Baylor welcomes President, grieves West
Apr30

Baylor welcomes President, grieves West

More than a week after the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas that left 12 firefighters dead, family, friends and fellow Texans gathered to attend a memorial service in their honor. The event, held at Baylor University’s Ferrell Center, featured video eulogies, prayers and speeches given by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and President Barack Obama, who was joined by the first lady. Former president George W. Bush regretted not being attendance due to the opening of his presidential library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, but sent his condolences, which were read by Baylor’s President Ken Starr. Outside the arena, the color guard led a long procession of fire engines trailed by mourning loved ones. Motorcycliists lined the street holding large American flags. In front of them, hundreds of others gathered to respectfully watch the parade of sorrow. Once inside the center, thousands of people stood in silence as the families filed in and sat on the ground level in front of the line of caskets that separated them from the stage. Perry acknowledged the courage of the firefighters by saying, “Our first responders know they’re placing themselves in danger, whether they’re braving the flames of a fire … or racing to the scene of an accident.” He further described the noble men as “ordinary individuals blessed with extraordinary courage and determination to do what they could–to save lives. He offered hopeful and comforting words to the families present and to the community where their loved ones died. “Know that the spirit that drove those men that we loved … that spirit lives on…. Let their deeds serve as an inspiration for all of us to live lives of meaning, and to commit serving our neighbors and communities.” “I cannot match the power of the voices yuo just heard on that video,” Obama said as he opened. “No words adequately describe the courage that was displayed on that deadly night. What I can do is offer the love, support and prayers of the nation.” He reminded those present that, “we might not all live in Texas, but we’re neighbors too.” And with that, the crowd applauded loudly. Obama recounted the stories of friends and neighbors helping each other in the days following the explosion. “What makes West special is not the attention from far-flung places,” he said. What makes West special, what puts it on the map is what makes it familiar … things that are solid, and true and lasting.” Referring to the selflessness the town exhibited, Obama said, “Today, the thing I see in the people of West, in your eyes, that’s  what makes West special isn’t...

Read More
West firefighter given memorial
Apr27

West firefighter given memorial

A sea of blue flooded St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Assumption in West, Texas, April 24 for the funeral of Dallas fireman, Captain Kenneth “Luckey” Harris. Harris, 52, of West, died during the fertilizer plant explosion, April 17. Over 1000 people attended the funeral with more than half of the attendees Dallas firefighters, wearing their dress uniforms, to pay their respect to the fallen captain. Harris is survived by his wife of 28 years, Holly and three sons, Jud, Jarrod, and Heath. Harris loved offshore fishing with his sons and spending time on his boat, “Boots Up.” He also enjoyed hunting, traveling and spending time with friends. Harris graduated from the Dallas Fire Academy in 1982 and served as a firefighter with the Dallas Fire Department for more than 31 years, attaining the rank of captain. As well as working for the fire department, he owned Harris Home Inspections and Construction with his family. Harris also served as a volunteer firefighter for the West Volunteer Fire Department. Several Dallas firefighters participated in the honor guard, which is when the firefighters stand guard over the body till the funeral, alternating every 15 minutes. Captain Bruce Thompson served in the honor guard the morning of the funeral beginning at 6 a.m. He had served on the honor guard before, but not in this kind of setting. “I took it seriously. I made sure I was always there and volunteered anytime I could,” Thompson said. The service was a solemn one, as friends, family and co-workers all remembered the life of Harris and the sacrifice he gave for his town. After the service, the firefighters lined up outside as the casket was brought out and placed on the back of the fire truck from Harris’ station. Dallas Firefighters Pipe and Drums were playing as the large crowd looked on. “I expected the large crowd. I would’ve been highly disappointed if there hadn’t been that many there,” Thompson said. A long line of vehicles, which included motorcyclists from the Wind and Fire Dallas Motorcycle Club, followed the fire truck out to Bold Springs Cemetery in West to lay Harris to rest. A memorial service was held at Baylor University in Waco for the other victims, Thursday, April...

Read More
Students Defeat Tests
Apr25

Students Defeat Tests

Books, Scantron and number two pencils—the dreaded items that signify only one thing… tests. Although, the mere thought of examinations may send some into frenzy, many students weren’t afraid to share their preparation process for the semester farewell tests. “Definitely don’t wait until the last minute,” junior nursing major Araceli Ayala said. The statement remained a mutual tip among the students. In this case, good things do not come to those who wait. Learners recommended getting an early start to reviewing. “During finals I spend like two weeks studying straight,” junior pre-physical therapy major Jacy Mullins said. When students begin in advance, it’s easier to squeeze small study sessions into a daily routine. While getting an early start is not the latest news, students described their personal plan of action prior to final exam day. For cumulative exams, “learn the new material first, and then review the old stuff,” junior nursing major Alma Bolger said. “Always stick to the review, but skim other stuff too.” If professors take the time to create a review, most often they form questions from it, but prepare for anything. Ayala recommends asking her elders. “Usually a lot of older students will be kind and send you their old material from the class, so I’ll review that and then go back and create a blueprint how I think it should be done,” she said. In addition to professors’ reviews, students recommended making flashcards, rewriting notes or strictly reading. “Everybody studies different; just find what works for you,” Mullins said. For students who prefer group study sessions, Bolger advises reviewing the material alone before a meeting. Also, “keep study groups small,” Ayala said. Sessions tend to be more productive in groups of three to four people. If a dorm is not the ideal study spot, the campus provides students with plenty of learning space. Townsend Memorial Library offers a quiet section on the second level and areas for group study on the first floor. Nursing majors like Ayala and Bolger prefer to study in the new nursing building. “There is usually someone there who you can ask questions to,” Bolger said. Commanding students to cease the stress may seem like an ideal study tip, but it’s easier said than done. Instead, here are a few suggestions to help learners tackle any upcoming tests. Don’t procrastinate Discover your study niche—flashcards, reading, study sessions Create a to-do list with study goals Find a suitable study spot Review previous exams, reviews and material Ask questions—professors, students, parents Snack for brain power Take productive breaks—exercise, clean, read Get plenty of rest Reward yourself People have discovered their own preferences...

Read More
Outpouring of help and support for West
Apr18

Outpouring of help and support for West

A deadly chemical explosion caused by a fire at a fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas, north of Waco, left about 200 injured and an unconfirmed number deceased. Some news outlets are reporting as many as 50 dead and others as few as five. Crews from all over the state have been working tirelessly to make sense of the chaotic scene. Texas Gov. Rick Perry described it in a press conference as “truly a nightmare scenario.” In Amarillo, equipment measured the strength of the resulting jolt from the explosion as having the strength of a 2.5 earthquake on the Richter scale. The event has garnered national and international attention. Pope Francis even tweeted about the tragedy saying, “Please join me in praying for the victims of the explosion in Texas and their families.” President Barack Obama asked for a moment of silence in Congress this morning. In the midst of the tragedy, people have mobilized to help their neighbors. Assistant Professor and Lab Coordinator Kelda McMullen-Fix teaches nursing at UMHB and is an RN at the emergency department at Hillcrest Hospital in Waco. She was called into work last night as injured people started streaming into the emergency room from West. “I was out in the triage bay area where the ambulances were coming in and also private vehicles with injured people,” she said. McMullen-Fix was working with patients who were not seriously injured and could wait for a few moments to be placed in a hospital room. She said more than 100 people were taken to Hillcrest following the explosion. “There was a regular stream of ambulances and a pretty steady stream of cars,” McMullen-Fix said. “But there weren’t ambulances waiting one after another …. It was well organized, plenty of help. There were outstanding numbers of people who responded to come and help … people brought water … I think they bought Wal-Mart out of water.” Citizens of the Central Texas area and neighboring regions responded quickly to needs of those affected. This morning Bush’s Chicken offered to feed first responders. Last night, the East Texas Medical Center in Tyler sent teams to assist in the rescue efforts. Many other businesses have donated goods to residents and first responders. “It was really awesome to see that community wanting to help in that time,” McMullen-Fix said. There have been many conflicting reports concerning the death toll. Because of this, Gov. Perry urges people to remember that all information at this point is “very preliminary.” First responders are reported dead and missing. A final count of casualties and injuries is still in progress. Last night and this...

Read More
TIPA: Student publications hoist awards, learn career skills
Apr17

TIPA: Student publications hoist awards, learn career skills

By Ashleigh Bugg Members of the newspaper and yearbook staffs returned from the annual Texas Intercollegiate Press Association convention in Ft. Worth April 4-6 with more than 50 awards. The Bells won 31 TIPA awards as well as Society of Professional Journalists awards for Region 8, an area that covers non-daily collegiate newspapers for all of Oklahoma and Texas. In the best all-around newspaper category, The Bells took home second place, and junior public relations major Christian Hernandez won first place in sports writing. The Bluebonnet, the university’s yearbook, won 23 awards total at TIPA, including an honorable mention for overall yearbook excellence. Sophomore elementary education major and yearbook editor Kathryn Smith won first place in the academics package category. Junior nursing major Mariana Jauregui placed second for her sports feature photo. The Bells staff members also acquired accolades from the Texas  Intercollegiate Press Association winning 24 print awards and four online honors. Senior mass communication/journalism major and Bells editor-in-chief JC Jones won first place in the in-depth reporting category. “My personal awards were great, but I’m most proud of how the staff did overall. It has been an honor to work with such a talented group of journalists,” she said. The TIPA convention hosted workshops on topics ranging from finding jobs in the journalism field to current social media trends. Students were encouraged by learning tips to find internships and ways to incorporate 3-D photography in newspapers. Participants at TIPA attended the Hall of Fame Induction luncheon Friday, April 5. Renowned reporter Kathleen McElroy was instated and delivered a short speech. Despite her small stature, McElroy commanded the room as she spoke to aspiring journalists about the necessity of thinking critically. “We’ve been programmed to accept certain things…. You must think ‘why are people telling you what they are telling you?’” McElroy urged students to remember that every situation has a backstory, and it’s imperative to use unique quirks and past experiences to their advantage. “When I started I had a superpower…. I was a black woman who knew sports. There needs to be diversity of thought. It’s about getting out of your realm.” Bob Ray Sanders of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram also  had inspirational advice for young media. “We don’t need more pretty people…. We need you to be committed to the truth. We need passion and compassion,” he said. Instead of taking stories at face value, TIPA participants were encouraged to pay attention to details and know their history. Although critics sometimes give journalism a bad rap, mentors like McElroy and Sanders believe young people will usher in a new era. “Journalism has been given a...

Read More
What will you do Before You Turn 20?
Apr17

What will you do Before You Turn 20?

UMHB alumnus, author, and motivational speaker Lamar Collins spoke to students about his book Before You Turn 20 in chapel April 10. Collins has made history by becoming the first black mayoral candidate in Temple, Texas. However, his speech to students focused on five keys to success that he detailed in his book. The five points are as follows: Discover strengths Develop good friendships Maintain a positive attitude Discern God’s plan Discipline yourself “The gist of this book is to talk to, specifically, high school graduates and college graduates about the next phase of success in their life,” Collins said. He wants students to find their own strengths and apply those in their life. “When you feel bad about what you don’t have, you rob the world of the greatness that’s in you,” he said. “When you focus on the things you do well, you open up the doors of possibility to excel at what you do.” To illustrate the importance of good friendships, Collins talked about how captured crabs can never climb out of a bucket because when one gets to the top, another will pull it back down in its own attempt to escape. “Stay away from people who are like crabs in a bucket,” Collins said. “The second reason I tell you that story is to discourage you from being a crab in someone else’s bucket.” He finished his address quickly, going over the three final points from his book, reminding them to stay positive. “Life is a boomerang, and whatever you throw out, it comes back at you,” Collins  said. “That’s why it’s important to be a perpetually optimistic person.” He concluded the chapel service with an exhortation to the university. “So to the students and individuals here at UMHB I want to challenge you to be uncommon,” Collins said. “Here’s why I want you to be uncommon because success is uncommon. … So if you want to be successful, you can’t do what common people do.” In response to Collins’ thoughts, freshman business management major Austin Stecher said, “I liked how he encouraged everyone to find and act on their own strengths.” Sophomore exercise sport science major Daniel Villarreal responded positively to Collins’ encouragement. “Being normal is overrated,” Villarreal said. “The person who gets the job is the one who stands out. You have to go above and...

Read More