Month: November 2017

‘Between Earth and Sky’ film depicts environmental damage to Last Frontier

[Editor’s note: This story is the fifth part of the multi-part series “Climate Crisis,” examining the causes and effects of climate change, that begins with Issue #1 and concludes in Issue #6. Several staff members took it upon themselves to interview and conduct research. The results of their combined efforts follow.]

Although Alaska is nicknamed the Last Frontier, the state has drastically become the first frontier in climate change.

Jonathan Seaborn, production director at KTTZ-TV at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, recently had the opportunity, along with his boss, Paul Hunton, general manager for KTTZ-TV, to go on an Alaska expedition to witness the climate changes in the area. Although they planned to film the expedition, he didn’t know it was going to turn into a film.

“We were approached by Dr. David Weindor,” says Seaborn, “who is a scientist here at Texas Tech, about an expedition they go on every summer. He was curious if we wanted to film that trip, and we did. But we were looking at, ‘Well, will people be interested in watching about this trip?’ As David was explaining to Paul and myself more and more about what they’re seeing, the changing landscape, what’s happening to the permafrost, it was like, ‘Oh that’s a story. It’s a climate change story.’”

The “Between Earth and Sky” film crew went to Alaska twice. The first time was for 25 days. They flew in to Anchorage and traveled up to the Artic Sea, went to Dead Horse and back down.

“Part of it was talking to locals, indigenous people and stuff like that, and scientists,” Seaborn told the Plainsman Press in a recent interview. “What they’ve seen over the years, what they’ve learned. We went back the second time and spent a little over a week, and spent time with native villages. All this information went over the course for about a year and half. We started in 2015.”


IMG_1982 (1)
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Seaborn


According to Seaborn, Alaska’s vegetation is changing at a drastic rate. The natives are especially being the most affected by the climate.

“The villages are mostly along the coastline,” explains Seaborn, “and the ability to fish and hunt their animals. Changes are happening, and they’re noticing that quite a big. The native villages are really the ones at risk to coastal erosion. The sea ice during the winter months build up, and during the storms it keeps it like a wall or a barrier to protect the villages. But they’re coming later and later, and the sea ice isn’t there, and the waves are ripping away the coast.”

The native villages are moving more inward to land, because the villages keep falling into the coast. The reason why the villages are collapsing is because the permafrost is melting under the villages. According to Seaborn, the natives are heading toward being potential climate refugees.

“If their homes go away, they’re going to be forced to relocate,” says Seaborn, a graduate of South Plains College. “They will be forced to located to other cities in Alaska, and their lifestyles will have to change. It’s happening too in small islands that flood and get washed away in the sea. We talk about what the world is going to look like in 50 to 100 years, but it’s happening now.”

Seaborn and the crew went to environmental film festivals to showcase their climate change film. They shared it at Washington, D.C., where there is the largest environmental film festival in the country. They also did universities tours such as going to Harvard to talk about the film with many students.

“We did Q&A during the festivals,” explains Seaborn, “and most of the time people asked what they can do to stop climate change. At the beginning, I wouldn’t have been qualified to answer these questions. But we worked with some people who are well respected, like Dr. Katherine Hayhoe, who is a climate scientist. Me and her do a web series called “Global Weirding,” which is uploaded every other Wednesday. Before we started, I thought I did care about climate change but I wasn’t doing anything about it.”

Seaborn, a photojournalism major during his time at SPC, says anyone can help reduce the changing of the climate by making small personal changes, such as carpooling, cutting back the amount of meat you eat, or even talking to government representatives about the climate.

“My wife and I recycle now,” says Seaborn. “and the great thing in Lubbock is at Texas Tech they offer a recycling center. The money goes back into scholarships for kids. There are little things you can do. Turn the lights off while you’re not using them, or turn the water off when brushing your teeth. If we start making the move to change the environment now, it will also change the economy. If we don’t start looking at alternative energy, our economy is going to get left behind. I thought thinking that I cared was enough. You have to lead by example and hope people will follow.”

“Between Earth and Sky” will be available on Amazon and iTunes in the next couple of weeks.

Recent graduate returns to college as campus officer

Ivan Baeza is experiencing college from a different viewpoint.

Baeza, a 22-year-old Levelland native, recently graduated from SPC’s summer Police Academy in July and returned to campus last month as the newest member of the South Plains College Campus Police Department.

“Campus has a different environment now than when I went to school,” Baeza said. “The students, faculty, just being on campus is different. Different, but good.”

According to Baeza, ever since she was a little girl, helping people and becoming an inspiration is all she has ever wanted to do. While in high school, Baeza said she hoped to enlist in the United States Marine Corps but decided to attend the police academy instead.

“I’ve always wanted to be a police officer,” recalls Baeza. “Just knowing people can look up to you and ask for help is pretty cool.”

Baeza said that she believes that her being so young and fresh out of school helps her create a greater bond with students on campus, especially the women.


Ivan Baeza, a new campus police officer, hopes to become an inspiration for women. BRANDI ORTIZ/PLAINSMAN PRESS


“I’ve only been here for three weeks, and I’ve already had several girls come see me,” said Baeza. “Sometimes there are times where they don’t want to ask the male officers, so they ask me.”

Even though she has only been a campus police officer for a few weeks, Baeza said the job so far is not giving her the action she was expecting but is just enough to practice her communication skills she learned while in the academy.

“I was expecting shooting, pulling people over, arresting people, but it’s been good,” said Baeza. “[Working as a campus police officer] gives you good training on how to talk to the students and faculty during a situation.”

With Baeza being smaller in stature and the only female police officer, her family often worries that her new job could put her safety at risk.

“My mom and boyfriend’s main concern is that I come home,” said Baeza. “I have a 2-year-old little girl, and she needs me home.”

Baeza said that even though they do not fully enjoy her long hours, the support from her family has helped her through the new experience. She said she believes it will benefit her in the future.

“I want to stay at SPC for about two or three more years,” said Baeza. “Then I want to pursue my career with the Levelland Police Department. I would like to get a K-9.”

As the only female campus police officer, Baeza said she hopes that she can inspire other women to accomplish their goals, even if they believe they cannot.

“I want to show them girls can do it too,” said Baeza. “Tiny, little girls can do it too.” It doesn’t matter if you are big, tiny, little, tall, we can all do it if you set your mind to it.”

Eighteen students competing in Miss Caprock Pageant

Most people think of the glitz and glam when thinking of pageants.

But the Miss Caprock Scholarship Pageant is more than that, focusing on academics and presentation.

The 60th Miss Caprock Pageant will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 17 in the Tom T. Hall Production Studio on the Levelland campus at SPC. There is no cost for admission.

Serving as mistress of ceremonies will be Sharon Race, assistant professor of English. Musical entertainment will be provided by students from the Creative Arts Department.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the backstage of everything,” said Miranda English, who is in her first year as director of student life. “I’ve worked for two years as the auditor for the judges and tallying up the scores. So I’m familiar with the face of the pageant, but I’m excited to see what happens back stage, all the hustle and bustle.”

Eighteen contestants will compete for the title, along with a $750 scholarship for the winner and a $500 scholarship for the runner-up.

The contestants were selected as representatives for their student club or organization.

Those competing include:

Allyssa Almager, 18, a freshman Pre-Veterinary Medicine major from Levelland, is representing the Catholic Student Ministry. She is the daughter of Cynthia Camacho and Jose Almager, both of Levelland.

Madison Birchfield, 20, a sophomore Radiology major from Lubbock, is representing South Sue Residence Hall. She is the daughter of Kendra Birchfield of Lubbock.

Maria Isabel Botello, 19, a sophomore Computer Information Systems major from Ralls, is representing SPeCtra . She is the daughter of Claudia Botello and Juan Botello, both of Ralls. She is a member of SPeCtra, the STAR Center and Catholic Student Ministry.

Esmeralda Cabrera, 19, a sophomore Education major from Muleshoe, is representing Phi Theta Kappa. She is the daughter of Josefina Cabrera and Jose Luis of  Muleshoe. She is a member of the Residence Hall Association, where she is a resident assistant, and also is a Campus Ambassador and a member of the Art Club.

Lizeth Elvira Doblado, 19, a freshman Forensic Science major from Pharr, is representing North Sue Hall. She is the daughter of Lidia Hernandez of Pharr. She is a member of the Residence Hall Association and Criminal Justice Club.

Erin Farrell, 18, a freshman Video Production Technology major from Homer, Alaska, is representing Tubb Hall. She is the daughter of Vicki Farrell and Bob Farrell of Fritz Creek, Alaska.

Nicole Glenn, 21, a sophomore General Studies major from Ropesville, is representing Baptist Student Ministry. She is the daughter of Gail Glenn and Calvin Glenn of Ropesville.

Tina Gonzalez, 18, a freshman Public Relations major from Lubbock, is representing the Plainsman Press and Press club. She is the daughter of Silvia Gonzalez and Ralph Gonzalez of Lubbock.

Miah Hernandez, 19, a sophomore Pre-Nursing major from Lamesa, is representing the Biology Club. She is the daughter of Stella Hernandez and Michael Hernandez of Lamesa. She also is a member of Phi Theta Kappa, SPC Cheerleaders and a Campus Ambassador.

Destiny Lyon, 18, a freshman Education major from Lenorah, is representing the SPC Cheerleaders. She is the daughter of Suzanna Hewtty and Christopher Hewtty of Lenorah.

Ambroshia Pollard, 27, a freshman Cosmetology Major from Lubbock, is representing the Cosmetology Club. She is the daughter of Etta Pollard and Charles Pollard of Lubbock.

Jaynearose Quisenberry, 18, a freshman Pre-Veterinary Medicine major from Seminole, is representing the STAR Center. She is the daughter Rosetta Quisenberry and Randy Quisenberry of Seminole.

Rita N. Reyes, 20, a sophomore Government major from Lubbock, is representing the Student Government Association. She is the daughter of Rita Reyes and Abel Reyes of Lubbock. She also is a member of SGA, the SPC Cheerleaders, Campus Ambassador and Phi Theta Kappa.

Imelda Salcido, 19, a freshman General Studies and Surgical Technology major from Muleshoe, is representing the Residence Hall Association. She is the daughter of Maria Salcido and Jesus Salcido of Muleshoe.

Jessica Sanders, 23, a sophomore Biology major from Lubbock, is representing Campus Ambassadors. She is the daughter of Jenny Sanders and Michael Sanders of Lubbock. She is the president of the Biology Club.

Kaitlyn Walden, 19, a sophomore Accounting major from Post, is representing the Geology Club. She is the daughter of Angie Walden of Post. She is a Campus Ambassador and serves as vice president of the Geology Club. She is a member of the Residence Hall Association and the SPC Band.

Journalism students earn 16 awards in TCCJA competition

Current and former members of the Plainsman Press staff recently received 16 awards from the Texas Community College Journalism Association.

The awards, for material published during the fall 2016 and spring 2017 semesters, were announced during the annual TCCJA fall conference held at the University of Texas at Arlington in October. The 16 awards are the most won by South Plains College students in the TCCJA competition in the past 15 years.

Tovi Oyervidez, a sophomore photojournalism major from Lubbock who serves as the photo editor for the Plainsman Press, placed first in the category of News Photo for a photo she took at a Black Lives Matter event in Lubbock.

Steven Gehegan, a former sports editor and print journalism major from Wolfforth, placed first in the category of Sports News Story for his story on the SPC Livestock Judging Team winning a national championship. Now a junior at Texas Tech University, Gehegan also received an Honorable Mention Award in the same category for his story on the SPC men’s basketball team placing third at the NJCAA National Tournament.

Sara Marshall, former editor-in-chief and a print journalism major from Andrews, placed first in the category of General Column for an opinion story she wrote on concerns rising from the election of President Donald Trump.

Marshall, now a junior at Texas Tech University, also placed second in the category of Feature Writing for a story she wrote about a former SWAT team member who wrote a book about his career. Marshall also placed third in the same category for a feature story she wrote about local wineries, including Trilogy of Levelland.

In addition, Marshall placed third in the category of In-Depth Series/Investigative Reporting for a series on the United States Border Patrol and training center under the direction of Chief Dan Harris Jr., a former student, faculty member and Distinguished Alum of SPC. She also earned an Honorable Mention award in the News Writing category for a story about a student who hung a banner from a building in downtown Lubbock.

Matt Molinar, who currently serves as editor-in-chief of the Plainsman Press, earned an Honorable Mention award in the category of In-Depth Series/Investigative Reporting for a series on prostitution called “Risque Business.”  A sophomore public relations major from Levelland, Molinar also earned an Honorable Mention award for News Writing for his story on a Black Lives Matter march in Lubbock.

Hannah Nelson, a public relations major from Seagraves, placed second in the Editorial category for her opinion story on “13 Reasons Why.” Now a junior at West Texas A&M University, Nelson also placed third in the Feature Photo category for a photo she took at the “I Prevail” concert in Lubbock.

Shelby Morgan, a print journalism major from Andrews, placed second in the category of General Column for a story she wrote about baseball and what it has meant to her life.

Alex Perez, a sophomore public relations major from Lubbock, earned an Honorable Mention award in the category of Sports Feature for a story she wrote on Bruce Wang, and SPC student who competes in martial arts.

The Plainsman Press staff also placed second in the category of Website and third in the category of Headline Writing.

Members of the Plainsman Press staff have won 108 awards in the TCCJA competition since 2005.

Livestock Judging Team earns Reserve Champion at American Royal Show

The South Plains College Livestock Judging Team continued a pattern of placing in the top three at their most recent competition.

The team competed on Oct. 26 and Oct. 27 in Kansas City at the American Royal Livestock Show. They placed second overall and earned Reserve Champion out of 32 teams, scoring 4,555 out of a possible 5,000 points.

Four SPC students placed in the top 25 out of 150 competitors.

As a team, they placed second in Oral Reasons, second in sheep and goat judging, and fifth in swine judging.


Photo courtesy of the Livestock Judging Team


Individually, Drew Lamle finished as the third high individual overall, while also placing third in Oral Reasons, and sixth in sheep and goat judging. Madison Shults placed ninth overall in Oral Reasons and 13th in sheep and goat judging. Tanner Keeton placed 17th in Oral Reasons and second in sheep and goat judging. Conner Cross placed 18th in Oral Reasons.

Conner Newsom, coach of the SPC Livestock Judging Team, said his team spends “30 to 40 hours the week before competition” practicing and preparing for the event.

The Livestock Judging Team has placed in the top three in each of their competitions this year. Newsom said the reason for the success is, “hard work, dedication, and commitment. Those three things encompass, and a little bit of luck, as much as anything help us fall right.”

The SPC Livestock Judging Team will be competing next at the North American International Livestock Exposition on Nov. 14 in Louisville, Kentucky.

Students learn active shooter survival techniques

Many people don’t know what they would do if someone entered their classroom and began shooting a gun.

On Nov. 7 in the Sundown Room at the Student Center on the Levelland campus, Nickolis Castillo, chief of the Campus Police Department, held ALICE training for students. ALICE training prepares students and faculty on different ways to respond in case of an active shooter.

“We have quite a large student population, so we want to get as many people trained as possible,” said Chief Castillo. “So just having the staff (trained) doesn’t really accomplish that. The students are really what this place is about, so we really want to make the students know how to take their survival into their own hands.”

Chief Castillo taught students and some staff members the steps in ALICE, which are Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. Each step is used in whatever order works in a given situation. Students were taught how doing something is better than nothing in an active shooter situation and what a difference it can make.

“Just hearing a lot of the scenarios where because someone acted, or because multiple people acted, they did end up stopping the person,” said Jeremiah Patterson, an SPC student, who participated in the training. “To know that if the people around me can take action, then other people can make it out is a comforting thought.”


Students learned techniques such as how to barricade a doorway and evacuation safety during the ALICE training on Nov. 7 at the Sundown Room in the Student Center on the Levelland campus. AUTUMN BIPPERT/PLAINSMAN PRESS


Students were also informed about how fast situations can occur and why police can’t always get to the shooter in time.

“I learned how quickly things could happen,” said Mark Tiptoe, an SPC student, who also attended the training session. “I also learned that there are other options besides locking down, because I was one of the ones that was taught we’re supposed to hide in the corner and lock the door.”

To show students what it is like to be in an active shooter situation, Chief Castillo put students in different scenarios. Castillo was the active shooter and the students had to either go into lock-down or run. This helped show the best option for dealing with whatever situation you are in. He also taught students how to take down a shooter with a mass-to-limb maneuver, which is when a person uses all of their weight to hold down one of the shooter’s limbs’. This can be done for each limb on the shooter’s body.

Chief Castillo said that he hopes to see ALICE training become mandatory. Some states currently mandate ALICE, while certain states also have specific jobs mandated to go through ALICE certification.

“I would love to see Texas do that,” said Chief Castillo, “because this is training that everybody needs. It doesn’t take long and really ranges from the full course.  This didn’t cost anything for me to do. I wanted to endow people with knowledge for free, because why not?”

Student Alexis De La Garza thought the training was really handy and useful to go through.

“It’s a basic helpful thing that if you didn’t know anything about it, then you definitely will now,” said De La Garza. “It was good to get a refresher, because it’s been a long time. An active shooter is not something I think about, but the possibility does lurk in my mind every now and then, and if it comes into mind, I just look around and see what can be used.”

Active shooters are a major concern for Chief Castillo and many students on campus.

“We live in a relatively safe community,” Chief Castillo said. “We have great students and community members. But just like you saw with the church shooting, it can happen here. Sometimes there’s a political motive, religious motive, mental health issue, or sometimes it’s just evil. There’s no pattern really, and we can’t predict where or how. So it’s good to prepare. That’s all we can do is prepare.”

Arrive Alive teaches students that distractions can kill

A South Plains College student entered an SUV parked on campus and proceeded to intoxicate himself before driving away, running a red light, and slamming the vehicle into a tree.

Then he exited the vehicle so another student could try.

This drunk and distracted driving simulator came to SPC on Nov. 6 for an event called the Arrive Alive Tour, organized by health and wellness group UNITE.

The organization has been around for nearly 12 years, making stops at places such as college campuses, high schools, and even corporate events such as factory safety demonstrations. Their mission has always been to develop educational programs to demonstrate the hazards associated with all forms of distraction behind the wheel, including drunk driving, distracted driving and texting while driving.

In a report released by the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Safety Administration in 2014, it is mentioned that 28 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver each day, averaging around one death every 51 minutes. It also was reported that the annual cost of accidents involving alcohol totals more than $44 billion.

It is safe to say that education on this subject is vastly important to public safety, and, for students, that’s where the Arrive Alive Tour comes in.


South Plains College students experienced simulations of hazardous driving during the Arrive Alive Tour on the Levelland campus on Nov. 6. AUTUMN BIPPERT/PLAINSMAN PRESS


The simulator uses an actual SUV, complete with some electronic modifications to make the recreation possible in the computer software.

A Bluetooth sensor under the steering wheel tracks tire movement, with the front wheels propped up on rotating discs to allow them to move freely. Another Bluetooth sensor under the pedals responds to the gas and brake, and all the signals are transmitted to the computer running the simulation program.

A virtual reality headset is then fitted onto the driver’s head, and he or she can look around and interact with both the car and their environment as if they’re behind the wheel in various scenarios controlled by the operator.

There are two modes inside the simulator: one for drinking and driving, and one for texting and driving.

In each module, a driver is given a simple driving task such as following a mountain road, or navigating empty city street grids.

For the drinking demonstration, several drinks worth of impairment are added into the simulator. Suddenly the driver experiences a number of difficulties, such as delayed steering input and head movement tracking lag.

For the texting and driving simulation, the driver is given the same driving task, but is then instructed to pull out their phone and type various messages while still maintaining control of the vehicle and obeying the speed limit.

Both modes, with each of their unique impairments, can quickly cause a dangerous situation on the road, resulting in swerving into other lanes, and even leading to a collision with other vehicles or obstacles.

According to UNITE, the program is a great way for students to learn about the dangers of impaired driving in a safe environment that can “impact your entire campus with positive messages that will last a lifetime.”

“It was pretty scary, honestly,” said Evelyn Daniels, a student who attempted the drinking and driving simulation. “I think if more people could do this before they go out and have a problem, it would make a big difference, and there would be less DUIs and people dying.”

Jeff Peterson, another student who tried the texting and driving mode, thinks it could be a great way to bring these issues to light for those getting ready to drive for the first time.

“Fundamentally, it’s good education,” said Peterson. “Maybe it needs to go to more of these younger students and not just colleges.”

Passion for biology leads Mendóza to cancer research

One student at South Plains College is trying to change the world one cell at a time.

Roberto Mendóza, a sophomore from Fort Worth, says his initial major was pre-law when he enrolled at SPC, but found his calling when he took his first biology class.

“Something about [the class] made me want to switch entirely,” says Mendóza. “That’s been my driving passion.”

Mendóza, who graduated from Denver City High School, switched his major to cell molecular biology for pre-medicine, which is the study of molecules and how the cell works. He is currently part of the Plains Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program through Texas Tech and applies his knowledge of cell molecules through his current research.

“Right now, through the Bridges program, I’m doing cancer research, and it implements a lot of the cell molecular side,” explains Mendóza. “Some of the research I’ve been doing is on breast cancer and seeing some motility and shifts inside skeletal proteins to see how that cell metastasizes through the whole body, and see if we can mathematically predict that.”

Mendóza has been part of the program for five months. He says he heard about the program through one of his professors, Dr. Laci Alexander.

“I took her chemistry class,” says Mendóza, “and we typed out one of these papers talking about ourselves, and I said I wanted to do medicine and she wrote, ‘You should really consider being part of the Bridges program.’”

Mendóza became interested in the program, so he looked further into it, applied, and was accepted. The Bridges program accepts 10 to 15 students, on average, who do research during the summer.

“Essentially, they set interviews with professors or physicians over at the Health Science Center or the Texas Tech campus,” explains Mendóza, “and you get interviewed to see what you’re interested in, what kind of research you’ll be interested in that might relate to your field. Depending on the professor, you might be more on the writing side, or you might be contributing to the project.”


Roberto Mendóza utilizes knowledge in biology through the Bridges Program at Texas Tech University. TOVI OYERVIDEZ/PLAINSMAN PRESS


Mendóza interviewed with multiple professors and initially wanted to do something with neuroscience, which was leading him to join a professor’s lab that was working on Alzheimer’s Disease.

“When I was interviewed by Dr. Lauren Gollahon with cancer research, something sparked,” says Mendóza. “I liked it when she was explaining it to me. It was a lot of work, because you’re working with grad students and doctors. I personally had to bust my butt and read a lot. I had stacks of scientific papers and try to catch up and try to get a lot of knowledge they already had before I could really contribute anything to the overall project and conduct my own research.”

According to Mendóza, his part of the overall research was mathematically predicting the spread of cancer when the skeletal proteins in the cancer cell change.

“[The research] is part of a bigger project that they’re working on with a compound called NI-07,” says Mendóza, “which comes from a natural herb, and it’s known to be causing apoptosis, which means just killing the cells. If we can somehow predict when that cell is going to metastasize, and then just put the medicine on there and stop it from doing that.”

Mendóza says research was conducted during the summer, and the project was presented at two conferences, the SACNAS conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, and at the ABRCMS conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

“You just present your research, get judged, and you get to win awards,” explains Mendóza. “But the main purpose of it is networking. Because there are so many professionals over there, senior scientists, doctors, all kinds of people over there and you want to socialize and network to see what Ph.D or MD programs that are available, whatever it might be. Just to learn more of other people’s research to see if you can implement some of that into your own. There was a ton of cancer research, and there were some methods I could implement into my own.”

Mendóza plans to transfer to Texas Tech after earning his Associate’s Degree at SPC after this semester. His involvement with the Bridges program has challenged him with managing his time and making sure to not procrastinate.

“For anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in STEM,” says Mendóza, “one of the biggest challenges is sticking to it, because…it’s hard. It’s hard discipline in any field, such as engineering, to science, to mathematics, whatever it is. You have to stick it through and find ways to make yourself unique in order to be competitive in that field, and the Bridges program is one of those ways.”

Nursing instructor recalls past struggles, immigrating to America

Working toward a career in nursing is an endeavor that requires a lot of hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to attempt any daunting task.

These fundamentals are apparent in the journey of Mia Acebedo, instructor in vocational nursing at the Allied Health Building on the Levelland campus of South Plains College. Acebedo has encountered many of the difficulties that a typical nursing student faces while also having experienced the hardships of moving to a new country and adapting to the countless changes.

Acebedo was born in the city of Salug in the province of Zamboanga, which is located in the Philippines on the island of Mindanao. When she was 1 year old, Acebedo moved with her family to Manila, the capital of the Philippines, before moving to the province of Tacloban in the city of Leyte, where she spent most of her childhood as an only child.

Acebedo described how her childhood consisted of playing with other kids during the weekends while working hard during the rest of the week to get a good education.

“I went to a Catholic school for most of my elementary and high school education,” said Acebedo. “Then, in college, I studied nursing.”

Becoming a nurse was something that Acebedo always dreamed of doing. Since her mother was a physician and a single parent, Acebedo spent a majority of her time at the hospital where her mother worked.

She described how she would go to the hospital after school and do a variety of things while her mother was on duty, such as doing her school work and sleeping. Constantly being at the hospital was the prime reason that Acebedo mentioned that caused her to want to pursue nursing.

“I kind of grew up in the hospital,” recalls Acebedo. “It was my world, so I didn’t see myself doing anything else that wasn’t hospital related.”

Acebedo graduated from high school in 1987 and later attended the College of Nursing at Remedios Trinidad Romualdez Medical Foundation in Tacloban City in the same year. In 1991, she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in nursing, which was a feat that included many hardships.


Mia Acebedo immigrate to the United States from the Phillipines to pursue her career in nursing. ANNIE GOLDEN/PLAINSMAN PRESS


Acebedo says her journey in becoming a nurse was very difficult. Her classes were demanding, and her opportunities to utilize high-quality nursing equipment and training were limited in the Philippines.

College is something that Acebedo says is very important for people in the Philippines. Most students, especially medical students, spend a majority of their time at school, where they would start early in the morning and end late in the afternoon.

“We strictly go to school,” said Acebedo. “We are not expected to work part time. I didn’t have to work, so I was really concentrating on my school work.”

Despite being punctual and studious, Acebedo still struggled with learning to be a nurse in the Philippines. One of the main differences in studying to be a nurse in the Philippines than the United States is the lack of supplies and good quality equipment Acebedo was exposed to in college.

This difference in a learning environment is something Acebedo noticed once she moved to America. Having gained most of her hands-on experience at a government hospital helped her realize the efficiency of better tools and supplies.

“The hospitals here are very equipped and modern,” said Acebedo, referring to her work experience in America. “Back home, it was a different experience; it was a challenge.”

Obtaining the opportunity to utilize everything that American hospitals have to offer was also difficult.

For nurses immigrating to the United States, getting a job can be very difficult, time consuming, and a little heartbreaking. Acebedo described how she had to leave her three kids back home for the first couple of years while she and a group of nurses were recruited by nursing agencies.

Acebedo came to America in 2005 when she was recruited by University Medical Center in Lubbock, which was a long process. Taking nursing exams, English tests, and doing video interviews were just a few of the things Acebedo listed that were necessary to obtain a job in America.

“I interviewed for probably four different hospitals here in the United States,” said Acebedo. “UMC finally hired me.”

Acebedo continued to work for UMC, before getting a job at Covenant Hospital in Lubbock for a few years. About three years ago, she got an opportunity to work at SPC as a part-time clinical instructor for the ADN program. It was not until last summer that Acebedo got a job as a full-time instructor at SPC.

Acebedo’s journey throughout her education in the Philippines and experience in the United States displays the struggles and the amount of work some immigrants must endure to succeed. For Acebedo, moving to America offered her a worthwhile experience that she worked hard to obtain.

“It has changed my life so much,” Acebedo said of her move to America. “I am thankful for the opportunity.”


Dream to work with NASA inspires alum to achieve goal

[Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing project in conjunction with the South Plains College Alumni Association. The project highlights former SPC students and their achievements.]

From directing plays, to designing the space vessels of the future, to designing tools used in deep sea exploration is how one South Plains College alum expressed his creativity.

Raised in Quinland, Easton Day started his career at SPC with a major in theatre, an area that was familiar to him after having been part of the SPC theatre program since he was 12 years old.

“When we were just visiting West Texas, I would be part of the theatre program in the summers with my dad and step-mom,” Day said. “Growing up, I’ve always been kind of right-brained and more creative than anything. And I’ve always loved theatre.”

During his senior year of high school, Easton’s step mother, Janna Holt-Day, began teaching at SPC, moving their family to Levelland, Texas where Day finished high school.

Nearing completion of his associate’s degree at SPC, Day took time away from school to handle financial problems. During his time away from school, while working full time, he began to realize that he had developed different interests.

“I realized that I was not really missing theatre,” he said. “I missed certain aspects of it. Whenever I was out of school, I started developing interests in astrophysics and engineering, which is something that I love. I realized that with those interests , and a nice paycheck, engineering was the way to go.”

Day says that when he was not attending college, he realized that he had a dream to work for NASA. When he returned, he talked to the then head of the Math and Engineering Department for advice and discussed SPC’s connections to NASA.

“There definitely was a way that I could create this route to get there,” Day recalls. “He gave me his opinion and how I could use SPC’s connections. I enrolled in school again and started in engineering and set those goals for myself to complete.”

One of the connections that Day was told about was Community College Aerospace Scholars, or CCAS. He explained that it would be the initial connection he needed to make with NASA.


Screen Shot 2017-11-09 at 7.59.48 PM
Easton Day standing in front of the Orion cockpit. MATT MOLINAR/PLAINSMAN PRESS


“I worked very hard to be invited to that trip,” Day said. “Once I was accepted, my next goal was to win the competition [building a unique robot used for planetary exploration]. We killed it. Not only did we win the competition, but we outscored any other previous teams at any competition that they’ve had.”

Day had completed his goal to get the attention from NASA that he and his teammate needed.

“If I set my mind to it, 99 percent of the time, I’m going to achieve it,” Day said. “The competition was something that I set my mind to. I had no doubt that I would be invited for the internship. Dr. Anderson, the director, loved to say that I always reminded him of a bull dog. If I sank my teeth into something, I’m never letting go.”

Day spent a total of five years at South Plains College, figuring out what exactly he wanted want to do for the rest of his life. He also says that his favorite part about attending SPC was the relationships he was able to develop with professors.

“They are there for you,” Day said. “This isn’t always true outside of SPC. For that reason, it’s easy to have respect. If you’re willing to learn and you’re willing to ask for help, there’s no chance that they are not going to do what they can do to help you succeed.”

Following the semester he graduated from South Plains College, Day began a sixth-month internship with NASA’s Orion Cockpit Working Group at the Johnson Space Center.

During his internship, he contributed to the design of the interface of NASA’s newest developing space capsule, Orion.

“I worked designing some of the components of the cockpit,” Day said. “There are many Orions across the states right now. They are all used for different testing purposes. The one I worked in was for astronaut training.”

The Orion spacecraft is currently being designed as a new means of transportation for astronauts, and is on track to take humans to Mars within the next 20 years.

Day says that the experience he was able to receive at the Space Center was rewarding in many ways.

“The best part about it is going to be when I see Orion fly,” he explained. “I’ll finally get that feeling of ‘I helped get man to space.’ If it lands on Mars, that will be the first time humans have landed on Mars, and I’ve been able to contribute to that.”

Currently, Day works for Oceaneering International Incorporated, designing Remotely Operated Vehicles that are used in deep-sea exploration, surveying for the oil industry, and even for entertainment.

After graduating from Texas Tech University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Day utilized the connections he had made to begin working with Oceaneering as a sub-sea engineer.

“With my personality, there’s really only two types of work I would enjoy doing and can stick with,” Day said. “It’s either space, or sub-sea. I like the two extreme environments.”

Day says his current goal is to learn as much as he can and continue building his resume by exposing himself to more opportunities.

“To succeed in school and to succeed in the workplace, it requires drive,” he said. “Just to get the engineering degree itself is no easy accomplishment. You have to be dedicated, and it has to become your life. If you want it that much and it’s something you’re passionate about, it can be easy.”

Art Club creates relaxed environment for students

Art is a way for many students to express their ideas, release their thoughts, and just be themselves.

An Art Club recently was added to the to their list of organizations and clubs at South Plains College. Just in its first semester, Art Club already has held different events involving painting pumpkins, painting bowls and making their own Christmas ornaments.

Art Club provides a calm and welcoming environment for students, whether they are art majors or non-art majors.

“I wanted a way for students to meet other artists that are on campus,” says Kristy Kristinek, Art Club sponsor and instructor of art in the Fine Arts Department.

At the beginning of every month, the students meet in the Painting Lab in the Fine Arts Building to discuss their next events and talk about what is new in their lives. Art Club provides a safe place for students to just relax and do what they love.

According to Kristinek, the purpose for starting the Art Club was to create a sense of community for art and non-art majors.


A student works on painting her own Christmas ornament during a recent meeting of the new Art Club. TINA GONZALEZ/PLAINSMAN PRESS


For many of the club members, art has been a part of their life for years, some beginning  at the age of 5 and some discovering their passion in high school. For Kristinek, her art career began at the age of 5.

Kristinek didn’t know she wanted to expand her art career into teaching until she was an undergraduate student. Professors she had inspired her to be a teacher.

“Art influenced my life in a positive way,” says Kristinek. “It helped me finally find where I belong.”

Kristinek, said she hopes that the club affects the students in a positive way, just like it has for her. Art Club has done that for many of the members. Just by attending one meeting, the students fell in love with art and what the club offers.

“My instructor at the time began talking to me about it,” said Jessica Marshall, a sophomore art major from Andrews. “Then I went to the first meeting and fell in love. It just makes me happy.”

For Marshall, art has always been a part of her life.

“I plan on owning my own art studio and being an art teacher there,” Marshall says. Art has helped Marshall find her place and what she loves to do.

“Where hasn’t it impacted my life?” says Marshall. “I love how creative and expressive someone can be with just the simplest things.”

According to Marshall, art has shown her a lot about other cultures, as well about her own.

“Art is one of the many devices we can use to understand others,” says Marshall.

The Art Club has recruited non-art majors as well. Just like Marshall, Brandon Lofton, a wildlife biology major, went to one meeting and decided that Art Club was where he wanted to spend his time.  Art Club is a good way to take a break from class and all the real-world stress.

“I like the atmosphere,” says Lofton. “It is very relaxing.”

Lofton says he decided on wildlife biology as a major because of his love of nature, but finding the Art Club allowed him to combine two things he loves, art and nature.

“Nature is its own kind of art,” says Lofton. “I find art beautiful as well, and if you combine both, you get landscape paintings.”

Along with other art enthusiasts, Rebekah Harvey says she finds the Art Club as a way to relieve stress. According to Harvey, it’s very calming for her. Art grew on her. Before art, she expressed herself through dance. Eventually, she needed to find another outlet.

“I’ve always had an eye for things involving art,” says Harvey. “I love looking at aesthetic, pleasing things.”

During the past few months, Art Club has brought students together, given students an escape from life, and an outlet to express themselves. It has impacted each student in different ways. Kristinek says she has high hopes for Art Club, expecting it to grow and get involved in the community.

“Art Club is a way for students to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves,” says Kristinek.

‘The Haunting of Hill House’ leaves audience spooked

The scariest moment of “The Haunting of Hill House” was a perfect metaphor for the performance of the play itself.

Two women who are guests in the house sat huddled on top of a bed together, holding each other for comfort. As an intangible knocking sound emanated from the depths of the house, a spectral form slowly began emerging from the wall of the room the women are in. It stretched the wall itself, as if it were made of a pliable rubber or elastic, and seemingly threatened to burst right through at any moment.

The women, to my confusion, seemed mildly affected. Their lines suggested they were frightened, but nothing about their tone of voice or demeanor even remotely suggested the absolute mortal terror that should have been a result of the events unfolding around them. I later found out what I saw may not have been all that it appeared.IMG_9100.JPG

The performance, a play performed as part of the South Plains College theatre program, was staged from Oct. 26 to Oct. 29 in the Helen DeVitt Jones Theatre. The story, based upon a 1959 novel by Shirley Jackson, revolves around four guests—at varying levels of understanding and willingness to be in attendance—who find themselves gathered at a famous supernaturally affected home: Hill House.

The main cast includes several “detectives” searching for answers about the house. Dr. Montague, played by Spencer Pellowski, is a specialist in ghostly dealings who is looking for hard evidence that the house is haunted. Theodora, played by Chantel Davis, is a noblewoman (possibly a princess) who acts as Montague’s largely apathetic and flippant associate. Eleanor, played by Lorena Lopez, is a lonely and delicate young woman who has some sort of clandestine or psychic background. And Luke, played by Joshua Rodriguez, is the heir to Hill House, and the primary source of comic relief in the show in combination with Dalynn Beck’s portrayal of Mrs. Dudley, the repetitive and obstinate caretaker of the home who stays away when she can manage.

A few technical issues caused me some confusion in the performance I attended.

The blocking of the actors onstage was puzzling at times. Actors were frequently either sitting around idly talking for several minutes at a time without moving, or standing completely in front of one another, sometimes even facing the back wall of the stage to deliver what could have been important dialogue.

It wasn’t without some standout moments, however. Beyond the fantastic effect of the ghost reaching through the wall, one moment that gave me chills involved a door that had remained locked for the entire show eerily unlocking and opening itself, and drawing a main character into the unknown, unseen depths that lied within.

IMG_9139I was led to wonder whether my confusion was due to was unclear writing, unsure acting, or moments being skipped or performed out of order.

I felt compelled to research the source material the play was based on, and it turns out the original novel is widely held up as one of the best literary ghost stories in the entire 20th century. During the show, I couldn’t understand why people weren’t reacting appropriately. But, in doing my research, I read that some of it was supposed to be all in a single character’s head.

This revelation clarified much of the confusion I had about the story. And I think with another weekend or two, most of the blocking and dialogue issues would have likely improved as well.

I’m sorry to say this is the first play I’ve ever seen at South Plains, because I’m a big fan of theatre, and the arts in general. For a short run show, put together on limited time and last minute changes, it was a good effort. Even with the hiccups, I’m greatly looking forward to seeing more plays at SPC in the future.

‘Jigsaw’ disappoints with lack of creativity

After seven sequels of the movie “Saw”, the movie “Jigsaw” promised to deliver an

expectable twist to it.Jigsaw-saw

“Jigsaw” starts with a man named Edgar (played by Josiah Black) running away from the cops claiming that if he pressed the trigger he had in his hand new games would start.

As he gets shot, he presses the trigger and the screen changes. As with the other “Saw” movies, there are five victims for the games. These five strangers are chained with a metal bucket attached from the wall, with spinning blades attached to their head at an unknown location. John Kramer (played by Tobin Bell) starts talking on the intercom, even though he was supposedly dead. He announces the next set of games that are going to be played.

      The victims were chosen because everybody had a bad dark secret, so they must work together so they could survive. Every time someone dies, the body is exposed for the cops to find. There are two detectives named Halloran (played by Callum Keith Rennie) and Hunt (played by Cle Bennett), who oversee all Kramer’s victims. Also working on the case are two pathologists, Nelson (played by Matt Passmore) and his assistant, Eleanor (played by Hannah Emily Anderson), a big fan of Kramer. They are researching to really see if all the crimes belong to Kramer.
       The ideas in this movie and its overall plot are somewhat underdeveloped, since this is supposed to be a new “beginning” for these movies. The movie is cut from scene to scene very fast.

Different games and different stages are being played, such as a man’s head being sliced from the top by a wagon of laser cutters. Jigsaw asks two victims to confess the biggest crime they have ever done. The cop pressed the other’s victims button for him to start responding to Jigsaw’s question. He gets killed, then it’s the cop’s turn to respond to the same question. He’s about to get his head cut open up with laser when he realizes the pathologist is getting up, and the detective realizes he was being recorded.

jigsawwwThis is the eighth movie in the “Saw” franchise, so I strongly believe that the movie makers were just forced to make up something since this is the movie they claimed was going to be the “new beginning” with a new twist no one would see coming.

It was approximately 85 minutes and was supposed to make an impact, but it did nothing. This movie is known for all the diverse traps and gadgets that John Kramer had used in the previous movies. But I was not surprised at all by the basic equipment and punishments, with nothing new to me. It does not make me want to waste my money for the next sequel.

I strongly believe that the movie-makers could have done a better job, and not hurry the release date for Halloween so that the movie was worth watching. This movie fail to get the audience to feel involved with the movie and make them feel like the characters did.

I still have hope that the next sequel is better than the last movie. Let the games begin..

I rate this movie a 4 /10


Newest Mario game sends players on nostalgic Odyssey

Join Mario and his unlikely friend Cappy are on a nostalgia-filled Odyssey to rescue Princess Peach from her forced marriage to the King Koopa.

Exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, the 3D platform game “Super Mario Odyssey” brings the familiar basic format of a story Nintendo has been telling since its creation in the ‘80s in a fun collection of 3D worlds ready to explore.

Going back to the same playing style as in “Super Mario 64,” this game delivers a great dose of nostalgia.

The new game begins as Princess Peach is captured by Bowser and forced into marriage. Along with Princess Peach, Bowser has taken Cappy’s daughter, Tiara, for Peach to wear at the wedding.

The storyline isn’t really that great. In fact, I think it’s one of the worst I’ve ever experienced. It’s horrendously cheesy. However, the storyline isn’t the reason I haven’t been able to put this game down.

At the start of the game, Mario is kicked off of a flying pirate ship and lands in a dark, foggy land where a community of floating phantom-hats lives called Bonneton. The two must chase Bowser across the globe and rescue Peach and Tiara.

Mario and Cappy have set off on their journey aboard the Odyssey, a giant flying mechanical hat, to rescue Princess Peach and Tiara. Their first stop is Fossil Falls, a prehistoric, mountainous landscape.Super_Mario_Odyssey_Artwork2

Once I began exploring the stage, I was very surprised to see how the graphics performance is for this particular video game, especially on a portable console. There are many fine details in the game, including the details of graphics and textures.

Despite the game only taking up just above five gigabytes, Super Mario Odyssey is full of interactive characters and environments, which, surprisingly, haven’t become very repetitive. It’s very well balanced and free of any bugs. You can tell that a lot of meticulous work went into the creation of this video game.

Just like in “Super Mario 64,” the player is immersed in a collection of open worlds full of different challenges and puzzles that reward you with Power Moons.  You need Power Moons to power the Odyssey in order to move on to the next stage.

Throwing Cappy allows you to interact with the environment in a number of ways.  Not only are you able to throw the hat to help extend Mario’s reach, you can also possess a multitude of creatures and animals in the game.

It’s a very strange concept, but it is one of the main mechanics of the game that you need in order to solve puzzles and get through in-game tasks. In Fossil Falls, you enter a dark forest where a giant T-rex lives and is stomping around. If you are quick enough to avoid the dinosaur’s bite, you can throw your hat at it, take control of it, and start stomping around as a large meat-eating dinosaur.

Using motion control, you can detach your joy-con controllers and swing them around like you’re Mario, throwing your hat at an animal to control its mind.

The same mechanic can be done in the many worlds you encounter in this game, one of them being, “New Donk City,” which is Nintendo’s adorable take on New York City.

The city is my favorite stage in “Super Mario Odyssey.” It expands across quite a large area, which is surprising for a game that only takes up five gigabytes. The city also is studded with many challenges and puzzles. One quest that you have the option of doing in the city is recruiting musicians for the Mayor’s festival she has planned. But the musicians are hidden throughout the city. Like many of the quests and puzzles in the game, I had so much fun trying to complete this one. However, I can’t help but wonder why this city is in the “Super Mario” universe. Did colonization take place? And why is Mario so much shorter than the people around the city? Is Mario a human?

Personally, I like video games with a cooperative campaign, where a friend can join you on a virtual adventure. Thanks to the Nintendo Switch, I can undock my console, and take this game, which features a two-player mode, with me. My close friends and I have taken out the switch in the car and played “Super Mario Odyssey” using the two-player mode.

In this two-player mode, one player controls Mario, while the other has control over Cappy and can roam freely within a limited distance, collecting coins and Power Moons from hard-to-reach places.

The multiplayer mechanics are so basic. But in this game, all you really do is jump and throw a hat. This kind of video game may not appeal to everyone with its basic, strange storyline. But the graphics, gorgeous musical score, beautifully detailed worlds and fun interactive environments are what keep me drawn to “Super Mario Odyssey.”

I give this game 8/10.


‘Thor: Ragnorak’ sacrifices intensity for humor

Thor, Loki, and Hulk go on a cosmic mission to save Asgard.

“Thor: Ragnorak,” the third Thor film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, premiered on Nov. 3 and had a largely successful opening weekend.

The movie begins with Thor Odinson (Chris Hemsworth) imprisoned by Surtur (Taika Waititi), a Fire Giant of Musplheim. Thor is telling the skeleton that’s in the cage with him about what he’s been doing the past two years and how he got where he is. Bleh. I would’ve rather seen a montage recap of what he had been up to, and it could’ve still been narrated by him. The next scene almost makes up for it though.

Thor falls from his cage and ends up dangling in front of Surtur, who goes on to tell the God of Thunder that Ragnorak, the apocalypse, is coming to Asgard.

Surtur is portrayed by Taika Waititi, who also directs and does a few other things for the film. While Waititi may not do everything right with this film, he nails Surtur, which could’ve been hard, seeing as he is a Fire Giant.

I wish Surtur would’ve been much more present in the film, and as is the case with a lot of this movie, Thor should’ve been more serious. Instead, he’s cracking wise which really takes away from the possible suspense of the scene, as well as Waititi’s stellar performance of Surtur.

Thor summons his hammer, Mjolnir, breaks free, defeats Surtur, and heads to Asgard to warn his father, Odin the Allfather (Anthony Hopkins), of the potential danger coming to Asgard.

Upon arrival, Thor discovers Heimdall (Idris Elba), the Gatekeeper of Asgard and the Watcher of Worlds, has been banished, and Skurge the Executioner (Karl Urban) has been left in his steed.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s adopted brother, is parading around disguised as Odin when Thor forces him to submit and the brothers go looking for their father. Loki left him in New York, and when they get there, they’re greeted by none other than the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Dr. Steven Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch).AE Thor Rag

Strange traps Loki in a different dimension while he and Thor talk, and it’s quite a fun and rewarding scene for comic fans. Dr. Strange sends them to their father’s location.

Odin tells his sons that someone who was once his ally and has now gone rogue, Hela (Cate Blanchett), is coming, and it’s up to them to protect Asgard.

Hela appears to them shortly after and destroys Mjlonir. Loki calls for the Bifrost (the doorway between the Nine Realms that’s usually overseen by Heimdall), and Hela goes into the Bifrost with the brothers. She throws them out, and they both land on Sakaar in different places and at different times.

Although not directly said at all in the film, Sakaar is the planet from the comics that is also known as Planet Hulk, a place where the Hulk persona completely took the wheel from Bruce Banner.

Since the film rights to Hulk belong to Universal Studios, Marvel isn’t able to make a solo Hulk film, and they did an adequate job of bringing a Planet Hulk to the MCU and not allowing Hulk to take over the whole movie. I have heard some critics saying that the heart of the film belongs to Planet Hulk, and I have to strongly disagree. This movie is in most ways a Thor movie that pays homage to Planet Hulk in some big ways for sure, but not in a way that completely takes over the film.

The Grand Master (Jeff Goldblum) is kind of the ruler of Sakaar. When Thor is captured by Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), an Asgardian who later becomes an ally, he has to fight for the Grand Master, and he goes up against his champion: The Incredible Hulk. This arena fight scene is probably the best action scene in the movie, in part because there aren’t really any lives at stake, at least not immediately. Hulk and Thor just duke it out in full-on comic book glory.

After Thor, Banner, and Valkyrie make it off Sakaar, they go straight to stop Hela from destroying Asgard, but not really in a way that’s expected or appreciated.

[SPOILER WARNING] Odin tells his sons that Asgard is not a place but the people. So to destroy Hela, they destroy Asgard. What the f**k?! The people are called Asgardians, after the city of Asgard. For thousands of years Odin and Thor have fought to protect Asgard or in the name of Asgard.

I think this was a terrible idea and honestly the first real mistake that has been made in the MCU.

In Thor’s previous two appearances, he’s been quite dark and brooding, because of this lingering fear for Asgard that he’s had on his shoulders. And now that it’s coming to a climax, Thor, or I should say the self-indulgent director Waititi, wants to laugh everything off and make it all a joke. I don’t really buy it. This film had more tongue-in-cheek type comedy than “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” which was an amazing movie and is supposed to be funny, whereas Thor should lean more to the serious side.

That being said, the MCU has hit the nail on the head with Loki. In the comics, Loki is unpredictable. He’s always doing something dark and mischievous, then ends up doing something good. He’s an extremely complex character whose motives are always a mystery, and I’m quite impressed with his arc in this movie.

“Thor: Ragnorak” is a beautiful, colorful, and fun film that just sacrifices too much intensity for way too many quips and one-liners. I give it a 7.8 out of 10.


Video game composer discovers niche through unexpected events

Grant Kirkhope can’t understand how he got so lucky.

When he was growing up, Kirkhope never considered being a video game composer. He went to school in the United Kingdom, and music has always been part of the majority of his life.

“I played the trumpet and recorder when I was younger,” says Kirkhope. “I started picking up the guitar from ages 11 and 12. I wanted to play in metal bands. That’s all I ever wanted to do.”

Kirkhope attended the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester when he was 18 years old.

“I kinda did the studying half heartedly,” Kirkhope says with a laugh during a recent interview with the Plainsman Press, “but I passed. I was terrible at harmony. You had to pass the harmony exam within the four years you were there, and I failed it the first three years. I scraped by in the fourth year because I was bad at understanding the harmonies.”

After graduating from Royal Northern College, Kirkhope continued to play for local rock bands. He played in a band called “Little Angels,” who toured with Bon Jovi and Van Halen.

“I played in metal bands for a long time, and I really didn’t get anywhere,” Kirkhope explains. “I did this for about 11 years. I had on and off unemployment. So, I would be on tour, come back play in local bands, and make no money.”

Kirkhope thought we would continue to do the same routine until one day his career changed forever. One of his friends, Robin Beanland, who was a keyboard player, announced he received a job at a company called Rare.

“I asked [him] ‘doing what?’ and he said, ‘Writing music for video games,’” Kirkhope explains. “I asked him if that was a thing. I played a lot of video games, and he was there for a year and a half. He says to me, ‘You know, Grant…you’ve been unemployed for about 11 years. Don’t you think it’s time for a job?’ I was 33 at the time.”

Beanland encouraged Kirkhope to try to compose some tunes for Rare. Kirkhope says that even though he wrote music for metal bands that he was part of, he didn’t think he could compose video game music. But he gave it a shot.

“I bought a copy key base, a computer with a mega ram,” explains Kirkhope.  “I sat and tried to write tunes that were appropriate for video games. I sent five cassette tapes to Rare through the course of the year…never got a reply.”

One day, Kirkhope got a reply from Rare, a rising video game company, asking if he can meet in Twycross, England, where the headquarters of the company was located. He went, and the company was pleased to meet him and hired him.image1

“It’s a surprise to me than anybody else,” says Kirkhope. “That was it. I started working with Rare up till 1995, and it was an absolute fluke. I never thought I could do it. I didn’t even consider it as a career choice.”

Kirkhope’s process of composing music hasn’t changed in 22 years. He explains that his process is not intellectual. Rather, he uses his imagination and messes around with the sounds of different musical instruments.

“So, I think with any composer, it starts with imagining the level or scene,” explains Kirkhope. “If someone says to you, ‘This cinematic scene is a frozen ice castle,’ right before I start composing for it, I think about spike instruments such as celeste, glockenspiel and things that sound icy to me. If someone says a lovely warm forest, I think about nice strings and bassoons.”

Kirkhope says through his composing process he always hopes he writes a good tune, and that’s what he always tries to do.

“My favorite part of composing music is the core sequence and the melody,” says Kirkhope. “I’m a really bad polisher. I’m an ideal person, and I hate polishing. My favorite part is getting the main melodies down.”

Kirkhope has won awards such as Best Original Score for a Video Game or Interactive Media for “Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth” at the International Film Music Critics Association in 2014, Best Score for “Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth” at the Cue Awards in 2015 and, Best Video Game Score for “Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth” at the Movie Music United Kingdom in 2015.

He has had countless nominations for many different video game award categories. He has also composed music for many popular, well-known video games such as “Donkey Kong Land 2,” “GoldenEye 007,” “Banjo-Kazooie,” “Banjo-Tooie,” “Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts,” and “Donkey Kong 64.” His most recent project is for “Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.”

Although he is referred to as a veteran composer, he doesn’t see himself as such. He considers himself humble with anything that he achieves.

“I don’t like focusing on the success thing too much, because you’re only as good as the last thing you’ve done right,” says Kirkhope. “If the next thing is [expletive] then, people forget about what you did before. I’ve been so lucky to be on some of those projects. It gave me inspiration to hopefully write hopefully good music. Like going from Rare to coming to America and going freelance. I think it’s always a happy set of fortunate disasters that kinda get me to the right place.”

According to Kirkhope, he is happy to stick around when it comes to composing music. He says he feels that he’s very lucky to be writing music, because if not, he would still be playing for local bands.

“I would be playing for local bands back in Yorkshire,” says Kirkhope. “At 55 years old, making no money. It’s a mystery on how I keep going.”

Kirkhope likes to reply to people who like his work on social media such as Twitter. He doesn’t consider himself a celebrity of any kind and likes to interact with his admirers.

“I don’t like to use the word fans,” Kirkhope explains. “I really try hard to reply to people on Twitter. I always think of it like this…If I could reach out to John Williams, he’s my absolute hero, and say, ‘Hey, John, I think you’re fantastic’ and he says, “Cheers Grant,” I would be over the moon. I think it’s a nice thing to do when I reply to people.”

Kirkhope takes his composing career one day at a time. He doesn’t focus on the success too much because he tries to live in the moment.

“I don’t really consider myself successful,” Kirkhope says. “I don’t let myself get a big ego. It’s nice to think that people like my music. I always say if one person, if someone likes anything that came out of your head, it’s pretty amazing. To see that people like my tunes, I’m always humble. It’s amazing for people to like what I do. That’s the reward for me.”

Comic Corner: Oct. 25 – Nov. 1

DC Comics

Black Lightning 1Black Lightning #1

Black Lightning, or Jefferson Pierce, is a school teacher by day and a vigilante by night.In “Black Lightning #1,” a group of low-level thugs get their hands on some extremely advanced guns and start wreaking havoc on Cleveland, when Black Lightning shows up to save the day.

He uses his electromagnetic waves to slow down a building that was collapsing, and when it did land, it destroyed a SWAT van. The cops tried to arrest him, saying he destroyed police property, when in fact he saved the officers’ lives.

“Black Lightning #1” is a great read
and certainly doesn’t shy away from the prevalent social issues facing black people today.



Batman: The Merciless #1

“Batman: The Merciless #1,” takes place in Earth -12, and Ares has killed the entire Justice League, aside from Batman and Wonder Woman.

Ares forged a helmet that magnified his powers 100 times and fought Bruce and Diana nearly to death, when Batman put on Ares’ helmet to end it all.

The helmet corrupted Bruce and he killed every villain and hero that got in his way, when the Batman Who Laughs brought The Merciless to Earth 0, the normal DC Universe.

“Batman: The Merciless” is one of my favorite evil Batmans in appearance and

origin story.


Bats out of hell 1

The Flash #33

In “Bats Out of Hell Pt 1,” the members of the Justice League are split into small teams, with other heroes and anti-heroes, all trying to figure out a way to reverse the chaos that the evil Batmen have brought on Earth 0.

The League members get separated from their current partner and appear in the cave of their evil Batman counterpart.

They don’t know where Cyborg is, but he’s communicating with the rest of the League, telling them it’s too late.

“Bats Out of Hell Pt 1” starts a story arc that completely capitalizes on the success of the “Metal” and “Dark Nights” arc.

BatmanTheDevastatorBatman: The Devastator #1

On Earth -1, Batman: The Devastator is born out of fear and desparity.

Superman goes rogue. It only kind of alludes to this, but Bruce does say that Superman killed his wife, Lois Lane, and this made Batman snap. He realized that the why didn’t matter anymore, because it was happening regardless.

Batman and Superman were fighting, and Superman cut Batman’s arm off with his heat vision. At this point, Batman tells Clark that he loved him, and inject himself with a strain of the Doomsday virus, making him powerful enough to kill Superman.

Superman going bad is about as dark as it gets, and the action and story are great.

Bats out of hell 2.jpeg

Justice League #32

In “Bats Out of Hell Pt 2,” the Earth 0 Justice League members are still separated from each other and they confront their Evil Batman counterparts.

One of the most chilling themes in the “Metal” arc is that all of these extremely evil entities are Batman, maybe extremely unhinged, but Batman none the less.

This is intimidating. Batman alone is intimidating, but these men are twisted.

The heroes are engaged by their evil Batmen counterparts for some of the most satisfying sequences of panels to boot.


New order 3Nightwing: The New Order #3

“Nightwing: The New Order #3” takes place in an alternate future where Dick Grayson, AKA Nightwing, has removed powers from the playing field. Those born with powers must go through a series of attempts at inhibiting the powers, and if that doesn’t work, they are placed into stasis. Well, Alfred has been killed, Dick’s son is placed in stasis, and Dick is arrested and breaks out.

Dick fights Green Lantern and gets whipped when he’s taken away in a matter of seconds. When he comes to, there’s a gun-toting woman and an unidentified Flash standing before him.

White knight 2Batman: White Knight #2

In “Batman: White Knight #1,” Batman beats Joker to a pulp when Joker pulls out a pill bottle and says it might cure him. Batman crams the pills down Joker’s throat, leaving his mouth over owing with blood and pills. Mean- while, the Gotham City Police Department stood by watching.

Well, Joker gets seemingly cured by these pills and starts to begin a legal case against Batman and the GCPD.

Issue 2 focuses on a seemingly throw-away arc between Bruce Wayne and Mr. Freeze, the only real importance being that Alfred is dying.

Joker, now going by Jack Napier, proposes to Harley Quinn, and takes control of Batman’s rogues gallery of villains.

Marvel Comics

Black Panther #166Black Panther 166

“Black Panther #166” is not really a Black Panther comic. Instead, the story follows Klaw, a longtime villain of T’Challa, or Black Panther.

Klaw became Klaw when he gave up his body to become what he calls “the voice that whispers in the night, telling men what they must do.”

Klaw is after the strongest metal in the world, virbanium, most of which belongs to T’Challa’s homeland of Wakanda.

Although the entire focus was on Klaw, when he and Black Panther square up, readers will be forced to look at Klaw as more than just an evil villain.

Captain America #695Captain America 695

An evil clone of Steve Rogers took up the shield and almost drove the world to its end.

Then the real Captain Rogers escaped where he was trapped and fought the fake Cap, and won.

The whole idea is that the damage has been done to his name, his reputation is tarnished, and according to the cover, “Captain America battles to regain the support of a nation!”

It doesn’t carry that much weight. Cap is trying to stop an evil plot in a small town, where a Captain America celebration is going on, and it’s a bunch of fans defend- ing Cap. What about this suggests that Cap is trying to regain trust?

Guardians of the Galaxy #146Guardians 146

I’ve been enjoying what I’ve been reading from the Guardians pre-Legacy, and now it’s one of the best Legacy relaunches I’ve read thus far.

Starlord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Racoon, and Groot have not only recruited a new member to the Guardians of the Galaxy, Scott Lang, A.K.A. Ant Man, but they have all joined up with the Nova Corps.

Gamora and Ant Man respond to a distress call in space, and the two heroes play off of each other extremely well. Ultron also makes a surprise appearance!


Iceman #7Iceman 7 color

In the last issue, Iceman went out with his former Champions buddies, Hercules, Darkstar, Angel, and Ghost Rider. While there, he hit it off with a guy named Judah.

Shortly after, a bunch of homemade Sentinels start attacking in West Hollywood, and that’s where “Iceman #7” picks up.

The Champions take on the Sentinels and Iceman, probably trying to show off for Judah, lets loose. He’s ring ice-blasts at all of the Sentinels and builds something I’ve never seen before, which is basically an Iceman Megazord.

Every issue dives deeper into Iceman’s character, fleshing out the gay and mutant aspects of his life, and I appreciate all of it.

Mace Windu #3Mace Windu 3

“Mace Windu #3” begins with a ash- back of the droid General Grievous hiring AD-W4, a mercenary droid, to take on Jedi Knights Mace Windu and Rissa Mano, and Prosset Dibs and Kit Fisto have broken into those respective teams and are dealing with their situation on Hissrich.

Rissa and Mace are ghting droids on the surface. Prosset and Kit are under the surface, fighting a large, insect-like predator.

Rissa’s blue saber and Mace’s purple saber slicing through droids, along with Pros- set’s and Kit’s green sabers slicing through a massive creature in almost pure darkness, makes for some beautiful, action-packed panels.

*Marvel comics have returned to original numbering since the “Legacy” relaunch.


BackTalk: Cultural appropriation raises questions regarding ethics

Culture misappropriation takes away from original meaning

by Matt Molinar

America loves to appropriate culture.

In order for cultures to be taken seriously, a line has to be drawn that divides cultural appropriation from appreciation.  There is a large gray area between cultural appropriation and misappropriation, which is offensive.

To understand why culture is important, you must know that culture is how a society interprets the world.

America is basically a crock pot filled with a variety of cultures and subcultures as the ingredients. This sets a stage for any culture to be appropriated.

It is quite acceptable to have appreciation for another culture and express appreciation for that culture in outward appearance in good taste.

It is not acceptable for someone from a dominant culture to appropriate pieces of a culture that they have systematically oppressed. It is also not acceptable to sexualize or make fun of an oppressed culture’s outward appearance, especially when there’s money involved.

When people of a dominant culture appropriate a minority culture, they ignore the many historical contexts associated with that culture. Whatever piece of culture somebody of a dominant culture appropriates loses its original meaning.

One great person to reference when you’re talking about cultural appropriation is Katy Perry. One example of her very terrible instances is when she dressed in a Japanese Geisha costume in her American Music Awards performance of “Unconditionally” in 2013.  Her version of a Japanese Geisha was tacky and inaccurate.

She came out on stage wearing a modified kimono and an extremely pale face, mimicking the look of a Geisha. After her performance, the comments calling her offensive began circulating.

Not only did Perry look stupid during this performance, but she offended the culture.

Her performance leaves naïve Americans with an inaccurate representation of a fascinating Asian culture.

Perry’s original intention was nothing negative. She may have been trying to show appreciation for the Geishas, and she has since apologized, but she used a culture for her own benefit.

Taylor Swift also did the same kind of belittling of a culture when she featured a bunch of black girls twerking behind her in her music video for “Shake it Off.”

While you might assume that twerking originated in American strip clubs, you may be very surprised to discover that twerking actually has deep African roots. There are several traditional dances practiced in West African cultures, such as mapouka, that exhibit the same movements as twerking.

Learning this made me realize that appropriating a culture in a negative way will indeed dissolve its original meaning into videos of white girls arching and flexing their backs to a song by Miley Cyrus.

Singer Gwen Stefani has also done appearances with a group of Japanese girls she uses as props. Stefani is so inspired by the Harajuku culture in Tokyo that she decided to hire four Japanese girls to stand behind her in public appearances, dance behind her in music videos, and say absolutely nothing.

If you have seen the music videos where she features these four Japanese girls, you will understand how Stefani has taken Japanese youth culture and turned it into how most Americans view young Japanese women to be: submissive, giggling Asians.

The main reason why cultural misappropriation is harmful is because it exposes the dominant western culture to inaccurate stereotypes. And yes, it is possible to show appreciation for a culture without adding to the attention of an inaccurate stereotype.

You can’t blame somebody for unknowingly misappropriating a culture because it looks cool. But you can educate him or her on why it’s wrong and how they can possibly find a better way to show appreciation for culture.

Appreciation of minority cultures not appropriation

by Riley Golden

There is a fine line between cultural appropriation and appreciation, and it isn’t always fair to deem something as appropriation.

When I was in middle school, I dressed up as Lil Wayne for Halloween one year. I did what I now know is called “black-face,” which, for good reason, has quite a negative connotation. For as far as this country has come in the treatment of black people, there is still a long way to go. I saw a viral Snapchat post of some white girls who had dark cosmetic facemasks on and they were “acting” like black people. It was extremely offensive and derogatory, but that is because those girls were specifically making fun of black people.

When I dressed up as Lil Wayne, my goal was the exact opposite. I loved Lil Wayne – I still have somewhere around 100 Lil Wayne songs in my music library – and I was, if anything, paying homage to him. He was my favorite artist at the time, and, in truth, all I was trying to do was show that appreciation.

Since showing that photo to people in college, I’ve come under light fire, being told that I would be forgiven for it because I was in middle school. I’m no longer as naïve as I was in middle school, and I realize now that I could have done that entire outfit the same, minus the “black-face” make-up, and my outfit still would’ve delivered Lil Wayne.

But, shouldn’t intent factor into how people receive things like that? I think so. It’s similar to non-black people using the “n word” followed with the “a” sound. Travis Scott, one of today’s biggest names in hip-hop who frequently uses the word in his music, gave an Asian kid permission to say it in the concert. Scott’s reasoning for this was because he’s at the concert, showing appreciation for him and the music he makes.

But, some would point to white people using that word as appropriation, especially because of its origin. Not to dismiss what Europeans did to the African people, and not even to say that the communities aren’t still dealing with the horrors that Europeans brought down on them, but we are not our forefathers.

My best friend is black, Kenyan-American to be exact, and we have a lot of conversations about this topic. I wanted to get myself a dashiki, an African-style shirt, because I like his culture, the shirts look cool, and I want to show my appreciation for it. To him, wearing a dashiki outside of Africa is kind of appropriating the culture. But, if I didn’t know him and still had an appreciation for the culture, I would’ve worn it out of ignorance.

I have the utmost appreciation for the black culture, as well as all other cultures, and often times I want nothing more than to be accepted into it. But sometimes, like with the Lil Wayne costume, or my Migos hat (Migos are a black rap group) my appreciation can be taken as appropriation because of how a large number of white people view black people.

Appropriation is definitely an issue that people deal with on a daily basis. But I think people should stop and think, “is this person really appropriating my culture, or are they showing appreciation for it in a way that they don’t know is offensive?”

Word on the Street: Climate change

Compiled by Randi Jines and Bekka Ruiz

IMG_0521“Yes, I do. I think that, for our generation, we see a lot more natural disasters happening.”

Katelyn Maldonado – Education, Freshman, Lubbock


IMG_0518“Yes, it has to do with not just natural weather and stuff, but as what we do as people to make it worse.”

Varson Jackson – Biology, Freshman, Lubbock


IMG_0527“Yes, I definitely do. We are losing our cold areas. And our ice caps are getting smaller and smaller. I’ve definitely seen weather patterns change from the 25 years I’ve lived out here in West Texas.”

Janna Holt-Day – Speech Communications Professor, Vernon


IMG_0510“Yes, I hear that nine out of 10 scientists believe in it. And it makes me wonder what that one guy’s point is. From what I have heard, we haven’t studied Earth’s temperature change long enough to know a certain pattern. But I think we are just in one of Earth’s natural hotter periods right now.”

Holden Hensley – Art, Freshman, Lubbock


IMG_0512“I never really think about that. It’s just kind of the way things are.”

Matt Soto – Live Sound Reinforcement, Junior, Lubbock


IMG_0524“I do. A lot of the ice caps are melting. Climate changes happen a lot more profusely.”

Thalia Lopez – Pre-med, Sophomore, Brownfield

Growing up in a small town teaches life lessons

Growing up in a small town has its advantages but also comes with some disadvantages.

I grew up in a small town with a population of around 1,000 people. My graduating class included only 29 students. My town was surrounded by other small town with populations of no more than 5,000.

Growing up in a small town, not a lot of opportunities are offered for high school students to prepare them in the journey they want to take in college. For example, I am studying journalism and working for this college newspaper, which is the first real experience I have had in journalism. The small town I live in offers nothing journalism-related, except for UIL and yearbook. But yearbook was not offered for students interested in journalism. Instead, it was offered for cheerleaders and jocks. So it was pointless to even try to get in that class, because you would not be accepted otherwise. There was not any clubs or organizations to be involved in.

Also, the small town I am from is strictly conservative Republicans. Everyone is afraid to be themselves. Most people go to college and study pre-med or something in the medical field, because it is drilled into our heads that you will not find success being creative. In fact, our school has a multi-million dollar gym and ballpark but is considering dropping the band and art program to save money. They have already dropped One Act Play, which closes off opportunities for students who are interested in theater. There are no outlets or opportunities for students who are interested in creativity.

Also, everyone knows your business. Any move you made, the whole town would hear about it, especially if it is something negative about you. The students also love to gossip to teachers, so rumors spread fast, and your reputation could be ruined by some silly rumor in less than a day.

There are very few job opportunities in a small town. There is one grocery store, two restaurants, and one convenience store. They are never hiring students, because all of their open spots are filled with adults who have free time. So students do not get a lot of job experience before moving out into bigger towns.

There are a lot of positive aspects that come out of living in a small town also. I had two amazing teachers who I developed a close friendship with. One of them was my UIL coach and librarian. She encouraged me to study journalism and be creative. She taught me a lot about journalism and the opportunities it offers, even though the school did not offer anything journalism related. The other teacher who helped me throughout school was the assistant softball coach. I could go to her about anything that I felt discouraged about, and she would give me advice and help me back up. I feel that is the best part about growing up in a small town and attending a small high school. Your classes are so small that you are able to connect with each student. I could not have survived high school without these teachers there to encourage me to not give up.

Another good thing about growing up in a small town is being able to be involved in all extracurricular activities. I got to be involved in band, FFA, athletics, and UIL, without having to tryout for any of these.

I was in band for the first two years of high school. I played softball for all four years of high school, which taught me a lot about mental toughness and teamwork. I was in FFA for the first three years of high school, and as much as I hated it, it helped me realize that agriculture is definitely not what I wanted to do with my life. I also participated in Editorial Writing in UIL, which made me realize that journalism is the path I wanted to take in college. I did not have to try out for any of these events because it was such a small school and a lot of open space for new people. This gives anyone a chance to discover what they enjoy and where they want to go in life.

Another plus side to growing up in a small town is being able to get where you are going within five minutes tops. Everything is not even a mile away. You can send your kids safely to the park or store because they are not going far, and everyone knows who you are. Growing up in a small town, you do not have to worry about “stranger danger,” because everyone knows whose kid is whose.

The one thing I am thankful for about my small town is the Farm Scholarship. Our school has a corn crop, and all of the money that the crop makes goes to a scholarship that every single graduating student receives, depending on everything you were involved in and the success in those activities. This scholarship has helped me immensely in paying for college.

Small towns do not offer much, but they are definitely a safe place for everyone. I am thankful I grew up in a small town because I learned a lot of life lessons from the negative and positive experiences.