CAM-tastic Stories highlights the journeys of our CAM students in a brief narrative fashion.

“Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and meet new people. It’s harder than it sounds but you could miss out on great friendships.” Olivia McDaniel offers this suggestion for incoming students at Southeastern University. Olivia is a senior at SEU and is majoring in public relations. Graduating in April, she looks back at her time at SEU with positivity. “I think Southeastern University has helped me learn how to stay organized and create good habits for myself. I see myself working in an office helping with events and social media content after I graduate, but the end goal is to work at a wedding venue in an event manager’s position.” While Olivia has made the most of her time in the classroom, she is also actively involved on campus in a leadership position as the resident Assistant for the Esperanza dorms. “My favorite part of my time at Southeastern has been being involved in leadership and living with best friends.”
– story by Emilia Pombo

“It is truly amazing to work with people who are so passionate about music,” says Brandon Pasquence, a junior at Southeastern University, who has been elected as Parliamentarian in the Florida Chapter of the National Association of Music Education. “This position has helped me realize that the process is just as important as the product.” Brandon is one of three SEU students who have been elected to serve NAfME. “My responsibilities are to become an expert on interpreting and applying Robert’s Rules of Order to all of our meetings as well as to give advice regarding parliamentary procedure.” Brandon attributes his success to what he learned at SEU. “The concept of servant leadership has changed my mindset on being a leader by shifting my focus towards serving and lifting others to a higher level.” Brandon offers this advice for students who are considering elected positions: “Know your stuff and have a thirst for knowledge.”
– story by Emilia Pombo

The College of Arts & Media at Southeastern University will be offering a two-day conference for writers. The “Expressions Writers’ Conference” is open to participants of all interests and experience levels desiring to polish their skills in the arts of writing, storytelling and communication. The annual conference will take place on Friday and Saturday, March 8 and 9, 2019. Now in its third year, this unique conference combines inspiration and technique, equipping attendees in all fields of writing.

The first session begins at 9:00 a.m. on March 8, 2019, with the conclusion of the seminar the following day on March 9 at 1:00 p.m. “Expressions Writers’ Conference” takes place on SEU’s main campus in Lakeland, FL. An advanced registration of $50 is required to participate. Tickets can be purchased at

Through a combination of pragmatic workshops and seasoned guest speakers, attendees will participate in sessions designed to refine their craft.  World-renowned and local professionals will share their experiences and key elements to storytelling and publishing. Whether writing is a hobby or full-time career, this conference will leave attendees with practical knowledge on how to improve and advance their writing.

This year, “Expressions Writers’ Conference” will focus on the importance of storytelling across genres with experienced fiction writers, novelists and poets, who will demonstrate their processes for crafting and designing stories.

Participating this year as the keynote speaker is Josip Novakovich, world-renowned author of the fiction craft book “Fiction Writer’s Workshop. Novakovich has received a multitude of awards for his works, such as the Whiting Award, The National Endowment of the Arts fellowship (twice), an award from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. He was anthologized in Best American Poetry, Pushcart Prize (three times), and O. Henry Prize Stories. Kirkus Reviews called Novakovich “the best American short stories writer of the decade.” In 2017, his work “Tumbleweed” was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

In addition to Novakovich, this year’s lineup will include Joni M. Fisher, Jamie Beckett, Donna Kelly, Carol J. Post, Dr. Paul E. Linzey, and Ana Coton, as well as faculty members of SEU’s Department of Humanities.

“‘Expressions will have several award-winning authors that will guide us through the process of discovering ideas, plotting them out, using description to bring the story to life, building memorable characters, and then taking the written story and editing it ‘down to the bones,’” states Professor Hannah Benefield, the coordinator for the conference. “In addition, we have genre break-out sessions, panel discussions and a book signing. It is an action-packed two days that will leave you with the keys to unlock the potential of your next story.”

For more information regarding event details and registration, call the Department of Humanities at (863) 667-5113 or email

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Originally written by Donnie Edwards and published by the Ledger Media Group. Visit the to view the original article.

Our society’s focus is increasingly on national and international culture — the “large-scale.”

Social media and increasing digitization are putting the world, quite literally, in the palms of our hands. The ease and convenience with which we become informed and develop opinions on massive, national political happenings and international relationships is becoming more efficient and accessible each day.

The momentum of Western culture is firmly set in this direction. We’re seeing an interesting curiosity developing that finds its most succinct expression in the current political races: division and polarization. We look to the large-scale picture of our society to find stability. We hope to find the path toward better, healthier communities in the big picture.

How easy it is to forget that these large-scale issues are remedied at the local and regional levels. What stories are missed by the public because of increasing disconnection with our local communities? What depth of experience — what lessons — are overlooked by our fixation on the lives of those distant and uninterested in our own?

The arts have always been important to society and the development of culture for this same reason. The most vital function of the arts in the development of culture is in its powerful and unique manner of storytelling.

Though the arts do, at times, portray escapist concepts and narratives, it all comes back to the stories and experiences of the every-person. It is for this reason — and the arts’ marriage to the all-important function of free speech — that the arts are often the first target of tyrants and malign regimes alike.

Celebrities are entertaining (often distracting), and larger-than-life political figures create movements and attempt to embody ideas. However, without the every-person and the stories of their lives, all of the entertainment and movements would be for naught. The often-overlooked stories of individuals and families that are not strictly “newsworthy” are the very backbone of our national narrative — the story of “us.”

On Nov. 11, “Sinfonia: Connecting the Arts & Community” will take place at the Polk Theatre in downtown Lakeland.

Joseph DeBeasi, a professional composer and music editor for some major Hollywood productions such as “American Sniper,” “Eleven Eleven” and “Alpha,” interviewed several families of veterans in Central Florida, as well as many veterans, to compose orchestral pieces that are purposed to tell their stories.

One of the pieces, entitled “One More Minute,” was performed at the last Sinfonia event, which took place in March 2018, and will be performed again. DeBeasi’s new interviews with families of Central Florida veterans, which were conducted this summer, have resulted in a new composition, entitled “A Thousand Faces.”

“I met with several military families. Some are new to the military, others have been military families for generations. Their stories ranged from pride and excitement to anxiety, grief, and despair,” says DeBeasi regarding his new piece. “When it came time for me to compose this piece, I was deeply moved by the stories, especially those of loss and isolation. I wrestled with darkness and isolation until finally writing it into the composition.”

Events like “Sinfonia: Connecting the Arts & Community” are important because they show that “local” doesn’t mean unimportant, small, or forgettable.

It shows that the national and international tapestries of culture are woven and shaped by unique local threads. These threads are the stories of our communities that are often out of the public eye, but so deeply affect the national narratives we find captivating.

Respectful, collective discourse about areas of disagreement and conflict are important to the democratic process. We need it now more than ever. However, we often forget to take time to remember what unites us. This is sometimes the most important. No matter our individual thoughts about policy or politics, we are all Americans. The flag represents us — whether or not the society it represents has always been for some of us. It is a symbol of where we are headed — not just where we have been.

Just like our flag, Sinfonia is a symbol to our region that we are not settling for what has always been. Sinfonia is a symbol to the community that we are ready to build a better tomorrow, together.

For more information on “Sinfonia: Connecting the Arts & Community,” visit To purchase tickets, visit Tickets cost $30 for VIP seating, $12 for general admission, $10 for students and $5 for veterans and active military personnel.

Donnie Edwards works as College Advancement and Creative Lead for the College of Arts & Media at Southeastern University in Lakeland.