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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Festival to welcome poet laureates
Dec09

Festival to welcome poet laureates

The university’s English department will host its annual Writer’s Festival over the Christmas break. The event is scheduled for Jan. 7-10 and is open to students, faculty, staff and the community. This year’s schedule features a variety of events, which will take place in Brindley Auditorium, with a coffee house and an open mic night on Wednesday evening. The festival will include  numerous writers like Alan Berecka, Brady Peterson, and Jeanne Murray Walker, who will speak on different topics. Walker is an award-winning poet, with a diverse number of plays under her belt. For 20 years, she worked as an editor of poetry for Christianity and Literature. She now works for both Shenandoah and Image on the editorial boards. Walker will lead a master poetry workshop during the festival and give the George Nixon Memorial Lecture on Thursday in Brindley Auditorium. Additionally, key speakers will include Texas Poet Laureate, Larry Thomas, and past Texas Poet Laureate, Cleatus Rattan. Thomas has been writing poetry since the ’70s and had his first book published in 2000. He has completed six more since then. Rattan was the poet laureate during 2004 and is a professor of English at UMHB. Still on the Hill, made up of Donna Stjerna and Kelly Mulhollan, will be returning to coach their workshop. Last year, they offered an afternoon workshop and played an evening performance entitled Gathering Paradise, sponsored by the Honors Program. This time around, Still on the Hill will be taking phrases and lines of poetry from those who attend, and will transform them into songs. The duo will also perform a full concert Friday evening after dinner. Art Professor Helen Kwiatkowski will teach an art workshop. Held in the Mabee Student Center, her workshop will train participants how to use visual elements to tell stories. Using a style known as visual narrative, she welcomes anyone, whether or not they have had experience in the field. Kwiatkowski hopes that the festival will instruct readers to think outside the box and break the boundaries of their imagination. The cost to register for the entire festival is $100. This includes all readings, workshops, refreshments and dinner. To come for just one day, the cost is $40, and individual events are $20. The event is free for UMHB students. Some scholarships are available. More information about the festival is available from Dr. Audell Shelburne at ext. 4561 or contact him at...

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Drugs: a trapping lifestyle
Dec09

Drugs: a trapping lifestyle

I feel like I am in one of those fun houses, with mirrors all around. I keep running into my own reflection. I try to follow the ones that have made it out by their voices, but there’s no clear exit. It’s scary. I feel lost. I am trapped. This is just a glimpse of Megan’s blog. A drug-addict of four years, she cannot get the feelings of isolation out of her head. As a freshman in high school, Megan wanted to feel something different. She was weak from pressure and drugs were the quickest fix. But now, as high school graduation nears, she knows she can’t fully live life neglecting reality. Megan is just one of the teenagers searching for an escape from life’s trials. The nation is facing a crisis as the war against adolescent drug use continues to deepen. Licensed professional counselor, Keshia Keith, who works as the program facilitator at the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission Center in Killeen, said it is due to a variety of reasons, including parent’s are too busy. “We all work, and the economy isn’t great, but children are looking for role models which should be found within the confines of their own homes,” Keith said. “Children should feel comfortable going to their parents to discuss their stresses.” Teenagers are getting high in different ways, other than drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana. Methods range from huffing computer air spray to taking other students’ prescription drugs. Keith said many teen users do not understand the severity behind the actions, which is why she believes knowledge, along with healthy family relationships, is important. “A lot of times they don’t know what they’re doing to their body or how it truly affects them,” she said. “Education is important. I make them aware of the situation so they know better, and then it is up to them to do or don’t do better. The choice is theirs.” She has found there are many methods for fighting the issue and that most teenagers are listening. “They take it in and tend to be pretty receptive,” Keith said. Because of this, she believes more education in schools will decrease drug-use levels and Deputy Superintendent for Belton Independent School District, Susan Kincannon, said the schools are providing awareness through different programs, along with administrating random drug tests. “We’re constantly working to help our students say no to drugs and educating them on how,” she said. “We have a drug and violence prevention curriculum for grades 3-8 called Lifeskills … and at the high school level, we teach a curriculum called Towards No Drugs in health classes.” Director of...

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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 vandalism peaks, police respond to concern
Dec09

Campus vandalism peaks, police respond to concern

Weeks before Thanksgiving break, several car break-ins and vandalism cases occurred on campus. Windows shattered, valuables stolen and no one yet caught for these acts continue to pose worry for students. About two or three weeks ago, in a span of just a mere couple of days, five vehicles in the Remschel and Presser parking lots were broken into, and personal items were stolen. They ranged from GPS systems and DVD players to stereo items and more. Along with the unwanted and awful acts of violence and burglary, a car was also vandalized, but nothing was taken from it. There are no similar qualities in the car break-ins. According to Chief Gary Sargent, who is in charge of the campus police force, a person or persons will just walk by a particular car and see something they want. “Our working theory is that it’s not a college student,” Sargent said. “They are inexperienced people because the jobs are messy. Five years ago, there were many car burglaries where young individuals did it. At that time, they had a target group. That’s not the case this time.” The incident happened roughly five years ago. Seventeen young men were involved and stole in one weekend several motor vehicles. They were known as the Belton Bandits. The CID Investigator of the Belton Police Department, Larry Berg, believes that despite the recent events on campus, the city of Belton and the university are still a very safe place. “I really think that car break-ins and theft category have really decreased,” he said. “We’ve caught a lot of kids.” The statistics in recent years concerning threat to automobiles have remained fairly consistent on and off campus. On the university grounds, there have only been a total of five car break-ins or theft in the past five years. Ironically, for this low number of crimes, car break-ins are the hightest offenses reported on campus by students yearly. As for the city of Belton, the numbers are slightly higher, however not by much. This is only due to the fact that Belton is a city and not a closed campus. Sophomore art major Krista Troy lives in Remschel dorm and is shocked at the occurrences that have taken place in the parking lot where she parks her vehicle. “It’s just plain wrong,” she said. “If somebody is desperate for anything, all they have to do is ask somebody on campus, and it’ll come their way. People here are caring enough to provide for one another, thus making these break-ins even more inexcusable.” Both Cheif Sargent and Investigator Berg offer the same advice when it comes to...

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