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Friday, April 26, 2013

Day Break

Administrative Assistants from Student Affairs start their day with a homemade breakfast!
To celebrate Administrative Assistants Day, the Student Affairs Directors hosted the annual divisional breakfast at the home of first lady Penelope Harley on April 24. The breakfast break has become an annual tradition in which the directors cook breakfast and the other staff members serve and clear in order to turn the tables on our wonderful Administrative Assistants.

Members of  each department said a few words about their beloved and thanked them for their hard work, their efforts to make our jobs easier, and their excellence in how they serve our students. We are lucky to have (pictured above) Ruby, Lisa, Cecily, Sam (first row), and Maureen, Judy, Minerva-lous, Amy, and Carolyn (back row standing) on the Student Affairs team. Thanks for all you do!

Director-level staff serve up some good eats for the staff on April 24, 2013.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Inspired by tragedy: Chelsea Lately

Anthony, Chelsea, Joyce, and Cory Castillo
On April 5, Chelsea Castillo (Class of 2013) received the National Alumni Board Service to the Community Award. She was also recognized the next day at the Honors Convocation as part of Spring Family Weekend. It was a privilege to meet Chelsea's outstanding, courageous, and gracious family. I know a little about Chelsea and sent her some written questions for this post. I was blown away... and can't do any better than she did. Here are excerpts from Chelsea's responses:

My sister’s name is Chloe “Belle”, she would now be 13- she was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma on her 7th birthday, June 12, 2006 and passed away two days shy of her 9th birthday, June 10, 2008.

Though we are 8 years apart in age, she really was one of my best friends. 

Since Build-a-Bears were her favorite toy, she decided, while spending one Christmas in the hospital, that she wanted to buy a Build-a-Bear for each patient on the oncology floor who had to be there for Christmas as well. She created an event at Texas Children’s Hospital called Chloe’s Wish, inspired her Child Life Specialist to create the organization Legacy of Love, and won theheart of future Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who significantly facilitated our efforts to raise over $60,000 donated to Texas Children’s Hospital. This has become an annual event for my family at Texas Children’s hospital and has expanded. We now give over 100 bears each Christmas to the oncology floor and clinic in Houston.

My family’s effort to make our lives, while on the horrible roller coaster ride that follows a cancer diagnosis, as normal as possible definitely prevented us from slipping into despair (which can easily happen when regularly spend weeks in the hospital) and maintained our hope, strength, and integrity as a family unit - in the fight together.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to serve as Program Head of TUVACs Cancer Awareness group for the past 4 years and, with the growing support from my peers on campus, we’ve been able to expand this event to San Antonio’s Children’s Methodist Hospital.

When I was in kindergarten and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I drew a stick-figure doctor with a stethoscope and what appeared to be a superhero cape. I still have this drawing and it also helps me remember two things: That there was never any hope for me becoming an artist and that I’ve wanted to be a doctor as far back as I can remember.

My experience with Chloe’s illness did solidify the type of doctor I want to be, both in regard to the specific field and in how I treat the patients, their families, and other health care professionals I am surrounded by on a daily basis. 

I feel like through indescribable lows that my sister endured as she battled for her life, as a child who should’ve been found swinging from monkey bars rather than becoming ill from toxic chemos an watching as strands of hair would fall out from her head, she remained a light, an inspiration, and a vessels of God’s pure love through her continuous and selfless compassion for others.

This inspires me day in and day out to attempt to do the same. She is absolutely an inspiration and example of how I think I should give 110% each day, without excuse, in investing in and serving others.

I have witnessed more incredible kids than I can count on my fingers succumb to their illness because despite the impressive technologies, resources, and knowledge that we currently have, there is still no cure. This reality definitely fuels my passion for the research aspect. My friends are often surprised that I do lab work because I am quite extroverted and research many times involves hours of isolation under a hood, staring at a flask of cells essentially. I admit that I think this would be incredibly boring and laborious if I didn’t have the faces of children who had battled Neuroblastoma, the specific cancer that I am currently working with, ingrained in my mind.

I started my research on childhood cancer last summer at the Greehey Childhood Cancer Research Institute, associated with UTHSCSA, have continued it through this school year, and have recently received a stipend to finish my work this summer. I am dedicated to finding a cure for this disease, but I am also very passionate about working with the children who continue to battle for their lives now. The MD that works in our group gives me hope that I can do both as a doctor.

My sister’s selfless love and service was definitely contagious and I think it’s a way that I am able to keep her legacy alive.

Other highlights (in addition to Chloe's Wish, TUVAC, Greehey Research) from Chelsea's resume:
- Camp Periwinkle: serves as counselor at a week-long camp for children with cancer
- Periwinkle Foundation: serves as volunteer with childhood cancer patients using therapeutic art projects
- Trinity University Chemistry summer research: potential applications in cancer treatments
- American Association of Cancer Research: presented research
- Cancer Research Institute: Best poster on micro-RNA in pediatric cancer
- UT-Austin Summer Research Symposium

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Tennis Tables

One of two tables presented to the Tennis program in April. An identical table from the women's team was included.

I always made a point to take my sons to the San Antonio Spurs' opening night games in the seasons after each of the team's four championships. I wanted them to see the banners hoisted so one day when they took their kids to games they could say "I was here when they raised those banners." Then the Spurs moved from the dome to the AT&T Center and someone decided to hang different banners. Then they did it again. This makes me think they don't understand the point of hanging banners. At least we aren't the Lakers, thank goodness, and for a number of reasons.

When I was a lad... Every Christmas season I looked forward to visiting the Kooky Cookie House at the outdoor Capital Court shopping mall in Milwaukee. In that mechanized faux cookie bakery house, children would wait in line to see Santa while watching a robot and gingerbread men bake cookies. Of course it was just an illusion, but I believed the cookies were being made right there, though clearly it was a lie. (Rows of fake cookies were on looping conveyor belts: Think the background animation in a Flintstones cartoon.) Several years ago - probably after eating gingerbread, I did a search to see if the Kooky Cookie House was still a "thang" for the youth of Milwaukee. Well, it was disassembled and apparently is sitting in a barn somewhere in Wisconsin. A sad ending for those in my nostalgic generation.

In 2011 the tennis courts and stadium renovations were completed on the Trinity campus. Living in our campus residence next to the south campus courts I was surprised to find the metal 2000 championship signs/banners left in a scrap heap near the end of my driveway. Apparently the new digs would get freshly updated championship signs, and the old ones were being trashed. I knew students on those dual national championship teams and remember the elation of people on campus when Trinity University captured two national titles in different cities on the same day. Dual titles is a rarity in any college sport.

Given my feelings about the Spurs championship banners AND given the unsavory fate of the Kooky Cookie House, I had to act. Or felt compelled to, anyway. So I dragged the signs up the driveway where they sat for several months, to the delight of my lovely wife, Donna.

I feel a connection to the tennis program, here, because Coach Butch Newman once allowed Donna and me to audit his tennis PE course. We were always at the losing end of the challenge courts, but had a great experience anyways. (Side note: Chi Beta April Ancira was in the same class with us.) Before each class Coach Newman would give the class a pep talk and connect life lessons to tennis. He was a motivator (though not good enough to motivate us up the challenge court food chain). Coach was a star here in the D-I hey-day and has been the foundation of the D-III program since the 1980's.He is beloved.

I decided it would be appropriate to make a gift "gesture" toward the tennis program and Butch Newman, on behalf of Student Affairs, by having the signs crafted into multipurpose tables to be used at the new pavilion. I was able to secure capital equipment funds for $1,000 - the minimum - for tennis tables, which I think people thought were table tennis tables. So the funding was approved. I don't know if the tables would have been funded had I given a proper description.

Finally, the Facilities Services staff hauled off the signs and colleague Jim Baker oversaw the transformation from rubbish to tables, which was done by Charlie Naranjo (welder) and Joe Dominguez (painter). They did terrific work (and under $600 total), turning the old signs into something lasting and usable. In my brief presentation (below) to the tennis teams and staff, set-up by current men's Coach Russell McMindes, I was able to offer some ribbing to Coach Newman for trashing the original signs.

He just laughed at me in the self-deprecating way he does. I think he liked the tables and was impressed with the work of the Facilities staff. In hindsight, I may have even nudged him to regret tossing the old signs in the first place. It seemed clear to him, he said after all, that one man's trash is another man's treasure: In this instance, it's the same man.

Coaches Russell and Jacob McMindes and Butch Newman call the team together for a brief presentation of two tennis tables on April 6, 2013, prior to a match. Also in attendance were Athletics staffers Bob King and Seth Asbury.