Leap Leads: Week Two

Morgan Robertson

September 20, 2021

The LEAP LEADs members met for the second time this past Monday, to learn more about the Texas Tribune Festival, the counties structure, professional development, and organization.

We began our night with some icebreakers lead by LEAP Ambassador, Yvette Mendoza, to learn more about our fellow members in LEAP LEADs. Some of the answers surprised us but were very intriguing!

Secondly, members were presented a puzzle by Professor Yawn, which we were unable to figure out without assistance. Many of our guesses (embarrassingly) looked something like this.

With all members having passes to the Texas Tribune Festival, it made sense to watch the opening remarks (Here Come the Judges) and learn how to navigate the website. Professor Yawn briefly explained how counties operate, and what a County Judge does. We were then able to hear from the County Judges from the five largest counties in Texas, who discussed current events and issues. Students were then instructed to select other programs and be prepared to comment and discuss at our next meeting.

On a more organizational side, Students learned how to create an alias, add an email signature (and more importantly, remove a generated email signature).

Ms. Stephanie Fors also instructed us on email etiquette, and how to best present oneself via email. Students asked situational based questions to gain a better understanding of how to become or stay organized.

We had an informational evening packed with a lot of fun!

LEAP Leads: Day One

September 7, 2021

Jessica Cuevas

The newly selected LEAP LEADs group had their first meeting of the semester at the Sam Houston Walker Education Center. LEAP LEADs is a program designed to help connect students with the community and to assist in developing our professional and social skills through engagement in diverse opportunities.

In this meeting, we had the pleasure of hosting Officer Butterworth from the Sam Houston University Police Department

…who gave us advice on how to interact with an officer through a couple of different simulations, where students volunteered.

Before Officer Butterworth arrived, each one of us introduced ourselves to the group and shared what we hope to get out of this program. In LEAP, we are always open to new experiences, whether it may be trying new foods or restaurants, and cultures through art, music, etc.–which ties in perfectly with dinner that evening since we had a Salvadorian Cuisine from El Carbonero. The plates varied from chicken, beef tacos, plantains, rice, charro beans, Cajun pasta, pupusas, and cheese enchiladas. It was a delightful cuisine and potentially a first timer for many of us.

Upon Officer Butterworth’s arrival, Professor Yawn…

…passed the baton to him to help us answer and inform us more about the law enforcement agencies in Huntsville. As a collective group, we were able to name a few such as UPD, HPD, Parks & Wildlife (state & federal in Huntsville), Sheriff and Deputies, Constables, and TDCJ – Prison Patrol. Office Butterworth then filled in the rest of the existing law enforcement agencies in Huntsville which include the Walker County Environmental cop (in charge of sewage, littering, etc.), the District Attorney and investigators, Texas Ranger (one left in Huntsville), Child Protection Services, and Fire Marshalls. Officer Butterworth, an alumni from Sam Houston State University, has been a cop in Huntsville since 2012 and has been involved with LEAP for over five to six years now.  

The main topics that Officer Butterworth discussed with us were public intoxication, driving under the influence, minor possession-contribution, and noise complaints.

These happen to be the most common issues that the UPD deals with when it comes to college students. When educating us about what it means to be a minor in possession, such a charge may involve a student simply guarding or holding a cup for a friend while they go to the restroom. For the other topics he had students volunteer in a scenario where a student has been pulled over.

For this scenario, Mario Ocampo volunteered and answered questions such as what you would do if a police officer turned on their lights? Where would you pull over? What to do while you wait for the officer to approach you? And such.

Another scenario that he presented to us were different types of field sobriety tests, such as the heel to toe walk and keeping one leg above the ground. Two of the LEAP Leads members, Madison Brashear, and Yvette Mendoza, volunteered to do a mock field sobriety test. Now, you would think that it was to be easily done except they did all of this with a twist, they had “beer goggles” on!

Meanwhile they volunteered to do the field sobriety tests, the rest of us watched and got to witness what Officers see when they pull over someone who is intoxicated, and it was amusing to see!

On behalf of LEAP LEADs I would like to thank Officer Butterworth for coming to speak to us and doing so in an interactive way through Q&As and “simulations.” We learned a lot about police interactions and their way of thinking as they approach a situation as I am sure Officer Butterworth learned from us about the student’s point of view. Thank you to Officer Butterworth for keeping our campus and community safe!

Oldies at the Old Town Theatre: Marty Haggard Performs

Jessica Cuevas 

On the evening of 9/11, the LEAP Ambassadors and Jocelyn Vazquez volunteered at the Old Town Theatre, where Marty Haggard–son of Merle Haggard– where an appreciative crowd enjoyed the show.  

To our delightful surprise, there was an opening act by rising country singer Stephen Sweeten. While he sang and his guitarist strummed, his wife and son were selling his merchandise and recording his performance. Unfortunately, since we were either ushering guests to their seats, selling raffle tickets, or taking photographs, we were unable to sit in for the show but given that the theatre has excellent acoustics, we were able to hear him. We even had a chance to work with his son to take a few photos of Sweeten.

The audience enjoyed the music, as did we, as Sweeten played a mix of covers and originals.

When Sweeten’s set ended, we announced the winners of the raffle…

…which made a few audience members happy. They have tickets to see Moe Bandy on December 3 (buy tickets here!) 

If ever there was a down-to-earth performer, Marty Haggard is that performer. He remained seated throughout the show, after telling he was a singer, not an “actor.”

Sitting or standing, however, he was a hit, performing the hits of his father, whom he described as “the greatest country music singer-songwriter in history.”

He did the songs justice, and he resembles a thinner version of his father.

 As the event was wrapping up and the Old Town Theatre was getting ready to close, we stood by the doors and thanked the guests for coming while providing them with a calendar of upcoming events.

The crowd, however, was more interested in spending time with Mr. Haggard.

And that included us:

It was a good night, with strong performances all around.

By the way, the Old Town Theatre’s next event is on September 25th at 7:00pm, featuring a Frank Sinatra tribute. Purchase your tickets today and do not miss the Sinatra experience! 

On behalf of the LEAP Center, I would like to thank the friends of the Old Town Theatre for giving us the opportunity to help in our community! 

Although our volunteerism was complete, our night wasn’t. We moved on over to the wonderful Sam’s Table, where we had dinner and desert. We had eaten here previously, and it has great ambience and food, so we were eager to return.

The event was close to Yvette’s 19th Birthday, so we celebrated that, too, with pie…

…and cake.

After a nice night of volunteerism and eating, we left as happy as Yvette looked!

Around Town with KSAM

Students from various LEAP programs got together with KSAM’s News Director, Larry Crippen, to discuss their fall activities. In this manner, Candace Simpson (LEAP LEADs), Hayley Matthews (City Fellows), and Yvette Mendoza (LEAP Ambassadors, LEAP LEADs) came together to discuss classes, internships, programs, speakers, and volunteerism.

Students, of course, are best situated to discuss LEAP’s activities, but this process is also great practice for communicated clearly and concisely–necessary approaches for a radio interview. And, in this regard, each student got their turn, although at least one was outright suspicious.

But they got over their jitters and did a fine job. Hayley Matthews discussed her internship at the Huntsville Public Library–as well as some of the other internship opportunities.

Yvette Mendoza discussed the LEAP Ambassador’s trip to Nashville, TN this summer…

…as well as some of our fall plans, particularly those involving volunteerism at the OTT, Wynne Home Arts Center, Huntsville Main Street, and, in fact, KSAM.

And the ever-suspicious Candace Simpson discussed…

…our first LEAP LEADs program, as well as upcoming events (HPD tour, anyone?).

It was a great way to get the word out about fall activities, bring together multiple programs with a common cause, and teach students the world of ratio communication.

You can listen to the entire interview below.

Pre-Law Society: Kicking off the Fall

We started our day off with an amazing ice cream social. We had a great turnout filled with lots of smiles and fun!

The group talked over ice cream and delicious treats about the organization and the plans we have for the upcoming school year.

The veteran officers interacted with the potential members, and it was highly informative.

Shortly after, we had the first meeting of the semester, and it was a great one to say the least. We had the opportunity to see some new and familiar faces. Professor Yawn updated the group on all that the Pre-Law Society has to offer. He spoke briefly about the events that are yet to come and the opportunities the organization will present such as, mock LSATS, guest speakers, forums, and community service, just to name a few.

Professor Yawn spoke on the upcoming dates/ activities including the LSAT registration deadline on August 25th, the digital law school forum on September 9th, registration for the mock LSAT, and some suggested dates for the Old Town Theatre Cleanup, Pizza Party and showing of “My Cousin Vinnie”.

The floor was opened for questions from Professor Yawn as well as Ms. Jean Loveall and VP Leslie Canchola-Rangel, and many of the potential members had a lot of questions about the LSAT, prep courses, events, membership, colleges and more.

Lastly, we ended the meeting off with an introduction of the new leadership board. The officers include incoming secretary Jase Brazzil, historian Jordan Long, VP (membership) Cesar Amaya and VP (finance) Leslie Canchola-Rangel. The election for president was a close run between Kianna McKinney…

…and Heather Barodi…

Following voting…

…Heather was victorious in the end.

Discover Local With the Chamber of Commerce!

August 31, 2021

Morgan Roberston

This past Tuesday the LEAP Ambassadors and SHSU student Jocelyn Vazquez attended the Discover Local Community, Commerce, and Cuisine at the Walker County Fairgrounds.

Upon entering the grounds, we were greeted by many smiling faces, who directed us to the ballot box for the prize entry giveaway of $500 dollars!

We entered to win by obtaining stamps on a bingo sheet from the different booths which we would then enter in the drawing at the end of the night. We took our bingo sheets and began maneuvering around the Expo.

As we began to make our way around to different venues of businesses, restaurants, and organizations, with full hands we quickly realized we would need a place to store all the informational handouts, goodies, and business cards. Once we had a bag in hand, we began to accumulate different stamps, and more importantly, learn more about Huntsville.

With booths ranging from bakeries,

non-profit organizations,

campus departments

…clothing stores, car dealerships, medical institutions, many local businesses, and, of course, our Huntsville City government.

The event was an amazing way to learn more about our community. In addition to learning about businesses, we were able to meet several people who positively impact Huntsville through the Chamber of Commerce.

Continuing our way through, collecting all the stamps from each venue to enter in the bingo contest, we wishfully turned our sheets into the raffle drum and found a table to watch the giveaways. When it came time for the grand prize of $500 dollars, Chamber President Ray Hernandez and Wiesner GM Clint McLaren (Wiesner, generously, was the Presenting Sponsor) stepped up to draw and announce the winner… “Morgan Robertson.”

Without even realizing that my name was announced, Jocelyn, Yvette, and Jessica turned towards me to express their surprise that I had just won the grand prize, sponsored by Texas Grand Ranch! I stepped up to the stage and posed for a few pictures, while being congratulated from every which direction.

This was an amazing celebratory finish to a wonderful night getting to learn more about Huntsville.

Smith-Hutson Gala: 2021

One of the happy aspects of SHSU more or less fully reopening is the return to get-togethers that help build camaraderie and provide great information to faculty, staff, and students alike. And this perfectly reflects the spirit of the annual Smith Hutson gala.

In addition to the great food offered by Smith-Hutson…

…students (and faculty and staff) learn much about the Smith-Hutson Scholarship program. Endowed by an anonymous donor, facilitated by the Hutson family, and administered at SHSU by Chris Garcia, the Smith Hutson scholarship program serves more than 100 SHSU students.

Garcia kicked off the evening, but was soon joined by President White at the podium, who shared her gratitude for the donors, while also encouraging the Smith-Hutson scholars to continue to excel.

Balancing empathy and inspiration, President White spoke skillfully, highlighting her background in communications.

Following a fine meal, Mr. Hutson spoke, going into detail about the program. I learned, for example, that the Smith-Hutson scholarship was no distributed to Lamar University, Lamar Tech, Stephen F. Austin, and Angelina College–although Mr. Hutson stressed that SHSU remains the “home of the program.” Moreover, Mr. Hutson also mentioned that while the state averages a four-year graduation rate of 38 percent, Smith-Hutson scholars average 78 percent!

A representative from Capital Bank then provided students with useful information about careers in banking–careers that not only involve finance, but also marketing, legal, and human resources.

Mr. Garcia opened the floor to Monica Rodriguez, who attended SHSU in the early 2000s. She described, at times in depth, her time at SHSU and her subsequent career.

The President of the Smith-Hutson Scholars’ executive council, Amanda Rincon-Morales, also spoke, expressing her gratitude for the scholarship and encouraging her peers in the program to give back to the program that provides so much to them.

Following the program–which was attended by a majority of the Deans, as well as the President Provost–Smith-Hutson scholars gathered for some photographs.

And with that, a pleasant and informative night was over, as more than 100 Smith-Hutson scholars resumed their path to excellence at SHSU.

One Smith-Hutson scholar serves as a LEAP Ambassador; one Smith-Hutson scholar serves as a member of LEAP LEADs; and one of the LEAP Staff members serves on the Smith-Hutson faculty-staff council.