Up & Coming Weekly

April 13, 2021

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM APRIL 14-20, 2021 UCW 13 COVER In just a few short weeks, Methodist University graduates from the class of 2021 are scheduled to walk across the stage at Segra Stadium in downtown Fayetteville. If this happens, it would be more than just a commencement celebration of academic achievement from one of the premier universities in the state, it would close out an unprecedented year of sacrifice, care for others, and unsurpassed vigilance. Right here in Cumberland County stands a private, top-tier university that not only rose to the challenges of COVID-19 during this academic year, but worked tirelessly as a united community of stu- dents, faculty and staff to achieve excellence while remaining as safe as possible. While universities large and small across the state and nation were forced to close their doors to on-campus living, student activities, and in-person classes in the fall and spring semesters, MU was strategic in its planning and protocols and has remained open to its residential students the entire year. ere are still a few weeks to go in the spring semester, so the community must remain cautious and determined, but the accomplishments thus far have been remarkable. "At Methodist University, we might be 2,000 individuals, but we make up ONE community," said Alisyn Keating, a Forensic Science major from the Class of 2021. "It's a community that shows we care for each other by following all safety guidelines and moving forward together." "Forward Together" has been the theme for the university since the beginning of classes in the fall. It has not just been a slogan on t-shirts and flyers, it's truly symbolic of the teamwork that has led to a year's worth of success both in the classroom and out. By understanding and following safety guide- lines (wearing masks, social distancing, frequently washing hands, practicing good hygiene, limiting gathering), MU has been able to offer in-person classes — with its expert faculty — throughout the year. Results of extensive contact tracing show that because protocols have been strictly followed, not a single case of COVID has been spread in a class- room or lab. While students in majors such as Business, Psychology, Biology, Criminal Justice, Physician Assistant Studies, and Social Work thrived in the classroom, MU kept students active and engaged outside of the classroom, as well. More than 100 university-sponsored student or- ganizations, fraternities and sororities, and athletic teams have creatively adjusted to hurdles COVID has placed before them, holding socially distanced events outside and coming together via Zoom for meetings or presenting shows and concerts. While students were sent home from many other colleges, MU students have worked together with university staff and shared in community, worship, and "col- lege life" together. "e past year has indeed been a challenging one, but we are still finding ways to help students come together while staying safely apart," said Dr. Doris Munoz, MU's Director of Student Involvement. "Socialization is such an important aspect to college life. It's here where students create lifelong friend- ships and make unforgettable memories." Success in the classroom, success on campus, but also success in athletic competition have set Methodist University apart this year. Every one of MU's 20 NCAA intercollegiate sports were able to compete this year, with the football team hosting the USA South Athletic Conference championship and both the men's and women's golf teams each being ranked in the Top 2 in the entire nation. Athletes were tested extensively, each week, for the safety of the MU student-athletes, but also the coaches, train- ers, officials and opposing teams. One of the great advantages Methodist University has over other institutions – not just in Southeast North Carolina, but across the state and region – is an on-campus Health Services Center staffed full time by experienced professionals. It also has a wide array of doctors and other health care profession- als on campus who direct MU's highly regarded undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs in health services. Nursing, Physical and Occupational erapy, Physician Assistant Studies, Health Care Management and Information, are just some of the successful health services programs at Methodist. e result of this expertise on campus is careful planning, daily monitoring and reporting, im- mediate contact tracing, and has even resulted in partnerships to provide full-campus testing and vaccination opportunities for all students, faculty and staff. To move forward together in this fashion is unique. It couldn't happen without the strong con- nection that everyone in the MU community has. In addition to the students, faculty, and staff, there are the alumni, board of trustee members, and other friends of the university that have stepped up to meet the challenges COVID has presented. "I am truly honored to be a part of a community that is so committed and caring," MU President Stanley T. Wearden said in a message to the campus. "Monarchs wearing masks in class and when in public spaces, practicing social distancing, follow- ing gathering guidelines, and self-monitoring on our Green Screen app every day is how we have succeeded with in-person learning and residential living on campus through the fall and spring semes- ters. We might be 2,000 individuals, but we also are connected as ONE community that continues to move forward together." In the final four weeks of the academic year, MU has hosted a championship football game and will compete in other conference tournaments. MU will present its 10th Annual Research and Creativity Symposium. MU will have offered the Johnson & Johnson one-time vaccination to all of its students, faculty, and staff. MU looks to complete the 2020-21 academic year in a way many around the state and nation were unable to accomplish. And, if all goes as planned, MU will hold an in-person (socially distanced, of course) graduation ceremony at Segra Stadium in early May. As the weekly presidential messages, hundreds of posters, dedicated resource web site, and dozens of videos have said, Methodist University is made up of students, faculty and staff that have walked alongside each other as ONE community and truly succeeded in moving Forward Together. Forward Together: Methodist University thrives during pandemic a STAFF REPORT

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