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Founder’s Day 2019 led students to tour almost-finished ARC

KNOXVILLE – Johnson University Founder’s Day provided the students with a day off from classes to celebrate their educational institution.

The morning began with the Founder’s Day chapel service where a video celebrating the university was presented. President Tommy Smith and Ashton Merriman, the Student Body President, spoke. The main focus of the morning was the new Athletic and Recreation Complex which is almost complete.

President Smith led the students to tour the ARC for the first time since the interior of the building has developed further. He requested students walk to the ARC two-by-two in a parade fashion.

The building will officially open within a month or two and the building dedication will be held in August, after the new semester starts.

The winners of the Preacher Grand Prix with President Smith.

Many students participated in the Founder’s Day events which included a dodge ball tournament, a frisbee tournament, kickball, and a cookout lunch which was accompanied with Fried Oreos and Lemon Shakeups.

The Preacher Grand Prix was held in the evening. The senior class one the event.

The evening held more events, with a A Bar-b-Que dinner held outside of the ARC.

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Health and Wellness Fair, Medic Blood Drive had contrasting results

KNOXVILLE – Johnson University’s Public and Global Health majors and the JU Health services office’s Health and Wellness Fair and Medic Blood Drive had mixed results this past Tuesday.

The Health and Wellness Fair had quite a few spectators in attendance, however, the blood drive’s numbers were lower than hoped for.

Cindi Norton, a professor of Health Education at Johnson, was very pleased with how many people supported the Health and Wellness Fair.

“It was very successful, a good turnout,” Norton said. “We were encouraged by the participation of faculty, staff, and students.”

She stated that they were very grateful for the items that were given for door prizes by various local businesses and individuals.

The blood drive was not as successful this year. Only 30 blood donations were made. 10 additional people attempted to donate but could not due to various reasons.

“I had hoped for at least twice this number and will need to do a better job educating our community on the importance of blood donating,” Kealy Mead, Health Services Coordinator at Johnson, said.

Mead stated that the Medic employees said they believe something in the culture may be changing, especially with the younger generation, leading them to have a lower number of donations everywhere.



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JU to host Health and Wellness Fair, Blood Drive Tuesday

KNOXVILLE – Johnson University’s Public Health and Global Community Majors and Health Services Offices are holding a Health and Wellness Fair and Blood Drive on Tuesday.

The Health and Wellness Fair will take place inside the Gally Commons in Private Dining Rooms 1, 2, and 3, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event will feature presentations from students in the areas of essential oils, skin cancer, vision health, and more. The JU Counseling Center, local nutritionists, chiropractors, and other health and wellness providers will be there to provide support and resources.

“The purpose of the fair is just to provide faculty, staff, and students information on health and wellness issues to try to encourage them to have more healthy lifestyles,” Cindi Norton, a professor of Health Education at Johnson, said.

The Medic Blood Drive will be held in the Philips-Welshimer Gym from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. This provides people the opportunity to donate blood to help others in the area. According to Medic, a non-profit blood center and only blood collector and supplier for 27 local hospitals, a single blood donation can help up to three people.

“You can honestly save lives…” Kealy Mead, Health Services Coordinator at Johnson, said. “It really is a direct way where you can impact somebody.”

Medic takes various measures to ensure the safety of both donors and blood recipients.

“Each donor receives what amounts to a mini-physical – blood pressure, temperature, and iron level checks, to make sure you can donate safely,” an article written by Medic states. “The donation needle is only used once, only on you. And every unit of blood is tested for the AIDS virus, hepatitis, and other potentially harmful conditions.”

All donors receive a free Medic gift and a coupon for a free appetizer at Texas Roadhouse. On that day only, donors will also be able to purchase coffee for half price in the Underground with paper showing proof of donation.

Anyone interested in helping with the JU Health and Wellness Fair or Blood Drive in the future may contact Kealy Mead at kmead@johnsonu.edu or Cindi Norton at cnorton@johnsonu.edu. Any questions about donating blood may be directed to Kealy Mead.

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JU alumna wins classroom makeover worth $25,000

MARYVILLE – A Johnson University graduate (’98) and STEM teacher, Renee Powell, won a $25,000 makeover for her classroom at Lanier Elementary School from Oak Ridge Associated Universities.

Powell’s class submitted a video to ORAU’s 11th Extreme Classroom Makeover and on March 25, as students were mixing ingredients together to produce slime, special guests walked in with cupcakes, balloons, and the grand prize check.

The money can go towards upgrading the classroom, equipment, and purchasing much needed items to help further the students education.

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18th Annual Stone-Campbell Journal Conference to be held April 5,6

KNOXVILLE – Johnson University will host the 18th annual Stone-Campbell Journal Conference April 5-6. The theme for the event will be “Acts and Paul: Another Look”. The three speakers will be Craig Keener, Jerry Sumney, and David Fiensy.

Keener, F.M. Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, will present “Interpreting Acts: The Value of Cultural Background” and “Interpreting Romans: The Mind of the Spirit”.

Sumney, a professor of biblical studies at the Lexington Theological Seminary will be presenting “Interpreting First Corinthians: The Value of Tradition”.

Emeritus professor of biblical studies at Kentucky Christian University in Grayson, Fiensy will present “Interpreting Acts: The Value of Archaeology”.

There will be more than 50 parallel papers about biblical, theological, and historical topics presented.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 5, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 6.

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Royals split series at Smokies Challenge

KNOXVILLE – The Johnson University Royals played in a series against Alice Lloyd College and Hiwassee College at the Tennessee Smokies Stadium in Kodak, March 12 and 13.

The Royals won their Tuesday game against Alice Lloyd College 4-1.

In Wednesday’s 3 p.m. game, the Royals fell to the Hiwassee Tigers 6-12.

Johnson’s Royals play a double-header against Piedmont University in Winston-Salem, N.C., March 16. The first game will start at 11 a.m. with the second game following.

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Lady Royals finish 6th in nation at NCCAA DII Women’s Basketball National Championship

The Lady Royals brought home the title of 6th in the nation after competing in the National Christian College Athletic Association DII Women’s Basketball National Championship at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC.

The team, consisting of only six players, headed to Greenville after appearing on Channel 10 News for a short interview on March 4.

On Thursday, the Lady Royals played the 3rd ranked team in the nation, Randall University, and lost 66-67 on a shot made by their opponent with 7 seconds left on the clock.

They played again Friday morning against the host team, BJU, and lost 69-57. This final game left them ranked 6th in the nation.

“This week proved we could compete with the best…,” JU Women’s Basketball Head Coach Amy James said. “I truly believe everyone that had not seen these ladies play thought we had made it to the National Tournament by mistake, however, when we were finished playing both games we had everyone in the gym shaking their heads and saying, ‘I have never seen 6 players compete like they did’.”

At the National Championship awards banquet, Keisha McIntyre, Michaela Keele, and Taylor Thurman received Scholar-Athlete awards.

During their time at national championship week, the team completed a community service project of designing and illustrating placemats for the local Children’s Hospital.

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Volunteering in a refugee camp

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The life jacket grave yard found on the island of Lesvos in Greece.

Moria no good. It’s one of the first things that refugees learn to say…and they are right.

Volunteering in a refugee camp in Greece is hands down the hardest thing I have ever done. There is so much pain, sorrow, turmoil, and frustration shoved into a space the size of a Super Walmart. Somewhere between 5 and 7 thousand refugees breathe these emotions in on a daily basis. The darkness is crippling. Why is this happening? How did it come to this? 

There are so many questions to ask when you stare into the face of Moria, a camp of chaos and heartbreak. I can remember my first day there as I looked into the eyes of these displaced people: men, women, and children, and wondered what their stories were. What had they fled? How long had they been in Moria? Were they there alone? What happens when they leave? Will they get to leave? Will they be sent back? Story is such a powerful thing. They are not static characters. They are constantly developing and proving their desperation to be dynamic. Their fearful journey in a lifeboat across waters that have marked themselves as a liquid grave yard is a testament to their determination. 

The watery passage from Turkey to the island of Lesvos is less than 10 miles. Most of the refugees in camp told me that it took them four hours to cross. The rafts they come in have a capacity of 18. Yet, most boats hold over 30-40 refugees coming from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, the Republic of Congo, etc. This journey is not easy, but those who make it to Greece have a new monster to face once they arrive. It is out of the frying pan and into the fire so to speak.

Was the decision to flee their countries the right one? Are the conditions in Moria any better than the wars and oppression that pushed them out? It is a devastating question, but I am not sure it can be answered, nor do I think it is the right one. Getting caught up in the hopelessness of Moria is easy to do. The crisis continues and there is no way I can fix it. It will continue because the war in the Middle East continues as ISIS, Asad, Turks, and many others continue to fuel the beast of despair that ravages their world. Yet, I did not go to Moria to work with refugees to simply become listless under its heaviness.

The NGO I worked under in camp is called EuroRelief. So many things amaze me about the work this organization does. As I partnered with them during a span of a little more than a week, I quickly realized how needed they are. EuroRelief provides for the needs of refugees during their stay in Moria. They house, clothe, take census, guard, provide heat, distribute blankets and diapers, answer questions, and overall attempt to bring order to a camp characterized by disorder. While we worked, we wore bright orange EuroRelief vests. I quickly realized that this marker signified something throughout all of camp. There were so many times that refugees stopped me and said things like: “Moria no good, but EuroRelief good”. And I think that’s why they do it. Even though these full time workers and volunteers know that the work they do in camp is simply a bandaid, it is better than leaving an open wound.

EuroRelief is run by a bunch of 20 year olds from different countries and different denominations. It is a clear picture of the Kingdom coming together and putting aside differences for the sake of injustice. Going on this trip is very different from other mission trips. It’s not about bringing the gospel to people, but BEING the gospel. A major theme both in the Old and New Testament surrounds caring for the poor and the outcasts, and that is what EuroRelief lives into. It is also some of the most physically, emotionally, and spiritually taxing work that I have ever experienced. Volunteering in Moria is hard. 

I’ve been back in the U.S. for a little more than 7 weeks now and it is still hard. I see the images of children in rain-soaked flip flops. I remember the feel of the cold that creeps its way into the very essence of camp as wind and rain sting the faces of these displaced people. The rain symbolizes tears as these displaced people bravely continue the life of flight that they have embarked on. I still see the families smushed together in make-shift tents, and devastated faces of new arrivals haunted by their past. Yet, I also remember the kindness of these people who brought me hot tea to drink when I was out in the cold. They invited me into their tents and attempted to get to know me through broken English and non-verbal hand gestures. In a camp that tries to break you, love is still found. Kindness is still found. The volunteers and the refugees contribute to this restless culture of hope and hopelessness, but they somehow choose to give hope the upper hand. Through all of this, I see Jesus spreading light in the most unlikely of places. As John 1:5 says: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” I choose to believe this.

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Taylor Gilpin recipient of 2019 DII Men’s Basketball Pete Maravich Award

Gilpin during a game against Kentucky Christian University during the 2017-2018 season.

The NCCAA has named Johnson University senior, Taylor Gilpin, the recipient of the Pete Maravich Memorial Award for Division II Men’s Basketball.

Gilpin, a guard from Bloomington, In., has helped the men’s basketball team on and off the court. As captain for two years, Gilpin has led the team with an average of 17.35 points and 4.01 rebounds per game. This season, he became Johnson’s all-time leading scorer record with over 2,300 career points. In 2018, he helped the Royals finish 4th at the NCCAA National Tournament and was awarded 1st Team All-Regional and 1st Team All-American honors.

Off the court, Gilpin has been a Resident Assistant for three years and has served with various organizations, while also helping JU connect with local elementary schools. He is a Business Administration major with a GPA of 3.56, which has led him to be a recognized as a NCCAA Scholar-Athlete in both 2018 and 2019.

“Taylor is a tremendous example of faith lived out in everyday life,” Head Coach Brandon Perry said. “He has set a culture of high character and academics for our team while maintaining a high level of basketball skill.”

According to the NCCAA website, “The purpose of this award is to recognize the outstanding NCCAA student-athlete in Men’s Basketball and highlights excellence in competition, skill, academics, and Christian service during his career. ‘Pistol Pete’ Maravich was known for his ball handling, shooting abilities, and creative passing. He was an NBA All-Star, named one of NBA’s 50 greatest players, and inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987. He came to know Christ later in his life and spent the last years of his life pointing people to Christ. This award is sponsored by Mr. Gary Beck, manager of the Gary Beck Foundation and a former NCCAA All-American student-athlete from Greenville University, IL.”