ASTRA club encourages volunteer work

If you’re looking to help wrap Christmas gifts for children who might not get to experience the joy of this holiday season, or make sandwiches for the Salvation Army, the newly chartered ASTRA club might be for you. ASTRA is an acronym for Ability, Service, Training, Responsibility and Achievement. The club is for people who are interested in doing community service projects around the local area. Along with a book drive for Maggie Lee For Good Day, ASTRA has participated in other interesting service events. Vice president, junior business management major Hannah Gardenhire, said, “We joined up with Altrusa, which is a sister club. It’s kind of the backbone for ASTRA. They were doing a Feed My Sheep (project) for the Salvation Army, and they needed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. So, we got together and made over 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and those were donated to the Salvation Army.” Other planned events range from a Nov. 17 Belton Dam trash cleanup to assisting with the Angel Tree Program. Campus adviser Traci Squarcette is an active member of Altrusa of Temple. She also sponsors the ASTRA club and acts as a mentor-liaison between both clubs. Squarcette said students can learn much about working together through group involvement toward helping the community. Any currently enrolled UMHB student under the age of 25 can become a member of the club, and membership is free. Junior business administration major Joanna Leath is president of the organization. She hopes students will be more responsive to the needs of society. “Through community service, they can know how to be better members of the community. They’ll have awareness of problems that are going around in their community that they can help out with, whether it just be donating books or meeting a need,” she said. During the spring semester, the organization will mentor children between the ages of 12 to 17 for the new youth ASTRA club that is going to be chartered through the Conservatory Program on campus. Gardenhire thinks the selfless acts ASTRA is involved in will benefit future members of the club. She said, “I think sometimes, especially when you’re in college, you focus a lot on your studies and yourself. I think ASTRA is really trying to push that, through our club, you can learn leadership skills.” ASTRA meetings are held every other Thursday in the Baugh Center for the Visual Arts Lecture Hall from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, contact Joanna Leath at jcleath@mail.umhb.edu, or visit the club’s official ASTRA group Facebook...

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Variety makes force strong
Nov16

Variety makes force strong

People often come to the university down different roads and by different means. Criminal investigations officer John Ellison is no different. Before coming to UMHB, Ellison was a firefighter and owned a painting company on the side. While working on a project for the university, he learned the campus police department had a part-time position open. He has now been a campus officer for six years. “I think everything is kind of planned out, and we have a path we’re following,” Ellison said. “I think I was put here for the right reasons, and it’s been great. It’s been fun, and, hopefully, it doesn’t stop anytime soon.” As a Temple firefighter, Ellison was sent through the police academy to become a certified arson investigator. This had Ellison well on his way to working in law enforcement, and those years spent fighting fires helped prepare him for his job at the police department. “As a fireman and a cop, at times you’re seeing people at their worst,” Ellison said. “You’re dealing with college age students that are trying to make their way. I think coming from the fire department having that mindset of wanting to help people plays perfectly into our role here at the university.” Getting to see the university grow is one of the favorite parts of his job. “It’s exciting for me now that I’ve been here. I’ve seen people come in as freshmen and then graduate and move on,” he said. “Even if we have to deal with somebody as a freshman that got into a little bit of trouble, to see them find Christ while they’re here and learn that ‘hey I can be a good citizen’ is awesome. You get to see people grow up, and that’s a good, rewarding aspect.” A person who was influential in bringing Ellison and the rest of the current campus force together is Police Chief Gary Sargent. He has been chief for 14 years. Sargent graduated from the police academy in 1981, and after working his way through the ranks at Baylor University, he came to UMHB because he “had to find a football team that could win,” he said, laughing. “I felt it was an opportunity to really have a positive impact on a university culture,” Sargent said. “I really came in at almost the rebirthing of the police department, and I recognized the opportunity to have a major impact in shaping and building an organization that was responsive to the needs of our community.” When he was first hired as chief, the department was in a transitioning stage. Sargent helped it evolve into its current role...

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RHA can: challenge created to fight hunger
Nov16

RHA can: challenge created to fight hunger

The holiday season is coming up, and food drives around campus are in full swing. Local organization Helping Hands is collecting cans for families in need, and students have plenty of opportunities to chip in. The Collegiate Financial Organization was part of a group that announced a food drive, and the university’s Residence Hall Association joined forces to help inspire students to support local food banks and the community. Hot off the heels of the successful Flat Randy Project, RHA sponsor and Burt Hall Resident Director Rebeka Retta thought it was time to bring students together by performing a service project.. She brainstormed with co-sponsors Johnson Hall Resident Director Julie Barr and associate dean of students and Director of Residence Life Donna Plank. “I know there’s another organization that’s doing a can drive, and they asked (Julie) if it would be possible to do something in the dorms to promote the students within the dorms to (donate),” Retta said. “All the cans will eventually go to Helping Hands. So we got to thinking and Julie said, ‘Why don’t we do a challenge and see who can get the most cans?’” Retta met with the publicity team for RHA and hashed out the details. Since the competition lasts Nov. 5-15, the team decided to name it the 10 Day Tin Can Challenge. Though the main goal is to assist Helping Hands, RHA wanted students to have fun in the process by hosting a competition. The dorm that collects the most cans wins the chance to prank their resident director. Some of the proposed prizes include free room checks and throwing jello and pies at the RD. Freshman exercise sport science major and RHA publicity team member Nicole Viana believes the contest aspect of the canned food drive is what makes it successful. “We wanted to make it fun and not just donate cans. We wanted the students in the halls to get something out of it, so we decided to make it a competition within the dorms,” she said. Retta hopes to mimick the success that another project generated. She said, “The Flat Randy project that we did worked out really well; people had a lot of fun with it, so we did something else against dorms.” However, Retta is looking for more in the 10 Day Tin Can Challenge. “Even though the Flat Randy was a lot of fun, it was just fun,” she said. “This one is fun still, but it’s about helping other people, thinking outside of ourselves. It’s kind of a twist because it’s still like the Flat Randy where there’s competition, but it’s still helping...

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Computer science team awarded
Nov16

Computer science team awarded

Assistant Professor of computer science Isaac Gang did not expect any freshmen to try out for the computer science team. So he was surprised when three of them won the campus wide competition and even more surprised when they finished 23rd in the International Computer Programming Competition regional event. Freshmen computer science majors Riley Massey, Matt Liberty and Garrett Garbee made up the team that tied for 1st in the script contest at Baylor University Oct. 20. They placed 23rd out of a 58-team field in the general competition, the best finish by a team from the university. “This is the first time a group at UMHB solved that many problems at that contest so that was historic,” Gang said. “I trusted that they would do well, but I didn’t think they would be able to solve six problems in the script contest and two problems in the general contest.” At the competition sponsored by IBM, the teams recieved eight computer programming problems to solve. Teams spent up to five hours working and reworking solutions to the programs. “I didn’t know exactly what to expect going into it,” Massey said. “Once we got there, it was basically you could solve the problem if you thought it was right. You could submit it to the judges, and they would return a yes or no. We turned in one problem four times until we got it right.” Preparation for the event is difficult because of the often wacky nature of the problems. Competitors had a practice round the day before the actual event, and for the freshmen every ounce of experience was valuable. “We did check last year’s problems, but they were completely different (from this year),” Garbee said. “I think I provided my brain to help come up with solutions. They (Massey and Liberty) brought the programming knowledge.” As freshmen, stepping into a room full of competing students from larger schools all across the state was at first daunting for the trio. However, they soon forgot about the opposition and began to systematically work on writing programs. “I thought it was intimidating because we had never gone before,” Massey said. “We’re all freshmen and people competing were generally seniors or graduates, so it was kind of intimidating. Once we got there and started doing it, that kind of went away, and we were just solving problems.” Gang is glad that a group of freshmen did so well because now they have three more years to improve on this year’s success. “They’re very excited about next year,” Gang said. “I’m excited for the kids because they are freshmen.” After they won...

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Social media outlets a source of news in an age of entertainment

By Jamie Dye With Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr, students’ free time has been steadily evaporating since the rise of social media, but these sites are also helping relay important events to a generation that does not watch the news or read a paper. Many students spend upwards of three hours daily on social media sites liking their friends’ statuses, reposting pictures of cats and pinning ambitious craft projects. What they may not realize is how many current events are reaching them through social media. Senior psychology and sociology major Christen Barnum admits that she uses the Internet for her entertainment, not for news sites. “I get on to keep up with my friends, get neat craft ideas and watch all the viral videos everyone is talking about,” she said. Although Barnum and other students may not be conscious of it, they are hearing about news events that friends or fan pages are posting or reposting. Senior English and history major Maria Martin admits that she gets news from Facebook that she would not have heard otherwise. “My whole feed was in an uproar about the Disney/Star Wars thing, and before that, my friends were posting articles about Hurricane Sandy. The only reason I remembered to watch the last presidential debate was because someone was tweeting about it,” she said. Social media sites are not only guilty of spreading news, they are invading the mindless diversions of the Internet with awareness. “I don’t have to pay attention to it at all. It’s just absent -minded entertainment,” Barnum said of Facebook. Even as senseless surfing, social media expose people to pressing issues that they may not have otherwise heard about. Currently, the news stations do not have much to say that interests the average college student, especially not when television is full of hyper-violent, less realistic and uninteresting programming. Nevertheless, social media have empowered people, letting them use the portals as means to reach people unwilling, or without the time, to keep up with the world. “I heard about the attacks in Libya on Twitter. It was right next to my friend’s tweet about her breakfast,” Martin said. The popularity and ease of social media have made the Internet everybody’s soapbox. Politically conscious and up-to-date friends are keeping people in the loop, but even those posting their own opinions are still bringing attention to current events. Social movements such as Kony 2012 and breast cancer awareness month depend partly on social media for disseminating information Senior English major Amanda Pate realizes the impact of such media on her understanding and awareness of events. She said “I love the idea of...

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Business students sew hope and seam memories in Peru
Nov16

Business students sew hope and seam memories in Peru

By Brittany Pumphrey It’s not every day that an opportunity arises to change someone’s life, but for the College of Business, the chance presented itself. Two professors and five graduate students recently visited two towns in Peru to oversee a company entitled Threads of Hope. The organization is a group of about 20 women who hand sew patterns into usable items such as oven mitts and Bible cases. Once they are completed, the items are sent to a distribution center in Plano, Texas, to be sold. The graduate students’ responsibility on the trip was to collect research and provide feedback for the business. Associate Professor and Director of the MBA program Dr. Terry Fox was one of the professors who went on the trip. Fox enjoyed his time in Peru and called it an incredible experience. He described the two villages, Lima and Ayacucho, in which the students spent their time. “Belton is a world away from Lima, and Lima is a world away from Ayacucho,” Fox said. Lima is the city where the women worked and sewed the items together. There, the team took time with the women, learning how the business works and taking notes. They also interviewed some of the workers during the process. Fox said, “It was a fact- finding type of trip and … just meeting everyone was amazing. They were so open and welcoming.” He described his trip as being more beneficial to him and the students than it was for the women in Lima. Business management graduate student Michael Kattan also accompanied Fox on the trip. He describes his favorite part about his journey. “The three-hour bike tour was really fun … some accidents happened, but it was fun.” It was Kattan’s first time being introduced to a different environment other than the United States and his home country of Lebanon. He found it interesting to learn about the different cultures and the way they do things in Lima. However, he did find some similarities of his own culture. “It reminds me of being back in my village by the way they dress,” Kattan said. He also believes that they got more out of the experience than the natives just by learning how they ran their business. “It was a great experience I will remember for a long time,” Kattan said. Business administration graduate student Mary Beth Kelton was interested in going on the trip to help with the non-profit side; she was moved in more than one way. “I enjoyed experiencing the differences in culture and working with the women directly. It was humbling to see poverty in real life. They...

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