Who knew a bridge would make the lasting difference
Jan27

Who knew a bridge would make the lasting difference

Packing an auditorium ceases to fear former pastor Don Piper. At UMHB, he did just that. Piper, a guest speaker for chapel, spoke on a dramatic life-changing experience as told in the book, 90 Minutes In Heaven. His story places an emphasis on decision making and begins like any other day, which turns ugly but ends in a miracle. On Wednesday morning, Jan. 18, 1989, the cold east Texas wind blew as the rain trickled down. Piper, leaving a pastors’ retreat, chose to drive a different way home. “I pulled out of the gates and made a big decision. I decided to go right for no other reason than curiosity,” he said. With thoughts only on the night’s prayer meeting, he came to the two-lane Trinity River Bridge over Lake Livingston and proceeded to cross. About to enter the bridge, an 18-wheeler in the oncoming lane swerved across the yellow line. “He rolled over me like a speed bump,” Piper said. Then the driver side-swiped the two cars in front of him before coming to a halt near the other end of the bridge. Emergency assistance arrived, found no one else hurt but received no pulse from Piper’s lifeless body. “They were unsuccessful in reviving me, declared me dead on the spot and covered me up so no one could see me.” Unable to move the body until he was officially pronounced dead, officers stood by as the last EMT vehicle prepared to leave. Meanwhile, traffic piled up on the two-lane road leading to the accident site. Dick and Anita Onerecker, speakers from the pastors’ retreat, were among the people caught in the stand still. They tried to piece together what happened. Dick Onerecker walked to the site and asked an officer if he could pray for anyone. The officer replied that everyone involved was fine except for the man in the red car, who died. Piper, the man in the red car, said Onerecker heard God telling him to pray for the dead man. Against his better judgment, Onerecker asked the officer if he could get in the red car and pray for the man. The astonished officer told him no, but after watching him a few moments said ok. The officer said, “Sir you seem very sincere, but the reason we covered him up is because he is torn up.” Piper said the sight in the car was horrible with blood everywhere and dismembered limbs scattered around the car. Onerecker crawled through the back window and sat in the back seat, touched Piper’s right arm and began to pray. He then began to sing the hymn “What...

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African Outreach: Surpassing barriers to share love through a different language
Jan27

African Outreach: Surpassing barriers to share love through a different language

Students often spend part of Christmas break on mission trips or a weekend helping out with local relief efforts, but sophomore Christian studies major Eli Jackson spent an entire semester in East Africa with the International Mission Board Hands-On program. “You can go over there, and you’re the big missionary. You’re the head honcho … that’s what you think while you’re over here,” Jackson said. “But once you get over there (and) stay more than two weeks, you realize that you’re just some weird white guy that can’t speak the language trying to help these people out. And God shows you how much you’re worth and how much you have to depend on Him.” When he first heard of the program from an older gentleman in his hometown church, he was thinking of taking a short trip. “I wasn’t expecting to go for four and half months. I was thinking more like Christmas or summer,” Jackson said. “But (I) looked at it, thought about it, prayed about it. I’m not going to graduate on time anyways, so I might as well go on to Africa for a while.” Jackson’s sister Kelci, a senior at Belton High School said, “It was kind of exciting, bitter sweet I mean,” when her brother decided to go. “It would be really cool to know somebody who’s been to Africa, and he’s serving God in a foreign country and telling … people about Him.” But the work Jackson undertook thousands of miles from the university last semester proved to be far from an easy break from school. He learned more about his faith in the villages of Africa than from the classroom setting. “There’s a lot more than the school stuff has. Just the small things of daily life … are bigger within,” part  of putting faith into action. “The first two weeks were nice,” Jackson said. He had a spiritual high after gathering for orientation with other Christians at a resort on the beach. After three weeks in language school learning as much Swahili as he could, Jackson and his team members began their mission. “I was drilling and refurbishing water wells,” he said. “You get excited about the whole culture .… At first you’re excited, then you hate it (and) then you get used to it.” He worked on the mission field for months, so the experience was different from any other trips he had taken before with his youth group. “It was a lot different because two weeks you don’t get it all. You (just) get the excitement, ” Jackson said.  “You don’t get the day-to-day frustrations, the small things that all...

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Search CRU hosts events for prospective students
Dec09

Search CRU hosts events for prospective students

The high school student arrives, and his mother parks the car. He timidly steps outside of the car and onto the pavement. As he proceeds toward the campus, he walks past the large stone letters and is greeted by college students in purple and white polos. Search CRU, an organization  started in 2007 by the admissions and recruiting office. It was designed for  for the purpose of welcoming prospective students to campus. Admissions counselor Elizabeth Webb is one of the advisers for the foundation. She was involved with the planning process before the organization was created and thinks it has been an advantage for all parties participating. “We started it as a way to get current students involved with meeting prospective students,” she said. “We have a lot of current students who love UMHB and wanted to show and talk with students and tell them why. So it seemed like a good fit to get them more involved with the prospects and a benefit for both of them.” Some of the prospective students complete evaluations, and the recruiting office has received positive remarks about their experiences. “We had students say ‘I enjoyed meeting current students. I really enjoyed hanging out with them.’ That seems good because they do enjoy having that interaction,” Webb said. Currently, 30 members serve the campus in Search Cru, but it’s not too late for others to join. Junior marketing major and the organization’s president Jennifer Walker said, “We have interviews every semester. You only have to be committed for a semester, or you can stay committed to Search CRU ‘till you graduate. It is up to you.” Walker wanted to join because of her passion for the university, and she hopes more people will jump aboard. “I joined Search CRU because I love UMHB, and I always try to get other students to come here. I love to tell them everything that UMHB has to offer. If you are like this and love to tell people about UMHB, then you should try out for this group.” Several events are planned through the admissions and recruiting office and put on by Search CRU. One is Preview Weekend, a time when prospective students spend two days at UMHB. They are also partnered with current students, allowing them to gain the full picture of what is offered by the university. Walker said Preview Weekend took a whole semester to organize. “Actually it gets planned all year long for the recruiters. Preview is the recruiter’s main recruiting event, so there is a lot going on.” On Nov. 21 and 22 about 300 prospective students arrived to get a...

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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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