Get pumped for summer flicks
Apr15

Get pumped for summer flicks

Summer is right around the corner and for most college students, that means relaxing, binge-watching Netflix and checking out the new movies expected to be released during the few months of a much-needed break.   A highly anticipated film premiering on June 12 is Jurassic World, the fourth movie in the well-known prehistoric series released in the late ’90s and early 2000s. It has been 22 years since the first Jurassic Park was released in 1993. After the chaos in the third movie in 2001, audience members were left to think the dinosaur world had fallen apart.   The storyline for Jurassic World is telling us otherwise; it goes into depth about the success of the park in the last 10 years and how they are trying to regain their visitors by creating a new attraction. It has taken almost a decade and a half for a new movie, but longtime fans have been ranting about it since the trailer came out last year. The wait might be worth it considering CGI effects and movie quality has only improved.   Last summer, John Green’s book The Fault in Our Stars was adapted into a film and was a huge success. This year, another one of his books is taking to the big screen. Paper Towns is about a teen who is searching for his missing friend. It’s apparently as much of a tear-jerker as his last book and movie, so there are only high expectations from his fans. The movie is set to be released on July 24 with a lot of fresh, young faces portraying the main characters.   A popular theme in Hollywood right now is remaking well-known kids’ movies with a twist. Pan is an adaptation of Disney’s Peter Pan. Warner Brothers has set the release date for July 24. The movie explores Peter Pan’s life before he lived in Neverland, how he got to Neverland and his relationship with Captain Hook before he was his arch nemesis. Popular actors such as Hugh Jackman and Amanda Seyfried play supporting roles alongside Levi Miller, who is Peter Pan.   After more than two years, the Barden Bellas are back in Pitch Perfect 2. The girls have entered a competition that no American Team has ever won, and though the stakes are high and the competition is fierce, they definitely didn’t leave out the humor from the first movie that made us fall in love. This one is coming to theaters May 15, just in time to kick off the summer after finals.   From scary movies, to sequels, dramas and anywhere in between, there’s most likely a...

Read More
Goodwill gives jobs to local vets
Mar04

Goodwill gives jobs to local vets

HALO (High-altitude, low opening) jumping: it’s a free-fall from 21,000 feet. Paratroopers release chutes moments before meeting mother earth in the most unfortunate way. The jump’s purpose is to avoid enemy radar detection.   Our military personnel preform extraordinary tasks during service years, yet many find the leap back into the civilian world a formidable foe.   “They’re used to military jargon, military everything,” Goodwill’s Operation Good Jobs program manager Katie Martin said. “They hit the reality of what the actual standard salary is in the Temple/Killeen area.”   She serves clients, some of which made an “upwards of $70,000 a year,” in the military, by helping them succeed in the workplace.   Operation Good Jobs is a non-covert mission to thank our military persons. It’s a program funded by a $5 million grant from the Walmart Foundation.   Goodwill expects to serve more than 4,000 veterans and military families over the grant period that extends into July 2016.   Heart of Texas Goodwill Industries is one of 12 Goodwill store participants.   “Our area covers from Killeen to Waco, so we have exactly 220 people enrolled in the grant right now,” Martin said.   The grant is performance based. Heart of Texas Goodwill’s potential funds from the grant sits at $300,000.   Martin added that it’s not a program just for veterans: “it’ active duty transitioning out, family members, both spouses and dependents, and it’s even Reserves and National Guard,” she said. “Just as long as they don’t have a dishonorable discharge, we’ll absolutely take them.”   The goal of the program is geared to find participants a job that is “career sustaining, family sustaining,” she said.   Heart of Texas Goodwill Learning Center Coordinator for Temple and Belton, Victoria Cairo, said they would help participants in any way possible.   So, whether it’s helping clients get a bus pass, enrolling them in a computer class, providing them with interview clothes or even advice on resume and portfolio building, the learning center staff will help.   She echoed Martin’s statements of the long-term placement being the backbone of the program.   “There’s only so long you can work at a minimum wage paying job with three kids,” Cairo said.   The learning centers are for everyone, not just those who meet the Operation Good Jobs requirements.   “We’ll help you find a quick job if that’s what you want, but our goal is, what’s long term?” she said. “If you’re real goal is to make a certain amount of money and be employed full-time, come back in. Let’s make sure we update that resume and we’ll check in...

Read More
Annual writer’s festival a success
Mar04

Annual writer’s festival a success

In February, the university’s English department hosted its annual writer’s festival. This is a three-day event devoted to creativity and learning where students, staff, faculty and guest authors can learn about and share writing.   “I think that it’s important for the campus community and the broader community to be exposed to the literature that’s being created in the here and now. The festival is a place where both writing and faith are taken seriously,” Professor of English Dr. Nathaniel Hansen said of the event, which he has now directed for three years.   Although the event takes place over a span of three days, many months of prior preparation are necessary.   “The planning process begins about a year ahead of the festival when I start contacting potential featured writers,” Hansen said.   Once I line up the featured writers, I create a general call for papers for local, regional, state, and national writers to read as part of a panel. It’s a process that I very much enjoy.”   Hansen likes the interaction between writers of diverse places and walks of life.   “It’s a pleasure to watch writers of varying levels and differing backgrounds interact with one another. It’s also a great opportunity for our students, not just English majors, to hear from talented writers.”   Hansen was pleased with this year’s turnout and looks forward to the coming year.   “Events were well attended this year, and we had more festival participants than in prior years. Some participants traveled from Ohio, Nebraska, Michigan and Oklahoma,” he said.   Kelsey Belcher, a senior English major and president of Sigma Tau Delta said, “I was a student volunteer. I worked the book and check-in tables, and helped Dr. Hansen, who runs the Writers’ Festival, with other miscellaneous tasks in order to keep the festival running smoothly.”   Belcher believes it’s necessary to expose the campus to various writing forms with events like the writer’s festival.   “Writing is important, because it provides an outlet for self-expression and fosters creative and academic interaction with others,” she said.   Grace Lindig, a senior English major who also worked a table at the festival said, “It was truly an awesome experience and I’m sad I won’t be here next...

Read More
Hunger gets canned by Helping Hands
Feb18

Hunger gets canned by Helping Hands

Helping Hands’ Warehouse added 40,000 pounds of food to its shelves after Canstruction 2015.   “The previous highs were during last year’s Canstruction event: 35,000 pounds of food and 1,400 guests,” Executive Director Rucker Preston said.   They served 4,000 guests this year.   Canstruction is a worldwide charity event crafted from good hearts, cans and art.   As canstruction.org states, the event “showcases colossal structures made entirely out of full cans of food.”   After structures reach completion, they are organized for the public as a giant art exhibition. All the food is donated to local hunger relief organizations.   The charity has raised more than 25 million pounds of food since its founding in 1992. Canstruction events are held annually in more than 150 cities around the world on five continents.   Helping Hands brought the charity to Central Texas five years ago. This year, the art displays were as masterful as ever.   “Who isn’t impressed by carousel horses with beef jerky manes? Or a ship sailing on a river of tuna? Or Mr. T on a Wheaties box?” BSM director Shawn Shannon asked rhetorically.   She’s gathered students each year to help with the de-canstruction process.   Shannon has witnessed Canstruction become an established community experience.   “The structures themselves are always amazing, and the items for the silent auction will surely bless those who purchase them to bless others,” Shannon said. “Yet, I really like how well Helping Hands tells the story of needs seen and met through the mediums of pictures, pamphlets, video and testimonies. It is an amazing on-going story of goodness in action,” she said.   And what might Jesus canstruct if He participated?   “Whatever he would make, it would be good, true and lovely,” Shannon said. “Whose to say he wasn’t there?” She added.   “For an event like this to go as well as it did, I believe that God’s hand was at work well before and all during the event,” he said.   Central Texas houses many underprivileged families and individuals with great needs. Often, the need can seem too much to meet.   “Part of what I love about the work of Helping Hands is that they approach situations that most of us find overwhelming and move with Christ into these hard, otherwise impossible places for the good of people and the glory of God,” Shannon said.   She has seen how the Canstruction event brings the community closer: “There is something crucial about gathering together around the purpose of caring for those in need. Here we learn together about needs and opportunities,” she said.  ...

Read More
Speech Cru sets its sights on nationals
Feb18

Speech Cru sets its sights on nationals

Speech Cru brought home two third place sweepstakes awards at the Cowtown Swing Tournaments hosted by Tarrant County Community College and West Texas A&M Jan. 23-25.   University sponsor Kathy Owens praises the participants on their accomplishments as the team’s year-long run approaches an end.   “We’ve done so much with the little we have,” Owens said. “I am proud that our team can hold its own against the big schools with large teams and even larger budgets.”   Students prepare for their final tournament later this month on the road to nationals. Qualifiers so far include senior political science and history double major Zach Craig, junior speech communication and political science double major Kelzye Isham and senior public relations major Jasmine Simmons.   With each competition, Speech Cru members never seem to disappoint. Junior history and political science double major Stephen Bedwell set a precedent for the team’s future debaters.   “I am happy especially about the Top Novice in Lincoln-Douglas debate award for Stephen Bedwell,” Owens said. “Our program just took up debate in October, so it’s nice to be recognized.”   Owens, assisted by her husband, Dr. Kerry Owens, has led the university speech team for the last decade seeing tremendous strides in the program, none of which could have been done without the dedication and enthusiasm of the students.   “What I love is that the students aren’t here out of requirement, but because of the passion they have for it,” Isham said.   “Even if you don’t have any past experience with speech, it’s a really good thing to take a risk on,” she said. “It’s very conducive to learning and very conducive to growing your confidence in all of life, not just public speaking.”   Owens encourages any student who is interested in becoming part of the team to email her at...

Read More