Spring 2017 grad prepares for ‘a writer’s life’

The Sprinkle Family at Lee College
After completing Honors Program courses and earning her associate degree in May, Lee College graduate Miranda Sprinkle (third from left) will head off to Roanoke College in Virginia to pursue a bachelor’s degree in literature and a career in writing. Also pictured, from left: Jeff Sprinkle, Waylon Sprinkle, and Kim Sprinkle.

BAYTOWN, TX — “Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved,” said William Jennings Bryan, Secretary of State to former Pres. Woodrow Wilson, more than 100 years ago. And while Jennings was likely referring to the destiny of the United States, the sentiment is just as easily applied to humans — especially those who have discovered what they want to do, and more profoundly, who they want to be.

“I want to write. I want to be a writer. I want to touch other people the way I’ve been touched by the writers I love so much. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love books and didn’t want to live everyday without words,” said 24-year-old Miranda Sprinkle, a May 2017 Lee College graduate who has a plan and a destination clearly in her sights.

“It took me a while to develop that plan, partly because I just wasn’t sure what it would look like,” she said. “I knew what I loved; I love words. I love the possibility of words. But I didn’t know what a career would look like for me — a career that would allow me to support myself while pursuing my passion.”

Without a firm idea of the right career to pursue, Sprinkle opted to work after finishing high school rather than attempting college without well-defined goals. But the urge to write never left her alone, and she started researching degree paths and curricula.

“Over time, I began to realize that what I really wanted to pursue was a literature degree. I think, for me, that’s the best way to prepare myself to become a writer. And that’s what led me to publishing,” she said. “What better way to learn about being a writer than to work with professional writers as an editor at a publishing house?”

Sprinkle enrolled at Lee College for the fall 2014 semester, appreciating that the campus was so close to home and more affordable than other institutions. She wanted to take Honors Program courses to better prepare herself to move on to a university and signed up for “The Human Condition,” a unique seminar-style class that combines the disciplines of English and Humanities and emphasizes open discussion and critical thinking. Her instructors were encouraging, engaging and supportive in a way she had never before seen from a teacher.

“You’re exposed to different writers, philosophers, historians — different points of view on a whole range of ideas,” Sprinkle said. “The semester I took the course it focused on gender. That was the lens through which we viewed everything we learned. That process shows you how important perspective is. The lens you view your world through determines what you think, so changing that lens can deepen and broaden your perspective. I loved it.”

By the time she was taking The Human Condition, Sprinkle was focused on finding the four-year college or university that would be the best fit for her. As she researched the publishing industry, she came to the conclusion that the East Coast was where she needed to be if she was going to be serious about breaking into the world of publishing.

When the acceptance letter came from Roanoke College in Salem, Va., Sprinkle said she cried for about 10 minutes. Through a combination of scholarships, grants and student loans, a little more than 96 percent of tuition, board and meal costs will be covered — alleviating her fears about the financial burden to her parents, Kim and Jeff Sprinkle.

“My parents and I toured the campus. It was so beautiful and I felt like I really fit in. It just felt right. I wanted this so much,” Sprinkle said. “I just sat there, holding the letter. I kept reading, over and over, the sentence telling me I’d been accepted. The letter informing me how much in scholarships I’d been awarded came a few weeks later.”

That would qualify for many as a major life-moment. Its significance is underscored because Sprinkle did not immediately go to college after graduation. Statistically, college completion becomes even more difficult if a student chooses not to continue on to college immediately after graduating from high school.

“What a blessing,” said Kim Sprinkle. “Miranda would be looking at so much more debt if it weren’t for her time at Lee College. She is the first one in our family to graduate from college and my husband Jeff and I are very proud of her. We are looking forward to her continued progress towards her bachelor’s degree at Roanoke College. Lee College has truly impacted our family.”

Waylon Sprinkle, Miranda’s brother, is a U.S. Navy veteran currently attending Lee College.

“The Lee College Veterans Center has supported him in his pursuit of a criminal justice degree,” said Kim Sprinkle. “And while he’s always wanted to be a lawyer, his instructor at Lee College has helped him identify a range of career options. Now Waylon is considering a career with the FBI. Lee College has certainly played a role in the future of both our children.”

Now, the Sprinkle’s first college graduate finds herself ready to travel down her next path. The family will leave Baytown in late August to drive Miranda to Virginia to begin her new journey at Roanoke College.

And while practical matters like working through the summer to save money and finding a job as soon as she gets to Salem are in the foreground, the writer-in-waiting said she also can’t help but think about what lies ahead: “the life of words I’ve been dreaming of.”

For more information about the courses and opportunities available to students through the Lee College Honors Program, visit www.lee.edu/honors.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee enrolling students in EMT courses coming to Baytown in July

Scholarships & payment plans available for those seeking EMT training, certification

Students practice loading patient into ambulance
Students in the Lee College EMT program practice loading classmate Makenzie Lowery, acting as a patient on a stretcher, into the full-size box ambulance simulator located inside the classroom at the Lee College Education Center – South Liberty County. Also pictured, from left: Hayley Bosarge, Chris Daniel, Tricia McQueen, and Dillon Danek.

BAYTOWN, TX — The Center for Workforce and Community Development at Lee College is bringing EMT classes to Baytown next month for those interested in preparing for a rewarding career on the front line of emergency medical care.

Scholarships and payment plans are available for students who enroll in the EMT course in Baytown, which will begin Monday, July 10. Two class sessions are being offered to help shift workers and others who want to complete training while juggling work and other responsibilities: a morning class from 8 a.m.-noon and an evening class from 6-10 p.m.

The EMT program at Lee College includes 144 hours of classroom instruction and 80 hours of rotations in clinical and ambulance settings. The curriculum requires students to master key skills and work through scenarios they will encounter in the field, from patient assessment and basic airway management to bandaging and splinting, bleeding control and spinal immobilization.

Students who successfully complete the EMT program are prepared to take the National Registry Assessment Exam to earn certification as an EMT, which qualifies them for entry-level positions responding to emergency calls, providing immediate care to the critically ill or injured and transporting patients to medical facilities. Students also need EMT certification to become firefighters or move up to careers as an Advanced EMT, EMT-Paramedic or Licensed Paramedic.

“A good EMT is someone who cares about people and can adapt to different environments and circumstances,” said Michael Cooper, who manages the EMT and Fire Science programs for the college and has been a certified medic herself for more than 30 years. “Every scene, every house, every call is different. Improvise, adapt and overcome — it’s part of doing the job. It gets in your blood.”

For more information about enrolling in the EMT program — especially getting ready for the July 10 start date in Baytown — contact the Center for Workforce and Community Development at 281.425.6311 or visit www.lee.edu/ems-program.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Warford named Student Success Person of the Year

Award honors Warford’s diligent work to help students overcome financial barriers

Pam Warford selected Student Success Person of the Year
Pam Warford, executive director of the Lee College Foundation and director of Foundation and Donor Development, was honored as Student Success Person of the Year at the May meeting of the Board of Regents for her work to help students overcome financial barriers to their education. Pictured, from left: Executive Vice Pres. Dr. Christina Ponce, Director of Student Success DeDe Griffith, Warford, former Board of Regents Chairman Ronn Haddox, and Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown.

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College has awarded Pam Warford, executive director of the Lee College Foundation and director of Foundation and Donor Development, the honor of Student Success Person of the Year for her tireless work and continuous efforts to help students overcome financial barriers that might otherwise prevent them from pursuing higher education.

DeDe Griffith, director of Student Success, presented Warford with the award plaque in May during a special presentation at the regular meeting of the Lee College Board of Regents.

“Her heartfelt desire to see students succeed and her diligent work at meeting their financial needs has fostered a culture of caring for students who may not have even attended college had it not been for scholarships,” Griffith said of Warford. “She provides the college with great communication with our external constituents, serves as a legislative liaison for the college, builds relationships and provides a spirit of camaraderie.”

In the nearly two decades she has spent at Lee College, Warford has been instrumental in helping secure funding for scholarships and other forms of support that help students reach their educational goals. With her leadership, the Lee College Foundation Gala raised a record $175,000 in 2016 – dwarfing the $9,800 raised at the gala when Warford arrived at the college in 1999. In addition, the fund balance of the Lee College Foundation increased from $4.7 million to more than $10 million during the same time period. Under the guidance of its Board of Directors, the foundation will award approximately $600,000 to students in the 2017-18 academic year.

When Hurricane Ike struck the Texas Gulf Coast in 2008, Warford created the Student Success Fund to help those facing extraordinary circumstances pay for college-related expenses. She helped implement the first online scholarship application and expanded the types of support and availability of scholarships to ensure all students are eligible for assistance – whether enrolled full-time, part-time, in dual-credit classes for high school students to earn college credits, in non-credit classes offered by the Center for Workforce and Community Development, or in the Lee College Huntsville Center for students incarcerated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Warford also supported the creation of the Britt/Hodgin Second Chance Scholarship benefiting students in the offender education program, and even found funds to purchase uniforms for the Model United Nations student organization to wear in a national competition earlier this year.

Though pleased by how much the college’s resources have grown over the course of her career, Warford gets the most joy from connecting with students and hearing how they were able to pursue their education and achieve their dreams with the support of the foundation and its donors. Receiving the Student Success Person of the Year honor for her work is incredibly humbling, she said.

“Seeing students get excited about their futures is the ultimate gratification,” Warford said. “Their success makes everything we do worthwhile.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Spring 2017 grad conquers 20-year cycle of destruction

Adrian Touchstone joined Honors Program and maintained 4.0 GPA during college career

BAYTOWN, TX — Before he was a Lee College Hall of Fame inductee and Honors Program student with a 4.0 GPA and mission to make a difference, Spring 2017 graduate Adrian Touchstone was stuck in a pattern of drugs, crime and incarceration.

It was during yet another stint behind bars that Touchstone finally realized that breaking the destructive cycle and starting down the path to higher education and a more purposeful life would require two major changes to his self-awareness and perspective. First, he had to take full responsibility for himself, his thoughts and his actions instead of blaming other people or difficult circumstances. Second, he had to embrace selflessness instead of the selfishness that had long defined him.

Adrian Touchstone receives his degree from Dr. Dennis Brown, Lee College president
Adrian Touchstone, left, receives his Associate of Arts degree in alcohol and drug abuse counseling from Lee College President Dr. Dennis Brown at the 2017 Spring Commencement ceremony held in May. Touchstone broke a 20-year cycle of drug abuse and incarceration to graduate from Lee College, where he served as a student ambassador and earned acceptance into the Honors Program.

“From the time I was 20 until now, I was trying to figure out how to do the wrong thing, the right way,” said Touchstone, 43, who received an Associate of Applied Science degree in Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling at the 2017 Lee College Spring Commencement. He credits his family and loved ones for being supportive despite the odds he faced.

“Taking responsibility gives you power,” Touchstone said. “I started wanting to bring something to life instead of taking out of it. My way of thinking changed to doing the right thing, the right way. I’m taking my stumbling blocks and making them stepping stones.”

Studying to become an addiction counselor fit his new plan perfectly; he could go out into the community and help others conquer the demon of drug abuse that he had one faced. After enrolling at Lee College and starting the program with success, Touchstone earned acceptance into the Honors Program and realized that being two decades older than many of his peers was a strength and not the weakness he had first feared. Voicing his thoughts and listening to his classmates’ views in “The Human Condition,” a unique seminar-style Honors course that emphasizes critical thinking and discussion, showed him how his past experiences could be used to share knowledge with and learn from others. He began to see society and himself through different lenses and felt his mind grow in unexpected directions.

Forging strong, personal connections with motivated and knowledgeable instructors and earning scholarships from the Lee College Foundation made Touchstone eager to give back to the institution. He became a Student Ambassador, completing 90 hours of service in each semester of his first year, and was active in the Drug-Free Campus Committee, the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act Advisory Committee and other organizations that emphasize serving and uplifting others.

With his Lee College journey coming to an end, Touchstone is more committed than ever to recreating a meaningful life. He hopes to pursue a bachelor’s degree at University of Houston Clear Lake, then a master’s, and plans to do his part to positively impact others and make the world a better place. Being recognized by Lee College for his hard work inside and outside the classroom reminds him that making responsibility and selflessness a part of his mindset has been more than worth the effort; in fact, it has literally made the difference between life and death.

“When I started I had no idea where I would be at this point in my life. God was working,” Touchstone said. “I try to be better person every day so I can give God something to work with when He calls me. I want to give people hope and encouragement because there is always something new over the horizon. It’s never too late to start a new journey in life. Lee College is an opportunity to start a new path, follow a new dream and have a new ending. I’ve found myself in many different ways and places every day.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College to share recordings of veteran & Baytown oral histories at June 10 event

BAYTOWN, TX — U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient Robert Bean was barely 18 when he left his East Texas home near Kirbyville to complete eight weeks of basic training at Camp Robinson in Arkansas and ship out to Europe, where he would take his place on the front lines of World War II as a private first class in the 12th Armored Division.

“I didn’t want to leave my family … but I was ready to go and get it over with,” Bean shared with a Lee College student in late 2004 as part of an oral history assignment that included recording and transcription of interviews with veterans from the local region.

The recordings and transcripts were then deposited in the archives at the Lee College Library, which has brought them to new life as digital files available now for listening online through the Portal to Texas History at the University of North Texas, and at the fourth annual Veteran’s Appreciation Day set for 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, June 10, at VFW Post 912 on North Main Street in Baytown.

“I’ve often said it made me a man before my time,” Bean recalled of his experiences in the war – from facing combat in Germany and France, to liberating two concentration camps and being seriously wounded by enemy machine gun fire. “I feel like that war and the war with Japan … was the only way to stop Adolf Hitler from eventually coming over here. … But there was nothing fun about it. It’s a nightmare that you try to forget the best you can.”

The library digitized Bean’s oral history and 119 other recordings of former military service members for the Baytown Veteran/Local Oral History Project, funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services through a grant to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The TexTreasures Grant aims to increase accessibility to library treasures by helping member libraries make their special collections more accessible to researchers in Texas and beyond. Lee College is one of 13 libraries, colleges and universities across the state awarded a TexTreasures Grant for fiscal year 2017.

The project also included digitization of approximately 70 oral histories about Baytown that were recorded in the 1970s and 1980s in conjunction with Sterling Municipal Library.

The community can hear all 190 digital oral histories for themselves at the Veteran’s Appreciation Day event, where attendees can climb aboard the Lee College Mobile Go Center to listen to the stories and learn more about how the original recordings were converted and made accessible on the Internet.

“This project allowed Lee College to migrate valuable oral information interview from obsolete audiocassette tapes to digital MP3 files. This will help preserve them for a longer period of time,” said Paul Arrigo, library director. “Since they are now in digital format, the library can also share these oral histories to the entire world.”

For more information about the Baytown Veteran/Local Oral History Project at Lee College, contact the library at 281.425.6379 or library@lee.edu. To learn more about the Lee College Mobile Go Center, which is available to come to various venues to assist potential students with higher education and workforce activities, visit www.lee.edu/bearebel.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College making 190 recorded oral histories digitally accessible via the Internet

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College is bringing the voices and stories of Texas veterans to new life as part of a special project to digitize and securely archive 120 oral histories of former military service members, as well as approximately 70 oral histories that cover the history of Baytown.

Developed by the Lee College Library, the Baytown Veteran/Local Oral History Project is being funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services through a grant to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The TexTreasures Grant aims to increase accessibility to library treasures by helping member libraries make their special collections more accessible to researchers in Texas and beyond. Lee College is one of 13 libraries, colleges and universities across the state awarded a TexTreasures Grant for fiscal year 2017.

As part of its digitization project, the Lee College Library will make about 96 hours of recorded veteran oral histories available for listening online. Once converted, the files will be sent to the Portal to Texas History at the University of North Texas for preservation storage, metadata creation and Internet access.

“This project allowed Lee College to migrate valuable oral information interview from obsolete audio cassette tapes to digital MP3 files. This will help preserve them for a longer period of time,” said Paul Arrigo, library director. “Since they are now in digital format, the library can also share these oral histories to the entire world, whereas previously people had to come to the Lee College Library to listen to them.”

Members of the community can hear the oral histories for themselves – including 35 hours on the history of Baytown – at the fourth annual Veteran’s Appreciation Day to be held from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday, June 10, at VFW Post 912 on North Main Street in Baytown. Attendees can climb aboard the Lee College Mobile Go Center to listen to the stories and learn more about the digitization process from Lee College librarians, and enjoy family activities like helicopter rides and memorabilia displays at the event.

For more information about the Baytown Veteran/Local Oral History Project at Lee College, contact the library at 281.425.6379 or library@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Class of 2017 told to ‘stay in the driver’s seat’ at Spring Commencement

Newest Associate Degree Nursing graduates also recognized in separate Pinning Ceremony

Lee College 10 a.m. Graduation ceremony
Lee College recognized more than 630 graduates at the 2017 Spring Commencement held Saturday, May 13, 2017, in the Sports Arena on campus. Sisters Tina Pennington and Mandy Williams, better known as “Red” and “Black,” delivered the keynote address and encouraged graduates to face their fears, polish their soft skills and remain strong and driven in pursuing their dreams.

BAYTOWN, TX — As a capacity crowd packed with family, friends and supporters cheered and applauded from the audience, more than 630 Lee College graduates were recognized for earning associate degrees and certificates of completion at the 2017 Spring Commencement ceremonies.

“You cannot imagine how proud we are,” Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown told the graduates. “As you move forward, know that this is not the end of your journey; it is the beginning. It’s the time where you think about your next steps, and I would also ask you to remember those that will follow you. You have blazed a trail. Thank you for what you’ve accomplished, and for what you’ve done for those that will follow you because of the successes you have earned.”

In their keynote address to the Class of 2017 – which included nearly two dozen IMPACT Early College High School students receiving their associate degrees before their high school diplomas – sisters, authors, educators and entrepreneurs Tina Pennington and Mandy Williams encouraged the graduates to remember that some of the greatest blessings in life can come from confronting the most difficult and challenging situations. Pennington and Williams, better known as “Red” and “Black” respectively, learned that lesson firsthand after Red’s husband was fired from his job and she turned to her sister for help mastering the family’s finances. Black, who earned an MBA in International Finance from New York University and London Business School before retiring from the oil and gas industry at just 40 years old, assured the nervous Red – a Theater Arts graduate at Wake Forest University who became a full-time wife and mother and was initially intimidated by financial terminology like “assets and liabilities” – that the job loss and subsequent processes of learning about personal finance and rebuilding her life would be the best thing to ever happen to her.

The frank and candid messages the sisters exchanged during Red’s period of crisis formed the basis of their national bestseller, “What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!” which features practical guidance and advice about achieving financial health and a richer, more satisfying life. Initially launched by Neiman Marcus, the book has since been adapted into an educational program at KIPP Houston High School and incorporated into book study programs at more than 30 percent of Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison units. Along with financial literacy, Red and Black also emphasize the need for soft skills like critical thinking, problem solving, communication and teamwork.

“Once I started doing personal finance, realized the importance of the soft skills I already had and just stopped to think about things, I realized she was right,” Red told the Lee College graduates. “It really was the best thing for me – but more than that, it was the best thing for my daughters, and to be able to talk with students like yourselves and others we come across.”

As the first woman to race the road course at Indianapolis, Black used racing analogies to present the graduates with an essential life choice: being a passenger who lets life control them, or being a driver who controls their own life. Remember the important corners on the track that require a steady hand, and keep the fun of the curves in perspective of the bigger picture, she said. Most of all, stay in the driver’s seat instead of simply coasting along.

“Think of all the times you could have quit, all the excuses you could have made, but you kept going. You’re here today and you’ve proved that you are strong and driven,” Black said. “None of us know where our lives are going to take us. Take a deep breath, hold on to the steering wheel and throttle on.”

2017 Associate Degree Nursing Pinning Ceremony

Lee College Nurse Pinning ceremony
Lee College welcomed the 60 newest graduates of the Associate Degree Nursing program into the nursing profession at the annual Pinning Ceremony held Friday, May 12, 2017, in the Sports Arena on campus. Each graduate received a pin to signify completion of their Lee College journey and entry into the next phase of their lives and careers.

The 60 newest graduates of the Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program received pins to signify completion of their Lee College journey at the annual Pinning Ceremony, where they were also welcomed into the nursing profession and charged to devote themselves to the welfare of the patients that will soon be committed to their care.

ADN faculty presented individual awards to students who displayed academic and clinical excellence and best represented the unique spirit of nursing, before calling each student to the stage one by one to be recognized. As a special twist this year, graduates were given the option of having a registered nurse of their choice join Director of Nursing Tracy Allen to congratulate them and affix the coveted metal pins to their starched, white uniforms.

Graduates then lined up to receive the symbolic light of knowledge from their instructors, passing the live flame from one ceramic lamp to the next and reciting the Florence Nightingale Pledge taken by all professional nurses.

Citing a quote from former Pres. Teddy Roosevelt about the importance of striving for success and staying in the arena despite failures and shortcomings, Allen praised the graduates for their consistent effort to complete the rigorous program and prove their knowledge and mastery of the important skills and abilities they need to be effective nurses. The nursing pins they earned at Lee College will become one of their most prized possessions as they continue into the next phase of their lives and careers, she said.

“You are well prepared and ready to enter the workforce in the greatest profession in the world,” Allen said. “Congratulations — we are all very proud of you.”

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.