Pre-Law Society Meeting: Voir Dire

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!

Empty Bowls No More!

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. 

Elisabeth Espinoza and Olivia Discon

Sponsored by HEB with soups donated by local restaurants such as Sam’s Table, City Hall Cafe, Five Loaves Deli, and culinary students from Huntsville High School, the event benefitted the Senior Center’s Meals On Wheels, an organization to help fight food insecurity for the elderly.

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!

Learning, and Dining, with SHSU Deans

Morgan Robertson

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!

Dean Li, Alumni, Jessica Cuevas, Morgan Robertson, and Sam Houston’s “Cane”

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!

Dean Roper, Dean Lyons, and Dean Li

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!

Dean Li with CHSS Majors:
I. Cuero, A. Sheffield, J. Cuevas, Y. Mendoza, B. Demyers, & M. Robertson

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.

Dean Roper and Public Health Major Ashlyn Parker

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.”

Dean Lyons with CJ Majors: Jessica Cuevas, Jayelynn Bordeaux, and Alum Christina Gonzalez

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!

Pre-Law Elections: Charting the Spring

McKenna Nonnenmann

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.

We were also introduced to Dr. Gene Roberts, who graduated with a law degree from SMU. He works here as the Director of Student Legal and Mediation Services and as Associate Dean.

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!