Student Life

AC registration rally was a success

Registration rally on Wednesday, November 18th from 8:30AM to 6:00PM was successful in getting many students registered for the Spring semester. (Photo by Josh Giles)
AC student Luis Michel Lopez and instructor Aaron Grimes in the library during the registration event. (Photo by Guillermo Gutierrez)
AC student Rebecca Staece and counselor Jennifer Baldauf in the AC library during the registration rally. (Photo by Guillermo Gutierrez)

The Story of an immigrant in America

By Austin Pena, graphic arts student

Angelina College student Toluwanimi Oladele-Ajose came to the United States at the age of 16 in 2017 from Nigeria, and he said, “It has been a wonderful experience for me ever since.”

The change was more than he had imagined. One change was to be able to see “animals I had only seen in textbooks or was taught about in Nigeria were now always at my backyard or on the road,” he said.

He arrived in the United States during the summer, but “[b]efore I knew it, summer had gone, and school had begun,” Oladele-Ajose said. After taking a placement exam, he was put into the 11th grade, which he found totally different from the schools in Nigeria that were traditionally British since the country was a British colony before it got its independence.

Oladele-Ajose said, “I had to adapt and succumb to the teaching of the American system. When school was in session, I discovered that there were distinguishable characteristics that showed how the culture varied between the two countries.”

 Nigeria is so proud of its culture “that it is seen as a taboo if a person doesn’t follow the norms of the society so much that a person could easily be castigated for it,” he said, “and sometimes it could lead to death if caution isn’t put to action. For example, people uphold greetings and how elders should be seen, and we have people in the northern region that go through extreme measures if a person does not denounce certain religions.”

In America, however, people are respectful, but that is not an obligation. Oladele-Ajose said, “The culture in the United States of America in my own perspective is seen as freedom and the coming together of people from different countries, ethnicities and religious groups to settle down in unity and to strive.”

He believes he was treated well in high school. He was not bothered by the many questions people would ask about his native country. However, he said, “But ever since I graduated from high school into the real world, I have found a bit of racial slurs that have offended me.”

Oladele-Ajose is currently taking classes at Angelia College with the hope of earning an associate degree in general studies. Afterward, he would like to transfer to a four-year college to get a bachelor’s degree in political science and then go to law school to become a lawyer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Oladele-Ajose’s learning. He said, “I like to have a teacher in the class explaining things to me, much rather than it just being posted and I having to figure it out by myself.” He added, “It has been tough times for everyone, but I believe that as long as we take proper precautions and do the right things, the COVID-19 pandemic will dissolve, and everything would be much better.”

Toluwanimi Oladele-Ajose came to America at the age of 16 and had to adapt to the high school experience here. (Photo contributed)

Struggles of an immigrant

By Ra’Nese Canada, graphic arts student

Angelina College’s Student Life department honored Hispanic Heritage Month on Tuesday, Oct. 13 by presenting a Ted Talk by Elizabeth Camarillo Gutierrez titled “What’s Missing from the American Immigrant Narrative?”

Gutierrez talked about her personal story of immigrating to the United States as well as the flaws in narratives that idealize the immigrant experience.

The first narrative she talked about is the idea of the immigrant worker. She discussed how immigrants come to the United States to search for any good opportunities for work and how the news media made America’s relationship with immigrants complicated.

The second narrative she talked about is the idea of the super immigrant. She discussed how America idolizes super immigrants as the ideal symbols of American success and that America thinks of immigrants who fail to succeed or do not succeed in the same way as less than good.

Gutierrez also discussed the struggles she faced when immigrating to the United States. Her parents and younger brother were forced to go back to Mexico while she stayed behind. Once she graduated from college, she flew her brother to the United states to live with her, so he could pursue his education. She has also pursued a career that helped her family find financial stability.

Watching this presentation helped me learn more about immigration and the struggles that come along with it from someone’s personal perspective. Gutierrez’s story was inspiring, and it left an amazing message about strength and perseverance.

Ted Talk by Elizabeth Camarillo Gutierrez on Oct 13th

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AC staff and students gathered via Zoom on Friday, October 13th to discuss political issues, ask questions and voice their own opinions. (Screenshot by Matthew Gresham)

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AC Student Life celebrated Hispanic heritage month with Armando Palomino, the assistant director of academic success, presenting My Story. My Superpower. He shared his empowering story with AC students virtually for the first time. (Screenshot by Josh Giles)

AC student’s journey from southeast Asia to east Texas

By Austin Pena, graphic arts student

Two years have passed since my family and I left the Philippines to live in Texas. A lot has happened in those few years, and while the first year felt rough and terrifying, that sense of dread eventually transformed to looking forward to actually making it here in the United States.

We were hit with a significant barrier in culture that I had to wrap my head around during the first few months here. I had lived for 18 years in the small Filipino town of Indang, Cavite, and we had public transportation in the form of tricycles and jeepneys. We had no pressure to learn to drive since these are cheap ways to commute to school and workplaces. Here in Texas, though, I have not seen any kind of public transportation outside of the big cities. It is as if it is a prerequisite to learn how to drive as early as you can.

Another thing I noticed was the emphasis on using credit cards. Unlike in the Philippines where almost everything is paid in cash and just the occasional use of a credit card (if you are a normal middle-class citizen anyway), here in the States, your shopping goes down to the swipe of a card. We had to learn that as quickly as we could, and it was honestly nerve-wracking to see all those numbers and have to check monthly if something’s due. This is just the mundane, everyday stuff that I found odd, and that is not even touching the culture and politics here.

Surprisingly enough, the people in Texas have been very pleasant to be around. Almost everyone seems so alive, carefree and fun to talk to that it made me really doubt the whole “Filipino hospitality” thing we were known for. I am pretty sure the materialistic culture back in our country is the real reason why we are polite to foreigners but not to our fellow Filipinos. But Texans have felt more genuine now that I have spent a lot of time around them, and I honestly could not be happier about that. It is such a breath of fresh air.

And the big one that I have really noticed is how the education system works here. I know American students have it rough with the student loan stuff and side jobs, but coming from someone exposed to Asian work ethic, I can say I had been stressed out for the majority of my time as a student back home.

There was real pressure to excel, and parents would expect nothing less than the highest grades from you and talk about saving money for a better future. After all, we had a tough time financially back then, and every time I got home from our 12-hour school days that started at 6:30 a.m. from junior to senior high school, I had to do homework while selling stuff in the family store—even during the weekends.

We did not have an Internet connection then, so I had to rent computers at net cafés to do projects. And the teachers and higher ups in the educational department of the government did not seem to mind that this was a common occurrence with middle class students. It is the norm, and they say it is to build up resistance to adult life, which raises that stress to higher levels as the pay is so low you have to work overtime for most office jobs. It is nuts back there.

So, imagine my surprise when I finally started college in a foreign land. I was expecting more stress, and instead I was actually learning things that I wanted to learn. No big dumps of homework, no strict scheduling, just be on time for class, take it all in, do a bit of homework, do your side job or hobby afterwards, and then you are free.

That has been my experience so far and even if things do get gradually more stressful because of the COVID pandemic, I do not think I will be facing as much stress as I used to just because the general approach in work and education here is far more forgiving than back home, and they pay you more for any kind of labor you do here in a day than you would ever earn in a week back home. I guess that is the capitalist spirit at work here—fair compensation for your work even if it is not the most exciting job.

My current goal as a student at Angelina College is to try to learn as much as I can and make the most out of the opportunity that I have been lucky to have been given. I want to be versatile in different disciplines of art, which I only really learned how to do properly in the short time I have spent in the graphic arts program, and I want to be able to make a living out of something that I really love doing. It is an opportunity I never would have gotten back home, and I am grateful for that. 

Austin Pena and his family originated from the Philippines, an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. (photo from wwwnc.cdc.gov)

Filmmaker reflects on her Angelina College experience

By Esmeralda Ramos, graphic arts student

My family and I moved to the United States 10 years ago for a better life. I grew up in a small town just outside of San Luis Potosi, Mexico, so this was the biggest move of my life and the biggest struggle of it as well. 

Throughout my years of being in the U.S., I have noticed significant differences in the culture and the people.

Here in the U.S., many more opportunities exist for people than in Mexico. One of the biggest differences I have noticed is most people cannot attend college in Mexico because it is too expensive and too far away. But here in the United States, you can get financial help in the way of scholarships or grants to pay for college.

Of course, when you do not speak English, people are going to treat you differently, and it can suck sometimes, but you have to be willing to take it and move on because those people are not going to be around you your whole life.

I am just a semester away from graduating college, and I am hoping to go to a university to continue working on my career. I would like to own a filmmaking and photography company and, hopefully, give back to my parents a little of what they have given me.

Esmeralda Ramos and her family are originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico. (photo from britannica.com)

Pandemic affecting mental health

By Ra’Nese Canada and Hanna Eddings

The2020 global pandemic has forced everyone to adopt to new changes and safety precautions. Social distancing, quarantine, having to wear a mask, canceled /postponed events and having to be screened at work are just some of the many changes we had to endure.

The pandemic has negatively impacted people in many ways. Mental health is one of the major factors that has been affected. Although the precautions and changes are enforced for our safety, it has caused many people to lose some control over their mental health.

Because of COVID-19, many people have lost their jobs, are struggling financially, and have even lost their homes. Having a lack of control of the situation can be stressful and can easily deteriorate mental health.

Taking care of mental health during these hard times is crucial. It is important to have positive coping mechanisms.

Angelina College’s Director of Student Access and Inclusion Annie Allen said, “On top of people being scared for their health and the health of their loved ones, we have parents who are having to navigate whether their kids should go back to school. If they made the decision to not send them back to school, then they are having to deal with online learning which is difficult. We also have students who have lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet.”

Allen went on to comment about students who might be positively changed because they are sometimes too depressed or anxious to sit in a face-to-face setting.

She said, “If their reason for their anxiety and their struggle with depression is due to social interaction, then the online aspect is good for them. On the other hand, there are a lot of students who thrive with face-to-face classes and the online component is very difficult. It really depends.”

She added how she and her family have adapted to the changes by saying, “It was a lot to deal with because I suddenly had to work from home, and I deal with a lot of student affairs functions. We’re the ones handling student emergency aid requests. We had over 200 requests since we launched in June…On top of that, we have student accommodations, so a lot of students’ needs are having to be evaluated because they are now in online classes.

“As for my family, we made the difficult decision to let the kids go back to school, and they seem to be doing well right now. It has been an adjustment. We could not go on a summer vacation like we normally do, and we are at home 85 percent of the time. When we do go out, we are constantly making sure that it is as safe as possible.”

In order to take care of her own mental health, she said, “I do a lot of things. Watch TV shows that I already know the endings to; I have been reading a lot; I limit how much I am on social media and how much news I am taking in; and I exercise and make sure I eat as healthy as possible.”

Commenting on whether she has worried about her family’s mental health, she said, “Yeah, one of the reasons that we decided to let the kids go back to school was because they were too isolated from their friends. It was important to have a routine for them. I work all year long, so for me it was impossible to have a real routine for them. Going back to school has helped us get back into a routine and that has been really helpful for their mental health.”

            Allen also shared some helpful tips on how to maintain one’s mental health. “I definitely recommend having check-ins with yourself,” she said, “making sure you have a routine that you are comfortable with that gives you purpose throughout the day, and making sure that every day you are doing at least one thing that gives you joy. It can be doing a puzzle, binging on Netflix, calling your best friend—whatever it is that brings you joy.”

Whether one has new anxieties from the COVID-19 lifestyle or even seasonal depression, addressing and coping is always easier if the one suffering is more aware of himself or herself and what he or she is really going through.

Most counselors would tell someone with an addiction that the first step to fixing his or her problem is admitting he or she has a problem. The same could be said for anxiety and depression.

Some people may be unaware of what is triggering these possible thoughts of nervousness, inadequacy or sadness, and they can go into a downward spiral of self blame. That is why it is important to take the time to evaluate oneself and try to find the root of your emotions that negatively affect you.

Depression is a slippery slope, and if one were to internalize these pains and not find a way to treat them, the depression could go emotionally deeper and get more rooted in his or her life.

For those people dealing with social anxieties, maybe now is a time to take online classes to your advantage. Or if you have ever been a student who misses a lot of class because of  emotional episodes or even if you simply do not have a ride, find the silver lining in online classes right now and take all of the classes that you can before this rare opportunity is over. While plenty of variables are in the world today that may cause mental strain, finding the parts that bring joy are a great way to help. As Allen said, if you are struggling to see the joys in your life, then maybe you can intentionally do something every day that sparks joy. Get a head start on your mental health now by simply making a list of what you are going to do to spark joy each day this next week.

AC staff is keeping campus corona-free

Luisa Flores cleans Hudgins Hall thoroughly to help to keep the coronavirus at bay. (photo by Audrey Romo)
Student amenities like water fountains are currently unavailable during the pandemic. (photo by Audrey Romo)

Nursing students learn the code in heath careers

Tonya Laforge, right, AC nursing instructor, conducts a session on responding to a code with second-year nursing students in the lab on the second floor of the Patricia McKenzie Health Careers Building on September 3. (photo by Austin Pena)
Second-year AC nursing students respond to a code in an exercise supervised by Tonya Laforge, left, AC nursing instructor, during a class on September 3. (photo by Austin Pena)
AC nursing student Kenya Sanchez, left, performs chest compressions while Liyan Collier, right, supports respiration with an Ambu bag during a lab class on September 3in the Patricia McKenzie Health Careers Building. (photo by Austin Pena)

First year students keep them breathing in the respiratory health lab

Health career students practice using an endotracheal tube to assist in breathing. (photo by Austin Pena)
Students throughly check the “patient” to practice emergency room scenarios. (photo by Austin Pena)
Hard work, extensive studying and strong dedication makes the health careers students at Angelina College some of the best in Texas. (photo by Austin Pena)

Angelina College students and staff share quarantine recipes

Indian Butter Chicken by Jordan LaCaille (AC staff)

Ingredients

 -6 tablespoons butter, divided

-2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” chunks

-1 yellow onion, diced

-3 garlic cloves, minced

-1 Tbsp garam masala

-1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger

-1 tsp chili powder

-1 tsp ground cumin

-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

-1 1/2 cups tomato sauce(or one 14 oz can would work)

-2 cups cream

-salt & pepper

-lime & cilantro, for garnish

-naan & rice for serving

Instructions

  1. Using 2 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the pieces of the chicken so each side is browned. They do not need to be fully cooked all the way through. Work in batches, and set aside when you’re done.
  2. Melt another 2 Tbsp of butter in the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until beginning to soften — about three minutes. Add the garlic, garam masala, ginger, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Stir to combine, and cook for about 45 seconds before adding the tomato sauce.
  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let cook for five minutes before adding the cream. Bring the mixture back to a simmer, add the browned chicken, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Keep the heat low here — not a rolling boil.
  4. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve garnished with lime and cilantro, alongside rice and naan.


Peanut butter and banana smoothie by Ra’nese Canada (AC student)

Ingredients 

-5 scoops of peanut butter

-one banana

-a cup of milk

-half cup of ice

Instructions 

-blend well 

-enjoy!


Peanut butter cookies by Matthew Gresham (AC student)

Ingredients 

-1 cup peanut butter

-1 cup sugar

-1 egg

Instructions 

-mix together 

-scoop into tablespoon sized pieces on a baking sheet

-bake at 350° 

-wait 8-11 minutes until fully cooked


Morning smoothie by Michael Gollott (AC student)

Ingredients

-handful of blueberries 

-one banana 

-1 scoop of protein powder 

Instructions 

-blend until well mixed


Four-year colleges arrive for Transfer Fair

Photo by Esmeralda Ramos

Kimberly Deckard, SFASU assistant director of admissions, gives AC student Lakeatra KeeKee, drafting technology major, information at the College Transfer Fair from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26 at the Student Center.

Gospel singing for Black History Month

Photo by Josh Giles

AC students Malik Ross, left,  and Robyn Adams, music majors, sing “Order My Steps”/”Worth” in Hudgins Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at a Music Forum.

Photos by Josh Giles

AC students, right to left, Moesha Keggler, Brent Barber, William Garcia and Kayla Robinson tally donations to determine who  gets a pie in the face for charity. 

Emily Evans, nursing major, and Hugo Sanchez, criminal justice major, spend some time studying in the AC Library. 

Photo by Esmeralda Romos

AC students Christyon Eugene, left, business major, and Chance Brown enjoy Connect 4 during the Game Night and Free Coffee event on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

AC student Alex Diosdado, right, sound recording technology, donates blood in the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center coach on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

Photos By Ra’Nese Canada 

AC students Dixa Luna Vega, general studies major, and Suneimy Luna Vega, graphic arts major, both from Lufkin, enjoy conversation in  the Cafeteria Tuesday, Jan. 14. 

AC student Kenneth Thaxton from Nacogdoches sits in the graphic arts lab on Tuesday Jan. 14 enjoying his cell phone before preparing for his next class.

AC student Francisco Lopez, graphic arts major from Diboll, uses his laptop in the Cafeteria on Tuesday, Jan. 14  before going to his next class.

Photos by Josh Giles

Officer Rene Gutierrez, left, informs AC student Johnnie Zamora about Lobo, a member of the canine unit of the Lufkin Police Department, who searches for narcotics and cadavers.

Photo by Nylan Holifield

LeAndrea Wilson, left, Nicholos Trusclair, top, and Caitlyn Hutson show off their Halloween costumes in the AC Student Center on Thursday, Oct. 31.

Playing bingo for food, fun

Photo by Matthew Gresham

AC students enjoy playing bingo during the Spooky Grocery Bingo in the cafeteria on Oct. 31.

Photos by Kendall Cole

Angel DeLeon, AC surgical tech major, chills out in the Cafeteria to catch up on his studies.

Angelina College business major Dante Mills works as a work-study student in the AC Library

Lady Roadrunner softball player Charion Bruton enjoys some downtime by throwing a few pitches outside the student dorms on Thursday, Oct. 24. 

Two Angelina College students pick up stress balls from the Student Life department who was giving them away for Mental Health Day Thursday, Oct. 10.

Greta Rich, executive director of the Janelle Grum Family Crisis Center, speaks to students attending the Campus Safety and Rape awareness Lunch and Learn Monday, Oct. 7.

Students shoot “Grease” promo

Photo by Lizeth Rodriguez

Ty Thomason, graphic arts student, films a promo for the theatre departments production of “Grease” Tuesday, Oct. 1 while Josh Jiles holds a reflector. Playing the part of Sandy in the production is Raquel Rothschild, and playing the part of Danny is Jordan Dietz.

Students enjoy Hispanic Heritage Month activities

Photo by Elora Flowers

AC students Ronderious Berry, right, and José Ocon enjoy Latin Jeopardy on Sept. 25 in the Cafeteria. This event was a student life activity to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

Photo by Elora Flowers

D’Vandre Houston, right, registers to vote Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Photo by Nylan Holifield  

Graphic arts major Kenneth Thaxton, freshman from Nacogdoches, listens to some good tunes on his cell phone while relaxing in the Angelina Center for the Arts.

Photo by Lizeth Rodriguez

Freshman Alyssa Romine, Marine Biology major, takes some time out to study in the AC Library.

Photo by Nylan Hoilifield

Flags lined the main side walks at AC to commerate 9/11.

Grocery Bingo

Food Truck Festival and Community Involvement Fair

Photos by Eliana Padilla and Lizeth Rodriguez