University of Memphis Magazine
Summer 09 Features


Taking care of business
A point to prove
Clearing some space
Operation smile
Tapping your potential
Game play

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Tapping your potenial: Feature Story

Tapping your potenial sidebar: Calligraphy and Vegetarian Grill

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Web Exclusive

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Additional Continuing Education classes

By Sara Hoover

Enjoy these profiles of additional classes not featured in the print version of, “Tapping Your Potential,” the article on the Continuing Education program in the Summer 2009 edition of the University of Memphis Magazine.

Secret Agent Man

The “So You Want to Be a Private Investigator” class teaches investigation and reporting techniques, sources of information, background investigations and ethics.

Instructor Andy Wilson, a licensed private investigator and adjunct professor in the criminology and criminal justice department, says the class is not just for those wanting to be Magnum, P.I.

“A wide variety of people come not necessarily to become a private investigator but to pick up skills that someone in the investigative profession has,” he says.

Realtors, librarians, teachers and lawyers have gained methods like how to do due diligence, interview someone and pick up kinesics behavior, and how to research companies, businesses and people.

Participant Charles Blankenship is transitioning careers from etymology to study bugs of a different sort.

“I actually opened a private investigation company this year. I run a business for a large company, and I am tired of making other people wealthy.”

Another student, Beverly Crockett (BA ’78), was looking for something to do after retirement.

“I would like to do a little bit of telecommuting. My background is in IT. I worked for a private investigator one time on an embezzlement case years ago. The bookkeeper changed all the passwords, so I broke the passwords.”

Wilson, who also teaches the “Protect Yourself from Identity Theft” class, has had several students become licensed PIs.

Doing the Can-Can

Pickling saltWith strawberries, zucchini and tomatoes in bloom, Memphians can easily create their own culinary delights.

Agricultural extension agent Donna Downen has been educating others on just how to do that since 1976.

Her class, the “Basics of Food Preservation,” taught USDA-recommended practices for canning, freezing and drying. The Preservation 101 class covered pickling, jellies and the difference between canning low- and high-acid foods.

Students learned about the equipment needed: a pressure canner, water-bath canner and a pressure cooker; in addition to pickling salt, vinegar, sugars for syrups and the best food to start with. Recipes and a canning book were included.

Downen’s goal was to impart “USDA research-based practices as opposed to want Grandmama did so they can have a safe, quality product.”

Participants can now make their own preserves, jams, pickled and home-canned items.

Donita Cunningham, a Continuing Education regular, put in a garden this year for the first time and took the class because she “wanted to extend the benefits of it.”

“I cook a lot. This is just the next step. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to learn how to do,” says Cunningham.

Squiggles & Swirls

Maggie Naylor and Helen Putnam have been team-teaching “Fun Using Calligraphy” since the early 1990s. Their six-week class provides tips, techniques and strokes with broad-edged nibs.

Held at the Church of Holy Communion, the hands-on course welcomes all levels of experience, including high school students.

“Most people say, ‘My handwriting isn’t good enough.’ It has nothing to do with handwriting,” says Naylor, a retiree from FedEx.

Harriett Sutton, participant and elementary school art teacher, is a repeat customer.

“Last fall, I took their class. I’m taking it again because I enjoyed it so much. They teach different things. It varies.”

Sutton, who had calligraphy in college, is excited for the fall offering.

“The next one is something I’ve never done before with pointed pens that I really look forward to. I was going to be disappointed if it was a repeat.”

Besides the actual skills acquired, the location is also very appealing.

“This is a very convenient site. Last time, I took it over at campus, I was unfamiliar where to park, where to go, what to do.”

Most people want to learn to address an envelope or create a card, but the class includes other holiday-themed projects, like Father’s Day.

“It’s been a whole lot of ideas and springboards to other things,” says Sutton. “It’s more than just calligraphy. It’s very creative and artsy with things you can do for your own enjoyment.”


If you think the grill is only for throwing meat on the fire, “Vegetarian Grill” proves you wrong. Taught by Justin Fox Burks (BFA ’02), the class covers vegetable quesadillas, grilled corn, barbeque tofu, grilled pizza and even made dessert – fruit kabobs of bananas, pineapple and mangos with cinnamon and honey.

Freelance photojournalist Burks, along with his wife Amy Lawrence, use the demonstration class to show participants how to have fun in the kitchen.

“That’s what it’s all about,” says Burks, who also teaches “Vegetarian Cooking.” “Play with your food. Being creative. Cooking shouldn’t be a chore. We all have to eat three times a day so you might as well have fun with it.”

The course, held at the gazebo at Memphis Botanic Garden, is not for vegetarians only.

“They’re all getting the message that eating less meat is a good thing, learning how to cook healthier is a good thing,” Burks says of participants. “Or they know somebody vegetarian that they have to cook for and have no idea how to approach it.”

A vegetarian for 20 years, Burks learned to cook because he couldn’t go out and just order anything. He hopes people will rethink their grill’s use.

“I know a lot of people think the grill is for meat (only). It’s this shared human experience over fire. I’d hate for anyone to lose out on that.”

Cleaning house

The National Association of Professional Organizers - Memphis Chapter had so much resistance with clients that they asked Kathy Harrison, a licensed mental health service provider, to help.

“They ran up against so many obstacles with people,” says Harrison of the professional organizers. “When their clients would come to a roadblock, they just couldn’t do their jobs.”

The purpose of the “Psychology of Clutter” class is to look at what causes clutter and to understand the psychology behind it as the first step to ending disorganization and clutter.

“If it feels really overwhelming to try to figure out ‘What do I need to keep? What do I need to let go?’” Harrison says that’s when she can help. “When you find you cannot clear clutter and don’t know why, that’s probably where you might find some answers to the road blocks.”

The word ‘clutter’ is derived from ‘clotter,’ meaning to clot, stagnate and hold back.

Participants learn the four different types of clutter: technical, life changes, behavioral/psychological and time/life management.

“They’ll come away with the ability to look and process within their own lives what may be preventing them from leading a more productive, organized life. They’ll gain insight about themselves and why there might be clutter in their lives and willing to let that go.”

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