First-Year Seminar

First-Year Seminar (FYS) is a course designed specifically for Barton College first-year students. You may select your class from the descriptions below. You might choose one that relates to your potential major, one that sounds interesting, or one that focuses on college success.

All the FYS classes are designed to help you be a successful college student and, therefore, have some similar content. For example, all classes will work in areas such as study skills, time management, career research, and choice of a major. We will all use A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash as our summer reader. Your first FYS assignment is to read the book before classes begin in August. The summer reader will be available for purchase in the Barton College bookstore during orientation sessions in June and August.

You will meet your FYS faculty member and academic advisor (these may be the same individual) when you attend orientation.

Course Descriptions

Creating a Visual Narrative through Art Making

Maureen O'Neill

Maureen O’Neill
Director of Exhibitions and Educational Programming
Visiting Assistant Professor

Visual art can be a vehicle for personal expression that transcends the need for a verbal exchange. In the summer reader, A Land More Kind Than Home, the character Stump had a quiet box in which he placed objects that he most cherished, such as the firefly Christmas ornament his brother made for him. These objects gave him joy, were his life’s narrative, symbols for his visual story. In this class, the rich visual world that is presented in the book will serve as inspiration for expression through hands on art-making projects. No prior art experience is necessary, just a willingness to create, to learn and explore, and to find personal expression in a visual language.

I am the director of exhibitions and educational programing for the Barton Art Galleries and teach painting and drawing. I have been a professional painter for over twenty years and believe in the power of visual expression. My commitment to art began my first year of college when my drawing professor announced, “We are going to learn how to see this semester.” The art-making process has had me since. I look forward to being a part of your transition into this exciting time in your life.

Creative Expression: Your Story, Your Voice

Adam Twiss
Assistant Professor of Theatre
Director of Theatre at Barton

Each of us has a remarkable story to tell based upon unique experience, insight, and perspective. Like Jess Hall in our summer reader, A Land More Kind Than Home, we may bear witness to the amazing, the provocative, or the horrifying. How it impacts our life course and what we share of that is up to us. In this class, you will use personal stories as a creative springboard for dramatic expression, formalizing and channeling each unique “voice” into plays and monologues intended to move an audience. As a student in this course, you do not need to have any experience with plays, playwriting, or performing on stage. All that’s required is imagination, introspection, and a desire to be heard.

A professional actor, director, and producer for over 15 years, I have been Barton’s Director of Theatre and a proud member of the Communication and Performing Arts faculty since the fall of 2008. In this time, we have constructed and moved into the beautiful Lauren Kennedy and Alan Campbell Theatre, where we offer all members of the greater Barton community the chance to participate – onstage, backstage, or from the audience. I remain active with professional theatre, film, and television throughout the country and look forward to sharing this journey with you.

(ALL SESSIONS: FULL) The Faces of Hunger
All sessions are full and no longer available for registration.

Carol RuweCarol Ruwe
Associate Professor of Nursing
Director of General Education

Do you know how it feels to be hungry? Truly hungry? Can you imagine the desperation of not knowing when you will eat again? As a nutritionist, I am particularly concerned about the problems of hunger and poverty and the effects on children and families. I recently returned from a travel experience in the Dominican Republic with nursing students, and I saw families living in primitive conditions with a severely limited food supply. Hunger exists throughout the world, and it is important to recognize that hunger exists in America. In this course, we will examine issues related to hunger and poverty and the effect of hunger on children and families. We will begin the conversation through reading and discussing Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle. From there, we will consider the impact of hunger on our own communities. We will ask questions about hunger and search for answers. Why does hunger exist? Who is responsible? What can we do?

Food has always intrigued me. I have always viewed food as more than a means of subsistence or a path to health. Food intricately connects with who we are. It defines our heritage and knits families and cultures together. For nine years, as a public health nutritionist, I saw hunger, malnutrition, and poverty on a daily basis. From public health nutrition, I shifted my career focus to education and began my tenure at Barton College where I teach introductory and clinical nutrition and various other food and health-related courses. My special interest is food and culture, which I combine with my love of travel. Perhaps you will consider joining me for an international travel course to explore how food, culture, and health connect. Costa Rica is my favorite destination, and students who travel with me find it to be a life-changing experience. When I am not traveling or reading, I enjoy my passion for flowers, as many days at the beach as I can manage, and special time with my family.

I Don’t Like Snakes!

Jane KolunieDr. Jane Kolunie
Professor of Biology

Historically snakes have been feared, adored, charmed and worshipped. From the ancient Greeks to the Egyptian pharaohs, snakes have represented healing, royalty, power, and control. These creatures have played a role in a variety of religious ceremonies from the American Indian religion to Christianity and many other religions today.

Ophidiophobia is the fear of snakes, a condition which has been present from the dawn of humankind to modern man. Together we will explore this mysterious serpent. We will examine its ecology, its unusual physiology (did you know it smells with its tongue?), and its idolization by numerous cultures throughout history and across the world.

I find these creatures fascinating and, in many ways, biologically unique. Is there any other animal feared as commonly as the snake?

My Ph.D. is in biology with a concentration in animal behavior. I have conducted research on mice, rats, and primates, but never on snakes! I am excited as we investigate the serpent and all it has stood for and continues to represent in the world today. I have been teaching at Barton College for almost 25 years, and much of that time has been spent teaching FYS. I am happiest when my courses involve creatures with 4 legs, wings, tails, or scales. I am a certified Wildlife Rehabilitator for the state of North Carolina and residing at my home may be orphaned squirrels, songbirds, or bunnies. My husband Michael and I share our home with the love-of-my-life Maltese, Bentley, and his younger feline sister, Lexus.

(ALL SESSIONS: FULL) Is There a Jekyll and Hyde in All of Us?
All sessions are full and no longer available for registration.

Ashley Gardner
Visiting Instructor of Psychology

Following our reading of A Land More Kind Than Home during the summer, this course will explore the duality of mankind’s behavior towards others and our amazing capacity for betrayal and revenge along with forgiveness and understanding. We will look at Jess, Adelaide, and Clem’s experience with both the best and worst of humanity. What are we capable of doing to other people? Does altruism truly exist? Can people do heinous acts without feeling guilty? Also, can people really change for the better? Taking a social psychological approach, we will discuss the possibilities of individuals behaving in ways that go against and/or beyond what they ever imagined possible.

I have been a proud member of the Barton faculty since the fall of 2008. The Department of Psychology is what I currently call “home.” I teach several different psychology courses including, but not limited to, Introductory Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and Psychology of Aging. I received my master’s degree from East Carolina University; and I now live in Nashville with my husband, David; my dog, Snickers; and my two cats, Norman and Twitch. In my free time, I enjoy reading and spending time with my family. I love teaching, and I especially love teaching psychology. I look forward to meeting all of you!

(ALL SESSIONS: FULL) Leadership: Putting Your Best Foot Forward
All sessions are full and no longer available for registration.

Rich Patterson
Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Sport Studies
Clinical Coordinator of Athletic Training Education

What are the differences between effective leaders and managers? Are you either one? Do you have the ability to work collaboratively, resolve conflict, take responsibility and distribute responsibility? This course will explore the historical perspective of effective and ineffective leaders and different leadership styles. Through collaboration, we will analyze each other’s strengths and weaknesses and assist each other in development of individualized leadership styles.

This fall marks the beginning of my sixth year at Barton College. Currently, I serve as the Clinical Education Coordinator and Assistant Professor in the Athletic Training Education Program. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in athletic training from Alfred University and a master’s degree in physical education from Hofstra University.

Social Media’s View of World Events

Richard StewartRichard Stewart
Assistant Professor of Communications

Explore the rapidly changing world of interactive media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) and how these social media are changing how you understand the world in which you live. Students will discover how legacy media (newspapers, television, radio) are using new media to reach those who rarely use legacy media. Current events based on use of social media will be closely examined.

I have grown up in the legacy media, that being newspapers, radio, and television. But, as a person whose life has been dedicated to telling people what he thinks they need to know, I have found that I have had to conform to the way non-legacy viewers/readers (you) want to know things. As an instructor at Barton for the past 10 years, I have learned that you are unlikely to read a printed newspaper, preferring to go online to get information. I had better put it on a website or on Facebook if I want you to know it. A graduate of Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College), I grew up in Wilson and have published newspapers in Kenly since 1981. A life-long journalist, newspaper editor, and publisher, I stay busy teaching journalism at Barton and keeping my newspapers on the cutting edge of how information is delivered to an ever-changing population.

(ALL SESSIONS: FULL) Sticks, Stones, and Words – All Can Hurt: Understanding the Power of Language
All sessions are full and no longer available for registration.

Elizabeth DennisDr. Elizabeth Dennis
Associate Professor of English

Sometimes we are mesmerized and intrigued by the words that flash across our screens (computer, TV, phone), yet other times we are brought to tears by the words to a song, a good book, or even a well-thought out advertisement. Words have so much power. In our summer reader, A Land More Kind Than Home, many in Carson Chambliss’ church were so absorbed in his words that they dared to do what some would call crazy: drink lantern oil, tempt snakes, and even set themselves on fire. Why do words hold so much power over us? As the authors of Language Awareness state, “Most of us accept language as we accept the air we breathe; we cannot get along without it, and we take it for granted almost all of the time … Few of us are aware of the extent to which language is used to mislead and manipulate. Still fewer of us are fully conscious of the ways, subtle and not, in which our use of language may affect others. And even fewer of us recognize that our very perceptions of the world are influenced, and our thoughts are at least partially shaped, by language” (65). In this course, we will explore how language works by reading a variety of written works, listening to and analyzing music, and creating our own masterpieces.

I am a professor, a wife, and a mom. I have been teaching in the Department of English and Modern Languages at Barton since August 2007. I teach composition, developmental writing, technical writing, and various other writing based courses. In addition to teaching writing courses, I am also the Director of the First-Year Seminar Program and have the pleasure of teaching First-Year Seminar as well. I truly enjoy meeting and working with new freshmen each year. Additionally, I recently finished my Ph.D in Rhetoric, Writing, and Professional Communication at East Carolina University. My main area of research is in writing studies and pedagogy. Finally in August 2009, I became a new mom; and in my spare time, I enjoy running, cooking, gardening, and relaxing with my husband, our son, and our dog.

We All Have Stories: What’s the Next Chapter in Yours?

PageLines- clanier.jpgDr. Charles Lanier
Assistant Professor of Marketing and Business Administration

Wiley Cash’s story of a community’s fear and loss may or may not parallel various aspects of your own individual experience. However, we all meet challenges during our life’s journey, whether academic, emotional, financial, medical, physical, social, spiritual, or otherwise.

Consider this quote related to golf: “The real test in golf and in life is not in keeping out of the rough, but in getting out after you are in.” All of us are likely to end up in the rough now and then. It is a true talent to possess the qualities of resilience, leadership, and determination – to somehow make it out of the rough once you find yourself in it. What will you do to prepare for challenges in your life? What can you do to author the next chapter in your story – despite the challenges before you?”

Charles Lanier is an assistant professor of marketing and business administration. He teaches courses in statistics, marketing, and business administration. He earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Applied Mathematics and in Psychology from The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa; a Master of Science in Mathematical Statistics from the University of Iowa in Iowa City; and his Doctorate of Business Administration from Argosy University in Sarasota, Fla. Dr. Lanier has held positions at American College Testing (ACT), The University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Western Harnett High School (N.C.), and several state agencies in North Carolina before joining the faculty of Barton College. Lanier also served as Governor’s Liaison for Census 2000 under former North Carolina Governor, Jim Hunt.

Outside the classroom, Dr. Lanier’s research focuses on the predictive power of cultural dimensions; and, more specifically, the interactions that take place between cultural dimensions when modeling nation-level market behaviors. Lanier has received awards for team excellence and outstanding research, and is a member of the American Marketing Association (AMA). He lives in Raleigh, with his wife Mary; their four sons, Kirk, Colin, Noah, and Zed; and Sparky the Bassett Hound.

What Does It Really Mean to Be Well Educated

Jennifer RussellDr. Jennifer Russell
Associate Professor of Education


Wiley Cash’s novel A Land More Kind than Home is a “mesmerizing literary thriller” that will take us on a journey through a tragic story of evil and tragedy. A pastor uses the ignorance of his own congregation to inflict pain on others for his own personal pleasure. Throughout the discussion of the story, we will examine how the people in a small North Carolina town could be so easily fooled. Then we will ask the question, what does it really mean to be well-educated? Are schools doing right by students, by parents, by society? How could being well-educated have changed the outcomes in Cash’s book? How could the characters have been more prepared for the challenges that they faced? This course will discuss the importance of a solid educational system, the politics behind so many school reform movements, and the culture of testing that is taking over our public schools.

I have been a member of the Barton faculty since the fall of 2010. I teach in the School of Education where I teach courses to pre-service teachers in the areas of assessment, foundations and methods. I work closely with Hearne Elementary School in Wilson as part of the Hearne-Barton Partnership. I also supervise student teachers out in the field during their final semester at Barton. I relocated from Chicago to Clayton where I live with my two sons, Will (13) and Ryan (10); my husband, Kirk; and our two Springer Spaniels, Maggie and Libby. I enjoying painting in my free time and have recently become the owner of an amazing horse named Trevor. I look forward to meeting all of you soon.


All sessions are full and no longer available for registration.

Jared R. Tice
Director of New Student Programs, Student Activities, Greek Life, and Intramural Sports

Jess Hall, the protagonist in our summer reader A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash, experienced life – even the dark and haunting sides of it. The iconic Latin phrase carpe diem, or “seize the day,” and musician Jonathan Larson’s “No Day, But Today” from a generation ago would certainly apply to Jess’ life.

In college, experiences occur daily inside and outside the classroom. The millennial generation has adapted the traditional carpe diem into the modern mantra of “YOLO,” or “You Only Live Once.” This course will focus on seizing the opportunities of a diverse community of learners that only a college can create. We will adopt the acronym L.I.V.E. to emphasize four areas of the college experience: Leadership, Involvement, Volunteerism, and Education. This course will discover the importance of student involvement, service learning, and leadership skills through co-curricular activities, practical discussions, projects, self-exploration, self-impression, and personal experiences.

As the Director of New Student Programs, Student Activities, Greek Life, and Intramural Sports, I have the privilege of working with students directly as they move through their college career outside the classroom. Next year will be my fourth at Barton College in this position, and it will be my second-year teaching and advising first-year students. My passion for working with college students was born out of my undergraduate experiences at a small, liberal arts college similar to Barton, which led me to pursue an education and a career in student affairs.

I reside on campus in Hilley Hall; and, when I am not working, I enjoy good food and films and visiting family and friends in my native West Virginia.

(ALL SESSIONS: FULL) Your Health, Your Success, Your Choices
All sessions are full and no longer available for registration.

Jennifer O’Donoghue
Associate Professor of Physical Education and Sport Studies
Director of Athletic Training Education

How have your upbringing and current concepts and trends related to wellbeing, fitness, sports, and media influenced your life and shaped your health? How do the choices you make everyday influence your life and overall health? How we live our life and the choices we make can provide the path to achieving or maintaining good health. In this course we will explore many of the factors that influence our health and assist us as we develop as individuals. You will be provided with learning tools and objectives that can assist you with your own personal development and help you achieve success. In addition, you will learn what factors can influence your health during your freshman year of college.

This course will necessitate the weekly recording of dietary intake and activity.  Additionally, enrolled students are required to perform wellness assessments that start with gathering the following data points and to reevaluate their progress at specific times throughout the academic year:

  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight
  • BMI (kg/m2) and/or waist to height ratio
  • Resting Blood Pressure
  • Resting Heart Rate
  • Body Fat Percentage (BIA)
  • Circumference Measurements
  • Self-reported level of Fitness
  • Self-reported level of Activity
  • Self-reported Dietary Pattern

The project is naturally occurring within the structure of this specific FYS course.  The personal information will not be disseminated since the gathered information/data does not currently involve skills or knowledge to be applied outside of Barton College. Additionally, direct personal identifiers will not be disclosed.

I returned to Barton College in 2009 as the Athletic Training Education Program Director. I also serve as Director of Faculty Development. My doctoral study was in educational leadership, research, and technology while my master’s study was in athletic training. My undergraduate major was physical education and exercise science. I have served as an educator, athletic trainer, and strength and conditioning specialist in various clinical-outreach, high school, college, and professional settings. From 2001 to 2003, I was an assistant professor, athletic trainer, on-site clinical coordinator, and strength and conditioning education program advisor for Barton College. My research and areas of interest include athletic training clinical education, the establishment of clinical education sites, dance and sports medicine, accreditation compliance issues, learning styles, injury evaluation and diagnosis, strength and conditioning program development, and the implementation of strength and conditioning education. I reside in Wilson with my husband, Jeff; son, Ci’an; and daughter, Lily.