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American Atheists Conference (Presented by Secular Student Alliance at University of Central Florida)

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In March 2013, Secular Student Alliance at University of Central Florida was able to attend the American Atheists Conference thanks to a project grant from the national SSA. This article summarizes the experiences of that event for the group.

First and foremost, thank you on behalf of the Secular Student Alliance at the University of Central Florida for giving us $250 to send our members to the American Atheists Convention in Austin, Texas. We brought a total of ten people by car and a few flew, and your funds allowed us to be the largest student delegation there. The money was spent towards reimbursements for gas; the members were all responsible for their own registration fee and our allocation from Student Government covered the hotel costs. With your project grant and fundraising we did as a club, we were able to reimburse members most of the cost for gas; the club fronted $150 to both cars and each member taking a car fronted $50. Of the $50 contributions, we were able to give those who donated their cars $45 back, those who took a turn driving $30 back, and the others $15. This, coupled with the registration fee, kept the cost at less than $100 per member for a three day trip to Texas, three nights in a hotel, and three day conference registration.

Members of The Secular Student Alliance at West Texas A&M University Brag It Up!

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SSA affiliates and members are doing awesome stuff on their campus all the time.  We brag about their work here on our website through the Brag It Up series.  If you or your affiliate group has done something awesome, Brag It Up!

Students at West Texas A&M University walking to class on a hot Monday afternoon were met with a particularly unpleasant surprise near the Buffalo statue in the pedestrian mall. A group of evangelists associated with Liberty Baptist Church armed with signs carrying messages such as “The wages of sin are death,” and “You deserve hell,” had set up shop in the middle of WT’s campus and begun loudly preaching to everyone in earshot. 

Among the first on the scene was Ashley Farren, a senior WT student and member of the SSA and local Atheist nonprofit Freethought Oasis, who began challenging the proselytizers and demanding to know who they were.
After a short while a crowd began to gather and the message was quickly circulated amongst the members of the SSA, “Crazy preachers on campus!”

Announcing New SSA Regional Campus Organizers

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Our Regional Program has been so successful in its first year that we're adding three new Regional Campus Organizers to start this July.  This exciting growth means that we'll be able to provide hands-on, in-person support for more of our affiliate base, including our first regional support on the West Coast!  Please help us welcome our new Regional Campus Organizing staff members.

David Fitzgerald, Northern California Region

Headshot for David Fitzgerald, NorCal RCODavid Fitzgerald has been called "one of the busiest atheist activists in the Bay Area." In addition to serving on the boards of directors for San Francisco Atheists and Center For Inquiry-SF, he is also the Director/Co-Founder of both the world's first Atheist Film Festival and Evolutionpalooza!, San Francisco's oldest annual Darwin Day celebration. He and Greta Christina are co-founders of Godless Perverts Story Hour.  In addition, he is a writer and historical researcher, author of NAILED: Ten Christian Myths that Show Jesus Never Existed at All and The Complete Heretic's Guide to Western Religion. (Secretly, he is also a fiction writer under the name Kilt Kilpatrick). He lectures around the country at universities, churches and national secular events, and is a member of the SSA Speakers Bureau.

David will be the Regional Campus Organizer for the Northern California Region.


Jessika Griffin, Illinois-Indiana-Kentucky Region

headshot for Jessika Griffin, IL-IN-KY RCOJessika Griffin is a former President ('12-'13) and Outreach Director ('11-'12) for the Indiana University Bloomington student group, Secular Alliance at Indiana University. This May, she will graduate from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU Bloomington with a BS in Public Management. Jessika was raised in a somewhat Catholic household and experienced a few years of Catholic school, but never fully accepted religion and spirituality. She has a passion for helping secular students and also enjoys learning about urban planning, bicycle commuting, sustainable farming, and public health.

Jessika will be the Regional Campus Organizer for the Illinois-Indiana-Kentucky Region.


Ellen Lundgren, Texas Region

Headshot for Ellen Lundgren, Texas RCOEllen Lundgren plans to graduate this spring from Grand Valley State University in west Michigan with a BFA in Visual Studies and writing minor.  She has been a member of the SSA affiliate group on her campus for three years, and was in a leadership role for half that time.  She was also a graphic design intern at the national SSA during the summer of 2012.  Ellen has attended over half a dozen secular conferences and is passionate about using her skills and creativity to serve the secular movement.  In her free time, Ellen does a lot of crafting, crochet, drawing, and recently picked up sewing.  She loves going new places and traveling in general.

Ellen will be the Regional Campus Organizer for the Texas Region.  She will be replacing our outgoing RCO Kevin Butler, who is headed into the Teach For America program this summer.

Announcing the SSA's 2013 Summer Interns

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We're proud to announce the Secular Student Alliance's Summer Interns for 2013!  They are:

Tori Rehr - Resource Development

Tori is a junior majoring in in Psychology and minoring in Spanish and Gender Studies at Juniata College. She studied in Quito, Ecuador during the 2012-13 academic year, where she interned at Timmy Global Health and worked as a translator during medical brigades. She previously worked as research assistant to the Psychology Department at Juniata, investigating cognitive effects of language learning and the political implications of multiculturiasm.

Tori began to develop her interest in secular issues during high school. She worked in resource development at the Juniata College Office of Student Activities, and is excited to apply this knowledge to secular advocacy. Tori is also active in the interfaith movement and looks forward to working at the Secular Student Alliance this summer!


Kate Donovan - Communications

Kate is a rising senior at Northwestern double majoring in psychological services and psychology. At some point she'd like to make people sit on couches and tell her about their feelings, but right now she writes in different places around the internet. Kate was raised believing alternative medicine worked, and now spends her time making skeptical faces at it. She is the outgoing president of Northwestern's SSA, served as Foundation Beyond Belief's Communications and Marketing intern, and is on the Secular Woman speakers bureau.


Liz Dudek - Graphic Design

Liz Dudek grew up as a devout Christian around the area of Dallas, TX. It wasn't until she found the Secular Students at Collin College that she felt comfortable exploring her doubts and skepticism, and eventually she came out as an atheist in early 2011. Since then, she has been the webmaster and Public Relations Coordinator for SSCC, and the Publicity Director for the 2013 North Texas Secular Convention. Now that she has her Associate of Science, she plans to attend the University of North Texas and major in either Public Relations or International Relations and she is currently working on a certificate in Graphic Design. Her goal is to work for a nonprofit organization in the future.

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