Languages and literature department seeks student voices for new blog

Southwest will debut a student-managed blog this semester thanks to a $35,000 Retention and Success (SERS) grant.  The purpose of the blog is to serve as a public, online forum about student life and thereby, increase the College’s understanding of student identity and sense of belonging.

Humanities, Social Sciences, and Mathematics Dean LaDonna Young and Assistant Dean of High Impact Practices and Innovation Mathew Lexow co-wrote the grant, along with University of Virginia partners, Motivate Lab.

Young says the grant originated from a student's comment at Pizza with the President last year. The student asked President Dr. Tracy D. Hall if the College could start a student blog or means for students to express themselves, their experiences and ideas. “Matt and I are very much interested in understanding students' sense of belonging, identity, and ‘voice’,” Young said.  Young adds that the blog will act as a platform for collecting, curating, and ultimately sharing student experiences at Southwest with the broader college community. “We wrote the grant to gain a clearer understanding of the relationship between student identity and a student’s sense of belonging as these indicators relate to student success.”  

Design and construction of the blog begins this month, but student voices or content is needed now. Faculty members are asked to recommend current or former students who have a compelling or inspiring story for inclusion in the blog by submitting their contact information, along with a brief statement explaining why the student was chosen, to Languages and Literature Instructor Emily Ford at

Ford serves as blog curator. She says it will be an important platform for students to share their experiences.  “We hope it serves as an inspiration to students and fosters more of a sense of belonging as they learn more about each other,” she said. “It’s also important for faculty and staff to hear their stories of accomplishment and the challenges they have overcome in their educational journeys.”

Stay tuned for more updates on the blog debut. Contact Ford at or 901-333-4626 for more information.