Deaf but not disabled: Author visits campus, shares inspiring story
Oct14

Deaf but not disabled: Author visits campus, shares inspiring story

Almost 40 years ago, a six-year-old little girl lost her hearing due to a serious bout of spinal meningitis. Later, this same little girl would overcome many obstacles, become Miss Deaf America, adopt a Deaf child named Zoe, and publish a book. This little girl’s name was Brandi Rarus. “When I lost my hearing about 40 years ago, I had no idea what an incredible journey I would go through,” Rarus said. Rarus spoke to UMHB students on Wed. Aug. 7, during chapel services about her incredible story. “It showed everyone on campus that being Deaf is not a handicap. It was really exciting to meet Brandi,” sophomore English major Guillermo Lopez said. Once Rarus became Deaf, she struggled, lost between the hearing and Deaf worlds. Because she could hear and speak before she was 6, she remained in hearing education, until she attended a Deaf camp. This camp proved to be a turning point in Rarus’ life. “Camp Mark VII was a rude awakening for me. It changed me,” Rarus said. “Everyone signed. The cooks, the lifeguard… everyone.” While Rarus was at camp, a minister taught the children that being Deaf is a gift from God and that they did not need to be ashamed of it. “I realized that I was okay. I didn’t have to keep trying to become someone I couldn’t become. I really think had I not gone, I probably would have gone to a hearing college, and married a hearing man,” Rarus said. From this point on Rarus embraced her Deafness. Rarus attended a Deaf college and married Tim, a Deaf man. Later down the road, Rarus desperately wanted a baby girl. However, God had another plan for Rarus. She birthed 3 hearing boys, the first hearing children in 124 years on Tim’s side of the family. The Rurus’ were looking into adoption when they received a phone call from the agency saying they had a Deaf female child. The Rarus’ knew that this girl, Zoe, was meant for them. “Zoe found her way to her home, my home,” Rarus said. “I cannot count how many people have said she’s lucky to have me, but I want to say ‘no, I’m lucky to have her.’” After adopting Zoe, Rarus dabbled in writing articles, but she could not get them published. Then Zoe’s story idea was born. Rarus interviewed Zoe’s birth family, and her first adoptive family to compile a book. Through Rarus’ book, Zoe’s birth mother and father were able to let go of their animosity towards each other and forgive. “When I started the book, BJ and Jess did not talk to...

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CAB has new ideas for upcoming year
Oct08

CAB has new ideas for upcoming year

Campus Activities Board is a student organization that allows UMHB students the chance to help plan activities for the students. From huge events to passing out small gifts for students, CAB plans it all. “Every campus activity meeting is set up similarly. We asses the events that we had the week prior and then we plan for upcoming stuff,”Assistant Director of Campus Activities Jeff Sutton said. During the first week of classes, the student organization spent a lot of time talking about a leadership conference they attended that helped the organization come up with event ideas for the rest of the year. “Now we are taking all of the information we gained at the conference and actually calendaring out events and letting students sign up to lead those events and plan all the details of those,” Sutton said. He also said its main goal is to be an outlet for students to have some social experiences. “We want to create community on campus while equipping students to lead and learn,” he said. The assistant director said CAB’s meetings are definitely different than most. “We have a structure but the structure submits to the people. Our meetings are always 30 minutes and after we discuss our previous week’s event and figure out our next event, we break up into smaller groups to get work done,” Sutton said. CAB has already begun planning and executing future events that will happen throughout the year. “This semester alone we are working on some new events that we have never had on campus before. We are participating in Preview Weekend, October Hump Day Giveaway which is a pumpkin spice giveaway, National Night Out, study break, Christmas events, passing out bubble wrap to help relieve stress, Disney Trivia Night, and many, many more,” Sutton said. While CAB gives students the opportunity to experience many things, Sutton believes there is a bigger impact. “The best thing you can get out of CAB are relationships. It’s a great way to meet new people and serve. You take things you are learning in a classroom and put it into real life experience,” Sutton said If students are still interested in joining CAB, the meetings are every Monday at 9 p.m. in the creative thinking space on the second floor of Maybee. “The great thing about it is that we have an open enrollment which means that anyone and everyone can join at anytime,” said Jeff...

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UMHB teams up with United Way
Oct06

UMHB teams up with United Way

United Way of Central Texas has teamed up with UMHB to create one of the campus’ most successful organizations, while still meeting their mission. So far, they have been working on building a strong leadership team to help them reach their goals for the year and future years to come. Senior public relations major Christopher Stroup has risen to the occasion and is now the president of the upcoming organization. Although Stroup graduates in May 2016, he is confident he will set a firm foundation to help make the UMHB chapter of the United Way successful before he leaves. “We are trying to empower students and provide ways for them to give back to the community,” he said. They have already started planning service opportunities for future UMHB events like Parent’s Weekend. In the spring, the group is planning a Play 60 event where the NFL gets involved to teach students the importance of health, exercise and eating right, while also having fun. Director of marketing and volunteerism at United Way Central Texas, Mary Beth Kelton, is helping Stroup and the other leadership members get started. “The university prepares students for leadership, service, and faith-informed discernment in a global society. This is the foundation of Student United Way UMHB Chapter,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for students to get involved with a global organization right here in Belton, Texas.” Because the UMHB Chapter is just building momentum, they have relied heavily on the help of United Way Central Texas. Stroup said they have been very helpful and supportive after hand-picking him to be president. The organization is adopting the original mission of the non-profit that strives to “bring the entire community together to find lasting solutions that change people’s lives,” according to the organization’s website. “Student United Way represents the next generation of community leaders. We focus on education, financial stability and health – the building blocks for a good quality life,” Kelton said. Their primary goal for this year is to get the word out about the new organization. They have meetings every other Thursday at 6 p.m. in Brindley Auditorium. The first interest meeting had about 50 people, and they are hoping the number stays consistent or grows in the upcoming meetings. Because of UMHB’s relationship with United Way, it has made it easier on the leadership team to communicate and get things done for them. “I am a proud Crusader undergrad and MBA graduate and I know UMHB is the perfect place for a Student United Way chapter,” Kelton said. “UMHB students have a heart for serving the community. We will have many social...

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Cru Knights: Annual night of fun, laughter
Mar04

Cru Knights: Annual night of fun, laughter

The Crusader Knights contest was held earlier this month on Saturday, Feb. 21. Sophomore Austin Soto walked away with the crown and title of Mr. Crusader Knights after representing the sophomore class.   Crusader Knights is one of the many long-standing traditions that UMHB is known for. Not only is it fun for the student body, friends and family to watch, but it shows a great deal of character by the guys who participate along with the strong friendships they build through the weeks of practice.   This year was the event’s 22nd happening and it held up the 90s theme.   This brought back the 90s kids’ nostalgia with boy band music, the well-known in-sync dancing (not to be confused with popular boy band from the 90s known as N’Sync) and bubbly and colorful words. Everywhere.   While there was a lot going on stage, most of the important things took place behind the scenes. Soto, the winner of the contest, explained how being involved in Cru Knights had more of an impact on his life rather than just receiving a crown.   “…this was honestly so filling for me. I can’t express to you how awesome these guys were! They … poured out so much love. They acted as a true brotherhood and the coolest part is that we get to continue this brotherhood outside of Cru Knights,” Soto said.   Practices lasted for four weeks. During their practice time they would work on their dance numbers and learn how to have confidence in themselves. They also met in groups and did devotionals. This allowed the guys to connect on a deeper level.   While Soto made it look easy on stage, he had a rough time before practices started, but soon overcame his fears.   “Honestly once I heard I was selected to do Cru Knights I immediately questioned it. Being on stage and performing just isn’t my thing and I did not want to do this. Brandon Edwards, my roommate and also the Contestants Committee Head, really encouraged me to just give it a shot so I did,” he said. “After the first couple of practices, I was hooked. The guys were absolutely hilarious and loved Jesus so, so much and it was very evident. I had been longing for this type of community and there it was.”   Seth Michaelson also participated in Cru Knights this year. He represented the Campus Activities Board after adviser Jeff Sutton recommended it to him.   While Michaelson had a lot of fun during the weeks prior to the event, his main purpose was wanting to build more...

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Music department wows with opera
Mar04

Music department wows with opera

The UMHB college of Visual and Performing Arts is well-known for its productions and operas that happen each semester. On Friday, Feb. 20 and Sunday, Feb. 22, the metropolitan opera called The Magic Flute was put on for the students, family and friends at the Azalee Marshall Cultural Activities Center in Temple.   The story is a popular fairy tale that takes place in a magical land. It has a prince, a princess, an evil queen and the popular comedic characters that most fables entail. It also has an older man who helps the prince defeat the queen with a special flute, hence the name of the opera.   Director and professor in the College of Visual Arts George Hogan plays a big part with the help of many others.   “We do not have a large production team like you would find in a large university (15-20 people) or especially in a professional house which consists of many hired professionals. I do everything along with my wife, Penny Hogan. We plan, prepare, build, stage, direct, conduct the show, move the stuff from UMHB to the CAC, etc. We do have some very important helpers that go unnoticed in helping us achieve this monster called a production,” Hogan said.   Junior music major Stephen Ash played Tamino, the prince in this year’s production. He’s been involved in the Opera Theatre since his sophomore year because of his love for singing and acting.   “I did this opera specifically because Tamino is such an iconic role, and one that I personally have always wanted to play,” he said.   The opera was well-rehearsed and proved to be a hit for the audience.   This might be because the students started practicing in November after “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” finished up.   “Sometimes, we schedule outside rehearsals in order to attain what we need to get done before the show,” Hogan said.   “That’s why it’s so important for our students to arrive prepared in the fall. I cannot express how fabulous our students are with their preparation. They are pros,” Hogan said.   Students also expressed how the extra practices helped them in the production.   “We rehearsed mostly just the music last semester, but that set a good foundation so that we were comfortable with it and able to focus on acting and expression later on. We were required to have it all memorized when we got back to school in January, and then we began consistent rehearsals from 3-5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Ash said.   In most productions there are major and minor setbacks. The...

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Week shines light on sex trafficking
Mar04

Week shines light on sex trafficking

Freedom Movement made great strides last week as the group celebrated End It Week Feb. 22 – 27, an effort created to inform college students on the cruelties of human trafficking.   “End It Week is our big event,” senior Public Relations major and co-vice president Andi Hale said. “It’s our main push for awareness and fundraising.”   The campus organization planned for a five-day crusade as a way to spread the message behind its actions, complete with guest speakers, a special documentary and a glow-in-the-dark dodge ball tournament while Freedom Movement wrapped up the work week with the worldwide event, “Shine A Light On Slavery Day.”   Each student sported a large red X across his or her hand to show support for the cause last Friday.   Freshman art education major Sam Shamard has seen first-hand the effects of human trafficking during a semester in Athens, Greece, last year. During her time abroad, she was exposed to the heartbreaking issue while working in the immigrant ministry, which sparked her desire to make a difference.   “It changes your perspective on so many things, knowing there are people all over the world not living in freedom,” Shamard said. “We are given freedom in Christ, and not only do these people not know this, but they are in physical bondage.”   Others, like Hale, heard about the growing problem of human trafficking through word-of-mouth. This eye-opening experience led to their involvement in order to equip others with the means to act on the information.   “I have an advocate’s heart and a passion for people,” Hale said. “Anytime I hear about injustices, it gets me worked up.”   Freedom Movement, inspired by a 2011 Passion conference in Atlanta, was brought to campus the following year by a group of students, which included the organization’s current president Nathan Gilmore and co-vice president Alec Loyd who were moved by realties and brokenness of human trafficking. The organization remains prominent at other college campuses around the United States.   While the efforts of Freedom Movement continue to grow, its endeavor is simply to provide support for similar nonprofits by raising funds and providing awareness.   “We didn’t want to compete with nonprofits already in place that have resources to effectively fight human trafficking,” Hale said.     As a result, the organization selects a local nonprofit to work directly alongside with for a period of time. This year, Freedom Movement tailored its efforts to assist Jesus Said Love, a Waco-based group passionate about building relationships with dancers and strip club employees.   Members of Freedom Movement invited a representative of the organization...

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