The Art/Psych building was filled with laughter, conversations, inviting music and the aroma of coffee this past Valentine’s Day weekend. The Lighter, Valparaiso University’s award-winning literary and fine arts journal, hosted a coffeehouse. Students shared prose, poetry and artistic abilities to their peers and professors.


The Lighter includes a wide variety of student work including graphic design, photography, painting, creative nonfiction, fiction, drama and other mediums.


Michelé Strachota, next year’s co-editor of The Lighter, was eager for the event and encouraged by the turnout.


“I was not expecting all of these people to be here on Valentine’s Day weekend,” Strachota said. “I’m excited and overwhelmed; in the past I used to be just someone who attended, but I’m going to soon be in charge.”


Abby Accettura, the current editor of The Lighter, was also surprised by the turnout.


“I think the draw is that it is a comfortable artistic space,” she said. “It’s a space where a lot of people with shared interests can share their work within a community.”


The room was lined with copies of the fall edition of The Lighter and some Valentine’s Day related activities.


“Even if there aren’t performances going on, it's a great space for people of all interest areas to come together and have a community to be a part of,” Accettura said.


Elizabeth Bergez attended for the first time, bringing a prospective student along with her.


“I’m a nursing major, so this is not something I would necessarily come to because it does not speak to my strengths,” she said. “I’m not a writer or an artist, but it's interesting to see and watch.”


Bergez was glad she came for herself, her prospective student and to support assistant editor Kaitlyn Braun.


“I’m glad to see more of the Valpo experience -- not just the nursing and Christ College side of it,” she said.


Strachota’s favorite aspect about the coffeehouse is meeting new people.


“The creative community is so small, especially the writing community,” Strachota said. “This is a great space for people to share their work and talk about their interests.”


“I’d like to create more awareness of The Lighter as a student organization. So we can get other people that are not just English and creative writing majors,” Strachota said.


She also believes students of all majors and interests should experience a Lighter coffeehouse.


“Students should come to the coffeehouses to recognize and support fellow students that put on the coffeehouses, students who submit their work and make The Lighter happen,” Strachota said. “It fosters a sense of community, which is valuable for everyone.”


The Lighter welcomes submissions from all undergraduate, graduate and law students and is fully comprised of student work. Submissions can be sent to Another coffeehouse will follow the spring edition of the literary magazine, where students will be able to read their latest work featured from the journal.

Contact Kendall Kartaly at

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