Nowhere But Up!

It is hard to believe that there are seven billion people in this world yet somehow, we are all connected in some way. I can’t fully explain this connection, but obstacles are placed before us in which some people overcome, share their stories, then someone, somewhere, somehow is able to personally relate because they too experienced a very similar situation. There are some things in life that many of us will never endure and it’s easy to judge a person when their social norm is different from ours. It is during these times that we should get to know them.

Monday, September 25, 2017, I had the opportunity to have a sit-down interview with one of the residents at the Randy Sams’ Outreach Shelter in downtown Texarkana, TX. Tommy Aubrey, 40, is one of those residents. Growing up Mr. Tommy was the oldest of three and suffered from dyslexia along with a speech impediment. As a child, he imagined that one-day he would grow up to go into the Marines he was fascinated with law enforcement, and forensics was something that interest him most, but challenges were forced upon him and life takes him on a detour. He settled back in Texarkana, AR after moving away from Oklahoma, he quickly explains that the reason it’s been hard the last two years is because he had a hard time asking for help when he needed it most. “If I can’t get it on my own, it was meant for me not to have it,” Aubrey says.

He went on to describe what the first night was like for him being homeless, he says “It was hard, because I have a lot of pride issues and I believe in myself so much that sometimes you try to hide things until you get it together, I didn’t want anyone to know I was homeless.” Mentally he felt hopeless, but quickly understood what it felt like to sit and sleep on the sidewalks. Aubrey says, “It made me understand, and gave me an idea of what those people were going through. It’s kind of hard to understand a homeless person unless you are put in that situation.” Despite everything he went through he has no regrets, he went on to describe them as “growing pains” he says that “this experience allowed me to understand where I can survive at and let me know where I am weak. The weak part is I can’t do everything on my own.” He was quick to make light of the situation by telling me how he would’ve never known what it was like to camp out had he not been homeless sleeping in the woods.

I couldn’t help but to wonder, ‘how is Mr. Tommy able to remain so positive and hopeful that everything will one day work out?’ He responded, “I believe in the self.” Both his grandmother and mother taught him to not feel sorry for himself, to stand tall in the midst of any storm and he has done just that! Mr. Tommy emphasized on being a risk taker, trusting the decisions you make for yourself, and not being afraid to go with the unknown. I learned that not everything is going to be easy in life but as he said, “I believe everyone has to go through something in order to know where they are going.” Now being 40 years old he has experienced enough of life to know that the things he cared about when he was younger just don’t matter anymore. He has truly inspired me in a way that will always leave this lasting impact on my life. That day, he taught me that everything truly does happen for a reason even if we don’t understand the reasoning at that moment. I’ve always wondered and questions the obstacles of my life, why was I of all people handed certain stumbling blocks while others seem to have it a lot easier than myself?

Mr. Tommy taught me that as “bad” as your life may seem, there’s someone dealing with a struggle that you may not ever endure in a lifetime. I learned that we all go through tough situations but you must learn that struggles are necessary in order to get to where you are going. Society should be less judgmental of people who have less than them and that life don’t have favorites, that at any given moment the life you have now can be taken away and you could be in the position that you said you would never be in. So, the next time you see a homeless person let me tell you now, they are humans and they have feelings.

Stax Museum…Telling the History of American Soul Music

Anthony Hamilton

The iconic Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, Tn.

The iconic Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, Tn.

In the Soulsville neighborhood of Memphis, Tennessee, there sits a building that has the appearance of an old movie theater from my childhood, however, this building is so much more, and does it ever have a story to tell.

The building I speak of is the Stax Museum of American Soul music history, and the museum is very rich with Soul music history and traditions from Stax’s humble beginnings as Satellite Records in 1957 all the way to Wattstax in 1973.

In the 15 minute movie that precedes the tour, there were the inevitable comparisons to Motown, which was broken down (I believe) by Isaac Hayes who noted that Motown’s artists had more of a sound of charm school, whereas Stax artists had a more gritty and not as clean sound which Hayes said illustrated the blood, sweat and tears of their work.

During the movie, everyone in the group I was with was dancing in their seats as the movie was playing. Songs such as Green Onions by Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Try a Little Tenderness by Otis Redding, I’ll Take You There by the Staple Singers, and of course the Theme from Shaft by Isaac Hayes were all recorded in that building.

Along with these hit records, one of the most legendary artists in the music business, Aretha Franklin was also born in the Soulsville neighborhood. By virtue of being signed to Atlantic Records, she also had dealings with Stax records, because of the distribution deal they had with Atlantic.

Upon entering the museum exhibits. The very first few exhibits concentrate on the beginnings of Soul music, as well as Gospel, as the two are very heavily intertwined.

As I continued on through, I started to see exhibits from acts, that I would call old school, such as Ray Charles, Sam and Dave to name a few.

The exhibits did an excellent job of bringing the movie to life. The movie, for example, pointed out how the popularity of Stax was an accident, and most of their musicians were people from the Soulsville neighborhood, and how early on, Stax was less like a business and more of a family atmosphere. The many pictures from the recording sessions back this statement up.

As I continued my tour, there was everything from vinyl records by the walls full, to outfits the artists wore on stage to instruments that were played during their shows. They also had a mock setup of their actual recording studio, both the booth and the lounge, and the autographed instruments that Booker T and the M.G.’s used. Then there was the customized Cadillac that Isaac Hayes drove, and a video of their performance from Wattstax which was performed at a Los Angeles area festival set up to commemorate the Watts riots in 1965. That show was performed before a packed house at the L.A. Coliseum, and the record sold 500,000 copies within a week.

My favorite exhibit by far was a tribute to Soul Train, the Saturday morning answer to American Bandstand which allowed many Stax artists their first real television exposure. The exhibit played Soul Train performances of Stax artists including the Staple Singers and Rufus Thomas.

Another one of Stax’s high points in pictures was Otis Redding and the Stax Revue performing in Europe. Despite all of the racial tension here, the Europeans embraced Stax in the same manner that America embraced the Beatles. All of their European shows were sold out in 1967.

The iconic Stax Museum movie theater entrance

The iconic Stax Museum movie theater entrance

Isaac Hayes' customized Cadillac Eldorado.

Isaac Hayes’ customized Cadillac Eldorado.

The Staple Singers Gold single "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)

The Staple Singers Gold single “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)

The Soul Train exhibit featuring the Staple Singers.

The Soul Train exhibit featuring the Staple Singers.

Upon preparing to leave the Museum, there are several pictures of Dr. Martin Luther King, taken the day before he was murdered in Memphis. The Stax artists spoke on how his assassination was the beginning of the end for Stax. The musicians at Stax were various nationalities, but their concerns was the music, and the family atmosphere despite the racial tension in Memphis at the time. Once Dr. King was killed, they were no longer able to be colorblind, which in turn affected their musical output.

 

 

Ultimately Stax went from being a family oriented atmosphere to a rigid business atmosphere, and as a result they ended up going under in 1974.

Renewed interest in Soul music caused a renewed interest in Soul music. Concord Records purchased the Stax catalog and made it available once again in 2000. Shortly afterwards, in 2003 the Stax Museum opened in the same spot it was located in during their heyday.

Along with the Museum, Stax is major players in the education of the Soulsville community with the Stax Music Academy and the Soulsville Charter School which both operated to provide opportunities for at risk youth in Memphis.

There are too many exhibits to fit in one story, however, if you’re ever in the Memphis area, I suggest you find your way to the Stax Museum. If you like Soul music, I can tell you, you won’t want to leave. If you would just like to learn more about them, check out their website.

You Are What You Think

Aaron Caraway

Altrusa International of Texarkana, TX held a dinner symposium at Wesley Hall in Williams Memorial Tuesday evening March 8th, at the beginning of this week’s large rainfall occurring throughout the ArkLaTex. Amidst this hostile weather, conditions proved favorable enough for the attendees to safely reach the event.

The symposium was the subject of a Living WELL Aware conference, featuring Dr. Patricia J. Sulak. Dr. Sulak founded Living WELL Aware to promote healthy lifestyles, with conferences held nationwide to offer “not only the latest published information in […] leading medical journals, but the skills […] to get attendees to a greater physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.” (“About Us”)

Dr. Sulak’s 90-minute lecture covered her Eleven Essential Elements to Health and Happiness, including a focus on attaining normal health numbers and seeking support from friends and family, which helped her achieve optimal health. She has spoken nationwide to businesses, organizations, and communities about them.

Altrusa International of Texarkana, TX – part of an international effort by business professionals to offer their abilities their communities – held this event with coöperation from Williams Memorial, donating the proceeds to:

  • CASA for Children, which “promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every abused or neglected child in the United States [is] safe, [has] a permanent home and the opportunity to thrive.” (“Organizational”), and
  • Domestic Violence Prevention, Inc. – providing 24/7 services to sexual assault and domestic violence victims through a cooperative effort between its staff and communities.

Longhorn Steakhouse provided the food for the event, served by volunteers from our Texas A&M – Texarkana campus. Altrusa derives its namesake from the word altruism, meaning “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others” (“Altruism”). Considering the harsh weather rolling through the ArkLaTex this week, the Texarkana, Texas chapter made every effort to live up to it.

For more information on Altrusa International, Living WELL Aware or the events beneficiaries, consult the links below:

Altrusa International / Living WELL Aware / CASA For Children / Domestic Violence Prevention

Works Cited:

  • “About Us.” Living Well Aware. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
  • “Atruism Definition.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
  • “Altrusa International, Inc. – Leading To a Better Community.” Altrusa International, Inc. – Leading To a Better Community. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
  •  “Organizational Profile.” – National CASA. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.

Officers At Sea

Richardson Rutter-Reese

The U.S. Coast Guard is one of the five armed branches in America. The Coast Guard is unique in that it falls under the Department of Homeland Security, while the other four branches fall under the guidance of the Department of Defense. The Coast Guard was the first armed force created by the United States as a nation, then known as the Revenue Cutter Service. The job of the service was to deter smugglers and to ensure that taxes were being paid by sea-going merchants. Over the centuries other agencies and duties have been created and absorbed, including the Life-saving service, the lighthouse service, the ice breaking service, the aids to navigation service, the radio service, the humanitarian service, the intelligence service, the law enforcement service, and the immigrations service. All these services and more have been combined to form the multi-directed mission that the modern U.S. Coast Guard performs today.

From a historical perspective, the Coast Guard has been involved in every American conflict, notably Vietnam, World War II, and the War on Terror. During World War II the Coast Guard performed minesweeping operations, operated watercraft during beach landings, collected intelligence, kept traveling routes clear of ice, and performed anti submarine operations. It was a during a beach rescue operation that Signalman First Class Douglas Munro was killed after volunteering to make multiple trips to get all the Marines off the island, including a Marine who would become General Chesty Puller. He was shot on the way back to the ship after making the last trip. He remains the only Coast Guardsman to receive the Medal of Honor.  During the Vietnam War the Coast Guard patrolled the shoreline ensuring the Vietcong would be cut off from supplies and reinforcements. They would also transport troops.

The Coast Guard is the only military branch authorized to perform law enforcement action. This is becuse it falls under the Department of Homeland Security. A Coast Guard vessel may at any time inspect, board, or question any vessel in U.S. waters or our Allies’ waters. There are no rights to privacy on the water as on land. All petty officers in the Coast Guard are federal law enforcement officers, and able to carry subpoenas, detain suspicious individuals, and make arrests. Due to the dual military and law enforcement nature of members in the Coast Guard, there is confusion on how far the rights of a petty officer go. Technically, as federal law enforcement officers, petty officers can carry weapons across the fifty states.  Some state police disagree with this and will still arrest members carrying weapons. This is still an ongoing issue in the courts.

On the topic of members of the Coast Guard, it has consistently been the smallest service since its creation. At the height of its force, the New York Police Department outnumbered the active duty members of the Coast Guard. It has always been a service that prides itself on doing more with less. It receives the lowest budget out of the five services, it has one of the oldest fleets in the world, and consistently uses older technology from the Navy. Many swathes of water go unguarded due to their not being enough funds to patrol all the areas of the coastline.

Even with these problems, people are not deterred from the Coast Guard. It is the most competitive branch to enlist into. The reenlistment rate is above 90%, the only service to have this claim. The Coast Guard administration had to create programs to phase non-performing members out to create space for other sailors to advance. Through the ages, members of the Coast Guard stay with their service. The Coast Guard is a unique service in America, and although its numbers are small, it provides a large impact for the safety and protection of the American people.

The Commencement of the Rest of Your Lives

Alyssa Bertrand

“May all the students of the class of 2015 please stand” is what everyone will hear at a graduation. These words mean more to each person than the people of the audience. These words will last forever in their minds. They know they were able to complete one-step of their lives and are now able to see what the rest of their lives has in store for them. Graduation is a special ceremony for all the students that have completed the required elements. There are some items that people fail to mention, when speaking about graduation, and that is the behind the scenes work that the staff does in order for graduation to run smoothly.

Texas A&M University-Texarkana has two main people in the graduation department. Kristie Avery and Karen Dukes are the ones who put in a ton of hours outside the office. To make sure the processing and the real ceremony is correct and able to run as it is supposed to. More staff members help of course. Avery and Dukes are the women behind the curtain. The process is long but these woman are the best in town.

Applications start flowing in at the start of the semester, and some before that. From the moment the first application is sent, the physical time of TAMU-T staff is filled. Avery has expressed that she spends many hours on graduation work outside the office, however she would never miss an important event with her family. She makes sure she is still able to help her daughter with homework, or make it to school events.

When it begins, there are many items that one must to keep in mind, when processing the application. First, one has to make sure the application is correct and every part is filled out. The next step is when the hard part starts to happen. After printing the application, they first look at the major of the applicant and print out the individual’s DegreeWorks. One must make sure that they have all the credits they are supposed to have and look at how many upper level division hours one has. The credits are important, but making sure one has all the classes one needs is harder than finding the credits. Sometimes, one may have the correct number of credit hours, but may be missing one or two classes. The graduation staff have to make sure that the applicant has the correct number of residence hours, which is the number of hour and time spent enrolled in the university.

After checking, the application, the reviewer, will call if they have a question about the application. The staff will work and try as hard as possible when making sure that every detail is in place. There have been times when a student may have all the credits but are missing one class. In this case, they will either try to put them in that certain class or look at the DegreeWorks and see if the student has taken a previous class that would equal the class needed.

DegreeWorks is an online processing page that allows someone to get access to his or her classes. It makes it easier to see what classes one needs to take and tells them what they already have taken as well. This site will also allow the student to see the percentage they are to their degree and how many credit they are lacking. Avery says, “I didn’t have DegreeWorks when I graduated (Web for Students was just really getting started and there wasn’t an email program like Ace Mail when I graduated). DegreeWorks works, so that’s one thing that makes the process easier.”

A graduating student must consider their GPA in three different parts they will need to see if there is any hold on the accounts and see if there are any outstanding balances on their accounts as well. There could be a part that will need a transcript so one will have to see if one will need to be sent to the graduation office.

Elaine Willis has recently graduated from TAMU-T; she explains that it is very stressful but would not change that for the world. Her friends from the university helped and motivated her to help finish the class she needed and she did. She says the process was long and stressful to make sure everything is okay with the application. One part being incorrect or have a missing part it could mean you either graduate or do not. Now, she could not be happier with her life. She wears her class ring every day.

Willis and Avery both have graduated from TAMU-T and they both wish there was a way to make the process easier and better to work with. Right now, the process must be completed by hand. If the process were available electronically, it would make it faster and easier for the students and the staff. “Just making students more aware of their graduation status and prohibiting the phrases “I didn’t know…. ” Or “No one told me…” this is the one thing that Avery wants to happen in the future.

Our Graduation Specialist

Alyssa Bertrand

“I have a problem: it’s called logic!” something we all think at some point, but Kristie Avery admits she has said it many times. Kristie Avery will celebrate her birthday in the winter when Christmas cheer is all around.

Avery has been married for 23 years to a wonderful man named Doug. Doug is a captain for the Texarkana, Arkansas Police Department. He has been a part of the police department for 25 years. Through the love from Doug and Kristie, they brought two more lives to into the world. Their son, Tim, 20 years of age and currently attending Henderson State University. Tim plays baritone in the band and will major in music education to become a band director. Heather, 18 years of age is attending Henderson State University alongside her brother. Heather plays the trumpet in the university’s band but majors in nursing.

Avery’s life in Arkansas began 23 years ago, after moving from southern California where she was born and raised. Her commute from her home to the Texas A&M University-Texarkana campus is only about 10-12 miles.

Avery is now a Graduation Specialist at TAMU-T. She underwent a year and a half of training before receiving the title. Avery loves her job now, but this is not what she wanted to be when she was younger. Her dream was to become the next Christine Amanpour, a reporter who traveled the world to cover stories. She was on and off the camera. Amanpour was Avery’s idol at the time. In order to reach her dreams, she continued her education at Texas A&M University- Texarkana. After earning her Mass Communication degree from TAMU-T, she took her journalism degree and went for the big goal. Her dream was to be a traveling journalist and adventure all over the world. She wanted to be an on camera reporter. After being on the staff of a local newspaper, Avery’s mass communication degree took her to work for a local television station as a reporter/photographer for two years. Then she decided to work for a local newspaper for three and a half years before returning to work at her Alma matter. Avery did not start out as a graduation specialist. She started by helping with the long graduation process. While doing so, the people around her began to realize she was good at her job and she was able to start training for the actual job title. As a graduation specialist, one must be able to put in long hours in order to pull graduation together. The process is long and has to be looked over multiple times.

When first applying for graduation, one must apply online, the application is then emailed to Mrs. Avery, and she will then print off the application. A few items need to be checked and in place before the process can continue. These are; make sure one has the correct number of credit hours, how many upper and lower level classes compared to how many one must have to graduation. To graduate, one’s GPA must be at a certain point and one needs to have a amount of resident credit hours as well. Avery has to be able to see if one is missing any classes and then help the student as much as possible to earn those credits for a certain course.

After printing out the application, she will attach one’s degree works to the application itself. She will then make sure she notifies the applicant if any items are missing or if she has any questions. The process of looking over the applications could be examined many times before one approves it for further processing.

To prepare for the day of graduation, not much is left to do. Avery and her fellow coworkers goes to the venue the day before to get some rows roped off, signs in the right places, and then the day of graduation ensuring every person has the correct name card. As graduation gets closer and closer, the more time everyone must spend outside of the office. Usually nine to ten-hour days become necessary. When asked how her family felt about the long days she responded, “My husband is not too happy about me being gone, but he knows it is for the students. I am always at my children’s events no matter what goes on at work”. No matter how many hours she clocks in at work, she will always make time for her family.

Avery does not see free time as much as she would like, but when she does have it, she likes to spend it with her family. She enjoys attending band events for her children and constructing jewelry. In the future, she has a desire to make the process for graduation easier for all students.

As a graduation specialist, Kristie Avery sees and hears many stories that are inspirational to her. One story stood out to her. It is when she was able to see the oldest person from TAMU-T walk across the stage. The woman was 70 to 80 years old. Seeing her graduate showed everyone is able to complete one’s dream. Not one thing in this huge world is out of reach. Even if one is 80 years old and finally graduating, one can achieve if one believes.

Family is Everything

Alyssa Bertrand

Family is everything. Family will love you no matter what happens. Family will be around even if you do not believe so. When everything is shattered, and do not know what to do or where to turn, just look at all the people who is hurting around you. That is where one will find their strength.

Five months ago, my family life’s was flipped upside down when my father was put into the hospital due to breathing problems. It soon escalated to much worse, was all unexpected and shocking.

After being in the hospital for a week, my father was diagnosed with stage four Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Cancer. This type of cancer is treatable, but since his age and being stage four, the odds were against us. The doctor told us we had two options; either begin chemo, which will have to be the most aggressive level of chemo or do not undergo chemo, but he could have only two weeks with whichever choice we made.

There was no way we would not try to do everything possible to make this work. That night he started his first round of chemo. This first treatment lasted eight hours every twelve hours for three days. In the beginning of August, we received good results, the masses in his chest shrunk in size. That was news we all needed to hear. With all the good there comes bad.

In mid-September my mom woke up to, a call from the nurse explain my dad’s health gotten worse and he was admitted into the ICU. His lungs were not working, as they should. Before he went in ICU, the doctors did another MRI and a bone marrow test. Half of the results were good, the other were bad. His bone marrow came back clean, which means his bones were cancer free, but they found a huge mass one of his lungs that was causing his breathing problems. The doctors were not sure what this mass was, but it was not cancer. The doctors did everything they could to understand and figure out what the huge fast growing mass on his lung.

The word ventilator is a word that no one wants to hear about a family member. My dad was put on a ventilator because he was using all his energy trying to breathe on his own. After two weeks, the hospital looks into a different or alternate way to help the patient’s breathing. Normally a TRAC would be put in the patient.

Saturday, October 3, my dad took his last breath. My family and I stood around his and prayed for him. Prayed that he would not be suffering anymore. Losing someone you love is never easy. The thought of waking up the next day to someone missing is painful but family is always going to be there. They are there for comfort, to lean on, to help in need, and to love one another in times of pain. Family is everything.

Lisa Myers: An Advocate For Women

Lisa Myers is an advocate for women everywhere.

 

Garrett Griffin

Some of the greatest advocates hide in anonymity; some make their presence known to many. Women have endured many hardships at the hands of a world centered on men. Despite such obstacles some women break through and attain an important status. To get one firsthand perspective on the current status of women, I interviewed Ms. Lisa Myers. She is currently the Instructor of Adult Education and the BAAS Coordinator at TAMU-T.

Myers thinks women’s current position in the corporate world she went on to say that

“I still think, especially in the South[ern United States,] that we have some barriers that we need to breakdown. But not so much overt barriers, that is … saying some outward statement that somehow women are inferior to men…but much more indirect such as many employers make the assumption that female workers are working to supplement someone else’s income.”

In her childhood, growing up in the South, Myers and her family experienced different sources and types of discrimination and can connect the past with the present to see the constant weakening of traditional barriers to female entrance into the workforce. Myers discredits this mindset by simply saying,” that is no longer true,” and that” the percentage of women who are the breadwinners of their families, or single, working mothers [are] the fastest growing demographic in our society.” She believes that “we have come a very long way in getting same pay for same work.” She brings up the issue that jobs of hard labor expect higher wages than those that do not despite the fact that such “easy” jobs still require a larger set of skills. Since many of these “office” jobs are filled by women a lower wage has come to be expected than wages received for laborious jobs that are outside the office.

Myers describes women as bringing “a different set of attributes… because of our culture and how we shape and mold individuals.” She elaborates on this by saying that women are better at multitasking, not because of intelligence, but because of our conditioning of genders.

Myers has served on two school boards and the school board of a private school where she helped it become accredited with the state of Texas. This particular school board was over seventy percent male and a current board on which she resides she is the only female member. Myers says this is troubling since “females are the ones who generally serve in that context,” that belong the teachers and staff.

Myers explains that it may be better to consider the positive attributes of women as “‘expectations'” rather than characteristics. In that case she spoke for all women explaining that they often “overcompensate” when put into a position of leadership.

Current society has several women who idolize the progress the female gender has made. Myers believes that Oprah Winfrey, although not ideologically aligned with Myers, has the largest following of people due to her large media presence and large fortune. “People tend to trust her and she has been a successful businesswoman,” which has given Ms. Winfrey a large amount of pull in the feminist sphere of influence.

Myers said that as a leader herself she often fails at one overarching thing: ” producing a peaceful atmosphere.” She said that she always strives for “a win-win situation” but realizes this is not always possible. She does not always give in as easy as she thinks she should in such a situation but she was not sure that this should be considered a negative limitation.

Previous advocates work to give women more chances at leadership have aided in producing the ability for Myers to hold the positions that she has. Myers believes that the most influential historical advocates was “Susan B. Anthony,” who championed women’s rights during the suffrage movement and Eleanor Roosevelt because she was always respected and had a heat of her own which she used in her position of influence as the first lady under her husband Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In addition to these two, she also included Harriet Tubman, who “overcame two barriers, being female and African-American.” In more modern times, in the news world “the one who broke the glass ceiling was Barbara Walters,” according the Myers.

In the next fifty years, Myers sees women “ahead of men [in the workplace] …[because] slowly but surely in the past fifty years females have been overtaking males in the area of education.” She gave the example that “the top ten [schools] are dominated by women” more and more often nowadays and more female students are getting full ride scholarships. In addition to this the median point of male-to-female student ratio was tipped in favor of the women. She went on to say that this “cannot continue without a switching of dominant roles.” There is no middle equilibrium point; either men or women will dominant such statistics, that is certain.

Myers says her “mother and her grandmother” were “strong” and not afraid to show their intelligence.” She said that” it never occurred to me to play dumb…ever.” This results in non-authenticity as women do not showcase their unique talents and strength because they fear it will hurt their chances in ascending the ladder of a corporation. Myers obviously has never done such a thing, she has remained authentic and remains a leader.

Support in the household and a similarity between ideologies within said residence can support and help nurture sound notions in the minds of the involved. When asked about how her husband ‘s actions might have affected her own and whether he supports her I got this response. Myers responded “Yes he does,” and having been married almost thirty years she said that they have discussed issues such as, the supplemental vs. dominant status of salaries and wages of men versus women numerous times. She said that “he made a significant change in the payroll situation at their church” around five years ago in 2009. Now “people [are] paid for their skill sets whether or not they are married…whether or not they have children, you are paying for a job, not based on their life circumstances or their gender.”

Family can often come in the way of career and life planning. Myers says that “[she] put off her education while raising my daughter.” Despite her intense love for education and learning she does not consider this to have been a bad decision and she said that if she had it to do over again she would have done the same thing. She was nor “resentful” of putting her “advancement on hold.”

Myers says that she “fully supports a woman’s own choice in how she maps out her life, and if she chooses to put family on hold to go to school and settle her feet within her profession well absolutely. More power to her!”

She says that “I don’t think any of us has any business making that kind of decision for someone.” She believes that if it takes certain sacrifices to make your situation better and it only affects you directly, go ahead and make those sacrifices.

Myers says that these kinds of questions “are [really] a desk-top topic for me anyway, and I think about it pretty regularly.” I see this as a good thing because we need to keep remembering the issue at hand so we do not slouch and become indifferent and accept the problems of current society. A true she-leader is always concerned with women’s and men’s status in the world and cares to look for solutions to the problems faced by genders. She speaks to me as a true she-leader because of her perpetual concern with women’s status and access to leadership opportunities and her drive to expose others to such thoughts so that perhaps some imputation can occur.

FEATURE: International Journey to Success

Percy Davis

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful,” Albert Schweitzer. This is a quote that Jennifer Melissa Felps took with her through this journey we call life.

Jennifer was born in the “Windy City”, better known as Chicago, Illinois.

Coming from the third most populated city in the U.S. she moved to a much smaller town by the name of Mountain Home, Arkansas.

Throughout her childhood Jennifer participated in many different extra-curricular activities. She also traveled a lot since her mother was from Ecuador. They traveled every other year to Ecuador to visit family and went various places around the U.S. on family vacations every year.

“I really had a passion to learn more about my culture, which is Ecuadorian,” Jennifer said.

After graduating from Mountain Home High School in 2005, she pursued her BA at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. She graduated with a degree in Communications and a minor in Latin American studies.

When looking for a graduate program, Jennifer was looking for something that specifically centered on International/Intercultural communication.

“I was very lucky to find this program at the University of Denver in Colorado. It was an exact mix of what I wanted to pursue and the exact type of environment,” Jennifer added.

In 2012 Jennifer Melissa Felps received her Master’s degree in International and Intercultural Public Relations.

While in Denver, Jennifer was part of a Distance Learning Program, a collaborative effort with the University of Denver, the Cable Center in Denver, C-Span studios in Washington DC, George Mason University, and Purdue University.

Jennifer was the graduate assistant for the University of Denver’s class, a distance learning class that focused on the mid-term elections and the makeup of the Congress at the time.

Students would get the opportunity to interact with the guests that Steve Scully had on his show in Washington DC. Scully is a senior executive producer and political editor of C-Span. Steve was the director of the class and Jennifer was his graduate assistant.

Scully would have many different guests on his show weekly, including speech writers for different presidents and also members of the media such as writers for Politico, and former CBS Evening News anchor , Dan Rather.

Jennifer was in charge of the class and her duties were to make sure that the communication was effective between the DC representatives and her students in the class. She did this for one full academic year.

“It was real cool,” Jennifer said astoundingly.

Before landing the position she holds today, Jennifer worked for the Cable Center in Denver, the Open Media Foundation, and Texarkana College.

She is currently employed at Texas A&M Texarkana with the job title of Global Recruitment Specialist.

Her position deals with marketing and recruitment for international studies.

Over time Jennifer has developed an intelligent global perspective and is an advocate of higher education. Her sincerity helps potential students feel connected to the university.

“I would say I am a pro when it comes to letting people know what to expect in college, how to get into college, how to do well in college, and how to look for the job after you graduate college.”

When asked what it takes to become a good global recruitment specialist this is what Jennifer had to say: “You must have the understanding and appreciation of the importance of intercultural/international relations, not only in a university setting but also in an everyday setting. You will also need excellent communication skills and a thorough knowledge of the university’s admission procedures.”

Jennifer thinks the key to recruiting students is trying to present a topic that the students can relate to their personal lives. She noted that communication is probably the number one aspect to becoming a recruitment specialist.

Jennifer is an extremely outgoing person and the type of person that everyone in the building would like to be around. “What I think makes me stand out from other recruitment specialist is my sincere an enthusiastic passion for higher education,” Jennifer said. “It is important that growing universities internationalize their student population in order to maintain a strong position in our globalized world and I aid in that effort.”

FEATURE: The Woman Behind the Music

Alyssa Bertrand

Beautiful music is what I hear. The sounds of flutes playing to a bird’s voice, the trumpets forming the sounds of a royal guard entering a room, and the percussion playing as if something was about to happen. The sounds of every instrument in the band makes the most beautiful sound one may ever hear. The director moves her hands so smoothly with a slight bounce as if moving with the music, her students all paying close attention to every movement and every word coming out of the director’s mouth. “Thud thud thud,” the sound your shoe makes when it falls to the ground in order to keep the beat. When the song is over, you may hear a clash of the symbols falling to the ground when the student holding them is not paying attention. Nevertheless, the music coming from Stephanie Blackwell-Nelson’s Liberty-Eylau High School band hall is always wonderful.

Stephanie Blackwell-Nelson is the band director of the high school band at Liberty-Eylau. She has been the high school director for ten years. Before working at the high school, she worked at the middle school as the band director. She has alway had a love for music and even as a little girl she wanted to be a band director, accomplish great things with every band she taught, and guide each student with her help. She believes that every school should have a band or at least some form of musical program in order to keep the arts alive. The fine arts departments are normally the first to be cancelled when the budget shrinks but Nelson shows that band programs and music itself can have a positive effect on every student.

She attended and graduated from Texas A&M University-Texarkana with a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences (BAAS) with a major in business. Even though TAMU-T did not offer a music degree, she still had a few options that gave her the degree she always wanted. Nelson is someone who will find an opportunity in any situation no matter how hard and difficult it may be. TAMU-T helped her reach her dream.

“Texas A&M University- Texarkana is one of the best places to go in my opinion. It is close to the community. The professor will help as much as they can and they don’t just teach they make sure you actually learn the material. There are other colleges out there that are bigger but to me TAMU-T was the best of me. Everyone has ‘their college’ and this was mine,” Nelson said.

She smiled and continued, “When I was little, of course I wanted to go off far away from my family and wanted to experience the ‘college life.’ When someone thinks, about how much one truly spends of that great college life everyone talks about then they will see the huge difference in staying at home and going to a local university, then to go off and having to stay in a dorm.”

She added that TAMU-T is not just a university, is it a family. “It may be a huge family, but everyone helps each other. People are friendly even if they do not know you. People hold doors open, and wave and say things like “Hey, how are you?” and “Have a good day” when you happen to be in the elevators with someone. No, they do not know you, but the atmosphere of the campus is joyous.”

Nelson said multiple times that TAMU-T is the reason she is where she is today. They allowed her to continue with her dream and never stop. She tells her students that this university is a great place to go and she would recommend her students to attend TAMUT.

“They don’t let you give up. They don’t let life struggles tear you down. The professor will works with you and will do everything in their power and under school policies they can in order to get you to pass and never stop believing,” she said. Nelson promotes the university everywhere she goes. She even tells people from other schools about her experience at TAMU-T.

Nelson has been the director of many award-winning bands. Her current band earned a sweepstakes two years in a row just recently and is working towards another one this year. In a matter of three years, she helped over 100 students advance to State in solo and ensemble, never leaving the competition with less than 30 medals each year at the state level. These accomplishments are just a few of her many goals that she has achieved. She plans on continuing to excel in her teaching and helping the students improved as much as possible.

She pushes her students to achieve their goals like TAMUT did for her. Nelson is excited to see what TAMUT has in store for the future. Nelson is overjoyed to hear that the university is starting a marching band.  Nelson said joyfully, “There is not a better staff anywhere I have attended or visited than Texas A&M University-Texarkana!”