Students strike gold with ‘Texas Louvre’ art site

While many students ask themselves if anything they do in class will be useful in real life, that is not an issue for senior marketing majors Tanner Vaughan, Gilbert Mendoza and Eric Roberson. They have a successful art auctioning Web site and nearly $750 in sales to prove it. The three students began a business venture in October called the “3-20 Challenge” as part of the Introduction to Entrepreneurship class taught by Assistant Prof-essor and chair of the Management and Marketing departments, Dr. Barbara Dalby. “Rather than just the typical things you do in a course, I wanted them to get the flavor of being an entrepreneur,” Dalby said. During the challenge, each team of three students was loaned $20 as an original investment and given three weeks to turn a profit. Not only did the original loan have to be repaid, but also $2 a week in “rent.” Of any profits, 20 percent would go to “taxes” and 10 percent back to the “investor” as dividends. Vaughan developed the idea for an art auctioning Web site, inspired by his mother. “My mom is an oil painter, so the original idea was to commission a painting from her, sell it online and give her a portion of the profits,” Vaughan said. “Then I realized that this is a lot like what an art gallery does, only they take paintings that are already finished, sell them for the artist and take a portion of the profits. My thought was that I could do the exact same thing, only do it online.” The students created their Web site using a free service and named the site The Texas Louvre. They began by auctioning art from Vaughan’s mother and several of her friends who were also artists. “She and a couple of her friends had several paintings lying around that they hadn’t been able to sell at their shows,” Roberson said. “They gave these unsold paintings to us to sell for them.” The students auction most of the art through eBay, although several paintings sold quickly from the site itself. The Texas Louvre features art from Austin artist Robin Cheers, California artist Tom Brown and “V” Vaughn, Tanner Vaughn’s mother. The site includes an art gallery of paintings that can be immediately purchased, links to current eBay auctions and information about the artists and the site itself. The students keep 20 percent of total sales, with half going directly to the artists and the other 30 percent to the class in the form of “taxes” and “dividends” to the “investor.” This has not come without challenges, as the young entrepreneurs have sometimes...

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Wonderful world offers internships
Dec09

Wonderful world offers internships

A number of different majors on campus require students to do an internship before they can graduate. It has to be a sufficient number of hours, and it has to relate to their major in some way. Although the university does all it can to find students appropriate intern positions, sometimes the task can be frustrating. However, one Fortune 500 company comes to campus every semester to recruit students of all majors for a life-enhancing experience. Each fall and spring, a recruiter comes to UMHB and does a presentation about the world of Disney and all it has to offer. At the conclusion, a potential hire is given the opportunity to fill out an application and is interviewed on the spot. About three weeks later, applicants receive letters explaining if they’ve been selected or not. If chosen to be a cast member, students fly or drive to Orlando, Fla., where a fully furnished apartment is waiting for them. Students have the choice to live with one or five roommates, who could come from anywhere around the world. After arriving on the Disney property, interns take a class called Traditions where the cast members are given the history of the company. Afterwards, they are plugged into a variety of jobs including entertainment, merchandise, lifeguard, park operations, quick-service food, culinary and others. Additionally, they may take courses for college credit at Disney University. Professor of communication and media studies Dr. Diane Howard, along with a couple of on-campus Disney representatives, are the contacts for the recruiter. They help to get the word out to the students about presentations by putting up posters and chalking the sidewalk. “I think it is an excellent program for a proactive student who will take advantage of the many opportunities that it offers,” Howard said. “It provides opportunities for ongoing career training in communication, science, marketing, entertainment, hospitality, guest services and more.” Will Johnson, a UMHB alum, went through two internships with Disney. He worked in the entertainment department and is now a full- time cast member. “I started on the program back in 2006 doing the spring advantage program. As of now, I am trained in most of the shows and parades at Hollywood Studios including Block Party, and High School Musical 3,” he said. Johnson is also involved with the Season Christmas show that is performed on stage in front of Cinderella’s castle. He considers it a great honor. Recently, junior computer graphics design major Holly Gaskamp was selected to be a part of the college program in the spring. She first heard about the opportunity as a freshmen and has now decided to...

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Student in the driver’s seat
Dec09

Student in the driver’s seat

If Cherith Jones were passed on the highway, no one would think anything different of her Chevy truck. Few know it  has a Canadian lift system, which is necessary to boost her wheel chair from the ground into the driver’s position. Jones, a senior psychology major, got her license when she was 18 years old. Born with a genetic birth defect called spino bifida, she is unable to feel anything from the waist down. But this has not deterred her from buying her own groceries, cheering with fellow students in Couch Cru and attending college classes. She said the best part of driving is “just having that freedom and being able to go whenever I want to go. Being independent is such a huge deal for someone with a disability because you have to depend sometimes (on others) for a lot.” After spending four years at Odessa Comm-unity College in her hometown, Jones transferred to UMHB knowing she wanted to pursue a degree in psychology. Others seem to be able to talk to her easily, and she enjoys taking conversations to deeper levels. “I really like listening to people’s problems. I really do,” Jones said. So she thought, “Why not get paid for it?” Jones hopes to continue her education at the university by getting a master’s degree in counseling after graduating in May 2009. Junior social work major, Daniel Alejandro, said, “At first, I was kind of intimidated because she has a strong personality. She’s not shy.” Alejandro, like others, was worried he might offend Jones by asking about her disability. “I was afraid that I might say something wrong,” he said. “But as I soon found out, it doesn’t really matter because she’s one of us.” For another friend’s birthday, Alejandro and Jones created what they call a “Batman movie” by play-acting in front of their digital cameras. One of the scenes starred Jones in her wheelchair as she chased Batman, played by sophomore Gordon Eggleston. “She’s always in (the games) and likes to have fun with us,” Alejandro said. Jones has resolved to help make others at ease around her. “Being able to laugh with your disability and to have fun with it and to talk about it, I think that makes people a lot more comfortable,” she said. Alejandro said she is outgoing and talks openly about herself. “She makes jokes out of it, too.” He said, “She’s like ‘I’ll kick you.’” Junior piano performance major Hannah Horton is also a friend of Jones. “(Cherith) participates in all the activities we participate in. It doesn’t hold her back at all,” Horton said. “She’s one of...

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Campus students cheer at eighth-grade Tigers game to show support

By Patrick McDonald The quarterback throws the ball, and it lands in the wide receiver’s hot little hands. He runs the ball into the endzone for a touchdown, and as he spikes the pigskin into the ground, you would expect the crowd to go wild. This is not the case for the eighth grade Belton Tigers team, as they have few spectators attending their games. But some students from UMHB decided to make a change for them. They saw the need for encouragement for the young NFL players-to-be and thought of a solution. They would cheer for the Belton Tigers at their game. Junior Lydia Schmidt said, “We got the idea from a similar event that happened in Austin. A small team, like the Tigers, needed help and attention. So some people in the community asked ESPN broadcasters to follow the game and hired the Goodyear blimp to fly overhead. We just wanted to love them.” And love them they did. They came dressed in red T-shirts and carrying paint and noisemakers. Though not many students were able to make it to the game, those who did show made a difference. While the sun shone brightly and increased the temperature of the day, they stuck around the entire time, yelling for the Tigers with sweat pouring down their faces. “It was a great experience to make these kids’ day. Some of the students were really energetic, and they had to be since there were only about ten people from UMHB,” sophomore Mike Kroll said. The students did a great job, cheering that would have rivaled the greatest fans. They were loud and received some weird looks from the parents of players and young cheerleaders on the blacktop. The Tigers would end up winning the game with a shut-out against Midway, 12-0. Coach Josh Davis said, “What the students did for the players was very much appreciated. Apart from parents coming to see their son play or their daughter cheer, there are not many people that do come to see these kids. They were surprised to have people being loud for them and even asked me a couple times who it was cheering for them.” Junior Alanna McFarland said, “It was all worth it. The time was well spent not only with friends from the university, but with kids we did not even know. Everyone should come along when the next game comes around. They may have to pay $2 to get in, but there is nothing else that they would be...

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Where the West visited the East
Nov18

Where the West visited the East

When Tommy Wilson said he was ready to jump out of a plane with a Bible and a shovel to help earthquake victims in China, he was only half joking. “They ran out of parachutes,” he said. The junior Christian ministry and business major may not have gone skydiving during his stay in Hong Kong, but he believes he served God in a big way. “That’s something every Christian can do without a seminary degree,” Wilson said. He packed up after his sophomore year at UMHB and moved to Hong Kong, China, for a year of missions. “I felt God calling me there,” he said. “The opportunity was there, and I felt I could meet the needs of the people.” Wilson’s main focus was youth ministry, which he had done before in the United States. He organized weekly youth services on Fridays and also led mission trips to India, mainland China and a summer camp shortly before he returned home. He happened to see filming for the summer blockbuster movie The Dark Knight, in which Batman jumps from Hong Kong’s International Finance Center Tower, but Wilson kept focused. “We did a broad range of things, and all of them had youth involvement,” Wilson said. Senior recreation major John Mark Harvey visited Wilson in Hong Kong and watched his ministry in action. “Tommy really adapted well to a culture and language different from anything in Texas,” Harvey said. “He had such a servant’s heart; it was incredible. Tommy was all about serving people.” Wilson went to India twice, to a city near the Pakistani border, where he worked with a local pastor to help newly-formed churches in slum areas, churches that were ministering to the needs of the most vulnerable in Indian society. “We went to a school that a church started where they brought in young girls and taught them how to sew, read and write,” Wilson said. “When they left, they would have a skill to support themselves so they wouldn’t be forced into prostitution or slavery.” What impacted Wilson the most, however, was the massive earthquake that struck Sichuan province in China on May 12, killing nearly 70,000 people. He was able to travel to the affected areas two months later. “The amount of destruction was phenomenal,” he said. “Home after home was just demolished. Some entire cities only had two buildings left standing, and even those were so heavily damaged they had to be demolished. There were reports of villages near mountain ranges where the mountains just crumbled down on them; entire villages of 10,000-20,000 people buried under 60 feet of rock.” Wilson welcomed the opportunity...

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Picturesque Pageant: Through the technical hiccups, blinding spotlights and treacherous staircases, contestants demonstrate poise and grace
Nov18

Picturesque Pageant: Through the technical hiccups, blinding spotlights and treacherous staircases, contestants demonstrate poise and grace

The set was reminiscent of a Broadway production as many beautiful and talented women on campus competed for the coveted honor of Miss Mary Hardin-Baylor. For this year’s theme, “Bright Lights, Big City,” the Chapel was decorated with many colorful lights and small cutouts of familiar skylines. Large spotlights lit up the night sky. The 2009 pageant was sponsored by the Campus Activities Board and was a student-led production in which young women on campus represented organizations, classes or resident halls in competition. Alumni judges were asked to rate the contestants based on their interview, evening gown and individual talent performance. “I’m really proud of all of the girls. They did a great job,” Mike McCarthy, director of campus activities, said. “You fall in love with all of the girls, and although it sounds cliché, when the night gets here, you want them all to win. The biggest reward for me is just to see them all do what they do well. Everyone did a great job.” Senior art education major Allison Daniel was this year’s pageant director. “I think (pageant) exceeded every expectation,” she said. “It was really cool after all was said and done, and after all our work, to just sit and watch each of these girls shine.” Daniel said the most common question she was asked during the pageant was who she thought would win. “Honestly, out of the girls we have, I could not pick one,” she said. “Every time I would think that one of the girls was pulling ahead of the rest, all of the other girls would step up and do just as well. I would’ve been pleased with any of these girls as Miss MHB.” This year’s winner, sophomore vocal performance major Brianna Edwards, said she had no idea that she would receive this honor. The McLane Hall representative said her original goals were to meet a lot of new people, make a lot of new friends and hopefully get to learn something in the process. “Now I’m standing on the stage with a heavy crown on my head,” she said. “It’s kind of surreal. I feel like the best description of this moment would be the scene in Talladega Nights when Will Ferrell wins the race and doesn’t know what to do with his hands. It’s kind of like that.” Edwards’ platform was “Empowering Students to Achieve Boldness.” “I want to talk to Shawn Shannon at the Baptist Student Ministry and set up actual courses to teach students boldness before they are sent out on the mission field,” she said. “So many times, students get caught up in this...

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