A Renaissance Woman

She’s a poet, activist, writer, director, educator, artist and more. She’s THE phemonemal woman. Hell, she even knows why the caged bird sings.
Graduation will be a special day for MSU seniors. It will be a day of both joy- and sorrow-filled tears, a day that will begin a new chapter in students’ lives. It will be a celebration for both family and friends that will be remembered forever. Sharing in the celebration this year is th modern-day legend on many levels, Dr. Maya Angelou.
MSU’s University Relations announced in early April that Angelou would be the 2005 undergraduate convocation speaker. Students, graduating or otherwise, friends and family are invited to the event, which will begin at 1 p.m., Friday, May 6, at the Breslin Center.
[glenda] As Angelou tells others, she learned from her experiences, growing up in three different states and traveling extensively throughout the globe.
Her speech at commencement will no doubt be something to remember. Glenda Olivache, a Merchandise Management senior, is graduating next week and looking forward to Angelou’s speech. “I think that she will have a great impact on the graduating class,” Olivache said, “Her words of wisdom will carry with the students forever.”
Some students less familiar with Angelou’s works are indifferent to her upcoming speech, however. “It’s not a bad thing that she is the speaker, but I wish it was someone I related to more,” said Samantha Hagerman, a human resource management senior.
Familiar with her or not, Angelou has been a powerful presence for many years in many students’ lives and education. The mere mention of her name is usually recognized and understood. Perhaps you first heard of her in middle school from reading her autobiographical novel, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings:
“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.”
Angelou’s prolific writings appeal to different people on different levels. At an early age, you learned how she overcame struggles and tragedy. Maybe you even dealt with some of these things yourself, drawing strength from Angelou’s words. Perhaps you found solace in those words about finding yourself and your place as a teen in high school or maybe you identified with her feelings about music in Gather Together In My Name:
“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
Maybe you were introduced to her as recently as in college, learning that experiences are what get you where you are as a student and graduate on this life-long journey by reading Wouldn’t Take Nothing From My Journey Now:
[maya] “Human beings are more alike than unalike, and what is true anywhere is true everywhere, yet I encourage travel to as many destinations as possible for the sake of education as well as pleasure.”
You have been learning, growing and meeting people who have helped you change and grow along the way, and Angelou is likely one of those people. She is a force as a poet, author, educator, activist and legend to direct you on your next path.
Hopefully her words will touch you as they will many people at this year’s commencement; they will be something you can take with you as you move onto the next phase of life:
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” –Maya Angelou

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In a Campus Theatre Near You

It’s no secret East Lansing is a hot bed for films. And there also happens to be quite a few students in the area as well, for reasons I don’t need to divulge to you. Combining the two makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Behold – the Student Film Festival, coming to a campus theatre near you this weekend.
[film1] “The festival is an opportunity for MSU student filmmakers to display their work to audiences at the Campus Centre Cinemas,” James Henderson, Director of Campus Center, said. “The film festival has expanded this year with close to 30 films being shown. There will also be expanding incentives for entry this year.”
In its second year, the festival has undergone many changes. One major change is an increase in the number of winners awarded prizes at a ceremony next Tuesday at the Union. As a result, audience members won’t be pressured to pick just one film. “Last year there was one overall prize based on audience balloting; this year there will be six awards. We’re giving out two awards in each of three categories, one determined by audiences and one determined by a panel we have put together,” Henderson said.
Three directors vying for the top prizes are no rookies to the festival. Business senior Greg Kindra, chemical engineering senior Dave Shibley and telecommunications senior Dave Cain will be following up last year’s prize-winning short film, Pumpkin Girl Love, with their new film, Kill Dill.
[film2] Inspiration for the films the trio make comes from a variety of sources, but most of their ideas stem from just hanging out and having fun. “The movies are just something we decided to do for fun,” Shibley said. “We’ll just be sitting around and someone will say, ‘Hey, you know what would be funny…’”
Although making the films is done mostly for fun, two of the directors do have film aspirations that reach beyond MSU and Campus Cinemas. “I’ve been making movies for a couple years, and I would love to make movies for a living,” Kindra said. While Kindra, the only human actor in Kill Dill, focuses mainly on screenwriting, Cain aspires to direct. But they aren’t looking to make the next Oscar winner, yet.
“Last year’s film was made because we had a camera and some free time and there wasn’t much planning involved,” Shibley said. This year, however, the three directors put more planning and thought into the project beforehand. “This year, I came up with the idea for the film while we were watching Kill Bill and we bounced the idea around for a couple of months before we started filming,” Shibley said.
Kill Dill is a spoof of the popular 2003 action film and follows the main character’s quest to seek revenge on a group of violent vegetables, according to Shibley.
[film3] The differences between last year’s festival winner and this year’s hopeful are noticeable. “Last year,” Shibley said, “we went outside with a camera and a pumpkin, and really just set out to make Greg do some weird things.” This year, things were more planned out. There were storyboards laid out before any filming began, Shibley said. “This year’s film will have a higher quality than last year’s as it was shot with a better camera and edited with better software,” Shibley said, “[though] we still make Greg do some fairly embarrassing things.”
Regardless of the humiliation he might endure, Kindra is looking forward to the event. “I think it should be great fun and encourage all students to come check it out,” Kindra said.
The Student Film Festival runs from April 15-17. Films are free to all undergraduate residence hall students with an ID. Showtimes are: Friday from 7 – 9:15 p.m., Saturday from 4 – 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. and Sunday from 4 – 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Check out www.uabevents.com for complete movie descriptions and times.

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You’ve Got to Be Nuts

This year for Christmas, many of us might expect to receive some pretty great gifts- money, clothes, music. But, among the boxes and bags under the Christmas tree lurks something a little fruity, a little nutty and altogether horrible – the fruitcake.
From Grandma Gene or Uncle Bill, a fruitcake always seems to make an appearance around the holidays, along with that same fake smile as we open it.
One might ask how the tradition on giving fruitcake started? Is that fruitcake hiding under your tree like a land mine the same one you saw cousin Susie open last year? Unfortunately, it really could be. Fruitcake, like canned lima beans, can last a long time. Too long, some may say.
Fruitcake, a marvel of modern cooking that it is, is made out of dried fruits like cherries and cranberries, but the main ingredient is rum. Which, some would think would make it at least a bit more bearable, but it somehow doesn’t…at all. An interesting fact is the cake can last for months, because it has so much sugar pound into it that the water activity, and the other little baddies that cause mold, is low. This keeps the mold from forming and makes the cake last a long, long, long, long time.
Don’t fret if you receive one of these tasty delights this holiday season. There is no cure for fruitcake, but you can still live your post-fruitcake life to the fullest. With the help of JestandJokes.com, like Valtrex, there are alternatives for a fruit-and-nut-free life with only the occasional cake break-outs.
Donate your fruitcake to the local airport for use as airline wheel blocks. Paint a few white and place them outside on the grass so people won’t park on your lawn. Or maybe even use one as a doorstopper. So, this holiday season if you receive a fruitcake, be thankful to know that this is an ongoing tradition and that you can make it through alive to give it away next year.

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Literary Corner: The Wedding

The Wedding, a novel by popular author Nicholas Sparks, is the story of how one man realizes it’s never too late.
The story centers around three entwined love stories: a new love, a love that has been lost through years of neglect, and love that goes beyond death. Each story culminates in the planning of a wedding. [wedding]
Wilson Lewis has been married to Jane for 30 years only to find she has fallen out of love with him. He realizes that to win Jane back, he must first examine himself to understand why she is unhappy in her marriage. The task of winning Jane back is humbling for Wilson who has a difficult time expressing his true feelings.
Wilson realizes he cannot win back Jane on his own. He looks to his father-in-law Noah for guidance and support. Noah’s story is one of undying unity. He is dealing with the death of Allie, his beloved wife of 50 years. Wilson learns of the great love that was once shared between Noah and his wife Allie and learns that even through death, love and the bond between husband and wife never ends.
The third love story is that of Anna, Wilson and Jane’s oldest daughter, who is getting married two weeks to the day of her parent’s anniversary. Throughout the planning process of their daughter’s wedding, Wilson works to win Jane back and make Anna’s wedding a day of renewal for their failing relationship.
Nicholas Sparks tells a deeply moving tale of the stages of love through a male perspective, a fresh take on the female love story. Sparks points out how easy it is to take the gift of love for granted and how love needs to be nurtured or else it fades, leaving readers to evaluate past, present, and future romance in their life.

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Face the Music

For as long as anyone can remember, school has always consisted of math, science, history, gym, art and music. However, the No Child Left Behind Act has left many schools with no choice but to leave behind art and music.
The No Child Left Behind Act is an education reform that on paper is designed to improve student’s achievements and change the culture of America’s schools by making them more accountable to their community. The Bush Administration passed the bill in early 2002 and Sen. John Kerry voted for the act, however, in his campaign he argues that Bush has not adequately funded it.
[classroom] No Child Left Behind requires each state to measure every public school student’s progress in reading and math from grades 3 through 12, placing a new emphasis on science, math and reading in the curriculum. Parents receive detailed report cards on schools and districts, telling them which ones are succeeding and why. These report cards break down students’ achievement by race, ethnicity, gender, language, proficiency, migrant status, disability status and low-income status. If a school if found to be lacking in certain core areas, the district must use their federal funding to make the needed improvements, which poorer, often urban, schools can’t afford. This has lead to many districts cutting spending on music and art education.[kid]
“Children need more well-rounded education. It needs to be more leveled by having each one,” Katie Mirjah, a child development junior, said.
To some people, these cuts have a deeper meaning- especially to college students who want to be teachers. “I agree with the No Child Act, but cutting out music and art…kids need that,” elementary education junior Tanisha Sherrer said. “It was important for me while I was in elementary through high school to have art and music. I always knew I wanted to teach, having arts and music helped me meet my curriculum.”
With the cuts being made to music and art programs in public schools, parents and children are looking to alternatives to fill the void. The MSU Community Music School is one of these alternatives that offer a chance for children to learn or improve in an area of music such as piano, strings, woodwind, brass, percussion, jazz and guitar. Children can also join programs like Voice Carillon, composition and theory and choir, and there is even a program of early childhood music for newborns and toddlers.
Bruce Taggart, acting director of the MSU Community Music School, emphasized the importance of art and music.
“Art and music are equally important as math and science. I use to be a chemistry teacher so I know the value of both. I don’t approve of the [act]. It’s a terrible oversight, and programs like art and music should be funded,” Taggart said.
Thanks to many after school art and music programs, some lucky children will not have to ex art and music out of their lives. However, the absence of art and music during regular school hours still leaves many children unable to fill the void. The No Child Left Behind Act, although it sounds good in theory, leaves out a vital aspect of a child’s development.

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Local Sleuth

At Michigan State most professors assign homework, give extra credit, show videos and lecture on anything from organic chemistry to macroeconomics. There’s one professor, however, that’s called in by lawyers and police to help crack criminal cases.
[adams] Thomas Adams is a professor and associate chairperson for undergraduate education in physiology. He has been teaching for 38 years and started solving crimes fifteen years ago.
“I have always had an interest in science and how it applies to real life,” Adams said. “For the very first case I was involved in, I was contacted by a detective in the police department of a city in Michigan. I don’t know how he got my name.”
Since the first case, Adams has been involved in a number of others. “I have been involved in other cases since then in about the same way. I am either contacted by a police officer, a medical examiner, a physician, a lawyer or by someone else involved in the forensic investigation,” said Adams.
One case in particular received national attention from a television show on A&E called “Cold Case Files”. “Cold Case Files” focuses on murders that are left unsolved for a period of time until detectives, called cold case detectives, reopen them. A case goes cold when there is a lack of evidence or witnesses. New detectives, or sometimes even the same ones, reopen the case to take another crack at it. These detectives are experts in the science of crime detection.
The series takes viewers step-by-step through methods detectives use to catch the killer. The case Adams was called on by A&E involved the murder and of a six-year-old girl in Battle Creek in 1978. The girl’s mother, Bonnie Van Dam, and stepfather, David Walton, held the six-year-old under cold water which led to her death. However, over the years, several doctors disagreed on what was actually the cause of her death and in the end it was ruled inconclusive.
In 1993, the young girl’s death was ruled as hypothermia after a retired Battle Creek detective presented evidence to a former county medical examiner. The case was reopened by the Calhoun County Cold Case Homicide Team. Finally, in 2002, almost 25 years after the child’s death, Van Dam and Walton were arrested for second-degree murder.
Adams was first called in by one of the cold case detectives working the case. When the crime was solved with the help of Adams, he was called in as an expert witness for the prosecution. “Cold Case Files” initially approached Adams two years ago and asked him for an interview four months ago.“
“I had to read pages of testimony and developed a concept of how the child died,” Adams said. “Preparing for these cases is not as easy as they look on television. It’s hard not to get emotionally attached; can you imagine someone murdering a child? I have to read testimony, do math equations and make a new analysis from how she was in good health until the time she died,” he said. Adams knew his repsonsibilty was great and his task was not a simple one. “Sometimes there isn’t enough evidence that’s reliable. None of us wants to be accused of a crime. I have to do the best job I can do,” Adams concludes.
Adams works hard on each case he looks into and carefully weighs all the clues. To see him in action, check out “Cold Case Files” Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. on A&E.

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