My memories of #tbirdnation

397524_10201456687449965_386538945_nLast night I was asked to attend a Southern Utah University event for students admitted for this upcoming fall semester. Being an alumni of SUU I love attending these events. I was able to talk to a number of graduating high school seniors and ask about their plans for SUU. A number were hoping to get involved in sports, some the Nursing program and others were excited to get involved in the theater program. Their plans and hopes for their experience at SUU really made me reminiscent about my time in Cedar City and at the school.

When I decided to transfer to SUU, I had just spent nearly four years at Salt Lake Community College (let’s not talk about the fact that it’s a two year school). I was planning to move on from SLCC, but didn’t know where I wanted to go. I applied and got accepted into the University of Utah, Utah State and Southern Utah University. Quite honestly, I only was familiar with Utah State and the U, I never had been to Cedar City or SUU, but applied because I had a friend that was going.

A week before my classes were to begin at SLCC, I felt this need for a change. I needed to move on not just from SLCC, but Salt Lake and home in general. After talking to my friend about my feelings she encouraged me to transfer to SUU. Being a week away from classes I didn’t feel this was possible or logical. But, I liked the idea and told her I would get back to her the next day. That night I said a quick prayer asking that if this was meant to happen, to let it happen.

So I started making calls to the school, I got registered for classes. I found money in the form of scholarships and financial aid that I could get. The biggest hurdle was housing, especially finding a place that was close to the school since I didn’t have a car I was taking down with me. But, I was lucky, I found an apartment that was right across the street from the campus and was easy access to my classes. It was perfect and cheap.

As soon as I got admitted and situated I got involved with the Presidential Ambassadors. As the semester progressed I got involved in the Service and Learning Center and Student Government. Throughout my time at SUU I continued to get involved in other programs from the Alumni Association, Politics Center and the Centurium Consulting Group. Not to mention a number of other clubs I joined or created.

My time at SUU was defined by the friendships I made in all of these organizations and loved every second of it. Not to mention my awesome group of roommates that I shared a house with for two years. I love telling others about my experience at SUU, especially to prospective students. So last night was such a wonderful experience and enlightening the class of 2018 (yikes!).

But, as I was sharing some of my experiences I was also reminded of many other experiences I had in school. Many great, some not so much, lots of hilarious and some embarrassing. But, that’s the thing about college, it’s a time to learn and grow and become a better you. Here are a few of my favorite memories …

  • My first roommate was a Korean national named Keith. He was an artist who painted awesome portraits. He constantly was trying to get me to buy portrait of myself for $200.If I had the money, I might have considered it, but I hardly had anything leftover from my financial aid.
  • In October of my first semester Keith got a girlfriend that basically moved in with us. After Thanksgiving break when I came back from home I found out they got married, so the last month that I was in that apartment it was just me and a newly married couple. Slightly awkward.
  • I’ll never forget that experience I had to lead two groups of students down to New Orleans to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. It was such a sombering experience crossing the river into the devastated areas still pretty much untouched for two years after Hurricane Katrina.
  • I directed and produced the Mr. SUU Pageant twice. The most memorable part of any of them was Dennis Busch’s reading of the story of Exclamation! I wish it was on video.
  • Sitting in class as my professor Suzanne Larson told us about how she came to school with her trash in the back of her car.
  • One of the potential reasons why I was fat could have been hanging out with my friend Kiersten and her now husband, Jesse. They would go and eat out pretty much ALL the time. But, Kiersten could never eat everything, so she’d give it to me. This was usually on top of what I had already eaten as well.
  • Chartering the “Buttercream Gang” as a club with just me and my roommates just so we could enter the Club Bowl. Which we won, because
  • I did the truffle shuffle a bit too much while at SUU. But, being a big guy nearing 400lbs. it was definitely a reality shield.
  • Having roommates that would find use for everything. Like putting skis on a chair or floating device on a couch, but my favorite was when Kevin took the top off of his car to put a hot tub in the back. It was fondly called, “Hot Tub Van.”
  • My friends Cody and Amy’s first kiss was in the middle of the lake on the Rouch (Couch + Raft). They are now married.
  • Going to gym class with my roommate, followed by a trip to McDonald’s. Why, Josh? Why?
  • I was an intern for the Michael O. Leavitt Special Collections in our school library, as part of the internship we got the opportunity to visit Washington, DC and meet with Secretary Leavitt and tour the Nation’s capital, Smithsonian and the White House. Including the West Wing. We didn’t meet President Bush, but we saw Barney out in the Rose Garden. I was star struck.
  • Writing a good portion of my 14 page Senior Thesis for my Communications degree in the bathroom on my laptop.
  • During a Leadership Overnight at the SUU cabin all of the Ambassadors would take whatever available places they could find to throw a blanket and pillow. Some slept in the hallway, floor, under tables, in the kitchen, open couches, etc. One time I forgot my pillow and blanket so I grabbed an industrial roll of toilet paper as my pillow and slept on the kitchen counter. Don’t worry, I washed it thoroughly before breakfast.
  • I had some friends convince me to run a 10K when I was 350-375lbs. I had no idea what a 10K was, let along how to train for it. My training was “running” on the treadmill for a mile and a half … once. Once race day came I ran the first 0.01 and then walked the rest of the way. I finished despite the race director and a police officer offering me a ride down the canyon. My first 10K was done in a shade over two hours. Yep …
  • Bowling with prospective students. I sucked at bowling, but it was always a party.
  • Watching the 2007 Utah Jazz run to the Western Conference Finals. Wherever a free TV was we would sit and watch every game. I even remember watching the Derek Fisher game while I was in Washington, DC at nearly past midnight. Those teams were intoxicating.
  • Right after I took my final for my Stats class, which meant my LAST math class ever, I turned in my test, grabbed a bottle of Martinelli’s from my backpack and then poured a glass for myself, a friend of mine and the professor. I didn’t get an A, but I PASSED MATH!
  • Roommate dinners at Wingers. I hate that place now, but man could I pack down the All-You-Can-Eat wings.
  • The Student ID card center was located in the Student Government office and sometimes we would make new ID cards for ourselves for fun. Some people would pose with a tiara or telephone or duck or with a funny face or even with other friends. I did exactly those things, but my last was when I took my shirt off and took a picture bare chested.
  • I have to breakdown this story into three parts.
  • Unbeknownst to me whatever the last picture was that you took also went onto the school directory database. Meaning, these were the pictures your professors saw on class rolls or if the school needed to identify you, this was the picture they got. Well, one of my teachers saw it and notified the Dean of the Students who contacted the Director of Student Government who in turn called me into her office.
  • During the meeting she informed me what had happened and was TRYING to be stern and serious. But, halfway through our conversation she just started to bust up laughing and couldn’t hold a straight face. She thought it was funny and simply told me not to do it again and then took me over to get a fully clothed ID picture.
  • I still have that ID card and it’s one of my most prized possessions.
  • Working the Goo Goo Dolls concert for President Benson’s Inauguration.
  • I will always remember the furor Dennis Busch and I caused within the Greek community when we charted Psi Mu Mu. We wanted to create something that people not interested in the Greek Community would want to be a part of. We called ourselves a Roman organization and had plans to raise money to buy a cow for a third world country. We got too much crap for it and feared for our car tires that we just let it go. I still long for Psi Mu Mu though …
  • Chair dancing with Amber Haller in the Student Government offices. It’s a graceful sport if you ask me.
  • The ONE time Jon McNaughtan yelled at me. I decided to clean out the pantry in my underwear when unbeknownst to me Mama McNaughtan came to visit. It wasn’t awkward at all and I don’t fault Jon at all.
  • The one time I tried stand-up comedy. I bombed. I didn’t know I was limited to three minutes and probably should have just passed, but I tried and came off BAD.Plus, I made on the judges uncomfortable talking about my special ed experiences. I learned through this experience that I really enjoy writing jokes much more.
  • Watching The Office in the Student Government offices.
  • Late night Del Taco runs with Lola.
  • The Las Vegas Trip with Jesse, Dirk, Jeff and Matt. Some stories will always stay in Vegas.
  • Misspelling the word “Twilight” as “Twlight” on a HUGE banner that was hung up in the Student Center Rotunda. It still hasn’t been let down.
  • The 2am Denny’s meals with Dennis. They weren’t always the best option health wise, but Dennis always made it a hilarious experience.
  • Deciding to elope to Vegas with Lola enroute to the beach in California and then bailing out after we got to the Denny’s in St. George. At least we had really good french toast.
  • Late night road trips to Mesquite.
  • My midnight Ice Cream Birthday party. I had an ice cream party at midnight on my birthday. It wasn’t wild or crazy, but I ate A LOT of ice cream that night …
  • Going through a mono scare among friends and roommates and then after getting tested finding out that you have hypothyroidism. I’m still not sure if this is a win or loss?
  • The time I got hypnotized by Bruce McDonald and threw off my shirt in the middle of the show.
  • The time I broke down my door trying to get into my locked room. I didn’t think I was going to bust right through … but … I did.
  • Running for student government … and losing. It was a fun experience though.
  • Buying Mr. Oldsmobile nearly 7 years ago from my roommate.
  • The list I kept of chairs that I broke. I got it up to 17 while I was in college. Luckily, I haven’t broken a chair since. Well, it helps weighing 180lbs. less. But, still …
  • Any and every Bread and Soup Night. $1 and a can of food got you all the soup you could eat.
  • Every time I would go to Walmart I ran into someone I knew from school. Every time without fail, even when I would go at 1am.
  • Staying up all night to work on my final paper for Communication Theory and then meaning to take a two hour nap before class, only to sleep through the alarm and missing the class entirely.
  • Camping out on the Library Lawn in tents for Darfur. Even though some punk students decided to ruin our tents and shorten our campout. It was still fun.
  • Taking a road trip to California to be on The Price Is Right during Bob Barker’s last season. My friend Megan was on the show and won some silverware and money … I think? She passed away the next year which was a shock to all that knew her. She was an awesome person and I’m glad I have this memory.
  • Booking a Spring Break cruise to Mexico with my roommates and then finding out that it is the same cruise that your sister and brother-in-law are going on for their honeymoon (note: I carpooled from SLC to San Diego with them, that wasn’t awkward).
  • One time I was giving a prospective student a tour of Manzanita Hall and was showing them the model room. But, it wasn’t the model room it was an occupied room with two people making out in it. It wasn’t awkward at all.
  • Going to the Saturday afternoon home football games, even if the team SUCKED. It was always a fun experience.
  • Traveling to Colorado Springs to see SUU play the Air Force Academy. We lost badly, but it was a lot of fun and made new friends on the trip. The ride back however was horrible as I caught a cold and hardly slept. But, it was still a fun experience.
  • Graduating. It might have been one of the worst days of my life, but it was the catalyst I needed to make the necessary changes in my life. For that I look back at that day with fondness and gratitude.

Gosh, there are SO much more that I wish I could list … AND … remember. But, what it comes down to is simply this, Southern Utah University made me who I am today. It laid a foundation that I’ve built upon since my time there. I have made lifelong friends and memories that I will always cherish.




  1. Like the saying goes or should go, “Memories and Education are two things they can’t take away from you.” What they don’t say is …graduation wasn’t really the end, it was just the beginning. Especially for anyone employed in the Education field, there’s always continuing education classes, training, and conferences. For everyone else, it’s called Life Experiences.

    J Mark Knowles
  2. Nice article, Josher. We’re so proud of you and what you accomplished at SUU. I do have to say, however, SUU did not make you who you are today – it certainly contributed, just as have all your friends, your faith in God and I’d like to think your family. Many of our circumstances in life are not of our choosing, but as a quote I just recently discovered says, “It is what it is…but it will become what you make it.”


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