Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays!

image of ornaments

Holiday wishes from us to you. This image will enlarge with a click.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Scholarship recipients reflect on what their awards mean to them

As 2012 winds down, we know we have a lot to be thankful for. Donors have done so much to support both our high-quality students and the programs that train them. We owe a debt of thanks for their support.

Here are what some award recipients had to say about how their scholarships affected their education:

Brooke Rice
Candidate, Speech-Language Pathology Master’s Program

College of Education and Human Services Undergraduate Scholar of the Year

Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education and Stucki Scholarship recipient

“I am very passionate about helping people communicate. There will always be a need for it.”

Brooke worked very hard in my undergraduate career to be involved in research, obtain academic honors, and foster positive relationships with the professors and mentors. She took advantage of opportunities that would make her competitive candidate for graduate school admission, and she could have gone to several universities. She chose Utah State. “With government changes on loans and undergraduate debt, I was extremely worried about where the funding could come from,” she writes. “The department rewarded my hard work and dedication with academic and performance scholarships, as well as a Research Assistantship that would allow me to work on my thesis while being paid. Because of this funding I have been able to dedicate all of my time to my education and the experiences that are provided here at Utah State.”

Alice Shepherd
Pursuing BS in mild/moderate special education

Leon G. and Faye Sonne Stucki Scholarship recipient

“I like working with these little kids who just want to succeed. I love helping them find a way to do  that.”

Alice is working toward her second bachelor’s degree; her first was in history and liberal arts with a Latin classics minor. That first degree has been useful, she said. “It helps me think out of the box.”

As she began working with special education programs in the schools as a parent, she discovered she liked what she was doing—and she wanted to make it a permanent job. So she went back to school. Her current scholarship has helped speed the process. “I wouldn’t be able to do a full-time semester without it.” Because of the support she will be out in the classroom faster, working in a career that she already loves.

Kimberly Sessions
Graduates this month in Elementary Education with an English as a Second Language endorsement

Colonel Joe and Mary Lacey Scholarship recipient

“The minute I get in front of the kids it’s pure joy. I love teaching. In addition to that, they are teaching me so much. It’s a good feeling that I haven’t stopped learning.”

Kimberly returned to class after earning her associate’s degree 20 years ago. She raised her own children, worked as a teacher’s aide, and served in the PTA. When her children were in high school, she went back to school herself and earned stellar grades.

She received her scholarship in her last year of college. “The minute I got it I thought, somebody recognizes that education is important to me,” she said. “This was the cherry on top of my education.”

 For more information on how to apply for a scholarship, visit our Scholarships page.

For information on how to donate to a scholarship fund, visit our website.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A look at the Cache Children's Choir

We recently featured Dr. Sylvia Munsen, the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Endowed Chair for Elementary Arts Education at USU. Last month she received the prestigious Medal of St. Olav from Norway.

We're following up with a look at the Cache Children's Choir. Dr. Munsen is its artistic director. She and the choir share the goal of bringing music education to the schools--as well giving children a meaningful experience and encouraging the composition of children's choral works. A look at their repertoire is truly inspiring.

We'd like to thank writer John DeVilbiss for this report:

photo of the children's choir
The children's choir performed in the Logan Tabernacle.
Photo courtesy of John DeVilbiss. It will enlarge with a click.

Forty-nine children’s voices emphatically declared the start of the holiday season with a 90-minute concert by the Cache Children’s Choir in the Logan Tabernacle Dec. 8 under the direction of Utah State University endowed chair Sylvia Munsen.

The traditional holiday concert featured the Cantate, Concert and Cadet choirs and premiered the newly formed Chamber Singers. The children performed 23 selections in all that ranged from the familiar “Silent Night” to the uncommon “Lullaby on Christmas Eve” by F. Melius Christiansen.

The Cache Children’s Choir is now in its 26th season. It consists of three levels of choirs and two levels of early childhood pre-choral classes including special sessions of training in Orff-Schulwerk. The choir has sung in venues from New York City to London. They have performed Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” Rutter’s “Mass of the Children,” Britten’s “War Requiem,” and Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” with the American Festival Chorus.

Dr. Munsen received her degrees from St. Olaf College, Illinois, where she sang in the St. Olaf Choir, and from the University of Illinois. She has founded and conducted boy’s, women’s and children’s choirs during the past 35 years in Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.

Cache Children’s Choir next performs in March in “Celebrate Singing” that involves the Cantate and Concert choirs.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sylvia Munsen, endowed chair for elementary arts education, receives high honors from Norway

Photo of Dr. Munsen
Dr. Sylvia Munsen, the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Endowed Chair for Elementary Arts Education, has been awarded the Medal of St. Olav by King Harald of Norway. This medal was instituted in 1939 by King Haakon VII. It is one of the highest recognitions in that country that can be given to a foreigner.
“I was really humbled,” she said. Dr. Munsen is proud that she is 100 percent Norwegian-American. She was born in the Norwegian community of Story City, Iowa, was raised eating traditional Norwegian foods and singing Norwegian carols and folks songs with her Grandma Anna. She attended St. Olaf College, founded by Norwegian-Americans.
The Medal of St. Olav recognizes its recipients for advancing knowledge of Norway and connecting expatriate Norwegians, their descendants and their country of residence. Dr. Munsen was given the award for her work with the Norway International Student Teaching Program she created in the Kvinnherad Schools in 2001, her work with children’s choirs, and her publications, including Cooking the Norwegian Way.
Her current work with the Norway International Student Teaching Program has made Norway more than an ancestral home. Now it is a place where she exchanges ideas with contemporary colleagues.
She loves what she does. “That I get a medal for it is just remarkable.”
Dr. Munsen is a professor in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership at Utah State University. The Sorenson Endowment that brought her to USU provides training in the integration of the arts into the core curriculum. She has used her heritage to add a layer of culture to her work.
Dr. Munsen’s connection with Norway has paved the way for Utah State University students to receive training there, giving them broader experience.  Though she created the student teaching program while at Iowa State, it is now a collaborative program including USU student teachers.
What’s more, her work as artistic director of the Cache Children’s Choir advances her mission of bringing the arts to the schools. Dr. Munsen has been involved in several children's choirs programs throughout her career, and all of them have performed Norwegian carols and folk songs, many of which she has arranged.
Munsen will receive the medal in a ceremony sponsored by the Royal Norwegian Honorary Consulate General in Minneapolis on April 27.  Asbjørn Skår and Stein Elling Schille, administrators in the Kvinnherad Schools who nominated her for the award, will present the medal. She plans to meet King Harald personally next November, in Norway.

You can read more about the award in The Herald Journal.

Related post: Professor goes to Norway to visit the king