New group grows rapidly, promotes culture
Jan10

New group grows rapidly, promotes culture

The Association of Black Students is one of the university’s newest organizations and is starting out full force as it gains numbers. It is responsible for the campus gospel choir and step team. Last semester they spearheaded a breast cancer awareness campaign called Pink Out. Director of Student Organizations Tiffany Wurdman said, “They are one of the most active organizations, and they are a group we have met with a lot because they are passionate about bringing change to this campus.” The organization was chartered a year ago and started as a small group of seven friends. In a year it grew to a thriving group with 70 official members and 30 active members. President of ABS senior communication major Jasmine Austin said, “At the end of the year, we wanted to expand. We were thinking we could get six or seven more people and then we could really do something, but at the sign up date we had like 100 people sign up.” Contrary to what the name might suggest, the Association of Black Students does not exclude other ethnicities from joining the group. It a diverse group of students with members that hail from all walks of life. The aim of the organization is to create a broader understanding of black culture. ABS Vice President junior criminal justice major Pearlie Gault said, “We are not discriminating against any person at UMHB. We are basically here to educate everyone about the black history and the culture of African Americans. Our motto is black is the presence of all colors.” The gospel choir was one of the first parts of the association. They have not performed at many events and are still getting off the ground, but they have at least two performances scheduled this semester. The step team is a recent addition to the organization. It is a small team of roughly eight members. Last semester they performed for a Preview Weekend event. Austin said, “ Our step team is ambitious. They want to expand and perform at more events. I think that when they do begin to book dates, they will get bigger.” ABS hopes to continue to grow  this new year. They have a number of events planned for black history month including an open mic night, an event called Gospel Explosion and a special black history themed chapel. The first open mic night is scheduled just after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Director of Media Services Dr. George Harrison will do an impression of Martin Luther King and give a speech. Along with some poetry readings and songs, important facts about black history will be...

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Internationals plan for holidays away from home
Nov15

Internationals plan for holidays away from home

With the semester coming to a close and the holidays fast approaching, many students are preparing to pack up their cars to go spend time with family. Some, however, are a little farther away from the places they call home. Because international students aren’t always able to travel those distances frequently, they find other ways to spend their breaks. Though sophomore economics major Pablo Mena won’t be going the 4,000 miles to his home in Spain for Thanksgiving, he will have a piece of home here with him. His mother, father and younger sister are traveling to visit him for the holiday break. The trip will be the family’s first to Texas, and his dad and sister’s first visit to the United States. “They can’t wait,” Mena said. “My sister’s status on Skype is ‘Going to the U.S.’ with a little flag.” While they’re here, Mena plans to take his family to San Antonio, watch a Baylor football game at the Dallas Cowboys stadium and maybe do some shopping. But first he wants to show them around the campus so they can get a feel for his life in Belton. “I want them to meet the people I interact with here — my friends,” Mena said. They will celebrate Thanksgiving day together at the home of what Mena calls his “American family.” “It’s a friend’s family which has really become my family,” Mena said. “I started going on the weekends to their house, and eventually I started going a lot more.” Last year was Mena’s first time celebrating the American holiday, and he said it reminded him of being in Spain. “I loved the food, and I loved the family atmosphere because we do that a lot,” he said. “I live really close to my aunties and uncles in Spain, so we get together as a family, and I really love it.” Though there are many similarities between his home country and America, Mena has noticed some differences in the ways the two celebrate holiday seasons. “People here in the States, they’re all about themes in the holidays. They like to decorate a lot, and they take it very seriously,” he said. While he enjoys both, Mena is looking forward to being able to travel home for the Christmas break. “Spain and the U.S. are two very different countries,” he said. “I love the U.S., but it’s a different culture. I can’t wait to see my family and my friends and be back at home.” Unlike Mena, many of the Chinese students on campus will not be traveling overseas for the Christmas break. Sophomore computer science major Evan Guo...

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Student serves with man’s best friend
Nov15

Student serves with man’s best friend

By Nicole Johnson Thousands of Pentagon employees returned to work on Sept. 13, 2001, with the horrific events of 9/11 still haunting their minds. The day began with a bomb threat that prompted an emergency evacuation of the building. Worried and nervous personnel feared another terrorist attack and quickly vacated the premises, but former Army staff sergeant and current UMHB history education major Martin Lowrey did the opposite. He and his K-9 comrade, Kiko, fearlessly headed toward the hallway of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s office, which was the suspected location of the bomb. “You (could) just smell the pungency of the burnt building,” he said. “Because where the plane went in, it wasn’t far from that area. I went over, search the hallway with Kiko, didn’t get a response from Kiko. EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) came through, did their clearance thing, and the Pentagon was cleared.” Lowrey was a military police dog handler and Kiko was his 6-year-old, highly trained German shepherd partner. On that particular day, their assignment was to report to the Pentagon to search for explosive devices in the already heavily damaged complex. Through the years, this dynamic duo of man and dog often found themselves in or around historical events. As a lover of history, Lowrey jokes about their experiences. “Sometimes I feel like the Forrest Gump of the Military Police Corps. Just like the scenes in Forrest Gump, he was always at those spots in history.” Two months after the Pentagon assignment, Lowrey and Kiko were assigned to the security team for the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Tensions rose as another plane crashed near the location of where the General Assembly convened. It was suggested that this was another act of terrorism targeting the U.N. “Everybody was on pins and needles because they weren’t sure if it was another attack,” he said. “Everybody, from Secret Service, Department of State and me included.” Sophomore history major Erin Goolsby, an aspiring historian, was impressed with Lowrey’s accomplishments. She said, “I think it’s a really cool that he’s been involved in so many things because you don’t meet a lot of people that have been all over the place like that.” Senior communication major Chris Collins recalls an experience working with him while the two were assigned on Fort Hood. “As an investigator and having to follow up on possible drug cases, I frequently coordinated with military working dogs and their handlers,” he said. “We had (Lowrey’s) dog search a home for illegal substances on post because the residents lived in filth, and neighbors suspected they might be doing drugs.” To become a handler,...

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Master plan calls for changes in parking
Nov15

Master plan calls for changes in parking

A convenient parking space is not something easy to come by on most college campuses. Now, with the university’s master plan first stages beginning construction, a parking place might be a little harder for UMHB students to find, as well. “During this first phase of construction that’s going to impact parking this fall, we’re going to lose about 110 parking spaces,” Chief of Police Gary Sargent said. “We’re encouraging individuals to park over by Presser Hall, and there’s an abundance of parking that was more than adequate to replace that number of spaces.” Sargent realizes losing the parking places is going to affect students getting to class but suggests they be aware of the extra time it might take them to get to class and prepare for that in advance. He said, “If you schedule your classes from 9 a.m. till about 12 or 1 p.m., parking on campus is going to be at or near capacity during those hours. The later you get into the day, especially those mid- morning hours, it becomes more congested.” Though parking lots are being closed to prepare for construction, plans for new parking lots have been in place from the beginning of the master plan. “We’ve done a good job of making it a needs-based plan. We can’t design a parking facility where everyone parks at the front door, but we can hopefully get you close to the building you are going to be in. We’re really trying to factor in student desires,” Sargent said. The plans for parking lots are already set, including building new lots along University Drive between Burt and McLane halls, and eventually along Crusader Way, but the university would appreciate feedback from students. Sargent said, “I would encourage students to make their voices heard as far as what their expectations are and their view of transportation on campus. You have to understand where the university is going, but with that in mind, what is it we can do collectively to make this an ideal situation for folks across campus?” Junior psychology major Hailey Loftis understands the university is in a period of transition and is keeping an open mind about the changes coming to campus. She said, “I think it could probably affect us in the long run because they will be gone so students will have to do more walking. It’s not really a big deal, but it’s probably less convenient.” Loftis recognizes the importance of the nursing program at the university and the need for new facilities to support the growing department. “There are so many people here who do nursing. I think it will...

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Christmas: all about the presence
Nov15

Christmas: all about the presence

By Katie Maze As the holidays approach, on-campus organizations aren’t wasting any time preparing a joyful holiday experience for the less fortunate. The Spanish Club held its second annual Salsa Night to collect items and spread awareness for Operation Christmas Child, a project created by Samaritan’s Purse to send shoe boxes filled with toys, school supplies and necessities for children in impoverished countries around the world. “We created this event to share the culture with a salsa class. It ended up being a mixture of cultural awareness, gathering toys and, of course, having fun,” said Director for the Spanish club Dr. Rubi Ugofsky-Mendez as she stood in the middle of the whirling crowd inside Shelton Theater.  “Just to make sure we contribute to somebody’s Christmas is thrilling.” Coincidentally, the same day, Nov. 1, was a prominent Mexican holiday, Dia de Los Muertos, celebrated by remembering deceased loved ones through food, dancing and altars designed to remember them. This year’s patron was Elvis. “We needed someone dead,” said Vice President Mariana Jauregui. “The altar is something that people do to honor the dead. They can put pictures or anything that reminds them of their relatives.  We used Elvis as an example with his pictures because, well, who doesn’t know and love Elvis?” The energy, laughter and mutual embarrassment shared by those who were brave enough to participate in the dance lesson created a friendly atmosphere for the task at hand. Ugofsky-Mendez said this year is her first time to be involved with the operation, although the club has a startling 15-year run with OCC. “We couldn’t do it without the support of the department,” she said. “They are so supportive and busy doing whatever needs to be done. I have a feeling this year will be a great success.” The Spanish Club, however, is not alone in its efforts. For the past three years, the women’s basketball team has packed and distributed boxes to local collection sites in Belton. This year, Head Coach Kim Kirkpatrick-Thorton said the team wanted to involve the rest of the school. “I love the simplicity of what you can do to provide for and meet the needs for ‘the least of these.’ It’s not just a chance for a community service project for us, but it’s a chance to reach out a little bit beyond the borders we could normally reach.” Kirkpatrick-Thorton explained that this time of year is an important experience and highlight for team members to bond with each other off the basketball court. “It gives them a chance to get to know each other on a personal level and to help those...

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United Way, a different way to serve
Nov15

United Way, a different way to serve

For students interested in cultivating and improving Belton, the campus chapter of United Way of Central Texas may be what they are looking for. Mary Beth Kelton, a graduate student studying for a master’s in business, is Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the organization. “We are a safety net for the local community,” she said. “United Way of Central Texas agencies provide aid in family, crisis, support, youth and specialized services.  Each year it funds 27 local social service agencies that provide over 200,000 services to our family, neighbors and friends.” The agency focuses on long-term results rather than quick fixes. “We work together with the community to find lasting solutions to better people’s lives. We do that through promotion of education and common health,” Kelton said. “Without a good education, you can’t get a good job to help provide for your family. Without a good job, you don’t get good health care.” Freshman psychology and Christian ministry major Krystal Draper is president of the group. Upon arriving on campus, she was overcome by all of the ways to serve, but after searching, United Way seemed to be the perfect fit for her. “When I got here … it was so overwhelming because there were so many different things to get plugged into,” Draper said. What initially attracted her to the United Way group was its openness. “I liked that it is just so up in the air, and we really are trusting God to move forward in it. It’s so new, and we want to do so much and have people that really like being involved. It really gives you a voice about what you want to do and how you want to serve,” she said. Freshman international business major Seth Stephens operates as treasurer for the branch on campus. The opportunity to not only build relationships with the younger children, but to also be a role model to them  appealed to Stephens. “One of the things we are doing, is there is Wildcat mentor program in Temple where you go and be a mentor for a fifth-grade student. That really appealed to me because I have done that before,” he said. A community­-wide coat drive will be held Nov. 18 at Bodega Bean from 7-10 p.m. “Bring coats,” Stephens said. Students interested in joining can contact Kelton at 254-778-8616. Kelton said, “I felt it was very important for students here to get involved because there is already such a base for serving on campus. I wanted them to be involved with United Way. It is a great way to serve. The university already had a serving mentality,...

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