Highlanders in the News: Week of Jan. 1, 2024

Every other week, our Highlanders are using their education to do extraordinary things. Here, we’ll highlight some notable mentions from local, regional, national and international news media. Whether our students, alumni, faculty and staff are featured as subject matter experts in high-profile stories or simply helping make the world a better place, we’ll feature their stories.

Getting into character

Staying Me_thumbnail

One of the deepest, most primary goals actors face is persuading an audience that it’s not watching a performance at all; that the person the viewers see onstage is indeed the character that’s being portrayed.

It’s a formidable magic trick to pull off externally, but it can also come with internal difficulties as well, as the actor attempts to exist as someone else, summoning fictional thoughts and simulated emotions across numerous rehearsals and repeat performances. 

A new podcast, “Staying Me While Being You,” examines those challenges through conversations with actors and artists who’ve approached them firsthand.

The show was created by Associate Professor of Theatre and Cinema Robyn Berg, who, according to a Dec. 20 story by Radio IQ/WVTF, launched the program last fall along with Bonny O’Neill, a licensed professional counselor. 

“How do we truly stay ourselves while stepping into the shoes of another person?” Berg asked in the story, essentially stating the show’s thesis in a single question.

Queen Miller '23 (left) with Associate Professor Robyn Berg.

“All we can do is be the most authentic version of ourselves,” she told Radio IQ.

In a short introduction to the podcast, O’Neill described the inspiration behind the program.

“The idea germinated in my private practice where I was seeing more and more actors,” O’Neill explained. “As we got deeper into their therapy journeys, I noticed a profound need for very trade-specific tools and information that would help connect the dots between wellness and acting.”

Three full-length episodes have since followed, the most recent of which features Queen Miller ’23, who just graduated cum laude with a bachelor of science in theatre. In December, Miller also presented a solo show on campus, “One in a Billion,” which focused on the Black transgender experience.

“Not only did I come here to study theater, and also study my passion, but I got to be the real me,” Miller said in the Radio IQ interview.

“Staying Me While Being You” is available on Apple Podcasts and Audacy, among other podcast platforms. 


History of rock(s)

If you’re interested in the background of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you can easily learn more about them next week, and you won’t even have to go outside.

Department of Geology Chair and Associate Professor Jonathan Tso (far left) leads a student group on a lecture hike along Virginia 100, on Cloyds Mountain in Pulaski County in 2022.

Contrary to the well-known proverb, the mountains will indeed come to you, at least in this case, albeit via Zoom.

Department of Geology Chair and Associate Professor Jonathan Tso is participating in the Salem Museum’s Speaker Series Program, talking about the Blue Ridge – home to some of Earth’s oldest mountains – and the geological processes that formed its landscape of today, according to The Roanoker Magazine.

The first few programs of the year will be held online, with in-person meetings resuming in the spring.

Tso’s chat will be available starting Jan. 11 at 7 p.m., and you will find the Zoom link at the Salem Museum website.

Each fall, Tso leads students on daylong excursions to various local mountain ranges, field trips open to freshmen or transfer geology majors. It’s “basically a grand tour of some of the rocks we have in our region,” Tso has said.

Jan 5, 2024
Neil Harvey