isn’t a punitive thing,” said Whiddon. “We aren’t judging individual writing. We’re about gathering a large body of texts from a variety of rhetorical situations, disciplines and genres so we can get a ground-level sense of the kinds of writing students do at Transylvania, how they grow as students, and what we can do in terms of faculty development to help us be an even better faculty than we already are.”
Portfolio submissions are due April 13. Simply log on to Moodle and follow the instructions to submit your samples.