Illiteracy: Reading into the real issue
Oct12

Illiteracy: Reading into the real issue

Tucked away in the passages of Hardy Hall, the former dining building that still smells like lukewarm pizza, junior nursing major Dania Paraan helps a student learn the inner workings of the integumentary system for an anatomy and physiology test.   “My students seem to know what they’re doing,” Paraan said. “They just need help transitioning to college life.”   Paraan, who works as a tutor at the university’s Center for Academic Excellence says most of her students have the literacy skills needed to succeed in college.   “It’s just learning to put knowledge to paper,” Paraan said.   While most UMHB students have the basics of reading and writing down, 19 percent of Texas adults still struggle to read the newspaper.   “Statistics (of illiteracy) are overwhelming. It’s a greater problem than we realize,” said Beverly Luedke, member of Altrusa International of Temple, an organization working to support literacy around the world.   In Bell County alone, 13 percent of adults lack basic prose literacy skills, meaning they range from being unable to read and understand any written information to being able only to locate easily identifiable information.   “We see a relationship between literacy and poverty. Two-thirds of children who live in poverty do not have a single children’s book,” explained Dr. Joan Berry, chairperson of the UMHB education department.   “We see tax dollars diminished for public libraries and the decline of newspapers which helped adult literacy in the past,” she said.   Berry pointed out the growing digital divide between families in poverty and more affluent families as reading materials are moved to computers and smart phones as technology rapidly develops.   “So much of our information now is accessed from our phones which may not be possible for a family living in poverty. We must work on community projects that place reading materials in the hands of those living in poverty,” Berry said.   Illiteracy isn’t just an educational or subjective issue; it also has economic repercussions.   According to the United Ways of Texas, high school dropouts cost taxpayers in Texas, an estimated $9.6 billion.   “We have so few jobs in Texas and everywhere really that if a person is not able to read well, they will be impacted negatively,” Berry said. “It hurts them economically … their mobility.” Berry also mentioned how the inflow of non-English speakers affects literacy levels in Texas.   “We have a growing number of people whose first language is not English who really need help. UMHB has ESL courses as part of our curriculum for this.” Students from the ASTRA club of UMHB, an offshoot of...

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Students Skype Ansel Elgort
Sep17

Students Skype Ansel Elgort

Crusader siblings Victoria and Alyssa Fahy weren’t expecting the surprise of a lifetime this summer, and they definitely weren’t expecting to become friends with one of Hollywood’s hottest stars after an online chat.   But that’s exactly what happened when freshman exercise physiology major Alyssa Fahy received news from Ansel Elgort, the star of Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, that he would be calling via Skype later that evening because she had won a giveaway.   “I didn’t really know who he was…. Victoria bought the song that entered me in the contest,” Alyssa confessed before her sister, junior cell biology major Victoria interrupted, “She won, and I didn’t.”   The youngest sister, 15 year-old Briana, was in on the deal too. The three made a pact that if any of them won, they would share the spoils. Or in this case, the screen time.   Elgort charades as a disc jockey under the name Ansolo, and he presented a contest to fans via Twitter to promote his music. By purchasing Ansolo’s latest track, “Totem,” Alyssa was entered into a raffle and ended up joining a handful of other lucky fans who came face to face with the celebrity thanks to modern technology.   When he called, the girls waited to see one of the most famous faces pop up on their laptop. The Divergent star sipped organic chocolate milk, sporting his famous white t-shirt and nonchalant attitude when the time came.   Before the conversation, Alyssa expected a “movie star-ish” man to be on the other end of their Skype call. But after talking to Elgort for just a few minutes, she tested the waters with some sarcasm and the 20-year-old answered with personality of his own.   “Did you guys all see The Fault in Our Stars? …. Have you seen any movie I’m in?” Elgort asked the girls, greeted by giggles.   During their 30 minutes, the actor shared information about himself with the Fahys, revealing a little bit about his chaotic schedule and hopes for the future.   “I think EDM is our generation’s style,” Elgort said in reference to being a DJ. “Before us, there was hip-hop. Before that, there was rock and roll…. Electronic dance music is taking over.”   He believes that a lot of the chart-topping songs have electronic undertones, and that it’s defining the industry. The scene as a whole is something he wants to be a part of.   “It (Totem) would never play on mainstream radio. It’s not that kind of track…. It’s unique and there’s not a lot of tracks like it out there, and...

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Heaven on Earth: Students get a taste
Sep17

Heaven on Earth: Students get a taste

Imagine a light surrounding you that is so amazing you can’t even put into words how it felt. Suddenly, you’re meeting a large crowd, at a gate and they are rushing toward you. Everyone you knew who had died in your lifetime is in that crowd, welcoming you home.   This is what going to heaven is like, according to Don Piper, the author of 90 Minutes in Heaven. The book has sold over 7 million copies in 46 different languages.   “I know where I’m going now. Do you? Are you sure?” Piper opened on Wednesday, Sept. 10. He came to speak to students and was able to share his testimony about how he died from a car crash Jan. 18, 1989.   The wreck happened around 11:45 a.m. on a bridge during a rainy day. A semi-truck ran over Piper’s car, and he was the only one who suffered more than a few cuts and bruises.   A preacher came not too long after the accident and began praying over Piper’s body. A few phone calls were made, and soon, people from around the world were praying for the preacher and Piper.   “It’s a miracle I’m here…. I can’t wait to go back. I didn’t want to come back here… but people were praying and God said yes.”   At 1:15 p.m., Piper began singing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” with the preacher.   “I started singing the song with him, and he got out of the car … really fast,” Piper said.   The preacher went over to the police officer and told him the dead man was singing. They called for the jaws of life to help get Piper out of what was left of his car.   Piper suffered from extensive injuries that had him in the hospital for more than a year and required him to have 30 different operations.   Doctors told him he would never walk again or have full use or mobility of his arm. In addition, he suffered from brain injuries and internal bleeding.   “I believe in prayer. I’m an answered prayer,” he said.   He explained in his book and during chapel that when he went to heaven, the gates were made of pearl and the streets were made of gold. He saw colors he had never seen and smelled things he had never smelled before during his time on Earth.   Angels were everywhere, and Piper said the sound their wings made was so unique, few have reported hearing anything like it.   Of all the things he remembers when he was there,...

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Web master explains new Canvas system
Sep17

Web master explains new Canvas system

This semester, not only did the Bawcom Student Union change the look of campus, the roll out of the new online system for myCampus changed the look of students’ daily interactions with their classes.   Alumnus and Web Services Manager Matthew Irvine and his department were instrumental in laying out the new interface.   “Web Services was involved in creating a consistent look and feel between myCampus and myCourses. Most schools use the out-of-the-box styling provided by different software titles,” he said. “We believe that it provides a better user experience to have more consistency.”   Irvine’s office was responsible for facilitating a smooth transitional mechanism between two parts of the online system that had once been separate.   He said, “We were also involved in building a bridge between our student information system and myCourses. Since these two pieces of software are provided by two different vendors, we created a mechanism for the two systems to securely pass data back and forth.”   Irvine believes the new look and reorganization have been received well by most people on campus.   “I have heard mostly good things from faculty and students. People generally find myCourses easier to use than the old LMS. Faculty are able to more easily create rich content in their courses, and students are already benefitting from more interactive and feature-rich course content,” he said.   Irvine likes the new conveniences the interface has to offer.   “One of the best features, in my opinion, is the way that videos work now,” he said. “Instead of being forced to download an entire video file and hope that it is compatible with your system, myCourses is built with video support that provides students the ability to stream videos from any Web browser on any operating system.”   Students and faculty have brought forward concerns about one setback, though.   “There has been some difficulty in using the Canvas app. We are working with our vendor to correct this issue, but there is a simple workaround to that problem. Instead of typing the university name, students can complete the login process by entering the full URL of mycourses.umhb.edu, then pressing ‘Go,’” Irvine said.”   Overall, Irvine is pleased with the work of his department and the results it’s produced.   “I love myCourses. It provides a great framework for faculty to provide excellent learning resources to students, and it provides students with a much more intuitive and user-friendly learning management system,” he...

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Letter from the editor
Sep17

Letter from the editor

Words are so powerful. That’s not something new to me. But these past two weeks have  reminded me just how much the things we say and do effect other people. The power of the tongue, whether in print or through word of mouth, can change someone’s day.   After running “Gay: Not the New Black,” last issue, a barrage of social media posts have been directed at this publication and staff.   First, I want to thank everyone who commented and shared the story — Thank you for illustrating the powerful impact of free speech. While going to UMHB has many perks, exercising the ability to express myself on a lot of different platforms is one of my favorites.   Many terrible things have been directed at me and the people I care about because of one writer’s opinion. To answer any doubts, yes I love the Lord with all my heart and would not want to compromise my love for Christ by allowing something hateful to be published, which brings me to my real point.   The previously published article did not, seek to condemn or disapprove of any people group. Instead, it sought to present a comparison brought up by publications like The Huffington Post. Comparing gays and African Americans did not start with The Bells. It’s an old and unfair weighing of two very different struggles, brought to our writer’s attention by larger media outlets.   The point of “Gay: Not the New Black” was not to deem either struggle as right or wrong. It wasn’t to question or mock any group of people. The only wrongness pointed out was in reference to the comparison of these two very real struggles. The writer provides his own opinion via his commentary, stating that he believes the physical violence inflicted on the black community cannot be compared to that of the LGBT community. Not to say that both groups haven’t suffered terrible, unfair and unnecessary hurt — they definitely have.   Yes, I believe in treating every single human being with kindness and courtesy. And even more so, I love this university and would never do anything to make people think otherwise.   It saddens me to hear that some alumni are ashamed to be affiliated with their alma mater because of one opinion piece.   Whether it’s a Facebook group or a comment, rather than lashing out at the people who published a sensitive story, I think we should all take a step back and remember what matters, and why so much disagreement has arisen.   Love. We should love each other. I don’t care who you...

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Staying healthy in college culture
Sep17

Staying healthy in college culture

Worried about putting on a few more pounds with the opening of the on campus Chick-fil-A? Anticipating late night study sessions that wouldn’t be complete without cookies and Doritos? You’re not alone. It’s not easy to stay in shape when the college culture encourages you to sleep in rather than wake up early for a gym session or hit up Whataburger at 2 a.m. just because you can.   Studies show that 70 percent of students gain weight during college. They also suggest that the “freshman 15” is real.   Freshman biology major Austin Roden knows the challenges he’ll be facing as he transitions to campus life but intends to be proactive.   “My biggest worry about fitness in college is not finding time to work out. I haven’t had that problem yet, but as the semester goes on I might,” Roden said. “My plan to avoid that is to make sure I get my homework and studies done in time to leave extra hours for myself to work out.”   Roden has already used amenities UMHB offers to help students maintain a healthy lifestyle while on campus.   “I’ve definitely taken advantage of the Mayborn Campus Center’s facilities. It’s awesome that we have such an extensive amount of equipment available to us. I try to make sure to run two miles on the treadmill daily and also add fitness by playing soccer and basketball whenever I see people playing,” he said.   Campus Rec, the hub of fitness located between McLane Hall and Beall Hall, has something for everyone to enjoy. They sponsor fitness classes, intramural leagues, competitions and tournaments that are all available to students for no charge. Yoga, spinning, Zumba and aqua calorie burner are just a few of the classes offered at Mayborn Campus Center.   Junior pre-physical therapy major Madison Butler works in the Campus Rec office. She encourages students to participate in intramurals because “you make a lot of friends, and it’s a fun way to get involved in campus activities and stay in shape.”   Butler says that students looking to join an intramural team can register as a free agent or with a team through IM Leagues on the Campus Rec website.   Junior business administration major Tucker Saxton talked about the importance of incorporating fitness and healthy eating into his daily routine. He enjoys lifting weights at Mayborn Campus Center, playing intramural flag football and running around campus. Saxton knows the long-term benefits of a healthy lifestyle in college.   “I think it’s important because if we can devise a system of exercise and stick with it even while being...

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