‘Texas Ranger’  inspires professor to train in karate
Feb24

‘Texas Ranger’ inspires professor to train in karate

Many would call playing an extra on a TV show, whose leading actor could snap a person in two like a twig, a life highlight. For UMHB’s Professor Emeritus of English, Dr. George Musacchio, standing in the presence of the man who changed his life seemed all the sweeter as he performed scenes with the skillful karate artist and actor Chuck Norris. The 1990s hit TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger, presented Norris expertise as a martial artist, which motivated numerous viewers to engage in forms of karate and seek better health practices. Musacchio, one of those viewers, became a fan of Norris’ and one day stumbled across the fact stating Norris was only a year younger than himself. This lit a fire, and Musachhio said to himself, ‘If he can do this, then so can I.’ He began intensifying his workouts by adding more running and a weight program. When in better shape, Musacchio enrolled in a local karate class. “It was interesting and different,” he said. He recalls a young man there who teased him about his age and at one point told him to hire a bodyguard. After three years of training, Musacchio, 60 at the time, moved up the tae kwo do levels and finally tested for his black belt. He received it on his first try, whereas the teasing young man did not. He looks back and said, “The experience gave me more confidence.” Musacchio no longer takes karate classes, but continues his exercise workouts. He said staying healthy is a priority in his life. He also believes his efforts to stay in shape truly makes a difference. Finding out Musacchio, a nationally recognized scholar on C.S. Lewis and Milton, has such an active past surprises people who have known him for years. Several colleagues never knew of his martial arts abilities, and some said they just thought he was really limber for a man of his age. English professor, Dr. Sarah Brown, said she recalls an encounter with Musacchio during which he kicked a door to open it. “I was behind him, and he did not know anyone was there,” she said. “When he came to the door, I expected him to reach down and push the crash bar, but, instead, his right leg came up, hit that crash bar and he started through the door. I started laughing, and he turned around and grinned and said ‘keeps me in shape’ then kept going just as if it were the most natural thing to do.” At the time, Brown did not know about Musacchio’s experience with precision kicking. Musacchio, who taught at  UMHB for...

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Aromatherapy reduces stress, anxiety
Feb24

Aromatherapy reduces stress, anxiety

By Evangeline Ciupek It’s popping up everywhere — from General Nutrition Centers to Bath and Body Works, from the American Cancer Society to the offices of homeopathic psychologists. A practice that’s been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians, aromatherapy is enjoying a modern day renaissance. Public relations major, Angel Bell, said, “When I think of aromatherapy, the first thing that comes to mind is free mental health treatment.” Aromatherapy is the application or inhalation of essential plant oils. When rubbed onto the skin, the oil is absorbed and enters the bloodstream. When the smell of the oil is picked up by the olfactory nerve, the chemicals in the scent are carried to the brain’s limbic region. The American Cancer Society says that blood pressure, heart rate and even emotions are all affected by the limbic region of the brain. And the organization has looked into aromatherapy as a means of helping cancer patients cope with pain, depression, nausea and other side effects related to chemotherapy. The ancient Egyptians used plant oils for bathing and embalming. These oils were also a part of life for the ancient Greeks, Romans and Chinese. Modern aromatherapy is now a marketable product in health food stores and malls across America. Bath and Body Works carries its own line of aromatherapy products. The lotions, hand creams and pillow mists contain a variety of plant oils and extra ingredients. Christina McDonald, a licensed therapist who earned her undergraduate degrees from UMHB, sees aromatherapy used in her field of work. “In holistic psychology … aromatherapy has (been) very beneficial for a number of emotional issues,” she said. “There are several scents in the psychological world that we actually recommend for insomnia … a couple of those might be chamomile, the rose scent and clary sage.” Students may get benefits from one oil when relaxing after a hard day at school. “A good smell for relaxing is lavender, which is very easy to come by. It’s highly suggested in relieving stress. That is a great scent for helping you sleep as well,” she said. On the other end of the spectrum, aromatherapy may aid a person’s ability to focus on a task or study for a test. “There are certain kinds of scents that actually mentally stimulate,” McDonald said. “Rosemary is one.” Other scents, like basil and lemon oil, have energizing qualities. “They’re not quite as directly related to mental stimulation, but the fact that they uplift could actually refresh someone who might be studying.” Many factors affect the strength of an essential oil. The University of Minn-esota’s Web site says that essential oils are hard...

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One heart, one song, One Voice

By Andra Holbrooks One Voice is a group of ten talented students who do much more than just sing. “Our group is more of a ministry than a vocal ensemble,” said James Venable, senior Christian ministry major. “We deal with all kinds of people, so we have to be able to communicate a lot. We go to churches and sing, and we don’t want to seem like a clique,” he said. The students have traveled to many churches locally and to large cities such as Austin and Dallas. One Voice has a variety of people in the group. From freshmen to seniors, males and females, they have come together throughout the years forming special bonds. Meg Gohlke, senior music education major enjoys the group’s traveling   experiences. “One Voice went to climb Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg, Texas, my sophomore year. After making it to the top of the rock, we sang our song entitled, ‘Build on the Rock’; which is about standing strong on the firm foundation of Christ,” she said. Gohlke has been a member for almost all of her college career. “The end of this semester will end my three years of being in One Voice, which is sad to think about,” she said. “I didn’t make One Voice my freshman year, but did sophomore year and have loved and cherished every minute of it.” The One Voice Concert was held in Hughes Recital Hall on Feb. 19. The performance included the group joined by a string ensemble and the chorale, another small group of singers on  campus. “The chorale is more of the classical style,” Venable said. “Together we are singing a Bach cantata. It’s more classical.” Gohlke was excited about performing with the strings as background music. “Singing with a string ensemble is not something we get to do often. It is an exciting opportunity and very enjoyable. It enhances the sense of baroque styling of Bach’s ‘Cantata Nr. 196’, which, in turn, is a more accurate experience for us,” she said. Looking back, Leslie Cross, junior vocal performance major, gave some insight of Thursday night’s event. “I thought the performance went really well. It’s always great to perform with strings, and I wish that those opportunities would happen more often,” she said. Mentally preparing for a concert is like getting pumped up for a sports event. “There is always such an excitement among us when we are about to perform. We know that we are (going) to bring the music to life,” Cross said. “I felt like that’s what happened on Thursday night: two ensembles working together to reach an audience in a way they...

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History comes to life through music, speech
Feb24

History comes to life through music, speech

Three children took part in a recent chapel celebration of black history month, reciting the 50 states with each capital and prominent figures of African-American history in rhyme. Other performers included a mother-daughter duet of “Because of Who You Are,” a solo performance of “Amazing Grace” and a rave-dance/light show by junior Christian ministry major Ryan Brack. Sophomore elementary education major Emily Phillips enjoyed the children’s routine and the way the school used chapel as a tool to inform. “The child performers were awesome. It was amazing how much they knew and how much they could remember,” she said. “I think that black history chapel is a great way to celebrate black history month.” Phillips embraces the recognition of African-American leaders as a chance to enhance the country’s rich culture. She said, “Black history is important to me because I think we should celebrate and learn about all the different cultures in our country.” Sophomore elementary education major Sarah Wooten thinks the importance of black history month lies in biblical principles. “I think it is important for people to celebrate the freedom God has given all of us. Equality is a vital part of American society, and now everyone is given the same opportunities as the next person,” she said. “I think our school did a good job at celebrating black history. The chapel was informing and enjoyable.” Gospel Fest, Feb. 16, was another event bringing attention to black history month. It showcased nine acts, including five solo performances and four group collaborations. Director of Student Relations & Community Service Dr. George Harrison and senior Christian ministry major Brandon Blackshear introduced the performers. Shelton Theater was filled with people from across the central Texas area. The audience was enthusiastic about the performers, standing, clapping and swaying with the music. Some moments in the evening left audience members crying. Sophomore biology major Viktoria Meadows thought the two events could have been combined into one to attract a larger crowd and make the celebration bigger. “I think that if the school would have combined black history chapel and Gospel Fest, the turnout to the event could turn it into something as popular as Spring Revival,” she said. “It would be nice to enjoy some gospel and learn more about black history in a larger celebration rather than within the confines of...

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New Act stirs up controversy
Feb24

New Act stirs up controversy

Only a few years after Former President George W. Bush tried to give states the right to take control of abortion issues, Congress is once again dealing with the sticky subject. This time, they could decide to keep it at the federal level which will have a national effect. The Freedom of Choice Act would overturn state laws prohibiting or inhibiting abortion. Pro-life and pro-choice activists have rallied, but most of the support and arguments are taking place online, as is the case with Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood of Central Texas CEO, Pam Smallwood, said, “Of course we’re supportive of the act because we do believe it does protect the right of a woman making her own decisions … about how she proceeds with her pregnancy, and we believe strongly that that’s a decision between a woman and her doctor.” She said that if people would take the decision to be a parent more seriously, there would be fewer problems in the world. Whether the public is in support of this bill is a matter of opinion. Smallwood said, “Clearly the majority of the country believes as we do, that these are decisions that don’t need to be made by the legislature …. These are not political decisions; these are personal decisions.” Some conservative organizations disagree, not only with the issue of the act, but also with the claim that women are fine physically and emotionally after an abortion. “What we’re finding at our centers is the total opposite of what they’re claiming,” said Hope Pregnancy Centers Inc. Executive Director Karen Wistrand. “We see a lot of women who have had abortions who have had so many difficulties after their abortions.” These issues include miscarriages, trouble becoming pregnant and the future guilt. “Our desire is … to tell the truth about prenatal development and the life of the baby while it’s in the womb,” Wistrand said. “We also want to offer them spiritual encouragement … and a nonjudgmental environment.” Hope Pregnancy Centers Inc. say they do not take political stands. They have limited resources, offering counseling and testing. Wistrand said, “If (FOCA) passes, we’re going to need more help here.” Last year, Hope Pregnancy Center Inc. in Killeen had 88 women change their minds against abortions, 1,003 women participate in parenting classes and 112 women become Christians. Wistrand said most of the staff are volunteer counselors. They have talked with women of all ages. Some of their visitors had abortions 20 years ago, but are still facing grief. “They can’t find healing because they’re pushing down the grief, but it does eventually come up,” Wistrand said. “The Lord came...

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Illegal narcotics threaten America
Feb24

Illegal narcotics threaten America

The situation, heightened threat The Interstate 35 corridor is like a river that is inundated with drug trafficking, and at its mouth is the city of Laredo, Texas. Its tributaries reach out to hub cities like Austin, Houston and Dallas where shipments then are made nationwide. Authorities recently found more than four tons of marijuana  in a school bus just four miles outside the Laredo city limits. The abandoned bus, labeled with the United Independent School District’s initials, is a shocking device used to traffic illegal drugs. The bus was stripped of its seats and had secret compartments in both the floor and ceiling that stored the 9,216 pounds of marijuana. The origins of the bus are unknown, as are the criminals involved. Along with drug trafficking comes turf wars among Mexican drug cartels as they fight for control of the IH-35 corridor. Julian Aguilar, a reporter for The Laredo Morning Times, said that Laredo “is the busiest port … so you have a lot of trucks (and) a lot of rail going by. There’s so much dope that gets smuggled through here.” He said the Border Patrol reported seizure of more narcotics in 2008 than the previous year, and Aguilar asks, “Does that mean … more is getting by? This is a very lucrative corridor.” Agents becoming drug escorts The Border Patrol is facing problems from within and without as its own agents’ illegal activities are coming to light. The FBI arrested Laredo Border Patrol agent, Leonel Morales, in December. He was indicted on a charge of accepting bribes for allowing drugs to pass through U.S. security checkpoints. As a drug escort, he received upwards of $9,000 in bribes. Eric Macias, a U.S. Border Patrol agent for the El Paso sector, was arrested last month for similar crimes. Macias was paid nearly $39,000 over a one-year period in which he granted the passage of illegal drugs. He even checked the license plate of a car believed to be following one of those he let pass. Reporters in the crosshairs Media coverage of the drug lords in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, just on the other side of the border from Laredo, has been silenced to a degree by the onslaught of attacks by drug gangs. “If media do report on crime, they don’t mention the name of the drug cartel,” Aguilar said. “Even if they know, they won’t.” He says it’s a form of self-censorship to protect themselves, particularly after a newsroom was burned to the ground by grenades in 2006. Dolores Guadalupe Garcia Escamilla, a radio host for Estereo in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, was shot nine times in...

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