Archive for September 2015

Gospel star Babbie Mason returns to alma mater Spring Arbor

babbie

World-renowned gospel singer Babbie Mason is returning to Spring Arbor University for a concert Friday. It’s the latest performance in a remarkable pairing that’s benefited both over the years.

“I’m always excited to come back to the Arbor,” she told MLive.

“My dad graduated from there, my brother graduated from there. It’s home.”

An alumna who graduated in from Spring Arbor in the 1970s, Mason returns regularly for concerts and special events such as free workshops.

Friday’s concert benefits the Babbie Mason Minority Music Scholarship, which helps fund tuition for aspiring singers and performers.

Like other events, Mason is incorporating her Spring Arbor family and will be joined by the university’s choir, orchestra and jazz band. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $4 for students.

Mason grew up in Jackson, Michigan, where she went to high school with NFL coaching legend Tony Dungy. Her family was deeply steeped in religion and music. And the passion hit her early: Her father was a pastor and, from an early age, she accompanied him on piano.

Her career has taken her around the world and won her acclaim. Mason has twice won the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Award and has been nominated for Grammies. She’s sung for Presidents Carter, Ford and Bush and is a member of the Christian Music Hall of Fame.

Mason speaks at women’s conferences throughout the nation and has written books about faith.

But no matter the acclaim or fame, Mason’s path always finds her way back to Spring Arbor.

It’s a bond typical of the unique relationships among alumni and Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

The schools stress community over conformity, with small class sizes that allow students to work closely with professors committed to helping them forge their own path.

It’s an experience that simply isn’t available at traditional universities. And despite what you may have heard, independents are often less expensive and boast higher four-year graduation rates than four-year institutions.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Purchase tickets for Babbie Mason, live in concert at SAU, October 2 at 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm at http://www.arbor.edu/event/babbie/

Alma College Tailors Unique Activities for Students

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There’s a million reasons why college is such an incredible experience. That’s partly because there’s usually a million things to do at college.

Where else, for instance, could you start your week taking in a vocal recital on a Sunday afternoon? And end it on Friday playing Kick Ball Slip & Slide?

What is Kick Ball Slip & Slide? Like the name suggests, it combines slip and slide and kickball, substituting bases for kiddie pools.

Or better yet, watch a video.

The two events are bookends of a typical week at Alma College. They’re taken randomly from the September calendar.

There’s always something going on at Alma because community is integral to everything they do – from Greeks to Geeks and Everything in Between.

To wit: Also that week are at least six fraternity mixers, chapel band concerts, a trip to an apple orchard, workshops about responsibly using credit cards, high tea, a trip to Grand Rapids’ world famous ArtPrize, visits from therapy dogs, a knockoff on the Dating Game, a dance competition, organized Magic the Gathering games, a trip to see the Detroit Tigers, organized Saturday dinner and movie night with kids.

Phew.

And those are just activities available to all students that don’t include sports games, study sessions, free seminars and — one of the best parts of college — hanging out with your friends.

And we haven’t even mentioned classes. The point is that, now more than ever, there is something for everyone at colleges like Alma and Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

The chock-a-block events don’t just keep students busy. They’re provided to build community. And that’s something Alma and the other independents take seriously.

Alma and other colleges don’t expect all students to take advantage of every activity. But they offer them to help students chart their path and form tight bonds with other students, as well as lifetime relationships with world-renowned faculty.

It’s one of many ways smaller schools like Alma are different than big state schools,where it’s easy to get lost in the crowd.

The schools are intentionally small, so students form tight bonds with other students and lifetime relationships with world-renowned faculty who are experts in their fields.

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Olivet College Marches to Own Beat on Gridiron

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This football season, when the Olivet Comets hit the field, fans won’t be the only ones making noise.

For the first time in more than 30 years, the college’s marching band will as well.

Call it sweet harmony or simple good fortune, but the band was reformed as a part of a conscientious effort to increase the sense of community at the Michigan school, says director of bands Jeremy Duby.

“The marching band really is the center of student life and school spirit, and so it really adds a whole other atmosphere to the football game,” he recently told the Detroit Free Press.

“It’s a much bigger way for us to support our team and to get the entire community involved and make that game a community event every Saturday.”

The band is starting this year with 25 students and will play at all football games, campus events and a New Year’s Day parade in Paris, France. Duby predicts it grow to about 100 members within five years — and become an ingrained part of life at Olivet.

“This is a great part of the college experience,” says an Olivet College alum who was a member of the band in the 1970s.

The move is part of a trend among smaller colleges, including those at Michigan, to invest in athletic facilities, clubs and other extracurricular activities. That’s because big public universities don’t have a monopoly on sports — or fun.

Indeed, that’s one key difference between big universities and Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

Class sizes are small enough so students not only know their professors, they form lifetime bonds. Professors pride themselves on working closely with students to help them forge their own path, buck conventional wisdom and find a new way.

It’s an experience that simply isn’t available at traditional universities. And despite what you may have heard, independents are often less expensive and boast higher four-year graduation rates than four-year institutions.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Mad Max + Jet Ski = Awesome Invention for Calvin College Students

The magic of college is that it marries inspiration with application, encouraging the wildest imaginations and teaching skills to turn flights of fancy into reality.

Where else but college are students not only encouraged to dream of riding a snowmobile on water, but given the knowledge to make it happen?

That’s what’s happened to four Calvin College students whose senior engineering design project is getting buzz worldwide.

It’s called the Jet Blade. Think of it as Mad Max’s answer to a jet ski.

It’s part personal watercraft and part snowmobile. But it’s all awesome. And it’s something that has to be seen to believe.

The students — Zak DeVries, Nico Ourensma, Josh Vanderbyl, and Ryan DeMeester — took their love of outdoors and wedded it into an out-of-this-world idea that has attracted attention from websites worldwide and the Discovery Channel Canada.

The contraption has a 650 cc engine and two skis in front and one in back, giving the feel and control of a snowmobile.

“A traditional jet ski, when you’re riding it around, typically you’ll sit on it, like a Sea-Doo style, and those actually turn by having the jet in the rear, directing the watercraft in the direction it needs to go,” DeVries said.

“Ours is unique in the fact that the skis in the front actually do the turning of the vehicle, and the jet pump in the rear is stationary. So it gives you a really different feel when you’re riding it on the water.”

Not surprisingly, the project got an A. Now, the students have a Jet Blade website, and they’re looking for investors to bring a similar vehicle to market.

Who knows? Smaller dreams have changed the world, and Calvin College and the 14 other top independent colleges and universities in Michigan take pride in nourishing the tiniest dreams and cultivating them into greatness.

That’s because helping students fulfilling their paths and passion is what they do.

The schools emphasize community over crowds and a spirit of togetherness and cohesion that just doesn’t exist at big state schools.

With low class sizes and award-winning faculty, the schools are proud that students forge lifelong bonds with professors.

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.