Monday, May 11, 2015

Graduation at last!

As I reflect over the first two years of the SAU Tech Honors Program, I feel such mixed emotions. The first group of Honors Scholars graduated on May 7, 2015.  In some ways, it feels like it has a been a marathon, and in others, it feels like a sprint.    This journey feels like a sprint because it seems I just met these students at SOAR during summer 2013. They quickly became part of my family.

The marathon has been exhausting at times for both the students and myself.  I have walked this journey with them as they have experienced both successes and struggles.  This group of students has had so much happen in their lives outside of the classroom (relationship issues, babies born and babies lost, moving to new homes, financial struggles, jobs, marriages, losses of loved ones, and more).  And in spite of all that has happened in life, they have overcome. As they walked across the stage at graduation, I was so humbled to think of how they have impacted my life over this 2 years.

Jessica Flannigan has represented SAU Tech well as the Academic All-Star for this year and as a Student Ambassador for SAU Tech.  
Jessica Flannigan

Ms. Johnnie Sue Hall and Taylor Watkins
Taylor Watkins is truly a success story for students taking concurrent credits during high school.  She has finished her associate's degree in ONE year after high school!

Jenny Sanders (Honors Sponsor) and Taylor Watkins

Keyonte Akis-Davis is always the life of the party.  That smile never seems to fade.  During his time as a student in the Honors Program, Keyonte tore his ACL.  And during his recovery, he was STILL smiling. I wish the rest of the world was as kind and smiling at Keyonte!

Tiffany Jamerson and Keyonte Akis-Davis
I had the privilege of presenting Tiffany with her Technical Certificate.
Tiffany Jamerson has demonstrated the true meaning of "overcomer" over the last 2 years. In spite of being in foster care off and on throughout her life, she has persevered and worked toward her degree.  Nothing will stop this young lady from reaching her goals!

NaCenya Hogan
 NaCenya Hogan has reached the first of many goals by finishing her associate's degree. The day of graduation, she posted the following on Facebook:  "First degree... Many more to come..."  

 Jessica Crumpler has shown what true determination and commitment looks like.  She has managed to raise an energetic little boy, maintained a household, worked a lot, and finished her first college degree with excellent grades.  Despite lots of sleepless nights, she has kept going!

And, of course, what kind of celebration could we have without food!  So, we met up at What's Cookin' in Camden the night after graduation.  Family and friends were welcome for a time of fellowship, reminiscing, and fun.

We love it when the youngest members of the Honors Program join us for fun!

We all need a little support from our family and friends, so this celebration was about the parents, spouses, kids, and significant others who have supported these students over the last few years.

Classic facial expressions from a few

 We had to get one last group picture before everyone goes their separate ways this summer!

These students have paved the way for those coming behind them.  While graduation is bittersweet because I'm not ready for them to move on, I am so excited to see where this group will go and what they will accomplish.  Since this group is small, we have formed lasting friendships that are more like being a part of a family.  I feel blessed to be the group "Momma!"  I could not be more proud of them!

Honors Scholars:  My challenge to you is:
1.  To never "finish" learning.  Always strive to learn something new each day, whether in the classroom, on the job, in the home, or out in the world.
2.  Continue to make this world a better place.  You see, the future is yours and is in your hands.
3.  Remember where you came from and what you have overcome.  But, do more than remember.  Use that to propel you to greatness!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Festival of Stars

Honors students enrolled in the fall 2014 Honors Seminar class chose the Arkansas Children's Hospital "Festival of Stars" as their service project.  "Festival of Stars" is a toy drive that enables parents to "shop" for their child who is hospitalized at Christmas.  There is a personal connection for many of the Honors students to ACH, so this was a project they took to heart.  Throughout the semester, the students accepted donations of toys and cash.  On December 12, the students who were able took a trip to ACH to deliver toys.  On the way, we stopped at Walmart in Sheridan to purchase additional toys with the funds that had been raised.  The students worked hard at making their money go as far as possible while still staying within budget and choosing items from the list supplied by ACH.

There was quite a bit to unload and deliver!

Anna Dunn (and Addi), Nicole Boer, Marcus Copeland, Jessica Flannigan, Talon Gray, Holli Brown
After unloading and placing the items in the donation bin, we were invited in for hot chocolate and a time to visit.

Then, we ate lunch together at the Purple Cow.  As usual, Anna's daughter, Addi, was the star of the show!  She finally warmed up to Marcus during lunch!

In recognition of the donations, the Honors Program received a nice certificate from Arkansas Children's Hospital.  More information is available on the "Festival of Stars" on the Arkansas Children's Hospital website.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Defining Moments--J. Keller

         Of the few defining moments in my life, two come to my mind prominently; my father and mother’s marriage and my adoption into the Keller household. Defining moments often shape who we are, our future, and how we respond to events further on down the road of life.  There are both good and bad moments, producing positive and negative results, but what you do with those results is up to you.  You can either choose to learn from the negative, or allow it to rend you limb from limb.  Positive events almost always produce positive results, but you can allow even those to infect your brain with a sort of mightier-than-thou attitude.  To be blunt, defining moments are our story; let it shape you into who you are meant to be.
                When my parents first met, I was being babysat by my grandmother, but I’m sure their first meeting went great.  They are married after all.  I was a tender three when it happened, and having lived a life with a hard-working mother and father who was never around, knew nothing about a happy normal home.  To be correct, I knew nothing about a happy home; separation among parents is normal.  Although I was young, I remember holding my mother’s hand as she walked, and watching as tears of joy ran down her face.  Up until that point, I had been the only man who had ever consistently been there for her; I didn’t have a choice in the matter, but I would have stayed even if I had.  However now I was able to see what love and sacrifice were really about.  My father took my mother and I in, even with her tattered past and my abandonment from my “sperm donor dad”.  This was love, and sacrifice at its purest.  Something I still haven’t forgotten.
                Secondly came my adoption, and that almost seven years later.  How I would love to tell you of a perfect life, but those aren’t real or true, and frankly quite boring.  My parents fought like any other, I bowed my head to anger often, and hated the air that often clogged our home.  Yet, my parents pushed through, and I believe that it was a small defining moments in itself.  When I was ten my parents approached me with talk of adoption, in fact I was the only member or the then household of five to still have the name Rice.  Keller, I thought, was better because everyone else had it.  My mother hadn’t let the conversation happen until I was ten, as she feared things between her and my soon to be adopted dad may not work out.  Thankfully she was wrong, and today I proudly hold the title Keller.  This moment exuded love, and the tears that ran down my face in genuine bliss after the process had finally been completed couldn’t have been truer.  I knew then that this man, who had married my mother, wouldn’t leave me like my other father.  But instead would stand by my side, and teach my things every man needs to know.

                These seemingly insignificant examples of defining moments changed my life, for the better a thousand times over.  Up until then I had received multiple negative ones, and I still have work to do on my heart from the scars in my past.  However the blessings of those two defining moments have changed my forever.  I am a man because of those two events, because without them, I wouldn’t have a father; without a father, who can learn to be a man?

Defining Moments--C. Humphries

         There are many defining moments that have happened in my life time. Some I remember extremely well and others not so much. These events are not just based on world events but events that have affected my community. Three defining moments for my generation are Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, and the big storm that passed through earlier this year.
            Hurricane Katrina is the name of a big hurricane that passed over the Bahamas and many states on August 23, 2005. I was nine years old when the hurricane happened. I remembered sitting home with my mom watching the news. I didn't know what was happening but I watched anyways. That next morning I watch the 7:00 news to find that major damage was done to many the many places hit. At least 1,833 people died and over $108 billion dollars’ worth of damage was caused.
            Another widely known tragedy is the terrorist attack of 9/11. This happened on September 11, 2001 in New York City. I was in kindergarten and was five years old on that tragic day. Since I was only five at the time I don’t remember much, but I was in school in my teacher, Mrs. Wolf's, room.  A few years ago one of the other kindergarten teachers that taught back then told my class about that day. She said that we all gathered in her room and watched movies while they discussed the situation in the hall. As of now I can tell you more about the day 9/11 because all of the mini episodes they show the week of 9/11 every year.
            The big storm  here in Arkansas earlier this year is also a defining moment. I was seventeen at the time of the storm. It was late at night when it hit Camden. I remember waking up to my house shaking because of the thunder. The lighting didn't help me sleep any better. I finally went back to sleep after it settled down. When I woke up that next morning, I found that the power was out and a tree fell on a house I grew up in. To top it off, prom was that weekend and I had no power to get ready. The school was having prom no matter what. So Camden didn't have power for a while and it almost ruined prom for us.

            So everybody has a tragedy that happens in their life. Some are worse than others and some you may not even remember. Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, and the big storm in Camden are just a few that happened in my generation,

Defining Moment--A. Dunn

         A defining moment is an event that impacts someone’s life. September 11, 2001 is a defining moment for the whole United States, where a birth of a child could be a defining moment for a family. Defining moments could be big or small, it all depends on what matters to a certain person. As for me I have lots of defining moments, but I have a top three. The top three defining moments of my lifetime are finding love, giving birth to my daughter, and graduating high school.
          Finding love is a big defining moment for me. Most people might not thing it would be a defining moment, but for me it is. Finding love has had an impact on my life because it has showed me the best things in life. I could not see myself being alone now that I have someone that truly loves me the way I am.
          Giving birth to my daughter is another defining in my life. Birth is a very common defining moment for some people, but why would not it be? Giving birth to my daughter impacted my life in tremendous ways. I have matured so much since having her. You kind of have to when you a responsible for another human being.
          As I was growing up, I was so ready to graduate. I faced a lot of obstacles along the way, but I did it. Graduating is definitely a defining moment in my life. When I got pregnant during my eleventh grade year people doubted me. I love proving people wrong and showing them I can overcome anything I want.

          Defining moments depends on the person. My defining moments are just the small things that happen in life. The small things can always have a big impact on a person. Another person’s defining moments might be on the national news or in a newspaper, but not mine. I’ll be just fine with the little things in my lifetime. 

Chancellor Paper--N. Boer

There are not very many issues that I have with SAU Tech. I have no issues with the teachers or other staff and I do not have any serious issues with the campus itself. So there is not a drawn out list of things that I would change. There are a few things though. If I were chancellor I would add foreign language classes, have someone fix the Wi-Fi, and improve the selection in the library.
One of the reasons students attend a two year colleges is to complete the basic requirements need for a bachelor degree. SAU Tech offers most of the classes that are important to the first two years of the degree plan. It used to be that foreign language was just a recommendation depending on the degree that one was seeking. Now many degrees call for at least a first year language.  For some degrees the student may need to take several classes in a foreign language. For example, most history majors, depending on the school, need anywhere from six hours (SAU Magnolia) to fourteen hours (Texas A & M). So, those who are starting out at SAU Tech will be behind when it comes to the foreign language requirements for their degree. Six hours is a year behind, and fourteen hours is about two years behind. And if the history student wants to go on to get a master’s degree, they should be proficient in at least one language; proficient knowledge of two languages is needed, if they should choose to go on, further to a PhD.  Not being able to start taking language class now can really put one behind in their studies. If I were Chancellor I would make sure that there were foreign language classes available for the students to take. If it was an issue of cost I would figure out a way to make it possible.
            If I were chancellor I would have someone look into the issues with the Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi in most buildings works well but in some buildings, like the Tech building, the connection is not the greatest and does not always work. This can be inconvenient and causes people to complain. So, if I was Chancellor I would have someone come up with different solutions. Then I would go through the different solutions and decide which would be the best option. Then I would have someone fix the problems.
            Lastly, if I were Chancellor I would look at improving the selection in the library. Now I realize the SAU Tech is a small college and therefore does not need a huge library. The library has excellent online sources and a number and variety of nonfiction. But the fiction in my opinion is lacking some. There is not much to choose from. And while I personally find it cool that some of the books are from the ‘50s many of those books look unappealing. So, if I were Chancellor I would find some funds to buy a few more books both fiction and nonfiction. That way, there are more available options for students to choose from.

If I were chancellor, the most important thing that I would change is the availability of foreign language classes. The other things that I would look in to improving are the Wi-Fi and a few improvements to the selection of books in the library. Other than those issues as of now there is not really anything else that I would change if I was Chancellor.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chancellor paper--B. Scharbor

         In my opinion, a chancellor is pretty much the principal of a college. There aren't disciplinary aspects in college such as detention and in school suspension like there is in grade school, but like a principal, they take care of other problems in the school. From my experience being the school ambassador, I've been able to sit down with our chancellor and explain the problems that are going on in our school. If I had the chance to be chancellor, there are some things I would change such as WiFi here on campus, better prices in the cafeteria, and having more activities to keep our students more active, healthy and in shape.
            I’m in my second half of my first semester here at SAU Tech and the WiFi reception is terrible. From what I've heard, because I don’t live on campus, it’s been a problem for a while. Being chancellor I would have to invest in a totally new WiFi service and make it where it can reach all over campus. In some parts of campus the service isn't good. Also on the weekends when there isn't access to computers, the on campus dorms have no service.  How are students supposed to get homework done? So as chancellor, that would be on my list of top things to fix.
            Another issue I've noticed are the prices for the food in the cafeteria.  I know for myself I can’t afford to buy that expensive of a lunch every day. Even the meal plans aren't very accommodating.  It’s hard for a full time college student to maintain a job during the school year. The little money they do some how come up with can’t go strictly to cafeteria food because of the high prices. The cafeteria is only open for lunch, and they feed not only students but also a lot of the workers in East Camden such as workers from Lockheed Martin and Highland. As chancellor, my idea would be to give a 10-20 percent discount for students only. With as many teachers and workers that come to SAU Tech’s café, there should not be any money lost.
            Along with WiFi and better prices for our cafeteria, staying healthy is a huge problem in our nation and definitely on college campuses.  Obesity and unhealthy habits are starting at a much younger age now. Being a two year college, we don’t have real team sports such as softball, basketball, football and volleyball. Athletic programs at larger schools are a big way for athletes to stay active and healthy. We have flag football and play night Frisbee maybe once or twice a semester but that isn't enough. We also have the activity center with a weight room and basketball court, but I know how hard it is to make myself get up and work out. However, as a chancellor, I would provide a more variety of things that may appeal to the students and make them want to get active. For example, Zumba is a very fun way to stay in shape along with yoga. Those may appeal more to the girls, but if we could have boxing classes or a par core team. One that would be great for boys and girls is a self defense class. Not only does it keep you active and in shape, but in today's world and how high the violence rates are, it could make a lot of more people feel comfortable.

            Being chancellor can’t be an easy job by any means. I’m aware that there are a lot of problems and some fall short as being a priority, but when college is about the students, these are some things I would have on my top list of things to do as a chancellor. With how much school costs, school has to appeal to the students so we can have more people going to college and getting jobs. WiFi, better café prices for students, and more things to stay healthy are some ways to make our school more appealing.