Professor Toa Tawa was born and raised in Tauranga, New Zealand, but moved to the United States when he was 18. After finishing his masters degree at SUU, he began teaching high school English and theater in Iron County, eventually returning to SUU as an Assistant Professor in the English Department. Fortunately for his students, Toa has several pieces of advice for them, including, “Don’t talk to strangers unless you’re single, because you’re running out of time.” Even after teaching for the past 24 years, Toa stands by his favorite novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, because of the life lessons that are taught through the characters. Have a chat with him to learn about Maori culture, the earth’s best books or how he “still looks this good.”
Ever wondered how the Utah Shakespeare Festival seems to run so smoothly? Aubree Rasmussen is one of the many people who work tirelessly to ensure patrons have an enjoyable experience. She grew up in St. George, Utah but moved here in 2009 to pursue her education at SUU. After graduating in 2013, she began working for the Shakespeare Festival as the Guest Services Manager, where she oversees the ticket office and house management staff. Aubree has successfully created a fun environment for her staff, including the use of “abbrevs,” which she uses in replacement of normal words and phrases. Some of her favorites include, “eyebs” for “eyebrows,” “hunnies” for “hundred dollar bills” and “bajablah” for Mountain Dew Baja Blast. The next time you feel like Macbeth didn’t use enough “abbrevs,” stop by the ticket office and she’ll be sure to have the problem fixed.
“Give [me] a camera, and I’ll make you dream.” That’s what will happen in the hands of Yuri Bertacchi, a junior communication major hailing from Italy. Yuri’s concentration in media studies is preparing him for future career interests such as travel photography or photojournalism for National Geographic. Though his homeland will always hold favor in his heart, Yuri has loved living in the U.S. for the last three years. Yuri can be spotted wearing his iconic star-spangled scarf and working on the AV/Tech Crew for SUU Facilities.
The International Affairs office coordinates the arrival of nearly 200 international students every year. Assisting in that effort is student ambassador Alex Curtis from Castle Dale, Utah. Alex has a rewarding job organizing and implementing fun cultural events on campus for all students through the International Student Ambassador Organization. Alex is majoring in Spanish and minoring in global studies as he enters his last semester at SUU. He enjoys teaching English, spending time with friends and traveling. Alex hasn’t narrowed down where he wants to go, but enjoys anywhere with unique landscape, culture or food.
“Full send” is a phrase Kelsie Miller uses quite often, and it accurately describes her life. Kelsie is a junior physical education major from Pleasant Grove, Utah. She works as a receptionist at the American Language & Culture Center office, the department responsible for teaching international students English. Kelsie is also a master copier, printer, binder and laminator, as her job at the on-campus copy shop means she can print all of the flyers and posters seen on campus. Kelsie has a love for breakfast burritos from Valerie’s and will even take shots of their green sauce. She frequents Pizza Cart, thanks to a lack of creativity from the boys she dates, and Charlie’s Barbecue for their “frychos,” which she describes eating as a spiritual experience.
Paige grew up in the Los Angeles area, but completed her undergraduate as a debate and theater nerd at BYU-Idaho, where she met her husband. Eventually, the two found a home in Cedar City, where Paige became the Administrative Assistant for the Communication Department. She and her husband enjoy traditions like “Monster Meatloaf,” in which they create a monster face out of meatloaf on Halloween night. Paige is also expecting a baby at the end of September. For her, the most exciting part of motherhood is the many snacks she will steal from her child–and lots of fall snuggles. Drop by the Communication Department to see evidence of Monster Meatloaf on her Instagram, as well as to wish her luck for the next few years of sleepless nights.
Story by: Amanda Walton and Reyce Knutson
Photos Courtesy of: Christopher Dimond, Toa Tawa, Aubree Rasmussen, Yuri Bertacchi and Alex Curtis