City View High School teacher Marla Boswell laughed when asked about what advice she would give to adults about following her education path. ... Expand/Reduce Article
By Andy Newberry, Midwestern State University
Marla Boswell laughed when asked about what advice she would give to
adults about following her education path.
Her journey started out with some indecision and changing of majors and
then was reconstructed with a family and a passion for sign language. The path
was unique. The reward of her quest for learning, a degree from Midwestern
State and a teaching career she loves, was something she shares with many.
It’s a path Boswell “wouldn’t recommend to anyone.” But it was a great
result in her case because she’s enjoyed the last laugh with a rewarding career
in teaching after not one, but two, memorable stints at Midwestern State
When Boswell started at MSU Texas out of Burkburnett High School, she
said she changed her major a few times.
But she'll remember that era for a major decision she didn't waver on,
which was marrying Scott Boswell.
“It’s hard to decide on a lifelong career when you’re 18 years old,” she
said. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. When I finally decided to go back, I
was more focused and determined to complete my undergrad and did just that. Is
it easier to go right out of high school and get your degree in 4-5 years and
start your career? Absolutely!”
thankful for the way her life turned out. She recently finished her 10th
year teaching at Burkburnett High School and took a position teaching American
Sign Language and as the varsity cheer coach at City View High School.
happens sometimes, and I believe God had another plan for me, and that was to
stay home and raise my children,” Boswell said. “When I decided to go back, it
meant more to me because I had a family and knew I needed to buckle down and
finish in a timely matter. So my advice would be to not worry about what
everyone else is doing or when. Do what’s best for you and your family, and
that it’s okay to start or go back to college at any age.”
ALL IN THE FAMILY
family got its start at MSU Texas when Marla was introduced to her husband,
Scott, just outside of D.L. Ligon Coliseum.
have great memories from attending MSU, and I’m thankful that I stayed and
attended a local university where I had the support of all my family. MSU is a
phenomenal university and provides an excellent education.”
Boswell was part of the rebirth of the MSU Texas football program when it was
reinstituted in 1988. He was a two-team all-conference player and was inducted
into the MSU Texas Hall of Honor in 2013. He has coached for many years in the
Wichita Falls area and served as head coach at Burkburnett High School
Boswells’ daughter, Lexi, also graduated from Midwestern State after originally
attending Texas Woman’s University. Boswell came to MSU to become an athletic
trainer and is working on her master’s degree through the MSU Texas online
program. Her brother, Jacob, is playing football at Wayland Baptist.
attending MSU football games and being part of the school again,” Marla said.
“We’ve even made trips in one day to watch (Jacob) play and then jump in the
car and made it to an MSU game to support Lexi. It’s kind of crazy, but we love
every bit of it.”
IT’S A SIGN
passion for learning was reignited with a visit to church. She noticed an
interpreter and “was mesmerized” by it.
“I was a
stay-at-home mom and wanted to do something to get out of the house,” Boswell
said. “I called that church to see if they had classes, and they were starting
one that next week. It worked out well because my kids started attending
classes there while I went to class. I started going each week and just fell in
love with the language and seemed to pick it up pretty quickly.”
to learn and eventually teach American Sign Language. That solution was again a
local one as she returned to MSU Texas. Boswell notes she began college as an
Indian and finished in 2008 at MSU Texas as a Mustang. And in between she
received her certificate of interpreting from Collin County Community College
in Plano in 2002.
thankful that I was able to complete and finish as an MSU graduate through
their online program,” Boswell said.
passion for signing and learning has only grown since earning her degree and
starting her career.
“ASL is a
beautiful language no doubt, but more than that the best part is being able to
communicate with others without having a language barrier,” Boswell said. “I
love that my family can sign, and we can communicate across the room with each
other. I also love being able to communicate with nonverbal students and
adults. Most of all, being able to connect and communicate within the Deaf
community is the most important part of knowing how to sign.
believe that we should engage with all people, cultures, and languages. And be
an advocate for others and not seclude anyone because of our differences.
Knowing ASL has helped me to be more engaging with others, and that’s the goal
I have for my students as well.”
Midwestern State University Center for Continuing Education offers beginning
Sign Language courses. The cost of the course is $80. Enroll online at www.msutexas.edu/conted. Enroll in
person at 3410 Taft Blv., second floor of Hardin Administration Building North,
ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT Q&A
Current job: Teacher, American Sign Language and Varsity Cheer Coach at City View.
Previously taught ASL at Burkburnett for 10 years.
Graduation year: 2008
Major: Bachelor of Applied Arts & Sciences
Following are selected questions and answers with 2008 MSU Texas
graduate Marla Boswell, who teaches American Sign Language and varsity cheer at
City View High School in Wichita Falls.
Q: What does Midwestern State mean to you and your family?
Boswell: MSU is where I met
a lot of my friends through being in a sorority (Alpha Phi), and where I met my
husband Scott. We both have great memories from attending MSU, and I’m thankful
now that I stayed and attended a local university where I had the support of
all of my family. MSU is a phenomenal university and provides an excellent education
to its students.
Q: Was there a professor or class who made a difference in your life
or the way you approach teaching?
Boswell: Most definitely! I mentioned that I changed
majors a lot and I love to dance so I took every single dance class MSU offered
at the time. Mrs. (Sherry) Gillespie taught all of those classes and I had
so much respect for her. She made class fun while teaching all aspects of each
style of dance (two step, swing, ballroom, etc.) I took all the classes
because I loved dance, but also because I loved Mrs. Gillespie. As a teacher I,
too, try to make class fun and upbeat while also teaching the content, and I
enjoy it so much. My husband Scott also had her for a few classes, and we were
thrilled that she attended our wedding. She’s the type of teacher/professor who
truly made a difference in our lives.”
Q: What advice would you give adults about pursuing education in the
manner you did?
Boswell: This question makes me laugh because it took me so long to finish my
degree, and I wouldn’t really recommend that to anyone. So my advice would be
to not worry about what everyone else is doing and when. Do what’s best for you
and your family and that it’s okay to start or go back to college at any
Q: What ignited your passion for ASL (American Sign Language)?
Boswell: Honestly, we had visited a
church and I noticed the interpreter at the front and was mesmerized by it. I
was a stay at home mom and wanted to do something to get out of the house. I
called that church to see if they had classes and they were starting one that
next week. It worked out well because my kids started attending classes there
while I went to class. I started going each week and just fell in love with the
language and seemed to pick it up pretty quickly. That sparked my interest in
wanting to learn more and eventually teach ASL.
Q: How is ASL embraced by students?
Boswell: I believe the students love ASL because it’s different and also
attracts the kinesthetic and visual earners. The students are always excited to
learn and enjoy the moments that they are able to communicate with the Deaf
Q: What has teaching taught you about yourself?
Boswell: Mostly it has taught me to not take myself so serious. It’s okay to
laugh at yourself and make mistakes. Teaching has given me insight to how much
my teachers put into building a relationship with me and other students, and
how impactful that has been on my life. I can only hope that I have given a
small portion of that back to my students.
Q: Something people may not know about you?
Boswell: That’s difficult
to answer because I feel like I’m pretty open and honest with everyone. Some
may not know that I am pretty shy and do not like talking in front of people or
being put on the spot.I struggled in
school because I was too afraid to ask questions. I was also a terrible
test-taker. As I’ve gotten older, it’s gotten better, but those are things that
I still struggle with.
Q: How long has
dance been a passion of yours?
Boswell:I do love dance! I started taking classes when I was 7 years
old. I really enjoy tap dancing the most and hip-hop. I was a member of the
Boomtown Babes in Burk and an officer my senior year. In college, I was part of
a local dance studio and attended some competitions. I continued taking dance
classes up until I had my children and then focused on being a mom and taking
care of my family. I enjoyed some adult dance classes, but it’s not something I
do regularly anymore.
Q: Something on your music play list?
Boswell: I love music so my
playlist is anywhere from Boyz II Men, Usher, Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross,
George Straight, Zac Brown Band, Beastie Boys, Earth, Wind & Fire, 50 Cent,
to Elvis (just to name a few). However, I mainly listen to KLOVE and
contemporary Christian music. Kutless, Meredith Andrews, TobyMac, Chris Tomlin,
Hillsong, and Bethel Music are some of my favorites.
Q: Something on your reading list?
Boswell: Other than the Bible, I enjoy reading anything by Lysa Terkeurst and
Joyce Meyer. My favorite books are “Same kind of different as me” and “The
Longtime artist Paul Valadez will be featured for a lecture and workshop at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU Texas August 17. ... Expand/Reduce Article
Artist Paul Valadez will be featured for a lecture and
workshop at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU Texas August 17, from 10
a.m. to 4 p.m.
Valadez will begin by sharing stories about his creative
career and the challenges he faced in the art world. Following a break, he will
lead a workshop in the art of collage.
Valadez, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Rio
Grande Valley, grew up in Stockton, California. He attended San Joaquin Delta
College before moving on to the San Francisco Art Institute where he earned a
bachelor of fine arts degree in Interdisciplinary Art in 1997.
Valadez’s artwork is inspired by his childhood and language.
“I grew up in a bicultural family; Anglo/white on my mother’s side, and Mexican
on my father’s side. I felt that I never fit in.”
Valadez has found his fit in the art world. Selections from the Great Mexican-American
Songbook is an artwork that has “little to do with music but it does have
to do with images and language. I chose to do the work with/on sheet music and
figured eventually I could do something with it.”
He presents workshops hoping to inspire others to do
something with their gifts. In a 2017 interview with Whitmanwire.com, Valadez
explained art’s ability to connect is something different than other forms of
communication. “If I wanted to tell a story, I would write it down so there would
be no mistaking,” Valadez said. “But instead, I don’t write it down. I
want the mistakes. I want you to see it, think it, (and) respond to something.”
donated 200 collage works on paper to the Wichita Falls Museum of Art. These
pieces, along with art works created by participants in the August 17 workshop,
will be presented at the WFMA in an exhibition titled Paul Valadez: Collage
and Community, September 13 – November 2.
is free for the event. … Supplies will provided to attendees, who are also
welcome to bring their own art supplies. … Attendees may RSVP by contacting the
museum by phone at 940-397-8900, or by email at email@example.com.
About the Museum
1967, The Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU Texas enriches life in the
community and the university through new experiences in visual art for all
ages. An extensive and growing permanent collection of American Art focused on
works on paper, and a dynamic schedule of changing exhibitions and engagement
programs, provide a first-class gallery experience. The WFMA supports the
university’s liberal arts mission and is an educational resource offering
varied programs and events for the North Texas region. The WFMA is located at 2
Eureka Circle and is open free of charge Tuesday through Saturday, 10 am to 5
pm. Free parking is available.
The students and faculty in the Wilson School of Nursing and the Department of Respiratory Care will have access to state-of-the-art simulation through a corporate sponsorship agreement between B-Line Medical LLC and Midwestern State University. ... Expand/Reduce Article
The students and faculty in the Wilson School of Nursing and
the Department of Respiratory Care will have access to state-of-the-art
simulation through a corporate sponsorship agreement between B-Line Medical LLC
and Midwestern State University.
The sponsorship, approved by the MSU Texas Board of Regents
in May, will provide the necessary equipment to simulate and record scenarios
in a realistic way at the new Centennial Hall. Faculty will have the ability to
observe and provide a more detailed review with their students.
“B-Line Medical is honored to partner with MSU’s School of
Nursing and Respiratory Care,” said Chafic Kazoun, Co-Founder and CEO of B-Line
Medical. “Nursing education is a critical area of focus for B-Line Medical and
an area where we feel we can really deliver on our mission of effecting real
and immediate improvement in the delivery of care.”
In recognition of the sponsorship, the Board approved the
renaming of the simulation center to the J.S. Bridwell Regional Simulation
Center Powered by B-Line. The agreement provides hardware, software, and a
five-year maintenance and support services plan.
“We are honored to enter into this agreement with B-Line
Medical. Through this partnership our students will have exceptional
opportunities for state of the art, high-fidelity simulation of clinical
experiences in a safe environment,” said MSU President Suzanne Shipley. “This
caliber of learning sets us apart as leaders in the field.”
The current center is used to train and evaluate mostly
nursing students through active engagement in small group settings for
individualized teaching and instruction. Faculty and students in respiratory
care will experience the most noticeable change in their learning environment
as the same technology will be installed in their new skills lab. More
opportunities will be possible with the technology also extending to the United
Regional Interprofessional Education Suite that will be available to the Gunn
College of Health Science and Human Services as a whole.
“This partnership with B-Line provides for joint
collaboration, research, and beta testing of new products,” MSU Texas Provost
James Johnston said. “In addition, we will serve as a show site and model for
B-Line. Overall the partnership affords great opportunities for our faculty,
staff, students, and B-Line Medical.”
The simulation center is moving from the location at 917
Midwestern Parkway to the new 87,000-foot, state-of-the-art health sciences
facility scheduled to open this fall. A grand opening is set for Sept. 6.
in 2005, B-Line Medical is exclusively dedicated to offering solutions that
help healthcare professionals and educators improve the delivery of healthcare
and enhance quality of care. Focused on the capture, debriefing, and assessment
of healthcare training and clinical events, B-Line Medical’s robust, yet
easy-to-use web-based solutions are in use at more than 500 institutions in 35
more information, visitwww.blinemedical.comor call 1-888-228-3838.
Blake Enlow fondly recalls being voted “most likely to be a secondary school faculty member in high school.”
And the 2001 Midwestern State University graduate hasn’t done anything to prove them wrong. Enlow was recently hired as the Bowie Indepen ... ... Expand/Reduce Article
By Andy Newberry
fondly recalls being voted “most likely to be a secondary school faculty member
in high school.”
And the 2001
Midwestern State University graduate hasn’t done anything to prove them wrong.
Enlow was recently hired as the Bowie Independent School District
reasons, Enlow is appreciative of his experience at Midwestern State. His favorite
memory outside the classroom was an easy choice. “I think my best memory from
MSU was meeting my wife (Addie) and our first date,” Enlow said.
He grew up
in Coppell, Texas, and graduated from high school in 1997. He earned his bachelor’s
in kinesiology in 2001 with a minor in English. But he wasn’t done. To fulfill
his vision Enlow had to keep going, even after entering the teaching field at
Keller High School. He decided a second time that MSU Texas was his best fit
and completed his master’s in educational leadership in 2006. The result was
becoming a superintendent at age 39 after serving previously as a principal.
a recent question and answer session with Enlow.
Why did you choose Midwestern State?
Enlow: I chose MSU because of the small
school feel.I had family in the Wichita
Falls area and enjoyed visiting campus while in town with family.
What made you feel that was a good
Enlow: The small class sizes were a real
benefit.I enjoyed getting to know my
professors and classmates.
How did the educational leadership
program further your career?
Enlow: I think the program gave me
real-world applications to the content we were studying.I feel the program really focused on putting
the students in real-world situations to prepare us for what is to come.
What inspired you to pursue educational
Enlow: I have always enjoyed school, and I
wanted to be a principal. Once I became a principal, I had many people
encouraging me to pursue a superintendent’s position.
Was there a professor who made a
large impact on you?
Enlow: Dr. Grant Simpson was a big part of
my MSU experience. He taught various courses that I had, but he really took an
interest in who I was as a person.He
also helped me get my first teaching job at Keller High School.
What advice would do you have for
those considering a similar career?
Enlow: Education is an ever-changing
industry, but treating people right never changes.People don’t care how much you know until
they know how much you care.
Something on your play list?
Enlow: Aaron Watson, Robert Earl Keen,
David Crowder Band, and Casting Crowns
Something on your reading list?
Enlow: Anything by Francis Chan
Something he always tell his kids (Laney,
10; Molly, 8; Jake, 7) about the “old days”?
Enlow: I always tell them not to wish their
lives away and to enjoy today!
Homecoming 2019: The MSU Texas Homecoming is Oct. 13-19.
Photo: From left to right, Jake Enlow, Laney Enlow, Blake Enlow, Addie Enlow, and Molly Enlow. Blake and Addie met when they attended Midwestern State University.
David L. Callender, a 1980 Midwestern State University graduate, was recently named the new president and chief executive officer of the Memorial Hermann Health System. ... Expand/Reduce Article
David L. Callender, a 1980 Midwestern State University
graduate, was recently named the new president and chief executive officer of
the Memorial Hermann Health System.
Callender, a head and neck surgeon from Wichita Falls, has
significant experience leading academic health systems and has been a longtime
leader in Texas Medical Center institutions. He has served as president of the
University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB Health) since 2007 and led that campus
through a transformative recovery over the last decade following Hurricane Ike.
His new appointment is effective Sept. 1, according to a Texas Medical Center
Callender will succeed the retiring Charles “Chuck” D.
Stokes, who has served as Memorial Hermann’s president and CEO since June 2017.
“Dr. Callender is a natural choice for this role given his
exceptional track record in the Greater Houston region expanding access to care
and advancing groundbreaking research to help people get healthy and stay
healthy,” Memorial Hermann Board Chair Deborah M. Cannon said in a statement.
“It’s clear that Dr. Callender cares deeply for this community and, through his
leadership at UTMB Health, he has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to
foster a healthier environment for all. We are thrilled to welcome a leader who
will preserve and strengthen Memorial Hermann’s legacy of serving Greater
Houston with pride and distinction, making him the ideal successor to Chuck,
whose leadership has been instrumental in helping Memorial Hermann thrive and
flourish during an era of change in the healthcare industry.”
Callender received his medical degree from Baylor College of
Medicine in Houston, where he also completed his residency. He finished an
oncology fellowship at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center,
received an MBA at the University of Houston and is a fellow of the American
College of Surgeons. Callender served as UCLA Health’s associate vice
chancellor and CEO from 2004 to 2007. He previously served in several
leadership roles during more than 20 years with MD Anderson. He culminated his
tenure there as executive vice president and chief operating officer.
“Memorial Hermann, together with its physician partners, is
doing great work to make health care more affordable and more accessible for
the residents of Greater Houston,” Callender said in a news release. “I have
been inspired by Memorial Hermann’s efforts to bring value-based, more
personalized care to our communities, and I’m excited and honored to now help
lead the way as we work to extend those efforts by delivering exceptional
patient experiences and improving outcomes for all.”
After Hurricane Ike caused more than $1 billion in damage to
the university’s Galveston campus in 2008, Callender led UTMB’s unprecedented
reconstruction and revitalization effort which resulted in building a more
resilient infrastructure that can support the university’s mission well into
the future, the news release said.
Callender was the featured commencement speaker for the
Spring 2007 MSU graduation ceremony. He was selected as a Distinguished Alumni
honoree for MSU in 2005 for the College of Science & Mathematics.
"As I near retirement, I'm pleased to hand over the
reins to Dr. Callender, a trusted and experienced healthcare leader with a
passion for creating healthier communities. I believe Dr. Callender is the
right person to help guide Memorial Hermann into the future,” Stokes said to
United Regional and Midwestern State University enjoy a partnership that has only grown stronger over the years. And the newest building on campus, Centennial Hall, offers a fresh opportunity to work together and provide an even better future for stu ... ... Expand/Reduce Article
United Regional and Midwestern State University enjoy a partnership
that has only grown stronger over the years. And the newest building on campus,
Centennial Hall, offers a fresh opportunity to work together and provide an
even better future for students.
The MSU Texas Board of Regents approved a 10-year corporate
sponsorship agreement Thursday for the United Regional Interprofessional
Education Suite in the new health sciences building that will open this fall. The
grand opening will be from 3:30-6 p.m. Friday, September 6.
“Our continued partnership with United Regional is a
wonderful example of working together to bring about exceptional educational
and training opportunities for our students and faculty as well as hospital
employees,” MSU Texas President Suzanne Shipley said.
“United Regional values our long-standing partnership with
Midwestern State University. We feel very fortunate to be the beneficiary of
many talented, well-trained students that graduate from MSU every year,” United
Regional President and CEO Phyllis Cowling said.
The sponsored suite and endowment scholarship will provide
the space and financial support to advance a principle philosophy of Gunn
College of Health Sciences and Human Services -- having students and faculty
from different programs and backgrounds interact and learn from one another. According
to Jeff Killion, Dean of College of Health & Science Services, “this
creates a powerful learning experience, emphasizing critical thinking, and the
importance of collaboration to solve simulated real-world scenarios.”
The corporate sponsorship contributes $400,000 to purchase
additional simulation equipment, $50,000 for simulation center operations, and
$50,000 to endow a health sciences scholarship that will rotate among Nursing,
Radiologic Sciences, and Respiratory Care.
The Interprofessional Education Suite allows students an
opportunity to experience a modern medical facility. Equipped with a surgical
stretcher and surgical boom that is ergonomically centralized to provide air,
oxygen, electrical outlets, and lighting, the suite will have the flexibility
for a wide variety of interactive case scenarios, Killion said. “It will mimic
a high-tech operating room. Students will participate in learning sessions with
high-fidelity patient simulation manikins directed by instructors from a
control room,” he added.
The suite will have the capability to record learning
sessions by cameras located in the ceiling. Recordings will be used for
debriefing students. The suite will also allow for the use of portable x-ray
and respiratory equipment.
“Simulation-based learning is one example of the
high-quality and progressive education MSU students receive,” Cowling said. “These
real-life experiences presented in a learning environment enable students to
develop knowledge, skills, and confidence that lead to better outcomes on the
“Initiatives such as this strengthen our community and
highlight the talent and dedication of our two institutions to meet the needs
in the health-care industry,” Shipley said.
The generous contribution is an investment United Regional
believes benefits students for many years to come.
MSU Texas Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
James Johnston is also enthused about the new opportunities created for
students with this partnership.
“This corporate sponsorship by United Regional represents an
investment in the quality of health care and health care providers in our
region by United Regional and MSU Texas,” Johnston said. “The investment in the
community will help attract and retain talented individuals for the Wichita
Falls area. United Regional and MSU Texas have a great history together, and
this latest agreement strengthens that relationship as we continue to lead
The world’s largest radiologic science association elevated Midwestern State graduate Stephanie Johnston to the position of president at the American Society of Radiologic Technologists. ... Expand/Reduce Article
The world’s largest radiologic science association elevated
Midwestern State graduate Stephanie Johnston to the position of president at
the American Society of Radiologic Technologists in June.
Johnston is a mammographer for Solis Mammography of Wichita
Falls, Texas. She received her undergraduate degrees from New Mexico State
University and finished her graduate degree from MSU Texas (2009).
Johnston, of Holliday, Texas, began her one-year term as
president following the 2019 ASRT Annual Governance and House of Delegates
Meeting in Orlando, Florida. She previously served as ASRT president-elect.
“When my term is finished next year, I’m confident we’ll be
a more united organization that fosters diversity and renews our dedication to
providing exceptional care to all patients,” Johnston said.
ASRT represents health care professionals who perform medical
imaging procedures or plan and deliver radiation therapy.
A 2017 documentary produced by students in the Midwestern State University Mass Communication Department was recently named Best Special Broadcast in the national Collegiate Broadcasters Inc. competition. ... Expand/Reduce Article
A 2017 documentary produced by students in the Midwestern
State University Mass Communication Department was recently named best special
broadcast in the national Collegiate Broadcasters Inc. competition.
The program, “Mr. Midwestern,” was produced by MSU students
Natalie Burkhart, Dayton Chambers, Taylor McCloure and Megan Piehler. “Mr.
Midwestern” is based on Leroy McIlhaney, a longtime volunteer for MSU Texas
Also, MSU students Sterling Ellison and Jared Tuilagi were
finalists in the best sports reporting category for a package they produced
about the Special Olympics. CBI is a national organization with around 200
members, and this year’s competition drew 400 entries from all over the United
MSU students were also finalists in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005,
2009, 2010 and 2012, with a 2005 documentary winning the Best Special Broadcast
Photo credit: Bradley Wilson
Photo info: The winning MSU Texas documentary team,
left-to-right, of Taylor McCloure, Dayton Chambers, Megan Piehler, and Natalie
Matthew Mitchell didn’t make Midwestern State his first choice coming out of Henrietta High School. But it turned out to be his best choice. ... Expand/Reduce Article
By Andy Newberry, Midwestern State University
Matthew Mitchell didn’t make Midwestern State his first
choice coming out of Henrietta High School. But it turned out to be his best
Mitchell, a junior chemistry major from nearby Henrietta,
realized upon his return home that MSU Texas was the best path forward for him.
A return home wasn’t the end of his big dreams or
adventures. It was the beginning. Mitchell has flourished academically and had
the chance this summer to work as an intern at the National Institutes of
Health near Washington, D.C.
Mitchell said his summer at the NIH has been a
“life-changing experience.” He’s thankful for those who helped give him this
chance and the land of opportunity that MSU has been for him on his journey.
Going home facilitated more growth for Mitchell. He found a
group that encourages him and holds him accountable. He loves being near his
family and has found MSU Texas to be a perfect place for him to thrive. He
plans to graduate in 2020.
“I think one of the main things I learned coming back was
how much I rely on my social support system,” Mitchell said. “It took me a
while to figure myself out. When I came back, and I’m taking all of these
difficult classes, I realized what I was missing was my family. They help me
get through everything.”
“One area I really have grown in during my time at MSU is
being very in touch with my friends. I'm thinking about others and not just
myself. We study and push each other.”
This summer has been special to Mitchell. It wasn’t as easy
as finding a destination spot. For Mitchell, it was a process of working,
networking, and being ready to seize upon a chance.
“I was lucky to get to go,” Mitchell said. “It started when
I did an internship at a medical school in Fort Worth. I was encouraged to
apply for a national conference in Indianapolis.”
That led him on a path to bigger and better things. Just as
incoming college students may apply for many scholarships to land the
opportunity they want, Mitchell went to work applying for summer programs
around the country. And he was accepted into the NIH with two internships, one at
a clinical neuroscience lab and another with Health Disparities for Minorities.
“It was overwhelming at first,” Mitchell said of his arrival
to the NIH campus in Maryland. “It felt like a huge learning curve. Everybody
around me had more experience (in neurology). Chemistry is my major. Other
people around me have neurosciences as a major.”
Maybe at first glance, Mitchell was a little fish in a big
pond. But he knew he belonged. His study habits would translate anywhere.
“I’ve had to do tons and tons of reading on my primary
literature since I’ve been here. The research I do at MSU has directly prepared
me to be at the NIH," he said.
And building relationships with his professors, thanks to
smaller class sizes, is an opportunity that Mitchell can already see has paid
dividends. "It allows you to build those bonds with your professor, and
they really care about me as a student. I can’t get that in a place that's too
Long before he was representing MSU Texas nationally,
Mitchell was displaying his smarts and competitive fire at Henrietta High
Mitchell won the 2014 UIL State Spelling and Vocabulary
Championships in Class 2A in spelling. And Mitchell knows he came away with
much more than three gold medals (two as team member, one individual). He
qualified for three UIL state tournaments in all, including a runner-up
individually in 2013.
“UIL was one of the best experiences I’ve been a part of,”
Mitchell said. “It truly prepared me to be a good college student; to know how
to study; and that allowed me to be successful in college.”
“Matthew brought a great deal to the spelling team table
when he joined us at HHS because he competed in the Scripps spelling bee in
elementary and junior high school, and he also took Latin in junior high,”
Henrietta High School UIL coordinator and teacher Laurie Schaffner said.
Schaffner earned her master’s in English at MSU Texas.
Mitchell has new friends from all over the globe, but his
roots are very much with him. Building relationships he knows is pivotal to
future success. At the same time, he remains connected to those who helped pave
“I still go back
every year and help coach the spelling team,” Mitchell said. “Our coach, Mrs.
Schaffner, was like a mom to me. She helped me throughout the year and even
last week she helped me revise and edit my medical school application essays.
She really pushed us in our competition for state. State was in May and we
would start in August after we got the list of competition words. We won
because of our work ethic and what Mrs. Schaffner taught us.”
“I started having spelling marathons at my house, and our
very first one we started at noon and I was trying to kick them all out at midnight,”
Schaffner said. “We worked, ate, worked, watched part of a movie, played word
games with the vocabulary we had to win. Then they worked, ate, watched the
rest of the movie … the marathons caught on and we still do them throughout the
school year (though typically not that many hours). Matt was on the ground
floor of this intense style of learning. He motivated himself and others to
spend many personal hours studying, and he shared all of his knowledge with his
teammates very unselfishly.”
HELPING THE NEXT GEN
That group effort is something Mitchell knew he had to get
back to upon his return to MSU Texas. And again, the teamwork and
accountability helped him thrive. Schaffner loves being part of Mitchell’s
“team” as a mentor.
“It’s one of the reasons why I do what I do — I want to make
a difference in the lives of others,” Schaffner said. “The countless hours we
spent together formed a family bond among these students. I also love it when
they tell me the only reason they know how to study in college for a test that
is months away is because of our spelling team.”
Mitchell doesn’t plan to follow Schaffner as a teacher and
UIL coach, but he does have a “coaching crown.”
Schaffner tells the story. “It’s not enough to be
intelligent. I had one young man on the team a couple years ago who is super
bright, and I think he thought that would do it for him. However, after a poor
showing at district, he spent some long one-on-one hours with Matt and studied
hard on his own.” The student tied for the regional championship and won state
as an individual. “On the way home he said, ‘I finally get it, Mrs. Schaffner.
I never knew what I could do before this, and I’ll never forget.’”
Mitchell plans to graduate from MSU Texas in 2020 and is
currently applying to medical schools across the country.
So what does he want to do with his education?
“The big answer is I don’t know,” Mitchell said.
It’s not for lack of a plan, he says, but because he’s
keeping an open mind to possibilities. The past few years have taught him that.
“I’m interested in treating patients, that’s what I’ve been
put on earth for, and I have a good base in neurology,” Mitchell said. “I have
a good general idea of what I want to do, but I’m OK with change. I want to
experience medical school with an open mind. And I would also like to have a
family. Neurosurgery is pretty heavy and intense and not known for leaving time
for a family. And I think it’s OK to have some dreams you may choose not to
ADVICE FOR STUDENTS
Mitchell doesn't lack for confidence but remains humble
amidst his success. And he wants to see others succeed and find the same
opportunities at MSU Texas.
“I think anyone has the ability to succeed if they put in
the ability and the effort,” Mitchell said. “I was able to get into a program
with students from all over the world. I think a large part of that is because
I’m willing to put in the work.
“I don’t think there’s anything inherently special about me.
Anyone can do what I’ve done, just being focused on doing what you think is
necessary to accomplish what you want. If anyone is willing to do it they can
do big things.”
Mitchell has been busy reading, observing and learning this
summer, but when he’s had some free time, he’s found some small-town feel
around the big city. “Everyone talks about the monuments, the White House, and
the big Capitol building, but I like to get a feel for the local scene. There’s
a bunch of trails up here, and I’m big on getting lost in nature for a couple
of hours. It’s not too hard to escape out in the wilderness, and have fun in
This experience has sharpened his perspective.
“I’m very blessed to be here,” Mitchell said. “I wouldn’t be
here without the friends who helped me, Mrs. Schaffner, my mom (Amy Mitchell)
and dad (Glen Mitchell), and two really good friends, Bailey Smoot and
Salvatore Capotosto. This core group of friends has made sure I’m being the
best person I can be, academically and emotionally. I’ve become a person who is
more in tune with the people around me at MSU.”
Schaffer wouldn’t dare hide her pride in Mitchell, one of
many pupils she feels fortunate to have influenced.
“God has blessed me in many ways, and I believe I am blessed
to BE a blessing,” Schaffner said. “Matt will always succeed. I’ve seen him
knocked down, but he fights back every time and comes back stronger than ever.
I love that boy, a.k.a., my second son.”
Story idea? Do you have a great story idea on a student or graduate of Midwestern State University. Share your idea with Public Relations Specialist Andy Newberry by email at andrew.newberry@MSUTexas.edu
As a deputy county attorney with the Pima County Attorney’s office in Tucson, Arizona, Rachael Fornof spent three years prosecuting cases involving domestic violence. Even among the most difficult of those cases, Rachael knew that she had the ability ... ... Expand/Reduce Article
By Andy Newberry, MSU Texas
As a deputy county attorney with the Pima County Attorney’s
office in Tucson, Arizona, Rachael Fornof spent three years prosecuting cases
involving domestic violence. Even among the most difficult of those cases,
Rachael knew that she had the ability to make a difference in the lives of the
residents of Pima County.
Back then her introduction to the women, children, and
families would come after an incident had occurred. In 2018 she joined
Midwestern State University as the director and coordinator of Title IX,
opening her mind to a new challenge. What she has found in her first year on
campus is a student body anxious to embrace change and a university determined
to increase awareness of issues related to sexual misconduct.
“It’s been really nice to see that the campus is open to new
programs and new incentives related to sexual misconduct,” Fornof said. “It’s
not always a topic that people want to talk about. But we have students, staff
and faculty who are ready and willing to participate in the conversation, which
has been really refreshing.”
Moving to Texas was a new experience for her and so was the
Title IX position, but her positive outlook about the youth of today has only
been reinforced over the past year on campus at MSU.
“I truly believe that young people are the only way we’re
going to get through the future,” Fornof said. “They have such a positive
outlook. They’re so hopeful and willing to make change and they want it to
happen. They’re learning that maybe the things they were taught in the media or
things they have been taught in movies might not be true. They look at things
differently especially when it comes to consent.”
BEING AN ALLY
One major goal for Fornof was increased awareness of the
subject matter and that her office is a resource and ally for students. She
believes there was success after many conversations with students, both
individually and in groups.
“Think About It”, an online course all students must take,
has helped along with other events like “No Zebras”, a program to maximize
cooperation and minimize survivor trauma, and “We End Violence” by Jeffrey
Bucholtz. However, Fornof wants to make sure those campaigns don’t stop when
the event is over.
“There has to be a consistency,” she said. “What I tried to
do was pull things from the course into live programming. We did one in the
fall and one in the spring. The students don’t just want to see me coming to
talk about the same thing all the time, too.”
For Fornof it was important that students to recognize her
on campus. The Title IX position is separate from faculty and Fornof
appreciates that independence.
“I’ve had a ton of support around campus and specifically,
students who are really involved and excited,” Fornof said. “It’s nice I can
interact with them outside of the classroom. I think based on feedback I’ve
received from students, and hearing colleagues talk about what they’ve heard,
they’re seeing me as someone who is speaking up for their needs. When they have
potential bad things happen to them at least they know the university is here
to back them up and give them support.”
In April, Fornof introduced “Take Back The Night,” a vigil
and campus walk for victims of sexual violence. “We had probably 150 people
show up to do the walk in the first year of the program. And we had about 250
people show up for the program itself. It was nice to see how many people were
While Fornof considers her first year a success, she wants
to continue to raise awareness, have consistent messaging and application, and
be a guiding light for students in a difficult area.
“We did surface-level messaging,” Fornof said. “Talking
about consent and talking about basic relationships and human interaction. It’s important that all of our students feel
they are safe on this campus. When a student makes a report, we want them to
know they are supported.
This next year I want to establish consistency in programming.”
Much of her time is also spent on prevention, a part of this
job she relishes after being on the other side as a prosecutor.
“Working as a prosecutor I worked with people when it had
already occurred, and a huge part of my job is dealing with cases when they
come into the Title IX office and conducting the investigations. But I’ve been
able to spend a lot of time this year doing preventative programming,” Fornof
said. “That’s been really nice. Everyone’s goal is prevention.”
She’s encouraged by her interaction with MSU Texas students
with 1-on-1 meetings and participation in group setting increasing because of
word of mouth advertising. “I met with members of three or four fraternities
and sat with them for about an hour and we had really good conversations.”
Fornof felt the students felt open to ask her questions maybe they wouldn’t
typically ask a staff member and was glad to be there as a resource.
Fornof hopes that leads to more sessions where she can
provide MSU Texas students with information and preventative measures. And at
the same time be there to investigate if there is an incident. “Students should
feel that they can take ownership of their safety with the support of the
administration and faculty,” Fornof said.
The Title IX resource center online is msutexas.edu/titleix
for campus information plus community resources and an online report form.
The MSU Vinson Health Center number is 940-397-4231; the MSU
Counseling Center is 940-397-4618; and the MSU Police Department is