Club Spotlight: Study Abroad

Some of the members of the Study Abroad Club.
Some of the members of the Study Abroad Club.

By Latara Holloway

Traveling to another county is usually one of the top goals on many people’s bucket lists. However, the high cost of airfare is a major obstacle, especially for college students who still struggle to balance classes and jobs while aiming towards a degree. Now there is a new student organization on campus that aims to help cut down the costs for student explorers. It is called the Study Abroad Club.

The club was started in fall of 2014 after a student’s suggestion to make a club to help raise funds towards study abroad trips. Since then, the group has been working to raise awareness about the study abroad programs offered at AUM as well as hosting events to help make trips more affordable for students.

Current president Hannah Merren was able to answer a few questions about the club.


LaTara Holloway:  What is Study Abroad Club?


Hannah Merren: The Study Abroad Club is an organization designed to bring together students with similar study abroad interests to share experiences, raise money for scholarships and encourage others to study abroad. This club offers opportunities for learning more about other cultures and chances to study abroad at AUM.


Holloway:  What is the club’s goal?

Merren: The goal of the Study Abroad Club is to bring together students with interests in study abroad to raise money for study abroad scholarships, participate in multicultural education and encourage study abroad across campus. We are reaching this goal by holding events like the Cultural Food Fair, Indian Holi Festival celebration and the Study Abroad Fair.


Holloway:   Why did you join?

Merren: I joined this club because I love to learn about other cultures and experience them first hand through studying abroad.


Holloway:   This is a new club. What setbacks have you experienced since starting?

Merren: During the first year of this club we have mainly had trouble with leadership. It is hard for many students to find the time to commit to the start up of a club.


Holloway:  What have you learned so far?


Merren: I have learned that it takes teamwork, organization and planning to smoothly operate a club. I also have learned that a strong leader goes a long way to help a new club get on its feet.


Holloway:   What are your goals for next year?


Merren: Next year we hope to host more events and provide more students scholarships for study abroad.

Holloway:   Why should people join study abroad club?


Merren: You should join the Study Abroad Club because it is more important than ever to have an understanding of other cultures and the very best way to do that is to visit other countries. The Study Abroad Club can help you to do just that, and you can make some great friends with the same interests along the way.  This club is a perfect opportunity for anyone who is interested in other cultures. If you think you cannot afford to study abroad, or you do not want to go to another country for a whole semester, we offer scholarships for up to $1,500 and tons of programs for under two weeks!


Students interested in learning more about the Study Abroad Club, or any study abroad programs offered at AUM, can get more information by emailing and keeping up with the club on Facebook at

Photo courtesy of AUM website.

Golden Kiwi Finds Alabama Home


By Tiffany Pattillo

Alabama recently became home to a new variety of yellow flesh kiwi fruit known as golden sunshine kiwi.

A plant variety right is designated to the golden sunshine cultivar kiwi fruit developed by researchers at Auburn University, said Clint Wall, Vice President of Southeast Kiwi Farming Cooperative. An exclusive sale of that right to Gold Kiwi Group, LLC., makes the Tuskegee nursery the sole propagator of that licensed cultivar plant material, Wall said. Auburn will receive small royalty payments for the sale of the fruit because of the investment of their time, and could potentially generate a 1

“The first gold kiwi I had, as soon as I tasted it, I knew it was something that would be a hit,” Wayne Bassett, owner of Beck’s Turf and The Wildlife Group in Macon County, said in a news release.

The plants will begin to produce the kiwi fruit within three years; whereupon, the fruit will be harvested and moved into established markets in some parts of Europe and Asia, including Japan, China, Korea and Italy, Wall said. Wall also said that developing a domestic interest in the product was desired, but moving the kiwi into established markets where consumers are familiar with it is easier.

The Gold Kiwi nursery functions solely to raise plants to 18 months old, when they are transferred to the orchard environment, Wall said. Orchard site preparations include the installation of irrigation systems used for watering and frost protection and the construction of the pergola structure that supports the vines.kiwi2

The daily operations at the orchard include planting new vines, replanting sick or dying vines, applying both granular and liquid fertilizers, pruning plants to the desired shape and training vines, Wall said. “These vines kind of have a mind of their own, so we use lots of hands-on labor […] to manipulate these plants to grow in the direction we want; otherwise, it would just become a tangled mess,” Wall said.

A Battle Against the Brain

Me (Engagement Picture)
The author Nicky Disbrow

By Nicky Disbrow

How many calories have you eaten today? Have you exercised yet? Did you burn enough calories? Have you gone over your net calories for the day?


Imagine all of these questions, and many more, continuously crossing your mind and controlling your every thought on a daily basis. This is what it is like to have an eating disorder. Only in reality it is much worse.


Eating disorders are “serious conditions related to persistent eating behaviors that negatively impact your health, your emotions and your ability to function in important areas of life,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Although this appears to be a thorough definition, there is far more to these disorders that cause them to be potentially life threatening and extremely dangerous.


“Many people are worried about their body image and have somewhat disordered eating patterns,” says Rachel Laughlin, a licensed dietician who specializes in eating disorder patients. “However, it’s when these behaviors and habits begin to affect the person’s ability to function in a normal situation or society when it becomes classified as an eating disorder.”


Laughlin adds that eating disorders develop into an obsession that revolves around a feeling. “A lot of it is about a feeling,” Laughlin says. “People begin to feel comfortable in their eating disorder.” The obsessive nature of eating disorders and safeness felt from them can cause treatment and recovery to be very difficult. Thankfully, treatment leading to recovery from an eating disorder is possible. I am living proof of this.


My eating disorder started in 2011, the summer after my freshman year of college. I was in denial that anything was wrong with me until I was officially diagnosed in 2012 with EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified).


Because of my extreme restriction of caloric intake and my rigorous exercising, I had lost an unhealthy amount of weight and burned such a high amount fat that my body began to eat away at my muscles, including my heart. I was told that I was at risk of having a heart attack at any moment, and my brain matter was beginning to erode.


People continuously tortured me with the question, “Why don’t you eat more and exercise less?” Well, it’s not that simple. Living with an eating disorder is like living with a powerful person inside your head trying to hijack your every thought and action. Eating disorders are psychological disorders that not only affect you physically, but also mentally.


Every day, I was in a constant battle against myself. My brain would go into hyper drive with negative, obsessive thoughts that I could never turn off. I would be unable to sit down and watch TV for five minutes without being berated by my own mind obsessing over what I ate, what I was going to eat, how much I had exercised, if I burned enough calories, etc. Along with this, I began spiraling further downward and developed severe depression and anxiety.


I could no longer function. I felt hopeless, faithless, lost, scared, ashamed, empty, broken and alone.


But I was not alone, and I fought back. I refused to let my disorder define me and consume my life. I began treatment and had an incredible support system around me that helped me on my road to recovery. My parents played a vital role in my recovery process during treatment. They supported me and loved me, while also holding me accountable and making sure I was taking the correct steps in order to recover. I went through a year and a half of treatment, and since completion in 2013, I am now considered “a recovered eating disorder patient.”


To think I was literally killing myself because of this disorder still amazes me and makes me realize how thankful I am to have gotten this far in recovery. This leaves me with a message to those out there who are struggling: You are not alone, and you are stronger than you let your mind make you believe. Never give up and never lose hope. Recovery is possible.

Photo courtesy of Callie Rebecca Photography










Plant an Extra Row



By Erin Mills

The arrival of spring brings a burst of green, when flowers bloom and the earth teems with new life. Along with the warm weather comes a time that is perfect for cultivating a garden. Small scale gardens with fresh fruits and vegetables provide health benefits that far outweigh those offered elsewhere in the food industry. With the Montgomery Area Food Bank’s Plant an Extra Row program, farmers and home gardeners have the opportunity to provide fresh, healthy home-grown food for those in need.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are unbeatable when it comes to healthy food, and they can be tastier than your conventional store-bought produce, too. Food that is grown in a real garden, as compared to factory farming, is treated with care from seed to harvest. Careful attention can be given to the soil that is used, which can change the entire chemistry and health of the plant itself. Home gardeners or farmers can make the choice to avoid pesticide use and leave the fruit or vegetable on the vine to ripen longer. Processed foods that are donated to the Montgomery Area Food Bank, or MAFB, certainly have their benefits — they are inexpensive and take longer to spoil than fresh foods. However, the preservatives and high sugar levels in these foods are unhealthy and should be eaten in moderation. A balanced diet can include these types of foods, but it requires that fresh foods be eaten as much as possible.

Gretchen Kindrick from the Montgomery Area Food Bank shared the story of “Stone Soup,” which is about a neighborhood struggling with hunger. As the story is told, one woman started by putting a big pot outside with water, tomatoes and a rock. Neighbors began to notice her pot, and brought what they had in their kitchens to add to it. Shortly, the pot held enough food for everyone to eat a meal that was nourishing. The people of this community didn’t have enough to eat individually, but when working together, they were able to feed themselves and each other. With the Plant an Extra Row program, MAFB hopes to do the same thing.
Anyone can plant an extra row just for the Montgomery Area Food Bank; just one extra plant can provide portions of a meal for someone. Everyone deserves to have food that can truly sustain them for life, and the Plant an Extra Row program is a great opportunity to provide that.
The Montgomery Area Food Bank is located at 521 Trade Center Street. Come in and make your donation today!

Photo courtesy of Erin Mills

Greek Life after Graduation

Frat Article

By Timothy Lawless

We’ve all seen those big Greek letters on AUM’s quad. Being in a fraternity or a sorority is a part of college life that many participate in, but what happens to the members after graduation? Two alumni members of the Phi Kappa Zeta chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha, Danny Lawless and William Robbins, discuss life after college.

Lawless graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor’s degree in communication. He is currently the program director at YMCA Camp Chandler. He has fond memories with Lambda Chi Alpha and tries to help the fraternity any chance he can get.

“The best reason to join a fraternity is to surround yourself with like-minded people from different backgrounds that share the same moral compass,” Lawless said. “Doing so creates a culture of bonding between ordinary friends to help each other grow as men and become a family extension. I believe that people need to feel like they belong more in college.”

Robbins graduated in 2013. He explains his reason for rushing Lambda Chi and what it’s done for him after college. “I wanted to join a group of men where I could be myself, have room to grow and hone my skills, help out others and have fun while accomplishing our goals.”

As far as graduating, Lawless and Robbins explain how there are still many ways to be an active part of a fraternity. “One can still be active in his fraternity post-graduation by joining an Alumni Advisory Board, or something similar,” Lawless said.

“You can still volunteer services, time and knowledge with active members, donate money to the fraternity to help the chapter grow, and assist in providing resources to help the process of learning,” Lawless said. “Immediately after graduation, alumni can also apply to work for their national fraternity headquarters as well.”

“A chance for them to step up and take the reins is the best help you can provide the guys still in school,” Robbins said. “That being said, the chapter knows that I’m only a phone call away. They’ve used that option several times, just as I did when I was in their shoes. It’s a cyclical process of trial, error, and eventual success.”

When asked about how Lambda Chi Alpha has helped him after college, Lawless had much to say.

“I believe that my fraternity has helped me since graduating just by instilling new values that help me to be a productive member of society,” Lawless said. “My demeanor and outlook on the adult working world helped me land in a career field that I was happy with right out of college. I also know by the oaths that I’ve taken with my brothers that they will always lend assistance and support in any time of need, as will I for my brothers.”

Photo Courtesy of Steven Northington




International Fest

Holloway Fest 3

By Latara Holloway

Students and staff gathered for a night of fun, food and music at the International Festival on April 23. International Student Association, International Student Involvement and Housing and Residence Life hosted the event  meant to inform the AUM community to learn about the different cultures represented here at the university. Students were given a passport at the door and were encouraged to stop by each individual country table.  Kuwait, Sudan, Mexico, Brazil and Haiti were just a few of the countries represented at the event. Most tables shared food, drinks and more information about their countries to share with guests.IF. SOuth Korean students prepare food for guests

This was freshman Omar Brito Estrado’s first time at International Fest.  “I see a lot of excitement and a lot of people helping out,” Estrado said. “You have people coming to help you and talking to you, it’s great.” Estrado managed the Mexico table and brought different candy and food such as horchata and cuchara, arts and crafts, and an informational power point to share.

Brazilian exchange student Thiago Silva enjoyed sharing his country with others. “There are a lot of countries here represented by students and we feel comfortable with everybody and we want to show a little bit from Brazil” Silva said. He and two other students represented Brazil and shared fudge truffles called brigadeiro. “Students really like the things we brought from Brazil, Silva added. “I think people really like Brazil. It shows a lot of our cultures. The diversity here at AUM. It helps to share our culture here with people.”Holloway Fest 1

American students who participate to the event were also happy about being able to experience different cultures.

“I think it’s a great event for people who don’t get used to other countries foods,” said senior student Helen Bellingheri. “In Alabama, we don’t have a lot of diverse restaurants with different cultures and stuff. This is a great way to introduce people to it with like sampling. This opens your eyes to how other people’s countries are.”

Even after the food ran out, guests were kept entertained with live music from the Dueling Pianos. Guests danced the night away to renditions of hits such as “Uptown Funk,” “All About That Bass,” “Proud Mary” and more.

National Astronomy Day


By Holly Watford

“Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.” – Plato. April 25 is National Astronomy Day and the W.A. Gayle Planetarium has big plans for the occasion. The Planetarium has partnered with the Auburn Astronomical Society; the event will take place between 5 and 10 p.m. and is free to the public.

I spoke with Rick Evans, Director of the W.A. Gayle Planetarium, about the event and what this year’s agenda will be. First, guests are welcomed to bring their personal telescopes that may be in need of repair so they can be fixed in time for the event. People who visit the Planetarium early “will be able to view the Moon and the Sun in the light of hydrogen-alpha with PST Solar Scopes and members’ scopes filtered white-light images,” Evans said.

Shortly after, Ethel Boykin from the Montgomery Botanical Gardens will be presenting in the Planetarium’s auditorium. She will be giving an overview of plans that are being made for the Botanical Gardens in Oak Park. Dr. Sterner and Dr. Patton from Montevallo University will be presenting promptly at 6 p.m. They will be discussing Montevallo’s Gentry Springs property, which features state-of-the-art telescopes and mounts, and inform guests on how it provides “ideal dark skies” and amazing views of the night sky from any point.

Evans will also be presenting around 7 p.m. He will provide an overview of the Planetarium and discuss two of the programs: “Two Pieces of Glass” and “Losing the Dark.” He will also give a “skywalk,” which is a tour of the night sky. Evans will provide an “overview of what guests will see when they walk outside.” After sunset comes the viewing experience. The Auburn Astronomical Society will assist with the telescopic viewing of Jupiter, Venus, mountains and craters on the Moon and several star systems.

Depending on the weather, this event brings a crowd from 300 to 500 people, Evans said. If you don’t own your own telescope, don’t worry. the Auburn Astronomical Society will set up telescopes for guests to use.  Go to the W.A. Gayle Planetarium and enjoy a night underneath the stars.


Walk for Autism: Help Solve the Puzzle

Walk for Autism Logo

By Holly Watford

For the past 10 years, the Autism Society of Alabama has been hosting the Walk for Autism in 15 cities throughout Alabama. According to the website Autism Speaks, Autism is a “serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact with others”. The mission of the ASA is to help improve diagnostic and therapeutic services to individuals through education and advocacy within the state.  ASA aims to spread awareness and acceptance for the 1 in 68 who are diagnosed. The Walk for Autism not only helps bring awareness to this disorder, but also to raise money to fund the cause and eventually solve the puzzle of autism spectrum disorders.

The Walk for Autism will be a two-mile walk held at the Ida Bell Young Park on April 25. Registration/ check-in will begin at 8:30 a.m. and the walk will begin at 9:30 a.m. This will be a noncompetitive walk where people are welcome to bring strollers and wagons for their children. Even though it is noncompetitive, the first person to finish the walk will be awarded with a medal. Lauren Reid, Fundraising and Events Manager for the ASA, said that there were approximately 2,000 people who participated statewide last year, 200 of which from Montgomery. There is a $30 fee to pre-register and a $35 fee if you sign up the day of the walk. The ASA’s Montgomery chapter was able to raise $10,000 for the walk last year.

If participating in a walk is not for you, the ASA provides a sleep-in option instead. This option includes the registration fee and a t-shirt. Reid says that people can also donate to the cause by visiting After the event there will be post-walk activities that people of all ages can enjoy. There will be food vendors, resource exhibitors, and a kids’ activity corner that will include bounce houses, a bubble station and face painting.

Autism is one of the fastest growing developmental disabilities in the United States. This disability affects over 50,000 people in the state of Alabama alone. With ASA’s Walk for Autism, funds can be raised to help fight this disorder and hopefully bring it to an end. For more information, visit Together we can help solve the pieces to this puzzle.

Not On My Campus

Holly not on my campus

By Holly Watford

“One in 4 women in college today has been the victim of rape, and nearly 90 percent of them knew their rapist,” Robin Warshaw said. To hear these statistics is earthshattering. Most of us believe that the people who we consider friends would never do anything to harm us. We put our faith and trust in those we share that intimate bond with. To have that broken can be life- altering. Going to the art exhibit by AUM alumna Shay Baily, I did not know what to expect. I knew that the occasion for the event was Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In my mind, I never thought that sexual assault on campus was a common thing. Seeing it on the news is one thing. You think that never happens around here. In reality, it happens all the time.

Shay Baily was the victim of sexual assault when she was a senior in high school. She was attending a party with some friends when a male comrade brought her a drink. After Baily began to feel bad, she asked her male friend to take her home not knowing that he put something in her drink. He later sexually assaulted her. Baily’s art exhibit, “Full Exposure,” displayed the emotions that she felt when she was assaulted. It shows her anger, fear and resentment. In the end, however, it showed her moving forward with her life. The main message that Baily wanted to express in her artwork was that she was a survivor. She wanted to let others know that it is okay to talk about what happened and, ultimately, understand that it is not your fault.

For the month of April, AUM is stressing the importance of campus safety. The AUM Counseling Center is encouraging everyone to sign the pledge to join the “Not on My Campus” movement. This pledge signifies that our campus will not stand for sexual assault, and together we can make our campus a safe place. On April 22, from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., the Counseling Center will be on the quad asking people to support the pledge. They are asking that people write “Not on My Campus” on their hand, take a picture of it and post it on Facebook with the hashtag #NOMC-AUM. AUM is also providing a Rape Aggression Defense class for all women. This course will help teach women how to protect themselves. R.A.D. training is on April 20-23 and 27-30 from 4-7 p.m. in the Library Tower. On the last day of class, there will be an assault simulation so that the students can test the defense skills that they have learned.

If you would like to sign the pledge to join the Not on My Campus movement go to To RSVP to the R.A.D. classes e-mail the Counseling Center at Together we can make a difference and stop the assaults.

Photo courtesy of Holly Watford



Six Million Dead: Holocaust Education Program



holocaust event

By Holly Watford

Why are you here? This was the central question that Timothy Spraggins, from the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, asked during AUM’s Holocaust Education Program. Why was I here? The Holocaust was something I knew only little about. At first, I thought I was there to write an article for this publication so I could inform others who could not attend. In the end, I learned that I was there because I wanted to learn about this historic event and realize that it could happen to any of us.
The Holocaust Prevention Program is an event held by AUM’s Department of Psychology every year. This time, not only did we have faculty and student members speak, we also had the opportunity to listen to first-hand testimonies of Holocaust survivors. At the beginning of the event, SGA President Marie Reuter explained its purpose, which is to educate younger generations on the Holocaust. Reuter stressed the importance of that education. “The world needs your voice now more than ever,” Reuter said referring to standing up for others and practicing tolerance.
Soon, we were introduced to a movie Night and Fog to help us better understand the events of the Holocaust. The movie was old- produced in 1955-, and in French, but that did not diminish the effect of the images that were shown. The 30-minute video was difficult at times to watch. It showed the concentration camps and the horrifying events that occurred in them. Despite the graphic images that were shown, I do not think that those images were worse than the testimonies that the two guest speakers provided. Max Herzel and Max Steinmetz are both Holocaust survivors whose stories were different but no less traumatic. Herzel did not personally occupy any of the concentration camps, but his parents were both very affected by them. His mother attempted suicide due to the traumatic events surrounding this time and his father was sent to Auschwitz and later died. Steinmetz and his family (father, mother, brother, and sister) were all sent to Auschwitz. Unfortunately, he was the only to survive. Their tragic stories are something that none of us could easily relate to, yet they touch our most intimate source of humanity. For me, their stories gave a better picture of the Holocaust than any video or movie ever could. They lived it and they survived. That is something that no image can capture.
This event was both enlightening and horrifying all at the same time. It was something I came into hesitant but left much more informed. The purpose of this event was clear when Steinmetz stated that this could happen to any of us at any time. He told us that his family never thought that anything like the mass genocide could happen to them, and unfortunately it did. We as a society need to educate ourselves on things that have occurred in the past, so we can work towards preventing them from happening in the future.
Why was I there? To be able to become one of the educated voices of my generation in order to prevent another Holocaust.