Honors students shine at GCIC Conference

Congratulations to five Lee College honors students who were selected to present their research at the Gulf Coast Intercollegiate Consortium (GCIC) in Houston recently. The annual academic conference brings together educators and honors students from across the Gulf Coast region to encourage and promote student presentations and publication.

According to Dr. Georgann Ward, Honors Program Coordinator at Lee College, few students have the opportunity to present their work at academic conferences like this one. In fact, faculty members typically begin this type of work in graduate school or once they become professional educators.

“One of the most exciting parts of my job is to see how students grow in the process of revising work for a ‘real’ audience at an academic conference. Through this process, they understand how their ideas truly matter and devise the best ways of expressing those ideas to others,” said Ward. “Lee College’s commitment to student presentations at conferences shows that it is important to our college to professionalize students and also to make them most competitive as they transfer to a four-year institution.”

The students applied to the conference and were selected in a “blind scoring” by judges associated with the Gulf Coast Intercollegiate Honors Council. Judges selected their research based on a high level of interest, purpose and appeal.

Ryan Lara, Noe Sanchez, Lindsey Sanford, and Amber Fanning shared their papers from the Human Condition, a combined English and Humanities class at Lee College. Their work used a philosophical “lens” to analyze a film or work of literature. Each semester, students in the Human Condition complete this type of paper – called a seminar paper – and present their work to the Lee College community as a practice for potential conferences they might be invited to attend.

Dinah Lemonier wrote her paper in Steve Showalter’s honors Government class, and though it was a film analysis, she used research about the Red Scare to analyze themes in the film more deeply.

“It is always a thrill to see how our students have grown over the course of a semester or year,” said Jerry Hamby, co-instructor of the Human Condition. “Their papers demonstrate increasing levels of sophistication, and their level of confidence is markedly greater. The students also get a chance to compete with the best and brightest peers from other colleges. Our honors students always make us proud.”

The Lee College Honors Program serves academically talented and highly motivated students. Students entering the nationally recognized program will experience enrichment of course materials and the freedom to work independently and collaboratively with faculty members who encourage lively, engaging discourse and activity both inside and outside the classroom. Enrollment in Honors classes is limited and classes are taught in a seminar format.

  • Noe Sanchez, The Complex and Versatile “Boy Codes” in “Vulgaria”
  • Lindsey Sandford, Bohemian Rhapsody and Freddy Mercury: The Un-Masculine Man
  • Amber Fanning, The Conditioning of Choice: Existentialism in a Clockwork Orange
  • Ryan Lara, Hardening of a Soul: Racism, Masculinity, and Dehumanization in Fences
  • Dinah Lemonier, More than Black and White: A Film Analysis of Good Night and Good Luck

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 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Great Plains Honors Council Recognizes Outstanding Lee College Honors Students

IMPACT Early College High School senior and Lee College Honors Program graduate Maria Gelves has won the prestigious Dennis Boe Award for a paper she wrote for the Lee College honors course, The Human Condition, taught by Jerry Hamby and Dr. Georgeann Ward. A Marxist critique of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Gelves’ paper is titled “Manifesting a ‘Biological Destiny’: Handmaids as ‘Sacred’ Instruments of Production in Gilead’s Industrial Theocracy.”

The Boe Award is determined by the Great Plains Honors Council in a highly competitive, blind judging of outstanding scholarly writing from collegiate honors programs in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

“Students learn so much from revising their work for competition and adapting their ideas for live audiences. Academic conferences and competitions like the Boe Award raise the stakes for student work and help them achieve clarity and a strong sense of purpose with their ideas,” Dr. Ward explained.

Because Gelves completed her Associate Degree in December, she entered the Boe competition for students who had earned 60+ hours of college credit, making her competition quite advanced.

In addition to winning a cash award and a plaque, Gelves will present her paper in a special session at the Great Plains Honors Council Conference at the University of Texas at Tyler in April.

Joining Gelves at the Great Plains Conference, several other Honors Program students will present papers that they wrote for the Human Condition: Marleah Downes, Dinah Lemonier, Amy Waltz-Reasonover, Ryan Lara, Noe Sanchez and Lindsey Sanford. Lara, Sanchez, and Sanford are all, like Gelves, IMPACT ECHS students.

Human Condition instructor Jerry Hamby added, “Maria is one of those students who demonstrate ever more sophisticated levels of intellectual curiosity, pushing themselves with every new assignment. She has a natural talent for writing, but, more importantly, she knows how to work for her success. Earning the Boe Award is the payoff.”

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 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

ACCT names Lee College a 2018 regional Equity Award winner

The Association of Community College Trustees has named Lee College its 2018 Equity Award recipient for the group’s Western Region. The college will be judged against winning colleges from other regions for recognition at the national level in October.

One outstanding award recipient in each category will be announced during the Annual ACCT Awards Gala on Friday, Oct. 26, at the New York Marriott Marquis, in conjunction with the 49th Annual ACCT Leadership Congress.

Honors students named Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship semifinalists

Lee College has the distinction of having two of its honors students selected as semifinalists for the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship. Cilah Ndofor from Cameroon, West Africa and Emily Blumentritt from Baytown, Texas are both currently enrolled in Lee College’s Honors Program. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has selected 534 high-achieving community college students from across the U.S. as semifinalists to compete for its Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, from a pool of nearly 2,500 applicants. This highly competitive scholarship will offer selected finalists as much as $40,000 per year for up to three years to complete their bachelor’s degrees at selective four-year colleges and universities.

Cilah Ndofor,  a General Studies student tracked to transfer to a four-year institution as a pre-medicine major has her sights set on eventually becoming a neurosurgeon.

“Words can’t express how overjoyed I was when I received the email stating I had been selected as a semifinalist.” Says Ndofor.  “I really wasn’t confident about myself because I know this scholarship selection is highly competitive but I just kept my fingers crossed and I’m still keeping them crossed!”

Noting what a boost it was to her confidence, Ndofor says of the nomination, “I now believe I can succeed in anything I do in life.”

She continues by saying that she would,  “characterize the significance of being selected a semifinalist as beneficial. Mentioning in my transfer applications that I am a semifinalist for this prestigious scholarship will definitely improve my chances of getting accepted and getting scholarships as well. I am very honored for making it this far in the competition.”

Ndofor is currently pursuing applications to Harvard, the University of Texas at Austin, Rice University and the University of Houston – Main Campus. She plans on pursuing a major in Biology with a minor in Mathematics prior to applying to medical school.

Emily Blumentritt, from Baytown, Texas is a General Studies major with plans to transfer into a Wildlife Biology or related program.

“I’m very passionate about nature, wildlife, and giving back to my community, so I hope to pursue a career in which I can contribute to scientific knowledge, help preserve nature and wildlife for future generations, and connect others to the natural world in a way that brings value and meaning to their lives. I’m considering applying to various universities, including Cornell, Texas A&M, and UCLA.”

As with Ndofor, Emily was surprised and excited to be chosen as a semifinalist.

“Being considered for this prestigious scholarship has really opened things up for me. As a Jack Kent Cooke semifinalist, I’ve already been invited to apply at an ivy league school, something I had never truly thought of as a possibility before. Being selected as a semifinalist is a recognition of the hard work and talent that a student displays in their community college years. It’s truly an honor to be selected.”

The honors program at Lee College has cultivated a national reputation for the rigor of its coursework and the high caliber student it produces. It’s impact on the lives of its honors students is evident.

“I sent in my application expecting to be disappointed,” says Blumentritt. “I am incredibly grateful to the wonderful professors here at Lee who helped me apply for the scholarship and who have supported me and my work throughout my time here.”

Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholars will be selected in April, based on their academic performance, leadership, perseverance, and service to others. “Community colleges hold many of the nation’s most gifted students,” said Harold O. Levy, Executive Director of the Cooke Foundation. “Yet too often these students are denied the opportunity to fulfill their potential due to lack of adequate resources and support. Our scholarships help to remove these barriers so that talented students with financial need have a chance to complete their college education and pursue their goals and dreams.”

Cooke Scholarships fund the costs of attending college not covered by other financial aid, plus intensive academic advising, stipends for internships, study abroad opportunities, and the ability to network with other Cooke Scholars and alumni. After earning a bachelor’s degree, these Cooke Scholars will also be eligible to apply for a scholarship for graduate school worth up to a total of $75,000.

The Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the foundation has awarded $175 million in scholarships to more than 2,300 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive counseling and other support services. The foundation has also provided over $97 million in grants to organizations that serve such students. www.jkcf.org

Research by Lee alum leads to historical marker at Double Bayou Dance Hall

American Studies thesis sets foundation for state recognition of hall known for Texas blues

Photo of the historical marker. Caleb Moore and John Britt stand on either side.
Lee College alumnus Caleb Moore (left) joins retired instructor John Britt at the Double Bayou Dance Hall on Saturday, June 24, 2017, to celebrate the dedication of the official Texas State Historical Marker recognizing the hall’s significance to surrounding communities. Moore completed a thesis for Britt’s American Studies course that focused on the dance hall and led to the marker being erected at the site in Chambers County.

ANAHUAC, TX — Before he began researching the Double Bayou Dance Hall in Chambers County to complete his thesis for the American Studies course offered through the Lee College Honors Program, alumnus Caleb Moore had never heard of the little one-room gathering spot on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” where blues legends like T-Bone Walker and Big Joe Turner stopped to perform on their way to Houston.

Now, many of the facts that Moore uncovered for his research paper grace a Texas Historical Marker recognizing the dance hall’s significance to the predominately African-American community of Double Bayou and those who flocked to it for generations, eager to end a hard day’s work by dancing to the rich sounds of Texas blues filling the rafters and spilling into the surrounding woods.

Established in the late 1920s and constructed of wood, hog wire, and cedar logs under a tin roof, the original dance hall structure was destroyed by a storm in 1941 and rebuilt nearby just after World War II. For Moore, an honored guest at the historical marker dedication ceremony hosted in late June by the Chambers County Historical Commission, it felt good knowing he played a role in ensuring the story of the Double Bayou Dance Hall will endure even if the building itself does not.

“If people don’t write the history down, it disappears,” said Moore, who graduated from Lee College in May 2013. “Now the dance hall has something that will stay, something that’s set in stone. People can look at the marker to remember and learn about their heritage.”

The American Studies class combines American literature and history, using an interdisciplinary approach to help students examine American culture and gain an understanding of how literature reflects historical events. Retired instructor John Britt started the course and was team-teaching with faculty member Kathleen Sydnor when Moore settled on the Double Bayou Dance Hall as the focus of his final capstone project, which requires students to complete a research paper about an event of literary or historical significance.

“Lee College is one of only a few community colleges in the country with an American Studies program,” said Britt, a past executive committee member of the Chambers County Historical Commission and an award-winning author and historian. “I suggested the topic and (Moore) ran with it. He dove right into the research.”

At the dedication ceremony, descendants of the dance hall’s owners and members of the community listened to live music and reminisced on good times over old photos, mementos and plates of barbecue. Moore was surprised to see his own aunt in one of the shots in the photo archive, reminding him of the lesson he learned while working on the thesis that ultimately brought the historical marker to Double Bayou.

“You can think something doesn’t have anything to do with you, but everything in this world has a connection to you,” he said. “You just have to take the time to learn history, talk to people and explore the world around 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.

 

Texas Nonprofit Theatres honors Lee for hosting youth conference

Dr. Dennis brown accepts the plaque on behalf of Lee.
Lee College received an award plaque this month from Texas Nonprofit Theatres for hosting the organization’s 22nd annual Youth Conference, which brought 400 young people from across the state to campus for a week of performances and workshops. Pictured, from left: Walter Stricklin, Performing Arts Center director; Dr. Veronique Tran, Vice President of Instruction; Dr. Onimi Wilcox, Dean of Academic Studies; Ryan Martin, production specialist; Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown; Kim Martin, technical theater instructor; and Mark Hall, vice chairman of the Board of Regents.

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College earned recognition this month from Texas Nonprofit Theatres (TNT) for hosting its 22nd annual Youth Conference. The gathering brought 400 young thespians and their directors and chaperones from across the state to campus for a summer camp-style week of performances and workshops.

Kim Martin, technical theater instructor and an officer on the TNT Board of Governors, presented the honorary plaque from the organization at the June meeting of the Lee College Board of Regents. The 2017 TNT Youth Conference, held from June 6-11 at the Performing Arts Center and various buildings around campus, marked the second consecutive year that Lee College has been selected to host the event.

“The TNT executive committee and officers wanted to give deep gratitude to Lee College for the wonderful job of providing amazing facilities, extraordinary service and unwavering support as hosts,” Martin said. “They can’t stop telling me how wonderful this place is. I’m proud of that and proud to be with Lee College, and I want you to know people from around the state recognize that, too.”

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.