Month: December 2018

Former student jumpstarts career with experience on Plainsman press Staff

Like many young college students, Jessica Safavimehr Hernandez had struggled to figure out what she wanted to do with her life after graduation.

Safavimehr Hernandez graduated from Lubbock High School in 2004 and transferred to South Plains College during the spring semester of 2005.

While attending SPC, Safavimehr Hernandez was a staff writer for the Plainsman Press for both her freshman and sophomore years.

Before attending SPC, I was a little all over the place major wise,” she recalled. “I was undecided and had no clear direction in which I wanted to take my education. I had always had an interest in writing, and, more importantly, journalism. But I never realized my true feelings until my time at SPC.”

Safavimehr Hernandez came to SPC after attending the University of North Texas for a semester. She had to leave due to a family member falling ill. She wanted to continue her education, but needed to find a school that fit with her work and life schedule.

“SPC provided flexibility and affordability in my time of need,” Safavimehr Hernandez explained. “Looking back, I am so appreciative and grateful for my time at SPC, and I established relationships with instructors and fellow students that have continued through my current career.”

Safavimehr Hernandez recalled that she enjoyed the small atmosphere of the college because she was able to build relationships with the faculty and staff.  She liked how approachable the professors were, and how easy it was to get in contact with them.   

SPC set me up for success,” said Safavimehr Hernandez, “and even though my last byline in the Plainsman Press was a bit touchy, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at SPC. College is such an impactful time in anyone’s life, and having the opportunity to take courses in a close setting and getting to know instructors on a first name basis was genuinely beneficial.”

She also shared some of her most fond memories while attending SPC, one of them being working late in the Newsroom on Paper Nights to create the upcoming issue of the Plainsman Press with her friends on the staff.

“Paper nights were one of the most educational experiences that I ever encountered at SPC,” said Safavimehr Hernandez. “Learning from the rest of the team and Charlie was wonderful. I enjoyed being a member of the staff because I was given a bit of free reign to write articles I was passionate about and to express myself through writing.”

Safavimehr Hernandez also spoke highly of Charles Ehrenfeld, associate professor of Journalism and Advisor for the Plainsman Press.

“Charlie made such an impression on me,” she said. “He was incredibly supportive, and his vast wealth of knowledge stuck with me through my journey at both SPC and Texas Tech.”

Safavimehr Hernandez transferred to Texas Tech University in the fall of 2007 to study Journalism and earned her minor in English in 2009.

While at TTU, she was a DJ for KTXT (88.1, Lubbock’s only alternative radio station) and was also a member of the Delta Zeta Alpha sorority.

At Tech, I became heavily involved in the retail world,” Safavimehr Hernandez explained. “I quickly took a liking to the operations and loss prevention side, and before I knew it, I was off traveling the country assisting stores in need. I never stopped writing and consistently applied myself toward finding a career in journalism. I did some freelance work, but the real opportunity for me came when I landed a job as an assistant to film producer Dallas Sonnier.”

After she began working for Sonnier, Safavimehr Hernandez managed to work her way up and became his Vice President of Operations for Cinestate and the Associate Publisher for FANGORIA magazine. For Safavimehr, this job was a dream come true to have the opportunity to work in the horror genre.

“My advice to anyone currently attending or thinking about a move to SPC is to make the most of your time,” Safavimehr Hernandez said. “Take in the full experience! SPC has so much to offer, and in a smaller setting, so you are not lost in the crowd. Once you are at a four-year university, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd full of students or feel like a number in a class of 500. Attending SPC provides an intimate approach to education, which in my case is what I needed to jump start my education and career!”

Lady Texans place fifth at NJCAA Cross Country National Championship

The South Plains College men’s and women’s cross country teams placed in the top 10 at the 2018 NJCAA Cross Country National Championships.

The meet was held at Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kansas, on Nov. 10.

The Lady Texans placed fifth with a total of 207 points and an average time of 20:28. Freshman Gladys Jemaiyo placed second in the women’s 5-kilometer race, finishing with a time of 18:43. Freshman Dorcus Ewoi finished 16th with a time of 19:45.3, while Angela Rodriguez finished 38th and earned All-American honors for her effort.

Erik Vance, head track and field coach at SPC, said, “I thought the women’s team performed great at the Cross Country Championships.”

Iowa Central won the women’s division with 45 points. El Paso Community College placed second with 70 points, followed by Southern Idaho with 100 points and Cowley County with 138 points.

The Texans finished ninth with 239 points and an average time of 27:30. Sophomore Filmon Beyene placed sixth with a time of 26:02.2 in the men’s 8-kilometer race. Sophomore Andrew Bosquez finished 13th with a time of 26:29.5, while sophomore Jesse Madrid finished 38th with a time of 27:27.7.

Alex Kitum finished 146th with a time of 29:38.8 and Ulises Cardoza finished 159th with a time of 29:50.7.

“On the men’s side, we had some stellar performances,” said Vance.

Library exhibits highlights Latino WWII veterans

A new exhibit at the Library on the Levelland campus of South Plains College honors Latino World War II veterans.

Looking for an exhibit that would fit in SPC’s open Library space, the employees reached out to Humanities Texas, picking “Images of Valor,” which features Latinos and Latinas who were involved in World War II.

Jessica Miesner, public services librarian at SPC, said their director, James Belcher, “was a war veteran, and this one was on top of his list as well because it’s important to him.”

Miesner added that Scott Buchanan, professor of history, and Christina Bearden-White, assistant professor of history, also picked the exhibit.

“I chose the exhibit on World War II veterans because I teach American history and wanted my students to be aware of the vast contribution of Latinos in the military,” said Bearden-White.

During the week, the exhibit is available for viewing during the Library’s regular business hours. Starting in December, their Monday-Wednesday hours will change, staying open until 10 p.m. They will also be open on Sundays until Dec. 12, which is the last day the Library will have “Images of Valor” available.

“Images of Valor” displays several important parts of the war, including  quotes from men and women who served during that time. Each panel has a different quote and holds a short explanation of why it was important. The exhibit displays Rural to Urban migration, women in the military, women on the home front as nurses, political representation, civil rights, citizenship-naturalizing after the war, language, patriotism and identity, military honors, and education-GI Bill of Rights. It ends with a panel about women who took over work for men during 1940 – 1945.

Miesner stated that “Images of Valor” was the first exhibit that they have offered through Humanities Texas.

“We didn’t really know what quite to expect until it showed up,” she explained, adding that “Images of Valor” was one of the more affordable so they decided to give it a try to see how it worked out.

The exhibit is made to be placed on a wall in a specific order. However, Miesner said, “we didn’t have a way to put it up on the wall.” So, they had to figure out how to put it up. Figuring out a way to display the exhibit on partitions, they were able to get it up before Veterans Day.

“We’re trying to start doing more exhibitions since we have the space,” Miesner said. “It gives community members and students more chances to come in. We will definitely be getting more from them in the future.”

New games, updates not worth money

The current state of the gaming industry is abominable.

The status quo for almost every major and even indie (independent) game developers is to sell half of the game up front for full price, with the options of spending more money up front for “downloadable content.” This is a big issue, considering the games consumers used to buy, versus what they are buying now.

In the 1980s and 1990s, video games were held to a standard. The technology to create and play was evolving quickly, and developers took pride in their games. Classic titles from Nintendo such as “Super Mario World” did not need downloadable content. The premise was simple, the quality was great, and the game did not glitch or bug very frequently. I am not denying there are not any bugs in “Super Mario World,” but the issues were not nearly as huge as they are now.

The technology used to make games now is bigger and badder than ever. Games are being cranked out and released almost daily, between phone apps, independent games, Triple-A games, and even internet browser Flash games. The issue now is it has almost become TOO easy to make some of these games.

Games run on an “Engine.” Some developers, such as “Unreal,” will lease their own engine to independent developers for a price. This is fine. The issue is that leased game engines sometimes have “Pre-made content,” such as a building structure, grass and rock structures, or gravity and collision mechanics. The issue with this is that people are making entire games of pre-made content, adding one small twist or quirk to the game, and then selling them for full, Triple-A game prices.

Then there are the big, bad Triple-A developers/publishers, such as Treyarch and Bethesda. Bethesda, with their latest release of “Fallout 76,” released a completely broken game. I spent $60 on that hot garbage. How is a multi-million dollar company going to copy and paste their way into making ends meet and still expect their fans to be happy about it?

Treyarch released “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4” this year, and some of the only maps available are from the older games. New patches and quarter-of-the-year waits be damned, if I pay for a new game, I expect a new game. I should not have to wait four to six months for a new map that is STILL just a revamped version of an old map.

Studio Wildcard released “Ark” years ago. I purchased the BETA version of it. It was a great game, even in the BETA state. The issue I had was that Studio Wildcard started selling expansion content before the game was ever fully “released.” Not only did people pay $40 to $60 for a game that is not released yet, they were expected to pay MORE money to expand an unfinished game.

Why do consumers let game developers and publishers treat them like this? Are they so jaded by old titles that they are ready to say, “Well, the game is good enough.” Some might say video games are a waste of money. I’ll write another 600 words on that another time. But for somebody who is already wasting their money, shouldn’t they at least get their wasted money’s worth?

Men struggle with emotions because of societal expectations

Understanding the male psyche and behavior is something women have spent centuries trying to decipher.

It can be difficult to know why men don’t always express how they are feeling. But I know it can be even harder to help them change, and I’m sure men can say the same about women.

I have had many men in my life who always bottled up their emotions, and I have seen the mental toll it can have if they don’t find a way to let it out. I learned that it can be helpful to pinpoint why they may not want to show any emotions. But even then, it may not help them open up.

I have also known women who would often complain because they know men don’t show their true emotions. When he finally does open up, it’s sort of a rude awakening. Just like women, men’s emotions can be just as strong and confusing.   

Over time, people develop the notion that men simply don’t have feelings at all. The problem is that some women want men to be able to express their emotions. The truth is that men may have a hard time processing their emotions to begin with.

It has been proven scientifically that men tend to use the left side of the brain, where reasoning is, while women tend to use the right side of the brain, which is mostly attributed to emotion. So, to me, it’s obvious that men and women differ with regard to how emotions are expressed, or not. But I think the biggest difference is how we react to them.    

At a young age, boys equate emotions with weakness. They are taught that they need to be strong and confident at all times. This is what societal expectations have “taught” men, which is not to display any emotions. This is becoming a huge problem. Men are suppressing their feelings because they don’t have socially acceptable emotional outlets. I think that, mentally, this is doing more damage to our society than most of us realize.

Men are more resistant than women when it comes to expressing emotions and getting the mental help they may need. Because of this, suicide rates have been rising for middle aged men because they feel vulnerable and experience large amounts of stress or other strong emotions that are suppressed.

Society has created a “masculine ideal” that prevents them from being their true selves. There may be other reasons as to why men don’t feel comfortable sharing their emotions. It could be the fear of judgment, trying to maintain confidence, or because they don’t realize the importance of expressing emotions.

In today’s society, there are high expectations for men and how masculinity is defined. They are expected to have a job that makes enough money to support a family, to be physically fit, both mentally and physically tough. Even how men are supposed to behave is controlled by society’s standards.

For me, a man should be defined by the qualities he holds and by the lessons he has learned throughout his life. A man should be believed in, loved, listened to and supported emotionally by those around him.

Regents discuss student demographics, retiring employees

The student demographic profile and the employees when who will be retiring in December were among the topics discussed during the November meeting of the South Plains College Board of Regents.

Dr. Ryan Gibbs, vice president for academic affairs, presented a list of retirees for fall 2018.

“We have a five retirees: this time around, with a total of 97 years,” Dr. Gibbs said. “Almost half of it was with one person, Andrea Rangel.”

The five retirees are Jim Belcher, director of Libraries, with nine years of service; Sue Ann Lopez, dean of health occupations, with 24 years of service; Michael Coler, assistant professor of computer aided drafting and design, with 10 years of service; Andrea Rangel, dean of admissions and records, with 44 years of service; and Ron Spears, dean of continuing educations, with 10 years of service.

Dr. Gibbs said that replacements for Coler and Spears have already been found.

Stephen John, vice president for institutional advancement, presented the enrollment snapshot of student demographics for fall 2018.

The fall 2018 headcount is 9,279, which is only four students less than reported last year.

“About 78 percent of our students this fall are what I classify as college level students,” John said. “They’re not dual credit students. They are students who have already graduated from high school and coming to college, and that total is 5,217.”

Dual credit students, who are enrolled in both high school and college courses, make up 22 percent of students, totaling 2,062. That represents a 30-percent increase from the previous year.

John reported that there was a decline of 486 college level students this fall, which was offset by an increase of 482 dual credit students, resulting in a net decrease of four students.

Other demographics presented included gender, with 41.7 percent, or 3,867, students enrolled, being male. The remaining 58.3 percent, or 5,412, students, are female. There was a drop of 217 male students, which was offset by an increase of 213 female students.

“Gender is following a very familiar trend,” John explained. “We’ve enrolled more women this fall than men compared to last year. In fact, we’ve seen a 5.3 percent drop in the enrollment of men. That’s 217 fewer than last year. And that accounts for about 42 percent of our students this fall, compared to 44 percent last year.”

John said that this is the highest percentage of females enrolled since fall 2011, which was a record year for enrollment, with 10,505 students.

“What could be driving this again is that dual credit increase,” John said. “We find that female students in high school tend to be the ones that take dual credit courses more so than male students. And so because we have such a large increase in there, we feel like some of that is driven by the dual credit side. Last year, 61 percent of our dual credit students were female.”

In ethnicity demographics, 3,959 students, or 42.7 percent, are Anglo; 586 students, 6.3 percent, are African-American; 130 students, 1.4 percent, are Asian; 4,525 students, 48.8 percent, are Hispanic; and 79 students, 0.9 percent, are other ethnicities.

Age demographics show that 22 is the average age of a SPC student. The large majority of students enrolled are under 22; 6,251 students, 67.4 percent are under 22 years old; 1,057 students, 11.4 percent, are between 22 and 24 years old; 964 students, 10.4 percent, are between 25 and 30; 439 students, 4.7 percent, are between 31 and 35 years old; 483 students, 5.2 percent, are between 36 and 50 years old; and 85 students, 0.9 percent, are older than 50. The total number of non-traditional aged students is 1,971, which is 21.2 percent.

“As for the course load this fall, we had about 46.1 percent of our students enrolled on a full-time basis,” John explained. “This is 4,273 students, which is about 6 percent less than last year.”

Part-time students make up 53.9 percent of enrollment, which is 5,006 students. Part-time students have increased by 6 percent from last year.

In residency demographics, 8,930 students, or 96.2 percent, are Texas residents; 230 students, or 2.5 percent, are out-of-state residents; 119 students, or 1.3 percent, are international residents; and 778 students, or 8.4 percent, are in-district residents, which is up 33 percent from last year.

Major demographics are split into two categories: academic and technical. There are 7,400 students, 79.7 percent, who are in academic majors, while 1,879 students, 20.3 percent, are enrolled in technical majors.

Anti-vaxxer movement causing rise in preventable diseases

The re-emergence of preventable diseases in the United States has led to some deadly and horrific illnesses to wreak havoc on the country once again.

While most of these diseases have largely been eradicated, in recent years some have started to make a come-back at alarming rates. Some of these diseases include measles, whooping cough and polio, which are all preventable with vaccinations.

The main reason these disease have started to make a re-appearance is a movement known as Anti-Vaxxing. Some groups of Anti-Vaxxers think that vaccines are filled with harmful chemicals and can even cause autism, which is false on both accounts.

057420515bc6b939aa381b9c16c1dda50f4b5d538ff58f0c8c4c0b73fffd850bVaccines are created to provide immunity to a specific disease or virus. They do this with antigens, which are small amounts of a weak or dead germs to help the immune system learn how to fight off an infection. Vaccines also contain adjuvants, which help the immune system respond stronger.

According to, ingredients of vaccines include: preservatives, which are only used in multi-dose vials to protect the contents from outside germs and bacteria; and stabilizers such as sugar and gelatin, which help the ingredients continue to work while they are made, stored and moved. Therefore, there are no “harmful chemicals” in vaccines.

The notion of a vaccine causing autism in children is absurd. A simple Google search can put the fears of that to rest. According to the National Center for Health Research, there is evidence of a possible genetic link, along with some other risk factors that include premature birth and the father of the child being significantly older than the mother.

Autism is a genetic disorder that can be diagnosed once a child is capable of some sort of cognitive interactions, usually around age 1 when some signs can be seen.

Vaccines such as Rotavirus, Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio are given between the age of 1 and 2 months. Others such as Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Chicken Pox are not given until age 1, which, coincidentally, is when some signs of autism can be seen.

So what proof do the Anti-Vaxxers have that link autism to vaccines? They have no proof, other than the fact that no definite cause of autism has been found.

Anti-Vaxxers also believe that it is their First Amendment right to not vaccinate their child, which is technically true. However, there are laws and legislation that require children to have certain vaccines before entering kindergarten.

Not vaccinating a child doesn’t just put that child at risk. It puts hundreds of others at risk as well. Vaccines for measles can’t be given to an infant until 1 year of age. If another child has not been vaccinated against measles and comes in contact with other children, they could be exposed to the disease, which could be deadly.

Not vaccinating a child can also decrease something known as “herd immunity,” which is the general immunity of a community. The more people are vaccinated, the more resistance to the spread of a disease there is.

There is no reason to not have a child vaccinated. It protects that child from some very dangerous and, frankly, scary illnesses. It not only prevents and protects for a single child, but an entire community or society of children.

Men’s basketball team starts path toward NJCAA Championship

The South Plains College men’s basketball team continues to improve their record as they work toward a second consecutive NJCAA National Championship.

IMG_1006The Texans dismantled Midland College with a 78-58 victory to open Western Junior College Athletic Conference play on Nov. 28 at Texan Dome.

Opening the second half with a 29-24 lead, the Texans took a double-digit lead with a jumper from sophomore Deon Barett to give SPC a 41-31 lead with 14:31 to go in regulation play.

The Texans continued their success, leading Midland by as much as 26 points, in the back half of the contest.

“It was a tale of two halves,” said Steve Green, head men’s basketball coach at SPC following the Midland victory. “We spent the first half trying to learn their offense. In the second half, we started to focus a little more on what we were trying to do.”

Sophomore Chris Orlina led the Texas in scoring with 18 points, going 7-for-8 from the field, to go along with six rebounds and three steals.

“Chris Orlina was involved in the three plays in the first half that separated us,” said Coach Green. “He got two steals for layups and a full-court pass for another one. That’s six of the five-point lead we had.”

Sophomore Trey Wade put up 16 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor, while sophomore Gaige Prim added 12 points, hitting five of his 10 shots from the field.

Sophomore Jonah Antonio scored nine points, while Barett added seven points on 2-of-5 shooting. Red-shirt freshman Christian Wilson added six points on perfect 2-for-2 shooting from the floor and 100-percent shooting from the three-point line.

The Texans notched their eighth consecutive victory of the season by downing Cowley County Community College 97-68 on Nov. 24 at the Collin County Thanksgiving Classic in Dallas.

Prim led the scoring for SPC with 22 points, while Antonio added 20 points. Orlina put up 17 points, and Trey Wade added 12. Barett grabbed 10 points, including three three-pointers. Sophomore Jamar Ergas and Jennings added four points each, while Wilson tallied three.

SPC clenched a 67-59 victory against Seminole State on Nov. 23 at the Collin County Thanksgiving Classic in Dallas.

After being down by four points at the half, the Texans rallied to push past Seminole and post a double-digit victory.

Trey Wade scored a career-high 20 points, while Prim added 19 points. Orlina chipped in 14 points, and Jennings put up 12.

  SPC improved to 6-0 following a 101-74 victory against Coastal Bend College on Nov. 17 in Levelland.

Leading by only four points at the end of the  first half, SPC went on to lead by 27 at the end of regulation play.

Prim finished with 27 points and 13 rebounds, while Antonio added 17 points to go along with six rebounds. Sophomore Dajour Joseph tossed in 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field, including 2-for-5 from the three-point line.

SPC shot 52.1 percent from the field, 38.7 percent from the three-point line, and 92.9 percent from the free-throw line.

SPC improved to 5-0 with an 84-55 victory against North Lake College on Nov. 16 in Levelland.

Prim scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds, hitting six of his nine shots from the IMG_1124floor. Orlina added 14 points, five assists and four steals. He hit six of his nine shots from the field. Antonio recorded 13 points, four rebounds and three steals, hitting five of his 13 attempts.

Joseph scored nine points off of the bench, going 3-for-3 from the three-point line. Trey Wade added nine points and five rebounds, while Christian Wilson put up seven points.

SPC shot 42 percent from the floor and 42 percent from the three-point line, forcing 16 turnovers resulting in 18 points.

The Texans improved to 4-0 after stomping Dodge City Community College 108-96 victory on Nov. 10 in Liberal, Kansas.

Barett led the scoring for the Texans with 20 points, hitting seven of his nine shots from the field. Barett was 4-for-5 from the 3-point line in his 19 minutes of play. Prim recorded a double-double, grabbing 17 points to go along with 13 rebounds. Prim hit six of his 10 shots from the field and blocked five shots.

Antonio grabbed 17 points, hitting seven of 10 attempts from the field, and was 3-for-5 from the 3-point line. Joseph added 11 points and hit four of his seven attempts, while Wilson grabbed eight points and Trey Wade grabbed seven.

The Texans shot 54 percent from the floor and outrebounded DCCC 52-30. They scored 20 points on 15 forced turnovers.

SPC slipped past Seward County Community College with a 79-76 victory on Nov. 9 in Liberal, Kansas.

Prim blocked a shot at the rim in the last second of the game, sealing the 79-76 victory.

Prim finished 11-of-14 from the field and six-of-eight from the free throw line, and was 3-for-3 from the 3-point line. Sophomore Charles Jennings added 16 points and three assists, hitting six of his 14 shots in 13 minutes on the court. Trey Wade finished with 10 points and four rebounds, while Antonio chipped in nine points. Trevin Wade added six points, two assists and two steals.

The Texans shot 46.4 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from the 3-point line.

SPC returned to action Dec. 1 against Frank Phillips College in Borger. Results were not available at press time.

Baptist Student Ministry, Wesley Foundation offer lunches for SPC



South Plains College has so many best kept secrets. They are the things that make it stand out as a really special campus.

One that stands out for me is 50-cent lunches. These lunches are provided Mondays and Thursdays at 203 Magnolia Street in Levelland, and at 201 Magnolia Street on Tuesdays.  Even though the meals are only 50 cents, they far exceed that with flavor.

There is variety in the meals, as some days it may be brisket, sloppy joes, baked potatoes, casserole, taco soup, bean soup, pizza and many more.  It’s definitely worth well more than the cost they charge.

Matt Berry is the director of the Baptist student ministry, which has been around for 59 years. They started serving lunches about 40 years ago, but it has always cost 50 cents. They serve lunch from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays.

The BSM started offering the lunch, provided for the students and staff at SPC, to meet a couple of needs. One was to reach out to students who are in need of anything they can help with spiritually. They also fill the stomach of hungry students, because lots of students are skipping meals due to not having the funds needed to buy groceries to eat.

They have two full-time staff members and the rest are volunteers, including 12 student leaders who also help.

Food is donated by churches in the area, with paper goods provided by BSM.

The area churches that help with this ministry are: Second Baptist Church in Levelland; First Baptist Church in Whiteface; First Baptist Church in Meadow; Fifth Baptist Church in Levelland; First Baptist Church – women in Levelland; First Baptist Church in Brownfield; Ridgecrest Baptist Church; Calvary Church; First Baptist Church in Ropesville; First Assembly of God in Levelland; First Baptist Church-men in Levelland; First Baptist Church in Sudan; Baptist Church in Wellman; Baptist Church in Smyer; Bledsoe/ New Trinity; First Baptist Church in Plains; First Baptist Church in Littlefield; First Baptist Church in Morton; College Avenue Baptist Church; Park Avenue Drive Baptist Church; First Baptist Church in Whitharral; Fairview Baptist Church; and First Baptist Church in Whiteface.

They feed approximately 150 people on any given day. Whether you are going to fill your stomach, or you are going to meet other needs, you will always be greeted with a smile from everyone you meet.

Tuesdays are served by the Wesley Foundation at 201 Magnolia Street. The Wesley Foundation is a student ministry of the First United Methodist Church designed to spread the love of Jesus to the SPC campus. They do various activities which try to involve the students and, in turn, deepen their relationship with the Father. The Director of the Wesley Foundation is Chelsey Jones, who has served as the director for four years. They have provided meals for 40 years to the staff and students as well.

So, if you have not found this “Best kept secret,” which no one is trying to keep a secret, they would like everyone to know where and what they are doing. Just remember to say thank you for everything they are providing.

Gililland crowned Miss Caprock at annual scholarship pageant

Rebecca Gililland was crowned Miss Caprock during the 61st annual scholarship pageant at South Plains College.

The event was held on Nov. 16 in the Tom T. Hall Recording and Production Studio in the Creative Arts Building on the Levelland campus.

“I am so excited,” said Gililland after being crowned as the winner. “I am so honored to be Miss Caprock. It has honestly been one of my goals since last year.”

The daughter of Marsha and Tony Gililland of Wolfforth represented the Student Government Association. She said that she hopes to use the $750 scholarship toward finishing her mentor program, as well as helping to give back to her parents who have supported her while in school.

“I did not run last year,” Gililland said. “Honestly, I was too shy. It took a lot in me to get up here this year, but I am really glad I did.”

All of the contestants participated in an interview session with the judges earlier in the day. The interview is worth 50 percent of the participant’s overall score.

During the show, after both the ‘After 5 Wear’ and ‘Formal Wear’, which comprised of 25 percent of the scoring, the top five contestants answered onstage questions from the judges, which covered the remaining 25 percent.

Gililland’s answer to the one stage question was that her greatest academic achievement was receiving Psychology Student of The Year Award, because it gave her the confidence she needed to continue to pursue a challenging career path.

“I am so excited,” Gililland said. “I had the goal of doing the pageant since last year. Every girl on that stage deserved it, and I am so honored and thankful that they chose me.”

Susannah Reeser, 20, a sophomore Pre-Medical major from Guadalajara, Jalisco, received a $500 scholarship after finishing as the first-runner up. Reeser represented the Biology Club.

Rounding out the top five contestants for the night were: Autumn Bippert, 20, a sophomore Photojournalism major from Georgetown, who represented the Press Club and the Plainsman Press; Julie Chavez, 19, a freshman English major from Lazbuddie, who represented the Residence Hall Association; and Dominique Gonzales, 20, a sophomore Accounting major from Whiteface, who represented Campus Ambassadors.

The other contestants included: Allyssa Almager, 19, a sophomore Pre-Veterinary Medicine major from Levelland, who represented the STAR Center; Shannell Alvarez, 20, a sophomore Pre-Nursing Major from Lubbock, who represented Catholic Student Ministries; Ashly Letcher, 20, a sophomore Geology major from Artesia, N.M, who represented Campus Ambassadors; and Danisha Lewis, 18, a freshman Sports Broadcasting major from Lubbock, who represented the Black Student Union.

Jemaiyo captures NJCAA Half Marathon National Championship

The South Plains College men’s and women’s cross country teams placed in the top 10 at the 2018 NJCAA Cross Country National Championships.

The meet was held at Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kansas, on Nov. 10.

The Lady Texans placed fifth with a total of 207 points and an average time of 20:28. Freshman Gladys Jemaiyo placed second in the women’s 5-kilometer race, finishing with a time of 18:43. Freshman Dorcus Ewoi finished 16th with a time of 19:45.3, while Angela Rodriguez finished 38th and earned All-American honors for her effort.

Erik Vance, head track and field coach at SPC, said, “I thought the women’s team performed great at the Cross Country Championships.”

Iowa Central won the women’s division with 45 points. El Paso Community College placed second with 70 points, followed by Southern Idaho with 100 points and Cowley County with 138 points.

The Texans finished ninth with 239 points and an average time of 27:30. Sophomore Filmon Beyene placed sixth with a time of 26:02.2 in the men’s 8-kilometer race. Sophomore Andrew Bosquez finished 13th with a time of 26:29.5, while sophomore Jesse Madrid finished 38th with a time of 27:27.7.

Alex Kitum finished 146th with a time of 29:38.8 and Ulises Cardoza finished 159th with a time of 29:50.7.

“On the men’s side, we had some stellar performances,” said Vance.

Annual campus report shows increase in crime

The annual crime report for South Plains College for 2017 shows an increase of burglary, drug and alcohol violations on campus.

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, which was passed in 1990, requires by law that all colleges and universities that receive federal funding share information about certain crimes which occur on and around campus.

The report is collected, reported and disseminated by the Vice President for Student Affairs, Dr. Stan DeMerritt, with assistance from the Dean of Students, Dr. Lynn Cleavinger, and the Chief of the South Plains College Police Department, Nikolis Castillo, before Oct. 1 of each year.

Burglary on the Levelland campus increased to four cases in 2017, compared to one in 2016. All were reported from on-campus student housing. There were also six cases of burglary on public property that were reported to the Levelland campus.

“By far, the most common crime is theft,” Chief Castillo said. “The most common reason that it occurs is that items are left unattended or doors are left unlocked. It is very rare that items are stolen from secured locations.”

There were no cases of aggravated assault reported on the Levelland campus, which is a decrease from one in 2016. However, there was an increase of four charges reported to the Levelland campus that occured on public property.

Chief Castillo explained that the Clery Act requires that all crime that occurs on public property adjacent to campus be reported as well.

“If a crime occurs in one of the reportable geographic areas, we must report it if it is known to the local agency of that area,” Chief Castillo explained. “So those crimes that are reported in those sections may or may not have been investigated by the South Plains College Police Department. We do have jurisdiction in the entire county, so we do handle some of those calls. But some of them are just those we are aware of and we want to make sure the community is aware as well.”

Motor vehicle theft increased by one from zero in the previous year. The incident occured at on-campus student housing.

There was a large increase in arrests and disciplinary referrals on the Levelland campus.

There were 19 disciplinary referrals for drug abuse violations, 15 more than the previous year. All of the drug abuse violations occurred in on-campus student housing.

Arrests and disciplinary referrals for liquor law violations also increased largely. A total of 28 arrests were made in 2017, compared to only 15 in 2016. There was a total of 47 disciplinary referrals in 2017, an increase of 16 from 31 in 2016.

“I believe we have a rise in the drug and liquor violations for a number of reasons,” Chief Castillo said. “First, there has been a rise in drug and liquor use across the country, and we get a portion of that. Second, we are encouraging reporting much more than was done in the past, and we have seen an increase in reporting because of that. We have also increased the rate at which we investigate and pursue allegations, which causes an increase in the number reported. We also have greater technology to assist in determining if alcohol has actually been consumed.”

There was one report to the Levelland campus of intimidation that occured online.

There was a decline in the number of rape, aggravated assault, dating violence and stalking cases, as well as arrests for carrying and possessing weapons.

Rape, aggravated assault, dating violence, and arrests for weapons all dropped to zero in 2017 from one in 2016.

Reports of stalking on the Levelland campus also dropped to zero in 2017, from one in 2016.

There were no reports or arrests at the Reese Center campus and Plainview Center campus.

The Byron Martin Advanced Technology Center and Lubbock Center campus both had one report of domestic violence that occured on non-campus property.

The Byron Martin Advanced Technology Center also had one report of motor vehicle theft, which occurred on non-campus property.

“We have a very low crime rate for each campus in comparison to the municipality in which it is in,” Chief Castillo explained. “However, we are still a part of the city, and we have an open area campus and we do see some crime”

Chief Castillo said that the South Plains College Police Department is working diligently with the college administration and making great strides in improving campus safety. The College has made efforts to make reporting and complaint forms available online at

A full copy of the Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics report can be found online at under Security, Crime and Fire Safety Reports.

Freshman editor finds family among staff



After my first day in the Newsroom, I wondered, “What in the world had I just done?”

It was weird and uncomfortable for the first few classes because the editor-in-chief was teaching some things.

Everyone was new, so thankfully I wasn’t alone. But I do recall that there was a large population of gingers that seemed threatening.

It’s hard to believe that so much is changing so fast. I will graduate in Spring of 2019 because of the number of dual credit classes I took in high school. I will not be on the Plainsman Press staff, and I will see little of the friends I have made in this class. Graduating in one year put me on a fast track, one that I am thankful for but sad to walk on. I have little time to make friends and keep up with my work during the semester. But in the Newsroom, I did both.46854697_1867617543363818_6738268027692777472_n

Being a freshman, I had no clue what to do or how to handle college life. The Newsroom became a constant I didn’t realize I needed. I became an editor for the Feature section, as well as Charlie’s student assistant, and moved to Levelland during my second week of school. I realized to be involved more in this class, I needed to let go of my old life. I couldn’t balance going to my hometown every day while taking six classes and doing what I wanted. To better myself, I had to learn to let go, and the Newsroom gave me a reason to do that.

When I left home officially, I became more involved and dedicated to the Newsroom that I don’t regret. It taught me many different things that I know will help me in any path I choose to take within the next few years.

I learned many positive things and had such happy moments with my classmates that really helped me handle my personal problems. There’s something about forgetting your personal problems and pretending that the people in Room 130 are the only ones who matter. Working together on Paper Nights felt like that if we wanted to talk about our messed up life, we did, and if we didn’t we just worked together to finish and go to bed.

Paper Nights were the best and worst of the newspaper. It was great sometimes. We would make jokes, people would be put in a jar, and no one ever had cash for drinks. There was laughing, crying, sleeping, and yelling sometimes that were both good and bad. I think all the emotion was positive. It meant that we cared, even on a small level, about each other from the beginning. If there was no emotion, it would’ve been a bleak and gray situation where no one cared about how the paper turned out, or how everyone was feeling. We all knew how everyone felt because we had already felt it by the last night. Everyone of us has felt the frustration, anger, hate, happiness, contentment, and the feeling that it’ll be worth it.

That’s what I will miss the most about the Newsroom. When you’re new on campus, with no friends, it’s hard to find someone who knows and understands you in such a short time. We became a family not because we love each other; we became a real family because we couldn’t chose anyone else and we had to deal with these weird people.

In the Newsroom, we don’t always understand why Reece, the entertainment editor, is so chill yet so edgy with endless comments. It’s ok because he listens to all of our crazy stories and brings his dog, who we love more than him anyways; We don’t understand Makayla, the news editor, at all, or her love of chickens. There was never one Paper Night when she wasn’t taking pictures of us in our “natural state,” but her weird homeschool logic was hilarious.

46986557_700335267006997_8972904155630796800_nDebra, a staff writer, came in and made her place in our little club. She feeds us, and for that we all love her. Chocolate and coffee is the way to all of our hearts, except maybe Kendall. I will never understand the redhead power that is Autumn, editor-in-chief, and Kendall, the associate/sports editor. Their ability to pick at your rough draft layout is beyond God-like and makes you realize you’re just not going to reach their level, like ever. Kendall is blunt, especially when you talk or look at him. Be warned that he will take over the headline that you are working on. Autumn tends to be more polite than Kendall, and together they balance each other out. But advice for future students, bring headphones to class.

Kait, the photo editor, is probably the most normal. She’ll be nice to you. Just don’t mention her dead fish, either half. She does have a large amount of sticky notes in the jar, but you will definitely have a laugh when she’s around. Charlie, well, you know him when you meet him, no matter where or what he’s doing. He is just as weird as the rest of us, and he makes an effort to bring us together, be understanding, and subtly show that he’s better at writing headlines than anyone. In return, we love him, deal with his side comments, and tell him we are almost done when we barely start on our stories. I gave him a writer and editor, but he gave me this family, a major, knowledge, and guidance which led me to being where I am today.

Out of everyone’s weird quirks, we do understand that we are stuck together until at least the end of the semester, and I like to think we have a soft spot, even when we hate each other. We don’t choose our families, and neither did any of us when we joined this class. But I know none of us have regrets.

Paper Nights always mean family dinner, and family dinner means free food. So I highly suggest becoming an editor. Dinner meant sharing, and it’s where we got comfortable talking to each other about our lives. A tip for future students, just keep your hand on your face at all times. It makes it quicker to get to your nose. I’ll miss the vape breaks. It meant that the three amigos were leaving, so Reece, Makayla, and I could rant. Lastly, when Paper Night is over and everyone can leave, it brings a sense of accomplishment and urgency to get home and sleep.

I know my time is over here. I hope the next person who fills my seat understands how important this class really is and how it changes you. I learned how to deal with people when I am frustrated, the many, many hours it takes to make a paper, and how fast I can type more than 600 words. There are so many things that I can’t fit into one article. But I do want to share a life-saving tip to surviving and saving money. No matter how many opportunities you have to say something inappropriate, restrain yourself. Text your friend, and if you laugh, make sure you’re looking at your phone so you can say it was a cat video.

Student finds career inspiration from family



There are two choices when leaving high school: go to college or get a job.

Not many people have the luxury to spending a year finding themselves in a foreign country. Carolyn Sinklier, an education major at South Plains College, knew this and made the decision to better herself for others.

“It was my brothers, and counseling.” Sinklier said. “I didn’t want them to see how everything affected me. They absorb what I do, and I didn’t want that for them. So I changed for my brothers and for me.”

Raised in her hometown of Brownfield, Sinklier lived there with her mother and three siblings. Soon after, she and her siblings would be separated into different foster homes.

After two years of separation, Sinklier and her siblings were adopted by a couple in Abernathy, Texas. The couple already had two biological children of their own. When Sinklier moved to Abernathy, she attended Abernathy High School for the remainder of her high school career and graduated in a class of 42.

Sinklier chose to go to college, where she aspires to be a teacher to elementary students who struggle with autism.

“All of my biological brothers are autistic,” Sinklier says. “They are the ones who inspire me; I love them.”

Family is important to Sinklier. When she was separated from her siblings, she found perseverance by thinking of them. She has always spent quality time with her siblings and practically raised her younger brothers. This challenge gave her positive experiences in how to handle multiple individuals with autism and the mental challenge that comes with raising them.

“My mom lost it and did illegal activity that kept her out of the house and me and my siblings alone,” Sinklier explains. “I had a responsibility.”

That responsibility helped Sinklier find who she wants to become. She plans to graduate from SPC in the coming years, and started off her freshman year with a spring in her step and motivation to be better.

When not taking classes, Sinklier does make time to go see both her biological and foster family that are both close by SPC. Bettering her relationships, building life-long friendships, and fulfilling her dreams, she has found a home at SPC.

“I really like how SPC has a smaller campus,” Sinklier explains. “Being able to have a one-on-one with instructors and building that connection so I can learn better.”

She has found a way to fit into the college life as she has adjusted to all the other changes in her life. As of now, Sinklier plans to stay on this course, hoping to attend a four-year college when she graduates from SPC.

Sinklier says that she is “going where life takes me,” and, for now, she is enjoying the best of SPC.

“SPC has free cable and awesome french fries,” Sinklier says.

Her biggest problems include, like many other college students, procrastination and time management.

“In college, you are responsible for getting to class and turning in work,” explains Sinklier. “I forget about my deadlines and don’t pay attention. I have missed a whole module.”

However, with the connections she has made with her teachers, Sinklier says she will still pass and make it to her second semester. Through the struggle, Sinklier says she is “taking the good with the bad” at SPC and realizes that there will be more good than bad in the end.

“There’s a lot of damage, but if none of that would’ve happened, I would probably be pregnant, selling drugs, and living paycheck to paycheck,” Sinklier says. “I am one of ‘Vickie’s’ kids, but that doesn’t mean I am her. She has a reputation, and I am not following in her shadow. But now I’m in college. I have my own car, and I am going to be my own person, not what others want me to be.”

‘Fallout76’ disappoints with server, game-play glitches

The “Fallout” series follows the survivors of a nuclear apocalypse who spent a long time in “Vaults” while waiting for radiation to die down to livable levels for human beings to survive.

“Fallout 76” is not different in that respect, only now the survivors you meet get to be other “Fallout” players instead of non-player characters.

The new game by Bethesda begins like other “Fallout” games in the series, with the vault dweller waking up leaving their now abandoned vault. The game immediately opens up, and players can do whatever they want, giving the game a “sandbox” feel. This sandbox does have quests, including a short tutorial. Overall, the game feels exactly like its predecessor, “Fallout 4.”

That is, until the player realizes, “Wait, this is Fallout 4… online.” I can’t say if this is particularly a bad thing, but it does take some getting used to. Immediately after hitting the world of “Fallout 76,” I wanted to explore on my own. My friends who were online at the same time wanted me to stop what I was doing to check out something new that they had found, or help with a fight.

“Fallout 76” has extra features, though, including the C.A.M.P. system, which acts almost like a settlement from “Fallout 4,” except, it is your very own. The C.A.M.P. is fully customizable, with some of the content and structures gated behind specific prerequisites. Not much of this is incredibly “new” to a “Fallout 4” player.

The game has so much lore hidden between the lines. There are countless terminals to hack to learn the story about a specific place, or written letters to find and read. Most of the clues found point to certain events, or context to the world in which the “Survivor” is now living in. It is up to the player to read the lore and put the pieces together to find out what is going on in the world of “Fallout 76,” just like it was in “Fallout 4” but with less of the story being spoon-fed to the player using NPC’s (Non-Player Characters).

In fact, there are not any human NPC’s, only robots in “Fallout 76.” The only other humans I have encountered are other players. The fact that this is an online game is what makes it so brilliant. I have always wanted to be in a group of survivors rather than a lone survivor. But sometimes playing in a group hinders the player in ways that were unexpected.

The game is absolutely broken. The number of bugs and glitches in the game (on the PS4, at least) is staggering. If there are more than four “entities” nearby, such as players, NPCs, or enemies, the frame rate slows to stupidly low numbers. This makes much of the combat choppy. It is honestly not as fun as it should be to take on a horde of the new enemy, “The Scorched,” as one might think, because the player is constantly experiencing massive frame drops. God forbid a player decides to use an automatic weapon. Using one does all but crash the game.

There are also many “clipping” issues when players can get stuck or hung up on physical, unmoving objects. Additionally, the menus are unbelievably laggy when used in the heat of combat, which is something that a player has to frequently do. Opening the pipboy is a death sentence, and the quick radial menu is sometimes unresponsive to inputs. So switching weapons or frantically searching for meds usually gets the player killed, instead of giving them the upper hand.

“Fallout 76” has a ton of content. The map is huge, and more content is being planned already. There are parts of the map that are unused for future expansions, which is something to look forward to. The game needs many improvements, especially towards the optimization and frame rates.

Other than frequently encountered, (almost) game-breaking bugs, the game is a solid hit. Bethesda continues to deliver the RPG that their fan-base says they never deliver. The potential that I see for “Fallout 76” is that it will be a long-standing online RPG that many players will never want to put down. I’ll have to give this game two scores. Pre-bug fixes, I give “Fallout 76” a 4/10. Wake up, Bethesda! Why would you sell such a broken game? Post-bug fixes, I give “Fallout 76” a 9/10.

Animated Adaption of holiday classic defines Christmas spirit



The green, grouchy, Grinch is back again trying to steal Christmas from all the Whos in Whoville.

The new animated version of  Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” offers a kinder view of the lovable and sometimes relatable character, who learns a lesson that teaches adults and children alike.

The-Grinch-2018In the movie, the Grinch, voiced by the dazzling Benedict Cumberbatch, tells the story from his point of view, as a grumpy and miserable outcast whose heart is “three sizes too small.” His voice, along with Will Pharrell’s narrative voice, gives the movie a more cheerful version than the 2000 Ron Howard-Jim Carrey collaboration where the Grinch was more mean and hateful.  He explains that he hates Christmas because of his childhood, and, in this version, how alone he was during this time of year as an orphan. He had no home, no family, no presents, and no joy. Because of this, he grew to be bitter and resentful towards Christmas and everything about it.

In this new animated version, there are the original characters such as the Grinch’s dog, Max, who is just as cute as he is in all the other versions. Cindy-Lou Who, with her bright blonde hair and can-do attitude, is crucial to getting the Grinch’s heart to love Christmas. Other characters not in other films include a bearded neighbor who provides comedic relief. I was confused about why the Grinch had neighbors in the first place, but the storyline still follows the same general path with only small tweaks. By having a neighbor, it shows him not being cast out from society but being isolated by his own action. Hopefully that teaches kids about a friendlier community than in other versions where the Grinch was cast out.

As the storyline progresses, the Grinch’s hate reaches a breaking point, so he decides to deviously plan to steal Christmas from the Whos. He becomes the anti-Santa, who, instead of giving, takes away Christmas in the hopes of stopping the celebration.o-grinch-750x380

The Grinch makes the outfit himself and finds a different mode of transportation than expected. He acquires a sleigh through illegal activity, which I assume he makes right by the end of the film. He turns the sleigh into a contraption only Dr. Seuss could have made up to properly execute his plan. This sleigh includes more high tech features than expected, but I do like that the creators were more modern in the design.

As the old story progresses, the next part features the Grinch making the outfit to really play the part of Santa. Music accompanies this entire process with a spin on the song “You’re a Mean One, Mr.Grinch.” He does a test run with his new equipment to reach the roofs of the houses with his giant bag to carry the stolen items. However, his mode of transportation has a secret the Grinch didn’t know about. The audience sees that the Grinch just might have a heart, or at least the audience sees he isn’t the monster that everyone, him included, believes.

imgres-2The Grinch finds another way by “promoting” Max. They ride on Christmas Eve night to stop Christmas. They succeed, and at the last house they meet Cindy Lou-Who, the girl who plants the seed that changes the story.

In the beginning of the movie, Cindy is planning just like the Grinch was planning. She wants to catch Santa to ask him a very big Christmas wish. Instead, she catches the Grinch instead of Santa, and he convinces her to go back to bed before he is found out.

She touches his heart, and those of many others, by asking for her special Christmas wish. Cindy explains the momentum of each Christmas holiday and the real meaning. It’s not about the materialistic things; it’s the people you spend it with.

The community continues to sing, even without the presents and trees. Just like in other versions, the Grinch sees this as he is staring down from the cliff. This causes him to have a change of heart, literally and figuratively, by having his heart grow three times as big as his original.

He wants to give back Christmas, but it was already going over a cliff. There’s a nice surprise twist that warms the hearts of the audience. In a miracle event, the characters go back to Whoville with Christmas in the backseat.

The Grinch apologizes and explains himself before heading home. He is adjusting to being nice instead of mean, even giving Max a special present at the end. In another surprise twist, the Grinch does fulfill Cindy Lou-Who’s Christmas wish in a special way. They take him in and include him in the celebration. Finally, he feels happy on Christmas.

I think the movie is great. It was different than the other version I have seen, but the extra characters were not too overdone and fit well into Seuss’ world. The movie left me smiling and wishing for more. It definitely got me into the upcoming holiday season.

The animation was really detailed and well executed. The new take on the movie was a bit odd, but the change was needed. I originally thought that it would be something I paid only half attention to, but that was not the case. Since there are different characters, it kept the audience intrigued and paying attention. On the downside, the kids were not what I thought they would look like. However, that is a small price to pay for such an amazing experience and movie.

I give “The Grinch” a  9/10.

Beloved professor remembered for kind heart

Dr. Annette E. Smith, a beloved professor at South Plains College, is fondly remembered for her joyous spirit and kind heart.

Dr. Smith passed away November 11, 2018. A visitation was held on Nov. 13 at Lake Ridge Chapel and Memorial Designers in Lubbock. Family and friends also gathered to celebrate her life of 58 years on Nov. 14 in the Sundown Room of the Student Center at SPC in Levelland.

“I have never known a stronger or braver woman than Dr. Annette Smith,” said Dr. Gale Malone, Smith’s friend and supervisor. “She faced, with incredible courage, the most challenging of treatments, undergoing chemo or radiation in the morning, and then coming to campus to teach her classes in the afternoon during the fall 2017 and spring 2018… One of my favorite memories is her hugging a track student who had been up to the third floor of the Library for tutoring.  I heard her say that she knew he missed his momma, so she was going to give him a momma hug. They both had tears in their eyes.  It was just one of the sweet acts of kindness she showed her many students.”

Dr. Smith was born on April 3, 1960 in Waco, Texas. She graduated from Robert E. Lee High school and married Aaron Smith in Maui, Hawaii on March 16, 1992. Smith attended Midland College earning her Associates in General Studies. She then transferred to Texas Tech University and received her bachelors of Business Administrations and her Masters in Education. Smith had also recently received her doctorate from TTU.

She began teaching at South Plains College in 2005, serving as Professor of Education and Coordinator of the Associate of Arts in Teaching program.

“Dr. Smith was my advisor, professor, mentor, and friend,” said Amy McChesney-Hays, one of Smith’s former students. “Dr. Smith was so passionate about the Associate of Arts in Teaching program that she designed 14-plus years ago… This amazing woman not only taught me how to be a better teacher by teaching me how to make a lesson plan, but also how to listen, encourage others, to be fair, kind, and tough when I needed to be. She cared about the whole person, even if the student decided to pursue another path.”

“Dr. Smith ALWAYS put others before herself,” McChesney-Hays added. “Even arranging her medical treatments around her teaching schedule so that she wouldn’t miss class. She was a passionate woman who cared about her current, former, and future students…  Dr. Smith has touched so many lives by helping to create caring teachers who are passionate about teaching and passionate about changing the lives of others. I will miss her tremendously!”

Dr. Smith was a member of many professional organizations, as well as being Section Chair for the Associate of Arts in Teaching with the Texas Community College Teachers Association (TCCTA). She was also a founding member and officer of TCCTA and had been recognized for her excellence in teaching. Dr. Smith also was an active member of the Rotary International in Levelland, Texas.

“Mama Smith was one of the most remarkable women I’ve ever met,” said Katy Crutcher, another one of Smith’s former students. “She took time out of her day to help ANYONE who needed it. One of the things I always remember her saying is that “Your students will work their hardest to rise to the expectations that you set for them.” I always try to remember this in my classroom and push my students to be the best they can be, just as she did for ALL of her students. She definitely left a mark on my heart, and I will be forever grateful for everything she did to help me become the teacher I am today.”

Retiring librarian sad to leave, happy about starting new chapter in life

With plans for the future, James Belcher is retiring after working for South Plains College’s Library for 10 years.

Belcher, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, living there until he was about 6 years old. His family later moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where he lived until he graduated from high school.

Belcher attended John Brown University in Arkansas for his freshman year, then transferred to Oklahoma State, where he completed his bachelor’s degree.

After college, he served in the United States Navy for four years. Most of his time was spent at Whiting Field in Milton, Florida, which was the primary flight training base for the Navy. Belcher was an air traffic controller.

“Pilots earned their wings at our base and then moved on to advanced training,” Belcher said.

After Belcher served for four years, he earned his Master of Business Administration degree at Texas Tech University and later earned a master’s degree in Library Science at the University of Oklahoma.

Before he came to SPC, Belcher worked at three other libraries, Lanier Elementary School Library in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Fallsburg Public Library in South Fallsburg, New York, and Neill Public Library in Pullman, Washington.

Belcher said he applied for the position at SPC because he wanted to return to Lubbock.

“I had thought I would stay in the public library sector,” he explained, “but there were no positions open in Lubbock.”

Being ready for a new challenge and seeing that SPC came highly recommended, he took a job at SPC’s Library.

“I still thought I would eventually go back to the public sector,” Belcher said. “But once I got here, I decided SPC was the place to be.”

Praising his staff, he said, “I am impressed every week by one or more of the staff at SPC with what they do or know or are willing to contribute.”

He mentioned that the staff at every place he has worked has been good, “but the staff here at SPC have been super good.” He said he hates to leave them (the staff) because they work hard and they work together, never losing focus on helping students succeed.

“I know they are capable and willing to keep the Library moving forward and contributing to SPC success,” said Belcher.

Belcher and his wife have two sons. One who he gets to see quite often works as a fireman in Lubbock. The other lives in Pullman, Washington, “so we do not see a lot of him or his family.” However, he hopes to change that now that he is retiring.

Belcher enjoys riding his bicycle, reading, working on puzzles, and puttering in his workshop. He said that he and his wife will try to do as much traveling as they can physically stand and afford.

“We have some mission work we want to get into, and, of course, lots of books to read,” said Belcher of his retirement plans.

Lopez retiring after 41 years in nursing, health occupations

When she was growing up, Sue Ann Lopez could never remember wanting to do anything else besides being a nurse.

Lopez is retiring from serving as the Dean of Health Occupations after 24 years at South Plains College.

She grew up in Statesboro, Georgia, attending high school there as well. Lopez said she did some of her pre-nursing coursework at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.

“At that time, they did not have a school of nursing,” recalls Lopez. “Then I transferred to Valdosta State University. I completed my BSN in June. And then in September, I started my master’s at the Medical College of Georgia and finished that a year later and then practiced.”

Lopez completed her BSN in 1976 and her master’s degree in 1977. Then she began her career working in a hospital before working in private practice. She also taught at Georgia Southern University for four years after they started a BSN program.

Lopez moved to Levelland in 1994 to begin working at SPC.

“My husband’s home is here, and so I was teaching at the BSN program back home and it just, for whatever reason, seemed like a good time to move,” Lopez explained. “There were a lot of changes going on within the department, within the division that we were in, and felt like the best thing to do would be to relocate.”

Lopez said her husband told her about SPC. He grew up in Levelland and attended SPC. She said she made a few phone calls and found out there was a teaching position in the Associate Degree Nursing program.

“The rest is history,” Lopez said. “I came and I interviewed over what was our spring break. It was a great place, and I like the town. It’s pretty much the same as the town where we were living, and I got offered the job and we moved.”

Lopez began as an instructor in the ADN program in the fall of 1994. In June of 1998, she became the Director of the ADN program and the vocational nursing program on the Levelland campus. She became dean of health occupations in 2010.

Lopez said she has seen growth in the number of students during her time at SPC. She said that the enrollment growth led to the expansion of facilities, including a new building, and locations.

Lopez said that even though she has seen large growth, the focus of the college has not changed. It has always been student oriented.

“That is our main focus, the students,” explained Lopez, “because without students, there is no need for any of the rest of us to be here. I think that when you look at the faculty, and the staff and administration, you can tell that this is their passion. This is what they love to do. And it comes across in their teaching and in their interactions with students, other faculty and staff.”

Lopez said that she has stayed at SPC so long because she loves her job. She said that it has been the best place she has ever worked.

The profession of nursing has changed a lot since Lopez first began school.

“I would love to take the students back to when I first went into nursing,” Lopez said. “I would like to take them either from even further back, because my mother was a nurse, and she graduated from nursing school in 1946.”

Lopez explained that when her mother was a nurse, there wasn’t a lab and nurses had to draw their own labs, type and cross blood. She said the nurses had to do everything themselves.

Lopez said that when she first started practicing, IV bottles were glass, and now they are collapsible bags. She also said that when she began nursing, there were very few procedures nurses would use gloves for. Now gloves are used in everything they do.

“It has changed dramatically,” Lopez said. “One thing that hasn’t changed, unfortunately, is the paperwork. You don’t have actual paper. Now we have the same type of charting that is on a computer. I would like to see nurses get back to the bedside more and be able to spend the time with the patient, as opposed to having to hurry because they’ve got a chart. And that will never change. Charting is a necessary evil for our job, but I would like to see the focus go back to the patient and be more at the bedside.”

Lopez said that when when she begins orientation for a new class of student nurses, she always asks the students why they want to become a nurse. She said that she receives answers all across the board, such as their parents wanted them to, they know they’ll always be able to make money and have a job, or even because they’ve experienced something happen in their lives when a nurse played an important role.

“But the one thing that I think you have to have is nursing has to be your passion,” Lopez added. “I can never remember wanting to do anything else. Yes, my mom was a nurse. But I was never told that I had to be a nurse. Nursing is so diverse, and there are so many different jobs that are available in nursing. You don’t have to go in a hospital; you don’t have to go in a clinic. There’s so much open that you’re not just put in a little cubby hole, so to speak. You can do any number of things that you want to do. But it needs to be your passion.”

Romance author shares passion for writing at book signing

Jodi Thomas always dreamed of becoming a New York Times best-selling author.

Thomas came to South Plains College’s Library In Levelland on Nov. 12 and opened her speech with the question, “How many of you are interested in becoming writers?” After a show of hands, Thomas said “I never quit writing, because I didn’t want God to say, ‘if you would have written one more book, you would have hit big.’”

She told the audience that she estimates that she has about 20 million books in print. She explained that two things made it easy for her to be a writer.

“One is I have a very loose grip on reality,” said Thomas, adding that she has daydreamed ever since she was a little girl. “The second thing that made it easy for me to become a writer is I come from a long line of liars.”

She told a short story about her uncle who will have a fender bender and by the time he has told the story 10 times, he is saying that it was a neardeath experience. Before Thomas began telling about her journey, she said, “I am a story teller; I am not trying to write a great American novel.”

Thomas then described her childhood, saying, “I am the daughter of a father who was a bus driver and a mother who checked groceries,” Thomas said.

She went on to explain that both of her parents read all of the time. However, her first challenge she had to overcome was that she did not read until the fourth grade. One of her teachers had spotted her learning disability and sent her to a special summer school in Amarillo, which is where she is from.

“Now, when you learn to read after the fourth grade, you don’t catch up immediately,” Thomas said. She explained that she caught up by her junior year in high school.

“I do not look at dyslexia as a handicap,” Thomas said. “I look at it as a blessing. For four years, I sat in a classroom and couldn’t read. I made up stories about everybody, and my imagination might have not grown as great if I hadn’t had that disability.”

She paused before adding, “When hard times hit, there’s always a blessing.”

By the time Thomas was a junior in high school, her dad was blind and could not work. She explained that she and her siblings had to go get jobs because her mother could not make a living sacking groceries.

“I had very little interest in school,” Thomas said. “I graduated from high school in the bottom fourth of my class.”

One of her goals was to buy a Camaro, so she saved as much money as she could for one. However, during her senior year of high school, she had to take a remedial English class. In that class, there was a boy named Thomas Koumalats.

“I remember thinking, if lightning didn’t strike that guy, I was going to marry him,” Thomas said. She found out that he was going to college, so she decided to take the money she had saved for a Camaro and go to college too.

“The only place that would let me in was Amarillo College,” she said. “We’d sit in the library and hold hands under the table.”

Two years later, they were still dating and both decided to go to Texas Tech University. Not knowing what to major in, her mother suggested she major in home economics, so she did. Two years later, during their senior year, Thomas Koumalats was drafted to the Vietnam War. Wanting to live together before he went off to war, they got married after they had graduated.

“As soon as he got out of the Army, we went back to school to get our masters,” Thomas said.

By the time she went back to college, she knew that she did not want to work in home economics. So, she decided to be a family counselor. After 18 months, she got her degree in marriage and family counseling. Because of a man who welcomed her into his practice, she did not have to set one up. After six months, she decided that family counseling was harder than teaching home economics. So, she went back to teaching at a high school and at Amarillo College.

Thomas and her husband bought a house and had a couple of kids. However, her dream of being a writer was still there.

“I began to write, Saturday mornings, a few hours at school, and it became slowly a passion,” she explained. “The stories were coming faster than I could write them. I will never live long enough to write all the books I want to write.”

She advised that the best thing to do if you want to become a writer is to take master classes, adding that “James Patterson has an excellent one.”

Thomas entered several writing contests and took several writing classes. However, she got her big start when she attended a convention. Her husband heard about the national Romance Writers of America Convention that was being held in Dallas.

“We did not have the money for me to go to Dallas and spend the weekend,” Thomas said. Her husband told her, ‘we will put it on the credit card.’”

“When I checked in, they had given me a name tag that said writer, and it was like I had been an alien all my life and I had found my home planet,” Thomas said.

The last day she was there, she got a 10minute interview with a New York editor. Thomas told the editor that her book was about the Civil War, and before she could finish, the editor interrupted and said that they were not buying Civil War. So, Thomas started telling about another book she had written about early Texas during the bloody years.

The editor then asked, ‘how soon can you ship it to me?’ “I said, I’ll mail it before I go to sleep,” Thomas said.

She did not hear back from the editor all summer. Finally, while preparing for a lecture, she got a call from the editor who told her that they wanted to buy her book. There was a problem, though. Her legal name, Jodi Koumalats, would not fit on the book cover. Needing a pen name, she decided to take her husband’s first name as her last, Jodi Thomas.

Thomas’s career kicked off after her first book. She sold five books within the first 15 months. Her third book became a national best seller, which meant Thomas had to write full time. With her husband helping out with dishes and putting the kids to bed, Thomas was able to have more time to write at night.

Thomas has published 50 books and is working on book 51.

“They’re going to have to pull the pen from my hand to get it in the casket,” Thomas said, explaining that she will never stop writing.