Though located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Buena Vista, Virginia, the small liberal arts college has strong Arizona ties.
Not only is Arizona number six in providing SVU students, two Mesa women-Heather Sandstrom and Nanci Wudel-served on the SVU Board of Trustees for three years and both have arts scholarships in their names there.
According to the SVU website, “Southern Virginia University provides the finest undergraduate, liberal arts education in a wholesome Latter-day Saint environment.” In the fall of 2012, there were 729 students enrolled, 52 percent were women, 48 percent men and the student-faculty ratio was 16:1.
Speaking at a fireside in Arizona, SVU president Paul K. Sybrowsky asked, “Why would a school from Buena Vista, Virginia, come here to tell its story?”
He explained the reasoning behind the visits, saying, “90,000 LDS high school kids graduate each year,” yet the four Church Education System schools-BYU-Idaho, BYU, BYU-Hawaii, and LDS Business College can only enroll a total of 17,300 incoming freshmen each year.
He said SVU offers another option, where students can have a “life-changing experience” of both “scholarship and discipleship.”
According to Sister Wudel, of the Mesa East Stake, “The university provides an opportunity for every student to shine individually-to participate, excel and be recognized in any area of choice-be it academics, sports, drama, music or whatever the endeavor.”
SVU statistics show that 40 percent of the students participate in athletics, 30 percent are involved in the music program and 10 percent in choir.
“Students at SVU have opportunities to grow and develop their talents in a way that may not be as easy to do at a larger university,” Sister Wudel says, adding, “SVU is a wonderful place to be-spiritually-focused, beautiful setting, great academics, caring faculty, exciting extracurricular activities … It’s a university that really has it all.”
Sister Sandstrom, who serves with her husband, Paul, in the Mesa Arizona YSA East Stake, says she enjoyed being on SVU’s Board of Trustees and National Advisory Board.
“It was a wonderful experience to work with and rub shoulders with such outstanding men and women who helped build this fantastic university. Students get a great education,” she says, “and because of what SVU calls ‘The Genius of Small,’ all SVU students have so many opportunities to do they things they love the most, whether it’s participating in fine arts and performing, athletics or various clubs or groups.”
Most of all, the students have a chance to experience the gospel in action.
“I love how they have embraced the values of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at SVU,” Sister Sandstrom says. “The students are surrounded by others who are equally dedicated to upholding high moral, ethical and personal standards in their code of honor.”
SVU has a YSA Stake on campus, with six YSA wards, where single LDS students can study the gospel and can serve in various callings.
“It also gives students an amazing opportunity to meet, date and eventually marry someone with similar values and standards,” Sister Sandstrom says.
This is all accomplished in a beautiful, peaceful setting.
“The campus itself sits in a location rich in history and culture,” Sister Wudel says. “And, best of all, everything that is taught and accomplished at SVU centers around the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a place where spiritual growth and service to others is encouraged and promoted continually.”
President Sybrowsky encourages potential students to explore SVU and to learn more at the website at svu.edu. More importantly, he says, “Pray about it. The Lord will bless you and you will make the right decision.”