Opinions

Chattering roamed on through the room and trailed out the hallway.

As I walked up to the door I took a deep breath and walked into the room. Waiting there was a room full of journalists sitting at small, lined-up desks.

These weren’t just any journalists, but The South Texan journalists, the ones I looked up to from the moment they introduced themselves.

Three years ago, on a Monday afternoon, was my very first South Texan meeting for a chance to write for the paper.

Never in my life did I think I would have the opportunity to work for the university newspaper.

I always thought it was only for the really talented journalists, not a newbie.

I received my first story for the opening of the women’s center here in Kingsville. After getting my interviews, I sat at my computer writing and rewriting over a hundred times as my sister, who had already written for the paper, went over it with me.

My parents even went over the story and fixed things, and no they aren’t journalists, but it helped.

Before I knew it, my story was printed in the paper that week. It was a feeling I’ll never forget of pure joy to see my name in the newspaper with my story, no one else’s.

From that moment on, my journalism career began. I have been a part of The South Texan newspaper for three years and I have loved every single moment of it.

Sure, there have been ups and downs, but I don’t regret one single bit of the journey.

My career as a journalist wouldn’t be the same without the people I have learned from in my time here, my advisors, Don Fisher and Dr. Manuel Flores.  Without the yelling and lessons from my advisors I would not be where I am today.

I would also like to thank my editors: JJ Adams, Fares Sabawi, and Frank Garza, who took me onto their staff and taught me all of the ropes of not only being a reporter but an editor.  As I get ready to take my finals, I look at not only the fact that I have finished my time here at TAMUK, but my time with my family, The South Texan.

I will miss you all very much. I hope to see you journalists in the near future, covering that breaking news story.

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This is it.

To be honest, I don’t know what to feel. It’s been that way for a couple of weeks now, hence not feeling at all.

I’ve been looking in the mirror a lot lately. The person staring back at me is completely different from the person that I feel like I am.

He’s older, and he’s probably wiser. I want to ask him: are you ready to leave?

I want him to say yes, because if he can fool me, then he can fool anyone.

Because the truth is, I’m not ready. I’ve known that for awhile.

This wasn’t so much of a secret around The South Texan, but I hadn’t wanted the editorship. It was out of my comfort zone, and after seeing my good friend Fares Sabawi wrestle with the responsibilities of the job, I was afraid.

And yet, I applied.

Nobody else wanted the job, and someone had to lead. So I took that step forward. And I learned a quiet truth: nobody is ever ready for the hardships a leader faces.

It was a comforting thought. And at a certain point, you have to learn to push forward despite your feelings.

There’s a point where you say, “I’ll do this because I must.”

If anything, that’s what college has been able to do for me these past four years: force me to deal with situations that were less than favorable to me.

I’ve gotten this far, somehow. What makes the future any different?

It took me a long time to realize this, but the person people see in me is the one I see in the mirror. They see the man who, somehow, managed to figure everything out up until this point. They see the leader who, when he failed, dusted himself off and tried again.

And when I walk out these doors, like so many of my peers, it will be him, not me, that people see with diploma in hand.

The time to say good-bye has come. It is the moment that every college student has been waiting for four long years.

I feel happy but sad at the same time.  In my situation it has been a long journey full of achievements and disappointments.

There were times when I wanted to stop what I was doing and give up.

Luckily, people supported me and motivated me to keep on following my goals.

Thanks to God and my family I was able to get through this, they have always been my biggest supporters and I’m so thankful for that.

My years at Texas A&M University-Kingsville were the best of my life as I had the opportunity to interact with a group of professional individuals at The South Texan and The Javelina Broadcast Network.

Coming to TAMUK is definitely one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. Getting involved with the newspaper was the best choice I’ve made.

At first I was very scared and wanted to quit, but later I decided to just try my best and do it, which I did and it turned out to be a great experience.

I’m thankful for the opportunity given to me by the Chief Editor to serve as the Spanish Editor and Chief Reporter.

I came into this knowing nothing and I’m leaving with a lot of knowledge. There are too many people to mention and too little space, so I just want to thank everyone who has helped, inspired or motivated me.

Without y’all I wouldn’t be here. Thank You!

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Four years up, and four years down. It’s hard to comprehend saying goodbye to The South Texan and this university, too.

When I sat down to write this, I looked back at everything I’ve been through. I remembered my classes, my assignments, my friendships, my relationships, my jobs, and yes, all of my stories

And I realized something. I’m so thankful.

I’m thankful for my professors, their constructive criticism, and their faith in me.

I’m thankful for the opportunities that have come my way, and doubly thankful that I took them up instead of declining them out of fear of failure.

I’m thankful for my friends, who do what friends always do.

I’m thankful for my family. They have always pushed me to do my best, even when I thought I couldn’t do any better.

I’m thankful for just about everyone I’ve come across (especially you, Felicia). They’ve all changed my life in one way or another, and that’s something I’ve learned to appreciate.

Lastly, and most importantly, I’m thankful for the mistakes I have made, and I’ve made a ton of them.

Without them, there would be no guide to go off of. There would be no lessons learned, and no knowledge gained.

Some people want to go through their life without problems.

They just want to cruise on by with no hardships in their way, with no struggles, with no uphill battles.

But you need that. You really do. You need that devastation you get from failure. You need those moments right after you mess up where you ask yourself, “Why did I just do that?”

You need to come to those crossroads where you’re forced to make those tough decisions, and sometimes, you need to make the wrong decision, just to know what it feels like.

It’s an awful place to be, but it’s necessary.

So go out there and mess up. Go out there and make those mistakes. You’ll learn to even appreciate those, too.

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Did you know that a majority of single parents spend almost all of their income on housing expenses, leaving them almost penniless for their own educational purposes?  And according to iwpr.org, being a parent decreases your likelihood of obtaining a degree.  A majority of the time, it is because there’s not enough income coming into a household to help your child go to school.  I would know; I am a single mother.

The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was be a full-time student, a full-time employee and a full-time mother.  Growing up, my parents were both educated before having children so I never got to see them struggle financially or emotionally.

When I became a single mother, this was all so new to me.  How could I let myself be so dependent on a man?  The biggest promise I ever made to my daughter and myself was to never let this happen again.  Never will I ever rely on a man.

I decided to go back to college when I was 24.  I am now 27.

Before making my final decision, I was the girl who always made excuses. “I can’t go to school because I can’t afford child care” or  “I can’t go to school because by the time I graduate my daughter will resent me for not being around as often as most mothers.”

When I registered for my first time as a transfer student, I was informed of several childcare programs that were offered in the community.  The one that interested me was Workforce Solutions Childcare program.

Basically, if you meet the requirement of income, they take the hours you work and/or go to school and pay for almost all of your childcare.  Sometimes it varies but if you are a single parent, you know that anything helps.  I applied the day I registered and the following week I was approved for childcare and I could now officially enroll in college!

I am now in my last semester of college and my daughter does anything but resent me.  She is 4 and when I am unable to take her to daycare, she follows me around campus (with the consent of my professors) and always says that Texas A&M University- Kingsville will one day be her school.

My fear of her hating me for making the decision to go to school was actually a blessing in disguise.  She sees me do my homework, she sees me study and she sees me get ready for presentations and she loves it.  She wants to be everything like me.  And I love it!

Going back to school was the best decision I have ever made in my life.  It wasn’t the easiest but when you do it for your child, it is all worth it!

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This photo, published with a story on historically high enrollment won an award in the News Photo Category.
This photo, published with a story on historically high enrollment won an award in the News Photo Category.

Another successful time at the annual Texas Intercollegiate Press Association shows the work The South Texan has been able to accomplish last year.

This newspaper competed with other collegiate publications around the entire state, and came out victorious in some cases.

The awards not only recognize the effort our staff puts in each week to print a newspaper, but the creativity and the talent that our staff members use to come up with contest entries on the spot.

Most of the live competitions require on-the-spot spontaneity, and five of us were able to place in contests spanning different mediums.

Whether it’s newspaper, radio or video, communications students are excelling right here in Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

Regardless of who is graduating, I’m confident that The South Texan, Javelina Broadcast Network and KTAI 91.1 will continue operating successfully and spread accurate and vital information for all students.

The field of communications continues to grow vastly, and according to this year’s award results, TAMUK students are on top of the changing times.

All award winners are listed below. If you know one of these students, don’t be afraid to congratulate them for their successful efforts.

Live Contest:

Rey Castillo- Honorable Mention sports writing

Dante Hernandez- 2nd place radio announcing, Honorable Mention Video News

Thalia Perez- Honorable Mention two-person photo essay

Herminio Rodriguez- 2nd place Spanish radio announcing

Fares Sabawi- Honorable mention two-person photo essay, honorable mention editorial writing

Previously published:

Kim Caughman- 1st place editorial cartoon

James Espinosa- 2nd place sports column

Frank Garza- Honorable Mention feature story, Honorable Mention feature photo

Fares Sabawi- 1st place information graphic, 2nd place editorial, 3rd place news photo, Honorable Mention Photo Illustration

D.A. Zapata- Honorable Mention critical review

South Texan Staff- Honorable mention editorial

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Mergining departments might lead to a lack of productivity for students and administrators.
Mergining departments might lead to a lack of productivity for students and administrators.

It’s hard to do two things at once. It must be even harder to do four things at once, so why force the task on our administrators?

When Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp commissioned a Comprehensive Administrative Review to improve efficiency and save costs, it shifted a burden on Texas A&M University-Kingsville to come up with $1 million dollars in savings.

The proposals TAMUK’s committee came up with include three proposals: realigning of activities at Jernigan Library, consolidating the Department of Teacher and Bilingual Education and the Department Educational Leadership and Counseling within the College of Education and Human Performance and combining the Dean of the Honors College with the position Associate Vice-President of Student Success.

The savings would free up enough money to redirect in other areas like teaching, research and service, according to provost Rex Gandy.

While it’s always important to maintain those standards, it’s counter-productive to combine positions the way TAMUK’s committee has proposed.

Combining the positions of a dean and a vice-resident of a completely different department, for example, isn’t efficient. It would only spread the administrator thin.

The objectives of the two positions don’t complement each other: the Honors College looks to find the best research and education opportunities for their students, while the Center for Student Success has much broader responsibilities of providing a seamless transition for first year students, and helping students choose majors.

Students of the Honors College would not get the same amount of attention, cheapening their educational experiences.

With each consolidation TAMUK officials decide to implement, quality of those services will go down.

Is it really worth it to merge departments and positions for the sake of saving money when students will have to suffer the consequences?

That isn’t maintaining the quality that Texas A&M University strives to offer.

That’s practically demolishing it.

Departments have been consolidated at the university already for too long. It’s time to put an end to asking too much of our administrators.

Efficiency shouldn’t be for the sake of efficiency, it should only be done if the results improve the student experience, not the other way around.

Kylie Jenner Kylie Jenner is not only famous for her family “royalty” but she is famous for her “perfect” ideas for fashion trends. Just recently, social media has been blowing up with #TheKylieJennerLipsChallenge.

Where girls from all over the world attempt to pursue the lips of Kylie Jenner by suctioning their lips into a glass. Which then makes their lips fuller, and have the allusion of liposuction.

Is it really worth the time and even the risk of serious damage? You would think it would just be a waste of time and nothing bad could possibly happen.

This however has been strongly proven that it can go wrong, very wrong. According to Teen.com, 21 people have proven this, they tried and miserably failed the challenge with horrible lip infections.

The end result is bruised and a lip infection. One guy that goes by the name lookthisnuggets on Instagram even posted that he failed the challenge worse than anyone.

The shot glass shattered over his lips slicing his top lip in half.

After seeing these horrific photos, which if you haven’t seen, you really should.

Before you consider seriously injuring yourself. Is it worth the time to look like you have fuller lips and injure yourself?

Might as well do yourself a favor and just buy some lip-gloss for a few bucks, that can make your lips  full and not bruised and sliced in half. You could even use lip liner to make the illusion of fuller lips.

There are safer ways to attempt this look everybody. Lets not split any more lips. Stay safe and away from glass.

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Because of the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown involving police officer Darren Wilson, police officers have been under a great deal of fire.

Body cameras have been one of the biggest investments police departments are making to protect their officers following the public pressure.    

But when two New York police officers were killed last December, it was obvious to the nation that police officers everywhere were in danger. Still, you didn’t see any of them rioting like the civilians were in Ferguson.

Are police officers really that bad? Or are people just singling out a handful of incidents that made national news?

As a daughter of a 39-year police veteran, I have heard it all.  From friends not attending my family functions to people calling and asking me to get them out of a ticket.

Flash-forward to 2015, I am still the go-to girl to call for tickets.  My boyfriend has been a police officer for seven years.

For three of those years I have been by his side, from him coming home coping with the constant criticism from the public to sarcasm from people who he has pulled over  (“I pay your salary”).

The stress I have is nothing like his, but there are a few similar aspects.

I can’t fall asleep without hearing his voice in between calls he is going and coming from.  It’s hard to start my day without knowing he is safe, in bed, resting for his next shift.   I want to protect him from everyone he comes in contact with but the reality is that I can’t.

The thing is, I never knew if my dad would come home every night and I don’t know if my boyfriend will come home every night because they both risk their lives to protect the people in their community including those who doubt them.

The fact of the matter is cops are just like you and I.  They pray, they hurt, they bleed and they cry, some more than others.

We don’t deal with the fear of getting shot at—they do.

We don’t see battered women and children on a daily basis.  We don’t have to see dismembered bodies from crashes.  They do.

I have heard people say “all cops are bad.”  But that’s like asking “are all students bad?”

There are more mass school shootings since the Columbine incident.   Would it be fair for all officers to say this about students just because of those few who have committed those crimes?  What if they all approached students at gunpoint just because of that?

A police officer doesn’t wake up thinking, “Who am I going to shoot today?” Their thoughts are, “I hope I come home to my family tonight.”

Without these brave men and women, our communities would be full of chaos.  If you’ve seen the movie “The Purge” you know what happens when there is madness.  A job of an officer is to restore order after civilians like you and I have created the disorder.  At the end of the day, they hang up their uniform, put away their gun and badge and are just like you and I.

They watch football, have barbecues and go out with their friends and family.  It’s just a job.  Don’t take their traffic stops or interrogations personally.

I am the proud daughter, the proud friend and the proud girlfriend of a police officer.

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Texas has always had a reputation as a gun-loving, gun-toting state, but recent legislation that is up for debate might bring it to a school near you.

The Texas Senate recently approved Senate Bill 11, which allows students to openly carry their firearms on campus, in class and in their dormitories too.

The bill, which will need approval in the House before it is sent to the governor’s desk, will only apply to public universities, however. Private universities can still opt to ban firearms, and the ruling doesn’t apply to high schools, middle schools or elementary schools.

There is also a bill in the House that passed the committee vote on March 31 and has been sent to the Senate.

The bills differ slightly, but the gist of the legislation is the same.

Proponents of the bill say the law is intended to lower crime while extending the Second Amendment at the same time.

“The only people not carrying guns on college campuses now are the people that abide by the law,” said State Representative Joe Driver, a Republican from Garland who introduced a similar bill to the House. “Criminals know campuses are a gun-free zone.”

Those in favor of the bill cite cases like the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007 that left 32 victims dead, or Northern Illinois University, where a similar incident ended with five casualties.

What the proponents for this bill do not understand, however, is active shooters like the ones mentioned above are not rational to begin with. Guns would not deter them from committing tragic acts.

If anything, if a campus is on lockdown or a similarly stressful situation, a student with a handgun could easily confuse another student with a handgun to be a threat, causing chaos that would result in only more tragedy.

Aside from that, several universities have already spoken out against the proposed legislation. Several professors have stated they would not be comfortable in an environment where students have their weapons in class with them.

One professor has even told legislators that they would change the way they grade in fear of violent retaliation, according to Democratic State Representative Lon Burnam from Fort Worth.

The bill is meant only for those who are 21 and older with a proper license to handle firearms, but how will campus law enforcement know who has a license and who doesn’t?

Would they have to stop students every time they see he/she is carrying a gun just to insure they are properly licensed to do so?

In the front page story this week, University Police Chief Felipe Garza said the bill is unnecessary, because violent crime rarely happens on campus.

The majority of the crimes committed on campus deal with underage drinking, drug possession or theft.

Students possessing guns won’t do anything to help that.

If anything, it may open the door for the theft of firearms the same way students have their iPads and laptops stolen from their dorm rooms.

The sentiment of the legislation is clear: the Republican lawmakers who support these bills only want students to feel protected. The irony is however, this could lead to more devastation and more tragedy.

At the request of the leading universities of the states and their student bodies, this legislation shouldn’t go into effect. If it does, the consequences could be irreparable.

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