Author: Autumn Bippert

Editor-in-Chief of the Plainsman Press, this is my second semester as Editor-in-Chief. I am a Sophomore Photojournalism student at SPC, from the Austin area.

‘Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’ adds depth of minor characters

Having to choose between her two worlds, Sabrina Spellman stands her ground against the Dark Lord in the second part  of  the Netflix original “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”

In part 2, Sabrina is devoting herself to her studies at the Academy of Unseen Arts, after signing her name in the Book of the Beast. Despite the dismay of Father Blackwood, played by Richard Coyle, she remains eager to do things her way. Challenging the status quo of how things are done at the Academy, or as she sees how they should be done, Sabrina is more powerful and self-assured than she has been before. So she is seen as a threat by the patriarchal forces that control her world.

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The episodes pick up right where they left off at the end of Part 1, with Sabrina trying to take down the Dark Lord from inside the Church of Night. It does not go particularly well, however. Part 2 also picks up with her power and popularity increasing, while her mortal friends have really complicated, mostly negative, feelings toward her.

This season, the writers and directors have added depth to characters who were previously almost one dimensional. Cousin Ambrose, played by Chance Perdomo, benefits the most from this, getting a tragic story arc that compels him to reveal what it is that he truly wants in the process. Madame Satan, played by Michelle Gomez, Harvey, played by Ross Lynch, Roz, played by Jaz Sinclair, and Susie, played by Lachlan Watson are also granted a newfound multi-dimensionality that catapults them into the narrative spotlight and forces viewers to recalibrate their perspectives on who these individuals are.

With Sabrina’s life getting increasingly dark as she learns more about the Path of Night, she still finds time to try to be an ordinary teen. Harvey, Sabrina’s ex-boyfriend, is still reeling from finding out that not only is his girlfriend a witch, she used her abilities to resurrect her dead brother. That wasn’t outweighed by that fact the she also helped his father stop drinking via a magic potion. While he understandably needs some space, he sees a potential love interest in Roz, who is one of Sabrina’s closest friends.

Sabrina has also moved on with a warlock, Nicholas Scratch, played by Gavin Leatherwood. But can a young warlock truly be as honorable and trustworthy as Nick in a society where men worship the Father of Lies?

Sabrina learns some hard truths in part 2 of the series about who to trust and how to stand up for herself despite her worries.

Part 2 takes the good parts of part 1 and adds more depth to characters and a better story arc. The show has amazing visuals throughout both parts. It also has actors who are amazing at portraying their characters with emotional depth, which keeps viewers invested.

I give part 2 of “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” a nine out of 10.

Doppelgängers torment unsuspecting family in ‘Us’

There are a number of different ways to interpret the new horror movie, “Us.” Every image seems to be a clue for what is about to happen.

At the start of the movie, titles inform the audience that there are thousands of miles of tunnels under the United States, stating that many “have no known purpose at all.”

Screen-Shot-2018-12-26-at-9.30.05-AM-1024x542After the opening titles, “Us” begins with a flash to 1986 with young Adelaide Wilson, played by Madison Curry, and her parents wandering through the Santa Cruz boardwalk at night. She separates from them to walk out on the empty beach, watching thunderclouds roll in. She finds an attraction just off the main pier, and walks into what looks like an abandoned hall of mirrors. While lost in the hall of mirrors, she discovers something terrifying, her doppelgänger.

The movie then shifts to present day, as the Wilson family is heading toward their vacation home. The little girl has now grown up to be a woman. Adelaide, now played by Lupita Nyong’, is nervous about returning to that spot on the Santa Cruz beach.

Her husband, Gabe, played by Winston Duke, thinks she’s overreacting about not wanting to go to the Santa Cruz beach again. He tries to convince her that it’s safe, so they can take their kids, Zora, played by Shahadi Wright Joseph, and Jason, played by Evan Alex, to the beach and meet up with old friends.

While on the beach, Jason runs off and Adelaide freaks out, worried that maybe his downloaddoppelgänger had taken him. Once the family returns home for a quiet night, they are faced with trespassers in their driveway in the darkness, who turn out to be their doppelgänger family.

“Us,” written and directed by Jordan Peele, is filled with hidden messages and foreshadowing of what is going to happen to the Wilson family. These images and messages leave a lot for the audience to try to decipher and interpret. In the movie, the Jeremiah 11:11 Bible verse appears twice before pivotal moments. The verse says, “Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will bring on them a disaster they cannot escape. Although they cry out to me, I will not listen to them,’” which alludes to the catastrophe that is to come.

I was slightly disappointed because I expected “Us” to be scarier, rather than a psychological thriller. I was more nervous through the movie than I was scared, with a heart-racing, and adrenaline-pumping feeling.

Peele, who also wrote and directed the critically acclaimed “Get Out,” not only knows how to tell his story, he assembled an incredible cast to play two roles. The Wilsons are a picture of an all-American family, a family of four that looks to be middle class, with college-educated parents. Their doppelgängers may look like them and be tied to them in some way, but their lives are inverses of each other. Their existence has been one of limits and misery. For the actors, it’s a chance to play two extremes, one of intense normality and the other of wretched evil.

Not only was it casted extremely well, visually, the movie was great. “It Follows” cinematographer Mike Gioulakis creates unsettling images in mundane spaces, like how a strange family standing in a driveway isn’t necessarily scary, except when it’s eerily dark outside, and they’re backlit so that their faces go unseen.

A suspenseful story, marvelous cast and a great crew make the movie enjoyable and thought provoking. I give “Us” a nine out of 10.

‘Captain Marvel’ boasts stunning female lead with strong morale

An ultimate soldier is not defined by their ability, but rather their compassion and morality.

The latest movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), “Captain Marvel,” directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, is the first film in the MCU with a female superhero as the center of the movie.

captainmarvelbrielarson.0“Captain Marvel” follows Carol Danvers, also known as Vers, as she is in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races. The movie doesn’t take much time explaining the two alien races, so you have to figure out things as you go.

Vers, played by Brie Larson, is training as a warrior on the Kree planet of Hala. Her mentor, Yon-Rogg, played by Jude Law, is constantly telling her to not let her emotions get the best of her.

But when she goes on her first mission, Vers is captured and interrogated by the enemy race known as Skrulls. When she is being interrogated, she sees glimpses of her past life on Earth as test pilot Carol Danvers.

Once she escapes from the Skrull ship, she lands on a different planet Earth. On Earth, Vers begins to piece together her past life as an Air Force test pilot. As she discovers memories she didn’t know she had, she also finds more bravery and strength in herself.

Annette Bening plays Carol’s mysterious mentor in the Air Force, Dr. Wendy Lawson. Maria Rambeau, played by Lashana Lynch, helps Carol reclaim her personality as her best friend. Maria is a fellow pilot who never got the shot she deserved because she was a woman and a young mother.

Carol’s most important relationship, however, is with young S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Fury follows Carol through her journey to discover herself and protect the planet from the Skrull she believes is a threat.

Carol discovers that what she thought was true about the war she’s apart of is a lie. She becomes “Captain Marvel,” turn against the Kree. This tests her strength in a way she has never experienced before, and she gathers the strength from all of her past experiences to get up again.

“Captain Marvel” presents a strong feminist message, showing that it’s OK if you fall, as captain-marvel-2019-movie-still-1long as you always get back up. The final fight scene offers a powerful metaphor for what can be accomplished if you stop waiting to be told that you are enough and stop believing the people who tell you you’re too emotional or too weak.

This movie is important for the MCU storyline. Marvel is leading up to “Avengers: Endgame,” which is coming out next month, and they’re introducing a new character that could be vital to the next movie.  It fills in the blanks in some aspects of the MCU, such as the Kree race and where one of the infinity stones comes from. It’s a good build up for the next movie that has been highly anticipated.

The movie was also very nostalgic. Set in the ‘90’s, “Captain Marvel” features both music and locations from the ‘90’s, such as a Blockbuster Video Store. The way it was shot also provided a nostalgic feeling. It was simply done like it would have been if it was filmed in the ‘90’s.

Overall, it was a good story line and a good cast to back it up. I really enjoyed it, not just because it has a female character in the lead but because of the strength the character has.

Although “Captain Marvel” has been recently introduced, she is definitely one of my favorite characters. I give “Captain Marvel” a nine out of 10.

Prairie Dog Town offers refuge, tourist attraction

The prairie dog has been around for thousands of years, although little has been recorded of its lifestyle until recent history. Most Americans have heard of the little animal but have never seen one or known what it does and why.

0Q6A8822Once the most abundant mammals in North America, Prairie dogs have lost 95 percent of their population due to hunting, poisoning and habitat loss. Prairie Dog Town is helping to preserve the population that is still in the Lubbock area.

Prairie Dog Town is located inside Mackenzie Park in Lubbock, overlooking Meadowbrook Golf Course. There is no admission charge, and it is open to the public year round from dawn to dusk daily.

“Prairie Dog Town was started by the original park superintendent for the Lubbock Park Department,” explained Ronny Gallagher, the park operations manager for the City of Lubbock. “As a way to try to preserve that portion of what they thought was a vanishing part of the Lubbock area prairie.”

Prairie Dog Town was established in Mackenzie Park in the early 1930’s by Kennedy Clapp and his wife. When the government’s poisoning program became in effect, they were alarmed at what might happen to the prairie dog population.

When it was first started as the first protected prairie dog colony of its kind, there were only four dogs and two burrows.

“Every year when the pups are born, of course it changes drastically, and then they go IMG_0222out into the rest of the community and the rest of the area,” Gallagher explained about the current population. “And so we never have a clue as far as exactly how many are in there.”

Prairie dogs have a low rate of reproduction compared with other small mammals. They become reproductively viable at age 2, breed only once a year, and the average litter size is three to four pups. Their lifespan is typically four to five years in the wild.

The prairie dog colony was moved to the current location when Mackenzie Park became a state park in 1935.

Within five years at its current location, Prairie Dog Town became a tourist attraction for the city of Lubbock. The 2004 Lubbock Convention and Visitors Bureau tourism study showed Prairie Dog Town as the fifth most visited attraction in Lubbock by visitors from outside the city.

“It’s year round, we have people driving in,” Gallagher said. “People will be running down the interstate from Amarillo. They’ll drive down just to see the prairie dogs. It happens all the time.”

0Q6A8868The City of Lubbock’s website provides a Prairie Dog fact sheet, along with a scanned booklet “Our Comic friend the Prairie Dog and the story of Prairie Dog Town, Texas!”

In 2004, Prairie Dog Town had a major renovation with funding from Premier Golf, the management company for the City of Lubbock’s Meadowbrook Golf Course. The renovation to Prairie Dog Town included a pavilion and viewing area, interpretive signage, sidewalks, a new parking area with a turnaround and bus parking, perimeter fencing, and ADA accessibility.

The prairie dogs dig elaborate systems of burrows in flat prairie lands to create “towns” that are comprised of many different tunnels. The burrows are easily identified because of the large mound of dirt surrounding the entrance, providing a vantage point to spot approaching predators as well as flood protection.

The burrow is dug straight down, or at a slight angle, for 12 to 20 feet, where it then runs horizontally in a ‘T’ or ‘L’ shape for another 10 to 15 feet. Ascending shafts and air vents are dug off this tunnel with one or more terminating in well camouflaged emergency exits that are20 to 20 feet from the main entrance. One shaft usually stops just short of the surface with its terminus enlarged. Various chambers branch off the burrow, one or more bedrooms with wall-to-wall grass carpet, toilet, nursery, dry room, turnaround room and pantry. The conning tower of the burrow is the “listening room” or “barking room,” located about six feet below the entrance.

The prairie dog is a social creature with others of its kind. It lives in colonies, or towns, that consist of dozens or hundreds of individual, adjacent burrows. Each burrow is occupied by single family of two adults and several pups who go about their daily routines. At one time, West Texas contained thousands of prairie dog towns with a total estimated population of just under one billion. One town covered 37,00 acres and housed 400 million prairie dogs.

0Q6A8835Prairie dogs are primarily vegetarian, living on grasses, herbs and weeds. Occasionally, they will supplement their diet with grasshoppers, beetles, spiders and other small insects. Like their cousin, the desert rat, prairie dogs do not drink water but get needed body moisture from their food.

“Like most wild animals, we cannot feed them,” Gallagher said. “They fend for themselves. And the reasoning being when you feed a population like that, you create an artificial food source. So you’ll create an artificial population load, and then when that artificial food source disapears then you have mass starvation.”

The Black-tailed Prairie Dog is a “keystone species,” defined as one whose presence and activities are critical to the entire ecosystem. They create an environment around their colonies that provide homes and shelter for a myriad of creatures.

The Black-tailed Prairie Dog also is a critical food source for a number of animals. Since Black-tailed Prairie Dogs are the only prairie dog species, and one of only a few rodents that do not hibernate in the winter, they are vitally important winter food sources for prairie predators. Biologists have concluded that nine prairie species are dependent on prairie dogs and an additional 20 species opportunistically take advantage of prairie dog colonies. A total of 117 species have some relationship with prairie dog colonies. Those species that are considered dependent on prairie dogs include the Burrowing owl, the Golden eagle, the Ferruginous hawk and the Black-footed ferret.

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies stated in their Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Memorandum of Understanding in 1999 that: “All member affected agencies agree that Black-tailed Prairie Dogs are an important natural component of the short to mid-grass ecosystem. As such, Black-tailed Prairie Dogs serve as an indicator of the overall health of this important habitat type in western North America. Further, the presence and abundance of Black-tailed Prairie Dogs reflects humankind’s commitment to maintaining all natural components of the short to mid-grass ecosystem so that all uses of this type are sustainable over time.”

‘Dream With Me’ delves into struggle of undocumented immigrant

Imagine living in fear and uncertainty for the future, knowing that at any time you could be deported from your home and sent to a country you don’t remember.

The documentary “Dream With Me” follows one of many “Dreamers” who took advantage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

A screening of “Dream With Me,” which included a Q&A session, was held on Feb. 21 at the Alamo Drafthouse in Lubbock.

IMG_8873“Dream With Me” was directed by Jonathan Seaborn, a former South Plains College student, and was produced by KTTZ-TV in part with the Texas Tech University College of Arts and Sciences. The screening was offered in partnership with the Scholarly Film Society, Define American – Texas Tech Chapter and the Texas Tech Immigration Law Association.

Seaborn graduated from South Plains College with an Associate of Arts degree in journalism, before studying philosophy at Texas Tech University, which he did not finish pursuing. Seaborn started to do freelance work before finishing Texas Tech and continued working instead. But he is now resuming his educational pursuits online through Tech.

“Some of my initial passions was in journalism,” Seaborn explained. “I was interested in journalism and photojournalism. And I always also had an itch that while growing up, I liked to make movies with my friends and stuff like that. I liked video cameras, but didn’t really put two and two together off the bat.”

Seaborn said that he didn’t have an interest in broadcast journalism, and he still doesn’t have an interest in broadcast news as far as journalism is concerned. He said he does have an interest in longform visual storytelling, which he does through video.

“My uncle was an editor at the Austin American Statesman for a long time, which is where my interest in print journalism started,” Seaborn recalled. “When I was finishing up school, he was still working at the Statesman, and he was like. ‘Don’t go into the posterpaper. Because, it’s hard times right now, unfortunately.’ That’s when I was looking for ways to meld my interest in long-form journalism, but my complete lack of interest in broadcast television news. I’ve always loved our community, but the idea of like, ‘Oh, I can do these things together in this kind of format,’ and that’s where it started.”

Seaborn’s movie follows Saba Nafees, a DACA recipient, through her unsure immigration status and the challenges she and her family faced.

The movie started to form when Seaborn was planning to cover a story about Tim Cole for KTXT-TV in Lubbock.

“They were going to give Tim Cole the degree postmortem,” Seaborn explained. “I worked for the local PBS station where you’re going to do a story on that. And at the time, Saba was in the SGA, and she had written the piece of legislation within the Student Government to give Tim Cole the degree. So I reached out to her to do an interview then, and she was obviously fascinating at the moment. I knew that she is second-generation immigrant. I didn’t know that she was undocumented, but I knew that her parents had immigrated. And I knew that she was Muslim.”

Seaborn said when the 2016 election was ramping up, his initial thought at the time was that there was a lot of talk about the Muslim ban. He explained that’s when he got the idea to possibly profile second-generation Muslim students, to put a face to the issue.

“Not to push an idea or policy one way or the other,” Seaborn said. “But these people are being talked about like a faceless entity at that point. So let’s maybe interview a couple of students and get a profile on them. And then I talked to a few, and then I talked to Saba.”

Seaborn said that he had known Daniel Clayton, Nafees’ husband, for awhile, but didn’t know that they were married. While talking to Daniel and Saba, they told him the story of their marriage.

“Their marriage was complicated by the fact that she had DACA, and that she was undocumented,” explained Seaborn, “but she was OK because she had DACA, and they were OK at the moment while they’re trying to figure out their marriage stuff. After talking to them for a little bit, it became clear instantly that their story is kind of complicated. The legal love story was more interesting than, like just sort of more profiles.”

Seaborn decided to switched to just focusing on the couple and spent a little more than two years with them as they went through waiting for their marriage interview process.

Nafees came to Tech in 2011 and began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. She is currently pursuing her PhD through the university.
“I was doing research, and I was doing a lot of different activities across campus,” the 25-year-old said. “And the first year of college was really tough, because DACA hadn’t come about yet. But after it came about through the work permit, I was able to get paid for the work I did, and then be able to drive and things like that. So it really, really completely changed my life.”

Nafees took advantage of the DACA program in 2012, an Obama era program which provided some temporary protections to undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children. In 2017, the Trump administration made the decision to rescind DACA.

Nafees arrived in the United States in 2004. Her family decided to move in order to see her grandparents. Her grandparents sponsored her family for a green card visitor visa. When her grandparents passed away, her parents were faced with a choice, to live in their home in the country they had been living in or go back to Pakistan.

Nafees’ parents decided to stay in America so their children could be able to continue in school. Her dad said in the film that he made the right decision to stay and is proud of all that his daughter has accomplished, adding that, “This is the dream.”

Seaborn said that he didn’t want the documentary to be about policies and political speak.

daniel and saba 2

“It’s hard to avoid politics in general, but I didn’t want it to be an overtly political film,” Seaborn explained. “I wanted it to be, here’s this person and their spouse that are dealing with this issue that is complicated by this complicated system. I wanted it to kind of be more just like the profile of this couple to put a face to the issue. You can walk away having the movie move you one way or not, but I hope you’d have a better understanding of the humanitarian impact on people, and that it’s a complicated issue. It’s not so cut and dry.”

While Nafees and her family were living undocumented in America, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency or ICE, was called and a deportation case was opened on her parents, sisters and herself.

Nafees and Clayton were married in May of 2016 and had filled out all immigration paperwork for their marriage. They waited more than a year to hear about their immigration interview, just to be told they would be contacted in 60 days and still waited more than nine months. They worried that without DACA, Nafees could be deported and break their family apart.

When DACA did end in 2018, Nafees still had a work permit, so she was still safe without her green card for her marriage. But with a case still open for her deportation, their paperwork for the marriage couldn’t move forward.

Nafees agreed to share her story because she feels that immigration is an important subject in the country that needs to be discussed.

“Our nation is a nation of immigrants, and it’s really important to remember those groups,” said Nafees. “So, in general, I’m a passionate American, and I want to give back to my country. And as I started getting more involved with civic engagement, and also just helping others, I wanted to also speak out for something that was really personal and about our families and about how these things impact us. So I’ve just been kind of an advocate and involved with immigrants, immigrant rights movement organizations and other groups around the country. And just try to advocate as much as I can go.”

Nafees has travelled to Washington, D.C. and various other cities around the country discussing immigration topics. Nafees also won three Grammy Awards in February in part with other dreamers for the “American Dreamers: Voices Of Hope, Music Of Freedom” album.

“I will probably never stop advocating and speaking out about these issues and being there for everybody who’s going through it right now,” Nafees said. “Because I just think that we need to do a lot in terms of educating others. And even though I kind of am getting through my problems, I never can stop thinking about others. Because I know what it’s like, and others helped me a lot. Many amazing young leaders came before me who fought for things like DACA, and now we have those things. I don’t want to forget that.”

  Nafees said she hopes that, as a country, things can improve and find solutions for policy problems facing immigration.

“I hope that families don’t keep being torn apart,” Nafees said, “and I hope that we can find a Dream Act solution, or a solution like the Dream Act, because we really desperately need that. We also need a solution for the 11 million undocumented Americans around the country that, including my parents, lived here for a great number of years. So we never were able to pass the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, the CIR. It would be amazing if we could do something like that now.”

Seaborn said he enjoyed making this film and wanted to put a face to the people being so often discussed in the news and around the country.

“It’s hard, as it was nice to really get to know Saba and Daniel as much as I did over the period of time,” Seaborn said. “But then it also gets hard to make sure you keep yourself separated the more you get to know them. I’m friendly with them, and I consider them friends. But you have to keep as true with any form of journalism. You have to make sure there’s at least that barrier that my affection for them isn’t going to affect my ability to honestly tell their story. But I do appreciate now that the film is done, I can like relax a little more and just be friends with them.”

Deadline for graduation applications set for March 6

If you are completing your degree or certificate requirements this semester or during the summer semester, don’t forget to apply for graduation.

Applications for May graduation are currently available to students who have met all requirements. The deadline for applications is March 6.

Students should first meet with their program advisor for verification of degree requirements.

To be eligible to graduate, a student must complete all degree requirements by May or August 2019, have at least a 2.0 grade-point average or better, and complete the free online graduation application.

To apply for graduation, students must sign in to their MySPC account, go to Texan Connect, then click on Student Registration/Planning, select apply for graduation, and fill out the online graduation application.

When the application is turned in, administrators will put it under review after final grades are posted.

Students who are approved to graduate will participate in the spring graduation ceremony that will be held on May 10. If a student is not able to participate in the graduation ceremony, he or she has to be excused and given permission to graduate in absentia.

For help, students can contact their program advisor, or go to the Student Services Building and see Robin Coler, the graduation clerk, in the Admissions and Records Office.

Orneals, Lewis crowned during Homecoming

South Plains College students Joseraul Ornelas and Danisha Lewis were crowned as the 2019 Homecoming king and queen during halftime of the men’s basketball game on Feb. 4 at Texan Dome.

Ornelas, a criminal justice major from Levelland, represented the STAR Center.

“It feels great (to win,) but I was here for the experience,” Ornelas explained. “It was a lot of fun.”

Lewis is a sports broadcasting major from Plano who represented the Black Student Union.

Lewis explained that winning to her means that she is a leader on campus, and winning shows how much of an influence being a leader has.

Other nominees for Homecoming King included: Josiah Spence, a psychology major from Lubbock, representing the Black Student Union; Greg Balboa, a psychology major from Levelland, representing the Student Government Association; Austin Carter, a print journalism major from Lubbock, representing the Plainsman Press; Nicholas Roberts, a general studies major from Shallowater, representing the Campus Ambassadors; Jonah Rangel, a radiology major from Littlefield, representing South Plains College; and Donald Dwayne Sanders II, a child development major from Indianola, Miss., representing Sixth Man.

Nominees for Homecoming Queen included: Alma Guevara, a surgical technology` major from Bovina, representing the STAR Center; Audrey Crowson, a political science major from Lubbock, representing the Student Government Association; Kaitlyn Hyde, a photojournalism major from Pearland, representing the Plainsman Press; Meredith Satterwhite, a pre-physical therapy major from Shallowater, representing the Campus Ambassadors; Gabriela Ortiz, a nursing major from Levelland, representing South Plains College; and Alize Collins, a general studies major from Lubbock, representing Sixth Man.

Former student selected as new Dean of Records

Recently taking on the new position of Dean of Admissions and Records, Kathryn Perez is no stranger to South Plains College.

Perez had been serving as associate dean of students,with responsibilities for housing, residence life and campus life.

Perez graduated from Levelland High School in 2002, and has lived in Levelland all of her life.

“I’ve never done that move away thing and come back home,” Perez said.  “I’ve just stuck here and have been happy here.”

Perez attended South Plains College and received her Associate of Science degree in 2004. She then transferred to Texas Tech University and received a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies. She later earned a master’s degree in Student Development and Leadership from Angelo State University.

After attending Texas Tech, she worked for South Plains Community Action in Levelland for their Head Start program.

“I did that for about a year and a half,” Perez said. “And did the social work piece of it. Part of the Head Start program is not only the preschool part, but then there’s some family support and different things that they try and meet for the kids that are in that program and the family.”

After working for South Plains Community Action, she came to SPC in 2007 and worked in the College Relations Office, which is now Marketing and Recruitment, as a recruiter for the college for three and a half years.

“Then I transitioned into a new position that was created in that office,” Perez explained, “and that was the coordinator of new student programs. And that position dealt with all of the prospective student events, like Senior Sneak Preview and Texan Preview Day. And then it also organized New Student Orientation for the summers. ”

Perez later transitioned to associate dean of students in 2016, before starting her new position as dean of admissions and records at the end of the Fall 2018 semester. She replaced Andrea Rangel, who retired in December after 45 years at SPC.

“I’m the type of person that I can’t stay in one place for very long,” Perez explained. “I’m a learner, so I like to learn new things. This position was exciting for me because it let me kind of get back into the roots of where I started into higher ed. So with recruitment and new student programs, it wasn’t fully on the admissions side, but we had to work really closely with admissions. It was very much our responsibility to be that face out in high schools and different events in the communities to tell students how you start from here and get through registration.”

Perez explained that while working in recruitment, she had to know the basic admissions processes, along with testing and meningitis requirements. She said she feels that this new position gets her back into that side of the college again.

“I’m still learning a lot,” Perez said. “This position obviously oversees Admissions and Records, and so we deal with everything from the admissions process and the documentation that goes along with that, to keeping the records of courses and student schedules, to making sure that transcripts are correct and make sure that grades are correct at the end of each semester.”

Perez said she’s excited for this new position and is ready to figure out what needs to be done in their office to benefit the students.

“The staff here are fantastic,” said Perez, “and they do a great job with students. But I think we have a lot of opportunity to continue to grow and make sure that we’re moving in a direction that we’re taking care of students.”

Perez said that she wants to make sure that her office is providing information to students in a timely manner.

“I’m excited to get to kind of play with the new processes and things that we might get to change up,” Perez said. “I’m very much an improvement person, so I like to see what we can do differently and then problem solve through that and create new new ways of doing things.”

Coding Academy opens at Lubbock Center

South Plains College’s Coding Academy is opening at the Lubbock Center on Feb. 4.

The academy will consists of four courses: Introduction to Web 101; Introduction to Web Coding C#221; .NET 321 Programming; and Fullstack 421.

“South Plains College partnered with Lubbock Coding Academy to offer coding based on industry needs and demands,” said Ben Alexander, executive director of the Lubbock Center. “In conjunction with LEDA and Texas Tech University, research was conducted. Based on the surveys, the needs of the industry was heard; the Lubbock Coding Academy was birthed.”

Students interested in the academy must be accepted and enrolled at South Plains College.

“Enrollment is simple,” Alexander explained. “Students who are interested will go to our website and follow the instructions there. The first application is a screening application, followed by an application to SPC Continuing Education classes. The Lubbock Center is opened to help students navigate through.”

Introduction to Web 101 will be offered on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and is an eight-week course. The course will focus on the fundamentals of front-end web development and introduces the fundamentals of computer programming via the JavaScript language. Web 101 is tailored for students starting with little or no experience in coding.  During this course, students will build functional and professional-quality websites, along with basic JavaScript apps and games.
Alexander explained that originally the Academy had availability for 15 students. That was expanded to 20 after the first 15 spots filled up quickly.

Introduction to Web Coding C#221 is also an eight-week course. Students will study C# syntax, an object-oriented programming language. This include data types, control structures, functions and semantics of the language, class, class relationships and exception handling.

The .NET 321 Programming class is an eight-week course. that will cover the fundamentals of web developer, utilizing .NET framework, and SQL. .NET is a software framework developed by Microsoft that runs primarily on Microsoft Windows. It is used to build web applications, mobile applications and desktop applications.

Fullstack 321 brings the back-end and front-end of programming together, teaching students to deploy full-stack applications using C#, .NET, SQL and the Angular framework. Angular framework is a JavaScript-based open-source front-end web application framework mainly maintained by Google and by a community of individuals and corporations to address many of the challenges encountered in developing sing-page applications.

“Students become knowledgeable in coding and marketable to companies looking for software development help, programming help, web development, and security programming management,” Alexander said. “Students will be able to apply to companies that need help in web development, computer networking, software development and any IT-related industries. Additionally, students are also able to continue on with SPC to an Associate’s Degree or Associate of Applied Science degree after they are employed in the industry.”

‘Dry’ captivates, alarms with cautionary tale of water deficiency

With the world running low on resources, the threat of running out of water came to fruition in California.

“Dry,” Neal Shusterman’s latest book, co-written with his son Jarrod Shusterman, explores what would happen if the United States ran out of water.

Like many of Shusterman’s books, the story is told from the point of view of multiple characters. That is one of the reasons I enjoy his book. You’re able to see what’s going on from all sides of the story, not just one. “Dry” also includes snapshots of what’s happening elsewhere in the story, which foreshadows characters that are seen later in the book.

“Dry” follows Alyssa Morrow, a teenage girl living in California during the extreme drought, nicknamed “the Tap-Out.” With FEMA’s attention focused on a hurricane on the other side of the country, the abrupt decision by Arizona and Nevada to effectively cut off the flow of the Colorado River into Southern California is only a regional story.

“That’s what the media’s been calling the drought, ever since people got tired of hearing the word drought,” Alyssa explains in the book. “Kind of like the way ‘global warming’ became ‘climate change,’ and ‘war’ became ‘conflict.’ But now they’ve got a new catchphrase. A new stage in our water woes. They’re calling this the ‘Tap-Out.'”

The arduous journey this book tells begins once Alyssa’s parents don’t return from seeking desalinated water. Alyssa and her younger brother Garrett begin their journey by searching for their parents, while defending themselves against the chaos that has broken out.

But they are not alone. Along the way, they are joined by their survivalist neighbor, Kelton; a lone wolf, Jacqui; and an opportunist, Henry.

Although their story only takes place during the course of a few days, the devolution of society makes this gripping story seem like a distant future, not something that could happen over night. Things get violent very quickly. Panic leads to riots and death.

Martial law is declared and people are herded into evacuation camps. But even there, there’s not enough water for everyone. The more and more desperate people become, safety becomes even more inaccessible.

Alyssa and the others struggle to seek hydration and safety, while trying to wait out the Tap-Out. They are quickly forced to make life-or-death decisions for survival, though.

“Dry” is both captivating and alarming. I couldn’t put it down the whole time I was reading it. The book shows what may be our society’s near and terrifying future. It outlines the perils of rising temperatures. The Shustermans have written a story close enough to what could happen if the world really does begin to run out of water.

I give “Dry” a 10 out of 10.

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.

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 Southplainscollege.edu.

A full copy of the Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics report can be found online at  http://www.southplainscollege.edu/studentconsumerinformation.php under Security, Crime and Fire Safety Reports.

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.”

Ninth annual stocking drive benefits children, teens during holidays

For the ninth consecutive year, the South Plains College Reese Center Library is organizing a stocking drive for children in need.

The idea for the stocking drive came from students working in the Reese Library. One of the students had been involved in an organization called Project Homefront that collected toys for children in military families. When she had toys left over, another student suggested the extra toys be put in stockings and taken to local hospitals.

The Library is collecting new Christmas stockings and stocking stuffers to fill their goal of 200. They are asking for students, teachers and people in the community to donate.

The Reese Center Library welcomes any SPC student to volunteer to help the Library student workers and staff with the collection of donations and stuffing the stockings. They are also receiving help from students from the Catholic Student Ministry of South Plains College and students from Texas Tech University’s AVID First Year Experience (AFYE) program partnering this year. The AVID First Year Experience program provides supplemental academic support to students entering into their first year at Texas Tech.

The stockings will be delivered to children in Lubbock, Levelland and Plainview hospitals, as well as to agencies that serve women with children and agencies that shelter homeless families. These locations include My Father’s House, Hope House and Spirit House (both are a part of Family Promise Lubbock), Women’s Protective Services, and the Restoration Empowerment Center. The Empowerment Restoration Center in Lubbock was founded and directed by former SPC student Janet Railey.

The children receiving these stockings will be between the age of 5 months to 17 years old, and there are sibling groups in most of these locations.

Donations are being accepted through Dec. 14, and the deliveries will start during finals week. Donations can be dropped off at the Levelland and Reese Center campus libraries, as well as at donation boxes located at each building at Reese Center.

“Our first delivery date is December 12, but we will have others later that week,” said Tracey Pineda, librarian at the Reese Center campus and the director of the stocking drive. “Last year, with the help of a family member who travels to Plainview every day, stockings were dropped off at the Covenant Hospital there the week after finals.”

A wide variety of items can be donated, including: baby wipes, infant clothing, bottles, teething toys, stuffed animals, bath toys, toys for various elementary-aged boys and girls, dolls (small enough to fit into stockings), puzzles, art supplies, paperback books, snacks, school supplies, caps and scarves, and hygiene products, among others.

As donations are received, students sort the stocking stuffers by age appropriateness. Then the stocking stuffing can begin.

“Finding space to sort and prepare the stockings appeared at first to be a challenge this year, because the spot we used last year was booked,” Pineda explained. “But thanks to quick thinking by Juanita Yanez, the Library technical assistant at Reese, and the permission of the Dean of Reese, Kara Martinez, we are now in a bigger space that is currently unoccupied in our building, the area that used to house Reese Admissions and Records.  Instead of a pop-retail store, we’ve got a pop-up Santa’s workshop.”

After students finish filling and packing up the stockings, they will be hand delivered to as many children as possible.

During the past eight years, with the help of the SPC community of students, faculty and staff, the library has been able to donate hundreds of stockings to children.

“Students, faculty, and staff all share in this project that benefits people in the communities SPC serves,” Pineda said. “It’s just great seeing people who don’t necessarily work in the same department, or on the same campus, or who don’t even know each other, work together to accomplish something like this.”

For additional details, or to contact Pineda or Yanez about drop-off locations, call 716-4682.

President discusses enrollment during annual address

Enrollment, plans for remodeling the Science Building and a pathway for students to Texas Tech University were among the topics discussed by Dr. Robin Satterwhite during the third annual State of the College Address.

“The purpose of this is to communicate,” Dr. Satterwhite, president of South Plains College, explained during the address held on Nov. 2 in the Sundown Room of the Student Center on the Levelland campus. “One of the initiatives that we identified several years ago in the survey is how can we be more communicative, how can we share more information, how can we make sure that our faculty and our staff and the rest of the college also know what’s going on. Not just know what’s going on on a day-to-day basis, but to understand the strategic outlook of the college.”

Dr. Satterwhite began the address by talking about enrollment. He explained that community college enrollment is directly related to unemployment.

“At a community college, as unemployment rates go up, enrollment goes up,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “That’s something we’re always cautious about. Since 2011, the unemployment rate has dropped significantly. However, our overall enrollment at South Plains College has not. That is a really good thing.”

Dr. Satterwhite said that he attributes the steady rate of students to multiple things. But he mainly attributes it largely to the work on recruiting new students and retaining current ones.

“From fall to fall, we’ve dropped about 28 students,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “We would love not to have a drop, but in consideration of everything else, dropping 28 students is really good.”

Dr. Satterwhite explained SPC is a part of the High Plains Region, even though he considers the college’s demographics and population to fit better in the West Texas Region. The High Plains Region has seen an increase of 5.38 percent in enrollment rates, while the West Texas Region has dropped 4.2 percent.

Dr. Satterwhite also discussed potential plans for renovations to the Science Building on the Levelland Campus.

“We had a donor who contacted us, an alumnus of South Plains College,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “He said he would like to give back to South Plains College. And he wants to be a part of what was going on and a part of making SPC a great place.”

Dr. Satterwhite said that the process of matching the college’s needs with the interest of the donor is really important. He said that the focus began to land on the Science Building.

“It was built in 1964,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “One of the things that’s great about South Plains College is that we have 60 years of tradition. One of the challenges about that 60 years is that we have 60-year-old buildings.”

The building is currently 48,000 square feet, and the proposed renovations include an additional 30,000 square feet and 23,000 square feet of remodeling. Dr. Satterwhite said that the projected cost of the renovation is $13.5 million.

“We are about to embark on the process of a capital campaign,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “We’re going to have to do this largely in donations.”

Dr. Satterwhite said that the capital campaign will be lead with the alum donor, who has committed to half of the $13.5 million.

Dr. Satterwhite also discussed SPC developing a pathway initiative with Texas Tech.

“What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to develop that relationship with Tech so close that Texas Tech sees us as their primary source of students,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “Not just that they will accept our students, but they will see us as our partner in trying to get students to Texas Tech.”

Dr. Satterwhite said that SPC and Texas Tech are close to another agreement, in which students who are not accepted to Tech will be directed to SPC. Tech would encourage students to attend SPC in order to transfer.

Dr. Satterwhite said that he wants students to see this as a pathway, not necessarily two different institutions that are trying to work collaboratively.

Despite challenges, alum balances school, work, family

Finishing college and getting a degree seemed like a stretch to Fabiola Muñoz. But it is now a goal within her reach.

Muñoz graduated from Levelland High School in the top 20 of her class in 2009. In high school, she was intimidated by the thought of being part of a “big” club or organization. But she was a part of Spanish Club, Art Club, and National Honor Society.

Muñoz  said her first choice was not to attend South Plains College.

“But I found out I was pregnant the spring of my senior year,” Muñoz explained. “I had my parents’ full support to continue going with school after graduating. It was just easier for me to stay close to home.”

Muñoz explained that without her parents, going to college wouldn’t have been a possibility.

Muñoz  has gone through changing her major a few times. When she started at SPC in 2009, she was set on getting into the Radiology program. Instead, she got her certification in phlebotomy, before changing her major to business.

“In 2011, I decided to put school aside and focus on my kids and husband, at the time,” Muñoz  said. “The fall semester of 2017, I went back to school and started my application to the physical therapist assistant program, then decided that that career was not for me. I decided to talk to professor Lauren Gregory about finishing my associate’s degree for my Business degree.”

Muñoz  plans to graduate with her associate’s degree in December of this year.

Muñoz said that she wants to be an example for her kids that no matter how old they are, or even though they don’t do things the “cookie cutter” way, they can still reach their goals. It will be harder, but not impossible.

“Up to this day, I am worried that I won’t be able to finish college,” Muñoz said. “Even though it’s so close, it still feels a lifetime away. I know I’m going to finish; it’s just something that is in the back of my mind.”

Muñoz said she believes that SPC is helping her achieve her goals by being helpful with any questions and concerns, or any career major change, that she has had.

“I honestly love how I feel like I can get the one-on-one help from the professor or my advisor,” Muñoz  said. “And how I don’t feel like just a ‘number’ but a student.”

Muñoz  said that unfortunately she hasn’t been able to participate in any extra-curricular activities at SPC. She already has her hands full with work, her three kids and college classes.

Muñoz  currently works at SPCAA (South Plains Community Action Association), in the accounting department. She helps her co-workers process invoices so they get paid. She also works at United Supermarkets as a pharmacy technician. Since she started working at the SPCAA, she only works as needed at the pharmacy.

“It has taken me a long time to choose this career,” Muñoz  said, “but I think what finally pushed me toward this career path is the fact that I know I can help more people by helping them with numbers. I have tried careers that help others in other ways, and I believe I can make a bigger change and be a bigger help behind the scenes in accounting or finance than in person and in the forefront.”

Muñoz said that she wants to learn as much as she can with SPCAA and get as much experience as she can while growing with the company.

Muñoz  said that her favorite part about her career has been how challenging it has been, especially when she decided to take a Business Calculus course in the summer.

She plans on attending Lubbock Christian University in the spring to earn her bachelor’s degree in business finance.

“I have learned that no matter what life throws at you, or how old you are, you can still get a career and have the guidance that you need to achieve that goal,” Muñoz  said. “I have three kids and was working two jobs for about a year and was a full-time student. If I can do it, others can too. Everything is possible.”

‘American Horror Story: Apocalypse’ blends two past seasons with future

The newest season of “American Horror Story” has brought back previous seasons and beloved characters to go along with new ones.

“AHS: Apocalypse” premiered on September 12, 2018. It is a crossover between the first and third seasons of the series, with many of the cast members playing multiple roles within the season. Returning cast members include Sarah Paulson, Kathy Bates, Evan Peters, Adina Porter, Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, and Jessica Lange, among others.

“Apocalypse” takes place on the West Coast of the United States in the near future. Following a nuclear blast that wipes out the world, Outpost Three, an underground bunker, is constructed in order to shelter specific survivors with strong genetic makeup. Wilhemina Venable, played by Sarah Paulson, and Miriam Mead, played by Kathy Bates, both command the bunker, torturing the people inside the bunker.

People inside the bunker include: hairdresser Mr. Gallant, played by Evan Peters; his grandmother Evie, played by Joan Collins; talk show host Dinah Stevens, played by Adina Porter; her son Andre, played by Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman; the billionaire, Coco St. Pierre Vanderbilt, played by Leslie Grossman; her assistant Mallory, played by Billie Lourd; and couple Timothy Campbell, played by Kyle Allen, and Emily, played by Ash Santos. All face the wrath of the two women.

79255_pplIn the second and third episodes, Michael Langdon, played by Cody Fern, who is also the Antichrist, arrives and begins to throw the order into chaos, as he intends to bring those who are worthy to a “sanctuary.” Michael’s arrival causes a domino effect of lust, betrayal, and self-destruction.

The fourth episode takes place three years before the bombs drop. It shows what is Outpost Three as the Hawthorne School for Exceptional Young Men. Its inhabitants are warlocks living in the shadow of the coven of Cordelia Goode, played by Sarah Paulson. The warlocks have placed their hopes on a new, troubled apprentice, Michael Langdon. It was interesting seeing the flashback to the past and learning how it all started. When the series starts, the world is ending and there’s a lot of confusion about why and what is really happening. I think it was a very clever way of telling the story and pulling previous seasons back into the show.

Despite Cordelia’s visions of a terrifying future, she lets Michael attempt the Seven Wonders in the fifth episode. Michael is successful, which fills this episode with suspense that made me eager for the next. It was a very well shot episode, with different cinematic styles.

landscape-1536765821-ahs-codyIn the sixth episode, Behold, played by Billy Porter, and Madison, played by Emma Roberts, are sent on a mission to Murder House to uncover the truth about Michael’s past. The revelations about their next Supreme paint a bleak picture for the future and confirm Cordelia’s fears. This is by far my favorite episode. I love that the series took the viewers back to where everything started. It’s amazing that these seemingly unrelated seasons lead up to this one. I never thought what happened to the family of Murder House would be seen or known.

In the seventh episode, the witches recruit a clairvoyant friend to expose the traitors in the male coven. Mallory’s powers also are tested and reveal more about the future Supreme. Both covens unite to send Michael a message by getting rid of his conspirators.

After the deaths of his most trusted advisors, Michael goes on a vision quest in the eighth episode to find his place in the world. A group of followers devoted to his unholy father point him toward his destiny. I found this episode pointless. It didn’t do much for the story line. Not much happened or was revealed. The season could have gone on without this episode.

In the ninth episode Michael is still trying to figure out his purpose and how to end the world. He also seeks revenge for the deaths of  his trusted advisors and sends the Coven into their darkest hour, forcing them to gamble their hopes on Mallory’s developing powers. Michael met up with some of the world’s most powerful people, known as The Compound. They discuss the beginning of the end of the world.  This was another lackluster episode that only got interesting during the last 10 minutes.

This season has surpassed all of the previous seasons. It pays homage to beloved past seasons of the series by bringing back old characters and continuing their stories. I really enjoy this season. It has my favorite characters from previous seasons, along with some new favorites.

I give this season of “American Horror Story” a nine out of 10 so far.

Biology Club helps with monarch migration tracking efforts

Every year, monarch butterflies travel more than 3,000 miles before winter for a warmer climate.

The South Plains College Biology Club and Dr. Scott Starr, biology instructor, tagged 25 monarchs during their recent migration to help researchers track their journey.

25428_original“So it’s a fun little exercise for students to do,” Dr. Starr said. “We used nets to catch the butterflies off of flowers and other vegetation matter they landed on. Or sometimes in the air when they’re flying by. Then you simply just hold onto them, and it is a tiny circular tag that you placed on to them. So it’s not too hard of a process to do.”

Dr. Starr explains that the monarchs are migrating to Mexico for the winter, gathering in a forest in the mountains that are northwest of Mexico City.

After they tagged the monarchs, they reported the information back to the organization that is running the tagging effort, Monarch Watch.

“We record the date that we capture them and tag them,” Dr. Starr explained, “ if they were male or female, and the location of where it was. We release and we supply Monarch Watch with that information. So if somebody finds a butterfly that is tagged on the way (to Mexico), there is information on the tag for where they can report their sighting. Each tag has its own little unique code, so they just have to either call or email the one on the information to Monarch Watch.”

Monarch Watch is a nonprofit education and research program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, their habitat and fall migration. Dr. Starr said that Monarch Watch runs the tagging program, while also promoting research for monarchs.

“Migration is just one part,” Dr. Starr explains. “Their website has a lot of information about the butterflies. They also provide information about what type of flowers you can put into your yard to help attract them. The website talks about different types of milkweed that the larva need to have in order to grow. So they try to provide a lot of different information for people so they can learn about the butterflies more and what they can do if they would like to have them in their backyard.”

Dr. Starr says that he has participated in tagging the monarchs in the past. But getting to tag and handle them is something new to the students that they enjoyed.

“This year we had a really high amount of monarch butterflies going through our area,” Dr. Starr said, “so it was a little bit more prevalent for them to see. They’re helping with a larger project, and often we refer to these types of projects as citizen science. Because anybody can do it, it doesn’t have to be biology student. It can be somebody buying these same tags and do it in their own backyard.”

Dr. Starr plans on participating again next year, and is hoping for another large sighting of the migration in the area.

“We’ll probably get a few more tags than we did this year,” Dr. Starr said. “It was a good one. Hopefully it’ll be just as good next year, but we never know. We’re kind of on the edge of their territory for where they migrate through.”

Alum achieves goal of becoming law enforcement officer

Weapon drawn, preparing to apprehend a criminal, Blake Blanscett’s first-ever traffic stop turned into a situation you would only see in the movies.

Blanscett is a police officer for Midland Police Department. He began working for the department as soon as he graduated from South Plains College in 2017.

Blanscett started as a student in the Law Enforcement Technology Program in 2015, after graduating from Lubbock High School in 2014.

When he was growing up, Blanscett watched “COPS” and various law enforcement movies and TV shows with his father. This sparked his interest in the career.

On Blanscett’s first traffic stop, on his first day with his field training officer (FTO), a white SUV sped past them in front of Lee High School. As they pulled the driver over and began heading toward the SUV, one of their sergeants radioed them reporting that the vehicle was stolen.

“We move back our unit for cover and drew our weapons,” Blanscett explained. “We called the driver out, and when he got to the back of the vehicle, he ran from us.”

Blanscett explained that he could not pursue the driver because there was still a passenger in the car. The driver was apprehended shortly after he ran.

When Blanscett headed to the vehicle, he noticed on the passenger seat of the stolen car was a pistol with the magazine out of it.

“Based on my curiosity, I asked the driver why the magazine was out of the pistol,” Blanscett said. “He told me when I was walking up, the passenger had the gun pointed at me over his shoulder. He attempted to fire, but it was not loaded. When he went to load it, he hit the magazine release. The best thing about this story was it was my first day as a police officer and my first traffic stop ever.”

Blanscett explained that he wanted to attend SPC because of its reputation and the exceptional law enforcement program. While at SPC, he was a member of the Law Enforcement Club, attending the meetings and going on a few field trips. Blanscett said the club was a great way for him to get involved with other people in the program.

Blanscett said he is grateful for all the guidance that Dr. Lance Scott, Kenny Burns, John Barnes, and Mark Wittie gave him to achieve his goal of becoming a police officer.

“The leadership and training from the instructors helped pave the way,” Blanscett said. “If it was not for them, I would not be the police officer I am today. I would like to credit every law enforcement instructor for their leadership and guidance. Before I graduated, I was already hired on by my department because of their recommendations. I noticed right when I started the Academy that since I had already taken the college courses, I was already a step ahead, because I already knew the material.”

Blanscett’s duties include answering calls for service around the community, along with being proactive with citizen contacts and traffic stops.

The great thing is nothing is ever the same,” Blanscett said. “It is different every day on the streets. I love helping the community and putting bad people in jail, and making sure families can be safe during all hours of the day.”

Blanscett plans on continuing his education by earning a bachelor’s degree from either Texas Tech University or Lubbock Christian University.

Blanscett is also working towards the goal of making the SWAT team.

“I am a year out from tryouts,” Blanscett said. “It is a very physical and mental challenge to make the team. I am working towards in the next three years to make FTO so I can train the new guys that come into the streets.”

Regents discuss Clery Report, upcoming programs

The 2017 Clery Report, updates on the coding academy and the truck driving program, and possible additions to seating at the track and field facilities were among the topics discussed during the October meeting of the South Plains College Board of Regents.

Dr. Lynn Cleavinger, dean of students at SPC, presented the Annual Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Report, which the college is required to issue every year because of the Jeanne Clery act.

“This went out to the whole community on September 28 that afternoon,” Dr. Cleavinger explained. “It is electronically available on the South Plains College website. It is a compilation of all of the crime statistics from all of our campuses for the year and information about everything we do.”

Dr. Cleavinger also presented The Safety and Security Audit, which SPC is required to conduct every three years.

“Basically, what we found is that about 90 percent of the items on the audit we were already doing,” Dr. Cleavinger explained. “Such as the Emergency Operations plan, which you will be hearing about soon, and the camera security implementation. We’ve really been doing a lot of things safety-wise as we’ve been going along, and that showed up as we were doing the school safety audit.”

Dr. Ryan Gibbs, vice president of academic affairs, provided updates on both the Lubbock Coding Academy and the CDL truck driving program.

“We have two Workforce programs that are in progress, and you’ve been hearing about these for quite a while,” Dr. Gibbs said. “The Lubbock Coding Academy is one that we have been talking about for over a year. We are very close. We’re in the process of getting the contract finalized, but we have purchasing and lawyers looking at it to make sure that we don’t have any surprises. My anticipated start date for that program would be mid-January.”

Dr. Gibbs explained that the CDL program is in the request for proposal (RFP) quote process, which will close Oct. 16.

“We will review those and hopefully select our vendor,” Dr. Gibbs explained. “I also anticipate that program to kick off in mid-January as well. We anticipate having 200 to 300 a year for licensing CDL drivers.”

Dr. Gibbs also discussed the need to find a new Dean of Health Occupations.

“Ms. Lopez is retiring, and we’re going to need to replace her,” Dr. Gibbs said. “We will try to find somebody that is able to do her job. This is probably going to be one of the biggest challenges. Because of the complexity of the position, we have already posted the position and we’re looking forward to getting qualified applicants.”

Sue Ann Lopez, the current dean of health occupations, has agreed to stay on in a consulting role to help  the nursing program through their accreditation process, which is coming up after the spring semester begins.

Dr. Gibbs briefly discussed that the Diesel Technology Program received Associated Equipment Dealers Foundation (AED) accreditation.

“What that basically means is that this group that has been around for 100 years, based out of Chicago, has determined that our educational facilities in our educational programs meet their rigorous standards for equipment dealers,” explained Dr. Gibbs. “There’s 50 of them across the nation, and  South Plains College is the first one in the state of Texas to achieve that accreditation. We are very excited about that, and extremely proud of the work that Whitney and his staff has done to achieve. Also the work of dean Rob Blair and the department chair. There’s been a lot of time and effort.”

Dr. Robin Satterwhite, SPC president, discussed the possibility of adding seating to the track and field facilities.

“Currently, every year we hold the Region 1-1A track meet,” Dr. Satterwhite explained. “The UIL has contacted us, and we have begun discussing holding 2A track and field. There’s a lot of people that come on campus. This is a great opportunity to bring people out and show them what South Plains College has to offer. If we’re going to have 1A and 2A track, that requires some  more seating.”

Dr. Satterwhite is looking at adding more seating on the southeast side of the track, which will add about 500 more seats. Dr. Satterwhite presented a quote of $84,000 for the projected seating.

“Let me tell you how we’re going to pay for this,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “Our interest fee for UIL 1A is about $16,000, and that’s what we get from entrance fees from all the different schools. With 2A, it will be bring in about $32,000 a year, just in entrance fees. If we can keep this for three years, we will easily be able to pay for this. Our national track meet in 2021 will be in here in Levelland also. So this is just part of a plan to upgrade our track facilities. I think it’s in order to accommodate the 2A.”