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HSP Annual Retreat Offers Serious Fun

This originally appeared in the Haslam Scholars Program Spring Newsletter. To download the entire newsletter, please click here.

By Tyler Hounshell, Sophomore, International Relations and Development

Haslam Scholars work hard—really hard—but we also play hard. And that is what the 2015 Haslam Scholars Retreat was all about. It was a time for bonding, games, and sweet, sweet relaxation. The weekend was a blast. When we arrived at the Clyde Austin 4-H Lodge in Greeneville, the first thing I saw was the breathtaking view of the snow-capped Smoky Mountains. It was a sign; I knew it. This weekend was going to be great.

Friday night included trivia night with the freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and faculty going head to head. It was a brutal matchup, and two competitors came out ahead of the others. The freshmen and the seniors were all tied up in the last inning … I mean round. But the freshmen missed the last question and the seniors came out on top by one point. The evening ended with renowned storyteller Dr. Bruce Wheeler sharing his experiences from high school, his undergraduate years, and his teaching career.

Saturday was filled with activities and sessions, including morning Zumba taught by Vonda Wright and baking by Laura Vaught. Dr. Sylvia Turner, Dr. Gladys Alexandre (Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology), Dr. Remus Nicoara (Math), Dr. Christopher Wright (Theory and Practice in Teacher Education), Dr. Adam Cureton (Philosophy), Matt Blaylock (Honors and Scholars Programs), and Nichole Fazio-Veigel (Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships) taught sessions as well. There was even a session on four-dimensional video games and the space-time continuum! It was a time for genuine learning without the pressures of a classroom setting.retreat

And of course, the retreat wouldn’t have been complete without the annual HSP football game. This year’s captains  were Dr. Timothy Hulsey and Dr. Remus Nicoara. Saturday night, all of the cohorts participated in karaoke. Seniors Julia Ross and Kenna Rewcastle nailed a num- ber by John Mayer. Even Dr. Turner stole the stage with a soulful ballad by Destiny’s Child. Our initial theme was the early 2000s, but as the night lingered on the cohorts crossed into all genres and eras, singing hits by Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Nicki Minaj. Geoffrey Hervey showcased his dancing throughout the evening.

An inspiring aspect of the retreat was that each of us had the chance to publicly share our dreams and aspirations with each other. It was a serious yet sincere moment that we all experienced together as scholars. We learned about each other in ways that we hadn’t had the chance to before. It was breathtaking to hear how simple, complex, and ironically “unscholarly” some of our dreams are, and how they have been shaped by the college experience. After such an intense moment, most of us finished the night by the campfire, roasting marshmallows and sharing stories.

It was a weekend that I will never forget. A huge thank you to Colleen Ryan and Chris Ludtka for organizing the retreat this year, and to the faculty and staff who contributed to a successful retreat.