Professor mentors student athletes
Feb07

Professor mentors student athletes

As she sat in her tiny campus office, surrounded by a capricious collection of teddy bears, Associate Professor Effel Harper pointed to one bear that stood out with purpose among the tiny trinkets positioned strategically around the room, filling the shelves. It reads, “Ms. Harper’s students are number one.” This is how the multi-faceted NCAA liaison, professor, grandmother and mentor makes it a point to treat the 460 student-athletes she works with. “I like that I can make an instant difference in the students’ lives,” she said as she explained the passion she feels for all who wander in and out of her office, fingering random knickknacks and enjoying the popsicles she keeps stowed away in her freezer year-round. Whether it’s academics or just someone to listen to them, Harper acts as a support system in the lives of athletes who can become tangled with responsibility, stress and fatigue. Few know this better than junior marketing and management major and football wide receiver Lance Larsen.  For him, Harper has been a God-send when he wasn’t sure he could perform in both academics and football. Larsen met Harper in a freshman seminar and says he feels blessed to know he has a faculty friend he can look up to. “I know I can count on her to help me figure out what needs to be done even though it’s not her responsibility, and with that if anyone asks me for help I know just who to recommend them to,” he said. Harper’s life as an Army brat traveling all over the world shaped her well-rounded, charismatic nature, and the years spent changing the television channel for her father from basketball to boxing drove her passion for sports, teaching her to go the extra mile even when tasks seemed impossible. “I guess being a fan of sports, I’ve always wanted to give a little extra or be there for that student-athlete,” she said. Channel surfing aside, Harper knows exactly why she is here for her students and keeps constant reminders to herself in the midst of teddy bears and popsicles. “I truly believe God and faith led me here just by how everything fell into place the way it did,” she said, pausing to answer another phone call from an athlete who is anxiety-ridden over being considered for the Indianapolis Colts. Off the field, student-athletes have to factor time management, practices, injuries  and game day into their daily routine, all along with fulfilling academic responsibilities, which, for Harper, holds the most significance. “I want everyone to keep in mind that these are students who happen to be athletes. They’re students first...

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The right to bear arms
Jan24

The right to bear arms

Aside from abortion and the death penalty, gun control has been among the topics that make even the most timorous of political party members’ blood boil. Whether or not one has the right to keep or bear a firearm has meant the turning point in elections, inspired multi-million dollar documentaries and remains a distinct dividing line between stout political values. Bradley McCartney, a first class airman in the Air Force, holds a particular point of view because of the time spent in the armed forces and the arrival of his son into the world six weeks ago.“Guns save our country and they can save a person’s family,” said McCartney. “When used right, they’re the best protection we have. Cops can’t sit outside everyone’s house watching for the bad people, but we can be inside our homes with our own protection,” McCartney said. “As a protector and provider, I believe I have the right to protect my country and my family with a gun.” Circumstances such as those on New Year’s Eve of this year when Sarah McKinley was left to defend herself and her 3-month-old son, make it hard to argue any other way. As two men armed with a 12-inch hunting knife searched the doors and windows of her home attempting to gain access just one week after her husband died of cancer, McKinley faced a difficult choice: the perpetrators or her son. As the men identified as Justin Martin and Justin Stewart proceeded to break down her front door, the 18-year-old single mother had the wherewithal to take the infant and bolt into the bedroom, securing the door as she dialed 911. Unsure of her rights, McKinley asked the operator if she was allowed to shoot the men if they got inside. In a moment when nothing remained but raw maternal instinct, as the men broke through her bedroom door then lunged toward her, McKinley shot Martin dead and sent Stewart fleeing for his life into the freezing night. She made the choice to end one man’s life in order to protect her son. This, in itself, is justification of owning a gun. Situations beyond people’s control  can plunge them into the position no one in their right mind would want to be, on the firing end of the trigger. Laurie Moore, who is serving her second year in the Navy said, “I think she had every right to do what she did … especially keeping in mind that she wasn’t just alone. She had her baby with her.” Moore described the anger and fear she is taught to feel  as unnecessary, “My house has never been...

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Finding confidence through weight loss

The turn of a New Year and the beginning of a new semester have students plunging into an assortment of new activities in hopes of easing the pain induced with re-entry into all-nighters and Ramen noodle diets. For some, however, learning how to manage stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle isn’t a choice. In June 2011, just a few months after transferring from McLennan Community College in Waco to UMHB, sophomore history major Erin Goolsby was unwittingly thrust into her transformation when a health issue threatened her future. “When I found out about my issues with my gallbladder, I decided it was time to make a change. I was actually at my heaviest when I found out my gallbladder wasn’t working well and that I would have to have it removed,” she said. At first all she did was remove the unhealthy foods from her diet to lose a substantial amount of weight, 30 pounds to be exact. “It wasn’t a quick process, obviously. But the weight just started coming off as I dieted. It was exciting because I had never made that much progress in my entire life,” she said. “I plan to lose about another 30 pounds because I want to be at a healthy weight for my height.” She and senior elementary education major Leah Hough attended their first Zumba class recently to kick-start their new regimen and plan to continue every Wednesday night. Goolsby and Hough have been friends since sixth grade, and Hough describes their relationship as a good support system that has proved stronger than the obstacles 11 years of friendship have thrown at them. “There have been days when I’m just not motivated,” Goolsby said. “I’ll get stressed, and all I want to do is sleep. I would say that’s my biggest obstacle. Goolsby has a backup plan for sudden relapses. “I have an emergency jar of Nutella in the pantry, but exercise is the best stress release for me,” she said. Goolsby understands the amount of work she needs to do to reach her goal, but her new-found confidence and security have created room to encourage others. “Just make yourself a goal and stick with it. Even if it’s thrust upon you like mine was, just keep going with it. I will get better with time and vigilance.” Junior nursing major Kara Cornelio is learning to deal with stress in ways that will improve her health. She also has exhaustive study demands as she enters the third semester in pursuit of her BSN 3,000 miles away from her boyfriend and her dachshund. “I’m already so swamped with school that it’s hard...

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