The eight-week pre-mission block program will begin in January 2013. The program is designed to accommodate those who, because of missionary calls or anticipated calls, are not able to complete a full semester of school before entering the mission field.
Similarly, the post-mission block program allows missionaries who return partway into a semester to quickly get back to their academic and spiritual studies instead of having to wait for the beginning of a new semester.
“We were thrilled to hear President Monson’s announcement at General Conference regarding lowering the ages at which missionaries may begin their service,” said Paul K. Sybrowsky, president of Southern Virginia University, who has served as a general authority and mission president.
“In addition to providing flexibility for students who already have mission calls, Southern Virginia’s block programs provide an ideal environment for mission preparation and post-mission adjustment,” he said.
Participants in the pre-mission block program can take three of four courses offered for a total of six to eight college credits, as well as an Institute of Religion class.
Courses at the university include an academic success seminar, English composition, health and wellness, and personal and family finance. As the program grows, additional classes will be added to the block to meet the needs and interests of more students.
“With many more young men and women choosing to serve missions, including our own students, more will face the dilemma of finding productive ways to await their MTC entrance dates if they are not able to enroll in college for an entire semester,” said Southern Virginia Provost Madison Sowell, who served as a mission president in Italy.
“If an MTC date prevents students from enrolling for an entire semester, they can take block classes at Southern Virginia to put their time to the most effective academic and spiritual use,” he said.
Students enrolled in Southern Virginia’s pre-mission block program will take classes that prepare them for life away from home and for missionary service.
In addition to taking classes, students in the pre-mission block program will benefit from involvement in the only YSA stake east of the Rockies, the university’s code of honor and associations with other young people who are Church- and mission-minded.
“Southern Virginia University is an exciting place to study because there are a host of historic and cultural sites within driving distance of campus,” said Carrie Brotherson, who oversees Southern Virginia’s travel study programs. “Students on the block program will have the option of joining us for day trips to such historic sites as Washington, D.C., Appomattox Courthouse and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.”
The pre-mission block program is designed to provide an excellent experience academically, spiritually and practically.
“The Buena Vista Virginia Institute of Religion is fully on board to help prepare students spiritually for their MTC experience, ready to take advantage of that wonderful learning experience,” said Provost Sowell.
Southern Virginia offers classes on both the semester and block schedule, which provides flexibility for those who return from missions mid-semester or during the spring or summer months. Returning missionaries often find the post-mission transition easier when they can quickly return to the structure of an academic learning environment.
“Southern Virginia’s post-mission block program helps returned missionaries reintegrate into an academic setting while earning college credits and continuing to live the gospel they preached in the field,” said President Sybrowsky.
In addition to the spiritual benefits of having served a mission, there are financial benefits at Southern Virginia.
“We place high value on the life experience and spiritual maturity of returned missionaries and that’s why every honorably released missionary qualifies for a $2,000 per year scholarship,” said Brett Garcia, vice president of enrollment services. “Students at Southern Virginia can qualify for even more scholarships based on their grade point averages and national test scores.”
For those who served foreign-language missions, language classes taught on the semester schedule provide additional opportunities to study the language missionaries learned to love. In addition, Southern Virginia provides students an opportunity to “test out” out of university language requirements and earn college credit.
More information about the new pre- and post-mission block program at Southern Virginia University is available online at svu.edu/missionary. Students interested in attending the program must first be accepted to the university, which subscribes to a Code of Honor based on the teachings and standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The first pre-mission block begins with new student orientation on January 4, 2013. The first post-mission block begins on April 30, 2013. Southern Virginia also offers one-month summer term courses that can accommodate the needs of those preparing for missions or returning from the field.