CSU Commencement Ceremonies Scheduled for Friday and Saturday

COLUMBUS, GA. – Nearly 700 students will graduate from Columbus State University this week at CSU’s 115th Commencement. Graduates will be presented by their college at three commencement ceremonies on Dec. 15 and 16 at the CSU Lumpkin Center.

The College of the Arts and Turner College of Business ceremony will be at 4 p.m. on Dec. 15. The College of Education and Health Professions ceremony will be at 10 a.m. on Dec. 16, and the College of Letters and Sciences ceremony will be at 3 p.m on Dec. 16. Each ceremony will be live-streamed online at https://graduation.columbusstate.edu/.

Betsy Whitaker Covington, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley, Inc. is the commencement speaker for the ceremonies. Since joining the Foundation in 2001, Covington has helped the organization grow from $7 million in assets to more than $150 million. With her experience in enabling and promoting philanthropy, she will speak on the power of working together.

At the ceremonies, CSU will award an honorary doctorate to Donald L. Jordan, a local author and businessman. Jordan began writing at the age of fourteen and has published non-fiction, short stories and novels. In 2016, he established an endowment at CSU to encourage and promote writing among students.

For more information about commencement at CSU, visit graduation.columbusstate.edu.



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CSU Picks Illinois Educator as Next Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Deborah Bordelon

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University has selected the current provost and vice president for academic affairs at Governors State University in Illinois to lead CSU’s academic activities.

Deborah Bordelon has been tapped as CSU’s next provost and executive vice president, which is the second in command to the president. She will start in February.

Dr. Bordelon has been at Governors State University since 2008, first serving as dean of their College of Education before being appointed provost in 2013. Before moving to Illinois, she held teaching and administrative posts at Nicholls State University and Xavier University in Louisiana. She holds a doctorate in special education, a master’s in education and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, all from the University of New Orleans.

She will take over from Tina Butcher, who has been serving as interim provost for about 18 months. She will return to her previous position as associate provost for undergraduate education.

“We have been in good hands with Dr. Butcher leading our academic affairs enterprise while we searched for a permanent provost who was just the right fit for us going forward,” said CSU President Chris Markwood. “I am very excited about Dr. Bordelon joining this team and am delighted she shares a passion for high-impact educational practices, inclusiveness, creativity, and servant leadership.”

Bordelon has more than 30 publications or grants to her credit. She is a member of the Hall of Fame in the College of Education and Human Development at University of New Orleans, received Top Ten Researchers and Grant Recipients Recognition at Nicholls State University and was named “Excellence in Praxis” Service Learning Faculty Award at Xavier University of Louisiana. She has been through the Executive Leadership Academy at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the Harvard Graduate School of Education Institute for Management and Leadership in Education, and the American Council on Education, Office of Women in Higher Education 77th National Leadership Forum on Women Administrators.

“It is a great honor to be selected as Provost and Executive Vice President at Columbus State University,” Bordelon said. “I look forward to joining President Markwood and the excellent administrative team at CSU. It was evident during my campus visit how consistent and strong the commitment to student success and academic excellence is across the university. I am excited to have the opportunity to work closely with the faculty, staff, students, and community to promote the high quality educational opportunities at CSU.”

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Columbus State Recognized as a 2017-2018 Military Friendly® School

Columbus State University was recently recognized as one of the top 2017-2018 Military Friendly® Schools in Georgia. CSU earned the Military Friendly® School designation for the sixth year in a row, while also gaining an additional bronze level recognition for the first year ever.

“We are honored to continue and build upon our strong reputation of being a Military Friendly® School,” said Susan Lovell, Director of Military Enrollment at Columbus State. “With more than 1,000 military affiliated students enrolled at CSU, we take pride in supporting these students and doing everything we can to help ease their transition toward earning a degree.”

Among the services and benefits available to CSU military students are a Military Service Center with a computer lab and lounge, a text book lending library, monthly Student Veterans Association meetings, partnerships with local veteran agencies and priority registration.

The Military Friendly® Schools list is created each year based on public data sources for more than 8,800 schools nationwide, input from student veterans and responses to the Military Friendly® Schools survey from participating institutions. Final ratings were determined by assessing student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence and loan default rates for all students, and specifically, for student veterans. For the first time, student survey data was taken into consideration for the designation.

As a Military Friendly® School, Columbus State will be showcased in the annual Guide to Military Friendly® Schools, special education issues of G.I. Jobs® and Military Spouse Magazine, and on militaryfriendly.com.

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CSU Servant Leadership Students Light Up Uptown Columbus

The senior class of the Columbus State University Servant Leadership program recently unveiled their second annual Uptown Tree Trail in the median of Broadway in Uptown Columbus. The trail features 71 trees that are decorated and sponsored by local businesses and organizations.

“The Uptown Tree Trail brings community engagement from local businesses and gives families another event to come together and enjoy the excitement that Uptown Columbus brings,” said Mason Thiele, a Servant Leadership senior majoring in management.

As part of their senior project, students were responsible for organizing the event to raise funds for a nonprofit of their choosing. This year’s class decided to use the more than $15,000 in proceeds from tree sponsorships to support Warrior Outreach, a ranch and community center for veterans in Fortson, Ga.

“I feel very passionate about raising funds for Warrior Outreach,” said Brittni Morgan, Servant Leadership senior majoring in special education. “Warrior Outreach is such an amazing place for these veterans, soldiers and their families to go to reconnect.”

The trail will be open to the community until January 2.

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Columbus State University Named Among 10 Best Online Colleges in Georgia

Columbus State University was recently ranked among the top ten best online colleges in Georgia by TheBestColleges.org.

“CSU stood out with outstanding online degree programs,” said Amy Walton at TheBestColleges.org.

Colleges were ranked using factors like admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate and the percentage of students enrolled in online classes. Of all accredited online colleges in Georgia, 25 were selected to be recognized. CSU was ranked at No. 10 in the list.

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CSU Hires Corporate Technology Expert to Lead New TSYS Cybersecurity Center

                         Michael Barker

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University has hired an Atlanta technology expert and state-licensed private detective specializing in digital forensics as the director of its new TSYS Center for Cybersecurity,

Michael Barker is the CEO and owner of C4 Group, Inc., a consulting and contract services firm that works in the area of information technology, security, incident response, digital forensics, assurance, audit, compliance and governance across a broad spectrum of industries.

With a bachelor of science in nuclear engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and a master of science in Information Security Management from the University of Fairfax and 35 years of experience across a broad range of technologies and industries, Barker is a recognized industry leader in cyber security, information security and digital forensics.

“We are delighted we were able hire someone with Barker’s background and qualifications,” said Linda Hadley, dean of the Turner College of Business, which houses the TSYS School of Computer Science and the TSYS Center for Cybersecurity. “He will be a great complement to the outstanding computer science and cybersecurity faculty we already have in place.”

Barker is certified by the National Security Agency as an Information Systems Security Professional and a Senior Systems Manager. He also is certified by the Georgia Police Officer Standards Training (POST) as an instructor in cyber forensics investigations.

The TSYS Center for Cybersecurity is one result from a $5 million gift in 2015 to Columbus State University’s ongoing First Choice comprehensive campaign.

Part of the gift from Columbus, Ga.-based TSYS, a leading global payments provider, was designed to prepare students for careers in cybersecurity both in Georgia and throughout the nation. Lack of qualified cyber security practitioners has been highlighted as a major challenge facing both industry and government.

Through its partnership with CSU, TSYS has designated $2.5 million to establish the center.  Hadley said there are two primary goals with the TSYS Center for Cybersecurity:

  • Prepare a strong cybersecurity workforce, particularly for the financial services industry
  • Produce applied research and promote technological innovation that will influence cybersecurity practice in the financial services sector.

“TSYS has a long-standing partnership with Columbus State University, dating back over 30 years, and we are proud to continue that relationship by helping create the TSYS Center for Cybersecurity,” said Patty Watson, Senior EVP and CIO at TSYS. “We welcome Michael Barker as the new Director of the TSYS Center, and believe that he is the right leader to enable CSU to meet the demands for cybersecurity education within the Valley and across the world.”

A grand opening for the center was held in October.

“With the center built, the funding secured and a director now hired, the TSYS Center for Cybersecurity is well positioned to both serve our local business community while also making another mark for CSU in the Southeast,” said CSU President Chris Markwood. “I look forward to seeing us expand our research capabilities and technical expertise.”

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CSU Students Enjoy Thanksgiving Away from Home

The holidays can be a lonely time for college students who can’t travel home during their school vacations. That is why – for the fourth year in a row – Sarah Secoy, Columbus State University Director of Residence Life, plans to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for students.

“A few years ago, I noticed that a lot of students and their cars were still on campus,” said Secoy. “We decided to do something to make them feel welcome. It gives them a sense of family on campus.”

Secoy’s Thanksgiving meal is a complete feast with turkey, ham and all the traditional sides like mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and stuffing. Secoy prepares most of the food herself, with just a few items ordered out from a local restaurant.

In the past about 15 to 20 students have attended, but this year Secoy says that as many as 44 could come. Invitations are sent to all students who live on campus, as well as the Center for Global Engagement and the athletics department to include those who may not live on campus. Some students cannot go home because it is too far away, while others play sports that have games over the break. Secoy’s husband and children also enjoy the meal, and Dr. Gina Sheeks, CSU Vice President for Student Affairs, has attended the event.

“The response has been very warm and welcoming. They appreciate the time it took and spending Thanksgiving with people in similar situations,” said Secoy. 

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CSU Center of Online Learning Publishes Book Chapter

Amy Thornton, director for the Center of Online Learning, and Japheth Koech, e-learning specialist at the Center of Online Learning were recently published. Their book chapter, “Building an e-Learning Center from Ground-Up: The Challenges and Lessons Learned” was included in the “Educational Communications and Technology: Issues and Innovations” book series.

“We wrote this book chapter to highlight our lessons learned in establishing a new e-learning center as well as to offer a practical guide to assist other leaders in the field when looking to set up their own center to support e-learning,” said authors Thornton and Koech.

The Center of Online Learning (COOL) at CSU provides support for the design and development of online courses and programs. Staff are available to assist instructors with instructional design, course development, e-learning tools and applications, training, proctoring and course accessibility. Space is available for reservation including a recording room, training lab and rooms with SMART board and web conference technology.

For more information on the Center of Online Learning, visit the main office located in the Simon Schwob Memorial Library basement or the new satellite location on the RiverPark campus in Frank Brown Hall room 2022. The center can also be contacted at (706) 507-8699 or onlinelearning@columbusstate.edu.

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CSU Faculty, Staff Earn Emergency Response Certification

Columbus State University faculty and staff members recently graduated with their Community Emergency Response Team Certification.

The nine-week course prepares non-public safety individuals for both man-made and natural disasters. It is a nationwide program, sponsored locally by the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office. The course was coordinated by Captain Chuck Pickett.

Pictured are (left to right): Crystal Jones, Annie Carey, Janet Jamieson, Karen Kinard, Vanessa Hicks, Dominique Davis, Adrienne Craig, Cody Meshes, Dr. Neil Thomson, Patty Chappel, T.J. Rice, Saossan Maarouf, Amber Dees, Michael Wetherholt and Kim Rozycki. Other graduates not pictured were Keri Davis and Jessica Macon.

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CSU’s New Mural to be Unveiled

Columbus State University’s new mural, “What the Water Gave Us”, will be unveiled on Friday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m.

The 14 x 84 foot celebratory mural covers a portion of the outside wall of the Davidson Student Center. CSU Visiting Amos Scholar and professor Gabriel Villa led the project with his mural history and practice class, who designed the mural and painted it with the help of student volunteers.

Stylized depictions include CSU’s core values, the Chattahoochee River, Pasaquan, Horace King inspired bridge and the railroad, all of which the students used to reference the spirit, geography and innovation of past and present life in Columbus.

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CSU’s Discovery Day Offers a Glimpse into Campus Life

Columbus State University invites prospective students, parents and guests to visit on Saturday, Nov. 18 for Discovery Day. The event will include tours of both CSU campuses, as well as opportunities to meet with professors, see campus housing and have lunch at CSU’s Cougar Cafe.

“This is a great opportunity for students and their parents to see firsthand why CSU is a perfect fit for them,” said Gary Bush, executive director of admissions. “The experience is personalized for each attendee. They get to learn about their particular major, explore our RiverPark or main campus and attend sessions on the topic that they find most interesting.”

Those interested in attending should pre-register online at https://admissions.columbusstate.edu/tours.

Additional Discovery Days are scheduled for Feb. 17 and March 17, 2018.

Tips for making the most of Discovery Day:

  • Register early. Discovery Day fills up fast and registration ensures lunch at CSU’s main campus dining facility.
  • Dress comfortably. Campus tours are walking tours, so wear walking shoes and dress for the outdoors.
  • Review CSU degree options. A “Meet Your Major” session will allow attendees the opportunity to talk to professors from many academic departments. A complete list of CSU degrees, majors and programs is available at https://www.columbusstate.edu/degrees/.
  • Explore Columbus. Out-of-town attendees are encouraged to spend extra time in Columbus to see what the city itself has to offer. To learn about area attractions and events, please visit http://visitcolumbusga.com/.
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CSU Faculty Help Veterans Transition to Civilian Careers

Columbus State University professors Dr. Kirk Heriot, Dr. Kevin Hurt and Dr. Laurence Marsh are helping veterans transition to civilian careers. As veterans themselves, the three teach classes at a two-day workshop called Boots2Business for active duty military members preparing to leave the military.

Part of the military’s Transition Assistance Program, Boots2Business offers eight modules on topics that range from opportunity recognition to writing a business plan. Heriot, Marsh, and Hurt are in their fourth year of teaching Boots2Business and have helped serve more than 200 service members through the program.

Sponsored by the local SCORE office, Boots2Business is restricted to veterans leaving active duty and offered monthly from January through November.

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CSU Associate Dean Speaks on Assessment at State Conference

Dr. Sallie Averitt Miller, Columbus State University Professor and Associate Dean for Assessment and Accreditation, was recently an invited assessment expert at the 2017 Georgia Professional Standards Commission Certification and Program Officials Conference at Middle Georgia State University in Macon.

Dr.  Miller, along with Dr. Susan Hagood of Thomas University, were invited guests selected to speak about the use of state provided valid and reliable assessments. They addressed questions on how Georgia Assessment for the Certification of Educators (GACE) data can be used to inform programs and enable candidates to inform induction.

Dr. Miller explained specifically how CSU allowed GACE access to all program coordinators and chairs, so they can monitor their department and program GACE data by test date, sub-test areas, and summary data. This process allows program coordinators to monitor the program subarea scores in GACE Test Level Summary Statistics for continuous program improvement.

“This is a very powerful tool,” said Dr. Miller. “For example: If the program average percentage correct begins to decline, for instance, the program percentage drops in, let’s say Early Childhood Education, Mathematics, Subarea I in “Understands and Applies Knowledge of Counting and Cardinality,” targeted adjustments can be made to improve the program.”

The GACE Program Admissions Assessment is used by CSU’s educator preparation initial certification programs to help ensure that applicants can read, write, and compute.  GACE Content assessments are intended to validate the program graduates’ level of content knowledge. The GACE Ethics assessment assists teachers and educational leaders to become familiar with, understand, and apply the Georgia Code of Ethics for Educators, as well as comprehend and embrace the principles of ethical decision-making in an educational context (ETS, 2017).

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CSU Alumnus to Release Award-Winning Classical Music Album

CSU alumnus and violin lecturer, Boris Abramov, has partnered with internationally acclaimed cellist, Carmine Miranda, to produce a rare collection of

Beethoven and Mozart duets. The album, which has received two silver medals at the Global Music Awards, will be released on Nov. 10 by Navona Records.

“It is my debut record. This will be my introduction to the recording community, and that will be very special,” said Abramov. “At the same time, it was do

ne with Carmine – a close friend whom I respect very much.”

The album features a collection of duets for cello and violin that have never been done before. The artists decided to leave the album unedited to give it the feeling of a live performance, which Abramov describes as an “honest recording.”

Originally attracted to CSU’s Schwob School of Music to train under Sergiu Schwartz, Abramov holds three degrees from the university: a bachelor’s degree in music performance, artist’s diploma and a master’s degree. Abramov has since received several awards and prizes, including the National Winner of the 2008 Music Teachers National Association Competition for strings and a special prize at the 2009 Pablo de Sarasate International Competition in Pamplona, Spain.

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Columbus State University’s Fall Enrollment Sets New Record

Retention and Dual Enrollment Numbers Increase

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Final enrollment figures show Columbus State University’s consistent growth in the areas of new students and retention. Fall 2017’s enrollment rose to 8,452, a slight increase (.5 percent) over last year’s total, and establishes a new record for the university.

“We are excited students are selecting CSU to begin or continue their educational journey,” said CSU President Chris Markwood. “More students are discovering our great faculty and facilities that create our unique combination of academic excellence and value.”

Enrollment in CSU’s graduate programs continues to rise. Also, CSU’s retention rates for first-time, full-time students increased from 65.6 percent in 2011-2012 to 74.8 percent this year. The number of students enrolled in CSU’s dual enrollment classes more than tripled in the same timeframe.

University System of Georgia schools also increased to a new peak of 325,203 students, an increase of 1.1 percent over fall 2016. This fall’s enrollment continues a trend, four years in a row, of increases in student enrollment. The full USG enrollment report is available here

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Schwob vocalists bring home top awards at state competition

ATHENS, Ga. Six voice students from the Columbus State University Schwob School of Music received top awards at the National Association of Teachers of Singing state-level student auditions at the University of Georgia on Oct. 27-28.

NATS is a nonprofit organization regarded as the largest professional association for voice teachers around the world. It has more than 7,000 members across the United States and almost 30 other countries. The purpose of the organization is to “encourage the highest standards of the vocal art and of ethical principles in the teaching of singing; and to promote vocal education and research at all levels, both for the enrichment of the general public and for the professional advancement of the talented.”

The Schwob School of Music winners were:

  • 1st Place: Mary Lee Turner, Second Year College Women, student of Michelle DeBruyn
  • 2nd Place: Kara Hammonds, First Year College Women, student of Kimberly Cone
  • 2nd Place: Madeleine Munro, Advanced Women, student of Michelle DeBruyn
  • 3rd Place: Brielle Sims, Fourth and Fifth Year College Women, student of Dian Lawler-Johnson
  • 3rd Place: Casey Sargent, First Year Musical Theatre College Women, student of Kimberly Cone
  • 3rd Place: Katherine Ambrester, Fourth and Fifth Year College Women, student of Michelle DeBruyn
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CSU School of Nursing Volunteers with Special Olympics

The Columbus State University School of Nursing recently partnered with Columbus Regional Health’s Community Care mobile health unit to provide physicals for athletes competing in the Special Olympics local and state games. Faculty and staff at the school’s family nurse practitioner program completed 13 physicals at Pop Austin Gym, where there is a therapeutic recreation program for individuals with disabilities.

“It is important for our community agencies to work together to improve the health of individuals,” said Tamara Condrey, Associate Director of the School of Nursing. “This was a great collaboration that we hope to continue as an annual event.”

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Columbus State University to Host Third Annual WinterFest

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University is transforming campus into a winter wonderland complete with snow, Santa and a show during the inaugural WinterFest, a community-wide event scheduled for Nov. 28.

WinterFest will be free to attend and is an opportunity for the CSU family and the Columbus community to come together to welcome the holiday season. The event will offer activities for everyone, including families with young children, students, university faculty and staff, CSU alumni and adults.

WinterFest activities will include:

  • Holiday performances from local schools and organizations
  • Hot chocolate and holiday treats
  • Lighting of the campus holiday tree and clock tower
  • Photos with Santa and Elsa from “Frozen”
  • Holiday craft stations from around the world

University Police will be at the event collecting donations for Cougars for Causes, a holiday fundraising drive benefitting local area nonprofits. Attendees can participate in the drive by donating a canned good, toy or toiletry item.

WinterFest, co-sponsored by the CSU Alumni Association, is Tuesday, Nov. 28 from 6-9 p.m. around the Thomas Y. Whitley Clock Tower on CSU’s main campus. For more information, visit winterfest.columbusstate.edu or call 706-507-8730.


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CSU Alumna to Debut in Leading Role with The Metropolitan Opera

Maureen McKay performing as Gretel at the Portland Opera. Photography by Cory Weaver.

Maureen McKay, alumna of Columbus State University, will make her debut at The Metropolitan Opera on December 28 in the leading role of Gretel in Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel.

“The Met is the pinnacle opera house in the world. It is like winning a gold medal in the Olympics,” said Joseph Golden, CSU director of opera and McKay’s former professor. “She has joined the first rank of opera singers in the world.”

McKay credits her professors and experience at CSU with helping her to achieve the high honor.

She says that CSU provided her with the musical, dancing and acting skills needed to excel in today’s world of opera, and she recognizes the program’s unique offering of real world experiences like singing with a live orchestra and working with guest directors from other institutions.

“At CSU, I received four years of quality stage time with an orchestra and extensive attention from my teachers. You just don’t find that in every undergrad program,” said McKay.

Among the professors that McKay recognizes as influential on her career are Betty Anne Diaz and Joseph Golden.

“Mr. Golden took a lot of care in coaching me on how to sing with an orchestra and conductor, what repertoire to consider and the fundamentals of stage deportment,” said McKay. “Mrs. Diaz was my piano teacher and worked closely with me on honing the skills of the art song recital from both sides of the keyboard.”

Shirley Brumbaugh, who is now retired from teaching, also stands out as a mentor to McKay. Brumbaugh encouraged McKay to participate in summer activities like study abroad trips and performing in the College Light Opera Company in Massachusetts, which McKay says helped her discover a career in opera.  McKay also credits Brumbaugh with helping her build the foundation of her vocal technique.

“I feel really blessed that I had all of these people who saw something in me, even when I didn’t see it in myself,” said McKay. “When I inevitably go into teaching, I will pull from these experiences. They are the teachers that I would want to be.”

McKay says that she would eventually like to teach, but she is currently focusing on her upcoming performances. Although she is not ready to enter academia just yet, she is already inspiring others with her accomplishments.

“Schwob School of Music students are already saying, ‘Gee! If she can do it, then I can too!” said Golden. “They see that someone who walked these halls has gone on to the ultimate place in their career.”

McKay lives with her husband and fellow CSU alumni, Jesse Tennyson, and their son in Greenwich, Conn. She has performed internationally with the Choirs and Orchestras of Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova and of Santa Cecilia in Rome, Komische Oper Berlin, Bayerische Staatsoper, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Saito Kinen Festival, The Cleveland Orchestra, San Diego Opera, Washington National Opera and Seattle Opera.

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Golf Legend Encourages Female Athletes at CSU Event

World Golf Hall of Famer and LPGA legend Annika Sorenstam was the guest speaker at Columbus State University’s third annual Girls in the Game Advance Initiative.

“Figure out what your dream is. When you figure it out, make it a reality,” advised Sorenstam to an audience of 348 young female athletes and their sponsors.

The Girls in the Game Advance Initiative began in 2015 with a goal to raise money to empower CSU’s female student-athletes and support their programs. Attendees at this year’s event were inspired by a series of speakers including Courtney Laughlin, CSU cheerleading alumna; McKenzie Fagioli, current CSU softball player; and Dr. Cathy L. Cook of Cook Dental Care. Each speaker reflected on the impact that sports can have on women’s lives.

Janet Davis, CSU alumna and soon to be retired President and CEO of Kinetic Credit Union, was also recognized at the event with the Charles B. Morrow Award for her exemplary support of the Columbus State University Athletic department.

At the conclusion of the event, young athletes had the opportunity to ask Sorenstam questions about how to succeed in sports and life. Sorenstam then offered a golf clinic at Burger King Stadium.

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