Embrace the holidays, redefine traditions away from home

By Sarah Witt

When you think of family holiday traditions, you might imagine cuddling up by a roaring fire, watching Christmas movies with your family, picking out the perfect Christmas tree, or going on a sleigh ride.  

Maybe you’re one who pictures that “fun, old-fashioned family Christmas” desired by Clark Griswold in the holiday classic, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Perhaps you share similar feelings to Ellen Griswold, Clark’s wife, when she tells her frustrated daughter, “I don’t know what to say except it’s Christmas, and we’re all in misery!” 

But one thing we can take away from that beloved movie is that the holiday season doesn’t look the same for everyone, especially those who are unable to return home for the holidays. Times have changed and family dynamics are sometimes complicated. Students may also have different perspectives on the holidays, so whether you are celebrating them in traditional ways or starting your own traditions, here is how you can celebrate the holidays away from home.  

Embrace a unique holiday experience 

Nathan Snow, an assistant professor of communication, went to graduate school in England at the University of Bristol. As someone who has been an international student before, Snow encourages any student looking for somewhere to go for Christmas to take advantage of the programs and resources that Utah Tech University offers to spend the holidays with faculty members.

Whether a personal choice or an inability to afford the travel expenses to go home, many students stay in St. George, away from their families for the holidays. The time away from family can be challenging, but it also creates an opportunity for students to find new ways to make the holiday season special and unique for them. 

“The first holiday that I was over there was a little hard, just because you miss the traditions that come with home,” Snow said. “But I quickly discovered that you could mitigate that home-sickness by experiencing what local holiday traditions are there that you could participate in. I just got this whole British Christmas experience…those now are some of my favorite holiday memories.” 

Find a home away from home 

Students come to Utah Tech to gain an education and life experience, but college can be stressful. It is a difficult transition to move away from home and still feel a sense of belonging. Specifically when the holiday season comes around, people need the support of others. 

“It’s a hard time for a lot of people, and I know that includes me,” said Caden Barrett, the LGBTQ student coordinator. “A lot of people are ostracized from their family for whatever reason, and so it’s really important just to spend it with people who you feel comfortable around and who you can be yourself around…whether that’s friends, other family or just peers.” 

Complicated and hostile homes can create a sense of chaos, and the holidays should be a time to feel a sense of peace and normalcy. The Center for Inclusion and Belonging offers a comforting, safe place for students.  

Try new traditions 

Ives Hong, a junior psychology major from Vietnam, said for his holidays away from home, he has taken himself to get a treat or dinner, celebrated with other international students, participated in campus activities, and spent Christmas with his chosen family. 

“I call them my chosen family because they really were a big help to me, and we’ve built our own kind of relationship,” Hong said. 

There are many cheap and easy activities to try out by yourself or with friends this year to celebrate the holidays. Some examples include: 

  • Serve others in your community by volunteering at the food pantry, food bank, animal shelter or community resource center.  
  • Hold a Friendsgiving or holiday party and have everyone bring a dish to share.  
  • Eat a meal or open presents with family over Zoom or FaceTime call.  
  • Find traditions from other countries and cultures to learn about and try for yourself.  

“The big holiday here is Christmas, and for us [in Vietnam], it’s our Lunar New Year that’s usually in February,” Hong said. “We do relatively similar things, and I think it would be awesome to celebrate Lunar New Year here.” 

Enjoy the break 

Avril Kester, a sophomore marketing major from Los Angeles, said as a non-resident, she doesn’t have a car with her at college or know any students to drive home with for holidays. Due to that and flights being too expensive, Kester has had to stay in St. George for most holidays since being in college. 

She has always made the best of her situation by relaxing and doing activities that were unique to her and made her happy. Things that bring joy don’t have to be expensive or complicated. For the holidays last year, Kester bought herself some food and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  

“At the end of the day, holidays are just random days in the year that people have called special, but that doesn’t take away from the days that I do spend with people because those are just as special,” Kester said. 

Whether it looks like a traditional holiday experience or something completely new and unique to you, find some way to enjoy your holiday season away from home. The holidays are what you make of them, so choose how you’ll make them meaningful. Whether staying close or traveling far, as Clark Griswold said, “Have the hap-hap-happiest Christmas.” 

Thanksgiving alternatives for those spending holidays in St. George

Thanksgiving is often associated with feelings of comfort and gratitude as students return home to spend time with loved ones. 

Unfortunately, some students are unable to return home for Thanksgiving for various reasons. Whether they are scheduled to work, would rather visit home for Christmas, have athletic games to play in, or call another country their home, going home is not always possible. 

For those students who will be staying in St. George for the holidays, Utah Tech University has alternatives for students wanting to celebrate Thanksgiving.   

In a survey created by Ali Threet, assistant vice president and dean of students, she has outlined different alternatives students can participate in.

Thanksgiving with staff and faculty

Students can celebrate Thanksgiving by being hosted by a Utah Tech staff or faculty member. With this alternative, students spend the day with their hostee and enjoy Thanksgiving festivities and food. 

Michael Lacourse, the provost and vice president of academic affairs, hosted a student last year for Thanksgiving. Through this experience, Lacourse and his family were able to learn more about the student and his educational aspirations and career goals. 

“I really enjoy Thanksgiving, so hosting a student was a really fun experience,” Lacourse said. “As a student and being able to go to somebody’s home locally to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal is a great opportunity.”

A faculty or staff member will be randomly paired with one or more students, and ride accommodations can be made for students without vehicles. 

Students are encouraged and invited to go spend Thanksgiving in the home of a faculty or staff member because it’s a great way for people to be able to bond and feel like they have community, even if they’re not from St. George,” Threet said. “That’s why other faculty and staff sign up because if we have the ability to do it, and we can bless other’s lives, why wouldn’t we?”

The Blazer Pantry and other food alternatives

The Blazer Pantry, located in the Browning Learning Resource Center, will be open Nov. 20 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Nov. 21 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. It will be closed for the remainder of the week, so Dru Bottoms, the director of the Student Resource Center, hopes to make prior arrangements for the students who visit the pantry often. 

Bottoms works with community donors and partners who provide food donations to the pantry. For Thanksgiving week, there will be meal kits and heated meals provided by the community. There will also be holiday food items that can ordered for pickup Nov. 20 or Nov. 21.

“We have wonderful community donors that are willing to donate to us, so we do our best to get it out to all students because we don’t want them to go hungry,” Bottoms said.

Because campus dining and the pantry will be closed for Thanksgiving break, students can purchase meal vouchers at the information desk in the Gardner Student Center with their meal plan.

Campus View Suites Thanksgiving event

Of the people working to create these alternatives for students, Christian Hildebrandt, the assistant vice president of campus life and wellness, is working with campus housing to provide an event for students to participate in on Thanksgiving in the Campus View Suites housing complexes. 

For both on-campus and off-campus students, Threet said she wants students to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with other students by enjoying many different holiday festivities.

“We also would like to provide the food because we want people to be able to eat over the holidays and to feel like it’s a special time and just have that break before they go into finals,” Threet said. 

If you are looking to celebrate Thanksgiving and are unable to return home for the holidays, consider filling out the survey before Nov. 21 so the staff and faculty can plan accordingly to the needs of the student body. Although Thanksgiving might not be celebrated in the comfort of your home this year, it can still be celebrated through the comfort of other staff, faculty and students at Utah Tech.

Trailblazers return battle ax to T-Birds after defeat at home

The Utah Tech University football team lost the battle ax to in-state rivals Southern Utah University in the final game of the year Nov. 18.

The Battle of the Ax is a historical rivalry between Southern Utah University and Utah Tech University. It was revived in the 2022-2023 season where SUU claimed the ax first with a 31-17 win. Utah Tech avenged the loss six weeks later with a 48-36 victory, breaking a three-game losing streak against SUU. 

However, SUU reclaimed the ax after this season’s game with a final score of 24-16. This marked the fifth meet-up between the two schools. Utah Tech holds a 1-4 record against the Thunderbirds in its NCAA era.

Nygel Osborne, a freshman finance major from Inglewood, California, said he felt no extra pressure playing in a rivalry game and that he approached the game like any other.

“I take it week by week, day by day,” Osborne said. “I take every opponent the same, it doesn’t matter who you are. No matter what’s in front of me, I’m going to see it as the same, and I’m going to keep pushing and keep going.”

Osborne scored his first collegiate touchdown during the first quarter of the game against SUU. Later in the second quarter, he added another touchdown to his record. Throughout the night, he achieved 7 carries for a total of 60 yards.

Offensively, Utah Tech was able to move the ball through the air. They lead the game in passing yards with 227 yards. Kobe Tracy went 18 out of 37 on passing with a long of 33 yards to Daniel Thomason.

Rickie Johnson, a senior recreation and sports management major from Murrieta, California, led the game in receptions with five catches for 37 yards. Johnson said offensively, they didn’t execute the gameplay as well as they hoped.

“I feel like we just left some plays out there,” Johnson said. “I feel like there’s some things that we could have done better, but how it ended is how it ended and it can’t be changed now.”

Johnson concludes his collegiate football career here at Utah Tech with 2,057 receiving yards, which is the second all-time in program history. He holds the school record for career receptions with 158 and finished seventh all-time in touchdown catches with 17. 

Head coach Paul Peterson said in an interview with Rod Zundel for SportsVision that he appreciates the seniors for their hard work and playing tough all year.

“I think that they set the tone and are the builders of our program,” Peterson said. “They’re the glue that kept us together when it was hard, and we didn’t quite have the record that we needed, but we’re doing everything else in the right way to build this program.”

Peterson said the future looks bright as the team is filled with fresh young talent. He said most of their core guys are returning next season and that their entire offensive and defensive line is eligible to come back.

Including the last loss against SUU, the Trailblazers finished the season 2-9 and eighth in the United Athletic Conference.

‘It starts right now’: men’s soccer team eager for next season

The Utah Tech University men’s soccer team concluded its season by setting a program record for wins at the Division I level.

The Trailblazers were picked to finish last in the preseason coaches poll. Despite the critics, they ended the season with a 9-9 record, finishing third in the Western Athletic Conference.

Utah Tech earned their first conference tournament match win since joining the Division I level with a score of 1-0 against San José State University. They went on to play California Baptist University in the semifinal of the WAC tournament, losing the game 0-2.

Jimi Villasenor, a redshirt junior marketing major from Las Vegas, said the difference in this year’s team compared to last season is night and day. 

“I couldn’t have asked for a better season with the boys,” Villasenor said. “Me personally, I thought I performed very well this season. That makes me happy, and I’m very, very proud of this team.”

In the 2022-2023 season, Utah Tech ended with a 4-12-2 record and finished eighth in the WAC. This year, the Trailblazers didn’t just improve their record but improved on shooting and scoring. The Trailblazers averaged 13.2 shots per game compared to last year with 7.4 shots a game. They had a total of 18 goals on the year, doubling their goals from the previous year.

Austin Wallace, a freshman general studies major from Lehi, said it was a challenge returning to play after serving a two-year mission for his church. Wallace said he is using the offseason to work on his range of play.

“Coming back, it took me some time to adjust to the speed of things,” Wallace said. “I still feel like I could improve on how fast I’m playing and where I’m going with the ball. That was one thing I felt like I struggled with throughout the season.”

Wallace talked about the game against Gonzaga University where he scored the game-winning goal in the 89th minute. Wallace said it was his favorite memory from this past season. 

Head coach Jonny Broadhead has been the coach of the men’s soccer team for seven seasons. He said this marks his best year as a Division I coach. Broadhead said the team already has its eye on the next season and is eager to compete again. 

“I asked the guys when this next year starts, and Julian Herrera, before I could even finish the sentence, he’s like ‘It [the season] starts right now,’” Broadhead said.

Broadhead’s next steps are to get spring games scheduled to keep the team in shape and to help them get better for next season.

OPINION | Are these trending books worth the read?

Readers use reading as a way to escape reality and jump into an entirely different world. 

Sometimes the real world can be a lot to handle. I use it as an escape for that reason—our everyday lives can be overwhelming, and finding another world to jump into and explore is a fun way to take a break.

I have made it a goal to read a majority of popular books the media has been sharing. I have enjoyed a good majority of them, but there are others that I wouldn’t recommend.

“Fourth Wing” and ”Iron Flame” by Rebecca Yarros

These new masterpieces are some of the top-ranked books in the book community right now. Released Nov. 7, “Iron Flame” has sold nearly half a million copies, with the first book of “Fourth Wing” selling over two million copies.

This new series is quickly beginning to be one of my favorites. The themes are pushing toward the opposite of the typical book women stereotypes.

Usually in books that focus on women empowerment, it is the “I’m different from other girls, and I can pick up on skills quickly and always get the guy, but I’m already really pretty and the top of my class.”

Whereas in this book, Violet Sorrengail is relatable. She is a small girl who has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a chronic condition that affects the body’s connective tissue, and isn’t at the top of her class like other stereotypical book girls would be. She has to find ways around her conditions just to survive that aren’t the traditional ways.

Unlike “regular” stories, Violet and Xaden Riorson, have a hard time trusting each other, yet they love each other through it all. But, that trust causes them a lot of issues on top of everything else they are dealing with. 

I can relate to the characters that Yarros has written because I am about their age, and I am going through a lot of the same situations that they are going through emotionally. Also, being able to read about these characters and their passion for what they do and what they fight for makes me want to grow as a person and push myself not only physically—because it would be cool to fly on a dragon and throw knives—but mentally as well.

This book has war and colleges, but there is also magic and dragons. It is a very nice balance to allow the reader to escape reality, but also keep them intrigued with themes that they feel they could relate to in some way. 

“Shatter Me” by Tahereh Mafi

“Shatter Me” is a book series that most new readers start with and end up loving. It’s a very easy read. The books are not very long, but they have a good amount of development and world-building but not so much that it is overwhelming or too hard to keep track of everything. 

The characters are much simpler compared to other series such as “From Blood and Ash” or “The Inheritance Games,” with the reader having to get past the first few books to learn what the characters are like and what they think and feel. These characters are a little more surface-level and easier to read. 

I like these books overall, but I wouldn’t read it more than once. The characters are cute, but they don’t resonate like a lot of the other characters in other books have. The whole plot of the book changed as soon as the love story came to pass. I felt that Mafi could have focused more on Juliette Ferrars’s storyline and how she grows as a character since the book started out with her in such a devastated state.

I love the impact that these books have on new readers. It is a great series to begin your reading journey with, and it opens the door to a whole new world of books.

“Throne of Glass” by Sarah J. Maas

Sarah J. Maas is seen as a writer who is overhyped, but I have to disagree with that opinion. Her books have a lot of themes and character development that a lot of other authors lack. “Throne of Glass” is Maas’ most widely selling book and for good reason. The level of development that this eight-book series has is amazing. 

Going back to the typical stereotypes of women in books, Aelin Galythinius doesn’t match those stereotypes either. She starts out as an assassin, which we don’t typically see as a strong woman. Then she finds out her own heritage, and by doing that step alone, invites a lot of interest in her story. She is a strong woman and has a lot of impact on other characters from the very start of the series before any love interest is introduced.

At the end of the series, Maas does an amazing job of connecting things from the first book to the last book, which as a writer, is really impressive to keep all of that information in line.

Usually in books, the male tends to be the leader and supports the woman, oftentimes holding their significant other back from accomplishing things out of fear of being hurt. But Rowan Whitethorn doesn’t hold her back. He does fear for her safety, but he doesn’t stop her from doing dangerous things. More often than not, he just goes into those situations with her in support. This is a good way to show how this series is very different from your typical relationship.

Maas has a new book coming out in January 2024. For those who have read her books, specifically “Crescent City,” they know exactly why this next book is such a big deal. 

Excited doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about her next book. I love her storytelling, and I hope people are open-minded enough to give her books a chance and enjoy them as much as I do. 

“It Ends with Us” by Colleen Hoover

When I first started reading Colleen Hoover’s books, I thought they were decent, easy books. And that opinion still stands, but “It Ends With Us” is overhyped. It is a good book and was fun to read, but the level of excitement it has is a little much.

The lessons I learned from the story were good, and I give props to Hoover for writing a story about things that she had experienced in her own life, but the way that the fanbase is reacting to it isn’t a good thing. The negativity toward the book and its connection to the movie meant to come out in 2023 makes me ashamed to be a part of the group that read and liked this book. Body shaming and comparing a real person to a fictional character in a book is unacceptable.

I am a passionate book reader, but for these other passionate people to be looking at a false reality and expecting that reality to come to life is unrealistic. So, even though the book was a good read, I don’t entirely want to be a part of the group of supporters for this book.

Although the story was rushed and there weren’t a lot of details about the characters, I look forward to reading more of what Hoover writes. I hope she can include more detail and time into her characters and stories. 

OPINION | These celebrities deserve your vote for president

State elections are coming up with the presidential elections the following year. For many of us on campus, this will be the first year that we get to vote in the presidential election.

Despite your political party, it is important to vote, but what qualities will persuade your voting? Maybe it is the qualities of “honest Abe” or the candidate with the best campaign. If you don’t know who to vote for, then look for certain qualities that you like in a person.

Celebrities are a great place to turn toward for great presidential qualities. While they might not be the ones running for president, they do have qualities that you might look for when voting.

However, have you ever thought about which celebrities would make a great president?

Well I have, and these would be my top choices if celebrities were president. They don’t have anything to do with politics, but they have certain qualities that should be seen in someone running for office.

Adam Sandler

Picture this: a man in gym shorts and an oversized t-shirt sitting in a presidential meeting. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

I think we all need a little bit more comedy in our lives, and Adam Sandler would be just the man for that job. In most of his movies, Sandler’s movie cast is made up of his comedy friends. While I don’t know how much would get done in his time in office, imagine how fun it would be to have Sandler as president and the cast of “Grown Ups” on the rest of the presidential board.

While Sandler is a great actor in comedy, he also plays a part in donating to multiple charities including the Boys and Girls Club of America and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He is famous yet so humble, which is something we need in a presidential candidate. There might be less violence if we had a humble president leading us because they wouldn’t be looking to prove anything to the world.

We need a president who isn’t full of themselves but is there to get the job done. It can be seen through Sandler’s outfits that he doesn’t care what others think of him but is rather living his life to the fullest. This is a quality that should be looked for in anyone, not just a presidential candidate.


Can you think about someone who can do anything better than Zendaya, herself? She can sing, dance, act and model. I would not be surprised if she could also be the president of the United States.

Now it might just be me, but I can’t think of a movie, TV show or song that Zendaya was in that did not turn out wonderful. From “The Greatest Showman” to her songs and acting in the series “Euphoria,” Zendaya has not missed either making her performance a tear-jerker or singing a sick beat.

I grew up watching Zendaya and now watch her in shows and movies today. She always seems so dedicated to her work, which would be something a president would need. I have never met her in person, but she also seems so kind-hearted and genuine. A president needs to be kind-hearted and genuine since, in a way, they are responsible for the U.S.

Zendaya’s talent also shows that she is a fast learner. A president needs to be able to learn and adapt to the fast-paced world. On top of it, with her ability to do almost anything, Zendaya is a role model. There have not been many presidents who would be considered role models, which is something that would be nice to see for once.

Jack Black

Another comedian and actor who would make a great president is Jack Black.

He is another actor who has very successful movies, whether that be acting or voice acting in animated films. The films are both family and comedy films, so he has influenced everyone in one way or another. One of his most recent films, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” was a successful movie with his role as Bowser. In this movie, he wrote and sang “Peaches,” which is one of my favorite songs in a movie for 2023. It is so catchy, and once you start singing it, good luck stopping.

From watching him in movies to seeing his interactions with other people, Black is someone I could trust. He always seems so caring while also making jokes. He gives off the vibes of a dad from the way he makes dad jokes while also making everything peaceful. Black would be the guy who would create world peace through making jokes. Many candidates say world peace is one of their goals, but do they show it through their actions like Black does?

Do you need a laugh or smile? Watch videos on his TikTok account. Every time one of his videos shows up on my For You Page, my spirits are instantly lifted. It would be great to have a president who lifts your spirits in a world that is often negative. What better president than the voice of Bowser?

Jane Lynch

Now I might be exposing myself with this one, but Jane Lynch would be another great president. I mean have you seen “Glee“?

If you haven’t seen this show, then you will have no idea what I am talking about. However, in “Glee,” Lynch plays Sue Sylvester, who is the cheer coach for the high school. She is mostly mean but occasionally nice at times, which I think could be a great presidential quality. We need someone as president who will get things done, which is something she would do.

In season six of “Glee,” she was even the vice president of the U.S. with the plan of running in 2024 for president. Her campaign slogan for president would be “That’s how Sue C’s it.” This is a phrase she uses when she stars on a news show but could easily be used as a campaign slogan to show her presidential views.

Taylor Swift

Last but not least is Taylor Swift.

Let’s put aside any bias or judgments you might have toward Swift and be real for a moment. If Swift wanted to be president, she could be president.

In the U.S. alone, her fan base is 53% of the population, which is 180 million people, and the Swifties are 16% of the population, which is 54.4 million people. To put it in perspective for you, the population of the entire state of Utah is 3.3 million. The entire state of New York has a population of 19.84 million. Her fan base is so large and dedicated that if she told them she was running for president, they would support her with no doubt.

On top of that, Swift has also helped the economy through her Eras Tour. On average, 54,000 fans attended the American leg of the tour. These fans had to find a place to eat, a hotel to stay at, and activities to do before the concert. All of the venues are also making a lot of money off of the tour. Our country is always in debt, so maybe someone with the qualities of Swift can help us get out of this debt.

If the statistics have not convinced you that Swift would make a great president, think about her music. There is a genre for any mood, and she just won Apple Music’s Artist of the Year for 2023 to add a cherry on top of her 12 Grammys. Through Swift’s fan base, benefits to the economy, music and just being her, she would make a great president.

So the next time you are watching a movie, TV show or listening to music, think about what it would look like if those celebrities were the president of the U.S. Maybe some of their qualities will help your voting in the upcoming elections.

The Agvocate: GMOs are not going to kill you

In an era where scientific advancements shape our world, understanding genetically modified organisms has steadily become more important.

I strive to equip readers with the knowledge needed to make informed decisions about purchasing GMOs and their important significance in our lives and the environment.

As a four-year Future Farmers of America member and avid performance horse enthusiast, who grew up on the outskirts of the Delta community surrounded by corn and alfalfa fields as far as one could see, agriculture has always had a special spot in my heart.

Rodeoing and stock-showing livestock throughout high school ignited my passion to inform others about “the joys and discomforts” an agricultural life can bring, all while educating those who may have never been around progressive agriculturists and family farms.

For thousands of years, humans have been selectively breeding to modify organisms to fit their needs and wants. Genetically engineered organisms are no different.

The United States Department of Agriculture openly reports that scientists use genetic engineering to take favorable genes, like insect resistance or drought tolerance, and transfer them into crops that Americans eat.

Genetically engineered corn, soybeans, cotton, potatoes, papaya, summer squash, canola, alfalfa, apples, sugar beets, and pink pineapples are grown in the U.S.

When consumers see large words or phrases they don’t understand, a sense of fear can set in, and that is why GMOs have been given a bad reputation simply because those who are not completely educated on them are offering others false information.

GMOs are not harmful to humans and some have higher nutritional value than their counterparts.

Scientists employ genetic modification today to increase crop yields, minimize crop spoilage, extend storage life, enhance visual appeal, and improve nutritional value. With the never-ending population growth, farmers would never be able to provide for everyone without GMOs.

A GMO farm will yield more healthy, appealing and cost-effective crops than a counterpart farm. This is because the farmer won’t need to spend as much on pesticides and herbicides since the plant has already been modified in a way that it can protect itself and grow strong without as much intervention.

GMOs are nothing to fear because they are just plants that have the most desirable traits for the best price. An example of selective breeding that we can compare to the selective breeding crops undergo is a dog breeder enjoying a golden retriever’s smart family-friendly personality but wishing they wouldn’t shed like their poodle.

America’s beloved golden doodle was born by crossing a golden retriever and a poodle, so individuals can still have a friendly and smart companion that is hypoallergenic for those sensitive to animal dander.

Corn that grows stronger, looks more desirable, has higher nutritional value and is more cost-effective is just like a golden doodle. They both were created for certain purposes by people for people. GMOs not only help farmers yield more crops per acre but also allow consumers to obtain nutritious fruits and vegetables at a lower price.

A world without GMOs would be a world where only the rich would have access to fruits and vegetables, and the poor would starve. The world’s farmers that use GMOs are making their living the same as everyone else, and their intentions are pure—to feed as many people as they can with nutritious food.

How to prepare for colder months in southern Utah

For most universities in Utah, snow is just beginning to paint campuses white to remind students that the holidays are just around the corner.

Well, not Utah Tech University. St. George is a city residing at an elevation of around 2,794 feet above sea level and typically doesn’t get below 60 degrees.

Unlike most parts of northern Utah, St. George and the surrounding area can feel like a barren wasteland during the winter months of November and December.

However, on the odd occasion that it does drop below 40 degrees, bundling up in sweaters, consuming liquids and making sure vehicles are properly maintained and prepared for colder weather is essential for ensuring a safe and fun winter break.  

Bundling up

While most have the perception that southern Utah stays warm all year round, it’s important to have at least a couple of winter coats or sweaters to wear during bone-chilling winds.

Sarah Price, a freshman elementary education major from Star Valley, Wyoming, said, “I moved here from Wyoming, so I was expecting to not need a lot of winter outfits because I was so used to the cold, but now I get chilly when it drops below 80 degrees.”

Local stores in the area like Ross Dress for Less and Walmart can offer affordable options, while places like Costco and DICK’S Sporting Goods offer more expensive choices with higher quality material.

Layering is very helpful as most people are either walking in and out of classrooms, finishing up the last weeks of school or going to various stores to shop for Thanksgiving and Christmas gifts.

Especially with Black Friday coming up, layering is a useful tool to make fast trips to the store more enjoyable, despite the cold weather.

Drinking liquids

While keeping the outside warm, it’s equally as important to keep the inside of your body warm too. Drinking warm liquids can not only provide relief from chilly afternoons but also be a yummy treat.

Local coffee shops like Dutch Bros and Starbucks can provide several varieties of warm drinks to warm up with, whether that be tea, coffee or hot chocolate.

And, for those who don’t partake in hot holiday drinks, there are several other options for drinks that may suffice.

Ro Webb, the Utah Tech marching band instructor and part-time dance accompanist, said: “Nothing tastes better than a fresh Coca-Cola year-round. I’m a straight Coke girly.”

Preparing vehicles for cold weather

Car maintenance is important to do all year round. This can include refilling coolant and de-icing windshields to prepare cars for long trips back home for the holidays.

There are multiple resources available to find out how to best winterize vehicles for cold months. This can include installing new wiper blades, maintaining proper tire pressure and packing a winter safety kit in case of accidents.

Another part of car maintenance is making sure to have plenty of preparedness items in the vehicle. Packing layers, first aid kits and blankets all make a nice addition to a safe trip back home.

Nate Richins, a senior welding major at Dixie Technical College from Mesa, Arizona, said: “I always make sure to have a Dutch Bros gift card and plenty of options for cold weather. That’s normally either a couple of blankets or a toolkit in my car.”

Winter in St. George has its ups and downs, but finding ways to prepare for chilly weather is important nonetheless. From finding proper clothing to prepping vehicles, you can ensure a safe and comfortable winter.

American Sign Language Club helps bring awareness to deaf community on campus

Babies as young as 6 months old learn how to sign short signs such as “milk” and “more.” As college students, the ability to absorb and learn more signs is immeasurable. 

Over 150 students are signed up to receive updates about the American Sign Language Club at Utah Tech University. The club leaders support its members by using patience and enthusiasm to teach each student the basics of ASL. Within the club, members communicate by signing the language to each other. 

“We love the members of the deaf community, and we want to help others learn to communicate with them by providing a place for them to start,” said Allyson Hamilton, the ASL program’s director. “Deaf people can’t learn to hear, but you can learn to sign.”

Hamilton came to Dixie State University in 2014. She began working on the ASL/English Interpreting Degree. In the past five to seven years that this club has been active, they have hosted and attended many events on campus.

One of those events was the Trailblazer Village during Homecoming Week, in which the club had a booth and had people spin a wheel. Whatever football-related word they landed on, the club members would teach the correlating sign to them. 

Hamilton said, “We try to participate in as many events as we can on campus, and we have a few service projects that we help with at the Deaf Center just up the street from the university.” 

Another event was a Halloween movie party where the ASL club hosted a party and had treats to pass out as well as an interpreter for the movie “Halloweentown.”

Ciara Bush, one of the club leaders, said: “We are able to make announcements in the classes for events coming up, and most of our teachers are also our advisers. They are a huge help in getting the word around for events and service projects that we participate in.”

The ASL club’s Instagram has many updates throughout each month, one of which is announcing events and social events that are coming up. The club has monthly socials where they get together to enjoy entertainment and food as well as learning opportunities that allow them to get involved in the deaf community.

Members of this club participate in various service projects. With the help of the club as well as the ASL classes offered on campus, the club members and students in the program have been able to make a difference by helping interpret as well as offering more socialization opportunities for those within the deaf and signing community.

With the Deaf Center being so close to campus, the ASL club chose to work closely with them and host a few of their events as well as attend the Deaf Center’s annual Trunk-or-Treat. This has helped the club to be more widely known throughout the community, not just at Utah Tech.

Club member Bryn Kint, a junior digital film major from St. George, said: “The club fosters a sense of community. It is a place to practice our skills and socialize with the signing community.”

The club gives any level of signers a chance to communicate with the deaf and signing community. This club is looking to grow and offer this chance to as many students who are willing to learn.

Hamilton said, “When we are together, we sign and communicate in the language, and it always turns heads.”