Category: Feature

Former student enjoying job as morning meteorologist

Having always had a passion for meteorology, Bobby Johnston is now living it with a positive and determined outlook on life.

Johnston, a meteorologist for Fox 34 (KJTV) station in Lubbock, grew up in the small town of Smyer, Texas, which sits between Lubbock and Levelland. He attended high school there before going to South Plains College.

“Weather has always been something I’ve had a passion for and has always been important to me,” Johnston said. “It took me a while to figure out that I wanted to be a meteorologist. But once I started going to school for it, everything started working out to know that I wanted to be a meteorologist.”

Johnston attended South Plains College from August 2006 to May 2009. He said that he had a great experience at SPC, explaining that it was the right fit for him after high school since Smyer was a small school.

“The college offered classes that I loved for a cheaper price than a normal university…,” said Johnston. “Smyer was a small school, so a small community college was a great start for me, and financial wise, because I paid for school on my own, it was a great choice.”

Johnston offers some advice for current students saying, “enjoy classes, enjoy communities around whatever campus you’re attending, study hard, make passing grades, listen to your instructors, and you will have a degree before you even know it.”

Johnston worked in a bank full time for six years while he was a full-time student at Mississippi State before he became a meteorologist. During his last semester, he quit working at the bank, graduated, then tried to find a job. Johnston has been working for two years at Fox34 and has been a morning meteorologist for eight months.

“The best part of the job is relying on computer models to give me a correct forecast for the viewers,” Johnston shared. “Just being on air and the aspect of the job is a blast. Keeping people safe during severe weather is always one of the aspects of the job that is not only fun, it can be challenging for certain aspects of people needing to be safe at a certain time and needing to know what to do in a certain situation.”

Johnston said he usually tries to learn more by watching other meteorologists do their job.

However, he added that he tries not to let it rule his life, since meteorology is always kind of with him.

“But when you’re off the clock, you need to be off the clock,” said Johnston. “You have to let things go at some point when you’re off of work.”

In Johnston’s spare time, he loves to build things and do wood working. He also likes to watch movies, and chase storms, which is a side hobby from his job of being a meteorologist, and spend time with his wife and two dogs, Jax and Charlie.

“I love watching storms develop and continue to progress through their stages,” Johnston explained, “being able to walk outside knowing what the cloud formation is, watching the storm develop, and watching it drop large hail or rain, or if it becomes tornadic.”

For students who want to become a meteorologist, Johnston shared some advice.

“Go to school, make it a passion,” said Johnston. “It’s something you want to do, not for making a lot of money, but keeping people safe, and do your internships at stations.”

New director encouraging students through Baptist Student Ministry

Having grown up with helping at the Baptist Student Ministry, Matt Bery has become the director there.

“I have always wanted to do ministry work with college students,” said Bery, the new director of the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) at South Plains College.

Bery worked at Immanuel Baptist Church in Temple, Texas and First Baptist Church in Crosbyton, Texas before coming to Levelland.

“My first job was working with children,” said Bery, who served as a children’s minister in Temple for five years. “And I discovered that children’s ministry is not where I wanted to be.”

Bery also ministered to youth for five years. However, he wanted to hang out with college students and minister to them because he enjoys being around all the different personalities of college students.

Bery grew up in several different places around Texas because his father was a pastor.

“I grew up in Ropesville for a little bit, in Amherst, in the Dallas area north of Bushland Hills, and graduated high school from Idalou,” he said.

He attended Baylor University, receiving his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion, and later attended Truett Seminary, where he earned his Master of Divinity Degree.

Bery grew up in a Christian home, saying, “My parents and grandparents were all Christians and from Ropseville. I came over here (to BSM) with my grandparents several times, to feed, whenever I was small.”

His parents also attended South Plains College and were active in the Baptist Student Ministry. “South Plains College is a special place to my family and my heart,” Bery said. “I’m glad to be

here and be able to do this.”

“Above all, it’s God’s call on my life,” he added. “I felt the call to come over here. I felt it was a place that I could engage with students, faculty, and the campus, a place that I had the ability to really make an impact.”

The ministry’s vision for the South Plains is to engage communities, reach the campus, and to impact the world.  BSM wants their students, who are involved, to be active in the other communities, such as clubs and classes, that they’re involved in around campus, even simply sharing the gospel with their dorms or organizations outside of school.

“We want them to be active,” Bery said, “and we want them to be a witness for Christ in those organizations… sharing Christ’s love with people around them.”

Bery says he hopes to reach communities and the campus by spreading, “little grass roots.”

“We want our students to be able to connect and to share with others around them,” Bery said. “So the campus has a positive impact from our students for Christ.”

He also shared the ministry’s bigger vision too.

“We want to send students all over the world,” said Bery. “I believe that college students are in the perfect position to impact and change the world like no others.”

Bery explained that college students will be the leaders of the world within the next five to 10 years, and said, “we have an opportunity to see students from all over the world here at Levelland, here at South Plains, and to send them back home to go all over the world to share Christ.”

Student pursues dream of piloting planes



Rebeccah Brown works hard, even when she is unsure of her outcome, to one day find her passion and become someone she is proud to be.

Growing up in her childhood home in Weatherford, Texas, she was raised in a strict, disciplined, and conservative household with her brother and sister. She created a close bond with her siblings, who later moved to the Lubbock area to get an education. So she followed.

Brown lives in Lubbock with her sister, but chooses to take courses at South Plains College in Levelland because of the great atmosphere and wonderful opportunities.

Brown says that she originally aspired to be a cosmetologist, but soon realized that as much as she loves cutting hair, the salon work area just wasn’t for her. However, she did earn her degree as a cosmetologist and worked at a hair salon for some time before continuing her education this year to get a business degree.

Brown has always wanted to become a pilot and fly her own plane. To help her achieve that goal, she plans to enlist in the military. Her bachelor’s degree in business will qualify Brown to be a fighter pilot in the Air Force. With her qualifications, she can fulfill her dream of being a pilot and serving her country.

But that’s not her only reason.

“I feel like it’s always been a dream of mine to get a bachelor’s degree,” Brown says. “I have been raised with the stigma of if you want to be someone, you need an education.”

Brown says that being an Air Force pilot wasn’t always her dream. Even though she is still unsure of the possibilities, Brown says, “I’m looking for a better job for my future family like everyone else, but I want to enjoy my job too.”

Focusing on her education, Brown says that she rarely has time for electives because she spends each day focused on living the life she deserves.

“I want to experience life to the fullest,” Brown said, “and every day that we live is the chance to experience something new.”

Brown said she believes that within each day, there are endless possibilities for making yourself happy.

Her inspirations stem from her deep Christian roots.

“I am inspired by people who are passionate about Christianity, meditation, or anything, because they have a life worth living,” said Brown.

Through every obstacle she faces, being passionate about something allows for an easier climb, according to Brown.

Brown spends her spare time playing her piano and listening to her favorite composer, Debussy. She also enjoys reading, especially autobiographies such as “Brain On Fire” or “Gasha of Life,” to pass the time.

Brown is always planning. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, she plans to continue to the military with her many different skills under her belt. She also wants to make sure she lives life to the fullest by crossing things off her bucket list, which includes skydiving, being able to ride in a submarine, and traveling across the United States.

“I aspire to be exceptional in my own way,” Brown says. “That’s the best plan I can have.”

Metalsmithing instructor forges successful students

Professor Allison Black encourages originality in the studio and teaches her students how to appreciate art.

Black is a professor of Art and Fine Arts who teaches at both the Reese and Levelland campuses of South Plains College. Black, who has been teaching at SPC for 17 years, went to graduate school at Texas Tech University. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in jewelry and metalsmithing, a BFA in studio art, and a Master of Fine Arts Degree in studio art, with a major in metalsmithing and minors in ceramics and art history.

Before coming to SPC, Black worked at South Jacinto College South in Houston for three years. Afterwards, Black moved to Missouri to work in a community arts center for about a year. Due to extenuating circumstances involving funding of the community arts center, she had to leave the center and find a new job.

Black has been working toward her PHD for about eight years. Her last topic was studio art practice in higher education. In Black’s opinion, a good studio teacher demonstrates, “knowledge of the techniques, a good report with the students, and the ability to draw out the student’s creativity to not only point out what’s working in the project but also how it could be improved.”


She teaches the basic design skills needed to succeed and encourages originality with a patient and knowledgeable attitude. Black was able to design the metal studio in the Fine Arts Building at the Levelland campus.

“It is truly a beginner’s studio,” Black said, “with room for 16 students to learn the basics of metalsmithing: sawing, filing, finishing, working with patinas, casting, cabochon stone setting, and light forming.”

Black has many years of experience in the field of metalsmithing. She says that she has been working with metal since she was 16 years old. She also has a love for teaching, which allows her to have a career combining the two things she loves: metalsmithing and teaching.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” Black said, “I love teaching and I love metalsmithing. So getting to combine the two is very satisfying.”

Black’s satisfaction with her job not only comes from the art she creates, but also from the student’s actions and ideas in the studio or classroom.

“I love teaching art majors, but I also love teaching non art majors as well, because they are our future art lovers and future artists,” she explained.

She says that many of her Art Appreciation students may start the class without a solid understanding of what art is.

“Being able to help them gain knowledge to be able to go to a museum or look at all of the art in our visual culture with new eyes is very rewarding,” said Black.

Black teaches other classes as well, including painting, drawing, design, art history, ceramics, and sculpture. She enjoys every aspect of art, saying, “It all comes within the same core within me.”

Black demonstrates her strengths in the studio by knowing the subject matter of her discipline. Her work has been exhibited regionally and nationally. She was featured in Ornament Magazine, an international magazine of wearable art.

“I was asked to create a mace, an academic mace for San Jacinto College South,” Black said. “I was commissioned for that. It was really exciting.”

Black considers the success of her students to be very rewarding as well. Previous metalsmithing students of hers have moved on to study metalsmithing at four-year universities, or have their work displayed in galleries in various parts of the country.

Exemplary student involved on campus, encourages others

During the course of five semesters, Sophia Barnett has demonstrated what it truly means for students to step out of their comfort zone and be involved with activities attending at South Plains College.

Barnett had been homeschooled for most of her life while living in Midland, Texas. Six years before she came to SPC, Barnett began to move with her family and travel throughout the United States, due to her father’s profession as a nurse.

Barnett says she enjoyed being homeschooled because she “didn’t know any different,” and it would be easier than having to transfer from school to school. However, if she wanted to try a public school, she could have, although she had just never felt the need to do so.

Barnett shares that her family owns an RV that they would pack up and take whenever they were ready to move to the next state. Her family moved across the country to roughly 10 different states, often moving every three months.

For fun, since they were already traveling, Barnett says they would take short trips and have visited 28 other states.

“I like that there were so many opportunities to do different things that I could not do in one place, like surfing and skiing,” Barnett said. “Although, I did not like saying goodbye so many times, plus I have missed my family farm that that we would live on occasionally.”

Barnett had originally heard about SPC through her older brother who attends Texas Tech University and told her about how great the campus is.

“I had decided to check it out once he had brought it up,” recalls Barnett,” and when I got here I instantly fell in love with this college.”

Barnett came to SPC in the fall semester of 2016 to major in computer science. She used to spend a lot of time looking for different programs on her computer, and eventually programing became an important aspect of her life.

Barnett hopes to graduate from SPC and transfer to West Texas A&M University. She plans on continuing her studies in computer science and go into cyber security.

Cyber security is protection for information systems, and Barnett said she hopes that she can help prevent future attacks. She plans on using her computer science skills to help track down criminals who commit computer-related crimes.

“I just want a job that I am happy to go to every day,” Barnett says. “I didn’t even know that computer science made so much money. I’m doing it because it’s something I love to do.”

Barnett claims that she is also very open to other job opportunities, but says she hopes to find a profession in law enforcement or a security agency.

IMG_0013During her time at SPC, Barnett has been involved with many different organizations, such as the Resident Hall Association. She also serves as an RA at Tubb Hall. She also gives tours as a Campus Ambassador, and during spring 2018 semester, she worked with Public Relations.

Barnett also holds a position as a scholar assistant for Charlotte Young in the computer science lab in the Math Building.

“For one, being involved has helped me become more social, because I was introverted when I started here,” Barnett says. “By meeting friendly people, it has helped me be comfortable and step out of my shell.”

Barnett also participated in the National Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program with NASA during the summer of 2017. She completed a five-week online course and then got accepted to go to the Johnson Space Center for four days in September of that year. Barnett worked with a team of other students to build and program a rover to compete against other teams.

“It got pretty rough at times, Barnett recalls, “because we had 10 members to a team and it was hard to all get along and agree on things because there were so many of us.”

Along with having the opportunity to participate in activities, Barnett took a private tour of the space center. She also had the chance to listen to professionals who work and intern for NASA.

Due to Barnett’s campus involvement, academic standing, and positive character, she was selected as the President’s Student of the Year at the end of the spring semester of 2018.

Being involved with many different organizations has its benefits to help Barnett be more successful. She has received scholarships for being a Campus Ambassador. As an RA, she receives free housing and a meal plan for the semester.

Barnett explains that the biggest thing that helped her become involved at SPC is to try to attend events and form connections that way.

“My best advice would be to just talk to people,” Barnett says. “Not just people who have the same major as you, or the people you live with, but everyone. By meeting people with different backgrounds, it can be beneficial to having an open mind.”

Barnett has been encouraging her peers to attend campus events and continues to have a positive influence on those around her. She ensures individuals not to be afraid of what others will think, because at the end of the day, your true friends will stick around no matter what.

Survive freshman year with helpful advice


Every year, incoming freshmen have difficulty adjusting to the changes in their life.

Lost and confused, they have to find help themselves or struggle alone until they learn the hard way. However, below are 13 quick tips to rectify the situation and hopefully teach new students about some of the ins and outs of college life.

1.) Go to class

  • “The biggest mistake freshmen make is not going to class,” said Dr. Lynne Cleavinger, dean of students at South Plains College, “because class attendance is directly related to success. I know it took me a while to figure that one out too. Go to class.”

2.) Online and Traditional Classes

  • “I prefer physical classes, because it’s so much easier being one on one with the professor,” said Reina Mosqueda, an early childhood education major at SPC. “But online you can do your work on your own time.

3.) Don’t procrastinate 

  • “Stay on top of your work,” said Carolyn Sinklier, an education major at SPC. “If the due date is a week from now, do it anyway, instead of watching Netflix or going out, because it will start to pile up on you.”

4.) Know your resources

  • “The biggest things we typically see is just the fear of the unknown, not knowing who to ask when things get rushed,” said Kristin Huber, an advisor on the Levelland campus at SPC. “There are wonderful resources, as well as our office. I think people believe that here in advising we just put students in classes. But we go over time management, stress management, note taking skills, degree path, and also resume building.”

5.) Make friends

  • “One of the most important things, because your friends make up your college experience,” said Jonathan Rangel, a radiology major at SPC. “They’re what make it worthwhile. These friends make me happy and make me laugh. I think I talk a lot and make my friends laugh in return.”

6.) Get involved 

  • “Join a club that sparks your personal interest,” said Tori Moody, a general studies major at SPC. “Just figure out what you’re passionate about,  and if you don’t know what you like, then try a little bit of everything until you find one you do like. Talk to other people and tag along with them to see what the hype is about.

7.) Know your limits

  • “I learned the hard way that I can’t handle everything I thought I could,” said Tiffany Smith, a pre-veterinary major. “College is a new level of stress that I don’t know how to handle. Think about the late-night crying because you have a stack of homework due, or the headache-inducing study sessions before you take six or more classes your first semester.” 

8.) Find a source of support

  • “My mom was my main source of support through college.” says Tamara S. Raymond, a leadership and career coach, and the founder and CEO of Innovative Management Consulting. “It was comforting to know I had her support, even though she didn’t always understand my choices, particularly as they pertained to my choice of college major.”

9.) Handle your financial aid early

  • “I personally recommend going into a financial aid office, this one in particular. Students come in with their information, and we help them fill it out. I know from my own personal experience, because I didn’t know enough. Our basic steps to following the FAFSA, we made these forms to follow in this office,” said John Anchondo, a full-time employee in the Financial Aid Office at SPC. “Lots of times there are third-party people who go to high schools that don’t know as much about the process, and it’s nice to talk to someone who knows what they are talking about and can help get it done so you can have financial aid by the time school starts.”

10.) take responsibility and triple-check

  • “One trimester, I took extra classes, worked two jobs, and had a lot of extracurricular activities, including serving on a board that did a lot of work. I went to a dean to get advice, and, after taking his guidance, I withdrew from one class to make my workload a bit more manageable. He stated that all I had to do was fill out a form and handed it to me to complete and sign. I trusted that he had my best interest at heart and knew what he was doing,” said Raymond. “He told me it was fine to sign the form, so I completed and submitted it only to find out later that having my WF approved earned me the equivalent of a failing grade in the class. This experience taught me to take responsibility for what I do, do my research, and not simply rely on someone else to know what is best for me—Even those who are well meaning can make mistakes.”

11.) Time managment

  • “Set up your class schedule that will work with your personal life and work life,” says Veronica Dominguez, a graphic arts major at SPC, “where everything isn’t hard on you. I learned from personal experience when I put all my classes right next to each other, and that messed with my work schedule and I had to miss out on family events.”

12.) Dealing with home sickness

  • “Many students struggle with missing their hometown because they’re not used to meeting new people and getting out of their comfort zone,” says Jonathan Rangel, a freshman radiology major. “One of the best ways to deal with homesickness is to make new friends to get that “home” feeling and being surrounded by a new kind of family at college. Another way is to visit your hometown like once a month, or once a week, depending on where you live. Everyone is different, and everyone has their own way of dealing with homesickness.”

13.) Have fun

  • “Don’t spend all day studying and all night working,” said Smith. “It’s important to take some days off and go partying, clubbing, have a movie night, or just relax with some friends. It’s college, so go out and be college students. Do something you enjoy and take advantage of the freedom.”

Alum serves community through career, volunteering



When life doesn’t go as you plan, it’s not too late to plan again.

Sometimes people give up, but not Clifton Smith. Life obstacles were not seen as negative, just a new step in another direction.

Smith, known to friends and family as Dane, was born in Brownfield, Texas. He grew up and graduated from Loop High School in 1978. He graduated at the end of his junior year of high school and began college at Texas Tech University in the fall of 1978.

Smith attended South Plains College in 1999, graduating in 2002.

His initial major was pre-med. Smith says he finished high school early in order to get started on this career.

“I experienced a profound culture shock coming from a very small school with small classes and attending a large university with classes of up to 300 students,” Smith recalls.

At the request of his father, he transferred to Lubbock Christian College the following semester. He later transferred back to Texas Tech for the fall semester in 1979.

Smith then left college at the end of that semester for personal reasons, adding that the primary reason was because his dad needed help on the farm. He farmed from 1980 to 1997.

Smith said he had been interested in medicine since he was a small child. He became increasingly aware of the lack of medical aid in his rural community. Because of this, he began attending classes to help with the local Emergency Medical Services.

Smith became a member of the Seagraves-Loop EMS. He began this EMS career as an ECA and continued to take classes at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) until achieving his paramedic certification in the mid-1980s. Dane’s older brother, Timmy, Dana Lambert, and Rick Purcell, all members of the Seagraves-Loop volunteer EMS service, were instrumental in circulating petitions, holding meetings and, in general, increasing awareness for the possibility of forming an emergency services district in that area. Seagraves-Loop EMS had been severly underfunded prior to this time. Forming an ESD would solve that problem.  The Northeast Gaines County emergency services District #1 was voted in and formed in 1991.  This was the third such district to be formed in the state of Texas.

Smith married Pam Chaney in 1983. They  have now been married 35 years and have three children, Brandon (who also attended SPC), Sheldon and Kristen. They recently moved from Seagraves to Morton, Texas. They also have three grandchildren.

Smith had to quit farming on his own in 1997. He worked for his father from 1997-1998, before accepting a job as the assistant director of Seagraves-Loop EMS. Smith said that he still had the urge and drive to know more about medicine, so he began taking college classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at SPC. He said that he was only able to do this because his wife Pam could work as a paramedic in his place on the days he went to class. Smith took classes in order to work toward being accepted in a Physician Assistant program.

Smith says he has always wanted to be a doctor from the time he was a small child. Due to life circumstances, being a physician assistant would come in a close second. Smith got all of his prerequisites at South Plains College.

“It’s a fine school and a good place to learn,” said Smith of SPC. He particularly had the highest regards for David Etheredge in Biology, Leanne Smith in Biology, Dr. Jesse Yeh in Chemistry and Dr. Jackie Wright, an Anatomy and Physiology instructor.

Smith says that he liked the small classes at SPC and the fact that he wasn’t just a number.

When asked if he had any advice for current and future students who attend SPC, he said, “Don’t think you can breeze through if you made A’s in high school. Study, and you can make high A’s.  If you don’t study, you will not pass.”

He graduated in 2002 with an Associate of Science degree. Prior to his graduation, he was awarded the Psychology of Personality, Outstanding Student in Biology and Outstanding Student in A&P awards.

Smith first applied for PA school at TTUHSC during the summer of 2003. He was granted an interview but was not selected to be seated in the class.

In mid-December 2004, his wife, Pam, asked him if he had filled out the application to get into PA school. His response was, “I don’t know if I am going to.” She replied, “Oh yes you are!” The rest is history.

Smith was given an interview, and this time he was seated in the upcoming class. He began PA school in the summer of 2004.

Upon graduating from PA School in September 2006, he was approached by Dr. George Manning, who was interested in starting up a clinic in Seagraves. Together they opened the Seagraves family clinic in January 2007. The clinic was in operation from January 2007 until August 2009. It was located on the ground floor of what is now known as the Simpson Inn.

Smith now has a full-time practice in Morton. He works a the Cochran Memorial clinic and hospital. He said that if any prospective PA students wish to shadow him, he would be more than glad to accommodate them.

In his spare time, Smith continues to serve others. He purchased a riding John Deere lawn mower and mows up to five yards a week for others, including many elderly ladies who do not have a husband.  On one occasion, the man who mows for the hospital was not able to, and without anyone knowing, Smith mowed the hospital lawn until he could get back to his job.

Professor helps students feel part of history

Christina Bearden-White encourages her students to feel like they are part of history.

Bearden-White, an assistant professor of History at South Plains College, graduated from Johnston City High School in Southern Illinois. She was a student at community colleges for a few years after high school, which had surprised her because she claims that she was not a very good student.

Bearden-White had still needed to choose a major, which was an issue only because, “I wanted to do everything,” she said.

Bearden-White decided to drop out for a short time, until deciding on Psychology as her major. She needed the money to pay for college, so she joined the Air Force in time to take part in Operation Desert Storm in Iraq.

“I was a very shy person before I joined the military,” she explains. “All of the confidence course stuff really helped. I became very confident in what I could do.”

Bearden-White says that she needed to challenge herself to go farther, so she took college classes in pursuit of her psychology degree while she was in military service.

“I didn’t get a degree in psychology.” she said.

After the military, she ended up working at a prison for six years, where she had realized that, “People just had no understanding of their place in history.”

So she says that she decided to go back to school, and eventually work in a museum. Bearden-White had not considered teaching, and it wasn’t something that she went back to graduate school to do.

“Once I go into graduate school, I found out I had other talents,” she said.

Bearden-White was the first person in her family to go to college. One of the ways she helped pay for her tuition was getting a job as a teaching assistant. She found that she really enjoys working with students.

Bearden-White says that history is a performance.

“If you don’t engage students on that level, you’re not ever going to engage them,” she explains, adding that people want to be entertained, and history itself is pretty entertaining.

“Part of it is to get students to feel like they are a part of history,” said Bearden-White, “so I work really hard to talk to my students as if they are part of the conversation.”

Bearden-White says that her favorite part of her job is getting to know the students. She insists that her door is open for any student who may need to talk to her, whether it is about school, personal problems, grades, or sharing dog pictures.

“Getting to help students along the way is very rewarding,” she says. “That one to one is the best part.”

Bearden-White still researches, writes, and publishes in her field. One thing that makes her proud is when people respond to her work. She once wrote a piece about German-American candy makers, including one of the founders who hailed from Belleville, Illinois. Eventually, his descendants changed the name of the company to “Jelly Belly.” These German-Americans had made Candy Corn very popular.

Bearden-White once received an email from a school teacher in Germany who taught at Ramstein Air Force Base.

“He had no idea that I was former Air Force, and he told me how much his students got out of the article,” she said. “That made me so happy that he used something of mine in a grade school, and took the time to write me about it.”

Bearden-White had interviewed all around Texas, sending around 60 job applications to other colleges looking for work.

“That’s not on the high end either,” she says.

Finally, she had interviewed at South Plains College.

“The people here at SPC were the nicest I had met,” recalls Bearden-White. “They went out of their way to make sure I was welcome here, even though there were other people to interview too. I remember coming home and telling my husband, ‘They were just too nice.’”

Bearden-White took the job at SPC, which was good for her husband as well since there were plenty of places to work. Dr. Roy Bearden-White was hired as an instructor in the English Department.

“The weird thing was that everyone really WAS that nice,” Bearden-White explains. ”Everyone was saying a lot about the SPC family, but they really do make you feel like you are part of that family.”

Bearden-White and her husband have since purchased a home, and they are determined to stay part of the SPC family.

“Even my son works here now,” Bearden-White said. “It has felt like this has been our academic home since we first got here.”

Professor applies unique method of helping students toward independence

It’s hard to miss an instructor wearing a kilt on the first day of class.

Brant Farrar, associate professor of Sociology at South Plains College, attended Wellman High School, before coming to Levelland to attend SPC. He later dropped out, but “came back with a vengeance,” according to Farrar.

After his time at SPC, he graduated grudgingly and went went on to attend Angelo State University, where he attained the opportunity to study abroad. He found his heritage in Scotland, along with a kilt, clan, and a part of himself.

Farrar, pronounced “Fair-Ra”, is proud of his many traveling experiences in and out of the country with his wife and son. However, that is not the only thing that defines him. Many interests and hobbies he enjoys include reading graphic novels, spending time with family, and tattoos.IMG_8645

Farrar takes pride in his ability to be himself and be proud of who he is, along with keeping an open mind to others and himself. His tattoos are his way of treating himself, but also something to tell his story and visualize his identity as much as his experiences. In the classroom, Farrar wants to help students just as his instructors helped him during his time at SPC.

For many years, Farrar was undecided about a career, even thinking he wanted to be a social worker at one point. But he soon found out that wasn’t his calling either. He realized he couldn’t handle the tragedy and heartache that came with the job.

“Dealing with the abuse in such a real way was too much for me,” he explained.

Farrar says, “When students die, I take that to heart. . . . How I deal with tragedy, I lean on my friends and my co-workers, and I talk to them about these things, . . . That family kicks in here at South Plains College.”

Along the way, Farrar dabbled in many things, including photography and art. But his love for teaching won out during his time spent as a teaching assistant in math at Texas Tech University. Some time later, he took a Calculus II class, which he dropped, and picked up a sociology class.

Farrar says that he takes pride in his curiosity, because it’s who he is. He asks the hard, uncomfortable, and “dirty” questions. His curiosity is what makes all his classes interesting, because not only does he want to question, but he also wants to be questioned. He encourages curiosity in class and makes the classroom uncomfortable.

“Comfortable is not good,” Farrar said. “Comfortable is just that it’s easy. Comfortable doesn’t move you forward. Comfortable doesn’t cause you growth.”

By making the classroom uncomfortable, it also allows the students to be free to be themselves, according to Farrar. This teaching method allows students to be independent individuals with their own stories, past, and future.

“I’m trying to teach you to make your own choices, because I can’t make them for you,” Farrar says.

While teaching, Farrar still makes time for his passions, including his part in SpeCtra, also known as the LGBTQIA+ community. Being a part of this group is life-changing, he says.

“A lot of people come from really small schools and have never ever experienced affirmation,” explained Farrar. “They have never had anybody say, ‘You’re OK, you’re good, we want you to be a part of this.”

This group is a very important part of Farrar’s life and takes up a lot of time. However, it gives him a chance to work with students, and, as Farrar puts it, “Help them do their thing.”

IMG_8675Because of his past and the way he has been defined by how he looks or has seen others be defined by how they look, Farrar understands and is relatable to his students.

Farrar uses a poem, “Famous,” by Naomi Shihab Nye, to express what he wants in life, which is to stay exactly where he is now.

“I have no desire to work anywhere else, to work any other position,” Farrar says. “I don’t want to do anything else other than this. Essentially, this is my philosophy, . . . I believe I am doing what I am supposed to do. I want to stay here until I die or retire, and hopefully I retire.”

Most people have that one thing that gets them out of bed.

“I have the ability to change lives every day,” explains Farrar. “Something I say could have meaning and change their life, or it could save their life.”

“I am a Christian, and doing love, loving people, is what being Christian is, and if I missed that opportunity to be able to help somebody have a better life, then I have done a disservice to myself and to those individuals,” he added.

Alum expresses fondness for home away from home

From the beginning, Stephanie Smith always knew that South Plains College would be her home away from home.

Her journey began when she graduated from Levelland High School in 2009, and went on to attended South Plains College from Fall 2009 to Spring 2011. While she attended SPC, she started off as an English major and became a work-study student in the office of Marketing and Recruitment during her freshman and sophomore years.

While focusing on her studies, Smith had always found a way to be involved with campus activities and continued to encourage the people around her daily.

“I really want to drive in that I completely believe that SPC changes lives,” Smith said, “This is a place where students can develop into who they are meant to be.”

During her time at SPC, Smith was a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, served as Terrible Tex, the mascot, and was a member of Campus Ambassadors. She also received the Lena Roettig English Scholarship Award, and participated in the Miss Caprock Scholarship Pageant.

Smith recalls that she spent many late nights studying at the Student Center with her brother, as well as playing ping pong in between classes for fun.

Smith graduated from SPC in May 2011 with her Associate of Science degree. She then continued her education at Texas Tech University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations in 2014.

Smith said that she considered working in non-profit PR during her senior year of college because she felt that is where she belonged and would have the strongest impact.

During that time, she called Myrna Whitehead, the media coordinator at SPC, looking for an internship to have some experience in that field. She would travel from Lubbock a few times a week to help around the office. She said that being a part of that internship has helped her strengthen the skills she needed as a writer.

While interning, Smith got word from other co-workers that they were starting up an Alumni Relations Office, and she knew where she was meant to be. “Prior to me working here, this office didn’t exist,” Smith said. “So, when I heard about it, I was excited, because SPC is so important to me and I love this place.”

Smith immediately made it known that she was interested in the job and began an intense interview process. She got the job and started working as the Alumni Coordinator at SPC in 2014.

Smith explained that what she loves most about SPC is that “the physical aspect of the campus may change; however, the culture here and the way that things [have always felt] like home, hasn’t changed.”

Smith also says that before being involved, she was very introverted. But once she began

working in the Marketing and Recruitment office, in addition to participating in other activities around campus, everything compiled together and Smith brought her out of her shell.

Throughout her time in high school and college, Smith discovered that she enjoyed photography as a hobby. In her free time, Smith ends up at different shows or gigs in support of her friends and significant other to take photos of their performances.

She also finds joy with writing in her spare time, even though she writes quite a bit as part of her job. She likes to write things such as helping with writing biographies and a little bit of poetry.

Smith also stays involved in the Levelland community as a member of a women’s service group, Marigolds of Levelland. The goal of this volunteer group is to ultimately serve the Levelland community.

Smith knows that with all the activities going on in her life, it is important to have a healthy balance between her job and things she enjoys doing for fun.

“I really do love this place,” Smith says. “It really is a second home to me, and it always will be. I’ve been really blessed in my career, and overall, working here has been really fun.”

Nursing student perseveres despite uphill battle

Daphne Sonnenburg demonstrates an incredible amount of effort while reaching for her dream of becoming a nurse practitioner.

Sonnenburg grew up in Pasadena, Texas, before moving to Lake Charles, Louisiana with her dad for work reasons. She attended Sam Rayburn High School in 1995 for one year, before she had to drop out due to an unexpected pregnancy.

For a few years, Sonnenburg focused on her family life, while still making time to study for her G.E.D., which she earned at 17. She was expecting her second child when she found out her expected baby was diagnosed with Osteogenesis imperfecta, or, brittle bone disease, which made every one of his bones soft enough to break during delivery.

Sonnenburg had trouble keeping up with the medical jargon being thrown at her daily. Out of worry for her child, she started hitting the books harder than ever.

I researched everything trying to figure out if there was something I could do, recalls Sonnenburg.

Sonnenburg could be found in the library every day researching her sons disease, familiarizing herself with the terminology, and trying to wrap her head around her parlous situation.

When he was born, recalls Sonnenburg, they didnt even turn the baby warmer on, because they thought he was going to die.

Her son, Cory, was miraculously born without every bone breaking in his body like the doctors expected.

Sonnenburg found her passion waiting for her in the pages of the medical books she had devoted so much time to.

It intrigued me, Sonnenburg explained, and ever since then its been something Ive strived for.

She decided that she wanted to become a nurse, and has lived her life reaching for her goal at every opportunity.

Sonnenburg graduated from the Texas School of Business in Houston with her Certified Medical Assistant in 2001. She went on to receive her Licensed Vocational Nursing Degree from San Jacinto College in 2005. She attended the University of Kentucky in Lexington to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, before transferring to SPC so she could move with her husband back to Levelland.

My mother-in-law and my father-in-law graduated from SPC, Sonnenburg said. They recommended the college, and both went to get their masters later on.

Sonnenburg said she enjoys the more hands-on approach of many of her professors since transferring.

Because I am an older student, I like the fact that the class sizes are smaller, said Sonnenburg. I like that the instructors seem to understand non-traditional students.

Sonnenburg spends much of her time studying when she is not at work or taking care of her kids. In her free time, she typically has her head in a novel, or is outside playing or watching softball.

Sonnenburg has been juggling work, school, and home responsibilities for years. She says going back to school for her was Intimidating at first, because youre nervous.

You are fixing to walk into a classroom full of freshmen, that just graduated high school, and youve got kids their age, she added. But the main thing to realize is that most of the younger students in the class think that you are the smartest when you are the oldest in the class.

Sonnenburg says she plans on working as a Nurse Practitioner, with her own patient load. She emphasizes wanting to help people with mental health issues.

A major portion of my nursing background is in psychiatric and drug rehab, says Sonnenburg.

Sonnenburg says her friend, Debbie Knock, a registered nurse and the Department Supervisor at Covenant Hospital in Levelland, has encouraged her to never give up.

Debbie Knock is the biggest inspiration, and encouraged me to keep going to school. says Sonnenburg. She always tells me, You can do anything for 13-16 weeks. So, if you tell yourself that for the entire semester, you can do ANYTHING. Thats how she made it through nursing school. Shes my hero.

Alum plans to teach abroad after accomplishing academic goals

Nothing was like Amanda Anders thought it was going to be. But with the help of professors and self-motivation, she has accomplished her goals.

Anders came from a loving home, but things weren’t always so easy financially. She says that she got herself through by working and going to school.

Having lived in Lubbock most of her life, Anders graduated from Lubbock High School in 2002. Then in the following fall, she started her college career at South Plains College.

Her first semester at SPC did not go as planned. She faced a life-changing situation that later made her a better student and person.

“I did not do well my first semester,” explained Anders. “I failed out. I got too wrapped up in things outside of school.”

Anders then decided to take a four-year break from college.

Teacher 2“All I did in those four years was work at a call center in Lubbock,” she said. “I eventually became a supervisor there. But then I realized I needed to go back to school in order to get a better job.”

After having time to reflect on what she wanted, she saw she had a bigger purpose to fulfill and returned to SPC.

“The second time was better,” Anders added. “I was actually serious about going to school.”

Anders took a lot of journalism classes, which was where she had some of her most memorable times.

“My favorite class was with Charlie Ehrenfeld,” she said. “He is the only professor that I have come back to visit over the years. Billy Alonzo from the TV program was also great.”

SPC has always had a special place in Anders’ life. At SPC, you learn a lot, but they also make it fun, according to Anders.

“I have always loved South Plains,” she said. “I loved the smaller classes and affordability.”

She ended up graduating from SPC in 2008 with an Associate of Arts Degree, majoring in public relations. This was a big deal for her, since she was the first in her family to graduate from college.

Right after graduating from SPC, Anders enrolled at Texas Tech University. She graduated from TTU in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Multi Disciplinary Studies, with a minor in math and science. She is still continuing her education at Texas Tech and will graduate with a master’s degree in instructional technology in December.

“I started thinking that teaching was what I wanted to do,” said Anders.

Anders taught math for eighth-graders in Littlefield for four year. During her last two years of teaching, she applied to every job opening on the SPC website.

“I just wanted back at South Plains,” said Anders. “I knew I wanted to work in higher education, but I didn’t want to go anywhere else but South Plains College.”

Coming from a background relatable to most college students, Anders said that she wanted to work where she could interact with the students and show them that they can reach their goal. However, Anders never got a call back for a job offer.

“Finally, I got offer a job in Lubbock for teaching,” Anders recalled. “But two days after, I got a call from SPC for a job in the Business Office as the student refund coordinator.”

Even though the job in Lubbock was going to pay about $12,000 more a year, she still took the offer from SPC.

“I took the pay cut because I thought I would rather be happy with what I’m doing rather than making more money,” said Anders. “It was the best decision.”

Within six months of being in that position, she was promoted to serve as the business services technician.

“South Plains College has given me a sense of belonging and purpose, because I love what I do now,” said Anders. “I love being able to help the nontraditional students, because I came from a background like most students here.”

Anders said that SPC prepared her for the new adventures she is about to embark on. During spring break, Anders traveled by herself to London, England, for eight days, and now she will be moving there.

“I am going to teach abroad,” Anders said. “I feel like I have never left here, even though I love Lubbock and Levelland.”

A company called Point to Point Education recruits teachers to teach in the United Kingdom because it is so short-staffed. Because Anders has a degree in math and science, she is able to pick wherever she wants to live.

“The public relations background from South Plains has helped me when I get in front of groups and talking to people,” said Anders.

She has decided to sign a two-year contract to teach in London, but said she hopes to return to SPC after her adventure.

“Every decision I have made has been well worth it,” said Anders.

Student finds path expressing himself through artwork

With marks of a pencil and strokes of a brush, Christian Garcia fills a blank canvas with his colorful view of the world.

Christian Garcia, sophomore art major at South Plains College, uses his artwork as a form of expression and says he hopes others can find it relatable.

Garcia took his first art classes when he was in the sixth grade, but really immersed himself in the craft at home.

IMG_0004“I would say my art is about 70 percent self-taught,” he said. “I spent most of my time making art at my house, or by watching YouTube videos.”

After spending a semester at Texas Tech University, the Frenship High School graduate transferred to SPC.

“At Tech, I kind of felt like this little bitty fish in this big ol’ sea of students that were better at their craft than me, and professors that didn’t care about me,” Garcia said.

Garcia explains SPC was a much better fit for him.

“When I came here, the classroom size is a bit more manageable,” Garcia said. “The teachers seem to care, and it’s a lot cheaper.” he said.

According to Garcia, he was told by one of his instructors that he is one the best artists on campus.

“I wouldn’t say my expertise comes from one really awesome teacher,” he said. “I think it’s more my thirst for knowledge.”

Garcia credits his collection of teachers as having been a huge part of his success at SPC.

“I get a lot of good advice from the drawing professor, Chris Adams,” he said. “I’m learning a lot from ceramics class, painting class, drawing class.”

Branching out into other art mediums has helped to improve his own painting, according to Garcia.

“The metals teacher, Allison Black, has helped me understand 3D things and expand my horizons,” he said. “As a painting person, a 2D person, it’s really hard to wrap my head around 3D, because it’s not something I work with.”

IMG_0013After receiving his associate’s degree, Garcia hopes to transfer to the University of North Texas or the University of Texas at San Antonio.

“After I get my undergrad, I want to live in San Francisco for a little bit, New York for a little bit, or maybe somewhere in Italy,” Garcia said. “I have a very nomadic personality.”

Garcia has been invited to participate in an art show in San Antonio at the Aztec Theatre on April 25.

“There’s going to be a lot of people, artists, a fashion show, and jewelers,” He said. “It’ll be pretty cool.”

The show is hosted by a non-profit company called Raw Artist.

“A scouter found me on Instagram and really liked my work,” Garcia said. “They set up with their show director for an interview. He thought I’d be a good fit for the show.”

Garcia said he gains most of his attention from his social media profiles.

“The biggest jump in my following has been from Instagram,” he said. “It’s probably been the biggest thing. There are a couple of people following me that I have no idea what language their profile is in.”

Garcia says he hopes his followers can relate to his artwork.

“I’m working on painting with a purpose,” Garcia said. “I want someone to see it and gather their own personal meaning from it.”

Trauma and personal pain are a few of the things Garcia gathers inspiration from.

“I think a lot of people from any generation can understand and relate to feeling alone,” he said. “Maybe your parents don’t agree with you or support your dreams.”

Garcia’s artistic pseudonym is ‘Toxic Sheep,’ which has an underlying message for those who enjoy his art.

“I want to tell my audience not to be like the toxic sheep in their lives,” Garcia said. “Don’t be a follower. If you want to have this big bold dream, live it. If you want to be an artist, writer, or entertainer, go do it. Don’t do a toxic sheep, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.”

You can see Garcia’s artwork on Instagram and Twitter @toxic_sheep811 or on Facebook @toxic.sheep.

Professor encourages students to be better comunicators

Hilary Nixon pushes each of her students to be better communicators in their daily lives.

        Nixon, instructor of speech on the Levelland campus of South Plains College, has taught at SPC for two years, one year part-time at Texas Tech University and one year full time.

Nixon says that she never really wanted to be a teacher, and hated public speaking. When she started graduate school, she was thrown into teaching and loved it. Her favorite part of teaching is watching the growth in students during the semester. She sees the improvements they make, even if they cannot recognize them.

Many students refer to Nixon as a really cool and fun professor. She is always helping her students out.

teacher 2 (fixeddd)Nixon attended Midland College and Texas Tech University, majoring in Communications Studies with a minor in Economics.

She tells her students to start thinking about their future early and learn to be better

communicators. She said that she believes this is a skill that will be useful in every career.

Speech is not the only thing she has taught, though.

“I became a gymnastics coach when I attended Midland High School and did that for a part-time job while in school,” said Nixon. “I started doing gymnastics when I was 3 years old.”

Nixon took a break from teaching gymnastics, but just could not stay away. In 2009, she decided to return to coaching in Lubbock.

Larry Nassar, a physician for USA Gymnastics, recently was sentenced to 175-plus years in prison after being accused of sexually assaulting more than 50 female gymnasts. For decades, he was said to have molested athletes under the guidance of his medical treatments. This was one of the worst sexual abuse scandals in the history of sports. It angered parents of many of the young athletes.

“I feel as though this is very disturbing and disgusting,” said Nixon. “Being a gymnastics coach, this was very shocking and difficult to hear about.”

Nixon coached and taught many students who attended the Olympic training camps that Nassar was present at each year. So this scandal hit very close to home for Nixon.

“ It made me wonder if any of my past students may have been hurt by this man,” she said.

Although this did not happen, she still felt very sad for the girls who were involved in the situation. Nixon says that the gymnastics world is very stressful. It’s the kind of environment where everyone works hard to make it. So hearing about a doctor taking advantage of athletes was unimaginable for Nixon.

Nixon also has other activities she enjoys in her spare time.

       “I enjoy traveling with my husband and love outdoor activities with family and friends during my free time,” said Nixon.

Nixon and her husband have been to Mexico, Jamaica, Alaska, and  almost every Western state.

When they are not able to travel, Nixon and her husband enjoy spending time with her family and friends outside, having a BBQ and playing outdoor games.

“I enjoy working for South Plains College,” Nixon said, “and most importantly enjoy making a difference in my students’ lives.”

Student working toward accomplishing goal of playing in NBA

Ever since he first started playing basketball, Deshawn Corprew knew he wanted to play in the NBA.

Since he was 6 years old, Corprew’s goal in life has been to play basketball and have the opportunity to make money and provide for his family. He is on his way to achieving that goal. The 6-foot-6 forward from Norfolk, Virginia, recently committed to play for Texas Tech University, after an outstanding season with the South Plains College men’s basketball team.

“Being on the basketball team was good,” Corprew said. “I met some new friends, and it was good to meet different teammates. I enjoyed the whole season.”

Corprew played a key role in the Texans winning the NJCAA National Championship with 21 points in the championship game on March 24 in Hutchinson, Kansas.

“Winning the championship was really unreal,” Corprew said. “It was my first championship, and i’m glad I was able to be a part of it.”

IMG_2567Corprew said he feels that competing in the national tournament has prepared him more thoroughly for competing at a higher level, even though he says that he was already capable of competing as a NCAA Division I athlete.

  “I feel like it’s made me a little wiser,” explained Corprew.

His decision to commit to Texas Tech was influenced by their coaching staff and their plan they have for him to achieve his goal of playing in the NBA, according to Corprew.

“I’ve been close with one of the coaches on the staff,” said Corprew.

Corprew says that he has learned a lot from Steve Green, SPC’s head men’s basketball coach, during his time with the team.

“I have learned from Coach Green that coaches are going to push you harder as you move higher,” he explained.

The thing that inspires Corprew to play, and the thing that motivates him the most, are his two little sisters, Janine and Rose. Corprew enjoys listening to music and playing video games in his free time. He also likes taking photos and exercising.

Corprew says that he enjoys basketball in many different ways.

“My favorite part about basketball is being able to be a leader on and off the court,” said Corprew.

He says that he would like to play for the Toronto Raptors or the Chicago Bulls in the NBA, but doesn’t see himself declaring for the NBA early.

IMG_9255“I am pursuing a career in the NBA,” Corprew said, “but I do not see myself declaring for the NBA early and will play all three years of my eligibility.”

One thing that someone might not expect about Corprew just by looking at him is that he is goofy and enjoys making friends, and that anyone can get to know him if they want to.

Taylor opens heart, home to students

Many college students feel extremely lonely when they move away from home.

Jada Shae Taylor is a student who wishes to change this with her kindness. She puts together a dinner every Sunday for any student who wishes to attend.

“I have a huge heart,” says Taylor, “and Sunday Dinner has always been a tradition in my family. While at South Plains College, I met people who became a part of my family. I started Sunday Dinner because I feel that it is my calling to be a service to others. For all that I am blessed to have, it is a priority that I share my blessings.”

Taylor, a sophomore early education major from Lubbock, explains that the dinners are open to anyone. An average of 25 to 30 students attend her dinner each Sunday. The dinners consist of food, drinks, and dessert, all provided by Taylor.

“I start cooking around 2 p.m.,” said Taylor, “and dinner is served at 7,” says Taylor.

She tries to make these days as fun and enjoyable as possible. Each Sunday, she hopes to see the dinners grow.

Personal experiences are what inspired Taylor the most to help others fit in.

“Feeling like you have a place where you belong is important to me,” Taylor explained. “Throughout middle school and high school, I always felt like I didn’t belong. And I know how hard it is to succeed when you feel misplaced. So, I try to welcome everyone to encourage them to prosper.”

IMG_6810Taylor’s charitable deeds inspired others to give back to her. Her peers nominated her for Homecoming queen and voted for her.

“I was completely shocked,” Taylor said at the crowning moment on March 1 at Texan Dome. “I honestly didn’t expect to win. I felt honored. It was truly a blessing.”

Taylor also was recently presented with a Spirit of Martin Luther King Award at SPC for presenting kindness, passion, and providing service to others.  She received the award on Feb. 27 in the Sundown Room at the Student Center on the Levelland campus.

Besides Taylor always helping others, she also has a goal for herself.

“My goal is to receive my teaching degree,” Taylor said. “I will then use that to become a Peace Corps volunteer. I want to be a teacher in Africa.”

Taylor also has a dream to keep helping others as an early childhood education major. She explains that she attends SPC for the learning experience to help her grow. As for advice she has for other students, Taylor says, “Stay focused! Work as hard as you can while you are young. And love as much as you can.”

Taylor said she enjoys taking good care of herself as well.

“I enjoy treating myself to well-earned shopping sprees and self-catering,” she said.

Taylor says her biggest inspirations are her blessings.

“I am blessed with life, with loving family and friends,” Taylor explained. “Every day that God wakes me is an opportunity for me to love and give to His people. It is the least I can do. All that I am and will be is because of God.”

Alum pursues music while continuing education

Marcus “Banks” Fitzhugh has gone from sliding and dancing around on the kitchen floor to performing at the House of Blues.

Fitzhugh attended South Plains College from 2014 to 2016, studying physical education, then continued his education in secondary education at Lubbock Christian University.

He says that his favorite part about SPC is how inclusive it felt and how everyone around was chasing after the same goals, creating a great vibe to be around, which motivated him the weeks leading up to graduating.

The Lubbock native decided to pursue secondary education with encouragement from his grandmother and the desire to be involved in the lives of his future children.

“I decided to study education originally because I wanted to be able to coach and teach my future kids and my friends’ kids,” said Fitzhugh. “I’ve always thought that would be really cool, and my grandmother told me as a teenager she thought I’d be very good at it.”

Fitzhugh became involved in music when he was 10 years old. He would sing in the church choir with his brother on Sunday mornings and spend time making songs on the weekends. He explained that he would dance and slide around in the kitchen like Michael Jackson, and Usher’s style inspired him.

“My inspiration stems from those of the past and my life experiences,” said Fitzhugh, who graduated from Lubbock High School before attending SPC.

He now raps and creates R&B music while continuing to pursue his education

. He writes his songs based on what’s going through his mind. He explained that sometimes they turn out good, and sometimes they do not.

alumn“I’m moving away from the whole album idea,” said Fitzhugh, “ because I think we live in a generation that consumes music differently than before. So, you probably won’t get a full-length album from me any time soon. But I will be releasing singles periodically throughout this year. This means much more to me than putting out an album. Because, with singles, I can touch whatever subject I want, whereas an album sometimes has a theme and some subjects don’t sound good together.”

Fitzhugh has plans for his new music and what he wants his fans and listeners to realize.

  “I hope that for this upcoming music people just realize that I’m talented and how hard I work,” said Fitzhugh. “I think sometimes people think that people who want to make music do it as a gimmick. But for me, it’s not. I really work hard at my craft. I hope someday that it’s respected and enjoyed.”

A dream that most musicians hope to accomplish is performing at the House of Blues in Dallas, Texas. Fitzhugh accomplished this goal in December 2016. He explained that it felt like how he always dreamed it would. He had the chills before and after being on stage, which told him that he was doing what he needed to do.

“I will perform there again soon,” said Fitzhugh. “I’m speaking that into existence now.”

With studying secondary education and creating music, Fitzhugh has plans to keep his music and education from colliding.

“I hope that for me, my music and life as an educator will be separate,” said Fitzhugh. “Music for me is a release to vent and just express whatever I feel in that moment. As an educator, you have to be careful, and I understand that.”

You can find his music on all of his social media as @whoisbanks_.

Law enforcement professor credits education for success

Law enforcement is more than just a career for Lance Scott.

It is his passion. One could say it defines him.

Born in Levelland but raised in Perryton, Scott, chairperson of the Professional Services and Energy Department and associate professor of law enforcement at South Plains College, has always had the idea of being a police officer in mind.

Scott started his college career at South Plains College, earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Law Enforcement Technology in 1994. However, Scott then took a break from college, before returning in 2002 to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Wayland Baptist University in Occupational Education, with a Human Services/Criminal Justice specialization.

Scott later earned a Master of Science degree in Information Technology in 2008, a Graduate Certificate in Criminal Justice in 2010, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Information Technology in 2015, all from Capella University.

When he was growing up, Scott knew he either wanted to be a soldier or a police officer.

“I believe it is something I was born to do,” Scott said, “and this was God’s call on my life.”

Wanting to become a police officer started at a young age for Scott. That dream never changed.

“I remember seeing a police officer directing traffic at a school crosswalk when I was in kindergarten,” Scott recalls, “and I think this was the first time that I thought of becoming a police officer.”

Scott says his time at SPC influenced his life so much that he considers it to be the two best years of his life.

“It was so great I decided that someday I wanted to come back and teach at South Plains College,” said Scott. “Being there had a tremendous impact on my life.”

He says that he struggled in high school, where he was more of an introvert. But it was the culture, faculty, and learning environment at SPC that caused him to change.

“I eventually served as Law Enforcement Club President and was even elected Homecoming King,” Scott added. “The faculty of SPC expected students to strive for excellence, and it truly set me up for academic success, even as I pursued my graduate studies.”

Starting as a peace officer in the Hockley County Sheriff’s Office wasn’t easy at first, according to Scott.

thumb_IMG_6785_1024“Shift work, stress, dealing with people in crisis, as well as the politics of the position contribute to the difficulty,” said Scott. “Helping people get through their crisis, taking criminals off the streets, and seeking justice for victims is very rewarding.”

However, in 2002, Scott faced a difficult ethical dilemma while working for the Sheriff’s Office in Hockley County.

“I had witnessed some activity that put me in a position of either staying quiet or face losing my job as the Jail Administrator and Deputy Sheriff,” said Scott.

But things didn’t end up in his favor at first. Shortly after Scott reported the activity, he was terminated from his position.

“This was a devastating, life-changing moment for me and my family,” said Scott.

Seven years later, the individuals who Scott reported ended up being arrested and convicted. However, in that time, Scott was unable to find work in the one thing he wanted to do most.

“This was a difficult and humbling experience but reaffirmed my strong belief in always doing the right thing,” said Scott.

Scott has had various jobs after starting out at the Sheriff’s Office in Hockley County. He held positions of Jailer, Deputy Sheriff, and Jail Administrator. He also served on SWAT teams.

At SPC, Scott served as the Distance Education Network Coordinator and director of Instructional Technology, prior to becoming a law enforcement instructor.

“Teaching is the most rewarding and fulfilling job I have ever had,” Scott said, “because it allows me to impact the future of the law enforcement profession. I love to see a student graduate from our program and go on to accomplish great things in the field of criminal justice.”

In 1997, Scott got the opportunity to accomplish something very few do. He was named the Correctional Officer of the Year by the Texas Jail Association. Scott also received a Law Enforcement Achievement Award for Professional Achievement from the state of Texas.

“I am one of 84 peace officers in Texas to receive the Law Enforcement Achievement Award for Professional Achievement,” Scott said proudly.

Despite the setback of not having a job in law enforcement for seven years, Scott has accomplished memorable things and has always stood by his life motto.

“Always do the right thing,” added Scott.

Catholic Student Ministry president hopes to help students grow stronger in faith

Jasmine Carty hopes to help people with their personal faith and spiritual growth.

Carty, a sophomore from Palmer, Texas, is a kinesiology major and Catholic Student Ministries president.

Catholic Student Ministry is a group for students looking for a place to practice their Catholicism, which offers Mass, Bible study, and a student-run office. There are Bible studies at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Mass at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.

As president of the CSM, Carty has responsibilities to accomplish with help from her fellow officers.

“I run officer meetings,” said Carty. “The officers work together to do fundraisers. I got to design the t-shirts for officers and the ones on sale school-wide. I run Bible study and give people volunteer opportunities.”

Carty said that she learned about the CSM at summer Orientation and learned more about the organizations and opportunities she has as a student.

“I learned about CSM at Orientation,” explained Carty. “I signed up for the Remind texts. At the CSM Mixer, I signed up to run for president.”

Carty took the opportunity to run for president with encouragement from her friends. As a president of any organization, it is important to be able to speak your mind and lead fellow students toward the right path.

“I ran because my friends told me that I would be a good president,” Carty explained. “I’m outspoken, and I get stuff done and not afraid to say what I mean.”

studentAs president of CSM, it is important to have a strong faith and help other students to build a strong faith and have a leader to guide them, according to Carty.

“I think the most important part of being president is making sure our members are heard,” said Carty. “Normally, in Bible study it would be a good idea to ask me questions one on one, because I enjoy ministering to people and talking about their personal faith and testimonies. I feel like not just as a president but as a Christian, it is my job to help people when they’re struggling or down.”

Carty encourages people to attend CSM and all their events. This organization helps students keep their faith and find some friendly faces. It is a safe place for Catholic students to express their faith and get involved in student activities on campus. This organization allows students to make decisions regarding choices that are made.

As president, Carty listens for input and helps accomplish goals for all of the students involved in CSM.

“Mass is really important for Catholics,” Carty said. “It is a really great way to get the body and blood of Christ. I enjoy the mass on campus. It’s a smaller service. But I enjoy the fellowship and being surrounded by people that share my beliefs and faith, and having that group of friends for me.”

Joining organizations on campus is a great way for students to become involved in something that excites them and is important to them. Running for offices in the organizations gives students a voice in the decisions made regarding the organization.

Carty said that she took this opportunity to become involved in an organization that is important to her as a Catholic and uses her voice to make changes that the students want to see. She encourages other students to use these opportunities.

“If people want to be an officer, they should definitely run,” said Carty. “It looks really good on a resume. It is a good opportunity to have your voice heard and be a part of something bigger than yourself.”

Professor inspired to mold young minds through faith

Janet Hargrove has touched the lives of so many people in many different ways.

She touched the lives of patients working in the nursing field for 30 years. She has touched the minds of students at South Plains College for six years, and she has touched the hearts of people while working in ministry for almost 21 years.

            Hargrove, instructor in vocational nursing at SPC, grew up in and graduated from high school in Denver City, Texas.

            “My parents grew up there, so it was a community with a lot of history and heritage for me,” Hargrove said. “Definitely a town where everybody knows everybody.”

            She says she met Darren, her husband of 23 years, on a blind date. She jokes that her husband says it was love at first sight, but she took a few more days to realize it.

“He works in the Allied Health Building as the computer lab supervisor,” Hargrove said. “It’s great to work with him every day.”

Hargrove has four children – a soon-to-be married son, Seth of Levelland, son Nathan, a music education major at SPC, and daughter Cali, a freshman at Whiteface High School.

“This is still a busy time for our kids,” Hargrove said. “We follow them all over. My family truly is my hobby.”

Hargrove started her nursing career as a Certified Nurses Assistant. She worked her way up to a Licensed Vocational Nurse and then received her Registered Nurse certification from New Mexico Junior College in 1992.IMG_1061

“I have worked Medical Surgery, Labor and Delivery, Medical Intensive Care Unit, Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, and home health,” Hargrove said.

Hargrove has also work in nursing administration as director of nurses in a rural hospital and as a case manager.

“In small hospitals, you have to get accustomed to wearing many different hats,” explained Hargrove. “You tend to become a “jack of all trades” as far as nursing is concerned.”

Hargrove says she never planned to continue her education, but “God really likes to play jokes on us.” She recently graduated from Grand Canyon University with her Bachelor of Nursing degree and is currently working toward her master’s degree.

“I have been on the President’s List for my GPA since I started school in the fall of 2015,” Hargrove said. “It has been a challenge, but I have worked very hard to keep my grades up. I want my kids to see that hard work really does pay off!”

All of Hargrove’s hard work has been recognized in the South Plains area. In October 2017, she was inducted as of one of the South Plains Great 25 Nurses organization.

“It truly was an honor to be listed among so many of the great nurses within the South Plains region,” she said.

Hargrove started working at SPC in 2011. She says she always wanted to pursue a teaching career but never thought she would have the credentials to do it.

“When this teaching position came open, I applied and got the job,” she said. “I’ll never forget those first lectures…I would get queasy, break out in a sweat, my lips would tremble…I was scared to death.”

She says her favorite part about teaching is being able to connect with her students and build relationships.

“It is so much easier to teach a student when you can identify their strengths and weaknesses and push them to excel,” Hargrove said. “Education shouldn’t be intimidating.”

Hargrove says that she strives to change students’ mindset that “they are dumb, or that dreams are not reality.”

“There are a couple of things I tell my students all the time,” she said. “A, that I am ‘growing great nurses,’ because some day they may have to take care of me or my family and I want greatness taking care of me, not mediocrity! B, you will not find a better cheerleader than me.”

Hargrove credits her faith in God for allowing her to teach and practice nursing.

“God has opened a door for me to not only teach what I love, she said, “but to minister to those I come in contact with while doing so.”

Hargrove shares her faith by ministering for almost 21 years and continues to share the word of God.

“Whether we have the title of being in full-time ministry or not, I believe that we are called to share the love of Jesus,” Hargrove said. “I want people to look at me and say, ‘what’s different about Mrs. Hargrove?’ and recognize that it’s the love of Jesus shining through!”

The Bible verse Hargrove uses to describe the work God has done in her life with nursing, teaching, and ministry is Esther 4:14.

“Esther 4:14 in the Bible says, ‘for such a time as this’ referring to how and when Esther was named queen,” Hargrove explained. “It was through divine appointment. God has allowed me to work in an organization at a position that I love, this is my… ‘for such a time as this’.”