Finding a Family at Dixie

Coming to Dixie, I knew I needed to get involved in order to experience the entirety of what Dixie had to offer. In my first year here, I found myself in the Dixie State University Student Association as a committee member. After hours of handing out flyers and sticking papers in all the bathroom stalls on campus, I applied for the Admin. Assistant to the Vice President of Academics position and became a part of the Student Senate. At the time, it was impossible to even imagine the impact student government would have on my life.

Not only was I exposed to a variety of opportunities and networking situations with important administrators and legislators, I created friendships that would last for years to come. A handful of us even began to hang out weekly and ended up on a camping trip and hot air balloon excursion.

Fast forward two years to Spring 2016 and I had made the decision to run for the Vice President of Academics position, a spot that had originally seemed boring and stuffy but I had slowly come to understand the importance of. That’s when I received a call I had never prepared for. My father had a massive heart attack and had passed away.

Before you say “I couldn’t do it” or “there’s no way I could handle that,” let me remind you that every step in your life has slowly prepared you to survive what had previously seemed impossible. We as humans are made to survive and the tools for survival are provided for us. My only way to survive leaving my family, coming back to school, and running a campaign was this massive support system I had here at Dixie. Every individual friendship leading up to this shock was crucial to my decision. I was blessed with the knowledge that I would not be alone so far away from home. Tears were shed, hugs were shared, and these friends still build me up every day.

Without the support system and strong bond I have in my student government family, it would have been an easy decision to stay home and quit school for a while. However, every day, I thank my lucky stars that I was blessed with these amazing people who surround me.

— Kendra Jensen, Senior in English

Stumbling through Transitional Math. Stutteringly responding to teachers’ questions. Hesitantly deciding to be an elementary school teacher while trying to declare a major. Clumsily attempting to make new friends. All of this general awkwardness defined my freshman year at Dixie State. When it was over, I felt like I’d made it through some type of strange, Life of Pi-esque tropical island forest and now stood on the beach by myself — more comfortable, but still alone.

My sophomore year began and an unexpected rescue boat arrived. I received an email from the Writing Center (WC) supervisor stating that they were hiring. This, I thought, could be an opportunity to make friends, so I applied. During the interview, the supervisor placed a one-page essay on the desk and asked me to pretend I was tutoring her. It was intimidating, but somehow I got the job.

Working in the WC changed the direction of my college career — and life — in countless ways.

At first, I barely had the confidence to speak up in front of people, let alone give others advice. But slowly, it became easier. As I helped fellow students with their writing assignments, I became a better writer. Describing rules of the English language cemented them in my own mind.

The WC, as it turns out, is a hangout spot for the coolest of nerds. We discuss movies, literature, politics, philosophy, dating, and life in general. We offer each other support. We have parties. I finally made my first group of friends since high school.

After years of searching, I found what I’m confident in and passionate about: writing. I also found the people I’m comfortable around: writers. Needless to say, I switched my major from elementary education to English and haven’t looked back since.

Working on campus, specifically within an academic department — being a tutor, a professor’s aid, a research assistant, an intern, etc. — can give you valuable experience. It can help you explore possible career paths and discover what you enjoy the most. Through experiential learning, an on-campus job prepares you in a unique way.  You will find friends and mentors, a support system, within your field of interest.

Now beginning my final semester, I’ve almost made it through. And my university job has helped me all along the way.

For your chance to get involved on campus, check out the current list of student job openings at Dixie State.

— Ashley Imlay, Senior in English

Perfect for those interested in extending their learning outside the classroom, Dixie State University’s weekly lecture series Dixie Forum hosts incredible people who are pursuing excellence in a variety of disciplines. Dixie Forum introduces the St. George and DSU communities to diverse ideas and covers a variety of topics every Tuesday from noon to 12:50 p.m. in the Dunford Auditorium in the Browning Resource Center. While Dixie Forum is offered as a class it is also open to the community. Below, student Bailee Christiansen explains how the forum has served as a window to the world for her.

I was introduced to the Dixie Forum lecture series in the fall of 2013. I’m honestly not sure how I had never heard of it before then, but I just happened to see the one-credit course while registering for Spring 2014 and figured I could always use some electives to meet the credit requirement for my scholarship. It seemed like a simple enough class; all I had to do was attend 10 of the 12 lectures and participate in two cultural events as a volunteer, participant, or attendee. Outside of this, I didn’t know what to expect from the course. What would I learn about? What events could I use as my cultural events?

Each week I discovered more about different careers and in turn learned more about myself. I had the chance to learn about the process of a watercolor painter, the anatomy of a bird of prey, the importance of understanding terrorism and war, and how to improve a hospital’s trauma unit. I found myself enraptured in the opportunity to immerse myself in these different aspects of educational and job pursuits. After the first few weeks, I invited my family along and we all began to love listening to the eclectic bunch of speakers who came each week on Tuesday at noon. After each lecture, I would sit down and compose my thoughts, trying to determine what I had learned from the speaker because, without a doubt, I always came away with something new.

Not only are students learning about DSU, future career options, and numerous topics through the Dixie Forum, they are also encouraged to engage with the community through two cultural events that are meant to span beyond the weekly lectures. It encouraged me to research what was going on in the community and find something that not only interest me but could also be a great learning experience for me. Sometimes these things just fell in my lap, though, and that is what happened for one of my cultural events during my first semester taking Dixie Forum.

My grandma often attended the Dixie Forum lectures with me, and during one of the lectures, she pulled out a flyer that featured a list of upcoming events on the DSU campus. She pointed out one event in particular called “Traveling Shoes,” which was essentially a one-woman show. Janice Brooks was the actress who would be performing for the audience and the play traced the stories of eight African-American women. I loved how she shifted between the personas of each character and how much research went into each of the characters she portrayed. She portrayed famous women from history, which would have taken time to discover the story she wanted to portray and how to accurately portray women who still remain a topic of conversation. She also highlighted lesser-known women who still occupy an important part of history, requiring even more time and research. She did not portray the most popular stories of these women, either; she picked lesser-known stories that would feel new to the audience.

No semester for me is ever complete without attending at least one Dixie Forum. It has become such a big part of my experience at Dixie State University because it encourages me to branch out and experience elements of so many different disciplines. It taught me to not only engage with the events on campus but also with those in the community and actively learn about different cultural aspects of the community and educational offerings of DSU.

— Bailee Christiansen, Senior in English