In a country in which bi-partisanship is in short supply, Sam Houston students got a lesson in working together from several long-time politicos and public servants: Democrat David Axelrod, Republican Andy Card, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
This cooperative spirit was kicked off with introductions by Ambassador Crocker, who knows something about bi-partisanship after serving as an Ambassador to six different countries under Presidents Bush (the elder), Clinton, Bush (the younger), and Obama. Setting the tone, Crocker introduced and praised two long-time politicos: David Axelrod, the long-time journalist and political operative who served as a Senior Advisor to President Obama; and Andy Card, who served in the White House with Ronald Reagan and both George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.
Andy Card is perhaps best known for the iconic photo from September 11, 2001, in which he is seen whispering into President Bush’s ear, telling him that second plane had hit the twin towers in New York.
Apart from Card’s service to various Presidents, he also served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Being a Republican in Massachusetts will teach a person the importance of bipartisanship, and it’s a spirit he celebrated as the acting Dean of the Bush School of Public Service. He praised Axelrod’s public service, noting that he had “answered the noble call of public service and has produced results that made a difference.” Card also directed his comments to young people, encouraging them to follow Axelrod’s example, by “developing an understanding of the role of public service and being well prepared to answer that call.”
Axelrod got most of the speaking time, and he, too, adopted a bi-partisan spirit. He praised George H. W. Bush for his “honesty and decency;” lauded George W. Bush for his handling of the presidential transition as a “great patriot;” and complimented Andy Card for his long public service.
Axelrod recounted various challenges in the Obama White House, alternating between sharing sobering moments and offering humorous asides. He itemized gloomy reports from the Obama team’s first few days in office: (1) intelligence reports suggesting a serious terrorist threat on Inauguration Day, (2) economic reports hinting at a one in three chance at drifting into a Great Depression, (3) opposition to unpopular policies such as the Auto Bailout and TARP, and (4) having to deal with Somali pirates shortly. It was enough, Axelrod noted, for him to leave these early meetings and check into whether the winner of a Presidential election “could demand a recount.”
As Obama’s leading political advisor, Axelrod’s job was to provide the polling data to Obama and advise him of the political implications of policy issues. Axelrod praised the President for sticking to his platform and “listening to his polls so little.” On one occasion relating to a particularly thorny policy issue, the President asked, “Can we pass the bill?” When he was told it depended how lucky he felt, the President responded, “I’m a black man named Barack Obama, and I am President of the United States. I feel lucky every day!”
Axelrod was at his most inspirational, however, when speaking directly to the students and encouraging them to remain involved in public service. “Our politics have taken a very bad turn, but the answer is for more public-spirited young people to get in there and put it in the right direction. These young people have already made the decision to be public servants, and they are a source of great hope. I hope they will march forward and help shape the world in a way that makes us all proud.”
The Sam Houston Memorial Museum hosted its 4th Annual Amateur Photography Contest last week, attracting approximately 200 visitors to the Walker Educator Center. The record number of guests were able to peruse a record number of submissions—more than 300 in all—while also enjoying the opportunity to win prizes offered by Museum staff.
The event was the brainchild of Museum Curator of Exhibits Casey Roon, who initiated the contest in 2010. The goal was to showcase community talent, while bringing the community together.
Among the many individuals brought together included students from the Center for Law, Engagement, And Politics (LEAP), who volunteered to help at this wonderful community-building project. “The Museum hosts various exhibits throughout the year, but my favorite is the Amateur Photo Contest,” observed Ariel Traub, “and the photographs were stunning!”
As with previous years, the photographs were grouped into multiple categories but, as Marketing Coordinator Megan Buro notes, “Casey has done a great job of keeping the contest fresh and different. This year included new categories and the photographs were fantastic.” In all, there were eight categories: (1) Faces, (2) B&W, (3) Old, (4) Action, (5) Flora & Fauna, (6) Travel, (7) New, and (8) Food. There were also the “Curator’s Choice” selections and, of course, the big prize: “Best in Show.”
The winners included:
Denise Camp Kya
Cari McGown Whatcha Sayin?
Sarah Lane Jane
Ashley Dobos American Poverty
Scott McCarley School Dance
Cari McGown I See the Moon, the Moon Sees Me
Steven Mateo V8 Soft
Sam Beard In Eliza’s Kitchen
Ramses Leon Cuban Butterfly
Erin Rogers Nature’s Grace
Keenan Jones Untitled
Sam Beard Going for the Steer
Flora & Fauna
Anne King Green
(tie) Cari Mc Gown Good Morning Lady
(tie) Sarah Lane Lone
(tie) Elisabeth Williams Frog’s New Home
(tie) David Knuth Low Tide
Beth Gray Tickets Please
Lori Sanders Stone Soldiers
Scott McCarley Train to Bandra
Anne King Charlotte
Mike Whatley New Day
Sam Beard Spring Flowers
Denise Camp Yellow Peppers
Lori Sanders Sweet Tea
Jacqueline Davis For the Love of Caffeine
Selected for the top two photographs in the exhibit were:
Reserve: Beth Gray Tickets Please Best in Show: Denise Camp Kya
Among the many submissions—and winners!—was the Chair of the Friends of the SHMM, Scott McCarley. His “Train to Bandra” and “School Dance” both placed in the top three in the “Travel” and “B&W” categories.
“It’s great to be able to participate in one of the Museum’s many fine exhibits and programs that are open to the public,” noted McCarley. “We hope that the Museum gets this level of support for all of its exhibits.”
“The goal of the CIA is to learn other nations’ secrets,” noted General Michael Hayden, and he should know. Hayden was the Director of both the CIA (2006-2009) and the National Security Agency (1999-2005) and, most recently, a “guest lecturer” to a group SHSU students who traveled to Houston, Texas to learn more about intelligence operations. The lecture, hosted by the World Affairs Council, covered wiretapping, prioritizing threats, presidential performance, and balancing work and family.The most pressing question from students focused on wiretapping, a topic that General Hayden seemed to anticipate. Hayden ensured students that the government did not record their calls, but acknowledged that the government did document the calls, taking note of who called whom and how long each call lasted—logging, as General Hayden referred to it, some 3 billion “phone events” per day.
This massive data collection comes in handy when other information falls into place. Hayden provided the example of the government capturing “Ali Bin Badguy” and confiscating “Mr. Badguy’s” phone which, in turn, allows them to locate his calls off the “phone-event” database and identify other potential terrorist connections. Hayden emphasized, however, that the government did not record calls made by citizens, at least not without a warrant.
SHSU Senior Coby Steele veered away from the popular wire-tapping issue and asked about operational management. “How,” he wanted to know, “do the multiple acronym agencies work together to prioritize threats?” General Hayden acknowledged that it was a problem, but not for the reasons people think. “The problem,” he noted, “is that we have so much data. It’s difficult to ‘connect the dots’ when there are so many dots that the page is black. But that’s because we are good at collecting data and working together.”
Hayden, who worked directly for Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, noted that it wasn’t just the intelligence agencies working together. He praised President Bush and Obama for putting aside their differences and maintaining a consistent policy on intelligence: “There were fewer changes in 2009 when the Obama administration took over from Bush than there were in 2005, when Bush transitioned from his first term to his second.”
Brian King, a senior at SHSU, moved away from policy issues altogether and asked about the personal life of a CIA employee. “How,” asked King, “do you balance a family while running the CIA?” Hayden acknowledged the difficulties but said that he and his wife took “vacations together and traveled together for work,” unless he was heading into a war zone, in which case he traveled alone.
Although the SHSU students had almost an hour with General Hayden, not all of the SHSU students asked questions. Ashley Richardson, an Accounting major and first-semester freshman from Magnolia, Texas, learned through listening. “This is an amazing real-world educational experience with the former CIA Director,” noted Richardson. “You just don’t get these types of experiences in high school.”
King agreed, noting, “I’m not sure you get these opportunities at any other college. The CIA Director can listen to our conversations whenever he wants,” King added, tongue-in-cheek, “but how often can students listen to his conversations—let alone participate in them?”
The opportunity to interact directly with General Hayden was coordinated between the World Affairs Council and SHSU’s Center for Law, Engagement, And Politics (LEAP), which promotes learning across diverse disciplines. In the past month, students have met the former President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon; discussed career paths with a half dozen Texas legislators; and attended a presentation by former Senior Advisor to President Obama, David Axelrod; met former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card—while also attending law-school related activities and engaging in volunteer service across the community.
“Our goal,” noted Mike Yawn, Director of the LEAP Center, “is to provide opportunities that open new worlds for the students. SHSU faculty work hard to do that in the classroom, the University provides institutional support for similar outcomes outside of the classroom, and that combination will help us produce the next generation of public leaders in the state of Texas.”
Their advice was to the point and useful. Karissa Morrissey provded a helpful overview of the LSAT and GRE, offering a timeline for preparing for graduate school or law school. High points included:
The LSAT ranges from 120-180; The GRE ranges from 130-170
The LSAT is offered four times a year (Feb, Jun, Oct, Dec), while the GRE offers more frequent tests
The LSAT should be taken approximately a year prior to when the students wants to enroll in Law School.
The Princeton Review offers Prep Courses at SHSU in the spring of each year.
Dean Stephen Perez stressed the importance of the LSAT Scores and a student’s GPA, while pointing to Tech’s strong rates on bar passage, employment, and the excellent performance of students in Moot Court and Mock Trials. Also, the National Jurist magazine ranked Tech among the top 10 in the country in both “overall value” and “student satisfaction.” Perhaps not surprisingly, more SHSU students are enrolling in Tech, with four Bearkats matriculating last year. Dean Perez seems to be intent on duplicating that success this year, offering the students who attended the seminar fee waivers to apply to Texas Tech.
Kathryn Meyer caught students’ attention when she discussed the programs of the Bush School of Public Service. The Bush School is a top 35 Public Administration across the country, featuring broad programs in Administration and International Affairs and endeavoring to keep students’ costs low. SHSU boasts more graduates at the Bush School than any other University in the nation with the exception of Texas A & M.
Thomas Leeper’s discussion bridged both law and public affairs. Leeper has served as an attorney in private practice, a city attorney, and a political appointee. Leeper discussed life in law school (giving particular attention to the Socratic Method), the kind of work that attorneys do, and the importance of public service.
The Center for Law, Engagement, And Politics (LEAP) promotes learning opportunities across diverse disciplines at SHSU. Over the past seven years, SHSU has significantly increased its efforts in the pre-law field, doubling the number of students accepted to law schools in the United States. Moreover, last year, SHSU moved in the top five percent nationally in the Law School Admissions Council’s (LSAC) ranking of “Law School Feeders.”
Students associated with Sam Houston’s LEAP Center volunteered at the Wynne Home’s newest art exhibit featuring the work of Charles Jones. The exhibit, “The Art of Woodcut, Artist Books, and Portraits,” features large pieces that highlight Jones’s inspirations, including Kurt Vonnegut, Eudora Welty, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as the art work he has done for books including the award-winning “Chopper Blues.”
Jones, who is an SHSU alum, was on hand to deliver remarks describing his career and his work.
Stanley Lea was also featured at the opening. Lea’s works are featured in the sales gallery and include works that date back to the 1970s. Lea’s works can be found in museums across the United States (including the Smithsonian) and many SHSU students and faculty have seen the works in theGaertner Performing Arts Center.
The Wynne Home Arts Center promotes arts in Huntsville, Texas and in East Texas, showcasing four major exhibits each year in the Lela Mae Brown Gallery, work from local artists in the Sales Gallery, and provides 40-45 art classes annually.
The LEAP Center at Sam Houston State University promotes Law, Engagement, And Politics. As part of the Center’s engagement function, students volunteer for government agencies, non-profit organizations, and other worthy causes.
Nancy Gaertner from the Friends of the Wynne led the volunteer event, with five students from the LEAP Center assisting.
Jacqueline Bolden–The Sam Houston State University L.E.A.P. program was invited by the World Affairs Council to attend a presentation and luncheon with iconic political figure and former President of Mexico Felipe Calderon on September 19, 2013. I was honored to have had the privilege of meeting President Calderon.
Felipe Calderon served as the 56th President of Mexico from 2006-2012. During his presidency, Calderon focused on economic reform and strengthening Mexico on a global scale. Former President Calderon was also the first president in Mexico to launch an attack on drug cartels.
Calderon spoke on a variety of topics at the luncheon, from free trade to universal healthcare. He explained how, during his term, he transformed Mexico into a secure nation with a goal of protecting families from violence and crime. Calderon believed the government needed to face criminals with full force and not avoid them. As a result, Calderon opened numerous law enforcement agencies.
Former resident Calderon was truly invested in his citizens’ quality of life. He created a universal healthcare program with lower rates and better coverage and built 1,600 new hospitals and clinics over the course of six years.
Education was another top priority during his presidency. Calderon built 140 universities from the ground up, graduating more than 90,000 people with engineering degrees. Mexico became the largest exporter of flat-screen televisions and manufacturer of Blackberries (70%), and surpassed Spain in exporting manufactured goods. Calderon’s efforts created more than 2 million jobs, and the net immigration to the United States nearly reached zero.
Calderon stated, “Mexico, day by day, is becoming a better nation.”
This event allowed me to see Mexico in a different light: how the government is working to create opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for its citizens. Former president Felipe Calderon is a key component to Mexico’s continued growth and resilience. He is a passionate leader who stays true to his beliefs, even in the face of adversity, and even if he has to stand alone. His work as president opened doors for millions of people in his country and around the world.
Toward the end of Calderon’s speech, he was asked what America can do to improve relations with Mexico. Calderon replied, “We are not enemies, we are neighbors, partners and allies.” This statement is a perfect example of Mexico’s push toward progress and bridging the gap with America.
The event was both insightful and unforgettable–by far, an event to remember and an educational experience that opened my eyes to political and economics topics that are issues on around the world.
Having concluded my first trip with the L.E.A.P program, I must say I’ve already started looking ahead to the next. On this trip I was exposed to a part of Dallas I’d never seen before and I learned an extensive amount of information pertinent to a future career in politics.
The trip revolved around the New Politics Forum, set up to introduce students to different careers in politics, to network with other students and those already in the career field. My favorite panel was the last, the “Alumni Panel” made up of recent SMU alumni who have gone onto successful careers in politics. I liked this panel in particular because they most described what it takes to be successful and gave specific examples of how they’ve gotten opportunities. My favorite speaker was the keynote, State Senator Royce West.
Though he is a Democrat and I may not agree with him on all matters of policy, I liked his speech best. As he I watched him speak impromptu, using different public speaking skills, I learned firsthand how a politician communicates.
While our trip was centered on the NPF while in Dallas we visited multiple sites in the city, my favorite stop of which was the George W. Bush Library. While Bush isn’t my favorite president and I didn’t agree with all his policies, I very much respect him both personally and as the president who shaped my youth. Walking thru the exhibit in the library and seeing images of 9/11 will forever give me chills.
In conclusion, as we wrap up the trip and I look back on the past three days, I can already look ahead to a future that has been positively influenced by this weekend.
Tessa Fendley: Day 3
The third and final day of the L.E.A.P program trip to Dallas seemed to pass by in a blur. We toured downtown Dallas on Segways, seeing a lot of different historical sites. Two of the more notable ones were the Dallas City Hall and Pioneer Plaza“cattle run.” We learned that City Hall was constructed so as to provide shade to the people working in the offices and to pedestrians below. Pioneer Plaza, built by Robert Summers, consists of copper sculptures of a larger-than-life herd of longhorn cattle. Commissioned by the City of Dallas, it is a stunning sight.
We then ate at what was my favorite place of the entire trip, Twisted Root. This wonderful eatery offered a variety of unusual burger options, including kangaroo, ostrich, and buffalo. I chose the vegetarian black bean burger, covered in onions, cheese, and pickles. To accompany my burger, I ordered fried pickles and French fries, which I enjoyed covered in their variety of homemade sauces.
Our last stop before finally heading back home was a small café. We each ordered a variety of cookies and coffee. I got a sandy pecan, a pecan delight, and a chocolate covered praline, all accompanied by a delicious coffee and an original Coke.
This experience in Dallas is something that I will never forget. The Sixth Floor Museum, the NPF Conference, the Segway tour, and the delicious food were all great ways to kick off my freshman year of college, along with making connections with people that I hope to see again.
Ariel Traub: Day 3
As our trip came to a close, I looked back on all of the amazing things we experienced and the great opportunities that we had. While we did much on this trip, my favorite experience was the Segway tour.
We departed the hotel early and headed to downtown Dallas to Nation Tours. We arrived at a large empty building with several Segways lined up along a wall, greeted by a very happy and upbeat tour guide, Doug, who showed us how to properly use the Segway (after handing out helmets).
We ventured outside where we each practiced on the Segway in order to ensure we could handle riding on our own. A few of us had a rocky start but, after all, it was our first time. Once we all got the hang of riding the Segway, the real fun began. We started the historical tour of Downtown Dallas at 9:30am. It was a full and fun experience, plus we got to see a giant eyeball, really!
I even got to eat at a food truck during our tour. There were no Segway accidents or civilian casualties – all the inexperienced Segway drivers made it through the two-hour-plus trip, although some of us did almost get hit while trying to take a picture in the middle of the street.
I had a great time in Dallas with the L.E.A.P. program and I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to have attended the NPF Careers in Politics Conference. It is great that Sam Houston State University helps students achieve academic success and provide such great opportunities to build their futures.
Jennifer Flores: Day 3
Unfortunately today was the last day of our trip to Dallas, but the fun wasn’t over… We woke up early for a morning Segway tour around the Dallas downtown. It was my first time on a Segway, but after I found my balance, it turned out to be one of the most fun forms of transportation on which I’ve been! The tour allowed us to explore many of Dallas’s historic sites and modern spaces. I especially enjoyed the Segway tour because it really gave me an up close and personal tour of city, allowing me to experience Dallas in whole new way.
We ate lunch at a local restaurant, Twisted Root Burger Co., which might just be my new favorite restaurant! They have everything a burger lover craves, and they make their own tasty root beer. I had the buffalo burger with fried green beans and would recommend that to everyone.
Our next stop was the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum.
The museum tells the chronological story of President George Bush’s life and his years of presidency. Artifacts, photographs, and videos details the president’s challenges of global war on terror, education reform, a financial crisis, and the efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS abroad. I was very touched by the piece of steel from the World Trade Center that now hangs in display; it is a part of the museum that triggers emotions for everyone that remembers 9/11/01.
The New Politics Forum Careers in Politics was my first trip with the L.E.A.P program and it was truly more than I thought it would be. Our trip not only offered an historical learning adventure but we also gained networking experiencing at the NPF seminar. We had the pleasure of meeting Texas Representatives Rafael Anchia and Kenneth Sheets and Texas Senator Royce West. It was a great way to get to know fellow SHSU classmates and make lasting friendships, and I’m looking forward to future events with L.E.A.P.
Coby Steele: Day 3
We woke up to a nice cool morning on our last day in Dallas and set off for an early morning tour through downtown Dallas (on Segways). Having grown up not far from Dallas, I was surprised at how much I did not know about the city I had visited when I was younger. We saw fascinating parks around the city, historic sites like the Old Red Courthouse and the JFK Memorial, and Dealey Plaza, the site of JFK’s assassination, where some of us had a scare with Dallas traffic while taking pictures.
After lunch (at the Twisted Root Burger Company, featured on The Food Network), we returned to the SMU campus, this time to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum. The library hosted many artifacts used and presented to President and Laura Bush during their time in the White House and trips abroad. The exhibits were laid out along a timeline starting at President Bush’s first campaign for the presidency. Through the exhibits we were able to step back through the major events that shaped the country at that time as well as hear President Bush’s explanations that led to his decisions. Hearing him explain in his own words his reasons for getting involved in the AIDS fight in Africa, the 2008 economic crisis and, most interestingly, the Iraq War, was the part I found most interesting, and it brought for me more understanding as to what was going on in the country’s executive office during those tumultuous years.
We arrived in Huntsville around 7:30pm, concluding a successful and educational trip. I learned a lot about a city near which I had grown up as well as ideas for a successful career in my chosen field.
Brian King: Day 3
The third and final day of our trip began with a Segway tour of downtown Dallas. Before we could begin, our tour guide gave us a crash course (no pun intended) on how to properly maneuver the Segway. Since this would be my first experience on a Segway, I looked forward to it being the tour of my hometown.
On the tour, my favorite buildings were the Old Red Museum and the Adolphus Hotel. The architecture (Romanesque style) and stone material (made of red sandstone and blue granite) of the Old Red Museum were the main components that caught my attention. Originally, the Old Red Museum operated as the Dallas County Courthouse. I really admired the distinct roof of the Adolphus Hotel, influenced by French architectural design (known as “Beaux-Arts” architecture) and also designed by Adolphus Busch (fun fact: founder of the Anheuser-Busch company). This building was known for some time as the tallest in the state of Texas. We also saw the Thanksgiving Chapel, designed by Philip Johnson (who also did the JFK Memorial)…
We stopped for lunch in the Deep Ellum District at Twisted Root Burger Co. After lunch, we visited the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of SMU. The museum was very informative of not only Bush’s personal life, but more importantly, what made his character distinct from the other honorable gentlemen who have held the highest elected position in the United States of America.
The Bush Presidential Library was very interactive and engaging with various activities describing how the Bush Administration tackled social and global issues within the realms of domestic and foreign affairs. A distinct part of the Bush Presidential Library I really enjoyed was the father-son statue of George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, just outside of the museum. To me, the statue represented two men of faith and noble character.
In all, I really enjoyed gaining insight from various actors in the field of politics: congressmen, political reporters, attorneys, and more. This was a great event for students to gain knowledge of what it takes to get into politics, as well as what to expect within the political field. I look forward to SHSU’s L.E.A.P. program preparing future graduates this type of opportunity.
The second day of our Dallas trip started early Saturday morning at the Southern Methodist University campus. SMU has one of the most beautiful campuses we have seen. The architecture is the first thing that captures your eye. Dallas Hall, for example, is beautiful, and it was the first building on SMU’s campus (1915), designed by Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge.
Also impressive was the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, the location for our New Politics Forum Seminar. Given Tower’s history serving Texas, it was a fitting venue for our conference on public careers.
Representative Sheets fell into politics through his work in the military and volunteering for the Republican Party. Unusual for a public official, he notes that he is horrible at remembering names. His tip for combating this is to always call someone “Ma’am” or “Sir.”
Representative Anchia, a first generation American, was the speaker who stood out the most to us. He emphasized that politics and public service are separate, and that the former should never get in the way of the latter. He was also spent the most time with students from SHSU, appearing impressed with the school’s LEAP program.
Our second session featured the keynote speaker, Senator Royce West. He is a fine speaker, and he interacted well with the audience.
He emphasized integrity as well as the importance of bipartisanship. He applied these qualities to his own career, and noted that he was able to save his own legislative agenda by “listening and working with people.” He also graciously stayed after with us, and encouraged us to continue getting the most out of our education.
The last panel of the day addressed the Media and was led by Carol Reed, of Reed PRC, and Gromer Jeffers, from the Dallas Morning News. Both, again, pressed issues of integrity and, members of the media, stressed credibility.
Following the event, we moved to Bandito’s Mexican Cantina for food and conversation. We met Casey Bingham, who works for Greg Abbott and is a member of the Young Republicans of Dallas.
We also met a student from UNT, who told us about a program the University offers focusing on non-profit economics.
We dined at Eatzi’s, a build-your-own meal place, that combines elements of a grocery story and a sit-down cafe. Here we enjoyed a wonderful array of foods. One of the must haves is the spicy spaghetti, with freshly prepared pasta and a spicy tomato sauce. If comfort food is your thing, the combination of the lemon chicken, mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes is the ideal combination. If you are adventurous, the sweet curry chicken offers a unique blend of ingredients and texture. For dessert, we visited a small gelato ship, and I Had the “Monkey Business” gelato, which was probably the best ice cream I’ve ever had, offering banana, cinnamon, vanilla, and—as a surprise—chocolate.
With some energy restored, we headed to Dallas City Hall, which was designed I. M. Pei, probably the most celebrated living architect. It was a beautiful and peaceful scene.
From there, we checked out Pioneer Plaza, which was created by Robert Summers, a Texas artist. It is the largest bronze sculpture in the world and makes for a dramatic scene in downtown Dallas.