Student in the driver’s seat
Dec09

Student in the driver’s seat

If Cherith Jones were passed on the highway, no one would think anything different of her Chevy truck. Few know it  has a Canadian lift system, which is necessary to boost her wheel chair from the ground into the driver’s position. Jones, a senior psychology major, got her license when she was 18 years old. Born with a genetic birth defect called spino bifida, she is unable to feel anything from the waist down. But this has not deterred her from buying her own groceries, cheering with fellow students in Couch Cru and attending college classes. She said the best part of driving is “just having that freedom and being able to go whenever I want to go. Being independent is such a huge deal for someone with a disability because you have to depend sometimes (on others) for a lot.” After spending four years at Odessa Comm-unity College in her hometown, Jones transferred to UMHB knowing she wanted to pursue a degree in psychology. Others seem to be able to talk to her easily, and she enjoys taking conversations to deeper levels. “I really like listening to people’s problems. I really do,” Jones said. So she thought, “Why not get paid for it?” Jones hopes to continue her education at the university by getting a master’s degree in counseling after graduating in May 2009. Junior social work major, Daniel Alejandro, said, “At first, I was kind of intimidated because she has a strong personality. She’s not shy.” Alejandro, like others, was worried he might offend Jones by asking about her disability. “I was afraid that I might say something wrong,” he said. “But as I soon found out, it doesn’t really matter because she’s one of us.” For another friend’s birthday, Alejandro and Jones created what they call a “Batman movie” by play-acting in front of their digital cameras. One of the scenes starred Jones in her wheelchair as she chased Batman, played by sophomore Gordon Eggleston. “She’s always in (the games) and likes to have fun with us,” Alejandro said. Jones has resolved to help make others at ease around her. “Being able to laugh with your disability and to have fun with it and to talk about it, I think that makes people a lot more comfortable,” she said. Alejandro said she is outgoing and talks openly about herself. “She makes jokes out of it, too.” He said, “She’s like ‘I’ll kick you.’” Junior piano performance major Hannah Horton is also a friend of Jones. “(Cherith) participates in all the activities we participate in. It doesn’t hold her back at all,” Horton said. “She’s one of...

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Local church welcomes with love and food
Nov18

Local church welcomes with love and food

After chapel and classes on Wednesday, about 230 students make the less-than-a-mile trip to the First United Methodist Church on 3rd Avenue. Not for attending services, but to be served a home-cooked meal. The church has been providing lunches to college students in its fellowship hall for the past four years. Volunteers have seen tremendous growth, particularly in this year’s attendance. “We’re the victim of our own success,” said Jack Sykes, the chairman of the witness committee that sponsors the ministry. When they first began serving meals, there were typically 30-40 in attendance. This year, the response has been nearly overwhelming. “We budgeted based on last year’s attendance, which was 75-80 on average,” Sykes said. “This year, we started off with 140.” Due to rising food costs, the church had to make a decision. “We have two choices — either we cut back on the quality of the meal, which we don’t want to do,” Sykes said, “or we need some help.” First United Methodist recently added a donation box to the beginning of the food line, asking for a dollar donation. “The students that are coming seem to enjoy it. We don’t like the idea of having to ask for donations,” Sykes said. “We want to be clear on that. We don’t like it.” Sophomore education major Joanna Schildwachter said, “I think that’s fair enough. You get a good — size meal.” Overall, students seem to be responsive to their request for support. “It tastes good, and the least we can do is give a dollar,” Schildwacther said. Because the donation box has only been there a few weeks, the volunteers anticipate the word will get around in the near future. “We think it’ll get better as we go along,” Sykes said. There are usually 10 volunteers helping with everything from the prep work of browning 50 pounds of beef the day before, to giving students rides to and from campus, to cleaning up afterward. Some volunteers have been a part of the ministry from the get-go, while others willingly step in when needed. “I’m actually emergency help today,” volunteer Paul McKinley said. The kitchen was short staffed, but other members of First United Methodist filled in the gap. “It’s what I’m called to do; it’s part of being a church,” McKinley said. “It’s stepping up to the plate.” Gary Brown, who may be seen driving the bus to and from the church any given Wednesday, has been volunteering for three years. “I think it’s a good mission,” he said. “It keeps me busy. I’m retired twice.” Brown is equally amazed at the expansion. “The first year we...

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Crusader Knight ’97 in band
Nov04

Crusader Knight ’97 in band

Jason Baird, Mr. Crusader Knight of 1997, used to wear the sought-after crown. Representing Burt Hall, he entertained students with a two-minute video that was voted students’ and judges’ choice for favorite video his sophomore year in college. Now Baird stands on stage for a different crowd. He is a singer and bass player for Austin’s Bridge, an up-and-coming band known for its bluegrass, country feel. According to Christianity Today, their sound can be likened to that of Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts and 33Miles. “Hands down, they’re the best new ‘guy group’ in faith-based country-pop,” Christianity Today’s music review said. Baird met Justin Rivers, the lead singer and guitarist, in Austin, Texas. They wanted to use music to “bridge the gap between   a sinful man and a holy God,” Baird said. The group has been together since 2006 and recently enjoyed the spotlight for receiving the 2008 Dove Award for Bluegrass Recorded Song of the Year, “He’s in Control.” They were nominationed for three awards. Rivers said, “We were shocked because they’re so many people who don’t know who we (are).” The threesome, made of worship pastors Rivers, Baird and Toby Hitchcock, have been involved in music in some form since  childhood. “I knew music was the only thing I was going to do,” Rivers said. “I tried to play football in high school, and I tried to pursue other avenues of interest, but none that I liked as well as music. It just consumed me.” Hitchcock’s parents were musicians, so he grew up travelling. “I remember being on the road and being like 4 years old and singing all their songs in the back seat,” Hitchcock said. For Baird, ministry has been his resounding calling. He was a youth pastor before he became a music minister. “In my worship leading area, I was like ‘This is fun, but I don’t want to stand up and conduct music.’ I want to work with a band,” Baird said. “So I started working with bands. That’s where my passion for music developed.” Each member has traveled a long road to get to the place where he is now. Rivers said he got a kid guitar for Christmas when he was 3 years old. He and the six-stringed instrument were inseparable. “I don’t really recall this,” Rivers said, “but (my mom) said that I would carry it around … day and night, like it was my security blanket.” As a child, he entertained church members nearly every Sunday, trying to play along during worship. Rivers said, “People would be on stage singing, and I would be the little kid on fourth...

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Golfers swing for victory

With the wisp of a driver cutting through the air and the crack of the club hitting the little white ball, junior elementary education major Courtney Nelson breathes a sigh of relief. It was another good drive. She finished the Seguin Lady Bulldog Classic in second place, just one stroke behind the leader. Nelson also led the women’s team to finish in second overall. Each of the five Lady Cru finished within the top 16 individual scores for the tournament, ending the fall season with success. “(Nelson’s) come a long way since last year. She came in with no confidence in her game anymore,” Head women’s golf Coach, Darla Kirby, said. “She’s really found that confidence and, a lot of that is because of her hard work.” The men’s team finished fifth at the Bohmann Invitational Oct. 27 and 28 which was held in Seguin. Davis Dewald, the men’s team leader, tied for second place as an individual. Aaron Rodeffer spent several years coaching at the high school level, but joined UMHB as the men’s head golf coach in July. When comparing the high school and college level team coaching experience, Rodeffer said, “They’re two totally different animals to me.” He found the right fit at the university and hopes to contribute to the success of the team. “It’s everything I was looking for in my coaching aspiration … moving up to the college ranks is something I had on my career goal list,” Rodeffer said. “I couldn’t think of a better place than Mary Hardin-Baylor to start that.” The men’s team is hoping to continue the tradition of finishing as conference champions and advancing to the nationals, a history of successes established by previous coach, Randy Mann. Both the men’s and women’s teams practice at least five days a week. Between qualifying and working on short games, the teams manage to keep a competitive edge. Practices are held at the Wildflower Country Club in Temple. Rodeffer said the course compares to the difficulty of numerous others. “I think Wildflower is enough of a challenge to help us keep a competitive edge and really work on our games so that we can compete in conference.” After playing the same 18 holes at Wildflower week after week, the players improve their game. At tournaments where the greens are not as familiar, the different course layouts can be an added challenge. “The guys would probably say it’s not as difficult as some of the courses we play, but they get to play it every day,” he said. “When we go to tournament, we’re playing a relatively new course that we don’t...

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Or not to skip?
Nov04

Or not to skip?

“You deserve it.” Where did that idea come from? It’s heard in commercials for everything from new Hummer H3s, Suave shampoos and Pop-Tart ads. America is inundated with the notion that the world owes its citizens whatever they deem themselves worthy of receiving. What has been the result? Keep your eyes and ears open during your next trip to Wal-Mart. A parent slapping his or her kid’s hand as he or she reaches for candy in the checkout line is a normal sight to see. American commercialism seems to say people deserve whatever it is they want. The freedom to make the decision doesn’t mean each of the choices is right. Americans have grown with “healthy” breakfast cereal — call it sugar drowning in a homogenized dairy product. What people have grown are spoiled, selfish brats. It’s not just children who gorge on all the Lucky Charms marshmallows first, either. College students routinely expect to get good grades for just showing up, and they don’t want to take any notes when there. Since when were college classes reduced to the kindergarten level in the minds of students? They show up for naptime or spend the whole time texting and doodling. Do they realize they (or their parents) have spent nearly two grand for that class? If the class meets three times a week, then each class period costs about $42. For two days a week, it costs about $63. Attending a class is the same as a new outfit from Target, including the shoes and handbag. Maybe they don’t stop to think about it when they press snooze for the tenth time and decide they can still pass even if they skip. They don’t take into account that somewhere down the road they may really need to miss a class. Just like the kid who eats all the marshmallows in the breakfast cereal first, leaving a soggy mess of Cheerio-like shapes to be the taste left in his or her mouth at the end. Every session has value, almost a dollar for every minute. Don’t forget to set the alarm clock and set aside more time than a late night cram session the day before exams. Eat breakfast. Lucky Charms semi-counts since it’s been shocked with vitamins. But save some marshmallows for the last few...

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