Ave Maria University is excited to announce that it is now a participating institution in State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA), which sets national standards for postsecondary distance-learning programs. SARA works to lower the costs and increase the opportunities associated with students taking college-level online courses from institutions operating in other states.
Approved participation in SARA is good news for Ave Maria University, which launched its first distance-learning program, JumpStart, in August 2017. JumpStart offers high school juniors and seniors the chance to enroll in highly affordable, fully accredited college-level courses, taught by Ave Maria University professors and offered entirely online. When enrollment for JumpStart first opened, its offerings were limited to Florida residents alone, but the expansion of course offerings and extension of the program to students in other states was always part of the long-term plan. With its approved participation in SARA, Ave Maria University is now in a position to move forward and open up the benefits of JumpStart to high school students nationwide. “Ave Maria University’s new Jumpstart program provides a wonderful opportunity for high school and homeschool students to earn college-level course credit from one of the finest classical liberal arts curricula available,” says Director of Admissions Karen Full. “We are thrilled to offer these affordable, online courses to students from all over the country.”
SARA is a voluntary agreement among participating states to a set of national standards for distance-learning programs with the goal of making it easier for students to take courses from institutions that are based in another state. SARA, which is overseen by a National Council (NC-SARA), began inviting states to become members in January 2014. States become members through a process overseen by their regional compact. The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), of which Florida is a member, approved Florida to join SARA as the 48th state member in August 2017. Once Florida was established as a member of SARA, the Florida-State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (FL-SARA) opened up the application process in October 2017 for institutions such as Ave Maria University to seek approval to become participants in FL-SARA.
Starting next year, Ave Maria University will be able to offer more distance-learning courses, all available to students nationwide. High school students across the country will soon be able to reap the benefits of AMU’s online program, JumpStart, which is one step closer to the ultimate goal of offering more students access to quality Catholic postsecondary education at an affordable price. Registration for JumpStart is now open online for classes beginning January 8th, 2018.
“Joining SARA is a big step for Ave Maria,” says JumpStart Academic Coordinator Dr. Gabriel Martinez. “Not only does this allow us to serve almost the entire country, but also SARA institutions commit themselves to the highest standards in online education. By joining SARA, we are committing ourselves to developing high-quality, academically rigorous online programs in a manner that fulfills our mission and serves society.”
What’s the next best thing to experiencing a night on Broadway? Experiencing it without traveling to NYC! Broadway’s bright lights and magic came to life on AMU’s campus during the 2017 run of the Drama Club’s annual cabaret performance.
The group of students who performed in this year’s Night on Broadway showcased songs from a variety of musicals, including Mary Poppins and The Drowsy Chaperone, Evita, and Wicked. Some in the audience were transported back to their childhood by Broadway classics like The Sound of Music and Footloose. Others had the opportunity to hear music from more recent productions, such as Anastasia, or the 2017 Tony Award-Winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen. Throughout it all, the joy and camaraderie of the group of student performers was clearly visible, and the fun they had while sharing their talents overflowed into the audience.
A Night on Broadway was initiated by Ave Maria University students looking to make use of their talents in a joyful experience of the arts on campus. Rachel Wisely, student director of this year’s show comments after the fact, “I was told several times that this was ‘the best Cabaret yet.’” Rachel was joined by students Rebecca Felix (assistant director), Erin Koehler (choreographer), and Zachary Rappley (orchestra director), in addition to the team of singers and dancers who put in hours of rehearsal to pull off the Drama Club’s 2017 Night on Broadway. “I am very proud of the cast and of my work as a director,“ Rachel shares. “It’s amazing how collaborative, artistic work pulls together!”
The AMU Drama Club, which has over 35 active members, is one of the largest clubs on campus. The club organizes and puts on at least one student-run production each semester. If you’re interested in learning more or getting involved, contact the club’s staff advisor, Rachel Flowers.
It’s the month of December, finals are fast approaching, but the holidays are also coming and students are itching to celebrate. What’s the solution? Snowball – a semi-formal dance with a winter wonderland theme. The annual event, organized by the Student Activities Board (SAB), is an opportunity for guys and gals alike to pull out their finest for an evening of music and dance.
As students streamed into the Bob Thomas Student Union on Friday night, they were awed by the twinkling lights that transformed the ballroom, hinting at the magical night to come. Outside, a bonfire crackled, inviting students to stay a while to enjoy food and warm drinks with friends. Indoors, a long line formed for the photo booth decked with tinsel and lights. The event organizers knew this would be an evening to remember.
To add to the holiday spirit, SAB brought in DJ Jay Martin, who works for Life Teen International. Throughout the night, music and laughter filled the ballroom as students danced away. Judging from the smiles and good cheer in every direction on the dance floor, the 2017 Snowball provided a much-needed break as the young men and women of Ave Maria University prepare to buckle down for the last week of class and final exams, and then – home for the holidays!
Senior Emma Patriquin talks about her love of running, how she has grown over four seasons with AMU’s women’s cross country, and what it was like to run her last college race on campus.
Q: Do you actually enjoy running? So many people hate it!
A: I do enjoy running a lot! When I’m not in season, I increase my mileage. I love running longer distances because then I have more time to procrastinate on school work…
Q: What’s the best part about being on the cross country team?
A: The cross country team is so unique that it’s hard to say what is best about it. Cross country is an individual sport, but the teamwork that gets put into it is outstanding. Everyone on the team is very encouraging and supportive of one another. The laughter, pranks, and friendships that come out of our team are some of the things that the best and irreplaceable.
Q: AMU hosted The Sun Conference Cross Country Championships this year for the first time since 2011. How did it feel to run your last college race on campus?
A: Running my last cross country race at Ave was truly a blessing. I’ve been running cross country for the last ten years, and I knew ending this season was going to be emotional for me–and it was. It was very special because my mom came down to watch my last race. She was the one who helped shape my running career. Once I crossed the finish line, I was immediately surrounded by all my friends, my mom, and my fiancé. So many people came out to watch us run. We were so grateful for all the love and support that was given to us.
Q: How have you grown over four seasons as a Lady Gyrene?
A: I will always remember the first day of preseason my freshman year…it still haunts me! It was very hot and humid. I hardly ran that summer and I was not in the best shape. We were told to run to the front entrance and back. Halfway there, I gave up and started walking. I was so disappointed in myself, and for the first time I felt like a failure. I called my mom after practice and told her to make sure I ran every day next summer. Next summer came, and the summer after that, andI was still only doing half the workouts. I wasn’t making cross country a priority. I worked hard during season, but I knew I wanted to get better. This past summer, I ran every day. I did every workout and even changed my diet. I was determined to have the best season ever! These past four years have taught me not to give up on myself, but to push myself to do better each time. The love and support I got from my coach and teammates helped me achieve this.
Q: Do you have any advice for prospective runners?
A: If you want to start running, do it! If you don’t think you’ll like it, still do it! Don’t give yourself any expectations, because if you’re just starting out, it most likely won’t go as you planned. Start out with a shorter distance and keep in mind what your body is telling you. Running is always more enjoyable with a buddy, so feel free to drag someone along with you!
Students looking to major in Marine Biology now have that opportunity at Ave Maria University.
“We’re in a very unique location,” says Dr. Nicholas Curtis, Assistant Professor of Biology and chair of the department. Ave Maria University is located less than 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. Directly South of campus lie the Ten Thousand Islands, and just beyond that, the Florida Keys. We are adjacent to Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and more. “We have access to unique marine and ecological environments which can really only be experienced in Southwest Florida,” Dr. Curtis explains. “We decided to take advantage of our location.”
Starting spring 2018, the Department of Biology will offer courses for the Marine Biology (B.S.) major and minor. These new courses, such as General and Chemical Oceanography (BIO 310), and Animal Physiology (BIO 403), will explore the environment and how it interacts with fisheries and oceans. “Students who study Marine Biology at Ave Maria University,” Dr. Curtis says, “will receive a strong core in science and, within that, a focus on the marine environment.”
Who might study Marine Biology? For starters, anyone interested in teaching, research, or industry consulting in the fields of marine biology or marine ecology will benefit from this new major. Likewise, students who seek government employment in the National Park Service or Fish and Wildlife Service will find that the comprehensive Marine Biology major is designed to meet their needs.
In the words of Robert Wyland, renowned marine life artist, “The world’s finest wilderness lies beneath the waves.” What are you waiting for? Check out the Major in Marine Biology today!