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Angelina College Police Academy graduates 27 cadets

By Gary Stallard, AC News Service

The Angelina College Police Academy Class 104 may have set a record for the length of time it took to graduate.

The cadets began training in AC’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy back in March of this year and were supposed to graduate in July; however, the COVID-19 crisis suspended all activities until the fall. Toss in the recent hurricane and its difficulties, and those students were forced to wait longer than any other class to receive their rewards.

On Thursday, Sept. 3, those future peace officers finally were able to walk the stage.

“Your perseverance throughout this entire process proves you’re determined to answer your calling,” AC Police Chief Doug Conn told the cadets during his address.

Along with the earned certifications, several cadets received other recognition such as Valedictorian, Top Gun, Best Driver and the Survivor Award.

The graduating cadets of Class 104 include Danny Arce, Jeremiah Baker, Brent Baldwin, Heather Barry, Darin Brooks, Billy Davis, Frank Erimias, Malachi Frazier, Keenan Hadnot, Steve Hollingsworth, Elizabeth Johnson, Nicholas LeBlanc, Felipe Lopez, Lynnzee Lyons, Joshua Manchack, Dakota Martinez, Michael McKnight, Jonathan Perez, Nickolous Pope, Colton Reeves, Brian Reeves, Brian Rivas, Perry Shaw, LaQuinta Simmons, Daniel Tinajero, Juan Tovar, Mikayla Westmoreland and Jim Williams.

Academy staff members include Doug Conn, chief of police; Lt. Jason Burrous, training manager; Lt. Randy Holland, training manager; Officer Jack Stephenson, training specialist; and Kim Capps, administrative assistant.

Cadet Oath: Members of the Angelina College Police Academy Class 104 raise their hands to take the Peace Officer’s Oath following a graduation ceremony Thursday, Sept. 3 at AC’s Hudgins Hall Auditorium. A total of 27 future peace officers received their recognition following months of waiting out the current pandemic. (Gary Stallard/AC News Service)
Police academy graduates (from the left) Jim Williams, Elizabeth Johnson, Brent Baldwin, and Billy Davis proudly display their accomplishments. (photo credit- Esmeralda Ramos)  
Lufkin’s finest (from the left) Dale Lowery – ACPD, Officer J. Stephenson- Train Specialist, Doug Conn- Chief of Police, and Lt. Jason Burrous- Training Manager are proud to welcome this year’s academy graduates. (photo credit- Esmeralda Ramos)

Georgia-Pacific contributes $10,000 to Angelina College Technology and Workforce Development programs

Georgia-Pacific’s partnership with Angelina College continues to assist AC in developing both talent and opportunities for future and current employees through the East Texas area.

Last week, GP’s Charitable Foundation continued its generosity by donating another $10,000 to AC’s Technology and Workforce Development Center. Those funds provided equipment and training for maintenance technicians in AC’s Technology and Workforce Development Center.

The training and education received through AC’s programs have helped trainees advance in their current employment situations and in future career choices. Georgia Pacific officials have explained that AC has helped prepare “ready-made employees” who are fully prepared to begin working in various manufacturing positions.

The partnership also helps cultivate home-grown talent, which aids the entire community in what GP officials have called a “highly competitive work environment.”

In 2019, GP’s donation led to the purchase of such key items as electrical cabinets for motor control projects, but the pandemic and subsequent campus shutdowns delayed implementation, according to AC technology instructor David Turbeville. This year, Turbeville said, the funds provided will allow the purchase of material handling equipment “to provide a realistic learning environment that will be tied in with the motor control and programmable logic controller systems.

“Our students are benefiting from the use of standard industrial equipment and from having a system which can be modified and rewired as needed,” Turbeville said.

 AC President Dr. Michael Simon lauded the continued support from area industries.

“I’m thankful for the ongoing support from Georgia Pacific,” Simon said. “The AC team works diligently to meet the workforce development needs of regional employees such as GP. We’re happy to be on a ‘winning team’ with GP.”

Angelina College President Dr. Michael Simon, left, and Krista Brown, executive director of marketing and strategic enrollment, display the ceremonial check representing the recent $10,000 donation from the Georgia Pacific Charitable Foundation. The partnership between AC and GP has provided numerous equipment and training opportunities for area students. (Contributed photo)

AC, during COVID-19, looks a bit different

With the bulk of classes at Angelina College being converted to online this fall, the Lufkin campus is missing the crowds of students meeting each other in the halls, getting help at Roadrunner Central and rushing to get to class on time. Reporters Ra’Nese Canada and Matthew Gresham try to capture what Angelina College looks like during the year of the Coronavirus.

The testing center, usually bustling, sits unused upstairs in the Student Center. (photo credit- Ra’Nese Canada)
There is a noticeable absence of students, usually crowded in the halls, waiting to get assistance at Roadrunner Central. (photo credit- Ra’Nese Canada)
Earlier this year students filled the AC library, but now the building’s activity is very limited. (photo credit- Ra’Nese Canada)
Fighting for a parking spot is currently not an issue on Angelina College campus. (photo credit- Matthew Gresham)
Much less foot traffic is happening in front of the Student Center this fall semester. (photo credit- Matthew Gresham)
The hallways of Hudgins Hall remain dark as the college tries to conserve power in unused buildings. (photo credit- Matthew Gresham)

Rangers call up former Roadrunner pitcher

By Gary Stallard, AC Athletics

John King spent two years as part of Angelina College head baseball coach Jeff Livin’s pitching staff, taking the mound at Roadrunner Field in 2014 and 2015. King cemented his AC legacy during the 2015 regional tournament when he tossed a complete-game shutout over a high-powered San Jacinto team, helping send the Runners to the tournament final.

From there, King signed with the University of Houston where he continued his reputation as a big-game pitcher. As the Cougars’ lone senior in 2017, King was the winning pitcher on both the regular-season title game against Cincinnati and in the American Championship tournament title game against East Carolina.

Drafted in the 10th round by the Texas Rangers, King received the phone call every baseball player dreams of hearing the week of August 30. The Rangers called up King to join the big squad.

Livin said King’s path to the majors held its share of bumps and bruises, but the lefty’s determination played a massive role in achieving his dream.

“John did a great job at the University of Houston,” Livin said. “I talked with his coaches, and they commented on John’s work ethic and his focus in that area.”

 Livin described King as a player who arrived at AC “pretty much under the radar.” Some arm issues during King’s freshman season left the Laredo product with little to show for his efforts. However, those issues helped King realize how much harder he would need to work to achieve success.

“I think that’s when his work ethic really kicked in,” Livin said. “John decided he was going to work his way through this thing. He really got into things such as his diet and training as we went along, and he added quite a bit of velocity while he was here. He came on strong toward the end of his sophomore season and pitched us into the regional tournament. His career just took off from there.”

As for seeing King’s potential as a future major leaguer, Livin said, “I don’t think there’s ever an indication for any player that he’s going to make it to the big leagues. Did I think he’d have a chance to play pro baseball? Yeah, I did. He didn’t have a ton of velocity coming out of high school, but he had a big-time curve ball. The ability to make the ball spin is such a big deal for any pitcher, and he’s had that from the beginning.”

Livin also mentioned how King’s path led him to having the right people see his big-game mentality and overall ability to get hitters out.

“It’s a small world for sure,” Livin laughed. “Bob Laurie, who was my assistant last season, was actually the scout who led to John getting drafted by the Rangers out of the University of Houston. Bob had John on his radar years ago.

“John had some arm troubles his last year at U of H and was scheduled for surgery after the season, and the Rangers still thought enough of him to draft him fairly high. I have no doubt John’s stock would have been even higher had he been completely healthy at the time. The Rangers and Bob took a chance on him, and it looks like it’s paying off for John very well.”

Former Angelina College pitcher John King received the call from the Texas Rangers and has joined the club as it faced the Houston Astros over two games. King led the Roadrunners to the 2015 regional tournament championship game. (Gary Stallard/AC Athletics photo)

AC soccer adds Murillo as assistant coach

By Gary Stallard, AC Athletics

The Angelina College soccer program has added Paul Murillo to serve as an assistant coach with Murillo joining first-year head coach Nataki Stewart to guide both the women’s and men’s teams.

Murillo brings a wealth of both coaching and playing experience, having spent the past three years as the director of coaching for the Sereno Academy Program in Arizona. He also served as the club’s goalkeeper coach for two years. The Sereno Academy is recognized as one of many strong affiliates to Major League Soccer, providing a developmental process for the Utah Royals (Women’s Premier Soccer League) and Real Salt Lake (Major League Soccer).

From 2013-2016, Murillo served as goalkeeper and conditioning coach with FC Dallas Academy’s program. Murillo was a volunteer assistant coach at El Dorado High School from 2010-2012, working with both the girls’ and boys’ programs.

Before entering the coaching ranks, Murillo played for the SoCal Seahorses, a soccer club based in La Mirada, California. He also spent time with Chivas USA Academy and the Whitter Soccer Club.

Under Murillo’s guidance, more than 16 athletes have advanced to the Division I collegiate ranks; nine of his former players currently are playing professionally in the MLS, Liga MX and A-League.

Stewart said the addition of Murillo will provide a boost for every Angelina College player.

“I am very excited to welcome Paul to our coaching staff and the Lufkin community,” Stewart said. “He is of high character and brings extensive championship experience at the club level to AC. In addition, he is passionate about player development, commitment to excellence along with his ability to mentor young people will aid in developing our culture. He is also a top goalkeeper trainer and an elite recruiter.”

Murillo and his fiancé Rhiannon live in Lufkin.

Paul Murillo has joined the Angelina College soccer program, bringing extensive experience as both a player, coach and recruiter to both the Lady Roadrunner and Roadrunner teams. (Gary Stallard/AC Press photo)

Six AC softball players earn Academic All-American honors

By Gary Stallard, AC Athletics

The National Junior College Athletic Association in July released its All-Academic honors list, and once again the Angelina College softball team landed among those mentioned.

The Lady Roadrunner team finished with an overall GPA of 3.28, qualifying for the NJCAA’s Academic Teams of the Year honors.

Twelve AC players finished with a 3.0 GPA or higher while six players earned Academic All-American status.

Named to the First-Team Academic All-American (4.0 GPA) list were Hannah Smart from Melbourne, Australia, and Alexa von Gontard from Montgomery, Texas.

Madison Murdock from Orange earned Second-Team Academic All-American (3.80-3.99 GPA); Kaylee Berdoll from Utley, Texas; Kaitlyn Odom from Woodville; and Hannah Scoggin from Diboll were named Third-Team Academic All-American (3.60-3.79 GPA).

First-year head softball coach Josh Barnes said the Lady Roadrunners adapted to the challenges they faced in the spring, including a mid-season cancellation and the shift to fully online courses for most colleges and universities.

“I’m proud of the way the girls finished, especially considering the way things unfolded with classes moving online,” Barnes said. “That’s not an easy transition for any student, but our players responded very well.

“We shifted gears from the fall and changed our mentality and overall team pride, and it showed up well in the spring.”

The Lady Runners’ performance in the classroom served as a continuation of sorts for Barnes, who while serving as head coach at McCook Community College in Nebraska saw his student athletes average eight Academic All-Americans during his three years there.

Hannah Smart is one of the six in Lady Runners softball to earn Academic All-American honors. (Gary Stallard/AC Press photo)

Nightmarish scenes in cyclone’s aftermath  

By Nylan Holifield

The morning of April 22, 2020, started off as any other morning during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was home from college because all in-person classes had been canceled in the wake of the spreading pandemic. My wife, Kim, and my mother-in-law, Donna, were also home that day. Donna had recently been to a doctor’s appointment, and a few days later she was notified that her doctor had tested positive for the dreaded coronavirus. Since my wife works in an assisted living home and since she lives in close contact with her mother, she was forced to self-quarantine at home for two weeks before she could return to work. So, as fate would have it, we were all at home that Wednesday afternoon. Little did we know that our lives would soon be turned upside down when an EF3 tornado swept through our small East Texas town and left a trail of devastation in its wake unlike anything we had ever seen.

The sky was somewhat overcast that afternoon with frequent bursts of bright sunlight peeking through the clouds, and it was very warm and quite breezy. My wife and I were spending some time out in the backyard entertaining our two small dogs, Morton and Maggie, and our mallard duck, Plucky. During these COVID lockdowns, it was important to get out and find different ways to exercise and stay active since we were not going about our usual busy routines. While tossing around a Frisbee with the animals, we began to notice how windy it was getting. Playing Frisbee in the wind is a pointless endeavor as we soon discovered. After a while, we decided to go back inside to bathe the dogs and take showers before making dinner and watching a movie.

Not long after we were all done with our showers, I received a weather alert on my phone. It informed me of a tornado warning in the Riverside/Huntsville area, which is not very far from where my mom lives, so I sent her a text warning her to be on the lookout for bad weather. At the time, we lived in Onalaska, which is about 30 minutes away from the Riverside/Huntsville area, so I did not think it would affect us too much. It was during these moments that my wife noticed how dark the clouds were getting in our own area, and she decided to go ahead and bring Plucky inside to let him swim in the bathtub. We both walked out into the front yard and stood by the tailgate of our truck while we watched the darkening sky. I contemplated moving the truck underneath the overhang of the shed that sat next to the house but ultimately decided against it. This turned out to be a wise decision.

As we were gazing across the road into the sky above the tree line, two giant dark clouds began to move toward each other, and I commented on how strange it appeared. Just seconds later, Kim noticed some debris swirling about between the clouds in the distance, and she said, “That’s a tornado! We need to get inside right now!” The sound of the wind grew steadily louder, and we hurried to our front door. Right before I went inside, I looked back and saw trees whipping and bending. My mind was racing as we got inside, and I slammed and locked the door. My mother-in-law Donna did not know what was happening, and she went to open the door to have a look outside when my wife said, “Don’t open that door! There’s a tornado!”

They each went into the hallway to take shelter away from any windows, and as a last thought, I grabbed two couch cushions to use as shields against any falling objects or flying debris. During our panic, the electricity shut off, and everything went dark. The sounds of the house were silenced and replaced by the hair-raising screams of ravaging winds. Fear filled my stomach, and I heard the terror in my wife’s voice when she asked for a flashlight. I looked around the kitchen for a few seconds, but I could not find anything, so I ran into the hall, tossed the cushions to the side, and crouched down on the floor as low as I could get. I wrapped my arms around my wife’s waist and locked my hands together, and she held onto her mom on the other side. The wind outside became a thunderous, deafening roar, almost as if a freight train was plowing toward us. My wife was screaming, and I was praying silently as the foundations of the house began to shake. Things began to crash and shatter, and glass and drywall began to rain down on the top of my head. I was holding on so tight that I had forgotten the couch cushions. Projectiles began to slam into the sides of the house, and we could hear the walls creaking and bending, challenged by some unseen monster. In my peripheral vision, I was suddenly aware of daylight pouring into the house where there was none before. My wife’s glasses were sucked off of her face in a vacuum. I remember thinking that I would die before I let this tornado take my angel away from me. I grasped her body with all of my strength, and I could feel a terrible suction. The wind whipped and shrieked, and it was the sound of Death. The roof was being peeled off of our house! At that moment, some gargantuan object crashed down on top of our home and stifled the unwelcome daylight. It felt as if the walls were crumbling down around us, and I thought this was how our lives would surely end.

Kim and her mother were still shouting, and I was silently asking God to spare our lives. A whirlwind of random fragments danced through the house in some apocalyptic ballet as we awaited our judgment in this casket of destruction. A million different thoughts plagued my mind at once, and it finally occurred to me that I still had not used the cushions, so I reached out, grabbed one and attempted to hold it over my wife’s head to protect her while clutching her body with my other arm. I was not aware of Donna’s well-being at this point as she was crouched down on the other side of Kim and I could not see her.

Ever so slightly, the volume of this dreadful symphony began to dissolve. I became aware of insulation and drywall powder caked inside my mouth. As unpleasant as the taste was, my awareness of this detail comforted me because it told me that I was still alive and breathing. All of a sudden, my wife called out for the dogs, and it occurred to me with great terror that through all of the mayhem I had lost track of them. She called their names frantically in a shaky, panicked voice. I looked down and saw that Maggie had been with us through the encounter, but Morton was nowhere to be seen. We both called his name, and when he did not come right away, my imagination ran wild with thoughts of what tragedy had befallen him. We continued to call out his name, and soon the rubble began to shift around in the front of the house as he came around the corner and found his way to us. We rose to our feet and tried to avoid stepping on the shattered glass that surrounded us and covered the tile floor. My wife went into the bathroom to check to see if Plucky was all right. Besides some fallen shampoo bottles and drywall debris, he was untouched. My next goal was getting us outside of these collapsing walls.

The back door sits at the end of the short hallway we cowered in, and I tried the door handle, but it would not budge. Something from the outside was jamming it shut. We looked toward the front of the house, but the wreckage was too great to tread. I glanced into my bedroom on the left to perhaps find an exit, but the rubble and the shattered glass barred the way. I looked to the right into Donna’s bedroom, and it was left almost untouched. This would be our pathway to freedom.

I entered the bedroom and began to climb out of the window. What I found when I crawled out was shocking. It was not the same world that had been there before. It appeared as if a bomb had been detonated in the middle of our yard, and before me was a wasteland of rubble and ruin. Trees were felled, power lines lay like dark serpents twisting through the grass waiting to strike, light poles were splintered and splayed out across the road and giant, jagged slabs of once-livable homes decorated this strange new landscape. A stranger’s mattress rested right outside the eve of the window from which I crawled, and I stepped across it.

I made my way through the remnants, and I instantly impaled the bottom of my shoe on several stabbing nails. I had to use more caution. As my foot throbbed, I slowly tiptoed around the side of the house. What I found in the front yard was like some gigantic destructive ruin from an abandoned war zone. A massive flat slab of iron was draped completely over the top of our roof and suspended outward over the crushed cab of our truck. It was as if some mythical giant was attempting to build a great primitive structure with wood and steel.

I could not venture far because of the fallen power lines, but as I gazed down the hill at the road, I noticed that complete houses were missing. They had been standing there before, and now they were completely gone like the subjects of some evil magician’s sinister disappearing act. I walked around to the backyard and looked over toward the small little storage building with the overhang where we park our car. Another giant iron beam lay across the roof of the building and pinned our car underneath. It was then that I realized what these giant beams were: the bottom of our neighbor’s double-wide mobile home!

Strangers’ belongings were strewn throughout our yard, fence posts were uprooted and it was as if wreckage was all that remained. People were running down the road and screaming, and the sound of distant sirens filled the air. Unfortunately, the roads were impassable. Citizens with shocked faces and empty eyes began to slowly move fallen trees and light poles out of the roadway so that emergency vehicles could eventually get through.

We were still in shock, and we did not know exactly what to do. The only escape route was on foot. This was not going to be easy with so many dangerous obstacles to step over while carrying two dogs and a duck. My phone was ringing off the hook, and people were offering to help, but there was no way for anyone to get into the subdivision. Outsiders did not seem to understand the magnitude of this situation. First responders were entering the subdivision on foot and asking if anyone was hurt. Apparently, a lady had been inside the double-wide mobile home next door when it toppled through the air like a tumbleweed and landed on our house. She miraculously crawled out of the remnants of her destroyed home. I do not know how she survived.

At one point we began to smell gas. A leak was somewhere close by that sent us into another panic. I saw a first responder running down the hill shouting “Gas Leak!” We thought we were going to have to leave on foot right then without any supplies, but fortunately, they were able to get the gas lines shut off quickly.

Eventually, rescue vehicles and more first responders were able to make their way into the subdivision at a snail’s pace. The road became jammed with emergency vehicles and flashing lights lit up the dusk. Kim was able to retrieve some essential items like clothing and flashlights from the accessible parts of our destroyed bedroom. Nightfall was coming swiftly, and we had to get moving. Many fine people were calling and texting, offering to give us rides and shelter, but it would be hours and hours before anyone could actually get to us. Without any other options, we decided to walk out. Our dogs would be placed into a baby stroller, and my wife would carry the duck. We also had bags of supplies to take with us, so this was not going to be an easy trek. An emergency responder informed us that some of the fallen power lines were still live and that we should make sure not to step on any of them. So adding to the rubble, nails, metal and glass obstacles that we had to overcome, deadly live wire were also threats that we had to look out for in the darkening night. This did not include the challenge of the crowded roadway and hundreds of vehicles that we would have to weave between.

I was in charge of the dogs and led the way, so every time we came upon a live wire, I had to lift the stroller up and place it down on the other side. This became almost impossible because I was also carrying bags of supplies and trying to shine a flashlight onto the darkened path. My mother-in-law quickly became exhausted and out of breath before we were very far out of the driveway, and it was clear that she would not be able to make the journey. We stopped in a stranger’s front yard to let Donna rest and catch her breath while we desperately tried to get her some kind of transportation to the nearest convenience store in town. Finally, thanks to the kindness of a Good Samaritan, we were able to get her a ride out of the subdivision in an already packed truck with no room for my wife and me. The plan was to meet her later.

We trudged on. It was like strolling through pure chaos that became virtually unmanageable, and we eventually came to a standstill where low hanging power lines blocked our passage. We stopped on the side of the road in an effort to construct a better plan for getting out of this nightmare. After a few minutes, my wife crossed to the other side of the road, and I was held up as more vehicles inched their way in and out of the ruins. Kim was eventually able to secure a ride for us in the bed of a stranger’s truck. We were filled with gratitude and relief just to be able to exit the dreaded obstacle course and sit down.

Even though we were now secure with our pets in the refuge of this truck, it was a painstakingly slow process getting out of the subdivision. The drivers were forced to dodge hanging power lines and splintered trees, and in some cases, we were plowing through front lawns and ditches as they had become the only drivable paths. The journey out of the devastation took hours, and we were never able to make it to the convenience store where Donna waited for us. We had to settle for being dropped off in front of a hardware store in town, and some good friends were able to pick up my mother-in-law and finally make their way over to us. We were free at last, and some wonderful people opened up their beautiful home to us for a few nights until we were able to get on our feet.

The next day, we were going to try to salvage our surviving belongings from our house, but the subdivision was only open to emergency vehicles as they searched for missing persons and began the long process of clearing the roads. Not until two days later were we able to get into our house to get our things. The kitchen and the bathroom were completely destroyed. The oven and refrigerator had been thrown across the room, and the wall where the cabinets and sink once stood was obliterated. Jagged wooden planks and beams jutted out like teeth from the hungry maw of some towering beast. The outer wall of the bathroom had collapsed inward and a long piece of wood had literally impaled the wall. If any one of us had been standing in the kitchen or the bathroom when the mobile home struck, we would not have made it. We are all extremely fortunate.

Most of our things would have to be moved out of the house in a day, and on top of that, I had somehow managed to severely injure my back sometime during this whole terrifying ordeal, so this was no easy feat. Luckily, we had many great human beings helping us during this hectic and confusing time. Our wonderful landlords had an older model mobile home that they were getting ready to remodel, but they were gracious enough to let us move into it so that we had somewhere to stay, and they spent days helping us transport and situate our things.

The tornado destroyed both of our family vehicles, but we were able to get our car replaced with our full coverage insurance and the generous donations from our church and community. Since we only had liability insurance on the truck, we were not able to get it replaced. It is still sitting in an auto wreck yard right now along with many other tornado damaged vehicles. Most of the damage to the truck was to the crushed cab where the steel beam landed, so hopefully there is a chance that it can be restored. If there is a possibility that it can be saved, I am sure it will not be cheap. I reached out to the Angelina College Foundation Student Emergency Aid Fund, and we even had an interview, but I must have been passed over in the end because I never heard back from their office. Luckily for me, college classes are still online this semester, or I may not be able to attend. If they were held on campus, I would not have transportation to Lufkin every day since my family is down to one car, and my wife uses that one for work.

Even now, in late August as I am writing this, mounds of rubble and ruins of homes remain in the Yaupon Cove subdivision of Onalaska, Texas, and the path of the tornado can still be seen while driving over Lake Livingston. Many places in town are utterly unrecognizable. Some people were not as fortunate as my family, and sadly, the tornado claimed their lives. The town has forever changed, and we are eternally thankful that we made it out alive. I was reminded of the fragility of human existence, and it helps me to understand that I should appreciate every breath and never take my short time on this earth for granted because it can be over in the blink of an eye.   

Ruins of the home Nylan Holifield and his family were in during a devastating tornado that ripped through his east Texas neighborhood. (Photo by Nylan Holifield)
Huge debris lay everywhere disabling vehicles and blocking roads. (Photo by Nylan Holifield)
The powerful tornado easily removed the tops of houses and splintered walls. (Photo by Nylan Holifield)
Holifield’s family, dogs and duck are devastated by the storm’s damage but happy to be safe and together. (photo contributed)

Question this issue:

How have you, or your family, been affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

Demee Martinez

Unfortunately, yes, we have been affected. I have lost two family members. One of my uncles passed away, and about two days later, his daughter passed. My oldest brother tested positive as well, but he’s all right now! It was hard in the beginning because of all the unknowns. My mom owns rentals, so some renters could not make payments because of being laid-off, hours being cut, etc., and it caused an economic impact. It has all worked out now, thankfully.

Major: Journalism/Mass Communication

Hometown: Lufkin

Michael Gollott

My family was affected by the coronavirus due to having restrictions and delays when seeing doctors. Also, we had reduced hours at work so a reduction of revenue. The overall effect of the virus has really just become an inconvenience.

Major: Graphic Arts

Hometown: Biloxi, Mississippi

Kayla Bergeon

It’s been hard but I am not letting it beat me down.

Major: Graphic Design

Hometown: Lufkin

Andrew Kraemer

The coronavirus has affected my family and me in good and negative ways. My sister was unable to finish her high school career in person like she always wanted to. I lost my job and had to file for unemployment, but the benefits have been very rewarding. I was able to do more classes with my free time.

Major: General Studies

Hometown: Lufkin

Ivan Guerrero

Since the pandemic has begun, my activities outside of the city have been decreased immensely. I find myself worrying about the world’s outcome and the health of those around me. At certain points, the panic of the virus has tightened the love between my family and friends, but occasionally, I’m still very concerned for what’s to come for the next decade.

Major: Graphic Design

Hometown: Lufkin

Molly Clifton

The pandemic hasn’t affected my family directly, which I am very fortunate for, but it has affected my job tremendously. I work in retail and am known as an “essential worker.” I has been very difficult working in the public during times like this simply because it’s dangerous putting myself at risk working with the public. Yet I work and go home to my whole family, which puts them at risk , too. Another trial you face while working with the public during a pandemic is the fear your customers experience. Customers come in and panic, often taking several items that aren’t necessarily needed. They are rude to the staff and other customers and act irrationally. So health-wise, I haven’t been affected by COVID-19, but my everyday normal job has turned into a complete nightmare.

Major: Journalism and Mass Communication

Hometown: Zavalla

Caitlyn Hutson

I graduated Angelina College this past spring semester of 2020. I had been there for three years. You can only imagine how badly I wanted to walk across that stage with all my family and friends watching. Because of COVID, there was no graduation ceremony. I was very disappointed and felt like my hard work the past three years had been all for nothing. I wanted to celebrate my accomplishments because I was proud of how far I came. I know AC did this not to harm us but to keep us safe and healthy. Though I wish things could have been different, I know that everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for my life!

Major: Former AC student, Elementary Education at SFA

Hometown: Kennard

Josh Weeks

At the start of the pandemic, my grandpa was dealing with treatments for cancer and with my parents’ ages, I didn’t want to put them at risk since I was still going to work and possibly exposed. I had to pack up my things and stay with a friend and then later ended up just living on my own. It caused me to take a big leap in my life but also kept me from seeing my family.

Major: Former AC student, Graphic Design

Hometown: Jasper

Aubriana Huggins

Due to the coronavirus, I started working with DoorDash. It has also caused my family to stay indoors much more.

Major: Special Education Teaching

Hometown: Lufkin

Ross Jones Jr.

My family has been affected by the coronavirus because work hours have been cut for my mother, which causes her financial problems. It’s also making it hard to find a job that’s hiring.

Major: Nursing

Hometown: Lufkin