Archive | October 2011

Making a “Major” Decision

A person who is entering college for
the first time will hear the question: “What are you going to major

For some, they know the answer
while the majority don’t have an idea of what they
want to do.

The Students Success Initiative Offices
and the Career Services presents the second annual “Exploring
Majors Fair
” that will be held on November 1 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m at the Lowman Stduent Center (LSC) Ballroom on the campus of Sam Houston State University.

The fair started last year and is designed as a way to help these
students to discover their interest. From there, they would choose a
major that will allow them to develop their knowledge and skills in order to apply it to their future careers.

Question and Answer with Allen Shamblin

by Cheval John

To say that the weekend was busy for songwriter Allen Shamblin is an understatement. The 1982 graduate of Sam Houston State University was recently recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus along with four others including former SHSU president, James Gaertner at the Distinguished Alumni Gala last Friday and will be inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame along with Garth Brooks and Alan Jackson tonight at the Renaissance Nashville Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. 

We caught with Mr. Shamblin to get his reaction on being selected as a Distinguished Alumnus and on getting inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

What’s the Word: Congratulations on being selected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. What does it feel like?

Allen Shamblin: To be honest, I haven’t quite processed it yet. The feeling is quite overwhelming  and it’s more than what I can actually take in right now, so it will be a few years down the road before I can tell you what it was like because I’m still in a state of shock over it all.

WTW: How has Sam Houston prepared you for what you are doing right now?

AS: Well, I think it prepared me in a lot of ways. When I was here, I was a marketing major. In taking business classes, it helped me to understand the business side of life a little better. In the music industry, it is easy to get tripped up in finances and if you are in the industry for over a period of years, you will need to have your business taken care of. So I feel that I was prepared here at Sam to take care of the business side of the arts. That is why they call it the music business.

WTW: Can you take us to the time when you got discovered?

AS: At the time, I was a real estate appraiser in Austin. After coming home from work everyday, I would write songs. I was at Wyatts Cafeteria one day with the lyrics of the song that I had written the night before when Linda Orsak, the sister-in-law of legendary fiddle player Johnny Gimble, was standing in line next to me when I was reading it to my co-worker. I was able to play my song for her and she took me over to Mr. Gimble’s house and we played it. Afterwards, she sent the cassette to her best friend, Martha Sharp, who was the executive vice president at Warner Brothers Records in Nashville, Tennessee. Just meeting Linda in the cafeteria that day literally changed my life. It was a big deal.

WTW: You are also about to be inducted as a Distinguished Alumnus at the Distinguished Alumni Gala on Friday. How much does it mean to you?

AS: It means a whole lot. First of all, I am extremely proud to be an alumnus of Sam Houston State University. I love the school, the campus and the people. After all of these years, to be honored with this award and to be brought back, is very, very special to me. I was not a distinguished student when I was here, but it all worked out and I am thankful that they brought me back.

WTW: Tell us about the time when you wrote the song “He Walked On Water” that Randy Travis recorded? What was it like hearing it?

AS: It was incredible to hear it. I wrote the song at one of my lowest points. I had moved to Nashville and was struggling really hard and the song was a gift. It came in a special way at a special time. It is a personal song to me because it is based on my great-grandfather and for Randy Travis to record it and then to hear it on the radio, it was like a dream.

WTW: You co-wrote the song “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt with Mike Reid. Can you describe that moment?

AS: That was an incredible experience. Mike and I worked on that song off-and-on for a few months and when we finished it, it was an incredible feeling. He leaned over the keyboard that he was playing on and said, ‘Don’t you ever forget this feeling in the room right now. Money and awards will not equal to what we are feeling at this very moment.’ It was great to be a part of that. It was a huge gift and a blessing to have Bonnie Raitt sing that song. She did an incredible job and made the song her own.

WTW: The hit single “The House That Build Me” that was recorded by Miranda Lambert, what was the process in writing the song and afterwards, listening to it?

AS: That song actually started eight years ago when my co-writer Tom Douglas was in Utah. We wrote the song and people were not connecting with it. So we put it away for about five years. Later, he called me and said, ‘Let’s revisit this song.’ So we returned to it and after all those years, the flaws and the holes in the song was real obvious. It took us about a hour and a half to fix it. We took some things out of it, change a line or two and felt that we had made it a lot better. It went on hold, which means that the producer will ask you not to play it for anyone else. It was on hold for Blake Shelton, the husband of Miranda Lambert. While he was picking her at the airport, he had the song with him and played it. When she heard it, she asked if she could record it. We were thrilled about that and it turned out well.

WTW: On George Strait’s new album “Here For A Good Time” you co-wrote a song title ‘Poison.’ Can you tell us what it is about?

AS: ‘Poison’ is about falling in love with things that can hurt us really bad or even kill us. I felt that it was a subject that needed to be explored and to find out why we love things that would hurt us. I wanted to shed some light on the subject.

WTW: What advice would you give to current students here or to anyone in general who have a passion for something, but don’t pursue it?

AS: I would say, whatever your deepest passion is, pursue it with all of your heart . Pray about it and give it a shot. For several years after college, I chased money and I was miserable. When I began to chase my dream, money didn’t matter that much, even though I needed it. I am more happy because I am doing something that I love. We get one chance at this life and it is very short. You do not want to go through life and say, ‘You wish you would have done it.’ Win, lose or draw, step up to the plate and swing for the fence.

SHSU Students Takes Trip Of A Lifetime

Three SHSU students had the opportunity
to do something that many dream of doing: spending a year in Japan.

Mass communication major Junko
Yoshimaru, sociology major Andrew Smith and graphic design major
Edwin Calvillo studied at Momoyama Gakuin University in Osaka, Japan
during the 2010-2011 school year. Momoyama has an exchange agreement
with Sam Houston State University through the  Office of
International Programs that allow students to pay tuition on campus
as if they were taking classes at SHSU.

They recently returned from their trip
and are taking classes towards their graduation within a year or two.

I caught up with them to talk about
their experience studying abroad in Japan.

What’s the Word: How did the process

Junko Yoshimaru: I applied and fill out
the necessary forms to get there. The selection process kind of made
us nervous because they were four people applying and the university
only accepts 2 students per semester. Since the three of us wanted to
go for a year, they made an exception to accept the three of us
because of that.

Edwin Calvillo: It was pretty straight
forward as to what to do. I waited until the very last minute and I
was rushing the week that I had to leave. It was horrible for me.

WHW: That’s really awesome! So once you
all got there, what were your feelings and what was it like?

JY: For me, it felt like I was coming
home, even if it was a different region. I am originally from Chiba,
in the central region of Japan. We studied in Osaka, located in the
south. It’s a different culture even though it’s the same country, so
I felt like this is where I belong.

Andrew Smith: It is a complete opposite
of America when going to Japan and you feel that way anywhere when
studying abroad. It was exciting, but at the same time very scary
because I didn’t speak any Japanese when I first got there, so they
was definitely a language barrier to overcome. Overall, it was great.

EC: I was ready to go because it was a
lifelong dream. Andrew and Junko took the plane together while I flew
on my own. I had taken Japanese for a while, but I didn’t take the
classes as serious as I should have. So when I got off the plane, I
thought that I was so big that when someone spoke to me in Japanese,
I didn’t understand at first. So I stood there until another person
came up and told me in English what that person said. It was a
humbling experience.

WTW: Can you explain the class
structure in Japan?

JY: At Momoyama, we take classes once a
week, sometimes twice, depending on how many credit hours we receive.
It was nice. In order to fulfill the visa requirements, everyone had
to take at least seven courses, but we were not getting credit for
some of the courses.

AS: In Japan, they gave two credit
hours per class, instead of three, so some of the professors were
like ‘hey this is only two,’ so I had to take basically the same
thing, like a 400-level class at SHSU. It was an o.k. Trade-off.

EC: I am on the complete opposite
because I am an art major and Momoyama did not have an art program,
so I only went to learn Japanese, but I wanted to do an art study in
Japan. For a while, it bothered me, but then I realized that my
Japanese was getting better and from that moment, it didn’t bother me

JY: The first semester that I was
there, I was able to take a few mass communication classes in
Japanese, but in the second semester, they did not offer anything.
Unlike America, they didn’t have a lot of  “hands-on” courses, so
you just sit in the class and get lectured.

AS: That’s a good point that she made
because a lot of the classes here in America, the teachers interacts
with the students. In Japan, the teachers just lecture and the
students takes notes. I got so used to it there that in classes here,
when the teachers call on me, I am thinking, ‘How do I respond?’

WTW: What did you do outside of class
while in Japan?

JY: We taught English classes the
entire time that we were there.

ES: My students ranged from the ages of
two to sixty-seven years old. It was a lot to handle, but they were
enthusiastic about learning English. I always keep in touch with the
students in Japan.

AS: I really enjoyed teaching English.
We worked with younger kids and in some private classes, they were
retired people that wanted to learn English. It was really fun
talking to people.

WTW: What was it like coming back to
the United States? Did you re-entry shock?

AS: Yes, I did! When I went to Japan, I
had culture shock where I was getting use to it. When I returned, I
was shocked at how different everything seemed. I felt like a foreign
here than how I felt in Japan.

JY: For me, I was missings some things
in America like driving and some of the freedom to express yourself.
In Japan, you are reserved, so I kind of missed being open. But then,
I was thinking, ‘Oh, it was so nice not to drive.’ When I returned, I
was so tired of driving.

ES: It was good to see my friends and
family when I returned. Later on, I was thinking, ‘Oh, these people
are so loud here!’ Nobody was that loud in Japan.

WTW: What advice would you give to
those that want to study abroad, especially now that everything is
globally ‘connected?’

JY: I would say, ‘Go for it’ because it
broadens your horizons and experience another culture. You learn how
other people think and how they work. It is such a great experience,
especially in the Asian cultures, because it is a complete 180 from
the western world, not just in the languages, but in the mannerisms
as well.

AS: If you grow up in the same place
all your life, you would think that it is the norm. Once you travel
abroad and see other cultures, you see what it’s really like. Just
because one culture do something a certain way, doesn’t mean it is
correct. Everyone works together to get the job done. It is good to
study abroad because you learn a culture and a different language.
Also, some things are lost in translation and the more languages you
know, the more you will get out of understanding the world a lot

ES: The one thing that I didn’t like
about studying abroad was leaving the friends that I had made in
Japan. Not only did I made friends from Japan, but I also made
friends from different countries who were studying abroad with me.
Having to say goodbye on my last day was really sad.

JY: One thing that I do appreciate
about studying abroad was allowing me to learn more about America and
to appreciate the customs of the United States. It was a really good
thing for me.

Tailgating at Reliant Stadium

by Cheval John

Houston, Texas- The 86th annual “Battle of the Piney Woods” between Sam Houston State (SHSU)
Bearkats and Stephen F. Austin (SFA) Lumberjacks at Reliant Stadium
was filled with fun, excitement and running back Tim Flanders
flipping into the end zone for a touchdown that gave the Bearkats
momentum in the game and allowed them to demolish SFA 45-10.

The game was played in front of
25,083, the largest crowd in Southland Conference history.

though the game was exciting, the best part for many of the
spectators was tailgating.

They were a sea of orange and purple in
the parking lot at Reliant Stadium. Though they were in separate
parking lots, they were some  students and alumnus from SFA among the
crowd of orange.

The series began in 1923 and is the
second longest rivalry in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The
Bearkats have an all-time record of 49-35-2 against the Lumberjacks.

As a result of an agreement that was
reached between Lone Star Sports and Entertainment and the two
universities in 2009, the series was moved to Reliant Stadium in
Houston which started last year and would continue through the
2013 season.

With more than 65,000 alumni that call
Greater Houston their home, tailgating at Reliant allows them to
reconnect with their former classmates and professors, and also, to
meet current students that are attending Sam.

“The rivalry is a huge deal,”
former Bearkat baseball player Alex Pujols said. “I am happy that
they brought it here to Houston and it is getting bigger every year.”

Tailgating also allowed a few SFA’s
alumnus and students to catch up with their friends that attended Sam
Houston and for those that graduated from both SHSU and SFA.

“We do a mutual tailgate that allows
us to mingling with both groups and has worked out for us,” SHSU and SFA alumnus Stewart
Jackson said.

He was one of many people at the Athletic Training
Alumni tent that was near the SFA side of the parking lot.

Different colleges and departments
including the College of Business Administration took part in the
tailgating at Reliant Stadium.

“It is festive here with great music
and weather and everyone is excited about the game,” SHSU alumna
Valerie Muesham, Ph.D. said.

Tailgating at Reliant was fun and will
continue for the next two seasons. Hopefully for many, the annual
rivalry will continue at Reliant for more years after the 2013 season.

Did I mentioned that the Flanders’ flip made it to the top 10 list on ESPN’s SportsCenter at #5?  Click here to see for yourself.