Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion.
He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film.
He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, Huron Daily Tribune, Laredo Morning Times, Beaumont Enterprise, Connecticut Post, and Midland Reporter Telegram.
Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors.
In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.
Last month’s Pre-Law Society meeting was a natural segue to the topic for this month’s Pre-Law Society meeting. Last month’s discussion featured three attorneys in a question-and-answer format focused on what to expect in law school and what life is like as an attorney.
This month’s meeting had multiple foci. First, the officers provided updates:
In the second part of the meeting, Jade Miller, Pre-Law Society President, Professor Mike Yawn, and Jean Loveall discussed a timeline to go to law school from freshman year to senior year of college.
Since Jade just completed her LSAT Prep, took the LSAT, and applied to her chosen law schools, she shared a wealth of information gleaned from her path to law school. With her personal story of LSAT Prep, Jade inspired the Pre-Law students with three strategies that worked for her: (1) take the Critical Thinking philosophy class (PHIL 2303); (2) budget your LSAT Prep time wisely; and (3) focus on developing and writing a strong argument when completing the Writing Sample part of the LSAT.
After hearing such encouraging words and valuable advice from the three presenters, the Pre-Law Society members were energized to engage in a voir dire activity. Voir dire is the process in which trial attorneys examine potential jurors before the jurors are selected to serve on the trial.
Amari Gallien presided over the voir dire as the Judge, Sephora Pham and Matthew May were the defense attorneys, and Professor Yawn was the prosecutor. As the potential jurors, each of the remaining Pre-Law Society members received a vignette of the character they would portray as a potential juror. These vignette characters ranged from a male country music singer/songwriter with a high school degree to a female accountant pregnant with her second child to a 72-year-old retired art history teacher. This activity introduced future attorneys to the nuanced questioning and strategies involved in selecting jurors for a criminal trial.
Thank you to all the Pre-Law Society members who participated in this interactive meeting. As president, Jade Miller has some exciting topics planned for next month’s meeting. One activity to look forward to is the cording of all Pre-Law Society members who are graduating in spring 2023. We hope to see all Pre-Law Society members on April 19th!
The Woodlands’ residents and various students got the opportunity to indulge in another World Affairs Council event, this one focusing on the “myths of globalization.” This event, featuring Shannon K. O’Neil, included amazing insight into regionalism and foreign relations.
O’Neil is an expert on Latin America, foreign relations, global trade, and supply chains. Shannon O’Neil has an extensive and impressive education which includes two degrees from Yale university in international relations and Latin American studies and a PhD in Government from Harvard University. Along with her qualifications and various degrees that make her an expert in Latin America, Dr. O’Neil has resided in Mexico and Argentina.
Following brief remarks by Sandiia Bayot, Mr. Seitz (from Cypress Creek’s Speech Team) introduced Dr. O’Neil. Moderating the event was Mr. Ray Cunningham, one of the WAC staff and a good friend to the LEAP Ambassadors. The two discuss how globalization can be confused with internationalization and development, although the terms have different implications and meanings.
Dr. O’Neil began with a personal anecdote about her hometown, Akron, Ohio, and how a city once booming internationally in the tire industry became desolate due to a lack of regional support. She compares this story to modern day trade and how weak ties with neighboring countries puts a nation at a disadvantage in world markets.
She took us on a trip back in history by discussing post-war development and how it impacted production and trade in different regions today. Focusing on three specific regions, Asia, Europe, and North America, she discussed their different economies, trade agreements, and regional dependency.
Dr. Shannon O’Neil spent a lot of time discussing new initiatives that are currently being worked on in the United States. She noted how the United States is actively developing and searching for ways to become less dependent on overseas production, especially in the area of semiconductors. She also discussed agreements like NAFTA and the USMCA, addressing the benefits and consequences the accords bring to our economy, dependency, and local trade.
Something I learned from the discussion is that Laredo, Texas is the second largest (land) port in the United States. I had not anticipated an inland port to be one of the most heavily trafficked in the nation.
The conversation then moved on to a Q&A where a lot of interesting topics were brought up by the audience such as sanctions and how they can be a weapon in international conflicts as well as the logistics of manufacturing companies to Latin America.
As two students studying Criminal Justice, economics and globalization are not subjects at the forefront of our education. However, Dr. O’Neil made such an intricate and nuanced topic super attainable and inspired us to learn more about the subjects. We had the pleasure to speak to Dr. O’Neil after the event, get our books signed, and learn more about her and some of her opinions on development in Texas.
Before and after the event we also had the chance to appreciate beautiful art pieces from the Glade Art Gallery. We had the chance to indulge in the art and find some pieces that resonated with us. Although extremely hard to choose “Lost in my Mind series 4” by Rebekah Molander was one of my favorites.
Whether it’s art, the experts, or the friendly staff at World Affairs Council, we are always grateful to attend one of their events.
Continuing an annual LEAP tradition originating in 2008, Cynthia Boyd, Elisabeth Espinoza, Alexandra Spears, Victoria McClendon, and I participated in the Wynne Home’s Empty Bowls, the 2023 version! The event is a brilliant way to promote art, engage the community, and fight hunger in one lively, fun-filled day.
How does the event work? It’s pretty simple–for the public, that is. In the months leading up to the event, the Wynne Home hosted pottery classes to make the bowls, allowing volunteers to learn a craft while supporting their community and the arts. These participants could either reserve their bowls or offer them to the Wynne Home for the Empty Bowls event.
Then, on Tuesday, March 7, the public was invited to the Wynne Home for lunch–and a work of art! With a suggested donation of $15, visitors could select any of the bowls created by the volunteers and help themselves to the large variety of soups and sandwich items. The array of vibrant, unique bowls reflects the innate beauty of volunteerism and service…
…but more importantly, the bowls represent food insecurity and the ongoing issue that can be ameliorated with compassion.
The student volunteers were happy to help, by greeting diners, serving soup or food, taking photographs, and helping clean up.
We also purchased soup ourselves and donated to the cause! Moreover, we had the incredible opportunity to speak with the many members of the Huntsville community passing through the doors.
Two of the three volunteers (myself included) are freshmen, so this was not only our first trip to the Wynne Home, but our first chance to meet community figures. We met Mayor Brauninger, Councilmember Humphrey, Councilmember McKenzie, Councilmember Graham, Chamber President Ray Hernandez, Shannon Higbie, Laura Green…
…Professor Jennifer Didier, Linda McKenzie, Jeff Murski, and many City of Huntsville staff. Among the latter included Sarah Faulkner, Angela Robinson, Tammy Gann, Aron Kulhavy, and Tracy Rikard. As a special bonus, we had the opportunity to meet Dr. and Mrs. Pease as well as Nancy Gaertner!
By the end of the event, most of the bowls had been selected and taken home.
…but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t artworks to be appreciated. We took the opportunity to view the Wynne Home’s current exhibit: “Speaking In Color and Light” by Jane Manthei. Although beset by Austism and growing up largely non-verbal, Manthei uses her artwork to communicate and express how she perceives the world.
Manthei’s work is almost photographic in its realism, using intricate and tiny details to configure landscapes, portraits, animals, and nature.
It was a rewarding day in so many ways, and we wish to thank the community, the sponsors, and the donors for coming together. And, of course, many thanks to the Wynne Home for hosting an event integrating art, community, and public service in Huntsville!
As another measure of celebration for Sam Houston’s Birthday, SHSU Staff and Alumni ventured to the Capitol to deliver a very meaningful gift to all legislative members. The David Adickes statue on Southbound I-45 depicts our great namesake with his signature cane. So, to add a piece of SHSU in the Texas Capitol, legislators were gifted with General Houston canes!
After all of the canes had been distributed, the Deans and interns made their way down Congress Avenue and up to the 10th floor to meet former LEAP Ambassador, Christina Gonzalez, now VP of Governmental Affairs for AECT . Thanks to Professor Yawn’s coordinating, and Christina’s generosity, SHAIP interns had the pleasure of having lunch with Dean Roper, Dean Li, and Dean Lyons!
We were greeted with great hospitality, and delicious food! We filled our plates with lunch from Alonti. However, the best part of our afternoon was, of course, the conversation!
We all were given the challenge to tell the Deans more about ourselves and share what the past two months of our semester looked like. Then, the lunch turned even more into a roundtable. Christina shared some of her wisdom about working at the state level. She reminisced on her time as an intern and described how it was getting her very first bill passed.
The Deans asked us how SHSU better prepared us to work in Austin and what new skills we would be taking back to SHSU from our experience in Austin.
Regarding how SHSU prepared us, we unanimously agreed that the Career Success Center and its staff are great resources. Yvette and Jessica noted that the Reba Bock Career Closest has helped as well.
As our youngest Intern, Breanna said she is excited to see how her experiences in the working world translate to her next few years at Sam: “There is only so much knowledge that you can gain in a classroom setting. My time at TAC, Texas Association of Counties, has taught me how the state interacts with urban and rural counties alike.”
Christina’s generosity extended to allowing us to use AECT’s beautiful view down Congress from their balcony to snap some photos! After some strategic coordination. We were able to get some great photos with our Deans.
On behalf of the LEAP Center and the SHAIP Interns, thank you to Christina for hosting a great lunch with even better company and to the Deans for sharing your knowledge and supporting us in Austin!
May I be the first to welcome all new and old Pre-Law society members back from winter break!?
We welcomed three guests, each with varying degrees of familiarity. Victoria McClendon recently graduated from law school at Duquesne, and she just passed the bar this summer! She, interestingly, is a former Pre-Law Society President and, of course, a Sam Houston State University alum.
He even has an EdD and a JD! We also heard from Ms. Jean Loveall, a mainstay as a pre-law advisor here at SHSU and the LEAP Center.
Together, they did a great job of explain what to expect from law school, attorney life, and our future years here at Sam.
As it is a new semester, we also needed to fill some officer positions. Jasmine Crooks was re-elected as the Society’s secretary, as well as McKenna Nonnemann (that’s me!) remaining as the historian. With the president position open we had three society members run for the position: Jacelin Daniels, Jessica Hernandez, and Jade Miller.
We also had two members challenge each other for the Vice President of Membership: Christion Chancellor, and Jesus Ayala.
Each member brought wonderful ideas and gave heartfelt speeches, with Jade Miller and Jesus Ayala being awarded the officer positions!
We’d like to thank all Pre-Law members for joining us at this meeting. As well as all members who ran for officer positions along with the officers themselves. We hope to see you next meeting, on March 22!
An army general, a lawyer, the first and third, President of Texas, Governor of Texas, Governor of Tennessee, and the first of two Texas senators in the United States: Sam Houston is nothing short of a Texas hero. We honor his legacy through our university, exemplifying leadership and service at every turn. To celebrate our namesake and the excellence of Sam Houston State University, both current and former Bearkats gathered at the Austin Club in downtown Austin.
The birthday reception was held on Tuesday evening at the Austin Club, hosted by the Sam Houston State University Alumni Association and supported by the President’s office. This allowed us to learn from, and work with, Jennifer Alexander, Hollie Garza, and Tabitha Shanley. Texas legislators, Sam Houston alumni, SHSU students and staff, and Texas State University System Regents and staff were all invited to help celebrate the 230th birthday of Sam Houston.
Professor Yawn and Dr. Gene Roberts drove us (Olivia and Michelle) from SHSU to Austin to assist with the event. In addition, three of the LEAP Ambassadors as well as Ingrid Cuero (all SHAIP interns) and Kiara Williams volunteered to assist us: Jessica Cuevas, Morgan Robertson, Yvette Mendoza, and Ingrid Cuero. Our job was to assist the President’s Office and the Alumni Association’s Office, mostly by greeting guests, helping guests with nametags, and doing some odds and ends.
This was an excellent opportunity for us to expand our professional networks and to meet the people who support SHSU.
We were all impressed with Tabitha’s, Hollie’s and Jennifer’s attention to detail. Every minor adjustment, or rearrangement helped ensure the look of a professional event. We also enjoyed meeting Associate Vice President Charlie Vienne, as well as Dr. McCartney Johnson and General Dave Glaser.
President Alisa White briefly spoke about many of the university’s accomplishments, such as the success SHSU School of Osteopathic Medicine, the University’s strong rankings in social mobility for students, and SHSU’s strong showing in online classes. The President of the Alumni Association, Julia Woods, capped the remarks with a toast to Sam Houston!
After most of the guests arrived, we were able to enjoy the event and mingle! We had the pleasure to speak with Texas State University Systems Vice Chancellors Sean Cunningham and Mike Wintemute, as well as Pierce Mitchell.
For Michelle and me, who’ve had the least amount of time with TSUS Staff, it was great to get to know them and see how close the SHAIP Interns have gotten with them.
Amongst our favorite guests, were Dean Li of CHSS, Dean Lyons of CRIJ, and Dean Roper from Health Sciences. All three Deans made it a point to speak with the students and seemed to enjoy the event!
Bearkats from all walks of life; current students, SHAIP interns, recent graduates, and Alumni all had the opportunity to speak with one another. The student volunteers were able to mingle with the LEAP Ambassadors who are interning in Austin and learn more about their experience and responsibilities thus far in the 2023 legislative session.
Although he doesn’t normally enjoy photographs, Professor Yawn said the highlight of his evening was the opportunity to capture a photo with his current and former students, all under 32!
Happy 230th Birthday to Sam Houston! Thank you to the Office of the President, and the Alumni Association, for allowing LEAP to assist with such a wonderful event.
Being a LEAP Ambassador, I am accustomed to making the most of my experiences, and that has been true in my first six weeks in Austin as a member of the Sam Houston State Austin Internship Program. This program has allowed me to not only learn more about the inner workings of the Texas State Capitol but to learn more and explore the city of Austin! With a great array of options to choose from what to do in Austin, I am glad I chose activities that showed me Austin’s beautiful landscape, fresh and homemade foods, and unique artwork!
First, there is no better way to grasp the beauty of Austin than on top of Mount Bonnell. A popular attraction since 1939, Mount Bonnell is perfect for tourists, and locals alike. Before walking up the mountain I found out I was about to be 775 feet up above sea level, which may sound frightening for those afraid of heights, but the view over Pennybacker Bridge, glistening skyline, and Colorado River makes it completely worth it. Not only was I able to enjoy this breathtaking view but I was able to bring a special guest to come along, my dog, Pupito.
Many people would agree that Sunday afternoons are perfect for farmers markets. I took advantage of this and learned that the farmer market scene in Austin is unparalleled! After going to Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller I will make it a point to visit a lot more during my time in Austin. This Market was filled with Austin’s locally owned businesses that sold fresh vegetables, food, jewelry, and bar soaps–all while live music is performed! It was a lively event on a beautiful day in Austin. As I walked through the crowd, I quickly spotted Lamb Gyro’s at Lamba’s Royal Indian Foods, and I knew I couldn’t pass it up. The food was delicious, and the open grassy area made me feel very welcomed.
Last, it was a great idea to take a self-guided tour of UT Landmarks Austin’s key works of art (I have already visited the Blanton a couple of times) Learning about the story behind each art piece is truly fascinating. My favorite was the Clock Knot by Mark di Suvero. The Clock Knot sculpture is very interactive and it changes meaning every direction you take to look at it from a different angle. On one side it looks like a clock, but once you walk underneath it, it is interpreted to mean something completely different. I also was able to see other unique and famous pieces such as Nancy Rubins, Monochrome for Austin, and Deborah Butterfield’s, Vermillion!
Living in Austin has opened my eyes to more nature, food, and art! I would not be able to explore to this greater extent without the SHAIP. This was only the beginning of my exploration through Austin and I cannot wait for more adventures!
This past Wednesday, the SHAIP Interns learned that the pride and spirit of the colleges in the Texas State University System isn’t limited to the various towns across the state. For the 2023 biannual TSUS Presents, TSUS staff, members, legislators, country legends, and even SHSU students, gathered at the Austin City Limits to celebrate and honor that spirit.
Artists with the most appearances at ACL
Just last month, we had the opportunity to tour the TSUS offices and meet those who oversee TSUS. It was a great chance to network and learn, just one of the many opportunities for us as SHAIP interns. TSUS also provided lunch, and Development Director Malú González and Vice Chancellor Mike Wintemute presented us with the amazing opportunity to assist with this event. It is at least the third time that SHAIP interns have assisted with this event, which occurs biannually.
We were scheduled to arrive at 3:30pm, but our preparation began earlier, with event descriptions to read, software to download, and instructions to learn. While we waited for guests to start arriving, we visited with Vice Chancellor (and Foundation Director) Mike Wintemute, and Vice Chancellor Sean Cunningham. They were very interested in how our first month of session had gone and how we’d been faring. We even got to say hi to Chancellor McCall, and it was especially nice to work under the leadership of Malu Gonzalez.
(L-R) Ashlyn Parker, Ingrid Cuero, Morgan Robertson, Jessica Cuevas, and Malú González
As a thank you to some of the sponsors, Speaker of the House, Dade Phelan donated his time in the form of photo-ops! And while a couple of the volunteers assisted with that, the rest of us assisted with checking-in the special guests and attendees who after a long day of work were ready to sit back and enjoy the concert: TSUS Presents Dwight Yoakam. Many attendees were members and staff of the Legislature–some of whom we knew after working in the Capitol for a month–members of TSUS Universities (such as the presidents and other cabinet officials), and governmental affairs specialists from all over. In short, it was a networking bonanza! But we did stick to our job, which was directing these guests, all generous donors, towards the photo-ops, auctions, and seating.
Part of the benefit of working this program is that we also attend the event! So, we had a chance to hear from Regent Amato…
…and, of course, the honoree, Speaker Dade Phelan.
Speaker Phelan introduced some humor into his speech, while also praising the work of educators, public universities, and the entire process of education. It was appropriate that the funds raised for this event–which totaled more than $700,000–would go to scholarships.
This knowledge made the event even more special for us, in as much as the SHAIP internships for which we were selected are only possible, the result of donors providing scholarships. In a small way, our volunteer work was our way of showing appreciation for the support provided by TSUS, SHSU, SHAIP, and its officials.
As important as we all agree education is, that didn’t mean people weren’t awaiting the main attraction, which was, of course, Dwight Yoakum. And, thus, the lights were dimmed, and the stage where Speaker Phelan previously stood had been rearranged to better suit the needs of country legend Dwight Yoakam and his band!
They quickly filled the room with hit music, including “The Streets of Bakersfield,” “Fast as You,” and “Please Please Baby.”
That was only the beginning even Yoakam noted that was only his warmup. The real concert did not begin until Yoakam played Honky Tonk Man; Little Ways; The Heart that you Own; A Thousand Miles from Nowhere; Guitars, Cadillacs; and many more, including his favorite Willie Nelson tune.
Yoakam wrapped up the concert in fashion as he not only strummed his guitar and danced his signature moves, he also passed on the spotlight to every member of his band recognizing their talents as each took the opportunity to rock out!
After the concert ended, the SHAIP Interns took the opportunity of being around such amazing people and started snapping selfies! Amongst our selfie guests were Assistant Vice Chancellor, Pierce Mitchell;
L-R: Morgan Robertson, Ashlyn Parker, Jessica Cuevas, and Pierce Mitchell
…Vice Chancellor Sean Cunningham and Elliott Herzlich;
Elliott Herzlich, Jessica Cuevas, Mike Yawn, Ashlyn Parker, Stephanie Fors, Morgan Robertson, and VC Sean Cunningham
…Vice-President Heather Thielemann and Dr. McCartney Johnson…
Morgan Robertson, Dr. McCartney Johnson, Jessica Cuevas, Yvette Mendoza, Ashlyn Parker, Vice-President Heather Thielemann, and Ingrid Cuero.
We also had a chance to meet Dr. Carlos Hernandez, currently President of Sul Ross University and formerly VP of Finance at SHSU, and his wife, Lupita, who also worked at SHSU.
…and President White and Speaker Phelan.
This was a great night and we were all thankful to be able to volunteer and attend this live concert! Many thanks to Malu Gonzalez and all those at TSUS for hosting a wonderful event and for supporting students.