Wynne Home Art Exhibit

November 5, 2021, by Saara Maknojia 

On November 4th, Yvette Mendoza and I explored the beautiful art exhibit at the Wynne Home Arts and Visitor Center. The trip began with a tour of a passage that led to the driveway holding some of Jose Moroles’s art sculptures!

The finely carved stones were placed at the entrance of the 19th century Wynne Home. Yvette pointed out the architectural structure of the house which consisted of gorgeous Greek Corinthian columns. 

Upon entering the home, we were greeted by some of the attendees of the reception and the Cultural Service Manager, Sarah Faulkner! Taking a look into the Art Exhibit, which happened to be a first-time experience for me, I was in awe of the wonderful artwork on display.

Yvette and I went through the art pieces by gathering knowledge of the artists and the medium they used for the art piece. We learned about the different forms of art and conversed on the difference between oil and acrylic paint. 

Throughout the exhibit, we saw the works of Scott McCarley which included a beautifully sculpted piece of wood and stone that, appropriately, was named “Wood and Stone”!

We also had the honor of meeting Betty Liles, the artist of one of Yvette’s favorite pieces, “Quiet Evening”. The painting contained cool tones of nature with swaying trees and a river. Mrs. Liles brought charismatic energy into our conversations and told us more about her paintings. 

My favorite piece from the art exhibit was “Mountain Mist” by Al Hogue. To me, this piece represented the horses moving forward from the mountains they once grazed on. The intricate detailing in this piece was absolutely eye-catching and gave a sense of mystery. 

Yvette and I also toured the home. Throughout the home, we were met with a variety of art pieces from renowned artists like Charles Pebworth…

…and local artists. We were able to take a deeper look into the historic legacy the home provides to Huntsville.

The Wynne family founded the house in the 1880s, since then the Wynne home has been a foundation of Huntsville. It was such an insightful tour and the art exhibit gave me a great perspective of Huntsville’s local art!

Old Town Theatre Clean-Up 

Jessica Cuevas 

On Saturday, October 23rd, members of the Pre-Law Society and the LEAP Ambassadors volunteered to deep-clean Huntsville’s Old Town Theatre. Before the cleaning began, Professor Yawn gave us a tour of the interior…

Students are clearly mesmerized by the tour

…including the backstage, dressing rooms, and exterior of the Old Town Theatre, where we also learned about the works of the artist Richard Haas.  The dressing rooms, with large bathrooms and soft lighting, were clearly the favorite of the tour.

As we embarked on the fall cleaning, we assessed what needed to be done and strategically coordinated our cleaning. 

We separated into three groups to tackle our tasks more efficiently, focusing on the main auditorium, balcony, and stage. 

Each group worked in an assembly-line style, with someone vacuuming, cleaning, and disinfecting the backs and bottoms of every seat.

Our advisors, Stephanie and Professor Yawn even joined in the fun, and we also got the windows at the front of the theatre.

 As each task was being accomplished, there was a drawing for prizes such as snack packages, power banks, candles, cups, and throw blankets. Everyone was able to get a prize as a thank-you for their help.

After cleaning, we were satisfied with all our hard work, Professor Yawn headed upstairs to show us how the lighting and sound systems work as he began My Cousin Vinny, a fan favorite. We enjoyed a clean theater and cautiously ate the popcorn we were treated to. 

After the movie was finished, those of us who had not seen it clearly understood why it is favored by so many attorneys.  

WAC: Brainwashing

November 9, 2021, Erin Juarez 

The LEAP Students traveled to Houston for another wonderful World Affairs Council event, this time to hear Dr. Joel Dimsdale speak on the subject of brainwashing.  When we arrived the staff greeted us with smiles and gave us the book, Dark Persuasion, written by Dr. Dimsdale, after which Samaria Herbert introduced the speaker.

Dr. Dimsdale began the conversation by talking about the evolution of brainwashing, from its beginning in the field of psychology to the current social media era. He explained how brainwashing began even before the Cold War, but pointed out that the Korean War really drew attention the concept.

Dr. Dimsdale also spoke on what research scientists have done on brainwashing, and they simply haven’t been able to reliably control subjects’ minds. Initial experiments, such as Pavlov’s experiments with dogs, may have been promising, but they haven’t been replicated on any large scale with actual humans.

After Dr. Dimsdale spoke about experiments that have been done on brainwashing, he dove further into the Stockholm Syndrome and how this sense of dependency has been used by cult leaders to build, incrementally, a following. After making followers dependent on them for basic resources, the followers become psychologically dependent as well.

Lastly, we focused on the brainwashing effect of social media in our modern society, which is, of course, its own fascinating phenomenon–and something everyone in the room had opinions on!

Following the event, we had a chance to speak more in-depth with Dr. Dimsdale, and we appreciated the time he spent with us.

As we have come to expect, it was another wonderful event at the World Affairs Council!

Grandma’s Noodles

November 9, 2021, Saara Maknojia

To connect our conversation with Dr. Dimsdale on the effects of brainwashing–which became most publicized in North Korea, we thought it would be appropriate to eat at a local Korean restaurant called Grandma Noodle

Upon arrival, we were met by a lady who sat us in our designated area and gave us a moment to order from a variety of authentic Korean recipes. 

For many of us, it was our first time to eat Korean, and it wasn’t easy to figure out what was what from the menu–or, considering the language barrier, with the restaurant staff.

We loved the quantity of the appetizers and entrees; they each had a delicious, distinct taste. The varieties allowed me to understand that the bases of most Korean food are commonly fermented chili paste or many steamed vegetables.

The flavors of the appetizers appealed greatly to the LEAP members, but we had to make room for the main entrees.

The favorite dishes of the LEAP members, were the Bibimbob which contained rice with a wide variety of vegetables and a sunny-side-up egg…

the spicy rice cake with cheese (tteokbokki),

the fish cakes, the buckwheat noodles with veggies and spicy chili paste, and the Korean sausage.

And, of course, the largest of the meals, tackled by Yvette Mendoza.

Overall, Grandma Noodle gave us a better insight into Korean food culture. We were even taught how to eat the food in a natural Korean manner by the lady who hosted us at our table!

The small local restaurant opened our minds to the differences of cultures as well as our taste buds! 

LEAP LEADs: Preparing for the Workforce

Mario Ocampo, November 2, 2021

LEAP Leads

For our Fifth LEAP LEADs meeting of the fall semester, we had the honor of having Vinessa Mundorff as our guest speaker. Currently, Vinessa Mundorff serves as the Associate Director of the Career Success Center at Sam Houston State University. In her presentation, Vinessa Mundorff eloquently covered the changes we are all experiencing through the COVID pandemic, and the steps we can take to be successful in finding future careers. LEAP LEADs members gained knowledge on how to construct an excellent resume and about the resources we have at our disposal through the Career Success Center.

With our minds full of newfound knowledge, we transitioned to the next task in the evening’s agenda, the delectable food. We enjoyed local fare from Huntsville’s very own McKenzie’s BBQ. Our mouth-watering meals ranged from fresh pulled pork, chopped beef, pork spareribs, and were complemented with traditional southern sides. Along with our meal being delicious, the portions were abundant. To say we were all satisfied would be an understatement.

With our appetites satisfied, we turned our attention to applying the interview tactics Vinessa Mundorff covered in her presentation. In addition to the presentation, Professor Yawn outlined the different questions employers may ask and how to best prepare for them. Unbeknown to us, we were going to be tested on our newly taught information.

Instructed by Professor Yawn, a mock interview followed, including Yvette Mendoza as the interviewee and Catalina Padron as the interviewer. Starting as a one-on-one mock interview, we transitioned to a vigorous mock panel interview. Both students were able to showcase their newly learned skills. Unfazed by difficult questions, Yvette Mendoza kept her composure and conducted herself as a true professional. This example illustrates the initiative LEAP LEADs students are taking to expand their personal professional development.

We are very grateful to Vinessa Mundorff for the informative presentation, and the knowledge we gained will prove to be invaluable to LEAP LEADs students in our future endeavors.

Scare on the Square

October 30, 2021, Yvette Mendoza

LEAP Leads and Pre-Law Society members had the opportunity to volunteer at a spooky and thrilling event, Scare on the Square, hosted by Huntsville Mainstreet! Families poured through the downtown streets of Huntsville to attend this event that consisted of a costume contest, food tents, KSAM’s music hits, and a variety of organizations with booths that gave away Halloween candy, food, and prizes!

Our LEAP Leads and PLS groups set up our booth with a spooky bowl full of eyeballs, and a fun LEAP cornhole and ring toss game. The children were dressed up and ready to explore Scare on the Square!

Our volunteers had multiple different costumes that made the event much more spirited, from animals, movie characters, a hippie, and even a banana! We all kept in the character of our costumes as we rotated positions in making sure our booth ran smoothly. While some of us were working the prize table and giving out candy, the others were assisting families in playing corn hole and ring toss.

Continuing the exciting festivities, we were able to walk through the lively, jam-packed crowds and view other organizations setups at Scare on the Square. It was great to see CHSS (thank you for letting us borrow your organization’s tent), Tammy Gann and the interns at the Huntsville Economic Development tent; Sarah Faulkner representing Main Street and councilmember Beebe’s skateboards!

Each booth had kids and volunteers filled with an immense amount of excitement and there were smiling faces everywhere you looked! As more volunteers began to come in to switch with the ones that have been at ours for the first half, we were able to see the fun and creative costumes they wore. Catalina was an adorable minion while Mario was a movie character from Top Gun. We all captured the moment and took various pictures in our attires.

Towards the end children were running ramped from the high consumption of sugary candy, and parents and volunteers were exhausted. Although everyone may have been tired, we all wouldn’t miss out on making all the children at Scare on the Square have the brightest of smiles. LEAP Leads and PLS volunteers learned how to work as a team and help our beloved city of Huntsville celebrate Halloween weekend!

 Distinguished Alumni Gala 

October 22, 2021, Yvette Mendoza 

Sam Houston is known not only for the service of its students, but also the service and success of our alumni. Nothing displays that more than the annual  Distinguished Alumni Gala, hosted by the Alumni Association at SHSU.

From the elegance of the Lowman Student Center ballroom flowing with orange crush and white roses, to the gourmet food being served, the whole event was magnificent, and the guests, sponsors, and LEAP Ambassadors were eager to learn more about our alumni. We were grateful that Mr. And Mrs. Woodward invited us; it was very generous, and it was lovely to spend the evening with them.

It was also a special night for me, because I was able to meet Russell Martinez and Andrea Scott, and be reintroduced to Wayne Scott. The Martinez and Scott families sponsored my scholarship, the Andrew and Ila Martinez Scholarship, and it was great to spend time with them!

Attorney and SHSU Alum Chris Tritico emceed the event…

… and he was joined by SHSU President Dr. Alisa White…

… and SHSU Alumni Association Board President, Scott McCarley.

They spoke with pride and passion, touching on the accomplishments of the University. These included the football team winning the National Championship, the beautiful renovation and reopening of the Newton Gresham Library, and our new College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Dr. White’s motivational and gracious speech ended by thanking the sponsors and attendees for continuing to express their Bearkat spirit and their love for the SHSU. 

As we ate our delectable grilled steak with asparagus and creamy mash potatoes…

…Chris Tritico began to introduce the six Sam Houston State University alumni who have made significant contributions to their occupations, society, and our great university. They were either awarded a Distinguished Alumni Award, Outstanding Young Alumni, or the Service Award. 

A short video played for each awarded recipient before they began their speech. The videos briefly told the stories of the recipients and their time at SHSU. As currently enrolled students, it is sometimes hard to see beyond the next 3 years, but to hear from successful and established SHSU graduates provides a good example of how to approach a career.

Brian Hall was the first recipient honored. Mr. Hall is a Small Business Liaison Officer for Shell Oil Company and founded Friday Harbor, a Houston based non-profit organization providing free temporary housing for cancer patients/families seeking treatment. 

Following Mr. Hall was Edgar Reeves, a dairy-farm owner in Aldine, Texas, who represents the Sam Houston livestock organization with pride. While he was not able to be present for the award, his son accepted it on his behalf.

Awarded the Outstanding Young Alumni award, Stephen C. Morgan has held leadership roles as the Chief Executive Officer and President of TransTex Treating, a leading provider of natural gas. 

Ray Burgess, is a practicing attorney who had a remarkably successful civil litigation practice and was quite humorous in his speech. 

Adding to the diversity of different careers that were honored, the next recipient was world-renowned artist, James Surls. 

Following the event, the LEAP Ambassadors were even lucky enough to get his autograph on a picture of his “Around the Flower Wall,” an art piece that hangs in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center Lobby. 

Last, Terry Williams was a recipient who has been involved with SHSU and has impacted Huntsville by establishing the well-known and loved H-E-B as a Regional Vice President. He even pointed out our steaks we enjoyed from the fine dinner were from H-E-B! 

Our evening was brought to a close when the SHSU Marching Band marched in playing our alma mater and fight song, and we were able to meet some of the evening’s VIPs.

We could not have had this opportunity if it were not for Mr. and Mrs. Woodward, and we would like to extend another huge thanks to them for this wonderful evening at the gala. And, of course, Charlie Vienne, Director of the Alumni Association at SHSU, did a wonderful job planning and hosting the event.

Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign

November 11, 2021, by Yvette Mendoza

I was recently asked to be part of the Faculty and Staff annual giving campaign, and I, of course, jumped at the chance to help. The goal was to share my experience in a video interview, describing how my scholarships have benefitted me. The hope is that, by seeing how much scholarships can matter to students, more people will give to this important campaign.

A bonus of the interview was my opportunity to visit the Peabody Library.


I was mesmerized by the building, which had a large organ, beautiful stained-glass windows, and wonderful decor. It is the second-oldest building on campus.

The wonderful setting added to the interview, which was conducted by the College of Arts and Media.

Weslie Gray facilitated things wonderfully, giving me the opportunity to speak to the significance of the Andrew and Ila Martinez Scholarship. Additionally, I discussed how donations to services such as the Reba Bock Career Closet can also help students. It has certainly helped me enhance my wardrobe with clothes I can wear to interviews, special events, and work.

Not only was I able to expand my knowledge on a historic building, the Peabody Memorial Library, but also express my sincere appreciation for those who have helped me at SHSU!

Pre-Law Society Entertains Alumni (and they educate us!)

By Jordan Long

At this week’s meeting Heather (President) made a quick but concise introduction, introducing us to some upcoming events, issuing some reminders, and confirming minutes. But the real order of business is the introduction of Alejandra Galvan and Lexi Gonzales, who were introduced by Professor Yawn.

Yawn asked a few questions to get the discussion started, the first being “Are you both first generation students?” They answer yes, and Lexi mentions that she is a first-generation graduate student.  

What was the biggest change from Sam Houston to law school? 

In response to this, Alejandra urged us, “DO NOT SHOW UP UNPREPARED!” In law school, the expectation is that students will be prepared, know the material, and will speak clearly and loudly when called upon. That’s not always the case in our current classes…

What were some classes that were helpful from Sam? 

exi noted that her Pre-Law class with Professor Yawn, her theatre class (which helped her with speaking), and her other political science classes were helpful. Alex noted that, while some classes were helpful, Moot Court was probably the most helpful.

How did networking and relationships you built help get you into law school? 

To this, Alex mentioned her internship in the Texas Senate, where she made friends with other staff and professionals. These types of relationships helped her build her resume and get internships during law school. She also advised, “do things that make you uncomfortable: that’s how you grow.”

Lexi reminded us that, “Everyone in the room is part of your network.” Our fellow organization members are interested in law, all are likely to go into the field, and, accordingly, all could help us land a job.

When it was our time to ask questions, President Barodi led off by asking whether working after graduation helped or hindered. Alex noted that she would have liked taking a gap year, but she urged us to make the most of a gap year, suggesting that take on an interesting job or enjoying unique experiences.

Lexi noted that she tried to make the most of her experiences even before her gap year(s). She recalled her volunteerism during spring break her senior year, which involved waking up at five am each morning, making milk and cheese, and, on one occasion, cutting the umbilical cord of a goat. She, too, encouraged us to get out of our comfort zones.

Jackie Galo asked a question many students have: do you need to go into law school knowing what kind of law you want to practice? The answer to that, is “no.” Lexi, in fact, still isn’t sure what type of law she wants to practice. For Alex, the decision came organically. She was involved in eminent domain issues while interning in the senate, then took a course on property law, and she ended up being interested in it.

Max asked about internships, a popular topic. Alex, who had three internships as an undergraduate, discussed getting her internships through the organizations she was in (LEAP Ambassadors). She didn’t always do well in the interviews, but she stuck with it, and encouraged us: “Don’t be afraid of being rejected.”

Lexi also got her undergraduate internships through LEAP, working at the Wynne Home and, later, at the State Legislature.

In closing, Lexi encouraged us to read, “How to Sort of Be Happy in Law School” and Alex just left us with two pieces of advice: (1) Read, and (2) Be kind to everyone.

Afterward, they were surrounded by students interested in more of what they had to say. All of us were grateful for their time and, at least for the moment, felt the urge to go home and read.