New organization helps vets feel more at home
Nov16

New organization helps vets feel more at home

According to the Veterans Affairs office, there are 480 military veterans on the campus. That’s nearly 13 percent of students, faculty and staff. To celebrate those who dedicated their time to service, UMHB played Marches of the Armed Forces at halftime of the home football game on Veterans Day, and students wore red to their classes on Friday. Despite the high percentile of veterans, Mike Harrigan and Thad Imerman noticed a lack of social groups for veterans. With this absence in mind, Harrigan and Imerman formed Veterans Helping Veterans, a Bible study through the Baptist Student Ministries that’s dedicated to creating a group specifically for veterans and ROTC cadets. Harrigan, senior pastor of Fairview Community Church and senior biblical studies major, said Veterans Helping Veterans is a Bible study group for veterans, where they also discuss any veteran issues here on campus or in their lives. “We have experience and contacts with veterans’ administration, and hospitals, but we concentrate on the spiritual formation and spiritual health of the veterans. We want them to feel a little bit more at home here.” The organization’s founders understand the struggles of veterans because they both have served in the military. Harrigan spent 21 years in the Army and retired as a first sergeant, while Imerman was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant from the Army. They found the process of continuing their educational career difficult, and seek to aid other veterans who want to further their academic careers. “[The group] helps a lot in validating the experience. I had veterans coming into campus as transfers, not new students. There was no sit-down explanation of what benefits they’re going to get, that the VA provides for them…there was no real guidance given for these vets coming in. The camaraderie also helps with those still suffering from PTSD or separation from the military.” Through their connections and experiences throughout the VA and other benefits of the military, Harrigan and Imerman are able to assist newly discharged or retired veterans who are still adjusting to civilian life. Since veterans are nontraditional students, most of them commute from the Temple or Killeen areas to school each day, isolating them from traditional campus life. “They’re gonna feel sort of lonely,” Harrigan said. “This is another way to get our arms around them in that so they feel welcomed and a part of the program. It’s an easy way to create that camaraderie again.” Imerman praised the group for its ability to connect him with people he wouldn’t have otherwise met as a journalism major. “I’ve met four or five veterans I didn’t know, and an ROTC kid.”...

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Exploitation of personal loss is cruel and unjust
Nov15

Exploitation of personal loss is cruel and unjust

A lot of things change when your house burns down. The grief hits all at once, yes; but also in succeeding waves. Aftershocks of realization are as painful as the first wave as remnants of our loved and lost ones disappear. It’s not the financial loss that hurts. It’s the loss of pictures and second grade homework and childhood trophies. A home that housed Christmas celebrations, memorials, and birthdays is now unsafe to venture into—caution tape bars the beams where a door used to be. Ties to sentimentalities are strengthened when ashes are all that’s left of them. Shopping isn’t nearly as fun when it’s simply to have enough clothes to last a week. The loss of these things, however, pale in comparison to the loss of our beloved mutt, Killey, who left my mother’s side in the fire and never found her way out. We joke that if this hadn’t taken her, nothing would have, because she was so strongwilled and energetic, so bossy and loyal. She lost an eye to a porcupine and survived it, she was sprayed by skunks seven times and still chased black and white tails. Killey even licked a poisonous toad (only once), and has weathered winters in Michigan and summers in Texas, faithful to her family. I picked up the phone Wednesday, Oct. 25 to take a call from my stepdad. He is currently working for the state dept. in Israel, and feels much of the same helplessness I feel in being so far away from my family home in Michigan. His voice, normally so strong and logical, shook as he asked if I heard. “Heard about the house?” I asked. He paused, then: “Killey didn’t make it.” There wasn’t much to say after that. He told me to go on Facebook, and we watched our house burning down on the local news’ Facebook Live. I joined as the smoke billowed out from the roof and firefighters continued to submerge our house in gushes of water. The windows were all broken through, and the house was dark, too dark, for 3 o’clock on an October afternoon. Outrage sparked inside of me as the shaky video broadcasted our misfortune to 4.4 thousand viewers. The Petoskey News-Review received higher views from that live video than any other posts in the last month. As a journalist, I get it. If it bleeds, it leads, right? But there is a difference between sharing news and exploiting a family for views. They stood on our property, excitedly following firefighters and smoke, watching the views and the likes and the heartfelt condolences pour in. The News-Review made me...

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Missions-focused event inspires future missionaries
Oct26

Missions-focused event inspires future missionaries

UMHB’s 18th annual Missions Emphasis Week provides opportunities for missionaries and students to connect over global awareness, relationships, opportunities and service through a week of events, seminars and special appearances. Seek the City, this year’s theme, is based on Jeremiah 29:7, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you…” The multifaceted theme, illustrated by cross-cultural events and seminars, focuses on working in the best interest of one’s community. MEW co-director Jamie Habermehl, senior education major, oversees the prayer subcommittee. “[Seek the City] applies to a lot of things. It could be here in Belton because that’s where we are, or when God calls you to another city or another country; pretty much wherever you are to spread the Gospel and seek the good of the city.” Habermehl is currently focusing on benefiting the UMHB community, but anticipates to wherever the Lord may send her next. “I seek to do the best I can to serve [UMHB] and do whatever I can for the people here.” Shawn Shannon, director of the Baptist Student Ministries, looks forward to the relationships fostered during MEW. “When I look up and I see a missionary talking to a student or I see missionaries from different agencies obviously brainstorming and the sparks are flying, I thank the Lord that our steering committee built a nest under the Lord’s leadership for that kind of stuff to land in.” Missionaries visiting UMHB seek their areas of influence in the same way, like Keith McDougal, founder of Agape Impact Ministries. Him and his wife Naan seek to care for orphans in the Philippines, which has an orphan population of 1.8 million. “We’ve been in ministries where people say they won’t care for orphans, so we stepped out in faith and trust in Him.” As McDougal’s second year at MEW, his goals are not to recruit students, but to educate them about the issue and about Agape Impact. “Somebody has to take care of these kids, and there’s young men and woman here that have a heart to care for orphans. If God brings one of those to us, that’ll be a beautiful thing,” he said. Habermehl looks forward to reconnecting with missionaries that she’s met at previous missions emphasis weeks, like Mike Kahil. “[Kahil] does bible translating for regions and people that don’t have a bible in their language,” Habermehl said. “I’ve gotten to meet him over the past two years and we’ve gotten close.” When asked about the importance of MEW, Habermehl spoke highly of the week. “It shows students that missions is something they can do. I never thought of it before...

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Avery Polchinski, the back to school alum
Oct13

Avery Polchinski, the back to school alum

Avery Polchinski, class of 2016, earned his bachelor’s in marketing and his master’s degree in education from UMHB while earning accolades as a Cru basketball player. “I chose to attend UMHB not only because I wanted to play basketball there, but because it felt like home,” Polchinski said. “I can remember my first visit and I just felt like this was where I was supposed to attend college. It’s a special place filled with a lot of caring people.” It wasn’t long before Polchinski was settling in at his alma mater and playing with the Cru basketball team. He said that his time spent with his fellow players was life-changing. “It pushed me to my limits mentally and physically, and made me realize I can do things even when I think I can’t.” The alumnus said the rigors of being a disciplined player helped him manage his time better and ditch the excuses. “Everything that I have learned in basketball has prepared for me every aspect of life,” he said. “Through basketball I learned more about myself and life than the game of basketball itself.” As a freshman, Polchinski lived in the green hall of McLane in 2011. He remembers the ups and downs of being a first-year college student, and he has some words of wisdom for those who are just beginning their time at the university. “If I had any advice for a freshman it would have to be to follow the career choice that they would love doing, regardless of the money involved. No matter what it is, the path of happiness is far more important than the path of wealth.” Born and raised in Temple, Polchinski has a special connection to the central Texas community and chose to stay and teach in the area after graduating from UMHB. He currently works as a middle school math teacher and coach at Eastern Hills Middle School in Harker Heights. He finds being teacher difficult, but rewarding. “If I had to say one thing to future teachers, I would say this: treat each and every day as an opportunity to be a better teacher than you were the day before. Your students will be able to feed off of you, which will not only encourage them to do better, but it will make your classroom a better learning environment and help students thrive in school and in life.” He chose to become a teacher because he wanted to make a difference in the world. “There were many teachers that affected my life in a positive way, and I hope I can be a role model to some of...

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Volleyball player overcomes ACL tear with team’s support
Oct13

Volleyball player overcomes ACL tear with team’s support

Determination triumphs adversity as Sydney Stolz returns to the court for the 2017 season, stronger than when she left. The junior public relations major and middle defensive player of the UMHB volleyball team tore her ACL last season. Although not yet a starting middle, Stolz sees some playing time as Coach Frost allows. Nonetheless, being back with her team has made all the difference, and has fostered a sense of thankfulness. “After every game or practice, I’m thankful that I made it through. I like getting to meet people who have gone through the same injury and encourage them. I made so many connections throughout this process.” Stolz was on the court during a conference home game against McMurry University last season. “We were losing, so I was mad, and I play harder when I’m mad. I went to the right side to block a hit and felt my ACL pop.” The experience was not only painful because of the injury, but also because it happened in front of loved ones. “My whole family was there, all my friends… it was horrible,” Stolz said. But despite her injury, Stoltz’s priorities stayed intact. The volleyball player went through a full year of intense recovery and physical therapy to heal from her tear, and is still recovering now. “I had to go to physical therapy two days after my surgery just to get it moving again,” Stolz said. “I went to [physical therapy at] Scott and White twice a week, and went every day to my trainers here at UMHB.” Stolz praised her trainers for their patience with her. “My trainer Emily Patrick was fantastic,” she said. She is now playing again at full strength, albeit inhibited by the brace. “I came in stronger this season—with more muscle mass, so that was a big win.” Coach Rob Frost, who has been the head volleyball coach for seven seasons at UMHB, praises her recovery and athletic talent. “She’s able to practice and play 100 percent. She’s working hard to recover her transition speed. Her jump touch and hitting strength are in a great spot right now.” Having gone through several ACL recoveries himself, Frost was empathetic to Stolz during her recovery time. “He was very supportive through all this. He’s been very motivating. He checked in with me throughout the whole process but not pushing me to a point where it’s not healthy for me. He knows how easy it is to re-injure it,” Stolz said. The volleyball player’s teammates were also a major support system. “They checked on me a lot throughout my recovery. I got to talk to them on...

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