Professors tell wild tales of their youth

Three certain Dixie State University professors would lose a round of “Never Have I Ever” at the mention of extreme rappelling, panhandling or seeing the Taj Mahal.

Now here’s the fun part: Guess who’s done what.

Communication instructor David Harris, English professor Sue Bennett, and Business Department Chair Munir Mahmud all share something in common: Some students might raise a surprised eyebrow at their past.

The Cliff Jumper

Harris currently teaches communication theory and TV production classes. He earned his Ph.D. in communication from the University of Utah at the end of spring semester.  He also works with the Community Education Channel and hosts the cooking show “Southern Utah Chef.”

However, a YouTube clip Harris shared on Facebook last month depicts a whole new side of him from roughly 1995: Sporting long, curly hair, Harris would hurl himself from red rock cliffs — wearing rappelling gear, of course — but with enough slack in the rope to create an adrenaline rush of a free fall.

He would do this — what he called “commando” or “Aussie” rappelling — with a group of five high school buddies. Some would take running leaps while others would back flip off of the ledges. Harris said he and his friends were thrill seekers who relished excitement. 

“We would try our best not to get killed but still have lots of fun,” he said.

While Harris said he, as a father and a husband, has no desire today to throw himself off of cliffs anymore, he still engages in the passion that compelled his young adult self to skip numerous high school classes: film.

Harris said it was a hobby of his to shoot and edit film projects out of high school and in college. He’d spend hours, using ‘90s technology, stitching together short motion pictures, much like his YouTube rappelling clip. Harris said film has remained a constant obsession throughout his lifetime.

“Video production was something that I found a passion for, and every time I tried to get away from it throughout my life, I never could, and here I am today,” Harris said.

The Activist

Bennett currently teaches introduction and intermediate writing classes. Today she has a family and has settled into her teaching career at DSU.

However, 19-year-old Bennett, living in the 1969, was not at all satisfied with the idea of a nine-to-five job. Instead, she dropped out of college after one semester, and she “escaped” to Colorado to pursue interests in marching for civil rights movements and protesting the Vietnam War.

“I was a rebellious wild child,” Bennett said. “…[I imagined] I was a part of a new generation that would change the world.”

Bennett said the priority of her youth was to create a unique identify for herself and live a thrilling life. Her typical wardrobe consisted of an old raincoat and Converse high tops, which she would sport on the back of her boyfriend’s motorcycle.

Bennett said one of her most memorable college-aged experiences was when she took a road trip to San Francisco with some friends. During the trip she ran out of money and had to panhandle on the streets in order to collect enough money to buy a plane ticket back home.

“I’ll never forget it,” she said. “I never see a panhandler now and don’t remember that experience.”

Today Bennett still values the same civil rights movements. She also still feeds her sense of adventure. About two years ago, she earned a scuba diving certification, and she enjoys hiking, biking and camping.

She said she has no regrets from her wilder years; instead, she values them for the lessons she learned.

“Maybe I can understand some of my students a little bit better because of the experiences I went through,” she said.

The Magistrate

Mahmud presently teaches economics and finance, and he is also settled nicely into a career overseeing DSU’s business department.

Living in St. George is a vivid contrast from where he grew up: Bangladesh. He was raised in the midst of the strain between Bangladesh and Pakistan, and when he was a child, he was not sheltered from the killing that occurred around him.  

However, as he matured under the influence of a father who valued business education, Mahmud’s passion for economics manifested when he wrote an essay in 8th grade about what he wanted to choose as a career.

“I wanted to be different from my classmates — most people said they’d want to be a doctor or an engineer — so I wrote about wanting to be an economist,” Mahmud said. “Little did I know at that time that the essay, in a way, predicted my future.”

So as he grew up, Mahmud was very academic and focused on his studies, but he also found time to engage in other activities. Among these, a 45-day study tour of India (which he helped organize) left a vivid impression on him. During the tour he enjoyed the rich cultural differences, enjoyed Indian cuisine, experienced the Holi Festival in Jaipur and Agra, and even visited the Taj Mahal.

“We timed our trip in such a way that we [were] able to see the Taj Mahal during full moon,” Mahmud said. “When the sun went down the marble seemed to glow. It was an amazing experience.”

At the age of 22, Mahmud sat for a nationwide competitive exam and became a magistrate of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh and was posted in Dhaka, the capital. However, he realized that in order to make a decent living Bangladesh, he would have to set aside some of his morals and cooperate with a corrupt government system. So, he decided to move to the U.S. in 1988 for higher studies.

He eventually received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and began a career teaching economics. Before coming to Dixie, he taught at California State University at Fullerton and also at Pennsylvania State University. 

“I am very content now,” he said. “Dixie is a place where I am valued for my contributions.” 

Networking approaches bolster students’ horizons

Make a personal business card; make new friends, which in turn makes a successful network.

Old-school and new-school networking techniques are a happy combination that aids in professional success. Establishing a network helps create a professional support team for future goals and potential career opportunities.

Here it is, the old cliche: It’s not who you know, blah blah blah. There is a reason, though, it is an often-repeated phrase: It’s true. I have been able to make magic happen because I was willing to go up to new people I have met, share my goals and dreams with them, trade information, and keep in touch.

First, we have the old-school style of networking. This involves putting one’s self out there and making it a point to form connections with other people, especially people you admire and see as potential mentors. Define your passion and find ways to volunteer and participate with local clubs and charities. If someone looks interesting, strike up a conversation. Talk with people and find out about what they do any why. Share what you do and where you would like to go. Exchange information. Follow up.

A big key in networking is having any easy way to give out your information. I recommend creating a business card with your name, either a phone number or a professional email, and links to professional social media accounts. Vista Print is reasonably priced, with cards starting at $7.99. Or, you can talk to a digital design major and ask him or her about business card designs. Now, you have also made a new connection.

This segways into keeping up with your new contact. Social media, the new school way of networking, is such a fluid way to build a network and see what projects people are working on. LinkedIn would be the first site to build up as an online résumé and contact list. Next would a be professional Facebook and Twitter accounts. Reserve these accounts for sharing what you are working on in class, what new goals you interested in, and what projects you are focusing on.

Professional social media accounts are also a great way to keep in contact with your network and see what they are accomplishing, too. Comment, interact and keep in touch with your network. If you hear of something or read an article that reminds you of one of your contacts, share it with him or her and say why you were reminded of that person. Offer to go to lunch or even just grab a coffee to hear about what new things people in your network are doing. This also gives you a chance to share what you are accomplishing and to bounce new ideas off of someone you look up to.

With this information, you know where to seek out volunteer or career-related opportunities. Or, just even offer to facilitate other connections within your network if you know someone else that might be able to help out one of your friends.

Keeping in touch with your network is crucial. To be honest, this is the hardest part for me. It is important, though, because rapport is built and maintaining contact keeps fresh the reasons why you and the people in your network connected in the first place.

Multicultural Diversity Center ‘building community’ with Diversity Week

Most wouldn’t expect a 48-year-old African-American man from Harlem, New York, and a female Indian exchange student to share interests, but one aspect of their lives created an unexpected bond: the Multicultural Diversity Center.

Adam Ross, Multicultural Diversity Center coordinator, said the two Dixie State University students met at the MCDC. After finding common ground, they bonded through both conversations and movies — Indian ones with subtitles — that detailed their contrasting cultures. 

“They were just [starting to relate to each other] with these movies,” Ross said. “It’s crazy that if you actually get to know a person how much you can learn [about diversity] spending time with them.” 

And with Diversity Week, Ross said more of these surprising yet strong bonds should exist on campus.

The event ensued with the Diversity Week Kick Off on Monday and runs until Friday’s Candy Lei Workshop. DSU’s growing minority and international population make Diversity Week an indication of future progress on campus, Ross said.    

Multicultural Diversity Center adviser, Lahela Manning, said Diversity Week contributes to the MCDC’s ultimate goals by not just allowing participants to celebrate different cultures, but also providing them with opportunities to create trust at DSU.   

“Our overall goal is to build understanding; it’s not just about teaching people about culture,” Manning said. “I believe it’s about having all of our students gain confidence in each other and building a community.”

Manning said the Diversity Forum held at noon today in the Gardner Center Cottam Room could spark dialogue about community building. Christina Durham, DSU board of trustees chair, will speak at the forum, and her experiences as a minority in St. George achieving impressive goals should motivate even those battling the most difficult hurdles, Manning said.

“Here you have someone who is a minority here in St. George … and she’s found a way to succeed regardless,” Manning said. “That’s going to be [a big event] because you have somebody who is prominent in the Dixie community coming to the students and saying, ‘You can thrive here; it’s possible.’” 

Diversity Week’s Movie Night, tonight at 7 p.m. in the Gardner Center, and International Night, Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Gardner Center, also build upon the MCDC’s goal to get everyone involved with diversity, Ross said. 

At Movie Night, students can expect a screening of “Guess Who,” the 2005 film staring Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac. Ross said the film’s spin on race relations and interracial dating in particular proves thought provoking for a college audience. International Night’s performances — a fashion show included — help round out the week’s events. Ross said if Diversity Week serves its purpose, the push for greater understanding and collaboration among those with different backgrounds shouldn’t end there — and hopefully expand from the confines of campus.  

“I would like get to the point where it’s not just campus but where we start to really reach and get the community involved,” Ross said. 

For more information on the MCDC, go to dixie.edu/diversity.

Our View: Campus communication

The “Dixie Life” has been built and branded by Dixie State University Student Association for students to get involved and be part of the university life.

DSUSA has its jobs: to plan and put on events, as well as to effectively govern as a middle man between the student body and the administration and board of trustees.

Dixie Sun News’ job is to report on what is happening at DSU, and that includes covering events and making sure the average student has access to a local and accurate news source.

Possibly the most important aspect of our job is to be accurate, but our staff has found it difficult to be as such when we count on DSUSA and other campus organizations to give us the information we need, and it too often falls short of our standards because it is inaccurate.

DSUSA made transparency a priority at the beginning of this semester as far as communicating with other organizations on campus, but that effort seems to have slowed. 

We understand people are busy —  we know as well as anyone what being a busy college student entails. The problem is that we’ve found it difficult to communicate with campus organizations when their own internal communication seems to be lacking.

More than once we have been told the wrong person to get information from, or that it is unknown in general who is running what within campus organizations. Events  are becoming a bit muddled and unorganized —  or in some cases canceled completely without explanation. From an insider perspective, and we wonder if DSUSA is so focused on student involvement that it’s been difficult to keep up with itself.

Students turn to the campus calendars for event information, but when the calendars linked to from the DSU website have sometimes been wrong, how does that inaccuracy reflect the professionalism of those who are running it? This shouldn’t be a hassle. We check our dates with members of DSUSA constantly to be sure we plan efficiently, but it reflects poorly on the organization in charge when dates end up being wrong. 

Our job becomes difficult when we ready ourselves to cover an event only to find out the event has passed because we were given wrong information from the people who are supposed to be available to communicate and confirm things. We cannot be expected to report on student government happenings when we are given incorrect —  or no —  information from the very people who ask us to report.

President Biff Williams has said time and again he wishes for more involvement with the students and the community. In an email he sent to DSU staff and faculty last week he said, “It is my goal to exhaust every means of communication so that we keep everyone informed with regards to the happenings on campus.”

“We are Dixie” and we are proud of it. We want to be involved as much as possible, but it has become a difficult task.

For students’ sakes, we ask that student government makes itself as transparent as it strives to be. If its very members don’t know who is in charge of planning which events during a busy time maybe DSUSA is holding too many events. 

Fit n’ Pretty: Fall ushers in top 5 beauty products

We’re approaching the season where ruby lipstick and endless shades of golden eye shadow are accepted, nay encouraged, and it’s time to dive right in.

I’m talking about the holiday season. Blame it on the craze of the pumpkin spice latte or all the glitzy holiday parties, but it’s the most glorious time for beauty products. This autumn I have tried out some of the most gabbed-about beauty items, and I have decided on my top five must-haves. 

Bobbi Brown Tinted Moisturizing Balm

Bobbi Brown products have a reputation for being unbeatable in the skin care department, so I wasn’t surprised after I put on this tinted moisturizer and fell madly in love. The balm provides a light-to-medium, dewy, natural coverage, but the best part is it quenches like no other product I have ever tried. When I take it off at the end of the day, my skin looks even healthier. If you have dry winter skin, this product is a necessity.

OK, now this the part where you sit down and do some breathing exercises; the product is $54. I know what you’re thinking: $54 could be a tank of gas or six trips to Cafe Rio, but this balm could boost your ego by 100 percent. Not to mention it has SPF 25 and anti-aging benefits that 43-year-old you is bound to be grateful for.

Nars Audacious Lipstick

All summer I day dreamed about the crimson lipstick I could wear come fall. I knew I had to try the Nars products after hearing Taylor Swift sing the praises of the lipstick. (I mean, come on, have you seen T-Swift’s possessive lips these days?) I bought the Audacious Lipstick in shade Vera, which is a “bright raspberry,” according to the website.

I’m officially obsessed. The lipstick is smooth and bold, and it literally stays in place all day. I prefer this lipstick to cheaper brands I’ve tried, like Revlon or Lorac, because it wears longer and doesn’t smudge easily. Plus, the color is luxe, and it doesn’t dry out my sensitive winter lips. 

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

My skin has a mild meltdown every winter. My dermatologist recommended Cetaphil  to combat the treacherous winter months, and that itself was a Christmas miracle. Cetaphil is ideal for anyone with dry or sensitive skin since it’s fragrance-free and formulated for deep hydration. I apply it every night and every morning before I put my makeup on, and it provides me with intense moisture without being oily.

This cream is a must have because, as my grandma would say, beauty starts with healthy skin. 

Lush Bath Bomb

Let’s talk about baths. Baths are awesome. If you don’t have a bath or can’t fit into one, like several large men I know, I sincerely apologize. Lush Bath Bombs take an average bath and boost it to a spa-like, scented bath of wonder. They fizzle into the water releasing all-natural scents, nourishing oils, exfoliates and add color. 

I’m all about the Lush products because they are all natural, homemade and improve skin health. The bath bombs will help you enjoy the bath even more than usual, resulting in a better relaxation, giving a better relaxation glow.

Naked Eye Shadow Palette

I was eyeing the Naked Eyeshadow pallet by Urban Decay at Ulta for weeks. I would walk back and forth in front of the product, occasionally testing some of the beautiful bronze and gold shades on the back of my hand. Finally I caved and bought the pallet, and it changed my life. The palette comes with 12 different shades of delicious golds, browns, creams, and, you know, all the fall basics. 

Except these shades are all but basic. They are shimmery and amp up any smokey eye. I use this palette daily, and I love it because it has shades for all occasions, from breakfast with grandpa to New Years Eve in Las Vegas.

These products are tried and true and are going to help get you through even the worst holiday parties while looking like a boss. 

DSU sends two interns to Stanford

Article by Aaron E. Palmer

Stanford University welcomed two Dixie State University students last summer after they were awarded biology internships earlier this year.

Ashton “AJ” Basile and Brian Caldwell, senior biology majors from St. George, hosted the Dixie Forum on Oct. 21 and discussed their internships at Stanford where they ran innumerable scientific tests to contribute to cancer research. Caldwell radiated cells to observe cancer growth, and Basile studied the embryonic brains of mice. Their forum topic was titled “Cutting-Edge Cancer Research: A Report from Stanford University.”

After DSU Awarded Basile and Caldwell the three-month internships, they relocated to study cancer at a cellular level over the summer at Stanford.  As the first non-Stanford students engaging in Stanford’s biomedical research program, their typical day included more than eight hours in labs and occasional seminars. 

The internships were the result of collaboration between DSU, Dixie Regional Medical Center and Stanford University.  At the forum, Lincoln Nadauld of the DRMC addressed the proficiency of excellent students.

“It is my strong belief that the top students anywhere, including at Dixie State, can compete with any other students in the world,” Nadauld said. “Why can’t we take some of our best and brightest and give them an opportunity to go and learn alongside the best and brightest at Stanford? … To the tremendous credit of DSU and DRMC, they agreed this made sense and provided funding for [those students].”

When flyers appeared on campus, 15 students applied.  An intramural committee of DRMC and DSU’s biology department officials screened the candidates and narrowed the pool down to two. The selection criteria and interviews allowed the committee to make the best decision.

“We wanted to make a good impression and select students we knew would be successful,” said Carole Grady, dean of the School of Nursing and Allied Health.

“I had to try,” Caldwell said. “I couldn’t let that opportunity pass by because what if I got chosen? What if I am the one that makes the cut? I started off as a lowly undergrad, but after each semester I saw my potential growing greater, and the next thing I know: I’m going to Stanford.  It was unreal.”

Biology Department Chair David Jones sat on the selection committee for the Stanford internships, and he said motivation set Basile and Caldwell apart from the other candidates.

“They are driven to comprehend,” Jones said. “They seek knowledge as opposed to receiving it.  Plenty of people are smart and have a lot of knowledge, but AJ and Brian have the souls of scientists.” 

And those souls proved invaluable. While at Stanford, Basile and Caldwell learned from mentors who gave them freedom to learn independently. 

“[My mentor] let me take over his research,” Caldwell said.  “I did everything myself.  My mistakes were my own, and the way I fixed them were my own … I felt [my mentor] wouldn’t like me, but it was the exact opposite.  I didn’t expect him to so quickly respect me — to go out of his way to help me.  And it wasn’t just him, but everyone in the labs.”

Working in facilities larger than the Holland Centennial Commons – chocked-full of million-dollar equipment – Basile and Caldwell shared workspace and tools with other students.  Enthusiasm electrified the air.  Everyone labored like bees, pursuing to bridge the gap between the discovered and unknown.

“We met world-class scientists, a Nobel-prize neuroscientist and Stanford’s best students, and I didn’t feel it was an intimidating environment,” Basile said.

Basile and Caldwell said as the weeks passed they realized something new.  The Stanford students “were no more special than we were,” they said.  The sole difference between them and the Stanford students was that Basile and Caldwell didn’t get official, seminar T-shirts.

And that’s it.

If Basile and Caldwell realized this, others should too.

The internships will continue next year due to Basile and Caldwell’s stellar impressions and the coordination between DRMC, DSU and Stanford. 

For more information about the Stanford internship opportunities, contact biology adviser Doug Sainsbery by visiting Room 131 in the Science Building, calling 435-879-4282 or by emailing sainsbu@dixie.edu. 

Five signs your adultness has taken all the fun out of Halloween

Five signs your adultness has taken all the fun out of Halloween:

1- You have no idea who this Elsa person is or why everyone is dressing up as her.

2- You really don’t feel good about all the scandalous costumes at Target this year.

3- Your heart can’t take haunted corn mazes or the teenagers swarming them.

4- That new Halloween store in town stresses you out. Why did that skeleton just start singing?

5- You think paying $39.99 for a costume is ridiculous, but you’re also too lazy to make anything yourself.