Musician turned business professor
Feb07

Musician turned business professor

Professor of accounting Kirk Fischer loves to teach, and he especially enjoys teaching accounting. He did not realize his love for teaching, however, until later in life after he gave up his first love of music. While growing up in Rockford, Ill., Fischer dreamed of being a rock  musician. If you saw him today in his clean haircut and business casual clothes, you probably would not believe that he got to live that dream during the ‘60s and into the mid-70s as the keyboard player for the rock band Flagship. In the ‘60s Fischer listened to bands like The Doors, and his favorite keyboard player of all time was Chester Thompson. Fischer said, “Ray Manzarek from the Doors was one of my heroes. … It was pointed out to me when I was a kid that I was very good at being a musician, so I naturally headed that way. It became the pursuit of fame and wealth. It was about ego.” Though he played nearly 10 years, the band never performed on the big stage. Fischer’s decision to get out of music came because he got married and had to support a family. “One of the reasons I left rock and roll music was drugs. I can say that I was never a participant of the drug culture, but I was a direct witness. It was also very pragmatic. I had a family to feed.” He chose accounting because he thought it would be practical. He soon came to realize that not only was he good at accounting but also he sincerely enjoyed it. “I decided to get a bachelor’s degree. From, ‘81 to ‘84, I attended Northern Illinois University. At this point, my children were coming along,” Fischer said. “I gave up music in about 1981. I raised my family and started my business. There were no regrets, and I was content that I had been there and done that.” Fischer spent 20 years working in the  business world. He excelled at his job and went to the executive ranks of Professional Datasolutions Inc. Though successful, he was not fully content and began to ponder retirement. “I had what my wife would call a midlife crisis, but it was more of a reassessment. You start questioning how does this end?” Fischer said.“A retired doctor at my church gave me the book Finishing Well. What was put forth by the author was that we as professionals have accumulated significant skill sets, and we have a responsibility to use that skill set until that skill is used up.” He had always enjoyed teaching and since he lived in Temple,...

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Students mentor children in new program

For a few years, the university has incorporated a new way to serve the community in the form of mentoring. The program with Tyler Elementary gives the opportunity for the mentor and student to build long-lasting relationships with one another. Professor in the Exercise and Sport Science Department Dr. Mickey Kerr said there is no formal name for the mentor program, which began in September 2010. Chelsie Kelley is the community and school site director. Kerr said, “Chelsie at Tyler Elementary called and wanted to know if we had any students that would like to come over and mentor a child. The students go over to the school in Belton, and they will meet during the child’s lunch. This is just once a week.” He described the daily routine. “They just go over there and talk with them and visit with them and just kind of are an older brother or sister to serve as a role model or mentor,” Kerr said. This semester, 12 students are mentoring and must meet stipulations in order to participate. “I get the names to Chelsie Kelley, and they, of course, have to go through background checks, and then once that is complete, she gives me the names and times of students available, and I help to match up our students with their students,” he said. Although Kerr has never officially been a mentor to someone, he has offered free batting and pitching lessons. He thinks it is important for others to volunteer whether  they play sports or not. “I have always encouraged our students to volunteer. We volunteer at track meets and for Special Olympics and things like that. This is just another aspect of it,” he said. His desire is for the teens to become engaged in extracurricular activities in their local area. “I want them to get into the habit of wanting to get involved in the community wherever they go to school or work,” Kerr said. He believes helping adolescents is important. “I think this is a great opportunity to serve as a role model. Our youth really need role models, particularly with a lot of the scandals going on today. I think it is really important for students of college age to realize how valuable volunteering is.” One of the students participating  this year is senior sport management major Javicz Jones. He hopes that by mentoring the children, they will learn to choose the right paths in life. “Dr. Kerr mentioned that we have a volunteer program,  and as soon as he said that I jumped right on it. I have been a mentor for about a year...

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Quilts narrate history of school

Museums across Central Texas have opened their doors for the Great Bell County Quilt Crawl.  Currently in the second week, it is a county-wide exhibit of creative and historical quilts. It runs until Feb. 18. On Jan. 21, the university hosted the Crawl, and retired professor Dr. Edna Bridges gave a workshop on basic quilting techniques. She invited children to channel their ingenious side and taught them how to create fabric yo-yos. The children then used the yo-yo’s to make hair bows, clothing accessories and Christmas decorations. “It gives them something to do in their pastime besides playing video games and texting,” Bridges said. “They’ll always have it; it carries over into adulthood.  I get so much satisfaction from making and giving crafts, and I hope it gives these kids the same satisfaction.” The museum also displays more than 40 exhibits that include quilts, bedspreads, rugs, decorative clowns, handkerchiefs, pillows and crocheted collars. Each display tells a story, and each connects to the university. Two quilts are emphasized as the museum’s centerpieces. One is a keepsake collage of shirts entitled “UMHB T-shirt Quilt” while the other is a family heirloom entitled “9-Patch Touching Stars.” Both are a representation of UMHB’s past and present and are owned by alumnae and grandmother          /granddaughter duo, Nelda Sanders and Kristal Varnell. The first was made in 2011 by Varnell.  It is a patchwork of T-shirts she acquired during her years in college. She said, “I just wanted to make something to preserve all my memories,” she said. “I had all these shirts, and I thought that I should just make a quilt from them. It wasn’t hard. If I can do it, anyone can do it.” Half-way through her studies, Varnell shifted gears and changed her major. She thought it was important to incorporate that into her masterpiece. “Even though I didn’t graduate with a nurse’s degree, I was a nurse major my first two years. Here are the purple pockets from my purple scrubs and the white buttons from my lab coat,” she said. The second quilt, “9-Patch Touching Stars,” was made in 1845 by Mary Sloan. It was a wedding gift for her son, then handed through the generations while being preserved with love and care. More than 150 years later, it was given to Varnell’s grandmother and 1954 graduate, Nelda East Sanders. “It was passed down each time to another daughter when she got married,” Sanders said.  “Then it finally came to my brother-in-law’s mother. She gave it to him, and he gave it to us. The stitching  really tells the different texture of that time period. Everything was done...

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Cru spend holidays in Costa Rica
Jan24

Cru spend holidays in Costa Rica

By Elissa Thompson Zip lining through the jungle, waterfall hikes and observing other businesses are not what most college students do over Christmas holidays, but 11 students from UMHB got to experience a whole different culture in Costa Rica during the break. Dr. Jim King, dean of the College of Business discussed the main focus of the trip: “To observe how the aspects of culture impact business practices.” King and his wife Debbie, another chaperone traveled to Santa Elena/Monteverde, La Fortuna, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and San Jose, which is the capital city of Costa Rica. The students who made the trip over the break  were Stacy Hillin, Jennifer Loyd, Bob Beckworth, Taylor Barnard, Nate Outland, Tobin Davies, Lauren Reider, Emily Holzman, Ryan Castleman, Daniela Loera and Michael Beach. They worked as a team while observing Costa Rican businesses and their owners. King said, “The study abroad program for the College of Business seeks to accomplish three things: Support the global engagement component of the UMHB Strategic Plan, expose students to other cultures to enable them to be better global citizens and Christian witnesses, and expose students to business practices foreign to those at home to enable them to be better business professionals.” The group not only learned about Costa Rican culture and environment, but they experienced it as well with a visit to a working coffee farm, tour of a cacao forest with a chocolate-tasting experience and visit to a cheese factory. They also talked to local business owners about starting a business in Costa Rica as an American. Senior international business major Tobin Davies, who went with King last summer to China, loved interacting with the natives. He said of the recent trip, “The coolest part was talking to two of the locals, Anna and Pablo. They are brother and sister. Anna studies in the U.S. at a university, but she was back home for Christmas. He further added that communications were easier than he had assumed. “Just hearing them talk about what it’s like to live in the mountains. It’s just so cool to connect with them. And they knew really good English, so we didn’t have to bridge that language barrier with them.” The group did not study and observe businesses the entire time. The students also enjoyed some fun activities like zip lining through the jungle, shopping, waterfall hikes, and a New Year’s Eve celebration with fireworks. Senior accounting major Bob Beckworth believes every student should travel to gain world perspectives. He said, “I feel like every student needs to go on a trip. We get wrapped up in the American dream of just...

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Campus wide support for sanctity of life

Sunday, Jan. 22 marked another year of events recognizing the date when the American government began allowing women  the right to choose whether or not to keep their unborn children. It was also the anniversary of the famous Roe vs. Wade decision. Now, 39 years and more than 50,000,000 aborted babies later, this generation is a quarter less than what it could have been. It is during the spring semester that students and faculty begin to raise awareness to the ever-so-powerful political and social topic of abortion. This past Friday red flags could be seen across the quad, each flag symbolizing 50,000 aborted babies, enough placed in the ground to account for all 50 million. Students will duct tape their mouths honoring the unborn who could not speak for themselves, and a guest speaker will appear in chapel with a message about abortion. The passing of the sonogram bill in 2011 will be a major celebratory issue this year. It requires demands that every woman who enters an abortion clinic with intentions to have an abortion must first be shown a sonogram image of the child before any procedures take place. Statistics show that 70-80 percent of mothers who see the heartbeat of their unborn child decide not to go through with an abortion. With abortion being such a sensitive and controversial issue, University Chaplain and adviser of Cru for Life, George Loutherback, hopes that those who are pro-life will embrace it. He said, “I hope that people come away from this with a sense of conviction. Say, ‘I believe in this and I’m going to take a stand and I’m going to learn what I can.” With elections coming up, he wants students to become educated on this issue. Loutherback said, “I’m going to learn what I can about which political candidates are pro-choice and pro-life, and I’m going to use that as a bench mark of who I want to vote for.’ Be convicted enough to learn what you can so that you can take a stand and make a difference.” Between political talk about abortion and different opinions in society, it can be hard to pick one idea about abortion and stick with it considering the many beliefs that exist. But for one biologist, the issue  is all plainly spelled out. Chair for the Department of Biology Dr. Kathleen Wood,  said, “I just go with what I read and understand out of the scriptures. A human life starts at conception. There is no doubt about it that when you have an egg and a sperm come together, they produce life.” For anyone who has had an...

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Finding confidence through weight loss

The turn of a New Year and the beginning of a new semester have students plunging into an assortment of new activities in hopes of easing the pain induced with re-entry into all-nighters and Ramen noodle diets. For some, however, learning how to manage stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle isn’t a choice. In June 2011, just a few months after transferring from McLennan Community College in Waco to UMHB, sophomore history major Erin Goolsby was unwittingly thrust into her transformation when a health issue threatened her future. “When I found out about my issues with my gallbladder, I decided it was time to make a change. I was actually at my heaviest when I found out my gallbladder wasn’t working well and that I would have to have it removed,” she said. At first all she did was remove the unhealthy foods from her diet to lose a substantial amount of weight, 30 pounds to be exact. “It wasn’t a quick process, obviously. But the weight just started coming off as I dieted. It was exciting because I had never made that much progress in my entire life,” she said. “I plan to lose about another 30 pounds because I want to be at a healthy weight for my height.” She and senior elementary education major Leah Hough attended their first Zumba class recently to kick-start their new regimen and plan to continue every Wednesday night. Goolsby and Hough have been friends since sixth grade, and Hough describes their relationship as a good support system that has proved stronger than the obstacles 11 years of friendship have thrown at them. “There have been days when I’m just not motivated,” Goolsby said. “I’ll get stressed, and all I want to do is sleep. I would say that’s my biggest obstacle. Goolsby has a backup plan for sudden relapses. “I have an emergency jar of Nutella in the pantry, but exercise is the best stress release for me,” she said. Goolsby understands the amount of work she needs to do to reach her goal, but her new-found confidence and security have created room to encourage others. “Just make yourself a goal and stick with it. Even if it’s thrust upon you like mine was, just keep going with it. I will get better with time and vigilance.” Junior nursing major Kara Cornelio is learning to deal with stress in ways that will improve her health. She also has exhaustive study demands as she enters the third semester in pursuit of her BSN 3,000 miles away from her boyfriend and her dachshund. “I’m already so swamped with school that it’s hard...

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