“Everyone has limits. You have to learn what our own limits are and deal with them accordingly.”
~Nolan Ryan

Alison FloodAll college students at some point will be pushed to their limits. Whether it’s a daunting 20-page paper, a week of finals that brings very little sleep or, never escaping the dreaded eight o’clock class, students press themselves to overcome and may come to discover that beyond their limits is the discovery of new potential and reward.

From Elgin, Ill., just 40 miles west of the home of the Chicago Cubs, Allyson Flood can be found in the Art and Design building on campus. The junior, who credits family for her discovering The W, was enrolled in advanced Graphic Design led by art professor Jonathan Cumberland (’09) this past fall. As part of the course, students pitched branding designs for the Market Street Festival to Columbus Main Street.

The Market Street Festival has been constantly named a “Top 20 Event in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society for almost 20 years now. The annual event attracts close to 40,000 people to the Friendly City each year. The festival features a combination of crafts, food vendors, special events and live music in the center of downtown Columbus.

“This was an exciting opportunity for our students,” said Cumberland. “It really gave the opportunity to feel the pressure of a real life job.”

For a design brief, members of the Columbus Main Street Association informed the class that they wanted something different from the past, but wanted a prominent title. With these instructions, Flood went to work with a focus on typography emphasizing the word Market Street.

“I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it.”
~Sandy Koufax

Flood designed more than 20 different hand-drawn sketches as preliminary designs. Of those 20, she narrowed down the selection to five that would go into the digital process. To incorporate the traditions of Market Street into her design, Flood explored the continual use of the guitar in the design by hand-cutting shapes that would be used in the background.

The end result was a design that could be incorporated into T-shirts, banners and posters that were new and colorful. The words Market Street were bold in yellow highlighted by orange with navy outline. The typography was surrounded by a circle that replicates the body of an acoustic guitar while the guitar’s neck runs vertically through the design with a headstock at the top with individual tuners made of a trumpet, microphone, paint brush and ice cream. Then came the pitch day. For the pitch, each student was invited into the room one-by-one to present the uniqueness of their design. At one end of the table were the members of the Columbus Main Street Association and Cumberland. At the head of the table was an easel for the student’s art work.

“I was really nervous. I practiced my pitch in the car all the way to class,” said Flood.

She knew that the competition was great, citing that her favorite poster was designed by her friend Abby Huss, who also hails from “the Prairie State.”

“During my presentation, I could tell they liked it. I could see the reaction on their faces,” explained Flood.

For the next three weeks, she waited for the results, admitting she was hopeful, but tried to ignore it and continue on as usual. During the weeks, the Main Street Association selected their top three choices. The selections were then on display in their office and they heavily recruited people off the street to poll their opinions. Once a decision was reached, Cumberland came into the class and announced the top three picks with Flood’s being number one.

“The students excelled under pressure. Everyone exceeded their expectations and what they thought they could do,” said Cumberland.

Not only did Flood receive the honor of having her design selected for Market Street, but she received a $300 reward. “It went into my bank account!” said Flood. “I probably bought a lot of food.”

Before the festival, Flood and Huss said they were most looking forward to going to Market Street and saying, “Hey, there’s the design on that banner, that’s my T-shirt and that’s pretty cool.”



Prof. Ashley Chishold-Whitten “You can’t handle the truth!” Anytime the line from the movie classic “A Few Good Men” is quoted the picture of an intense courtroom showdown comes to mind. Just as soldiers would train for battle, to be successful in the courtroom requires intense training, discipline and the tools necessary to succeed.

Courtrooms require individuals to know the formal etiquette that involves accurate techniques for maneuvering among counsel tables and the judge’s benches, positioning locations for direct and cross examinations of witnesses and have a sense of confidence and comfort. Being unfamiliar with some of the etiquette and technique required in a courtroom setting has been a challenge for The W Mock Trial team and Legal Studies students, until now.

“The team has met in one of the Reneau Hall computer labs to prepare for competition. Students are limited in that space to our discussion of courtroom layouts and proper procedure,” said Ashley Chisolm-Whitten (’10), assistant professor of Legal Studies.

“Students were forced to adapt instantaneously to the courtrooms at competition, and having our own courtroom will remove this and foster confidence in student competitors.”

Since the beginning of the 2016 spring semester Whitten and Wesley Garrett (’98), associate professor of legal studies, have been working to construct a courtroom setting on the top floor of Reneau Hall. After searching every inch of campus, including the warehouse looking for anything useful, Whitten and Garrett found the supplies to construct a judge’s bench including gavel, counsel tables and chairs for the jury.

Mock CourtroomThe idea of the courtroom stemmed from Whitten filling the position of APIL specialist for the College of Business and Professional Studies. APIL is a short-hand term created for the Quality Enhancement Plan that stands for Active learning, Problem-based learning and Inquiry-based Learning strategies.

“The courtroom will be extremely beneficial to both the College of Business and Professional Studies and the University. Mock Trial is a cross-disciplinary activity housed in the Legal Studies Department, so students across majors will get the benefit from working in an actual courtroom environment as they prepare for mock trial invitational and regional competitions,” said Whitten. “Additionally, there will be a standard classroom space built in the back of the room to allow for regular Legal Studies courses to be held there as well.”

The absence of a court has not stopped The W’s Mock Trial team from being successful. Less than five years old, the team successfully competes against other universities within the state and across the region. Mock Trial students have been consistently named Best Attorney and Best Witnesses by judges at various competitions.

At the 2015 Regional Competition at Mississippi College School of Law, a mock trial team member was recognized as an Outstanding Plaintiff Attorney. During the 2015-2016 competition season, two team members were recognized as Outstanding Defense Attorney and Outstanding Prosecution Attorney at the Owl Classic Invitational in Atlanta, Ga.


Hugh Cooper and John WilliamsWhen January arrives, it brings a new year, new resolutions and tax season--a season that involves mountains of paperwork, receipts and trying to organize a year’s worth of expenses and deductions into one neat file. For the 2016 tax season, W students had the opportunity to work with real families and help them save real dollars.

The opportunity was introduced to W students when representatives from the Columbus Air Force Base contacted the university’s College of Business and Professional Studies searching for volunteers for the CAFB’s Tax Center. After much research and discussion among Dr. Scott Tollison, dean of the College of Business and Professional Studies, John Williams, accounting instructor, and Hugh Cooper, visiting instructor of accounting, the opportunity was approved. “Accounting has several different avenues and directions. If you’re going to do it every day, you better enjoy it. We encourage students to go out and get experience,” said Williams.

The first step was to ensure that students were properly trained and prepared for the task. Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offered by the Internal Revenue Service, students were able to become certified volunteers that specialized in helping military families. All students who desired to participate in the training had to be enrolled in or already passed The W’s Tax Accounting I course.

Peyton LeeThose students who received the certification from VITA were awarded one-credit hour and those who went on to volunteer at the CAFB Tax Center received two additional credit hours.

Throughout the 2016 tax season, seven students prepared returns on the Air Force base. Under the supervision of CAFB personnel, students gathered information and prepared tax returns for clients.

Peyton Lee, senior accounting major, was one of the students that helped file the tax returns. From one of the biggest returns to ever be filed through the base to everyday filings, Lee’s experience helped build his confidence in both the knowledge he had gained through the class and in his decision to pursue the career as a CPA, but he was most grateful for the opportunity to give back.

“It was a thank you to our military and for all that they do,” stated Lee. “It was cool to have the opportunity to work with them.”

For their hard work and dedication to the Columbus Air Force Base community, the students received a personal letter from Col. John Nichol, Commander of the 14th Flying Training Wing. The letter recognized their work by acknowledging that they helped serve 121 families to receive $269,894 in tax refunds and saved more than $24,000 in tax preparation fees.


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