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Texas A&M University-Kingsville went from blue and gold to orange and black on Aug. 26, when Piper Kerman, author of Orange Is the New Black, My Year in a Women’s Prison, addressed a crowd of students and fans at Jones Auditorium. She was on campus as part of the University Lectureship Series.

Piper Kerman visits TAMUK

Kerman, who wrote her memoir after being convicted of money laundering and drug trafficking, spent 13 months at a minimal security women’s prison in Danbury, Conn.
“This is not just a book about prison,” Kerman told audience members. “It’s a book about women.”

The author covered a wide array of topics, her memoir and the Netflix series it inspired. Kerman gave a firsthand account of life behind bars and how incarceration can destroy lives–both the prisoner’s and often their loved ones.

“I was on my way to join the biggest prison population in the world,” Kerman said. “The United States has more of its own people incarcerated than any other country in the world. We have 5 percent of the world’s population, but we have 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.”

Kerman said students should be mortified by the number of U.S. women warehoused in jails and correctional facilities each year. Often these women are jailed for minor drug crimes and find themselves caught up in an unrelenting system that is good at offering punishment but not so good about delivering rehabilitation and redemption.

At one point during her lecture, the statistic “650%” flashed on a screen.

“650 percent is the percentage increase in the incarceration of women in this country over the last 30 to 40 years. That’s kind of a big number, right?” Kerman said. “Women offer us a very crystlized new example of people that we have chosen to lock up in this country, who we never should’ve put in prison before. In 1980 there were 500,000 people in prison and jail in this country and today there are about 2.4 million.”

Kerman also showed a clip from the first episode of “Orange Is the New Black.” She pointed out the subtle details of the scene, describing it as “almost line for line verbatim from the book,” down to details of the cell she spent her first night in and the way her cellmate climbed down from the top bunk.

Audience members after the lecture said they were moved by Kerman’s prison experience and advocacy for women’s rights

“It was very in-depth about the prison system,” said junior Briana Harris. “She was very brave to go into prison for 13 months. I couldn’t have done it.”

Graduate student Alexis Lakers also enjoyed Kerman’s lecture.

“Piper is just such a down to earth person. When she walks in, you don’t think ‘oh she went to prison and has such a big story to tell,’ and so for her lectureship series, my favorite part was that you have to remember that these women are human and that all the people who get incarcerated for such petty crimes shouldn’t get those big sentences.”

Mario Padillo, a junior, said he had never read Kerman’s book nor watched her show. He was invited to her lecture by his roommate. He was glad he went when it was over.

“The best part was describing her situation, and how she went from nowhere, then onto a bad path that she overcame and stands where she is now,” he said.

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The second floor of the SUB was taken over by the sound of children’s laughter and music.

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) collegiate chapter at Texas A&M University – Kingsville (TAMUK) hosted the very first Javelina Music Day at the Memorial Student Union Building on April 18.

“The purpose of Javelina Music Day was to spread awareness of the importance of music in our schools,” said Jorge Rangel, music education major and president of the NAfME collegiate chapter at TAMUK.

The event included a live performance by Mariachi Javelina, dances by the Corpus Christi Chinese fan dancers, a research gallery provided by music department students and music activity stations for individuals of all ages to enjoy.

“A lot of the parents brought their young children to the event and really enjoyed the hands-on experience in instrument petting zoo, classical music and movement, and parachute games,” said Catherine Tu, assistant professor of music education.

Over 100 people attended the event.

“This event was a great a way to learn about music from around the world, the importance of music in public schools, and how music develops young minds while still having fun,” said Orlando Medrano, music performance major.

Javelina Music Day was filled with TAMUK music students and members of the community who brought their children to experience the music.

“I believe that music day was a community effort that provided and established an importance of music,” Medrano said. “And, by TAMUK dedicating a day just for that reason proves that this university supports music and emphasizes that music is a crucial part in the development of the human.”

Each experience of the event did not have any age restrictions. Individuals of all ages participated in each station together.

“Music education is important because it promotes non-musical skills like language development, social interaction, and mathematical operation,” Tu said. “However, some schools in our nation have terminated music at the elementary level due to budget deficits.”

Javelina Music Day was funded by a co-curricular service-learning award of $2,750, and was sponsored by Dr. Duane Gardiner, director of service learning program at TAMUK.

“It would be nice that we will get funding from various resources or even an external grant and really promote hands-on music experience for the community,” Tu said. “We’d like to see more music education students coming out of their comfort zone and hone their teaching skills during this event.”

The NAfME collegiate chapter at TAMUK wish to continue hosted Javelina Music Day in the future.

“Music does something even better for our students than what can be measured directly on a test score,” Tu said. “Music shapes the way our students understand themselves and the world around them.”

Music education majors had the chance to research music subjects and talk about them in the research galleries at the event. Potential stations could also include a story-telling/folklore, make your own instruments, music and science, and/or music of your heritage.

“It is our hope that the hands-on music education experience provided during this Javelina Music Day will instill a deeper appreciation of music that will last a lifetime,” Tu said.

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Kristen Danielle Garza Hake has made pageantry a big part of her life.
Kristen Danielle Garza Hake has made pageantry a big part of her life.

Fancy dresses, tiaras, and big smiles. This is the new life for Texas A&M University Kingsville’s very own freshman student, Kristen Danielle Garza Hake.

A place where all your dreams come true, Hake may have her dreams come true at the USA National Miss Scholarship Pageant in Disney World.

Hake has made pageantry a big part of her life in the beginning of her high school years.

“I did my first pageant when I was a sophomore in high school,” Hake said. “I wanted to start because most of the girls I went to modeling with had been doing pageants since they were tiny and it looked really fun. After I did one, I was hooked! I’ve competing ever since,” Hake said.

Since she has begun pageantry, Hake has been quite a success and gained many titles that would take the average young girl years to accomplish.

They include, Miss Spirit of Hope 2013 Teen, Miss Winter wonderland 2014, Miss Spirit of Hope 2014, Miss RGV Liberty Belle 2014, Miss Kingsville Premiere 2015, and now Miss South Texas National Miss. She has also been named Rising Star Coverall and Miss Congeniality and Directors choice.

“In my time competing there’s only been one pageant where I didn’t come home with any title which was Miss Hidalgo County. At that pageant I got 1st runner up and even I was shocked because that same morning pageant, I actually had got the stomach flu,” Hake said. “My mom turned into a crazy that pageant mother and basically told me I don’t spend all this money for you to quit or lose, so I still competed,” Hake said.

Hake won the Miss South Texas National Miss, which qualified her to compete in nationals. To apply for the USA National Miss Scholarship Pageant she needed to compete in the Texas Pageant.

“It wasn’t really anything different then a normal pageant,” Hake said. “I still trained and dieted, but the only things that were really different for me were that for Interview, we couldn’t wear suits and instead had to wear a dress that reflected our personality,” Hake said. “

This will be the first time Hake goes to Disney World and is excited for all of what the pageant has to offer.

“It’s honestly so surreal,” Hake said. “To know that, not only get to go to Disney World for the first time, but I also get to meet girls from all over as well as be judged by a former Miss America and possibly be awarded so much in scholarship money is a dream come true.”

When Hake first decided to go for the pageant she was just aiming to become a delegate, but gained more than she expected.

“My goals going into state was just to hopefully be able to become a delegate, but now that I’ve signed my paperwork and its official, my goal is to not only win but portray the role that delegates are expected to be, and to be a role model that I want my kids to look up to someday,” Hake said.

When participating in many pageants, not only does Hake recognize many of her fellow contestants, but has also gained many life long friendships with them along the way.

“Another amazing thing about national miss is that we all have competed together for many years, so nationals together is going to be amazing,” Hake said. “Brianna, Cassanda, Carina Kristen, Lyzette, Emerald, and Juanita are all like my little sisters. I love all of them so competing together is going be fabulous.”

Along with the responsibilities of a contestant for many pageants and a college student, Hake is also President of Coalition for Political and Social Justice, a member of Delta Phi Epsilon, and is currently running for SGA.

Hake doesn’t want to stop the life of pageantry too soon and even after she can’t compete.

“I do see my future in pageantry for sure, and I want to be able to compete at Miss Texas and at Miss Texas USA,” Hake said. “Above that, I do want to continue pageant coaching, judging, and emceeing. My goal in pageantry is really just to show people that there’s more to me than just a pretty face and to become a good role model.”

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Alyssabeth Cantu and Larry Savoy posing as Chava and Tevye from the production of Fiddler on the Roof.
Alyssabeth Cantu and Larry Savoy posing as Chava and Tevye from the production of Fiddler on the Roof.

The curtains will finally be drawn for the long awaited production of Fiddler on the Roof this weekend at Texas A&M University-Kingsville in the Little Theatre.

TAMUK Theatre and the TAMUK Opera Workshop joined forces to produce the musical theatre masterpiece that tells the story of Jewish milkman Tevye, who strives to maintain “Tradition” as he sees his three oldest daughters fall in love.

The large cast that has been rehearsing since late January not only consists of TAMUK students, but also local elementary students.

“There are 33 TAMUK students singing on stage, 17 local elementary students in the children’s chorus, and there is a 9 member pit orchestra, comprised mainly of

TAMUK music majors,” Assistant Professor of Voice and Opera, Dr. Melinda A. Brou, said.

One of the reasons this production was possible was because of a grant that was given by the Coastal Bend Community Foundation. The production was fully paid for to provide these students with a high-level musical performance experience on stage and in the orchestra pit.

“The Kingsville Independent School District has no music education in public schools until the 5th grade,” Dr. Brou said. “We wanted to provide an opportunity for local elementary students as well as provide the South Texas community a high quality, low cost, family friendly arts experience.”

“Audiences can expect a visually stunning show that features beautiful music, both played and sung, with lots of humor as well as some deeply touching moments,” Dr. Brou said.

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The four-time award winning Gordon Goodwin performed with Jazz Band I at the TAMUK Jazz Festival.
The four-time award winning Gordon Goodwin performed with Jazz Band I at the TAMUK Jazz Festival.

The crowd silenced and leaned forward with anticipation as he took his breath and placed his lips upon the mouthpiece.

The four-time award winning Gordon Goodwin conducted jazz clinics and performed at the 48th Annual TAMUK Jazz Festival at Texas A&M University – Kingsville (TAMUK) Jazz Festival on Mar. 27th and 28th.

“The most satisfying life is to not live out of fear,” said Gordon Goodwin. “It is to be willing to take a risk, even if it goes bad, well at least you tried. Maybe next time it will work, that is kind of what performance is about.”

Goodwin has written and worked with Ray Charles, Christina Aguilera, John Williams and David Foster, among others. He leads the Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, an internationally known ensemble with a reputation as one of the most exciting large jazz ensemble in the world.

His orchestra can be heard in several films, including Remember the Titans, Gone in 60 Seconds and Armageddon.

“I attended because my co-worker and I brought our jazz band to compete,” said Ivry Bailey, Javelina Alumnus. “Also, I love Gordon Goodwin, his pieces are some of my favorite jazz pieces.”

Middle schools and high schools around the area attend the Jazz Festival each year to take advantage of the knowledge internationally known artists have to share.

Gordon’s clinic was different from any other clinic I’ve been to, he really broke down the process that he uses to write some of his tunes,” said Edward Moncada, music education major. “After learning about all the time and imagination he puts into his craft, it really made me appreciate it his work a whole lot more.”

With breaking down process of music, they got to hear the final product toward the end of the jazz festival as Jazz Band I performed alongside Gordon.

Jazz Band III performed on Friday, while Jazz Band II, Latin Jazz Band, and Jazz Band I performed on Saturday.

Jazz Band III performed “Mr.Timmons” by Gene Thorne, “Witchcraft” by C. Coleman & Carolyn Leigh, and “Cool Joe, Mean Joe” by Quincy Jones.

Jazz Band II performed “Hot It Up” by Shelton Berg, “Smackdown” and “J.B” by Jeff Jarvis. Latin Jazz Band performed “Song for My Father” by Horace Silver and “Oye Como Va” by Tito Puente.

Jazz Band I performed “Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” by Gordon Goodwin, “Stars Fell On Alabama” by Frank Perkins, and “Traffic Jam” by Jenny Kellogg.

“You look at the bands and everyone is very attentive, like they are committed,” Goodwin said. Certainly a reflection of the band, the school, and the director or maybe the quality of the people.”

Goodwin mentioned that the faculty has the jazz bands working pretty well. And, he was amazed by the rich music tradition TAMUK has.

“It’s interesting to me because they’re really good, maybe it was something with Paul Hageman, the director,” Goodwin said. “I get here in rehearsal and they’re completely nailing it, I was thinking to getting here and making the bands better but I was like, ‘I don’t know what to say you guys.’”

Even though the jazz festival brings a talented musician each year, the students never seem to stop learning and grow with the inspiration of each guest artist.

“Performing with Gordon was absolutely timeless,” Moncada said. “There is something about being on a stage with such a high-caliber musician that makes the entire experience very surreal.”

“And, above all that, the aesthetic value the entire event offered is nothing but pure motivation for me as I head into the field.”

While this jazz festival was Moncada’s 10th and final year, younger musicians attended and grew from the experience for the first time.

“I believe they benefited from the experience by being able to hear great performances and to give them some motivation to want to be at a high level of musicianship,” Bailey said.

Goodwin delivered such a powerful performance that the audience could feel a sense of musical growth.

“I think everybody that was at that concert can learn from it just as much as everyone on stage could,” Moncada said. “Being exposed to jazz, especially live jazz, is critical if you want to have ever want your students/ensembles to sound authentic.”

The jazz festival continues to attract old and new faces each year.

“I always love the Jazz fest because I am able to hear a great guest artist and be able to give my students a great experience,” Bailey said. “I am very proud to have participated in the Jazz program at TAMUK and to see it grow.”

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The Music Department is starting to gain recognition far beyond the state of Texas.

The Texas A&M University – Kingsville (TAMUK) Trombone Studio has been invited to perform at the International Trombone Festival (ITF) in Valencia, Spain, July 8-11.

“The International Trombone Festival (ITF) has taken place annually across the world. Past locations have included the United States, England, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Finland and now Spain,” said Oscar Diaz, associate professor of trombone.

“Attracting over 1,000 people including performers, exhibitors and delegates, the ITF represents the finest in trombone performance and pedagogy.”

In the past, the TAMUK Trombone Sstudio has received an Honorable Mention award for the Emory Remington Competition held by the International Trombone Association.

They have been invited to numerous festivals across the nation. The most recent and notable is the American Trombone Workshop in Fort Myer, VA. in the Washington D.C. area, where they have performed twice.

“It is considered a prestigious honor to be selected to perform in this venue as only a handful of trombone choirs receive this talent-based invitation,” Diaz said.

He explained the group sent recordings and a resume to the organization and that led to being chosen to perform. The students will perform a full-featured concert for many guests from around the globe, he said.

This is the first time the studio has been invited to this festival, which is considered the main festival in the trombone world.

“Typically this honor is given to ensembles, which contain graduate students,” Diaz said. “Ours does not (contain graduate students), which makes the invitation that much more extraordinary.”

The TAMUK Trombone Studio is one of only three trombone choirs for the US performing.

“Being in Spain we will be exposed to a whole different level of music and being able to perform at a festival of that caliber is very exciting,” said Tracy Gonzales, music education major.

To help make the trip possible, the trombone studio has gotten financial assistance from administrators of the university, local businesses and fundraising from the studio.

“For fundraising, the studio has had a raffle, sold beef fajita tacos, helped in the concession stands for football games, and most recently have been going to businesses around town asking for help and support,” said Mark Vasquez, music education major.

On Saturday March 28 they will be hosting a fundraising Workout of the Day (WOD) for the TAMUK Trombone Choir at 1724 S Brahma Blvd Suite 104 in Kingsville. Any donation is welcome.

The WOD will be open to the public and no CrossFit experience is necessary. The studio will play one or two songs before the workout.

“I thank Dr. Diaz for all he has done for us and I’m proud of our studio for coming together to reach these goals,” Gonzales said.

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Photo courtesy of Alliance Francaise d'Oklahoma City

The saints came marching in and brought a taste of the French culture to campus. The atmosphere was full of smooth jazz and warm New Orleans inspired food.

The French club hosted their annualNew Orleans event at Texas A&M  University – Kingsville on Feb. 17 at Sam Fore Hall.

“The objective was to spread French culture and make sure students know what is going on, what Mardi Gras is and to make sure everyone has a good time,” said  Natalia Morales, animal science major.

People who attended for the first time also had the chance to help get the event together along with the veterans of the club.

“I attended a French club meeting last week and this was the topic,” said Steven Doughtery, electrical engineer major. “I did a little bit to make this come together.”

The French club took a few weeks to put the event together. To create the mood for the party, food was served from the Mardi Gras culture and entertainment that was provided by a small jazz ensemble made up of music majors.

“It took a few weeks of planning, getting together, making sure everything came in order,”   said. “Making sure everyone is doing what they can.”

The party held small competitions where the attendees tried to create the best mask, and a Mardi Gras king or queen was selected based on who got the plastic small baby from their piece of cake.

“French club promotes French language and culture,” said Svetlana Singer, lecturer of French education and advisor of the French club. “The event we are having today is Mardi Gras, so its part of the French culture and Louisiana, of course.”

The club has been having Mardi Gras parties for more than 20 years. And, the new members are still planning to keep the tradition of having the annual party alive on campus.

“I think it was a great party, I think people enjoyed the music, it was a great jazz band and good food, good company, so I think it was great,” said Singer.

Bihe "Benjamin" Zhang shows the attendees how to use chopsticks so they might enjoy the meal in a true Chinese fashion.

Although the Lunar New Year is known to be a festive time for China, Bihe “Benjamin” Zhang couldn’t stop himself from shedding a tear when he spoke of the impoverished children of China.

The children living in a southern province of China known as Guanxi have to watch over themselves for most of the year; Zhang told the crowd at the Lunar New Year Celebration held Feb. 19 in the MSUB Ballroom.

What made the Lunar New Year special was those children get to spend time with their parents, which is a rarity for the kids. Zhang said that’s why he wanted to find a way to show those children that people care about them.

“I want them to see that there’s hope,” said Zhang, the president of Texas A&M Univeristy-Kingsville’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association. “I want to try my best to help them.”

Zhang was able to achieve that goal.

With the help of fellow students Lakshmi and Rama Chennuboyina, Zhang sent out cards they crafted written in both Chinese and English.

“I’ve been doing it since my childhood. I make so many cards,” Lakshmi said.

Despite preparing for graduation in May, Lakshmi said this was an issue that stood out to her.

“I have a busy schedule but I still had to do it because it was for a good cause,” Lakshmi said. “I feel glad to be able to make someone smile.”

The cards were shown to the crowd in attendance for what was an otherwise joyous occasion put on by TAMUK’s international program.  A choir sang “Let Love Rise” to ring in the new year after a traditional Chinese dish was served, and Zhang demonstrated how to use chopsticks.

This Lunar New Year is the year of the goat. It is said that those who are born this year will possess personality traits like creativity and thoughtfulness, according to chinahighlights.org. Despite a last minute venue change, TAMUK was able to come together and celebrate the new year.

“I’m really pleased with the way it turned out,” said international and Multicultural Coordinator Elizabeth Laurence. “We pulled together…in the limited time we had to prepare for it.”


PORTALES, NM- Javelinas suffered another defeat while facing off against the Eastern New Mexico Greyhounds, 56-31. The game was delayed at the start, kickoff was...