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Volume 26, Number 1 — January 2019

'Inspire Your Heart with Art Day'

Sierra Mills enjoys the displays during
Sierra Mills enjoys the displays during "Inspire Your Heart with Art Day" at Virginia Intermont College in Bristol. (Photo by Jared Ladia).

Student Describes 'Spectacular' College Experience

By MARGO THOMAS | March 23, 2010

*** Reprinted by permission from the Virginia Intermont College alumni magazine, Winter 2010. ***

The first time I walked onto the VI campus, I knew. I knew this was the only place where I would experience college.

It's almost unexplainable. I think I was mesmerized by the beautiful red brick of the older buildings on campus and what has become my favorite part of campus the bell tower. I also fell in love with the atmosphere that embodies a small school such as VI. Everyone was very friendly, and I really liked the equine program. It just seemed like the right place for me to be. From then on out, it was where I imagined taking classes, making friends and learning how to grow up. Well now that I've been at VI for nearly three years, it has provided more than just book work and partying. I have begun to discover many things about myself, and who I am growing up to be.

I came to VI to participate in the equine studies program. And although I love it, VI renewed in me another passion — my love of writing.

I took a creative writing class in seventh grade, and it sparked my interest in poetry, but I took a break in high school. When I arrived at VI, I saw some flyers around campus about Poetry Club meetings, so I attended and got back into writing. I don't think I've missed a meeting since, and I'm not planning on missing one any time soon.

For me, writing poetry is therapeutic. Although sometimes I write just for fun, I usually write because I have something on my chest, and I need to express myself in order to come to terms with what is bothering me. Other times, I will read an article or hear a song that will inspire me to write.

Since I've picked up that habit after coming to VI, it seems like poetry follows me through my everyday life. I often find myself thinking in poetic verse throughout the day although I rarely have a pen in hand to jot down my thoughts. Sometimes I will simply look at something such as the big oak tree in the Quad and all of the sudden I find myself rattling off words to a metrical rhythm in my head.

About a year ago, I became president of the Poetry Club. Since then, Faculty Sponsor Randy Smith and I have worked to bring more poets, singers and songwriters into our club through various events on campus. We regularly meet every other week. Some nights, we meet in a quiet corner of campus sharing our thoughts by candlelight, while other times, we have more public readings with musical guests. One of the musical guests I met while attending the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion Festival (an awesome music fest definitely worth attending no matter your music genre preference) was Matt Butcher. Currently residing in Florida, Matt made the trip to perform acoustic folk songs for our club. We had record attendance, and everyone who participated had a great time. We have even invited Matt to come back in February.

Last year, I added an English minor to my degree, because I really enjoy writing and getting the chance to express myself. Although one of the outlets for this is poetry, my newest form of expression is our new student newspaper, the VI Campus Crier.

Beginning this year, a modest group of students is attempting to create a new publication for students, by students. The main goal is to build a better, more involved community at VI. We are not only trying to give the students an outlet for their ideas and/or complaints, but we are also trying to get the word out about what is going on around campus and trying to provide students with a better college experience. We are trying to appeal to the VI audience by including stories about sports, students, clubs and what's going on around Bristol, in order to bring the VI community closer together. I feel like this has been a great opportunity for me to get more involved around campus and spread my views and others' to students and faculty.

Mr. Smith and I also teamed up with our International Issues Club to present "Inspire Your Heart with Art Day" in January with various artists showcasing their talent across campus. We not only included visual arts such as photography, drawings and sculptures, but also incorporated performing arts with dramatic skits. The last evening culminated with a poetry reading. I feel we succeeded in giving the artists at our school the chance to showcase their work and enriched art appreciation for VI students who had the chance to observe many diverse forms of art.

In short, my experience at VI has been nothing but spectacular. At VI, I have been able to define myself as more than an equine studies student, and I have found a whole new side to myself with my love of English. My experiences have made me rethink my ideals and goals in life, and I have become a much more well-rounded person.

With all that I've said, college is really about how you spend your time and the people you spend it with, and I know that the impact that VI has had on me will always be with me in the future.

Editor's Note: At press time, Margo Thomas from Baton Rouge, La., was a junior at VI College.
Previously she was the subject of a Youth Spotlight feature in A! Magazine for the Arts (clickHERE.)