Tag: Features

Meet your 2019-2020 SGA executives

Miranda Ladd, News Correspondent

With the Fall semester here, freshness is in the air — fresh faces, new classes, new experiences and fresh Student Government Association representatives.

Ulises Herrera

Ulises Herrera, President

Herrera, a first generation college student majoring in Marketing, is JSU’s first Hispanic SGA President. He is from the small town of Cleveland, Ala. Outside of his responsibilities as SGA President and being a student, Herrera loves Starbucks, meeting new people and hanging out with friends. As President, Herrera wants everyone to know that he is here for the university. 

“No matter who you are or what your problems are, I am here for you,” said Herrera.

 He wants to hold the administration accountable along with advocating for student needs. His campain focuses on three main areas: address student issues through open forums, bring back a sexual assault awareness campagn and continue to unite the administration with the student body. His advice for students is to “reach out and get involved on campus” and “step outside of your comfort zone.” 

Stephen Sharp

Jerod Sharp, Vice President of Student Senate

Sharp graduated fourth in his class from Sylvania High School. He currently serves as a town councilman of Sylvania, Ala. He was the Vice President of SGA as well as class president in high school. Continuing his association with the SGA, he was accepted into Freshman Forum and served on the Student Activities Council. Sharp also served as a Freshman Forum Mentor, Parliamentarian for the Organizational Council and Governmental Relations Committee Head. 

Being in charge of the student legislature, Sharp hopes to promote “Senate Delegates,” where organizations on campus nominate a delegate to attend formal senate meetings to see what the student senate is all about. Sharp is in charge of the SGA Code of Laws, updating the living document after a bill passes and he works along the other four SGA officers. He is also a brother of Sigma Nu. 

William Bowen

Will Bowen, Vice President of Organizational Affairs

Bowen attended high school in Chelsea, Ala. and is a transfer student from UAB. Bowen transferred to JSU after his freshman year and now he is a senior majoring in Business Management with a minor in Spanish. He is a member of Pi Kappa Alpha and has represented JSU at the Collegiate Legislature. 

“I really look forward to this year and seeing all that we can do,” said Bowen.

In his position, he plans to grow the Cocky Connect system, bring new changes to the Organizational Council and advocate for student organizations on campus to further their development. Bowen enjoys hanging out with friends and learning how to play the guitar.

Desmond Thomas

Desmond Thomas, Vice President of Student Activities 

Thomas, a senior Business Finance major from Tuscaloosa, began his involvement and deep love for JSU during his freshman year. He got involved with Freshman Forum and it sparked his involvement in many other leadership opportunities such as being a JSU Ambassador, Student Senator, Freshman Forum Mentor and Collegiate Legislature Delegate. 

“I am super grateful for the opportunities and blessings that JSU has given me,” said Thomas. 

This is Thomas’s second year in office, and he wants to take events “to the next level.” He plans to focus heavily on student-centered events. 

In his free time, Thomas loves to go on adventures with his friends, eat and sleep. He hopes that if anyone ever has any questions, they will send him an email or stop by his office. 

Kathleen Seibert

Kathleen Seibert, Vice President of Public Relations

Seibert is a junior Communication major with a concentration in public relations. She is from Smiths Stations, Ala. and throughout high school, Seibert cheered for two years and then joined theater for her junior and senior year. She was a member of the National Beta Club and National Honor Society. 

Once at JSU she joined Delta Zeta and she currently serves as her chapter’s Vice President of Philanthropy. She also has taken part in Freshman Forum, has served as a delegate for JSU at the YMCA Legislature for two years and she plans to serve as the Senate Clerk in 2020. Seibert is also a member of Zeta Phi Eta and JSU’s Honors Program. She loves to read and travel, and is an avid theatre fan and has recently gotten into podcasts.

Photos courtesy of Matt Reynolds/JSU

JSU Honors Program grows in numbers and opportunities

Honor's program portraits
Grace Cockrell/JSU
The staff of the JSU Honors Program Includes Coordinator Janet Whitmore, Director Dr. Lori Owens and Secretary Amy Tomlinson.

Daniel Mayes, Editor-in-Chief

Ten years ago, the Jacksonville State University Honors Program consisted of eight students and a dream.

Since then, those eight students have turned into 394 members from all majors across campus, and the dream of creating an academic community that opens new opportunities for students has been realized.

JSU had offered honors classes in some form in the eighties and nineties, but the program as it exists today began in 2009, when eight incoming freshmen were selected as “Elite Honors Scholars” to kick-start the fledgling program.

Longtime JSU English Professor Dr. Steve Whitton served as the first Honors Program Director after the program kicked off under the leadership of former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences J.E. Wade.

Dr. Whitton spent five years helping to establish the program before returning to his classroom full-time in 2014. With the Honors Program looking to expand even further, Dr. Lori Owens was brought on board as Director.

“Dean Wade called me into his office one afternoon and told me he had the perfect job for me: Director of the Honors Program,” Owens said. “I was excited about this opportunity and immediately accepted the offer. I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to build on the foundation that Dr. Whitton and the Honors Board Members had established.”

The Honors Program continued to select eight incoming freshmen each year to serve as the core of the program, but began to offer not just honors classes, but emphasize membership into the program to the student body.

“We also began an effort to make the program more Program-wide instead of the emphasis being solely on those students on the top scholarship offered by JSU,” Owens said. “This has resulted in greater interest and involvement by students who are bright, dedicated students who might not necessarily be on the top scholarship that JSU offers.”

This brought in more students, and with that, more opportunities for the program to expand.

Janet Whitmore, who has served as Coordinator of the Program since August of 2010, has seen the program grow immensely during her time.

“Over the almost nine years that I have been here, the Honors Program has expanded in many ways, including the number and type of classes offered, the travel opportunities offered, and the community involvement,” Whitmore said.

In the Honors Program, it’s not all just about the academics. The program has strived to create a community where students can nurture lifelong relationships and give back to the community.

Current Senior Katie Peyton, who has served as Honors Program Co-President during her time at JSU, is grateful for the people she’s met through the program.

“The Honors Program is not only the reason I came to JSU, as it gave me a great scholarship, but it’s also the reason I met some of my best friends in the world,” Peyton said.

Dr. Owens says it’s a goal of the program to help students build relationships.

“It is easy to get lost on a college campus unless a student becomes a member of a smaller learning community,” Owens said. “Honors is an opportunity for like-minded students from various backgrounds and majors to learn together, form life-long friendships, engage in service for the campus and community, and become a productive, global citizen.”

The service aspect of the program has also grown in recent years. Through Honors, students have the opportunity to collaborate on service projects or volunteer in the Jacksonville community. Students organize trips on Fridays to volunteer at the local Boys & Girls Club, and Jacksonville First United Methodist Church has partnered with the Honors Program to allow students to help with the church’s ‘Serving Table’, where they serve free meals to the community.

“It has shaped me into a better leader and has given me many opportunities to push myself a little further,” Peyton said of her opportunities within the Honors Program.

The Honors Program has grown a lot in its first 10 years, but it isn’t done yet. Dr. Owens and Whitmore plan to offer even more opportunities for students in the coming years.

“I look forward in the future to be able to offer more upper-level Honors classes and expand our reach to more of the university population,” Whitmore says.

Currently, the official Honors classes are limited to lower-level and introductory classes due to student numbers, but plans are already in place to offer interdisciplinary Honors courses starting in Spring 2020.

To learn more about the JSU Honors Program and its offerings, visit JSU.edu/honors-program

Why are superhero movies so popular?

James King , A&E Writer

A question that I often hear is why are there so many superhero movies? The obvious answer is that they make money and there is some truth to that. Of the top 10 highest grossing films of all time in the world, 4 of them are Marvel superhero movies. All of them making around the billion dollar mark in the worldwide box office. The return on investment into the movies can be staggering as well. Disney pumped over $320 million into just the filming of Avengers: Infinity War and the movie by itself made over $2 billion. Superhero movies are also helping to keep the American cinema afloat and are the genre most Americans are showing up for.

According to Joanna Piacenza of a Morning Consult, a data collection agency that surveys interpret the data for The New York Times and Bloomberg, 41 percent of Americans enjoy superhero films and want to see more of them. The biggest demographic of this group is millennials which make up 54 percent of the audience. This isn’t to say that millennials aren’t interested in non-superhero movies, many are interested in smaller more off-beat movies like Shape of Water from last year. The audience for these movies generally is starting to change as well. In the past, the majority of moviegoers for these films has been overwhelmingly white, but the Hispanic demographic and the female demographic for these films is now a larger part of the audience.

There are many reasons that people have made these epics, but most of what it comes down to are people’s reaction to the adversity in their lives. The biggest of which is that superhero movies are a reaction to 9/11 tragedy. Now, it would be disingenuous to say that they had no popular superhero movies before 9/11, both X-men and Blade and many other big name heroes had their time to shine before, but the big part of the boom happened after the tragedy, when the towers had fallen. The American moviemaking machine went from making 3-5 movies and shows a year about costumed super people to upwards of 20 if you count every piece of media that is even vaguely associated with superheroes. Superhero movies have used imagery to evoke patriotic values like the 2002 Spider-Man film with its abundance of American flags and a scene near the end when a New Yorker shouts “ you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us”. There have also been other movies that have come out a lot more recent that evoke imagery of the time like in 2016 with Marvel Studios’ Captain America: Civil War when General Ross shows the Avengers the extent of the destruction they have caused in all their previous fights up to that point. Buildings falling, people stumbling away from the destruction, and the sight of people getting hurt from falling debris are all similar to videos like the real-life tragedy of 9/11. Superheroes are a way to frame all this destruction in a way that removes them from the real world gravitas and reframes it as something that can be overcome given the right knowledge or strength.

Though physical tragedies are not the only things that have brought a wave of superhero movies to the box office, they can also be economic. For instance, superhero comic books were extremely popular during the great depression. In 2008, the year after the recession hit, Iron Man and The Dark Knight were some of the biggest movies of the year. The comic writer Mark Millar once said that “Good economic times usually signal the death of superheroes, and bad economic times see a surge in their popularity”. It not crazy to think people want a relatively cheap way to escape their very real-world problems.

The special effects of these movies can also be a factor in their popularity. CGI effects are becoming harder and harder to distinguish from reality. For instance, Robert Downey Jr. hasn’t worn a full Iron Man suit in any of the movies, in the first movie he wore a suit from the waist up to make it more realistic. Now they have Robert Downey Jr. wear Iron Man vests to help the CGI artists make the scene look more realistic. In many cases, the CGI is started on before even starts shooting. That’s to say nothing of the ageing effects in the Ant-man, Captain America, and Avengers movies that can add or subtract whole decades to a person’s appearance.

The culture also has an effect on what people want to watch, in that many of the people that watched and read superhero media when they were kids are now growing up are old enough to spend their money on these franchises. The 60’s had the popular Batman TV show and the beginnings of the silver age of comics where superheroes became much more relatable and more realistic thanks to writers like Stan Lee. For instance, an early Fantastic Four comic had them battling debt on top of supervillains. The 70’s through the 80’s also had small booms of superhero popularity like TV shows like Wonder Woman and the Incredible Hulk. With the early 90’s came the comic speculator boom, where many comics were selling for millions of dollars, and people believed that the #1 comics and variant covers would be worth something later. This was spurred on by the popularity of the 1989 Batman movie.

Lastly, One of the most simple and primal reasons that people love superheroes and Superhero movies is that they simply have the good guys winning over the bad guys. People see the world as full of corrupt people and evil institutions and they want someone to stop them. Superman was created as a way for his Jewish creators to fight back against the ills of the world like racists and thieves. Superheroes are today typically shown fighting terrorists and evil government systems. Without looking the morals of it, people love these big superhero moments like when Deadpool jumps down from a bridge to kill henchmen to the song Angel of the Morning , or when Wonder Woman crosses no man’s land with nothing but a sword and shield, and when the camera pans around the united Avengers as they stare off into the distance at the next threat. After all of that is said and done is it no wonder why superheroes have captured the public imagination.

Dr. Breann Murphy ‘dances’ into position as professor at JSU


Dr. Breann Murphy received her Pd.D. from the University of Alabama before landing a job as a new Assistant Professor of Communication (Courtesy of Dr. Murphy)

Scott Young, Staff Writer

As a young girl who grew up in Birmingham, Dr. Breann Elizabeth Murphy grew up pursuing her passion of dancing.

She competed in numerous regional and national dance competitions through her high school and college years, where she tip-toed into her distinguished career in communications. Now, she is an Assistant Professor of Communication for Jacksonville State University.

“Communications is so fascinating and stems from so many other fields, such as psychology, sociology, behavioral studies, history, law, philosophy, and so many more,” said Dr. Murphy. “It’s a hot plate for knowledge and education.”

Growing up, Dr. Murphy began dancing at age five and continued dancing until she was in college—ten years at a dance studio in Birmingham, four years in high school and two years in college as a UAB Golden Girl. She even received the opportunity to compete in a national dance competition at Walt Disney World for six straight years.

Born and raised in Birmingham, she is southern through and through, and proud of it. She describes the southern way of life as “unique” and “special”.

“There are truly not many other places in this world where you can experience the real meaning of southern hospitality,” said Dr. Murphy. “Our preferences in life are put in the best order in the deep south: family, faith, and football.”

In her spare time, she loves to go to the beach and spend time with her fluffy white cat, who she says is the official princess of the house and holds a special place in her heart.

Dr. Murphy began her extensive academic journey at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, earning a bachelor’s degree in history. Growing up, she had always loved learning new things about different time periods. So naturally, she wanted to tap into the vast amount of culture embedded in history.

Like many students, she had no idea what her field of study was going to be at first. With the many opportunities and majors in front of her, she was overwhelmed with the possibilities.

“It’s okay to be unsure of your future. College is a time to explore all the areas that education has to offer. Take different types of courses and participate in internships. Because, through all of this exposure and practice, you will truly find your calling, and, once you find your passion, be courageous and never lose your curiosity to learn. Because, with courage and curiosity, anything is possible,” said Dr. Murphy in her message to college students.

Her transition to communications began when she experimented with her elective courses, where she discovered that she really enjoyed communications. After discussing with her professor, she joined the graduate program at UAB and earned her Master’s degree in Communication Management.

While at UAB, she wanted to gain practical experience in communications by working in the field, so she applied for and was accepted for an internship at a public relations agency. Later on, she became a graduate teaching assistant, where she taught public speaking and assisted in other communication-related courses.

On advice from her graduate advisor, she transferred to the University of Alabama to earn her Ph.D. in Mass Communication, specializing in public relations. As an author of numerous publications and a dissertation, Dr. Murphy explores the role of female leaders in major corporations and public relations agencies. Through interviewing women in executive positions, she was able to gain an understanding of how women are shaping the field of communications.

To segue into her academic career, she applied for a position at JSU as an assistant professor. As someone who appreciates the small-town, southern environment, she knew that JSU and its southern hospitality would be a perfect fit for her.

“JSU really seems to put the students first. I appreciate how students are allowed to participate and run various student groups and organizations, because that practical experience is so valuable,” said Dr. Murphy when asked why she chose to join the JSU family. “Everyone has been warm and welcoming, and it feels like such a family-oriented environment.”

If you’re in her classroom in the future, she’ll likely be teaching classes such as Intro to Public Relations, Communication Law, and Ethics & Global Journalism. If you see Dr. Murphy around campus, be sure to give her a warm welcome and congratulate her on all of her academic accomplishments.



Longtime fans are sure to enjoy: A first look at Kingdom Hearts 3

Square Enix

Taylor Mitchell , A&E Editor

So it is finally here my dear friends, Kingdom Hearts 3 is finally here. We have been waiting a very long 6 years for this one, but it finally made it. Since I was lucky enough to pre-order it (first pre-order ever), I thought i might take some time to give you my first impressions. Not a review mind you, that will take time, but a nice little discussion on how it is so far.

First off, we must answer the question: How does it play? The answer is as complicated as you want to make it, just like the gameplay. This game seems to make it its mission to give you as many options as possible. Thanks to athletic flow, you have movement tech in spades. Sora can jump around like a mad man, run up walls, and you get dodge roll and air slide at level 1. I have been telling folks I can’t wait to see this game at a Games Done Quick event just because I want to see how they use all of these options. In combat it’s the same kind of buffet. You can summon theme park rides, transform your keyblades, or just stick to your old faithful strategy of magic and whacking things. It’s all up to the player. Personally, I have found that a good miss works best. All the options come together to make it feel like combat is on your own terms. The player gets to decide how they approach it and that freedom feels pretty good.

Second, we have the story to look at. I won’t spoil anything here, but I do want to say that i am enjoying it so far. The main issue with it is that it expects you to have a basic understanding of things from ALL of the previous games. It helps that Sora himself generally has no clue about it either so you normally get some explanation, but don’t expect it to stop and catch you up. There is the memory archive that tell you basically what has happened and introduces core concept, but it’s far from comprehensive. I do want to say that I don’t see this as an inherently bad thing. If the game stopped and told me the whole story every time something came up, it would drag down the pace and feel bad. So just remember to not be surprised if you feel the need to get a refresher.

I think I will leave you with that for now. I do want to say expect a review in a few weeks though. There are several things like gummi ships, and mini-games that I want to leave for that. This is a game I want to take my time with and really get a feel for before I say anything definitive. Yet, for now this is looking like a game that, at the very least, longtime fans are sure to enjoy.

Square Enix