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Dance craze hits campus as students rebuild the Swing Club

By Roxanne Cooke ’07

One student’s vision of a swing dance club on campus finally came to life last fall, after three years in the making.

The Swing Club now has 123 members, two co-presidents and a vice president.

The idea of having a swing dance club at PLU occurred to David Poole when he was a freshman taking a dance class.

Poole, now a senior and co-president of the club, said he helped plan a few swing dance events during his sophomore year. However, the concept fizzled out.

Maryanne Wirkkanen, a junior and co-president, helped revive the club last year when Poole was studying abroad.

Last fall, Wirkkanen and Poole set up a table at the Involvement Fair and found 123 interested students.

The Swing Club meets once a week in the evening, in The Cave or Chris Knutzen Hall. Lessons are taught during the first hour, and then members are free to dance until closing.

“It’s something you can do any day of the week,” said Amy Beard, a junior. “I’m amazed at the people willing to give time to teach and the support we give each other.”

Christopher Gerdes, a senior and vice president of Swing Club, sets up the sound equipment and helps teach lessons with Wirkkanen. He said he enjoys seeing the progress students make.

“People come in shy, but leave self-confident,” said Gerdes.

Class of 2004 graduate crowned

Miss Washington USA

Crowned Miss Washington USA in November, Tiffany Doorn ’04 will compete as the state’s representative in the Miss USA pageant in April, with the winner competing for Miss Universe. Doorn, 24, teaches pre-school in Woodinville, Wash., and volunteers at Children’s Hospital in Seattle working with terminally ill children. She will use her title to expand on her philanthropic interests including the Angel Tree Foundation, projects through her church, and breast cancer research.

First-year students ‘Explore!’ vocation, identity and purpose

By Roxanne Cooke ’07

The January Term Explore! retreat offered first-year students the opportunity to get off campus and explore their vocation, identity and purpose.

The event was one of the many activities supported by a $2 million Lilly Endowment grant that was awarded to PLU in 2002 that resulted in the creation of The Wild Hope Project. Its main goal is to have students ask and answer the question “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”

During the 28-hour retreat, students participated in small groups with faculty and student leaders, listened to panel speakers and contributed to fireside chats, said Eva Johnson, director of student involvement and leadership.

“We’re looking at not just the academic, but the psychosocial,” Johnson said. “Part of education is helping people understand what to do with their lives. It’s not just a diploma and a job. PLU is better educating citizens for the 21st century.”

First-year students aren’t the only ones who leave feeling better connected to the campus and their peers. Michelle de Beauchamp ’07, who attended last year’s retreat and returned as a student leader this year, said J-Term Explore! creates a dialogue for the self.

“When you take a leadership role and ask students questions, you’re always learning about yourself and growing,” de Beauchamp said.

J-Term Explore! is a collaborative effort with the First Year Experience program and Student Life, according to Johnson. This is the second year

PLU has organized the retreat. Both years it took place at Cispus Learning Center in Randle, Wash., during two weekends in January.


Alumna encourages career discovery in diplomatic service

Sharing her experiences in the foreign service, U.S. Ambassador to Namibia Joyce Barr ’76 spent a day on campus in November talking to students – and encouraging them to look into careers in the diplomatic service.

“The world is a much smaller place than it used to be,” she said. “If you really want to change the world or if you really want certain outcomes, then you need to be involved.”

Barr, along with National Security Affairs Fellow Jonathan Moore, spoke to a group of students interested in the global AIDS epidemic, focusing on the United States’ role in combating AIDS in Namibia.

They also met with students planning to study abroad in Namibia and presented information and answered questions about careers in the foreign service.

“It’s a career that demands a lot, but it also gives a lot,” Barr said. “Bring energy, commitment and your own values to foreign affairs work – and you can make a difference.”

Barr said PLU’s international programs make students better prepared for today’s world – and make the university a great place to look for anyone interested in diplomatic service.

“Even before the international focus, PLU was preparing people,” she said. “I think the State Department considers itself to be a place for the best and the brightest. And I consider the education I got at PLU to be outstanding.”


Campus master plan facility and grounds priorities under review

A wish list of dozens of possible facility and grounds improvements is being reviewed by a committee charged with proposing the university’s new master plan. Now the group is asking for help in prioritizing and refining alternatives.

“The planning for a master plan is the beginning of the discussion of where PLU will be heading with facilities and grounds in the next 10 to 20 years,” said Sheri Tonn, vice president for finance and operations and chair of the planning group.

“Right now, many things are possible. We are at the point where we need to figure out not only what we want, but what we need and what we can afford,” Tonn said.

Possible candidates for future development include more student-centered space in the UC, improvements to residence halls, upgrades to classrooms and other academic space and possible replacement of outdated academic buildings.

Athletic and fitness facilities are another area of study. Under consideration are new or refurbished spaces for intercollegiate athletic practice and competition, club sports, intramurals, fitness activities, outdoor recreation and spontaneous activities.

The update of the master plan was authorized by the Board of Regents in 2004. It has been under the direction of a steering committee including representatives from academics, operations, student life, residential life, development, alumni, athletics and students. The board will receive a proposed master plan at their May 2006 meeting.

Student club invests donor’s ‘real money’ in the stock market

The Student Investment Fund began in 1982, when Mary Lund Davis donated $25,000 to PLU expressly for the purpose of allowing students to invest it in the stock market. By any measure, the donation has been a great success. In the following 23 years, the fund has grown to $102,000. Halfway through the 2005-06 academic year, the fund has swollen to $118,000.

SIF has grown in more ways than one. According to SIF president Kristina Martin ’05, the student-run club has nearly 40 members, 30 of whom regularly contribute in their weekly Monday evening meetings. Some are not even business majors. “We spend a lot of time passing along what we’ve learned, teaching younger students what to look for,” said Martin. “That’s what we want.”

Nine elected SIF board members, along with club members, research and debate the merits of potential stock trades. When they reach agreement, they make the trade.

That the fund invests real money is not lost on the students. “It is real money,” said Jason Kelley ’06, who is an economic adviser to the fund. “Still, we call it risk-free learning.”

That learning has real-world impact. “I haven’t been to an interview where they haven’t asked about the fund,” said Kelley, who has begun his job search in anticipation for life after PLU. “That’s all they want to talk about.”


here & now

© Scene 2006  •  Pacific Lutheran University  •  Spring 2006

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