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A look inside the beaver suit


For me, being a mascot was energizing, important, and fun.

When you put on the suit, you are no longer yourself. You become a new character, the essence of school spirit and socialization.

J. Denny Beaver is loved by everyone. He is the most popular student on campus; everyone knows who J. Denny is. He is a strong character who has a cheeky personality at times. He’s dynamic, mold-able, shifting. He can be a Christmas beaver, a dance competition champion, a football fan, a friend, a joy.

Jenny Beaver is the new girl. People were not sure what to think of her at first. She is a very fun character. She knows she’s beautiful and she is very feminine and flirtatious. Quick to flip her hair and wave.

J. Denny and Jenny are the most well know couple on campus. They are a new couple, so when you see them, most of the time they are holding hands or picking on each other. But they always make sure to break away from each other for a bit to socialize with more people.

Being a person inside the suit has its ups and downs.

Inside the suit it is hot and kind of heavy. You can only see through where their teeth are and the way the helmet fits inside the head you are always looking at someone’s shoes unless you wrench your neck all the way up to see straight ahead of you. So it is easy to bump into things, or people. But its an an obstacle you learn to overcome.

Being a part of an important piece of Bluffton University’s school spirit was a wonderful experience.

Because the identity of who is in the J. Denny suit is a secret, I was constantly looking over my shoulder and gravitating toward students I had never met before, as to not give myself away.

The secrecy of it all is half of the fun. Meeting new people and performing is the other half.

The smiles and tugs of young children, the high fives and fist bumps from alumni and the acceptance and inclusion of the students and the freedom of performance and character interpretation, make being a mascot pleasant and enjoyable.

Being a beaver mascot was a worthwhile addition to my college career and will be one of the proud memories I take with me after graduation.

“Me Too Monologues” debuts on campus

Dr. Melissa Friesen’s “Theatre for Social Change” class is producing and performing the “Me Too Monologues” this month as a class project. The “Me Too Monologues” is a collection of stories about identity from Bluffton University students, staff, and faculty.

Members of Dr. Friesen’s class are performing these monologues to empower the community of the university as well as bring to light some issues concerning identity that are often stigmatized or kept quiet. The concept of “Me Too Monologues” was developed and first performed at Duke University with their community and this model has since been adapted by many other schools. The monologues are anonymous and those who submitted pieces assigned I.D. numbers to their work.

The “Me Too Monologues” at Bluffton will address topics such as body image and mental health to open a dialogue on campus to think about what identity means to each of us.

The performance will occur April 14, 2015 at 9:00 PM in Ramseyer Auditorium, College Hall, located on the Bluffton University campus. Admission is free and Arts and Lecture credit will be available.

For more information, please contact Dr. Friesen at

Students help to rebuild hope

by: Chay Reigle, Bluffton public relations

More than two years after Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast, residents of Far Rockaway, Queens, New York, are still rebuilding what was lost. For a week in March, 13 Bluffton University students and staff spent their spring break trying to help.

In association with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), the group assisted Sandy victims whose homes had been heavily damaged by the storm, which caused more than 200 deaths and an estimated $68 billion in damage overall. Among other things, they repaired cracked walls and floors and painted the homes of residents who couldn’t afford to fix them anymore.

“Hearing there was still work to be done from Sandy really hit me hard, and I wanted to go make a difference there,” said Rachel Keske, a sophomore from Lima, Ohio, and president of the campus organization SERVE. “The impact I had in helping these families take one step closer to normalcy will be one of the most beneficial feelings I’ll ever have.”

Keske worked for the same residents throughout the trip. She and MDS members mudded and sanded cracked and patchy drywall before applying a long-needed, new coat of paint. Although the process took all week, that week was full of laughter and inspiration for Keske.

“I never dreaded waking up at 6 a.m. to begin the day because I knew we would be helping them move their lives to the next step, after sitting still since October 2012,” when the storm hit, she said.

Jenna Moreo, a sophomore from Spencerville, Ohio, worked in several homes. She helped repaint the interior of a house that had endured extensive water damage, loaded shipments of drywall for delivery to the houses and insulated a basement that had been flooded to its ceiling. “It may seem like all we had to do was work on houses, but it was so much more than that,” she said. “We actually got to meet the homeowners and talk to them about what happened.”

“Hearing how the people whose homes were damaged still have so much hope after two years” was definitely worthwhile, said Kati O’Neill, a sophomore from Wapakoneta, Ohio, who worked with Moreo on the basement insulation project. “You can’t even imagine what happened to them and what they are going through. God is truly incredible and moves mountains.”

Although there’s still much to be done in Far Rockaway, the Bluffton students were happy to help as much as they could before returning to school, and many are eager to serve next spring break, too.

“To be able to give someone something back that we take for granted is a wonderful feeling,” said Danielle Moore, a sophomore from Plymouth, Ohio. “It was a blessing to get to know the families and people at MDS.”

“The thing is, we didn’t ‘give up’ our break; that thought never crossed my mind,” Keske said. “Serving in Far Rockaway was exactly what I wanted to spend my break doing.”

Foreign baby born in Bluffton


by: Kristina Ciminillo

Meet Janeth and Nataniela Makene. Nataniela was born at Bluffton Hospital on March 3, 2015.

Janeth is a 1st year Master’s Degree Program student here at BU. She is studying Production and Operations Management.

KC: How did you manage to have a baby and be in a Master’s Program?

JM: I was inspired by a story written by a Kenyan author titled “Is it Possible?” It’s a Masai story which was all about carrying books on one hand and carrying a spear on the other hand.

KC: Tell me a little bit more.

JM: Masai people in both Kenya and Tanzania do not believe in education. Due to change the government encouraged the Masai people to get an education.

KC: What is the spear about?

JM: The Masai are livestock keepers so they use the spear to defend their animals from wild animals and enemies. So for them education is not as important as a spear.

KC: How did the story then encourage you to get an education?

JM: I was inspired by a Masai boy who decided to go to school.

KC: What made him want to do that?

JM: He saw the importance of education and he wanted to be educated while, at the same time, maintaining his culture. Through the story of the Masai boy I came to realize that it is possible for me to have a baby and still continue with my studies.

KC: So, are you from Kenya or Tanzania?

JM: I’m from Tanzania.

KC: What is the population of Tanzania?

JM: It’s 4.4 million.

KC: How many languages and different dialects do you speak?

JM: I don’t speak any of the native languages, I can only hear my mom’s and my dad’s and respond to them. I grew up speaking Swahili which is our national language.

KC: How did you learn English?

JM: I started learning English in third grade. It was difficult.

KC: Do you mind if I ask how old you are?

JM: I am 27.

KC: You mentioned to me before that your husband is possibly going to follow work to Australia.

JM: He went for a fellowship, which was for three months, now he is back home.

KC: What is his name?

JM: Benjamin Makane

KC: Do you live on campus or have a host family?

JM: I live with Ron and Sue Epp, who kindly host me.

KC: Tell me about your culture shock coming to Bluffton and a village.

JM: I didn’t have any culture shock. I live in a village and have been to America before so I knew what to expect.

KC: How did you find Bluffton?

JM: Through friends that I worked with in summer camp in Michigan in 2007.

KC: So you have experienced our cold winters before?

JM: Yes.

KC: What do you miss from home?

JM: I miss the food, most especially ugali, which is like stiff porridge.

KC: How do you communicate with your family and husband?

JM: Skyping, email, and Facebook.

KC: What are your plans in life?

JM: I will go back home and open a business and maybe look for a good job.

KC: Thank you for your time today.

JM: My pleasure.

Q&A with Sarah Barren

by: Ryan Laidlaw

Q: What is your favorite sport?
A: “Softball.”

Q: What professional teams do you like?
A: “Red Sox, Steelers.”

Q: What’s one thing you love about Bluffton University?
A: “The people and community, because they are friendly.”

Q: Who do you look up too?
A: “My mother.”

Q: What are you afraid of?
A: “Nothing.”

Q: What’s your ideal vacation destination?
A: “Somewhere warm and fun.”

Q: What kind of pets do you like?
A: “Dogs.”

Q: Name one professor on campus that you were happy to have met?
A: “Jackie Slinger.”

Q: What career do you want?
A: “Something that has to do with early childhood education.”

Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: “The Harry Potter series.”

Shalith and Inspiration Point

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Meet Christina Klahre – fairy tale fan and master storyteller

by: Kristina Ciminillo

Senior student Fremont, Michigan
English and Writing Major
Lives in Ropp Hall
Works at the Writing Center

If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing or reading one of Christina’s stories then you are missing out on creative genius right here in Bluffton. I sat down at Common Grounds one day to speak with Christina and get the details on her adventure to Ohio.

Kristina C: What brought you to BU?

Christina K: I was looking for a small liberal arts college that had a good writing part to their English Program. I read about BU in a brochure and came down for the Presidential Scholarship Program.

KC: You said “down”, where are you from?

CK: A small town in Michigan called Freemont.

KC: How does Bluffton compare to Freemont?

CK: It’s not too different. It is a little smaller, which makes it nicer for everything to be within walking distance of the University.

KC: What is the most rewarding thing about your BU experience?

CK: A combination of the community- I’ve made a lot of good friends here- and the improvements in my writing.

KC: What or who influenced that?

CK: All the chances to write for different assignments. Trying different types of writing; like short stories, poetry, and literature papers. It created goals for my writing which was very helpful.

KC: So your major is Writing?

CK: And English.

KC: What are your plans after graduation?

CK: I’m not certain yet. I’m going to take a year off and then start looking into grad schools probably.

KC: What is the most interesting thing you’ve found about BU?

CK: My cross cultural experience to Northern Ireland. I’d always wanted to go there, so that was very exciting.

KC: What did you come away with from that experience that you have used or think you may use in your writing?

CK: I got to know a lot of interesting people and I think they may become characters in future stories. I also saw a lot of beautiful places which would help create scenes and construct different worlds.

KC: So you lean towards the fantasy/fairy tale genre from what I’ve noticed. What age audience do like to write for?

CK: Young adults, a lot of my stories have younger protagonists.

KC: So, do you hope to publish short stories, a novella, or a novel in the future?

CK: Definitely a novel, but probably short stories as well, later.

KC: How many days a week do you work at the Writing Center?

CK: Three.

KC: What do you like about it?

CK: It’s nice to see I’m helping people, the people that come in regularly. It’s nice to see the way that their writing improves.

KC: Thank you for your time. Best of luck in the future.

Jesse Roth and Fault Lines win big in Fort Wayne

by: Alex Parker

While some students were heading off to warmer locations during that first weekend of spring break, Jesse Roth and a few of Fault Lines dancers traveled to Fort Wayne to win a huge competition.

Roth, a senior majoring in writing and business administration, choreographed four dances for the Fort Wayne Dance for All Choreography Exhibition, a line dance competition. The Dance for All celebrated its 20th anniversary and remains the biggest line dance convention in the United States. This meant a tough competition for Roth and her dancers.

The competition was split into three divisions; Newcomer/Novice, Intermediate, and Phrased. The top three dances in each division placed and a final prize awarded to the overall winner. Roth had entered one dance in the Newcomer/Novice division, one in the Intermediate division, and two in the Phrased division. Each division had a total of seventeen dances competing for the right to be called the best. “I thought a third place finish would be good,” said Roth considering the competitors.

The competition got underway and all the dances were performed in front of a few select judges as well as a large audience. Roth felt good dancing despite losing her name tag in the beginning of her dance. “I was more comfortable knowing [Fault Lines] was with me, and that’s the biggest number I’ve competed with.”

The award ceremony began and the choreographers were lined up so that prizes could be dealt out. Roth took third in the Newcomer/Novice division, first place only escaping by a mere 5 points. She then took first in the Intermediate division by a few points. Finally she dominated the competition in the Phrased division, taking first by a whopping 17 points.

The final listings showed that her winning streak wasn’t quite over. Jesse had received a total score 607 points, putting her 27 points ahead of second place which shocked her. She said “I figured someone was going to run onto the floor shouting they had miscalculated and someone else was the winner.” She then accepted the $250 dollar grand prize for being the best overall choreographer.

With the competition over Jesse and the other dancers enjoyed the rest of their break knowing that moving to those warmer locations wouldn’t have had the same results.

Free college journalism camp this summer

From the World Journalism Institute:


Greetings from the WORLD Journalism Institute. I’m Lee Pitts, the associate dean of WJI. Hopefully your newsroom received the brochure I sent you several months ago (also attached with this email). I wanted to follow up to introduce myself and encourage your student newspaper to send some of your reporters to WJI’s “Backpack Journalism in a Digital Age” course in Asheville, NC, this May 17-30, 2015. Our program provides an opportunity for students interested in journalism to attend a camp for free (with housing and many meals provided) and build up their writing portfolio while earning a chance to land paid internships. That combination is not offered in many places anymore at such low cost to the student.

This free, two-week course is hosted each May in the scenic mountains of North Carolina for college students of all majors and recent graduates who want to strengthen their communication and reporting skills. You don’t have to be a journalism major to attend! We offer instruction in Christian worldview and the nuts and bolts of backpack journalism for convergent media. The course focuses on news/feature writing and reporting for magazine, website, and radio; we also provide training in photography, videography, and sound. Guest speakers who have spent decades honing their crafts in these areas lead our workshops. Our students get to report using radio, video, still camera equipment as well as the old-fashioned but indispensable notepad and pencil.

The top students from the course will be invited to spend an additional 4-8 weeks gaining more reporting, writing, and video-audio experience in their hometowns; at mainstream newspapers; at WORLD’s office in Asheville, NC; or at WORLD’s Washington, DC bureau. Students have the opportunity to publish their work at or in local newspapers.

As outlined on our website (, our mission is to recruit, equip, place and encourage journalists who are Christians. Through the generous support of donors, we are able to offer this course free to accepted students each year, and the internships our top students secure are typically paid. The deadline for students to apply for this year’s course is March 31. But if you email me that you are interested I could give you a some time to complete the application.

Would you be willing to forward this email or share this information with students in your newsroom and on your campus who might be a good fit for WJI? Please encourage any potential applicants to read our recent WJI alumni testimonials at There you can learn about the reporting adventures and challenges our students faced and overcame last summer both in Asheville and Washington, D.C.

Interested students can apply online at



Edward Lee Pitts

Associate Dean

World Journalism Institute