After months of applying, interviewing, and apartment-hunting, the Austin Internship Program is getting real for nine SHSU students. These nine students, Jessica Cuevas, Morgan Robertson, Yvette Mendoza, Ingrid Cuero, Ashlyn Parker, Jayelynn Bordeaux, Morgan Dawson, Amor Sheffield, and Breanna Demyers, will be beginning their Austin internships one month from today.
To prepare, they received an orientation from two top-notch employees of SHSU: Ms. Julie Schwab and Dean Shani Robinson. With moderation by Intern Director Mike Yawn, Robinson and Schwab discussed tips for navigating office politics, dressing for success, defusing conflict, and making a first impression.
In the latter case, Dean Robinson noted that people’s first impressions are often made in seven seconds, while also complimenting the students on their first impression–students stood up, walked forward, extended their hands, introduced themselves, and welcomed the presenters.
Ms. Schwab brought some swag, including padfolios to help the students on their road to professionalism and a Brene Brown book (“Imperfect”). Professor Yawn also provided students with business cards, a book (“How Important People Act,” by Ambassador Chase Untermeyer), and a business card holder.
With finals still before the students, the meeting was kept short, but the participants lingered as new advice was thought of and new questions were asked. Robinson and Schwab were generously supportive of the students, and despite the short length of the meeting, there was some bonding involved–leaving the students with some additional supporters and a larger professional network.
There was no better way to kick off our newest LEAP Program, Beyond Bars, than with a back-stage tour of the Huntsville Police Department led by Corporal David Warner. Starting us off was Lieutenant Curt Landrum, who told us the stories behind the artifacts, photos, and mementos that can be found in the waiting area. These included photos of all the chiefs, equipment from back in the day, and the “honorary” shovel used for the groundbreaking.
We also learned more about the building itself, and the interesting features of the structure. These included but were not limited to bullet-resistant glass, interview rooms, a gym, a locker room and showers, and a relay room. All of these have proven to be helpful and beneficial for various reasons such as security, privacy, and in the case of an emergency or a court hearing for those that drive in for a shift accommodation.
We had the opportunity to see the officers’ offices, computer spaces, and interview rooms. In a bullpen area with lots of open space and computers, we met a rookie who was enjoying (or not) filling out paperwork.
The coolest thing in this room was the computer screen that informs everyone where each patrol officer is, whether they are on a call, and if so, how long they have been on the call and the nature of the call. Interestingly, one officer had been called to the State Park to address “six teenagers taunting an alligator,” a crime-in-progress that we did not expect to see.
Before eating dinner, we had the opportunity to see the evidence room, and a joke was made that I would likely fit in one of the evidence lockers because of my small stature, haha.
We also learned a bit of Huntsville trivia. Did you know that on April 15, 2021, one officer gave 99 citations in a single shift? It was the most tickets ever imposed in the City’s history, at least as far as known, and it was done by a motorcycle officer.
As the tour came to an end, we had the opportunity to dine in the Police Department’s lounge area with Corporal Warner, and little did we know of the activity that was awaiting us. On the menu, were delicious tacos al carbon: beef, chicken, pork, or shrimp, and or a choice of vegetarian, cheese, or pork pupusas from the local Salvadorian Restaurant, Carbonero’s.
Corporal Warner provided us with a demonstration of what is done during a sobriety test. In particular, he spun us around and then conducted a “nystagmus” test, which is one of the key indicators of sobriety or the lack thereof. Jazmin Palacios, a Ph.D. student at SHSU, was voluntold to participate, and she not only did this test, but also wore the “drunk goggles” provided while doing a field sobriety test.
Corporal Warner instructed her to take nine steps and walk in a straight line, with each step she took she had to keep her hands by her side and walk heel to toe while counting out loud. It was slightly amusing to watch, but it is less fun when you are the one doing the test! Morgan also got lucky and was asked to do a one-leg test, where she had to count to ten out loud while keeping her leg raised up about an inch from the floor. Somehow, she managed to successfully complete this task.
As the night came to an end, the officer who had been sent to the State Park returned, and inquiring minds wanted to know: what happened to the alligator-taunting teenagers? As it turned out, “there were no alligators, no teenagers, and no witnesses.” Some of us may have been disappointed in the way that turned out.
It was a fun and educational night, everyone had the opportunity to wear the goggles and experience what it is like to be on both sides of the law. Many thanks to Corporal Warner and to the entire police department for helping to keep our community safe.
The LEAP Center would like to thank the Annette Strauss Institute for Public Life and their “Texas Civic Ambassadors Program” for assisting with the costs of the program.
October has a few milestones for those in Huntsville, but none more important than Main Street’s Annual Scare on the Square! This year, we were fortunate enough to have 3 booths, all run by students from Professor Yawn’s classes. Two groups from the Local Government class and one group from University 1101 Pre-Law braved the eager trick-o-treaters, photo-snapping parents, and swarms of community members, to volunteer for this amazing event.
Main Street Coordinator, Annel Guadalupe was assisted by Main Street Intern and LEAP Ambassador, Jessica Cuevas.
The team did a wonderful job transforming our beloved downtown into a Halloween Celebration! Up at Rather Park, a DJ was stationed playing Halloween music, and there were fall-themed photo stations for families to remember their time at scare on the square. Yvette and I were on standby to offer assistance to the groups and to take pictures.
We coordinated our costumes from the movie Monsters Inc. and became known as the Monster photographers (although, within LEAP, we are known simply as “monsters”)!
Each group of volunteers brainstormed their own games and was responsible for bringing their ideas to life.
Booth one was run by one group from the local government class. Volunteers from this group were: Michelle Bright, Amor Sheffield, Matthew Smith, and Emily Lindahl, Adisen Massie, and Christina Biello.
Their game was perhaps the most creative and required quite a bit of skill from the young trick-o-treaters. With a small tub of rubber ducks and makeshift fishing poles, players were required to catch a duck to win candy! Some got the hang of fishing more easily than others, but intense concentration was a must for this game.
Booth two was the second group from the local government class, run by: Rachel Hill, Johnny Uribe, Gisela Soto, Giselle Martinez, Amari Gallien, and Cameron Gill.
This group kept the game simple, with classic cornhole boards. However, the true competitive colors of almost every player were shown in this game. This booth seemed to produce an endless amount of laughs, as volunteers enjoyed the game faces of the players.
The final group were all in their first semester at SHSU, and they did a great job of decorating their booth, assembling costumes, and putting on a game. This group included Sephora Pham, Faith Barnes, Peyton Jennings, McKenna Nonnennmann, Michelle Cardenas, and Cinthia Villareal.
To win candy at this booth, children had to toss a tennis ball into a Halloween bucket (which sounds easier than it actually is)!
When it came time for the Costume Parade, Annel asked for a few volunteers to escort Frankenstein from the front of the parade! Gisela and Johnny helped corral masqueraders, and led them down the street toward the park.
The parade was a success; Johnny and Gisela even got to help city staff pass out beads to the participants.
Another highlight was just seeing all the young people–and older people–dressed up and having fun.
Scare on the Square is one of my favorite events of the year. Members of the community fellowship in our beautiful Downtown, enjoy the nice weather, and celebrate a fun holiday!
On behalf of the LEAP Center and the students who volunteered, thank you to Annel, Jessica, and the City of Huntsville for making this event possible!
The LEAP Center typically invites Professor Val Ricks from the South Texas College of Law–Houston to campus in the spring, but we made it a fall event this year. And so it was that, last week, Professor Ricks spoke to 35 SHSU pre-law students who signed up for an educational event–without extra credit, a class assignment, or give-away prizes.
They came because they wanted to learn, and they were willing to do some dense reading beforehand. The reading involved a contract, and this was no accident. Professor Ricks is one of the leading experts in the country on contract law; in fact, some of our alumni who have gone on to law school have informed us that they were assigned his book in their classes!
Professor Ricks began the course by informing us of his goals for this and any class that he teaches: (1) Get the words of the law – law is words, (2) Set the words out in a workable way, (3) Practice applying them, and (4) Consider what is “right” – the law is a moral exercise.
He went about this through the Socratic method since everyone loves being called on and questioned until they cannot answer. At least, we will have to if we plan on practicing the law, especially, in the courtroom. Through his random number generator, he called on those people to answer his questions regarding the G.D. Holdings, INC v H.D.H. Land & Timber, L.P., 407 S.W.3d 856, 2013, after delivering the facts and procedures of this case.
Many of us believed we were prepared but we did not know what to expect, so were we really prepared for Professor Ricks to hit us with questions like, What is the legal issue being addressed? How did you draw this conclusion? What is the ruling of the Court? A few of us addressed this question with the trial court’s ruling which led Professor Ricks to ask us, Where did you read that? Why do you think that is the final ruling? In these instances he let us help each other out when the person he called on was stuck, which we later learned that in an actual law class he would have picked that individual’s brain until they provided the answer he was looking for.
We continued this process as we provided evidence that we thought best fit or would prove the three different clauses of Promissory Estoppel- the legal issue of the case – (a) a promise, (b)foreseeability of reliance by the promissor, and (c) substantial reliance by the promisee to his detriment. It was at this moment, that we felt the high pressure that lawyers feel in a courtroom the most. With us acting as lawyers and Professor Ricks as a judge, who questioned us to help fill in the gaps in the story and understand what we were thinking. This proved to be a lot harder than we thought since proving that a promise, the first part of Promissory Estoppel, had been made was difficult and some of us soon learned that in this context a promise was defined as a commitment.
Following the class, most of us were more certain than ever that we wanted to attend law school. This was a sentiment Professor Ricks encouraged, as we learned when he stayed after to encourage us, answer questions, and take photos.
Our first members-only meeting of the Fall occurred last week…
…and it was an important: we held elections for President, Secretary, VP of Membership, and Historian. Thankfully, some of these things were taken care of by “game-time,” as the races for President and Secretary were uncontested.
By acclamation, then, Yvette Mendoza was elected President, and Jasmine Crooks elected Secretary. From this point on, Yvette took over as the presiding officer of the meeting.
For Vice-President of Membership, we had three candidates: Jesus Ayala, Jacelin Daniels, and Angela Moreno. Each were given three minutes to discuss their reasons for running, and they all did well.
Following this race, the candidates for Historian took over, with Stone Lambeth and Mckenna Nonnenmann followed. Again, both did well.
While discussions about upcoming events took place–including next week’s visit by Texas Tech Law School–the students voted and the officers waited, patiently.
With a record number of 85 students in attendance, the counting took a while, but when the dust had settled and the votes were counted, we were able to name Jacelin Daniel as VP of Membership and Mckenna Nonnenmann (a freshman!).
The meeting then soon ended, with a group photo of the Fall 2022 officers (including returning VP of Finance, Emily Albright), and many good things to come!
We would like to thank all the candidates, successful and unsuccessful, for their effort to contribute to the Pre-Law Society.
A week or so into the semester, we kicked off our first Pre-Law Society meeting of the semester. Featured this meeting was Judge David Moorman, who came to the Pre-Law society at SHSU to impart his knowledge and experiences as a judge and former attorney to SHSU’s pre-law students.
And for this meeting, Yvette Mendoza stepped in as moderator, leading the “interview” with Judge Moorman.
Dr. Yawn initiated the meeting, getting the new members informed about what Pre-Law society has to offer and the returning members refreshed on what they can get out of the organization.
Professor Yawn also introduced Judge Moorman, giving a bit of his background and his prior assistance to the Pre-Law Society. Judge Moorman, with prompting from Yvette, then discussed his career as an attorney, and his work as a judge. He noted that he was unopposed when he ran for Judge, but Yawn pointed out that this isn’t as easy as it sounds. It involves building a coalition, gaining early support, and attending a lot of events.
During the questioning that was hosted after the formal presentation, one student, David Farrington, asked a question: “What is the greatest difficulty you faced as a judge? ” Judge Moorman mentioned a number of challenges, but he also recounted some of the humorous challenges he’s faced, noting, “Sometimes, keeping a straight face is the hardest thing to do.”
Moorman was also asked about how he had passed through law school and the Bar exam. While noting that he went to school many years ago, he and Yawn discussed the changes in how law schools treat incoming students. While the attrition rate for law schools in the 1970s could reach 50 percent, by the 1990s most law schools had a different approach, and only admitted students they thought had a chance of success and also found ways to promote that success.
This comforted most in the audience.
With an interesting speaker, a capable moderator, and almost 50 people in attendance, it was a good way to begin the semester. We appreciate Judge Moorman’s willingness to spend time with us, his insight, and we hope to see everyone next month at another entertaining and educational meeting!
This past spring, I was nominated as an Alternate Delegate to the Republican Party State GOP Convention hosted in Houston this year. The convention was held June 16-18, and I was fortunate enough to attend on Saturday, June 18. Due to an opening in my Dad’s schedule, he was able to accompany me to the convention!
We left from Huntsville bright and early in the morning and headed south to the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. The convention hall was filled with patriotic booths advertising for campaigns, merchandise, and there was even one with antique maps and flags! The first session began with the National Anthem and speeches from several different leaders in the party.
While the Chairman of the Party, Matt Rinaldi, was leading the GOP in the 15 priorities, I was asked by Walker County’s Republican Chair, Linda McKenzie to move forward to a voting position . Seated next to others from my county, I cast my first vote at the convention by selecting my top priorities.
The GOP reconvened after a quick break, and we were back to work! This time, we had until 5 p.m. to get through the proposed platform, which had almost 300 items listed. Thankfully, before we got too far into the platform, a convention-goer made a motion to reduce the time per section from 25 minutes to 2 minutes, making it possible to get through the entire platform. This motion was met with some disdain, but ultimately did pass among the GOP.
I cast my vote on each item during the discussion, and my dad even snuck up to our section to snap a photo!
Even though it was the last day, the convention was buzzing with energy and excitement for the weeks hard work. I’d like to thank Republican Chair, Linda McKenzie for her hard work and for mentoring me through my first convention!
Dinner at the Grove
One thing is for sure after a political convention, you’ll be hungry! Because we were in Downtown Houston, my dad and I knew that the options were limitless. After a brief online search, we set off on foot towards The Grove. The restaurant was surrounded by (what we thought were ancient) beautiful trees with bending limbs that matched the surrounding park, Discovery Green.
My Dad chose the red snapper, which was highly recommended by our waitress, and I had the filet mignon. It was so big that I needed help finishing it! We thought we had no more room for anything else… but we decided we couldn’t leave without trying the cookie butter gelato. It was the perfect dessert to conclude our meal!
After dinner, we meandered through the park while we waited for the sun to set (a necessity for our next stop) and came across a pop-up flea market! Vendors lined the road selling everything. Leather goods, handmade razors, apparel, and baked goods. My dad and I window-shopped for a little while and enjoyed the summer evening weather before heading to our next site.
Although my dad was a bit skeptical about public art when we first arrived, he slowly began to enjoy himself as the sun set. Turrell’s Skyspace is best viewed at dusk, and the unique design of the space is an excellent display of colors. We wandered in and around the space but enjoyed sitting inside the most.
While the lights are changing color around you, the interior square appears to change as well. However, it is actually just the night sky viewed in comparison to the colors in the space.
The second day of our trip was dedicated to art! Our first stop was to the Rothko Chapel. Rothko is best known for his abstract expressionism and muted colors. The chapel was commissioned in 1964 by the Menils and was intended to be a place of reflection for followers of all religions. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed inside, but the experience was not lessened. The interior chamber of the chapel is in the shape of an octagon and adorning each wall are massive paintings. At first glance, it is simply a white room with black paintings, but upon a closer look, each painting is distinct. The muted canvases each have a different draw to them, as if they have their own story or personality. There are diptychs, and triptychs each with slight hues of maroons, greys, greens.
The exterior, which was designed by Philip Johnson, Howard Barnstone, and Eugene Aubry (separately), and features Broken Obelisk, by Barnett Newman in a reflecting pool designed by Johnson.
Overall, we enjoyed the new and different experience, and, upon reflection, stands out as one of many highlights over the summer.
All the way from her humble beginnings in Indiana, County Music Legend, two-time CMA Female Vocalist of the year, AMC Female Vocalist of the year, and TV star, Janie Fricke took the stage at Old Town Theatre in Huntsville on Saturday, August 6.
Fricke and her band livened the Theatre with songs of her own, some that she originally sang with other artists, and even some songs from the 40s!
She and her band had hilarious banter on the stage, discussed her career a bit, and she also encouraged everyone to check out her website!
After intermission, Janie Fricke had a confession to make, in the 1980s, she robbed a bank! Fricke said that she would like to get through the show before anyone put a warrant out and her band joked that she is the only person to commit a crime and not serve the time. Fortunately for us, there is footage of Fricke robbing the bank, Janie stared as “Ginny” the bank robber on the TV series “Dukes of Hazzard.”
My favorite song she sang was one that she sang with Merle Haggard called A Place to Fall Apart. Fricke sang the song with her Keyboardist and the duet was beautiful.
Fricke worked a significant amount of her career singing jingles for major companies. She even sang some to the crowd! The audience reminisced on Dial Soap, Coca-Cola, Red Lobster, and United Airlines jingles. Janie even mentioned that she was the first jingle artist in space! Her song was what the astronauts woke up to in the space shuttle.
On behalf of the Old Town Theatre and the LEAP Ambassadors, thank you to Janie Fricke and band for an amazing show!