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 LEAP Ambassadors have assisted the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at nine separate Wall-of-Honor celebrations. This one, honoring two fine men, was our favorite.
The honorees were Mac Woodward and Dan Beto, and their speeches, as well as the remarks by President White, Dean Li, and CHSS Advisory Board Chair Ron Gay were gracious and appropriate.
Our role was minimal: we assisted with the pre-dinner photos.
And we greeted people and helped direct guests to the staff or their tables. It was great to see many of the University and community VIPS: Judge Danny Pierce was there; as were Mayor Brauninger…
…Dean Shields, Provost Stephenson, Assistant Provost Galliard, Chris Tritico, Aron Kulhavy, Councilmember Russell Humphrey, and, as noted, President White. Indeed, the event had record attendance, a testament to the men being honored.
We sat with a great group: Aron Kulhavy, Blake Roach (a former LEAP Ambassador)…
…Cheryl Spencer and Joe Kirkland, Trent Shotwell, Karen and Wes Altom, and Gene, Celeste, and Jack Roberts.
One of the benefits of being a LEAP Ambassador is seeing friends at events, meeting new people, and getting to use recently learned etiquette tips (thank you Career Success Center!).
Following a cocktail hour–in which we did not participate–Chairman Gay introduced the event…
…turning the floor to President White.
As always, her remarks were brief and perfect for the occasion.
We enjoyed the fact that she highlighted the importance of these two gentlemen, making it clear this wasn’t just any Wall of Honor.
Following the President, Dean Li made a few remarks as well.
For many of us, this was our first time meeting Dean Li, and he was as we heard: friendly, supportive, and gracious.
All the remarks this evening fit the occasion.
And, of course, this included Chairman Gay, who was very nice to us, kept the evening moving, and is friends with the honorees–as are many! Mr. Beto was honored first, and his video–put together by Michael Foster–highlighted the many accomplishments in his career, including remarks by the Dean of College of Criminal Justice, Phillip Lyons.
While many know George Beto, Director of TDCJ during a formative period–the younger Beto has also accomplished much. He has been the Director of three state agencies, consults extensively across the globe, and has mentored many.
Beto’s remarks were short: he noted he was “honored,” complimented Mac on his accomplishment, and thanked many of the people he has worked with–including President Templeton.
It was a nice speech by a nice man.
Speaking of which, Mac Woodward’s video was also inspirational, with speakers including Judge Danny Pierce, former Council member Lydia Montgomery, and our advisor, Mike Yawn.
Recurring themes were leadership, duty, and community–themes Mr. Woodward echoed during his speech.
He thanked his family, “especially my wife, Leanne;” recognized the Museum staff, with whom he worked for many years and mentored; and thanked “Sam Houston,” without which, Texas would be a different place–and, of course, SHSU would, at the very least, be another institution entirely.
After the enjoyable evening, which included a very nice meal…
…we spoke to friends, chatted with the President…
…and congratulated the honorees.
Actually, we were the last ones to leave, but we left with full stomachs, warm hearts, and, thanks to Deanna Briones, some nice floral centerpieces!
The LEAP Ambassadors would like to thank Dean Li, Ms. Briones, Mr. Gay, and Chris Tritico for allowing us to participate in a very nice evening.
In celebration of Black History month, the CHSS Diversity and Inclusion Committee has hosted many educational events throughout the month of February that pay reverence to influential Black/African-American figures, while addressing issues facing the Black/African-American community.
This book details the journey of five free Black boys who were captured by slave kidnappers, stripped from their homes in Philadelphia, and tossed into slavery of the “Cotton Kingdom.”
Bell did not give us a full, detailed summary of his novel, in hopes to encourage the audience to purchase his book. However, he did give a brief overview that hints at the fate of the young boys. After the boys were captured in 1825, four of the five boys completed their journey to freedom.
Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home only gives the experiences of five individuals. However, according to Richard Bell, “tens of thousands of Black lives were stolen” and forced into slavery. Many of the captives were poor free Black children, who more than likely never returned to their families. Bell referred to this as the “Reverse Underground Railroad”, or the trafficking of free Black Americans into southern domestic slavery.
The cause of trafficking free Black Americans is the result of lawmakers in Washington making the importation of slaves through the Transatlantic Slave Trade illegal in 1808. Because slaves could no longer be imported from Africa or the Caribbean, slave trade became internalized. Free Black Americans in the north became the source to keep slavery alive in the south. This created a black market in the north, making the kidnapping of free Black Americans a lucrative way to make money.
Slave traffickers were organized in a small circle of station agents. They relied on secrecy, disguise, and bribes to keep the viability of their practice. Also, slave traffickers did not document their experiences in memoirs or keep business records. In juxtaposition, Harriet Tubman, gave public speeches, documented her experiences in a memoir, and participated in fundraising tours. Additionally, the “Reverse Underground Railroad” contrasts Harriet Tubman and her work to free southern slaves through the Underground Railroad. While the slave traffickers worked to enslave free Black Americans, Harriet freed southern slaves. It is possible that these two groups encountered each other on their journeys.
In closing, Richard Bell stressed the importance of exploring the reverse underground railroad to help us recognize that slave trafficking before the Civil War was frequent. Also, examining the reverse underground railroad is significant because families belong together, and their stories deserve to be shared. The LEAP Ambassadors would like to thank the CHSS Diversity Committee for coordinating this educational event, and we look forward to attending more in the future.
The LEAP Ambassadors, with an interdisciplinary approach and broad horizons, have always had a soft spot for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Similarly, we work often with various non-profit, business, and government leaders in the Huntsville community. So it was a special treat this past Friday to enjoy the 9th Wall of Honor Ceremony with people from both worlds.
Taking place in the recently renovated Lowman Student Center’s new ballroom, it was the first time many of the students and alumni had seen the new-and-improved venue. Tables and centerpieces were neatly set amongst processions of chatting friends and colleagues.
On the stage sat SHSU’s own jazz band playing soft tones that added to the ambiance.
We were fortunate enough to be invited by Mac and Leanne Woodward. While Ms. Woodward couldn’t make it, we sat with Mr. Woodward and enjoyed the evening.
Since we arrived before the actual ceremony began, we had time to say hello to some of the friends of LEAP such as Ralph and Linda Pease; Chris Tritico, and Dr. Sanford. As much as we loved catching up with these people, it was not long before we were ushered to our seats to begin dinner. Before we ate, Dr. Abbey Zink, Dean of CHSS, gave opening remarks about what it means to be awarded a place on the Wall of Honor. She said that the people who are awarded are those who serve the community and truly demonstrate Sam Houston’s motto of “the measure of a life is its service.”
After these prefatory remarks, dinner was served to each table with plates stacked high with bourbon-braised short ribs, truffle whipped potatoes, and sautéed zucchini and squash. Through conversing with our table mates, which included Terry and Paula Thibodeaux, as well as Steve and Brenda McNeely, we learned that all of us, save Mr. Woodward, are or were first generation students. Likewise, all of us at the table study or studied political science. After a wonderful meal, Dean Zink took the stage once again to begin the honoring ceremony.
This year, the college honored three excellent alumni and faculty: Paula Lenz (alumnus), Dr. Rowland Miller (faculty), and the late Dr. Paul Ruffin (faculty). Dick Eglsaer, provost of the university, introduced each recipient and showed a short video which included testimonies from colleagues and other faculty explaining what makes the honoree worthy of a place on the Wall of Honor. All three were excellent nominees.
Paula Lenz is a Bearkat alum with a successful career in the fields of education, public relations, and community development. She retired after serving 14 years as the executive director of the North Houston Association (NHA). Prior to joining the NHA, she worked for several years as a national manager and vice president for Woodward-Clyde Consultants Inc., a large engineering and design company. After graduating from Sam Houston with a B.A. in English, she continued to be involved with her university by serving a two-year term as chair of the CHSS Advisory Board.
Ms. Lenz has also aided students by creating internship opportunities. Upon taking the stage, she spoke of her experiences as a student and how, at the time, she never would have thought that she’d become a member on the Wall of Honor. She concluded by giving words of advice to current students: “Keep working hard because, who knows, maybe in thirty to forty years you could be up here receiving this award.”
Dr. Rowland Miller was honored next. He received his B.A. of Psychology from Cornell University and his master’s and doctorate in Philosophy in Social Psychology from the University of Florida and in the 1970s, he became a professor in Psychology at Sam Houston State University. He is credited with making great strides in the psychology program at SHSU since, during his tenure, he fought hard to create the doctoral program that is currently so successful.
After watching the video about him which included colleagues and previous students boasting about his charm and fortitude, Dr. Miller literally leaped onto the stage to receive his award. His passionate speech consisted of acknowledging all students and faculty, past and present, who have worked hard to improve the university.
The last recipient of the night was the late Dr. Paul Ruffin. He was the 2009 Texas State Poet Laureate and an English professor at Sam. He was featured on National Public Radio, Voice of America, and many other renowned national talk shows. The video that was made to commemorate his gifts to the community showed family members, work friends, and colleagues reveling in their fond memories with Dr. Ruffin. When his name was announced, his daughter and son accepted the award and spoke on his behalf. His daughter reminisced on the times when she had her father to guide her and his son conveyed equally heartfelt words. After their emotional homage to their father, the room erupted in applause.
Dessert did not last long and soon Dean Zink was on the stage again thanking everyone for coming and congratulating the recipients. After saying some goodbyes, we made our way out of the Orange Ballroom, a little tired from having down a third event in as many nights, but thankful to Mac and Leanne Woodward and invigorated with the spirit of possibilities and opportunities.
Thanks to Mac and Leanne Woodward for the opportunity to attend; congratulations to Ms. Lenz, Dr. Miller, and Dr. Ruffin; and to Deanna Briones and the CHSS Staff, who put on a great event.
The LEAP Ambassadors have a close connection with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Most of the Ambassadors are in the CHSS (with others in COBA, CRIJ, and COS), the Ambassadors have attended six of the eight Wall of Honor ceremonies…
…and the LEAP Center’s longest-serving President, Megan O’Flaherty (Bryant) served on the Board for two years. So it was a special pleasure for us to attend the 2018 version of the Wall of Honor, which was organized by Dean Abbey Zink (and her Community Relations Coordinator, Deanna Briones).
This year, the college honored four excellent alumni and faculty: Robert Mann (alumnus), George Miles (alumnus), Dr. Mary Alice Conroy (faculty), and Dr. Ralph Pease (faculty).
Dick Eglsaer introduced a packed house to the evening’s planned events…
…offering humorous anecdotes and a deep appreciation of what it means to be on the Wall of Honor. Dean Zink also spoke, touching on her appreciation for the CHSS Alumni Advisory Board, her staff, and of course, the four newest members of the Wall of Honor.
All four were excellent nominees. Dr. Mary Alice Conroy has written amicus briefs for the US Supreme Court, and she brought prestige, organizational skill, and a deep affection for students to SHSU.
Her speech was touching, with her voice audibly cracking, as she acknowledged the important role that her students have played in her desire to continue teaching.
Robert Mann worked for numerous elected officials (including Garry Mauro and Ted Kennedy) and even worked in the White House. He is one of the highest-ranking public figures that SHSU has ever produced.
His fiery speech began with a moment of silence for those who were killed and hurt in the recent Florida shooting, a sad and senseless tragedy. And he alternated between the serious and the humorous in his speech, which also moved between current events and career reminisces.
With many political scientists among us, the Ambassadors found the speech inspirational and poignant.
The Ambassadors had a more immediate connection to inductee George Miles.
Miles has worked closely with the Ambassadors over the years, particularly Megan Bryant, Laken Jenkins, and Brandon Reese, all of whom served on University and community boards with Mr. Miles. His wife, Beth, was also an employee of SHSU, and she did much volunteer work with the Wynne Home Arts Center, where the Ambassadors also spend much time volunteering. So it was a great treat to see Mr. Miles recognized on the Wall of Honor.
In his moving speech, he thanked his family, thanked the community and SHSU…
…First National Bank–where he worked for decades–and the community of Huntsville. Mr. Miles was the first Chair of the CHSS Alumni Advisory Board, and his recognition was especially appropriate.
Of all the nominees, Dr. Ralph Pease has had the longest and greatest influence on the LEAP Ambassadors. For the 12 years that the Ambassadors have been in existence, Pease has befriended, taught, mentored, and volunteered alongside the LEAPsters. More than ten LEAP Ambassadors have interned at the Wynne Home Arts Center, where his wife works as the Cultural Services Coordinator, and Pease is a frequent guest at LEAP Center special events.
He taught for 45 years at SHSU, and he won the Piper Award for Excellence in Teaching (a statewide honor), while also engaging in numerous other civic enterprises.
He’s funny, warm, and generous…
…and we were thrilled to see him be honored for his many contributions to SHSU, the community, and to students.
While the LEAP Ambassadors had a personal connection to the events, that was true of almost everyone there. The nominees had all affected so many people for the better, it’s no surprise that the event was well attended.
Many formal events carry an obligation of attendance, but this event was truly enjoyable, with people mingling, catching up, and recalling favorite memories of the nominees.
Indeed, it was so well attended that Dr. Pease had to actually hide from the paparazzi…
But most of the time, people sought each other out:
…and enjoyed the company of colleagues, friends, and new acquaintances.
It was a fun event, and many, many thanks go to Dean Abbey Zink and her staff–Deanna Briones, Brenda McNeely, Jennifer Knapp, and Brittany Johnson for organizing the event.
The LEAP Ambassadors would also like to thank Dr. Tamara Waggener and the POLS Department, Chris Tritico, Mac and Leanne Woodward, and Ralph and Linda Pease for sponsoring student tickets. It was a fun event, but it was especially fun because we had the opportunity to spend time with people we respect and like.
Nonstop chanting filled the backstreets of SHSU as the community gathered for the 2016 Homecoming tailgate. As the first college tailgating experience for most of the LEAP students, we took on the crowds of students, parents, fans, pets, and Huntsville community members. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences (also known on campus as CHSS) kindly allowed the LEAP Ambassadors to join their tailgate celebration.
As volunteers, our duties were simple; set up and help pass out food.
We passed out over 1,200 chicken wings and they went fast! Many lined up to win a prize from the CHSS booth and get a sample of the savory wings. Although hot and crowded, the tailgate was a fun experience. Dean Abbey Zink and Associate Deans Rhonda Callaway along with Jerry Bruce also joined our pre-game celebration. It was great to see the community and faculty come together for our homecoming game against Abilene Christian University.
After our shift with CHSS ended, many of the LEAP students explored the other booths to scout out their prizes and food. We ate pizza, turkey legs, sausage wraps, popcorn, and topped it off with some sweet tea. Various booths blared music and gave free SHSU merchandise. These school spirited trinkets and momentos where used to represent our school at the game which had begun right after the festivities. The chants continued all the way to victory against ACU (48-21). The LEAP Ambassadors are always happy to try new things, especially when it involves delicious food, fun football, and volunteerism!
Every year, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences honors excellence, recognizing those that have embodied success as practitioners or in teaching in the halls of academia. This year, the College of recognized Professor of Philosophy Frank Fair and former County Judge Frank Robinson. Appropriately, the evening was marked by warmth, camaraderie, and even inspiration, fitting qualities for the humanities fields.
Dean Zink opened the event…
…and Chris Tritico MC’d the event, introducing speakers for both of this year’s recipients.
Fair, the faculty recipient of this year’s award, is only the eighth faculty to be recognized by the college, joining Dr. Caroline Crim, Dr. Richard Cording, Dr. Mattie Medford, Dr. James Olson, Dr. John Holcombe, Dr. Joseph Clark, and Dr. Walter Bennett. After joining the faculty in 1971, quickly made an impact, being involved in the community and in creating new programs at SHSU. He was instrumental in establishing the college’s teaching conference, was active in the Honors College, the Writing Across the Disciplines program, and in Academic Challenge. Fair also brought the journal Inquiry to SHSU, promoting research on philosophical inquiries and the promotion of critical thinking among SHSU students. (As prospective law students, this caught our attention!) His efforts, deservedly, led to him being awarded with the Excellence in Teaching Award in 1989 and the Excellence in Service Award in 1992. In 2011, he was given the Piper Teaching Award, a recognition given to only ten faculty members across the state.
Amidst the sweep of this forty-five year career, CHSS Alumni Advisory Board member Paula Lenz offered an up-close-and-personal view of Fair. With a voice that at times cracked, Lenz noted the impact that Fair had on her life and the way in which she saw the world. Although Lenz majored in English, she took Fair’s philosophical lessons with her, helping her in a successful career as the Director of the North Houston Association.
Dick Eglsaer, the Vice Provost at SHSU, also spoke on behalf of Fair. While calling himself an “old-timer,” he noted that he was nowhere near as old as Fair, a comment that got a few chuckles, including a laugh from the Fairs…
The Marketing Department at SHSU also did a nice video for Dr. Fair…
…which included discussions from Fair’s peers, such as Dr. Gillespie and Dr. Botero, the latter of whom learned to drive from Dr. Fair.
Over dinner, Fair had a chance at his “rebuttal,” and his ten-minute speech illuminated the many qualities that had previously been identified by his peers.
His passion for teaching, his concern for students, his gratitude to work at a fine institution with excellent peers, and even in his 70s, an enthusiasm for what teaching will bring in the future.
Throughout both his speech and the speeches about him, his wife, Janet, was mentioned repeatedly. Following a long career as a teacher at HISD, she now works for SHSU as a mentor and, like Frank, is a leader in the community.
To young political science majors (and one lonely accounting major), it’s inspiring to us as SHSU Ambassadors to see a faculty member who has accomplished so much, impacted so many lives, and maintained the zest for continued service, and we were pleased to meet and congratulate him following the dinner.
Service was also the theme of the CHSS’s recognition of Judge Frank Robinson. Born in 1916, Robinson lived to almost 100, passing just last year. His life of service was attested to by an impressive group of speakers, including former Mayor Jane Monday…
Reverend Willett, Commissioner BJ Gaines, and Robinson’s daughter, who gave a truly moving speech that touched on Robinson’s role as family patriarch…
… community servant, and elected official.
Robinson served two terms as County Judge, was President of Rotary, a Distinguished SHSU Alum, and an active member of the First United Methodist Church. In fact, when the LEAP Ambassadors did a community “then-and-now” photograph of the church in 2012, Robinson was selected to stand (actually, sit) front and center for the outdoor photograph.
Although our role in the CHSS event was in a minor support capacity, we were thrilled to volunteer. It’s a wonderful opportunity for us to see role models, to meet others who are active in the College, and to spend time with some really nice people. Chris Tritico, a Houston attorney and SHSU alum, was not only the MC of the event and the dinner…
…but he introduced himself to us, and offered advice and support.
We finally had a chance to meet Dan Beto, for whom we’ve long been grateful but not ever actually met. Beto is a member of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Foundation, and when he cannot attend some of their events, he sends us his invitations. Partially because of his generosity, we’ve seen people such as George H. W. Bush, Stephen Hawking, Bob Gates, Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Ken Burns, and Bud Philbrook. It was fun putting a name with an invitation!
It’s always nice to see the Woodwards, who have been huge supporters of CHSS. Judge Robinson was once selected as Citizen of the Year by the Huntsville Item. Mac Woodward was nominated for this award this year, and we hope that he wins it this Thursday (Good luck, Mac!)
We always enjoy spending time with the current County Judge, Danny Pierce, and his wife, Cindy. Amidst this group, it’s likely that you’ll not only hear about service, but you’ll actually see it in action. This time was no exception. At the end of the Wall of Honor service, for example, we got to see Judge Pierce help WWII veteran Jerry Nemec to the golf cart. We’ve never actually met Mr. Nemec, but we volunteer a lot at the HEARTS Veterans Museum, and we know about his service to the community and the nation.
As part of its Mission Statement, the CHSS promotes “personal growth, competent professionalism, and responsible citizenship” and Dr. Fair and Judge Robinson–along with the many nice attendees–did a great job of embodying those qualities and illuminating the importance that humanities plays inside and outside of the classroom.
Dr. Abbey Zink is the Dean of CHSS. Her staff, Brenda McNeely, Christine Reeder and Deanna Briones did a great job of putting this event on. The CHSS Alumni Advisory Board helps oversee the nominations process and they vote to select the honorees. It was an honor to assist with this event.