New actor emerges, aims for big success
Apr29

New actor emerges, aims for big success

Most computer science majors seek post-graduation employment as IT specialists or software developers, but not senior Johnny Riojas. In some respects, he leads a double life when it comes to preparation for his future. This year, he attends UMHB during the week, and then on the weekends, he makes the hour-and-a-half drive to College Station to take classes from his acting coach, Nikki Pederson a highly acclaimed talent scout.   While many UMHB students plan to head back to their hometowns of Houston, Dallas, Austin or a number of other Texas cities, Riojas plans to move to Los Angeles, California to take the pursuit of his dream to the next level: Hollywood.   Riojas, who was born and raised in Austin, Texas said of his childhood, “Growing up was pretty simple. I would go to school, then come home and do my homework, and then go out and hit (baseballs) with my dad in the fields.”   Baseball was a big part of his upbringing as his dad played and subsequently influenced him to. Riojas knew from a young age he either wanted to play professional baseball or act. He played all throughout grade school and college, playing for   UMHB’s baseball team for one season.   Even though he’s pursuing an acting career, he believes baseball has helped shape his character.   “I guess one of the things I learned from baseball was leadership and a strong work ethic.”   Pederson said of Riojas, “He’s a relatively new actor, but I’m very impressed with Johnny’s natural ability. He’s very funny, and has good comedic timing, but he also has the ability to be vulnerable, organic, and honest. Emotionally, he’s a generous actor.”   She also said, “I feel he has a realistic idea of the work and time it will take in order to be successful as a respected actor. The greatest asset Johnny has is his “like-ability” factor. It’s off the charts.”   Playing a minor role in 2014 film “Men, Women and Children” Riojas got the opportunity to work alongside stars like Kaitlyn Denver, Rosemarie DeWitt and Ansel Elgort.   This was a learning experience for Riojas who said of the filming process, “It was a great experience being on set and getting a feel for how the process goes.   Riojas was also a featured extra in the TV series From Dusk Till Dawn on the El Rey Network., and is currently working on his own movie Gone Astray set to be filmed in Los Angeles this summer.   He said, “I owe a lot of this to my high school friends. I was the shy...

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Editor bids campus farewell
Apr29

Editor bids campus farewell

Crusaders, it has been an honor to serve as the editor of your newspaper, The Bells. I am so very thankful to the students, faculty and staff who read our work and whose accomplishments and involvement on campus and in the Central Texas community provide stories worth telling.   I can hardly believe that my four-year academic journey at UMHB is drawing to a close. It seems like only last semester I was a freshman sitting in Introduction to the Mass Media filling out an interest form to work on this award-winning publication, which has become a cornerstone of my involvement here.   I am grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to partake in so many of the rich traditions and events that make UMHB so special, even if I witnessed a great number of them through the viewfinder of a camera while furiously scribbling down the names of people of whom I needed to ask questions.   As Mrs. Vicky Kendig, UMHB’s former mass communication professor and newspaper adviser often said, “Journalism is the first draft of history.”   The class of 2015 is fortunate to have seen what I believe is one of the most vibrant eras of UMHB’s history since Old Baylor’s founding in Independence.   During the construction and completion of Crusader Stadium, the Bawcom Student Union, the Baugh Center for the Visual Arts, the Isabelle Rutherford Meyer Nursing Education Center along with the ongoing renovations of the Mabee Student Center and Hardy Hall, we’ve watched a beautiful campus transform into a spectacular one.   I can only hope that the incoming freshman class of 2019 will brim with as much purple pride and Crusader spirit as has coursed through my veins since my ‘Sader Day in the spring of 2011 when I was a soon-to-be high school graduate excited for all the opportunities this phase of life would offer.   I came to UMHB with high expectations academically, socially and spiritually, and each has been exceeded beyond measure.   I wish my fellow graduates the best in their endeavors and urge those who stay after us to make the most of their time with the friends they make while carrying on our time-honored traditions of service and excellence with faithfulness and devotion to our Purple, White and...

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Gov. Scott Walker: A higher degree of success?
Mar04

Gov. Scott Walker: A higher degree of success?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who has been outspoken on U.S. economic matters and is known for breaking up labor unions in his home state has been turning heads in both parties as he’s gained momentum as a possible GOP contender for the presidential nomination in 2016.   Walker’s critics, Democratic and Republican alike, have already begun their smear campaigns against him. Their point of focus: his lack of a college degree.   Howard Dean, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, appeared on cable news channel MSNBC’s talk show Morning Joe late last month and said Walker was unfit for office because he didn’t continue his college education past his junior year.   “I worry about people being president of the United States not knowing much about the world and not knowing much about science,” Dean said.   What Dean and many of Walker’s critics who share similar viewpoints fail to acknowledge is that the man became the governor of a state and enjoyed a fairly high approval rating without the help of a diploma. This fact, combined with his age shows he clearly has more insight into life and government than many college juniors.   Traditionally, while most recent presidents have had degrees, their successes and failures in smaller political arenas are what make or break their presidential campaigns and administrations.   Walker’s beginnings further illustrate that not everyone needs a college diploma to be successful. Upon leaving Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, accepted a job with American car manufacturer IBM. After success there, he took a marketing position at the American Red Cross. He worked his way into politics at the age of 23, winning a seat in the Wisconsin State Assembly, and became governor 17 years later in 2010.   In some ways, his lack of a college degree makes him more successful. He’s competed in the job market and the world of politics at a disadvantage, and he has still managed to rise to prominence. Further, it shows a resolve and a confidence on his part that his record speaks for itself.   The American people should not fear a potential leader who lacks a degree. In fact, those who would criticize Walker have an out-of-touch, elitist mentality. Less than 30 percent of American adults have a bachelor’s degree. It’s insulting to the other 70 percent to say that someone with a background similar to theirs is unfit for service to his or her country based simply on their educational level.   Is life experience completely valueless? Even within the halls of academia, real-world learning is essential. Internships, student teaching and observation hours play vital roles...

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Annual writer’s festival a success
Mar04

Annual writer’s festival a success

In February, the university’s English department hosted its annual writer’s festival. This is a three-day event devoted to creativity and learning where students, staff, faculty and guest authors can learn about and share writing.   “I think that it’s important for the campus community and the broader community to be exposed to the literature that’s being created in the here and now. The festival is a place where both writing and faith are taken seriously,” Professor of English Dr. Nathaniel Hansen said of the event, which he has now directed for three years.   Although the event takes place over a span of three days, many months of prior preparation are necessary.   “The planning process begins about a year ahead of the festival when I start contacting potential featured writers,” Hansen said.   Once I line up the featured writers, I create a general call for papers for local, regional, state, and national writers to read as part of a panel. It’s a process that I very much enjoy.”   Hansen likes the interaction between writers of diverse places and walks of life.   “It’s a pleasure to watch writers of varying levels and differing backgrounds interact with one another. It’s also a great opportunity for our students, not just English majors, to hear from talented writers.”   Hansen was pleased with this year’s turnout and looks forward to the coming year.   “Events were well attended this year, and we had more festival participants than in prior years. Some participants traveled from Ohio, Nebraska, Michigan and Oklahoma,” he said.   Kelsey Belcher, a senior English major and president of Sigma Tau Delta said, “I was a student volunteer. I worked the book and check-in tables, and helped Dr. Hansen, who runs the Writers’ Festival, with other miscellaneous tasks in order to keep the festival running smoothly.”   Belcher believes it’s necessary to expose the campus to various writing forms with events like the writer’s festival.   “Writing is important, because it provides an outlet for self-expression and fosters creative and academic interaction with others,” she said.   Grace Lindig, a senior English major who also worked a table at the festival said, “It was truly an awesome experience and I’m sad I won’t be here next...

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Students, faculty react to former president’s visit
Feb18

Students, faculty react to former president’s visit

Last week, former President George W. Bush spoke to a packed Mayborn Campus Center bursting with more than 2,800 students, faculty and staff members, UMHB donors and close friends of the university leadership.   Following his acceptance of an honorary doctorate of humanities to match the ones his parents, former President George H.W. and first lady Barbara Bush also received from the university, he was greeted by a long, thunderous standing ovation.   “I am so honored to receive an honorary degree. I noticed it is not a doctorate in the English language,” Bush joked. “When I was president, sometimes I could have put things a little more artfully. They asked me at the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks about Osama bin Laden, and I said, ‘we gonna get him dead or alive.’ Laura, when I got back to the residence, said, ‘You could have been a little more diplomatic.’ And I said, ‘At least they heard me in Texas.’”   Dr. Stephen Crawford who is a professor of music and the conductor of the percussion ensemble was among the faculty members in attendance at the Feb. 11 event. He was thankful he was able to listen to Bush on the campus he serves.   “I felt that it was such a privilege to hear from a former president. His words were uplifting as he shared his ideas on service and how important his faith is in setting his views,” he said. “We so enjoyed his humor and how he related to our university and community.”   Junior business major Jessica Pitcaithly echoed Crawford’s sentiments.   “I thought having George W. Bush speak at our school showed me how proud I am of our school and our country. To be able to come together and be excited about hearing one of our past presidents gave me a lot of school pride and patriotic pride too,” she said.   She was struck by his down-to-earth demeanor and agreed with the conservative and spiritual viewpoint most Americans associate with Bush.   “He was funny, genuine and was a great example of what a Christian leader looks like and I think we need more of that,” Pitcaithly said.   Savannah Davis, a junior education major was impressed with the humility she believes Bush displayed. She was also impressed that an important world leader would have a sense of humor.   She said, “I thought it was a great experience getting to see George W. Bush and hear him speak. For being the former leader of the free world, he was very humble and surprisingly funny.”   Davis said the part of Bush’s...

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