Who’s Zoom-ing Who? Alumni help students prepare for the future with mock virtual job interviews

In today’s post, I’d like to tell you about something that happened in the business school that exemplifies so much of what Longwood is about, especially
—Our commitment to preparing our students for the future, whatever that may look like
—Our faculty’s innovative thinking and willingness to go the extra mile
—Our network of alums who care about the success of our students and give so generously of their time 

Here’s what happened.

Like most Longwood professors, Patti Carey, lecturer and director of student engagement and special initiatives in the College of Business and Economics, was faced this semester with the challenge of converting her in-person class, Management 391, to an online format. The class focuses on helping students to develop professional skills, including those needed to pull off a stellar job interview.

Mock interviews with volunteer business professionals are a critical component. They’re normally conducted in person on campus—but that wasn’t possible this semester.

So Carey and Nancy Postans, assistant director of Longwood’s McGaughy Professional Development Center, set about converting the interviews for 75 students to a virtual/remote format. The logistics of arranging those interviews with the 16 volunteer interviewers—half of whom were Longwood alums—was not a simple matter, but they got it done.

And, in fact, conducting the interviews using a virtual format was right on trend.

Now, more than ever, companies are relying on videoconferencing technology like Zoom, Google Hangout and Yello—as well as regular phone calls—to screen candidates. Some companies are even skipping in-person interviews altogether in the hiring process and may continue to do so after social-distancing requirements are lifted.

If you’ve never done one, a virtual job interview can be nerve-wracking the first time around, but the students taking Carey’s class this semester will be able to play it cool when they face that situation in the future.

“Some members of Generation Z seem to have an aversion to talking on the phone—it’s called ‘telephonophobia,’” said Carey. “Helping our students feel comfortable and confident in speaking professionally on the phone and being able to sell themselves well during a phone or virtual interview is critical.”

The volunteers, who work in a range of settings from businesses to government agencies to a biopharmaceutical company, each interviewed from three to seven students.

In addition to giving their time to conduct interviews, the Longwood alums who volunteered also took the time to answer my questions about the process.

“In my role I conduct many interviews,” said Jocelyn Blanchard ’99, senior manager for technology training at CarMax. “I’ve seen great people get passed up not because they aren’t qualified but because they couldn’t articulate why they were the best fit for the role. Interviewing is an art and, like many other things in life, the more you practice and get feedback, the better you’ll get.

“Video interviews are like in-person interviews in some ways, but different in others. Teaching students how to get familiar with the nuances of video interviewing is just as important as getting them prepared for in-person interviews,” she added.

Dan Hughes ’13, a senior manager at BGS Consulting in the Washington, D.C., area, interviewed seven students this semester and has helped out as an interviewer for the last five years.

“You could definitely tell it was more nerve-wracking for most of the students this year,” said Hughes, who has helped with the interviews for the last five years. “It’s a little harder for them to read my body language in a video. I also noticed that the students were pausing in their answers, and those gaps in the conversation seemed more prominent than in person.”

Hughes said students became less nervous and more comfortable as the interview progressed, indicating that the experience would help prepare them for interviews when a real job was at stake.

Gillian Coleman ’22, an economics major and a student in the class this year, agrees.

“I think having our interviews like this was extremely valuable. Especially in this day and time, everything is becoming more electronic and less face-to-face.”

“This gave me a way to have that first experience in a way that I knew wasn’t make or break,” Coleman continued. “I was able to really take in the experience instead of being worried that I was making a mistake that would impact my likelihood of getting a job. Overall it was just a great learning experience.”

Coleman was interviewed by Chris Tunstall ’88, assistant vice president for human resources at the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, who said he was particularly impressed with how she handled her interview. “She clearly demonstrated her strengths in communication skills, work ethic and learning agility,” he said.

Also helping with the interviews this semester were these Longwood alums:
—Frank Bowman ’81, environmental specialist for the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
—Tim Davis ’16, senior consultant at A-LIGN, a CPA firm specializing in cybersecurity
—Kimberly Garrett ’86, executive sales specialist at AstraZeneca
—Corrine Louden ’02, deputy inspector general in the Office of the State Inspector General
—Sally Pearson ’86, commissioner of the revenue for King William County

Tunstall, who also has volunteered to interview students for several years, said more and more organizations—including the Federal Reserve—are using virtual interviews in their job-selection processes, an observation that was echoed by several of the alumni volunteers.

“It’s critical for candidates to become familiar with this technology and practice using it.”

“Lancers will be more prepared for the future through this experience,” Tunstall said.

Carey is thinking the same way.

“When we go back to face-to-face classes, I am seriously considering keeping the virtual/phone interview assignment in addition to the face-to-face one,” she said. “I’d love for the students to have both experiences because they are both relevant and skill-building.”

—Sabrina Brown

New leadership team will help prepare campus to re-open safely this fall

As all of us are working through the current challenges of dealing with Covid-19, Longwood leadership is thinking ahead about how to re-open safely for in-person classes and activities this fall.

President Reveley announced yesterday the creation of a Covid-19 Planning Team of university leaders and experts who will look at all aspects of campus life and develop a plan that has the health and safety of your student as the top priority.

“Right now, we remain in the heart of a serious national crisis that is affecting countless families, and has been felt at every college campus,” Reveley said. “But as we push through this phase, like every sector of society, we’re already beginning to think about how to get safely back up and running again. With our setting, structure and experienced leadership, Longwood is well-positioned to find our way back to familiar routines of in-person learning this fall, while taking prudent steps to ensure public health.”

The Covid-19 Planning Team will work closely with community leaders, local health care providers and the Virginia Department of Health as it researches pertinent issues and prepares recommendations. The process will also include surveying parents, students and university stakeholders to garner feedback, questions and concerns.

“They will research and report back to the President’s Council with creative and informed recommendations covering every aspect of campus life—from academics to housing and dining arrangements to health practices around testing and responding if cases emerge,” Reveley said.

The Covid-19 Planning Team includes

  • University Chief of Staff and Vice President Justin Pope
  • Associate Vice President of Wellness Matt McGregor
  • Associate Provost/Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs David Shoenthal
  • Incoming University Police Chief Doug Mooney
  • Associate Vice President for Operations and Services Lori Blackwood (MBA ’17)
  • Moton Museum Executive Director and Centra Southside Community Hospital Board Member Cameron Patterson ’10
  • Assistant Vice President for Communications Matthew McWilliams

“This group will build on the outstanding work of our Incident Command Team, which has helped us navigate our response this spring to the national Covid-19 outbreak, and tap their expertise as well as broader guidance,” said Reveley.

McGregor, who oversees student health, will also represent the Incident Command Team, which he leads. The Incident Command Team includes representatives of Longwood’s offices of Environmental Health and Safety, Emergency Management, Housing, Residential and Commuter Life, and Facilities, as well as the University Health Center.

“In a few months, we’ll live in a world where the virus has subsided but not been eliminated,” Reveley said. “We cannot be exactly sure what that will look like on campus, and public health will be our paramount consideration. But so much is at stake for our students and our community in college life returning. I am confident Longwood will be a leader when it comes to safely navigating this challenge.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Tim Pierson added, “On the other side of this, we’ll all appreciate that much more the opportunity to be together in person on Longwood’s residential campus. Campus may need to feel a little different in some ways next fall, but I’m confident that with the help of this group we can find the right balance, and return to a more familiar Longwood.”

Anyone with questions about Longwood’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak can email questions@longwood.edu.

Longwood’s COVID-19 Response: Information for Parents

Today’s post will bring you up-to-date on actions Longwood has taken most recently in response to the virus. Your student has already received this information, but we realize that they may not have passed it along to you.

Below are excerpts from recent messages that have gone out to students from the president and two of Longwood’s vice presidents about spring semester. Topics covered are
—Grading Policies and Withdrawal Deadline Extension
—Refunds and Student Employment

W. Taylor Reveley IV, President
Excerpt from an April 10 communication to students

I promised last month that the Class of 2020 would walk for in-person graduation… . We’ve been working with government officials and campus and community leaders to identify a date as soon as possible that is also as reliable as can be. We have a date: Commencement for the Class of 2020 will be on the weekend of October 9-10.  As would have been the case this May, the graduate ceremony will be on the Friday evening, October 9, and the undergraduate ceremony will be on the Saturday, October 10, during the day. It will be a full weekend of celebration—with plenty of opportunity over the course of the weekend for you to celebrate and reconnect.

Campus and Farmville are so beautiful in the fall, and earlier dates that we explored so closely continued to have risk of disruption by this crisis. We’ll have more precise details regarding exact times and logistics in the weeks ahead.  (And be assured that by finishing your academic requirements you still officially become a Longwood graduate in May. We’ll explore ways to mark that occasion too, without taking anything away from October.)

Read the full text of President Reveley’s message here.

Grading Options and Withdrawal Extension
Dr. Larissa Smith, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Excerpt from a March 27 communication to students

Alternate Pass/Fail option – Undergraduate students now have the option to choose an alternate Pass/Fail grading scale for any course that had been face-to-face but moved online for the rest of the semester. This is not a decision to rush into, which is why you have until Friday, April 24, to submit your decision to the Registrar’s office. You must consult with your academic advisor about this decision and fill out a form.

The new grading option includes the following grades:

  • PV denotes work at the C- level or better.
  • DV denotes work at any “D” grade level (D+, D, D-).
  • FV (Fail) denotes failing work.

For more detailed information on how to select this option, visit the University COVID-19 FAQs.

Depending on the academic program, these grades can fulfill program requirements. These grades will not be computed in your Spring 2020 semester GPA. Graduate courses and courses that started online at the beginning of this semester are not eligible for the alternate pass/fail grading scale option.

Withdrawal deadline extension – The withdrawal deadline for courses has been extended until Friday, April 24. Please be aware that course withdrawals may affect your financial aid. You should contact the staff in the Financial Aid Office if you have any questions.

These are important decisions that encompass a lot of factors, including your academic major or minor program requirements, and you do not have to make them alone. Reach out to your academic advisor or other faculty and staff for advice. We are here to help you make the most informed choices possible and to help you finish the semester during this unprecedented and stressful time. You and your education are important to us.

Read the full text of Dr. Smith’s message here.

Refunds and Student Employment
Dr. Tim Pierson, Vice President for Student Affairs

Excerpt from a March 25 communication to students
Someday soon enough, we will get to celebrate being back on campus. In the meantime, we want to help with the financial burden families are facing, and provide housing and dining refunds as best we can. We know no solution is perfect, and that individual circumstances vary. But we’ve worked hard to develop a plan that’s 1) clear 2) as fair as possible and 3) we can deliver as soon as possible. That’s important because we know many of you are facing challenges now. The Lancer family is all in this together.

Here is what we are doing:
Student workers will continue to be paid through the customary close of the semester, May 9.  Graduate assistants will also continue to be paid through May 9. We’ll be in touch about how hours will be reported the rest of the semester. We know that this is money you depend on.
Students with a Longwood housing and dining plan will each be paid a refund of $1,000.
Students with a commuter Longwood dining plan for the spring will each be paid a refund of $300.
Please remember, these housing and dining refunds  are being split into two payments to you—one now, and one in July.  The first set of housing and dining refunds has been mailed and should soon be arriving at your home address. If you have questions, please email questions@longwood.edu.

We think this straightforward and equal approach is what’s fairest to our whole community, and will help you and your families as we all work together through this challenging time.

Excerpt from an April 9 communication to students
Bonus dollars. If you are a continuing student, your unused bonus dollars will be rolled over for use in the 2020-21 academic year. If you are graduating, you will receive a refund in July of any remaining bonus dollars.
Parking. If you are a continuing student with a valid parking pass for the Spring 2020 semester, you will have a $50 credit applied to your account in July. If you are graduating and had a valid parking pass for the Spring 2020 semester, your July refund check will increase by $50.

If you have questions, please email questions@longwood.edu.

Read the full text of Dr. Pierson’s messages here:   March 25    April 9

For Additional Information About Longwood’s COVID-19 Response

Other Ways to Receive Parent Pipeline
We hope that all Longwood parents will either subscribe to receive the newsletter via email at https://parentpipeline.longwood.edu/signup/ or join the Facebook group, where all newsletters will be posted, at https://www.facebook.com/groups/LancerParentPipeline/

Parent Pipeline is your most timely way of receiving updates. You can unsubscribe from the email feed or the Facebook group at any time.



Message from President Reveley about Coronavirus

Today I thought I’d share with you a message from Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV about how the university is preparing to deal with the coronavirus.

Your student’s health and well-being are always top-of-mind for everyone here. This is evident from the president’s message below, which went out to the campus community just after lunch today. I hope you find it as reassuring as I did.

—Sabrina Brown

Dear students, faculty and staff,

As we return to campus from spring break, I wanted to be in touch and reassure you Longwood officials have been meeting regularly and carefully monitoring the global coronavirus situation. We have been in regular—usually daily—contact with state and federal public health officials. We are keeping close track of the guidance they are providing, particularly to college campuses.

This is an occasion for precaution and care, and certainly not an overreaction that might do more harm than good. Like almost any college, we are accustomed here at Longwood to having communicable diseases like flu in our community. Hopefully by now we’re also used to the kinds of precautions like hand-washing that are an effective defense. It’s also important to remember it appears with this new virus that young people generally develop only a mild strain.

That said, we are taking the matter seriously. While there have not yet been cases anywhere in Virginia, we are operating on the assumption they will appear. If we do have cases at Longwood, we will respond in a careful way that shows responsibility for the common health of our community and compassion for anyone involved—in short we will act as the responsible citizens we are.

Here are a few takeaways I want to be sure to communicate clearly to the Longwood community:

Current status on campus. We do not have any indications of students, faculty or staff having recently traveled internationally in areas under State Department and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Travel Advisory Zones. If we learn of any, there are careful protocols we would follow in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to ensure proper monitoring and testing. If by chance you have recently traveled to any current “Level 3 advisory” countries under CDC guidelines, which includes China, Italy, Iran, Japan and South Korea, please contact the University Health Center at 434-395-2102 before returning to campus.

Preparations. In the event we do have any cases here in the campus community, we are prepared to respond appropriately. We would follow protocols these agencies have provided and which are similar to what Virginia public universities like Longwood not uncommonly do when we have cases of the flu or other communicable diseases like mumps. These could include working with students to ensure proper care, and adjusting accommodations to try to limit possible exposure to other students. If we were to have a case involving a student or employee, we would follow VDH guidance and ensure any student who has tested positive does not attend class and any employee stays home from work. We would continue to consult expert guidance and evaluate whether any further steps are necessary. In the meantime, be assured housekeeping staff have increased their cleaning routines across campus.

If You Have Flu Symptoms. It’s important to remember the “regular” flu has been extremely prevalent around Farmville this year and affected many students. The guidance for flu-like symptoms remains the same – minimize your contact with others, and communicate with professors about missed classes. If you have severe symptoms, and especially if you have any reason to suspect you might have been exposed to someone with coronavirus, we encourage you to call the University Health Center at 434-395-2102 and come in. The Health Center is working closely with Centra and health officials, and has a careful process to screen you and provide for prompt testing and next steps if necessary. In any genuine medical emergency call 911.

Continued Communication. We will continue to closely track the guidance of the public health community. We’ve been in contact with our study abroad students (none of whom are studying in countries where the State Department currently advises travelers to avoid). We’re also continuing to monitor as cases emerge around the United States. There are currently no travel advisory restrictions within the United States. But if guidance evolves in ways that are relevant to the Longwood community, we will convey that to campus.

In the meantime, for the most up-to-date and reliable public health information, I encourage you to consult these official online resources:



My thanks to everyone for working together to meet this challenge responsibly and safely.

President Reveley

Humming Along: Wealth of music opportunities expands to include strings

There’s been an exciting development in the music department Longwood—and it’s inspired me to tell you a little about opportunities, new and existing, for your student in the music program here.

First, I am very happy to let you know that a new professor focused on stringed instruments will be joining the Longwood music faculty in the fall. I met Dr. Lauretta Werner when she was on campus during the interview process, and I thought she’d be a great fit for Longwood.

Dr. Lauretta Werner will be joining the music faculty this fall.

She’ll be teaching violin and viola lessons and leading a string ensemble (for students playing violin, viola, cello and bass), among other duties.

So if your student has ever mentioned wanting to learn to play the violin or viola—or wanting to improve their playing—this is their chance. Lessons are available to all students, not just music majors. A bonus is that non-music majors can take elective applied lessons in violin or another instrument to fulfill one of the requirements of Civitae, the core curriculum.

And with Longwood’s new tuition structure (students can take 12-18 hours for the same basic tuition cost), students could have room in their schedules for private lessons or a string class, for academic credit, without paying additional tuition. (There is an additional fee for private lessons, which is standard at most universities).

Jazz Ensemble

Longwood offers private music instruction in voice, piano, trumpet, French horn, tuba, trombone, clarinet, saxophone, flute, percussion and guitar, for example.

Below, Dr. Lisa Kinzer, chair of Longwood’s Department of Music, answers some additional questions about the new music faculty member, the string program and music opportunities in general at Longwood.

What other opportunities do students have to make music at Longwood?
We have several vocal ensembles, including men’s and women’s choirs and the advanced Camerata Singers, and several instrumental groups, including the jazz and percussion ensembles and the Wind Symphony. More information about our ensembles can be found on our website: http://www.longwood.edu/music/student-organizations/#panel2

Vocal ensembles include men’s and women’s choirs and the Camerata Singers.

What about Stampede?
Stampede is the official Longwood University athletics band. This year’s band had more than 40 students from a wide variety of majors. The band performs at basketball games during the winter season. Anyone with previous band experience, a positive attitude and the desire to have a lot of fun is welcome to join Stampede.

Stampede is the official athletics band and is open to all students with band experience.

How many music majors are currently enrolled?
We currently have approximately 50 music majors, over half of whom intend to pursue degrees in music education.

Are there scholarships available for music majors? Where can students find out more information about them?
Yes, many scholarships are available to music majors.  We have recently been able to award small awards to non-music majors, too, to help offset fees for applied lessons. More information is available on the Longwood website: http://www.longwood.edu/music/scholarships/

Wind Symphony

Why was Dr. Werner selected for the new faculty position?
As pointed out by the search committee, Dr. Werner’s teaching was superior and she performed expressively. She had clear musical ideas in her rehearsals and performances, collaborated well in ensemble performance, and was focused on student understanding and student success throughout the process.

What are your short-term and long-term goals for a string program at Longwood?
We’d like to see Dr. Werner working through the Longwood Center for Community Music to teach violin and viola to pre-college students to cultivate an interest and appreciation for strings in our immediate community. As interest builds and word gets out, we hope to have a full orchestra sitting on the stage of our new music building 7-10 years from now. 

Music ensembles provide a wide variety of performance opportunities for music majors and non-majors alike.

Why do you feel it’s important to start a string program here?
In our conversations, we talked about how a string program would make us a more “complete” music program. Not only do we want to attract music majors who play stringed instruments, but we want to attract the type of pianist, vocalist, etc., who wants to study in a department that offers chamber music and orchestral experiences.

Will Dr. Werner be teaching a beginning string class?
We do not currently offer a beginning string class, but this is something Dr. Werner may develop when she arrives. There would be no additional fee for this kind of class.

How does the music department contribute to Longwood and the student experience?
Students and faculty in the music department serve as ambassadors for Longwood through our numerous performances, both locally and throughout the state and region. Here on campus, we truly are a department of service, providing music for events such as convocation, commencement and the Holiday Dinner, which brings students and their parents back to campus years after students have graduated. Alumni also return to campus as they bring their own students here for events such as Longwood Honor Band and Honor Choir. 


Snow Is In The Forecast But Spring Is In The Air: Spring break, softball and more

With a dusting of snow in the forecast today, it seems a little odd to be writing about spring break and other spring activities—even if they are right around the corner.

Spring Job and Internship Fair
Spring break is the first week of March, but before your student gets into that spring break state of mind they have the opportunity to check out job and internship opportunities at the Spring Job and Internship Fair on Tuesday, Feb. 25.

So far, representatives from 44 businesses, nonprofits, school districts, graduate schools and state and local government agencies have signed up to attend.

The event will be held from 1-4 p.m. in Blackwell Ballroom. Students should dress professionally  and bring copies of their resume.

Planning for Spring Break
Any student who lives in university-managed housing and needs access to their residence after 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28, must “register to stay” before midnight next Thursday, Feb. 27. Even If there’s only a chance they’ll be staying on campus over the break, the housing office recommends that students go ahead and fill out the form. Being locked out of your residence hall or your apartment is no fun.

The form can be found via the Student Housing Gateway, which can be accessed from the Housing and Residence Life page here—https://longwood.edu/housing/—but your student will need to fill it out.

Here are some other pieces of spring break information you and your student should keep in mind:

  • From a student housing point of view, spring break is from 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, until noon Sunday, March 8.
  • University administrative offices will be closed Monday, March 2, and Tuesday, March 3.
  • The Farmville Area Bus (FAB) will stop running at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28, and will resume at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 8. This means there is no bus service for travel to Lancer Park or Longwood Village during the break.
  • Residence hall rooms and apartments are subject to entry during the break for maintenance, general work and safety inspections.
  • Dorrill Dining Hall and other food venues will have limited hours during the break period. Information about food venue hours can be found here: https://longwood.campusdish.com
  • Classes resume March 9.

Spring Is For Softball—And Winning
An afternoon at the ballpark is a favorite spring activity—especially when the Lancer softball team is playing.

Longwood’s softball team was again picked as the preseason favorite to take home the Big South Conference crown.

Longwood softball has dominated the Big South since joining the league in 2012-13, winning the conference championship a record-setting five times during that period.

The team was again the preseason favorite to take home the conference crown in 2020. Longwood was a runaway favorite in the voting conducted by the league’s nine head coaches, hauling in eight first-place votes en route to their fifth consecutive selection as the Big South preseason No. 1.

The 2020 schedule includes several upcoming weekend home games: March 28, April 4, April 5 and April 11. It might be fun to take in a game with your student if you’re planning a trip to campus later this semester.

 —Sabrina Brown

Especially for Valentine’s Day: Students Report Their Good News

If you’re like me, you often hear more about problems than you do about what’s going well in your student’s life. That’s what we get for loving and supporting them—they feel safe telling us everything. 🙂

So, with Valentine’s Day coming up tomorrow, I thought you might enjoy hearing some of the good things that have been happening around here this semester. Even though just a few students are featured below, I think most Longwood students—including yours—could come up with a similar happy experience.

It made me smile to meet these students and talk to them for a few minutes. Hope their comments and photos below have the same effect on you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

—Sabrina Brown

Study Buddies

Last week in biology I made two new friends to study with. We really didn’t communicate until we bonded over how hard a test was. Now we plan on doing better in the class with each other’s help.
Erica Lucy ’23

Getting Her First-Gen “Peeps” Together

I joined a new organization that I’m helping to create—a support network for first-generation college students (like me!).
Cece Corbin ’22
Liberal Studies/Elementary Education

A Poet—And He Knows It

I’m still in school, so that’s a plus. I’m focusing a lot of energy on poetry. I think I want to be a writer now. My poetry professor has been giving me a lot of great critiques, and my poetry has definitely improved.

Jackson White ’21

Old Friends, New Friends

My best friend from high school came down to visit me this weekend. I got to show her around campus and introduce her to my new college friends. We baked cookies together and we went to Hampden-Sydney so I could meet a friend of hers that goes there. He cooked us a really delicious fried rice dinner.
Sydney Warren ’23

Making the Grades

I got a 100 on a group project and raised a C to a B in my psychology class.
Justin Harris ’23

Sunset on the Trail

I went biking on the High Bridge Trail last week and watched the sunset.
Eli Carr ’23
Business Management

An Ounce of Prevention

I was able to avoid getting the flu because of you [Mom]. I used all the home remedies you taught me. I also managed to do exceptionally well on my first neuroscience exams of the semester.
Angel Rowlett ’21

Superlative Praise

On Monday, I gave a presentation, and my professor said it was one of the best presentations he’d ever seen.
Benjamin Phillips ’21

Effect and Cause?

Classes are going great this week, and I’m still getting enough sleep.
Nam Nguyen ’20

So Much To Do—But Loving It

I have been very busy with honor and conduct board, my RA job and new member process with sorority events each week—and a lot of studying. I am learning how to have more fun and balancing better so far this semester. All my professors are so encouraging and supportive, which I am so grateful for. And I’m looking forward to some fun times during spring break at Disney World!!
Brooklynn Weissenfluh ’22
Communication Sciences and Disorders

Going Up

I managed to raise my bio grade by almost a full letter grade.
Ronald Rempert ’23

Look Who’s Talking

I had great conversations with Dr. Kat Tracy [professor of medieval literature] in my mythology class.
Kendall Throne ’21



Razzle Dazzle: NYC choreographer coaches student cast

Longwood faculty are constantly looking for ways to enrich your students’ education, and the weeklong workout a New York City choreographer gave the cast of an upcoming campus production of Chicago is a perfect example.

Marisa Kirby, who also is a professional actor and director, spent an entire week working with the 15 students who will sing, act and dance their hearts out in Chicago later this month. Kirby has worked on many well-known shows, including Guys and Dolls, 42nd Street, Cabaret and—most importantly—Chicago, in which she played Velma.

What brought Kirby to Longwood? Her BFF, Longwood theatre faculty member Lacy Klinger.

All 15 cast members, who represent a variety of majors, had the opportunity to work with Marisa Kirby (right), a choreographer, director and actor based in New York City.

“Marisa and I were dance teachers and choreographers during high school at the same dance studio in our hometown, and we’ve been best friends ever since,” said Klinger, an assistant professor of acting and voice, and movement.

“I reached out to Marisa when the theatre faculty decided to produce Chicago. She has experience creating movement inspired by Bob Fosse, the original choreographer of Chicago, so I knew her expertise would translate perfectly into the concept of our production.”

Kirby was on campus from Jan. 27-Feb. 4, preparing students for the performances set for Feb. 20-23 in Longwood’s Jarman Auditorium. Among the 15 students in the cast are seven theatre majors, four music majors and one each in communication studies, history, biology and special education.

“Marisa is able to reach a multitude of students through humor and enthusiasm, and push them beyond what they believed was possible,” said Klinger. “She makes everyone she works with better.”

That was certainly the case for Erica Johnson ’21, a theatre major who is playing Velma.

“Something interesting for me is I haven’t really had a heavy dance background, but I’m getting exposed to this heavy dance show by a professional,” said Johnson. “It’s really a good experience for me because I’m kind of being thrown in, but at the same time, I’m learning so much.”

In addition to the actors in the show, students are working behind the scenes as assistant choreographer, hair and makeup designer, assistant lighting designer and sound designer.

Klinger said the students on the production side are creating a unique version of the musical for the Longwood run, and that some of the work they’ve done has given her chills. “The concepts for the visual presentation of the cast are so daring, so exciting and so unlike any other production of Chicago I’ve seen that I got chills,” she said.

Choreographer Marisa Kirby said she could tell that the Longwood students were driven and passionate about their work.

All the more reason for students to follow Klinger’s advice.

“I always tell students, no matter what the production, ‘This is your show. This show will never exist again in the way it exists right now. Once it closes, that is the end of this specific, magical experience … so enjoy all of the people and things involved while you can.”

Chicago is the longest-running American musical in Broadway history. Set in Jazz Age Chicago, it’s based on a 1926 play about actual criminals and features the work of John Kander, Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse.

Longwood’s performances are at 7 p.m. Feb. 20-22, with matinees at 2 p.m. on Feb. 22 and 23. If you’re up for a trip to campus, tickets are available through the Longwood Theatre Box Office.

—Sabrina Brown

Experiences of a Lifetime Available for Your Lancer

(In the photo above, Boston’s Harvard Square becomes an outdoor classroom for students to ponder how public art impacts communities.)

Here at Longwood, we think nothing fits the description “experience of a lifetime” better than our Brock Experiences. This academic program takes students to locations throughout the United States to ponder and explore important issues of the day—all the while learning skills they can apply in their future careers.

Four programs will be offered in 2020, two of which still have spaces available. I’ve been told the Boston program is filling up quickly; applications for Yellowstone will be accepted through about mid-March.

However, applications are accepted throughout the year and are handled on a rolling basis. So if your student wants to take advantage of this opportunity this year or next, there’s no time like the present to submit an application.

The programs scheduled for 2020 are
—The Future of Puerto Rico, June 21-July 2 (filled)
—Water Access: Colorado River, May 25-June 6 (filled)
—Art and Culture: Boston, June 8-16
—Stewardship of Public Lands: Yellowstone, May 12-21

Applications for the Brock Experiences program in Yellowstone are being accepted through about mid-March.

Other programs on the Brock Experiences roster that may be offered next year include
—Chesapeake Bay Stewardship
—Immigration: Arizona and Richmond, Virginia

Enrollment in Brock Experiences, which students take for academic credit, is kept relatively small, ranging from nine spots in the Colorado River program to about 40 for Yellowstone. Faculty members plan the curriculum for each course and accompany students to the study location, guiding them as they consider critical questions such as
—“Who owns water and how should it be used?”
—“How do the arts and humanities improve communities and enhance our understanding of our own roles as citizens?”
—“What are the responsibilities of the United States to its territories like Puerto Rico?”
—“How do we best manage our diverse natural landscape?”

Students followed the Colorado River through four states to explore issues surrounding water rights.

In addition to the work they do while “on location,” students complete assignments when they return to campus.

Brock Experiences Director Josh Blakely emphasizes that the programs include “rigorous academic work” and are not field trips or a sightseeing tour.

“A Brock Experience is a transformative learning opportunity that will open students’ eyes to the ways people can work together to tackle complex problems in the world,” he said. “We’ve seen students come alive as a result of these courses, finding areas they’re passionate about and ways to enhance their future careers.”

Dr. Alix Fink, Wilma Register Sharp and Marc Boyd Sharp Dean of the Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars, heads up the Yellowstone program, which has been active at Longwood for 15 years. It was folded into the Brock Experiences when the program was created in 2016 with a $5.9 million gift from Joan ’64 and Macon Brock.

“These aren’t fun trips to some cool place,” said Fink. “Students come away more prepared to have challenging conversations, to ask difficult questions and to talk with fellow citizens whose view are very different from their own.

“Not only are those skills one uses in the workplace, but they are the very skills that citizens need to address challenges in our community.”

Costs vary by program, with the program fee covering housing in the field, transportation once the student arrives at the location, many meals and educational activities. The fee for the Boston program, for example, is $750. Students are responsible for their transportation to the program location and spending money.

Scholarships are available based on demonstrated financial need.

More information on Brock Experiences: http://www.longwood.edu/academics/brock-experiences/

Program applications: http://www.longwood.edu/academics/brock-experiences/

Separate scholarship application: https://longwood.academicworks.com

—Sabrina Brown

Keeping a High Profile: More than 100 students head into the community for MLK Service Challenge

More than 25 students helped out at the Free Family Workshop held at the Morton Museum in partnership with the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts.

(In the photo above, student volunteers work with participants in the Free Family Workshop held at the Morton Museum in partnership with the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts.)

Longwood students were a very visible presence in Farmville and the surrounding area on Monday of this week.

Your Lancer may have been among the 120 or so students who headed out to lend a helping hand to several community projects as part of the Jan. 20 MLK Service Challenge. Projects ranged from giving animals at the Southside SPCA in Meherrin some much appreciated attention to sweeping, dusting and mopping at Madeline’s House, an area women’s shelter.

The Southside YMCA was one beneficiary of this year’s MLK Service Challenge.

In all, 12 projects received some TLC from the Longwood students and a number of faculty and staff who also participated.

“The best thing about the MLK Service Challenge is that students from all walks of life, different backgrounds and different beliefs come together to uphold Dr. King’s legacy by serving their community,” said Quincy Goodine, a staff member in Multicultural Affairs at Longwood, who organizes the event.

Organizing books was one task taken on by student volunteers at the Andy Taylor Center for Early Childhood Development.

Other projects and organizations on the receiving end of Longwood students’ help included
*Andy Taylor Center for Early Childhood Development
*Free Family Workshop at the Moton Museum in partnership with the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts (LCVA)
*South Virginia Street Community Garden
*Clean Virginia Waterways roadside cleanup
*Southside YMCA

Longwood volunteers helped get the South Virginia Street Community Garden in shape for spring planting.

“We definitely could not have done this [Free Family Workshop] without the volunteers,” said Kristen Mosley, an LCVA staff member. “They were so engaging with the community and made the event joyous for all of us.”

More than 200 members of the community turned out to make “Dream Big” hats and wall hangings at the workshop, which also included poetry readings and the premiere of a hip-hop video.

With a Moton Museum mural in the background, children create their own art with the help of student volunteers at the Free Family Workshop co-sponsored by the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts. More than 25 students helped with the event.

Goodine said the students’ efforts have a significant impact on the community—and on the students themselves.

“It shows our students are thinking outside the box and that they are aware of areas and issues outside campus,” he said. “People are very grateful, and they often want students to come back—whether for an internship or another service opportunity.

“They say the Longwood students are a pleasure to work with and eager to get involved.”

I often say that Longwood students are the best young people around—helpful, considerate, positive and hard-working. The MLK Service Challenge was a perfect example of that. You can be very proud!

—Sabrina Brown