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Rowlands honored as ‘Student of the Block’ for the Seventh Block

Posted on 25 April 2011 by eestes@tusculum.edu

Gareth Rowlands, second from left, was honored as "Student of the Block" for the seventh block. Presenting the award are, from left, Kevin Weston, assistant football coach and defensive coordinator; Josh Jordan, campus safety captain and Billie Ann Pace, academic resources counselor

Gareth Rowlands, a senior majoring in middle childhood education, has been recognized as “Student of the Block” at Tusculum College for the Seventh Block.

Rowlands was honored at a ceremony Thursday, April 21, in the Niswonger Commons. The Student of the Block Award is presented each block by the Office of Student Affairs to recognize students for academic achievement, leadership on campus and contributions to the college community. A plaque honoring Rowlands’ accomplishments will be displayed in the Commons and other campus buildings.

The native of Benllech, Wales, was described as the embodiment of the core values and skills that Tusculum wants to instill in its students – personal integrity, civic responsibility, a strong sense of community, appreciation for critical thinking and reflective judgment and commitment to continual growth.

Rowlands has maintained a 3.22 grade point average within the rigorous education major while balancing a heavy extracurricular load. His aspiration is to become an educator in order to positively affect the lives of youth as a teacher and coach as others did for him. He credits Pauletta Johnson, director of field experience and assistant professor of education, as a helping hand along his educational journey. “Dr. Johnson is always straight to the point and always willing to help,” he said. “She has always gone above and beyond any request given to her and is an asset to Tusculum.”

What brought Rowlands to Tusculum is football. He came to campus to continue his athletic career as a kicker/punter for the Pioneer football team. Shining in his position, Rowlands garnered numerous awards including the Don Hansen All America first team, the Daktronics NCAA II All-America first team, Associated Press Little All-America second team, 2010 D2Football.com All-America second team and an invitation to play in the 2011 Cactus Bowl, the NCAA Division II Senior All-Star game. He holds the school records for consecutive field goals and consecutive extra points.

With this success, Rowlands remains the same humorous, light-hearted, intelligent and compassionate person he was when he arrived on campus. He said that involvement with the football team “has not only allowed me to improve my athletic abilities, but has allowed me the opportunity for personal growth. Being on the team has made me realize the importance of family and teamwork. I have realized that the vast majority of work that goes on behind the scenes, and you only get good results based upon the amount work that is put in.”

Looking for a challenge and an opportunity to become more involved on campus, Rowlands began serving as a resident assistant. “Gareth is one of those rare RAs who knows a great deal of the student body and can manage a situation with ease because of his positive rapport with students,” said Bonnie Weston, senior student life coordinator. “His ability to manage his commitment to the residence life program, his other commitments with football and the Boys and Girls Club of Greeneville/Greene County never ceases to amaze me, and I fully appreciate the work he has put in to make our campus community what it is today.”

Rowlands works with the Boys and Girls Club, mentoring the youth and has become a favorite of the employees of the organization. “Gareth has worked approximately 480 hours at the Boys and Girls Club where he represents Tusculum as a positive role model in the Greeneville community,” said Bette Dowd, former assistant certification officer and COG office coordinator, who nominated him for the award. “He is well admired by the children of Greene County as well as the professionals he works with.”

Campus Safety Captain Josh Jordan, who also nominated Rowlands for the honor, also pointed to his efforts at the Boys and Girls Club as well as what he has done on campus. “He has done a lot for the Tusculum and greater Greeneville community,” Jordan said.

Looking back on his time at Tusculum, Rowlands cherishes most his memories of being a member of the football team and meeting his girlfriend. His advice to his fellow students is to “enjoy it while it lasts and never leave your own fate in someone else’s hands.”

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McDonnell honored as ‘Student of the Block’ for Block Six

Posted on 13 April 2011 by eestes@tusculum.edu

mcdonnell_studentoftheblockElizabeth McDonnell, a senior majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing, was named “Student of the Block” for the Sixth Block at Tusculum College.

McDonnell, who is from Memphis, Tenn., was recognized in a ceremony on March 24. The Student of the Block Award is presented each block by the Office of Student Affairs to recognize students for academic achievement, leadership on campus and contributions to the college community. A plaque describing McDonnell and her accomplishments will be displayed in the Niswonger Commons and then rotated through other academic buildings on campus.

An academically gifted student who also devotes much time to community service, McDonnell’s accomplishments, quiet and modest demeanor and reflective personality have made her a favorite among the Tusculum English Department faculty and staff. She received an unprecedented four nominations for the award.

“Elizabeth has lived up to every hope I had for her,” said Wayne Thomas, assistant professor of English and journalism. “I have asked Elizabeth to facilitate a class or two in my Intermediate Creative Writing course this spring. I asked Elizabeth to do this for me because I’ve noticed that students look forward to the days she’s up for a workshop as much as I do.”

“In addition to her hard work and intelligence, Ella (as Elizabeth is known to many on campus) has many other stellar qualities,” said Dr. Shelia Morton, assistant professor English. “She has won several awards … with all of this, however, one of the things that further impresses me about Ella is her very real consideration of ethics and her responsibility to a world in need.”

“Early in her time at Tusculum, Elizabeth set her goals and her primary focus remained aimed at reaching those goals,” said Pat Stansberry, administrative assistant to the Academic Resource Center. “And four years later, she has reached them with excellence … she is articulate, dependable, creative and an all around example of what a Tusculum graduate is expected to be.”

Noting that McDonnell won the Meacham Workshop Creative Nonfiction Award in 2010, Assistant Professor of English Dr. Desirae Matherly said that in addition to doing promising work in non-fiction, “she is dependable and dedicated to her craft and her dedication to service learning at projects at Tusculum College represents her commitment to helping other people.” McDonnell was also recently named winner of the non-fiction category of the Curtis and Billie Owens Literary Awards, which recognizes Tusculum students for excellence in creative writing, and was a presenter at the Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference.

McDonnell is heavily involved in student organizations, participates in service-learning opportunities on campus and enjoys playing a large role in the English Department writing publications, including the Tusculum Review literary magazine and The Pioneer Frontier student newspaper. “These experiences have heavily influenced the person I am today, in so much that they are in many ways the foundation of growth in all areas of my life,” she said.

That involvement includes being a member of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society, Association of Writers and Writing Programs, English Student Organization, The Pioneer Frontier staff, Sweatshop Press, Residence Hall Association and the Open Door Society.

Balancing her busy schedule of classes, writing assignments and student organization involvement is not easy, but McDonnell finds time to volunteer to help better her community. She has worked as a tutor at Chuckey-Doak High School to help students improve their writing skills and take an active interest in their school work and worked with Common Ground Relief in rebuilding homes in New Orleans as part of a service-learning course. In her native Memphis, she has served as a day care counselor with Cooper Cottage Daycare and served breakfast to the homeless at the Calgary Church soup kitchen.

The daughter of James and Donna McDonnell, she chose to attend Tusculum because she loved the campus and considered the college’s block schedule, which involves taking one course at a time, a good way to become immersed in classes. Though she originally was interested in education and a career in working with the kindergarten age group, she quickly realized that her passion lay in writing and changed her major to creative writing.

McDonnell lists Heather Patterson, assistant professor English; Robin Fife, assistant professor of social science; Dr. Angela Keaton, assistant professor of history; Dr. Troy Goodale, assistant professor of political science; Deborah Bryan, assistant professor of art; Dr. Matherly; Dr. Thomas and Dr. Morton as her favorite and most influential professors.

“The entire English Department has been a family to me throughout my years at Tusculum, including Ms. Stansberry,” she said. “They have offered me support, insight, opportunity, encouraged me to do what I love, and they have been there for me through challenging moments in my life … as both friends and family.”

McDonnell said her proudest moment will be when she graduates in May as the first member of her immediate family to obtain a college degree. “When I graduate, I think I will feel good because I have worked and put everything into the time I have had at Tusculum,” she said. “I am proud of myself for being self-driven, my own motivator and sometimes my own worst critic because it has gotten me where I want to be.”
After graduation, McDonnell plans to attend graduate school. She has received early acceptance into Chatham College’s prestigious non-fiction master of fine arts program.

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