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Alumna performs as improv comedianWaxahachie, Texas — October 23, 2012 — In addition to her career as an educator, Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) alumna Karissa Ross performs in comedy and improv festivals across the nation. On September 28, Ross was the headlining guest speaker for Girlfriends Night at Calvary Church in Naperville, Ill.

Ross believes that comedy can be used to communicate truth and connect with others. She says, "My favorite part about performing live comedy is the relationship I build with the audience. Characters I portray and jokes I tell are based on reality so that people can connect to them. Comedy is my avenue for communicating truth."

Ross began participating in drama as a junior high student through church and Assemblies of God Fine Arts festivals. During her time as a student at SAGU, Ross participated in Southwestern Live, a sketch comedy production during SAGU Campus Days, and attended Trinity Church in Cedar Hill, Texas, where she also participated in drama.

While at SAGU, Ross was introduced to the Four Day Weekend Theater in Fort Worth, Texas. She began taking comedy classes at the theater in Jan. 2009, completing all four levels of the comedy program within a year. Upon graduation in Nov. 2009, Ross and a group of fellow students formed their own comedy group called Gangs of Recess. 

Gangs of Recess has performed in the Dallas Comedy Festival; the Megaphone Marathons in Dallas, Austin, and New Orleans; the Red Dirt Improv Festival in Oklahoma City; and the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival in Chapel Hill, N.C., in addition to regular performances at Dallas Comedy House and Four Day Weekend Theater. Gangs of Recess has also performed for the Texas Associations of Realtors at their annual conference.

Ross connected with Dallas Comedy House (DCH) through the Dallas Comedy Festival. Ross graduated from the DCH Training Center in July 2010. After graduation, Ross was asked to be part of the teaching staff at the training center. 

Through the DCH, Ross became part of two other improv groups: Commerce Street and Local Honey. Commerce Street is an improvisational puppeteering group and has performed in the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival in Austin and the Dallas Comedy Festival.

Ross is a member of the comedy group Local Honey. Local Honey has performed in the San Francisco Improv Festival, the Dallas Comedy Festival and the Chicago Improv Festival in addition to regular performances at the Dallas Comedy House. Local Honey's most recent performance was at the 2012 Hawaii Improvaganza in Honolulu. 

In 2009, Ross began her solo career as a comedian hosting Girlfriends Got Talent at Trinity Church in Cedar Hill. In August 2010 Calvary Church in Naperville, Ill. hired Ross to organize auditions and perform in their Girlfriends Got Talent event. Ross returned to Calvary Church in September 2012 as the headlining guest speaker for Girlfriends Night. Ross performed a 75-minute one-woman talk show called "Let's Talk! with Karissa Ross," combining her talents as a stand-up comedian, audience interaction and improviser, sketch character comedian, and motivational speaker. 

Ross works as guidance counselor and theater arts teacher at First Assembly of God Christian School in Concord, N.C. Previously Ross was employed at Life School in Oak Cliff, Texas, as an English, journalism and theater arts teacher and also served as an Academic Dean at Trinity Christian School in Cedar Hill, Texas. In addition to teaching and administration, Ross has coached volleyball and track.

Ross appreciates the role SAGU played in preparing her for her career as an educator. Ross graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in secondary education with an English specialization.

SAGU Professors Paula Manley and Diane Lewis greatly impacted Ross. "Professor Manley guided me through the education program. I enjoyed bouncing ideas off of her," says Ross. "She prepared me to be an educator by presenting the challenges of education in a realistic yet hopeful and encouraging way. Professor Manley was more than a professor -- she was a mentor and friend."

Manley shares, "Karissa was an outstanding student with unique ideas and perspectives. She was always trying something new and demonstrated life-long learning. As an educator, she is committed to the success of her students."

Ross especially appreciates the creative writing class she took with Diane Lewis. She says, "Creative Writing was one of the most inspiring English classes for me as a writer. Professor Lewis taught me how to be more creative, how to understand poetry, and how to teach writing to students."

Ross believes that the Bible courses at SAGU also prepared her to be a Christian educator. She says, "Scripture and Ethics and Bible Study helped me develop an intelligent and informed spiritual foundation for evaluating real-world, current issues. SAGU's bible-based education prepared me to work with and teach those who do not share my worldview."

Ross advises current SAGU students to get involved and take advantage of the opportunities SAGU offers. She says, "Education is the main goal of college, but college is an opportunity for more than that. It is an opportunity to grow and develop yourself and relationships."

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The University was established in 1927, and now offers more than 60 associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees on campus or online. More information is available at or by calling 1-888-YES-SAGU.

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