Community Engagement Spotlight: How cycling plays into my life

Honors Students do so much more than just study and go to class. We encourage our students to find ways to weave together what they’re passionate about with what they do, and the post below from sophomore mechanical engineering major  Charles Arnold does an excellent job of illustrating how that can work out. When he’s not cycling or studying, Charlie may be found in the Honors Housing Community where he is serving this year as a Sophomore Advisor.

By Charlie Arnold ’19

I came to Texas A&M from a distant land known as “Kansas” for a quality education in engineering and affordable out of state tuition, but I also found some good times with the cycling team along the way. My first year was stressful with a new workload and new responsibilities, but I was always able to make time for cycling and doing the thing I love. When officer elections for the cycling team rolled around in the spring I instantly wanted to help the team and be involved. I became the vice president of road cycling and was determined to help the team, but before I could help the team I spent a summer helping provide affordable housing.

Build Day in Bremerton Washington. Left to right: Garret Jones, Colleen Flynn, Charlie Arnold, and Daniel Clarke
Build Day in Bremerton Washington. Left to right: Garret Jones, Colleen Flynn, Charlie Arnold, and Daniel Clarke

In my summer between freshman year and sophomore year I was taking classes, working a part time job, and raising money and volunteering for Bike and Build. Bike and Build is a non-profit that empowers young people to bike across the country raising awareness and volunteering for affordable housing. After I raised $2,500, finished the required 10 hours of volunteer work and my summer school, I drove to Oregon to start my Bike and Build trip. I rode 900 miles with twenty other participants through Oregon and Washington building at an affordable housing site every third day. I was able to see mountains, rivers, and sights that gave me shivers, but I also saw economic inequality, angry people in cars who hate cyclist, and good people doing great work for communities in Washington. Once our trip reached Seattle I was on a plane to College Station and started working on a new school year.

Once I was back at Texas A&M, I was able to resume my work with the cycling team. I created a video of the team to be entered into the Camelbak Collegiate Grant, and to our amazement our video won. We were selected with 4 other teams (One being UT-Austin, like what a coincidence?) to receive a $5,000 grant for the team as well as a trip to California for 2 team members to visit Camelbak HQ and receive the grant. The videographer Ryan Stankard and I were chosen to go to California. We left Monday November 7th and came back Wednesday November 9th. We had to miss school but with the permission of our professors and lots of studying on the plane it was well worth it.

While we were there we went for a ride in the beautiful hills of Petaluma, California with pro cyclist Andrew Talanski. Then we presented our video to Camelbak and the other winners, had a lesson on how to sell yourself from the hiring manager at Camelbak, had a photoshoot and interviews, talked with the Research and Development branch to see how their products are made, and finally took a tour of their lab (my favorite part, I’m a mechanical engineering nerd). I was extremely grateful to the team for letting me go on this trip and to my teachers for letting me take time away from class. #gotyourbak

Andrew Talansky and Charlie Arnold at Camelbak HQ in Petaluma, CA
Andrew Talansky and Charlie Arnold at Camelbak HQ in Petaluma, CA

My current projects include planning a joint training camp between Texas A&M cycling and UT cycling and creating a solar kit and shelter for use in rural Burkina Faso in West Africa for an “Engineers in Community Service” class. So yes, college is difficult and especially so with my additional responsibilities for the Honors program, but I still always find time for cycling, volunteering, and the things I love.

Want us to spotlight your community engagement? Send an email with details to honors@tamu.edu!

Elise Hackney – From Class to Competition

This post from freshman engineering student, Elise Hackney ’20, describes the success her team from ENDS 101 – Design Process has enjoyed so far. ENDS 101 is a perennial favorite with undergraduates because it fulfills both the Creative Arts and International & Cultural Diversity degree requirements. Students also enjoy the focus on building creative thinking skills in the course. Professor Rodney Hill, who created the course, requires his students to submit their class projects to real-life competitions. Here, Hackney describes the experience competing at the National Association of Broadcasters Pilot Competition in Pebble Beach, CA, October 30, 2016 – November 1, 2016.

sales-hackney
Jordan Sales ’19 & Elise Hackney ’20 in Pebble Beach

– By Elise Hackney

Introduction

Through the class ENDS 101, groups were randomly assigned for assignment purposes. The first group assignment was to enter into two competitions. One of the competitions our group entered was the Pilot Innovation Challenge. The Challenge Question for this competition was “How might local television and radio broadcasters engage their communities with next generation content on any device, whether big, small or moving?” Our idea is called History GO.

As evident by the success of the game Pokemon GO, people enjoy the interesting dynamics of augmented virtual reality. Virtual History uses the same principals and technology to allow people to see what History has happened or is happening where they are standing.

History GO is an app that will allow the user to connect with the history of their surroundings as well as current events. When opened, the app connects to the user’s current location. Using AR technology, History GO supplements a person’s environment with relevant facts, pictures, and videos. This app allows users to see the world through virtual eyes and connect where they are standing with where others have stood before.

As a result of the initial judging process our idea of History GO finalized in the top three of the Pilot Innovation Challenge. Our team quickly scrambled to book flights to the convention in Pebble Beach, CA where we needed to present our idea before the attendees decided the respective places of third, second, and first. Being that the trip was so last minute only Jordan Sales and I were able to attend the convention in CA.

Prototype view of app History GO on an iPhone
Prototype view of app History GO on an iPhone
Pictured above (left to right): Eric Acensio, Mike Le, Claire Lohn, Jordan Sales, Elise Hackney, Alberta Lin | Texas A&M University
ENDS 101 History GO Team, Pictured above (left to right): Eric Acensio, Mike Le, Claire Lohn, Jordan Sales, Elise Hackney, Alberta Lin | Texas A&M University

NAB Futures Convention

We arrived the Spanish Inn at Pebble Beach where the convention was being held Monday morning, October 31st, and were quickly led through the process for presentation that was to be at 3:00pm. After the logistics of the presentation were explained, Jordan and I went up to our room to practice. After our presentation, we were assigned to podiums where the attendees of the conference could ask questions before voting. Throughout this process we were asked challenging questions and given great advice from many experts in the broadcasting industry. At the end of the voting our idea History GO won 2nd place which included a $15,000 award to support the development of our idea.

Throughout this experience Jordan and I met and spoke with highly-successful individuals. Socializing with the attendees of the conference rewarded us with so many benefits. From advice to future business contacts, we both came out of this trip with a different perspective. Having this real-world experience and interacting with businessmen and women led me to see a more refined view of my intended future career.

With this cash prize our group plans to develop the app through the help of Startup Aggieland. We hope that by the Las Vegas NAB Convention in April we will have a prototype app to display. After the Las Vegas event we will continue working on the app to launch a prototype version that will work on campus, referencing historical events as well as current events in the College Station area.

hackney-collage

Elise’s travel was funded, in part, by LAUNCH: Honors through generous contributions to the Honors Parents’ Fund and the Association of Former Students.

New Online Offering for Honors Students

By Paul Keiper, Ed.D.
Clinical Associate Professor in Sport Management

imageGrowing up, a long time ago, I always felt the Olympics were cool. I would watch some of the events on TV and cheer for an athlete to win; usually someone from the US. I can remember athletes like Mark Spitz or Franz Klammer; these were Olympic athletes back in the 70’s, just in case you have never heard of them ☺. 

One of my earliest memories of the Olympic Games were the ’72 Summer Games held in Munich, Germany. In these Games, there were hostages taken and eventually 17 people lost their lives in an awful terrorist assault. I was 8 years old; I can still see images that were shown on TV. As a child, I could not fathom the rationale behind such action. To be honest, I still do not fully understand even after learning more about the tragedy.

I have spent a great deal of my life working with sport as a teacher, coach, and administrator. Now, as a professor in sport management, I spend a great deal of time hoping and trying to make the world better through the use of sport. Knowledge is key. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I do not know.

In my endeavors and desires to gain more knowledge of sport, I developed the SPMT 220 Olympic Studies course. This course is an approved language, philosophy, and culture core curriculum course. It is the perfect platform to use the biggest global sporting event for knowledge and understanding. Through this course, I hope to make a difference in the world.

Dr. Dikaia Chatziefstathiou
Dr. Dikaia Chatziefstathiou

With that background in mind, we have teamed with Dr. Dikaia Chatziefstathiou to offer a special section for honors students in Spring 2017. Dr. Dikaia Chatziefstathiou has dual citizenship in Greece and the UK. She is an expert on the Olympic Games and has published a great deal on the topic. She has the honor of winning an award for her researcher from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Dr. Chatziefstathiou has an amazing way of clarifying the Olympics and Olympic values for her students.

I met Dikaia in December of 2014. We, the very first class to take SPMT 220 Olympic Studies, went on an international field trip to Greece. The trip was awesome! We learned more about the Ancient Olympic Games, which were held ~ 776 B.C. – 393 A.D. and the modern Games. Dikaia was an academic speaker for our students on that trip. The students loved her; and, they learned a lot from her.

This course will be taught completely online as she will be based in the UK. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about the Olympics from an international expert on the topic. I hope you will consider taking this course from her; there will be a limit of 20 students. If you have more questions, please contact me at pek@tamu.edu.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Chatziefstathiou

The Service Balance – Passion and Practicality: Ellen Wimmer Undergraduate Service Scholar Project

By Ellen Wimmer –

Undergraduate Service Scholar Ellen Wimmer '17
Undergraduate Service Scholar Ellen Wimmer ’17

After my first full semester as an A&M student, it became very clear that sexual assault and harassment was a prevailing issue on the A&M campus. I spoke to many women about this issue and decided to take an informal poll of 30 female friends. Out of these 30, each of these women had experienced at least 2 separate accounts of pervasive sexual harassment. From being yelled at while walking to class, to persistent stalking. 25 of the 30 women had experienced physical, sexual assault. This included groping, being slapped, and cornered into a room. 18 of the 30 women had been raped during their time at Texas A&M. This troubled me to my core, and I decided to do something about it.

My experience working with the Department of Student Life to improve sexual assault and harassment resources during my time here at A&M has been a long a winding endeavor. This experience did not turn out at all like I had imagined, but looking back I am so grateful for the complications and roadblocks that forced me to fine-tune my goals. This experience has opened my eyes to the collaborative nature of service work, and how one must balance their own passion with practicality to ensure that they are doing the most good possible.

Campus sexual assault and harassment is a complicated and intense problem. Often it is difficult to decide where to start. Whenever I asked women in the informal poll why they choose not to report many said that a. They did not believe that “it was bad enough” to merit a report, b. they “didn’t want to make a big deal out of it and just wanted to forget” and c. They did not know how to report and did not know what A&M could realistically do for them with the information they had. Responses A and B are directly related to rape culture; a culture that places responsibility of the assault on the victim and attempts to minimize the crime. However, response C is something I could help with.

During my past internship at SARC (Sexual Assault Resource Center, prev. Brazos Valley Rape Crisis Center), a colleague had told me about a new sexual assault/harassment reporting software called Callisto. Callisto is a program made by survivors for survivors, and is a reporting program that offers features that survivors wish that they had after their assault. It is a online software that college campuses can purchase and integrate into their own infrastructure. I pitched this to the Dean of Student Life, and was turned down due to “lack of funding”.

The words “lack of funding” rang in my ears as I walked home past the new $450 million dollar Kyle Field Stadium, and decided I needed a new plan. I decided to work with what A&M already has. I wanted to centralize, enhance, and advertise for a stronger, more student-friendly reporting system. One that students can submit reports on from their phones, as well as pictures and videos of bystander evidence. I created an easy-to-use website layout that would consolidate existing sexual assault and harassment resources on to one site, and include a new trauma-informed report form like the one utilized by Callisto.

I spent months meeting with involved parties (Student Life, Student Affairs, Marketing and Communications, University Police Department, Information Technology, Buetel Health, Risk and Compliance,) trying to get all to agree on one universally used, campus-wide website. No department was willing to change to a “new” system, despite that fact that their user experience would not change at all; it would only provide more resources for student users. It was turned down. Frustrated and tired, I stopped and thought about what it is I really wanted to do with my remaining time at Texas A&M. What can I realistically offer that will be used by staff to help the students? What can I offer?

I started writing; every day for at least three hours. Writing my own recommendations for a better sexual assault and harassment system. Everything from reporting form enhancements and advertising techniques to articles on trauma-informed language when dealing with survivors. I took every meeting, conversation, article, and idea I had over the past year and created one easy-to-use resource manual. This November, I will give this manual to my capstone supervisor at the Department of Student Life, the amazing Kristen Harrell. By having her reference this manual during administrative discussions, it allows my ideas and the input of my peers to have a voice in the future of sexual assault and harassment resources at Texas A&M.

Service is about passion, but also about practicality. You have to care about what you do. You have to feel attached to your cause. Passion is crucial, but too much can induce tunnel vision. My biggest take away from this capstone is something that I look forward to applying to my future in service. That is, balance. One must balance their passion with practicality. I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into solving campus rape culture at Texas A&M. I wanted to leave this school knowing that I had virtually erased sexual assault from the college culture. When you are this passionate about a cause, no goal seems too big. I learned that this issue cannot be solved in 1 year. This issue cannot be solved in 5 years.

Campus sexual assault and harassment is complicated and thus requires a complicated solution. It involves numerous people and departments with different ideas and goals, not just myself. This seems obvious now, but it was something I needed to learn through experience. By leaving A&M with a less-grand but more practical resource, I believe that I have done everything I can for this cause at this time. Perhaps in 10 years I will come back and work as Title IX director with a larger staff and more funding. Perhaps in 15 years of students speaking up with force the change that we need to see at A&M. I encourage future undergraduate service scholars to be flexible, to reflect often, and prioritize balance in their service, as well as their lives.

For more information about the Undergraduate Service Scholars program, visit http://tx.ag/capstones or contact Dr. Suma Datta (capstones@tamu.edu).

Katie Ferry – NCHC 2016 Report

HSC President Katie Ferry '18
HSC President Katie Ferry ’18

Honors Student Council (HSC) president Katie Ferry ’18 recently attended the annual conference of the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) to network with Honors student leaders from across the country, think about what successes and struggles they have had that can help us improve HSC, and share those insights back to campus.

In the coming weeks, Ferry plans to share the ideas that she brought back from conference with the HSC leadership. If you’re interested to take part in these exciting projects, check out the HSC meeting schedule at http://tamuhonorsstudentcouncil.weebly.com/.

While at the conference, Katie kept a blog of her experiences. Here’s an excerpt from the first post:

I’ve been at the NCHC conference for about a day and a half now, and, to be frank it feels like Howdy Week 2.0: inwardly I feel tired, excited, and like my blood is slowly turning to coffee, but outwardly I look like a pristine representative for the best University on this planet. It’s hard not to have a touch of imposters syndrome while listening to students talk about how they have gone beyond the call of service and really pulled their honors program up by its bootstraps all while being an excellent student and person. It’s both inspiring and worrying.

I’ve tried to come up with some great and philosophical thing to write here about how my peers from across the country have filled me with this awesome energy to make Honors Great Again, but I can’t. I keep thinking about what I can do with HSC and how I wish I had more time to do it. I have six months left as my term as HSC president I’m realizing that if I want to make any of these long term projects achievable then I need to start thinking of how I can set this up for the future honors students.

To read more of Ferry’s reflections on the conference, visit http://katies-nchc-2k16.tumblr.com/.

Carnegie Endowment Offers Fellowship to Graduating Seniors

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States. Founded in 1910, its work is nonpartisan and dedicated to achieving practical results.

Each year, the Carnegie Endowment selects 8 to 10 graduating seniors as Carnegie Junior Fellows.  The Junior Fellows are matched with senior associates – academics, former government officials, lawyers and journalists from around the world – to work on a variety of international affairs issues.  Junior Fellows have the opportunity to conduct research for books, participate in meetings with high-level officials, contribute to congressional testimony and organize briefings attended by scholars, journalists and government officials.

Junior Fellows spend one year (beginning August 1st) at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, DC.  Positions are full-time and include a salary and benefits package.

Applications are accepted only from graduating college seniors or individuals who have graduated within the past academic year.  No one will be considered who has started graduate studies (except those who have recently completed a joint bachelors/masters degree program).  Applicants should have completed a significant amount of course work related to their discipline of interest.  Language and other skills may also be required for certain assignments.  The selection process for the Junior Fellows Program is very competitive.  Accordingly, applicants should be of high academic quality.

Students will specify in their applications one area of specialty:

• Democracy/Rule of Law – Political Science background preferred.
• Middle East Studies – Native or near-native Arabic language skills essential.
• Nonproliferation
• South Asian Studies – Strong math skills required in additional to background in international affairs or political science.
• Energy and Climate
• Chinese Studies – Mandarin Chinese reading skills a huge plus.
• Russian/Eurasian Studies – Excellent Russian language skills required

Mokhtar Awad
Mokhtar Awad, 2012 Carnegie Junior Fellow

Mokhtar Awad ’12 was selected as a 2012-2013 Carnegie Junior Fellow for the Middle East Program.

Students who are interested in applying for University nomination should contact Jonathan Kotinek (jkotinek@tamu.edu) or call 979-845-1957 to schedule an appointment.

Apply to the Public Policy Internship Program!

The Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP) provides students with real-world experience and hands-on learning through policy-related internships in Washington, D.C.; Austin, TX; and various European locations.  PPIP internships complement and reinforce students’ coursework, give students inside knowledge about their professional future, and provide hosting organizations with additional support.

The Texas A&M University Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP) was established in 1999 by Dr. Ray Bowen, then President of Texas A&M University, to respond to society’s increasing interest and participation in public policy issues and programs. Since then approximately 600 Aggies have interned in Washington, D.C.; Austin, TX and abroad.  PPIP is coordinated from the office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies.  This allows the program to be coordinated centrally through the colleges to provide an integrated academic and policy-related internship program for the campus and community. (From http://ppip.tamu.edu/about).

Barbara Tsao '17
Barbara Tsao ’17

University Scholar Barbara Tsao ’17 was selected for the Summer 2016 Public Policy Internship Program. She took the time to share some thoughts about the process of applying and how this experience will help her in the future.

Where did you intern?

I interned for the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) this summer in Washington, D.C. APHSA is a nonprofit organization that represents state human service agencies across the nation and works with policymakers to promote effective policies on Capitol Hill. More specifically, I worked with the National Collaborative for Integration of Health & Human Services to track legislation regarding the Affordable Care Act.

What was the application and interview process like for PPIP?

I would say that the application process was quite comparable to the University Scholar application process. The PPIP application requires the submission of a transcript, resume, cover letter, 3 letters of recommendation, an essay covering a policy of interest, and a final interview before a panel. I have never written a cover letter before, nor have I ever asked for more than one letter of recommendation at a time. Having these experiences definitely made me more confident in my ability to craft the best possible version of myself to any organization. Overall, I believe the process was an excellent primer for admissions to any professional school.

[n.b. You can find helpful guides to writing cover letters, as well as many other important writing and speaking activities, at the University Writing Center website: http://writingcenter.tamu.edu/Students/Guides]

How will your internship fit into your long-term goals?

I am currently a senior pursuing a Biomedical Science major with Honors Fellow distinction. I possess a great passion for science, law, and ethics. As such, my future plans in academia include a J.D. and M.A. in bioethics. My ultimate goal is to pursue a career in law regarding health policy. To this end, I believe APHSA provided me with the finest opportunity available for acquiring real-world training in the exciting and ever-expanding field of health law. Working alongside policy advocates and attorneys further solidified my passion for law and the way it blends with our nation’s health policy.

The application deadline for both Spring 2017 and Summer 2017 opportunities is this Friday, September 16 at 5:00 PM. For more information about the Public Policy Internship Program or to complete your application, visit http://ppip.tamu.edu.

To discover other enriching experiences available to undergraduates at Texas A&M, visit Undergraduate Studies at http://us.tamu.edu.

 

From Promise to Achievement