Surprise: Professors Do Care About You!

Unreachable, unapproachable and all too busy are just some of the rhetoric you may hear when beginning the college process in regards to professors. Warning signs of distant professors is always important to consider when deciding on which university you wish to attend for the next four years.

In my time at Christopher Newport University, I can say with full confidence that I have yet to experience a lack of care from a professor. In fact, I have yet to experience a time that I wasn’t extended a helping hand, or an opportunity to utilize office hours multiple times a week.

At Christopher Newport there is a high standard for success and the role of the professor for each student. The hope of the university is that smaller classes provide students with the means necessary to not only be successful in academics, but also to build academic relationships with their professors.

Like many things, small class sizes have their pros/cons, but it is important to recognize when something within the pro column is working. Christopher Newport professors do not fit into the classic horror-story rhetoric. Our professors are encouraged to not only play a role in the classroom but to keep an open door for students always. I have heard from my own professors as well as from my peers that the amount of care each professor has for their students is not common on a college campus.

I have found that Christopher Newport has a strong understanding of the importance of its students and their well-being. One of the most endearing moments of my time here was this semester. As we were addressing announcements in my class, my professor added, “…and if no one is going home for thanksgiving, my family would love to have you. Email me to let me know you’re coming so we can have a seat for you.” That stopped me in my tracks – well it stopped everyone in the class. Our professor (and many others) genuinely cared enough to ensure that those who were seatless on thanksgiving had the opportunity to have a seat at a table on a historically familiar holiday.

Christopher Newport cares for its students. The important idea is that students feel comfortable enough to go into a professor’s office and be themselves. In my own experience, professors understand that life happens and that some things are out of our control. An understanding professor, one who is more concerned about you personally than how you did on the last test, are the professors the Christopher Newport is investing in.

I am thankful for the investment of genuine professors who disprove stereotypes time and again. Quality over Quantity.

Tips for any Political Climate

As a political enthusiast, the past few months leading up to the presidential nomination have been entrancing to say the least. I have remarked every so often that I am most passionate about Americans’ individual right to vote. Being in college during such a historic election, especially at Christopher Newport University, I have only been encouraged to partake in this political process. While our nation as a whole is divided on this new presidency, here are some tips I found that help bring hope and humanity back to friends, colleagues and peers.

  • VOTE. Become a registered voter either in Newport News, or your home town via absentee. Christopher Newport encourages its students to lead lives of great community involvement, one way in doing so is to vote in presidential, congressional, gubernatorial and mayoral elections. The voice of one community is best heard when individuals come together in unity for change.
  • Discuss/Ask Questions. Whether this be to your best friend, roommates, professor or teammate, there is value in discussing opposing views. In my philosophy and communication class this semester we have highlighted the idea of engaging in another person’s views so that we may have a better overall understanding. Because politics can be a tense subject, asking questions of clarifications can be a way to better understand the political process and to become a better informed citizen.
  • Friends First. LISTEN. This seems all to obvious to say, but all the more important, we must maintain an engaging attitude toward friends, loved ones, peers and professors. I have been able to treasure the intellectual perspectives of my peers and professors as a result of wanting to be better informed. It is also important to note that at the beginning of every semester at Christopher Newport, my professors have made it clear that if someone disagrees with what is being said we will all be respectful in response. If the respect in a classroom is compromised my professors, especially in the Communication Department, have made it clear that type of behavior will not be tolerated.
  • Have a Viewing Party. If the expectation of mutual respect is implemented prior to the results, this can be an educational experience as well as a laid back, fun environment for all. My roommates and I hosted a small viewing party with (our idea of) fancy cheese as well as cherry and blueberry pie to help settle qualms and just enjoy the company of friends on a Tuesday night.

Glow!

Christopher Newport University’s a cappella groups hold one of the highly anticipated events of the year: Glow in the Darcappella. Glow is one of the many unifying events held on campus each year. Held in the beautiful Ferguson Center for the Arts main concert hall, a cappella groups: Take Note, Expansion, Trebled Youth, Extreme Measures, University Sounds and Newport Pearls hit the stage for a black-light performance.

Once in the concert hall, lights go down and black lights turn on. For the past few years, Hypnotic Control, Christopher Newport’s hip hop dance club, takes center stage. Dressed in all black and accents of neon, their performance makes for a  perfect opener to an evening of showcasing Christopher Newport’s most talented students.

As a professional singer (in the shower), every year I am blown away with the talent of my peers. A few of my best friends are in a cappella groups and commit hours every week to arranging, practicing and performing their rendition of songs.

It is incredible the amount of work that goes into arranging one song! One of the best moments as a friend is getting to see how hard they work and then to see them thrive on stage. I get to support my friends in doing something that they love and we, as the audience, get to experience an incredible full-blown concert. I love being able to support all their hard work during the semester and being able to show case that to our peers and the public.

This event is so creative in its performances and in how it encourages all of the Christopher Newport community to attend. It shows just how supportive the faculty and staff are when I was able to see professor after professor coming just to support students. There is something intrinsically special that a professor would give up their night to support a student they may only know for minimum 16 weeks.

Yet again, I find myself so thankful to go to a university that encourages community outside of the classroom as well as faculty and staff who genuinely care not only about us academically, but care enough to see us thrive elsewhere.

Freedom of Speech on Campus

Instilled during the first days of welcome week, newly admitted students sign Christopher Newport University’s Honor Code:

“On my honor, I will maintain the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and personal responsibility. This means I will not lie, cheat, or steal and as a member of this academic community, I am committed to creating an environment of respect and mutual trust.”

It is of the utmost importance to Christopher Newport that an environment of integrity and respect be mutually carried out by students, faculty and staff. It is not only suggested but exemplified in our ability to continually communicate transparently to all.

Recently we have had an open air/street evangelist come to speak in highly trafficked areas on campus (The Plaza and the lane dividing York East & West and the David Student Union-intended to avoid academic disruption). Note: there are specific regulations and procedures that all organizations/individuals must go through to be permitted onto Christopher Newport campus in designated areas that will not disturb the academic environment.

I did not initially know about this evangelist because I had walked by or heard from others, however, I heard directly from the Dean of Students, Kevin Hughes (in fact, every student did). His email alerted students of an event on campus that would be happening the following day. Not only was this email intended to keep students up to date, but it was meant to encourage and remind us why the street evangelist was able to come on campus.

“[He] was not invited by the University. Rather, he has exercised his free speech rights. These rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and have been affirmed numerous times through the federal court system. He followed the required procedures to request a space in which he could engage in free speech”

I recently sat down with Dr. Kevin Hughes to discuss the measures in which Christopher Newport takes to ensure students, faculty and staff are well-informed. I learned that with events like these he feels it is important for students to be aware of the situation, “we recognize part of being at Christopher Newport means different perspectives and we try to make students aware so that they can either avoid or engage [it].” The university itself promotes a neutral viewpoint on these types of events but encourages students to be respectful and tolerant.

As he continued in his email, Dr. Hughes reminded students of the rights of the guest.

“[His] strongly held beliefs may conflict with many of your own values. However, he is entitled to them and the Constitution protects his right to share them on our campus.  I encourage all of you to keep this in mind should you encounter the event.  If you need to discuss the event afterwards, please know the counseling center is available to you.”
Not only were students informed just to be informed but were reminded of the many resources that Christopher Newport offers for students. Christopher Newport recognizes that students can struggle and are open about ways in which they can and want to assist students.
As Captains, we are asked and inspired to apply the Honor Code not only to our academics but to our every day life.  This event reminded me how the university not only asks of its students to uphold the Honor Code, but that its students would respond to the environment of respect and mutual trust, for our fellow peer and fellow American. I am proud of the way our university was and is transparent.
As a student and first amendment aficionado, I want to thank Christopher Newport for not only protecting my rights but the rights of my peers, the faculty and staff, as well as community guests who get to experience what it means to be a Captain.

Places We Love Around CNU: Norfolk (Nor-fik)

Some of my favorite parts about being a Christopher Newport University student are the places that my friends and I get to adventure to on the weekends. Norfolk (pronounced: nor-fik by the locals) is about a 40-minute drive from campus. The city of Norfolk has an impressive local/gourmet food scene that I only recently was educated on (shameful, I know, as I am already a junior).

One of the first times I went into Norfolk was to see a concert at the club-style venue, the Norva. I often go to the Norva for concerts and like any pre-concert ritual, I somehow always find a good dinner location. Here are some of my favorite places that I’ve found:

For all the foodies:

  • The Grilled Cheese Bistro: For any grilled-cheese aficionado looking for a not-so-average sandwich. Serving gourmet grilled cheese, their small menu has proved time and again its cheesy goodness. They also specialize in fries, fried pickles, salads and craft drinks that are all uniquely delicious.
  • The Handsome Biscuit: This is perfect for a quick bite for breakfast or a late brunch while shopping around Norfolk. Freshly made-to-order biscuits make this morning trip worth it for a tasty southern delicacy well done. (Editor’s note: try the Fitzgerald, it’s amazing!)
  • No Frill Bar and Grill: With a commitment to fresh food simply done, this restaurant is great for brunch, lunch and dinner any day. Their menu has classic American dishes and some unique salads, and I have found that everything here is just fresh and good.
  • Field Guide: Self-described as an urban eatery, this is for foodies and friends alike. They offer gourmet-esque rice bowls, sandwiches and desserts all under $10. Friendly people, prices and all around tasty food.
  • Toast: Literally serves their dishes on thick toasted bread. Their various open face toasted sandwiches are unique-similar to the venue. The location also offers music events throughout the year. The perfect combo of dinner and a show.

Norfolk has an impressive food scene and if you’re anything like me, it provides more than enough opportunities to go out with your friends and try something new!

The Places We Love Around CNU: Yorktown

One of the many marvelous aspects of Christopher Newport is our location. Being located in such a historic part of not only Virginia, but also America, proves very beneficial for off-campus day trips. Yorktown is about 20 minutes from here and offers an extensive amount of quintessential shops, local restaurants and a picturesque beachfront.

Yorktown (YT) Beach/Riverwalk Landing:

  • Beachfront: the two-acre shoreline is perfect to flock to right at the beginning of fall semester and then again at the end of spring semester with all of your friends for a stress free afternoon.
  • Ben and Jerry’s: it always a delight to end up in an ice cream shop but this is one of the highlights of YT especially during Ben and Jerry’s free cone day and the perfect addition to a beach trip.
  • Yorktown Bookshop: a local bookshop with a highly knowledgeable staff selling lightly used books from many different genres.
  • Water Street Grille: living in a coastal region, seafood is no longer a luxury but a necessity. With an all-around good atmosphere and diverse menu, this is perfect for birthday dinners as well as a nice place for your parents to take you when they visit.

Other fun spots around Yorktown:

  • Pops Drive-In: for over 50 years this restaurant has been in YT serving classic American dishes with small-town charm.
  • Yorktown Battlefields: for history majors and history buffs, the historic YT battlefields are where the Revolutionary War was rung victorious!
  • Yorktown Bowling: For a night of retro fun, grab a group of friends for bowling alley fries and a night of fun!

This corner of the historic triangle is a great destination for a quick trip to see the water and enjoy a break from study not too far from campus.

The Places We Love Around CNU: Williamsburg

Christopher Newport University is prominently located in between Hampton Roads and the Historic Triangle. One of my personal favorites around CNU is Williamsburg. This corner of the Historical Triangle provides an experience of rich history, shopping and local food vendors.  So if you’re looking for a day off campus Williamsburg is a sure bet for a day of food, fun and shopping.

Merchant’s Square:

  • The Cheese Shop
    • A specialty food store that sells handcrafted sandwiches and the perfect lunch for a day in Williamsburg
  • The Blackbird Bakery
    • Incredible gourmet pastries and coffee in a small bakery set off from the main square
  • Mermaid Books
    • Used and rare books in a downstairs shop that encourages sitting and reading for hours
  • Kimball Theater
    • Collides arts from on- and off-screen productions from the past and present

Colonial Williamsburg (CW)

  • Ghost Walks
    • For those who are much more adventurous, CW offers guided tours around the colonial settlement infused with tales and stories of colonial past.
  • Dog Walks
    • On a Saturday morning you can find many dogs (and their owners) walking along the colonial cobble stone and almost always willing to let you pet their dog.
  • Historic Walks
    • Especially in fall, just walking around the grounds of the colonial homes, buildings and lawns.
  • Williamsburg Premium Outlets
    • You can find almost any clothing, athletic and designer store in these outlets that can easily make up a whole day.

Busch Gardens during special events (aka discounted tickets!)

  • Howl-O-Scream
    • Late September through October the park is opened as a haunted Halloween themed arena that gets everyone in the Halloween spirit.
  • Christmas Town
    • The park is fully decorated in beautiful colored lights with every part of the park having a theme that leads to a huge lit tree in the middle of the park.

The ideal Williamsburg day is in late fall when there is crispness in the air and the need for a slow day off campus. Sometimes as students we just need to stop studying and reading and take a break to enjoy a day with friends and no agenda!