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Texas State RRC celebrates graduates

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By Kristen McLaughlin

graduation reception photo

Group photo at the 2011 Texas State RRC Graduation Reception

It is the time of year that can be both stressful and exciting for college seniors and final semester graduate students. The spring graduation is Thursday- Saturday for all graduating Bobcats. For the Texas State University RRC students who are graduating, services and events are available to help students celebrate and alleviate stress during this time.

Texas State University Round Rock Campus spring graduates and students who graduated in the summer or fall of 2011 are welcome to a graduation reception tomorrow from 6-7:30 p.m. in the Avery Building. Students must register. Attendees can bring a maximum of four guests. The event is free, but you must register with your Student ID to attend.  Group photographs of the graduates will be taken, but family and friends are also encouraged to bring their own cameras to take photos. The purpose of the reception is for the Round Rock campus faculty, administration and staff to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating students who attended classes at the Round Rock location.

For busy students who need a quiet place to study, the student lounge in Avery 202 is open and there are plenty of computer labs and seating areas and study rooms throughout the Avery Building available.

Graduates may also have financial concerns and need help finding a job. There are also resources available at Texas State that can assist with this situation.  As far as a job search goes, the Texas State Career Services in San Marcos offers a variety of services to assist students and alumni. For those who are interested in entrepreneurship, there is also the Small Business Development Center located in Avery 265. There are also two other locations, one in Austin and one in San Marcos. The center offers training and advice for those who are interested in starting a small business.

Although there is so much to think about during this time, graduation is a time filled with opportunities and excitement.  Commencement will be held May 10-12 at Texas State University-San Marcos at the Strahan Coliseum, 700 Aquarena Springs Drive, San Marcos. For more information about parking and seating, click here. I look forward to seeing everyone as we celebrate the accomplishments of Texas State graduates!

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Lazos “embraces Latinidad”

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By Kristen McLaughlin, Texas State RRC Graduate Research Assistant

I have had the pleasure of working on the communications team for Lazos 2012, an event which celebrates students and filmmakers from the U.S. and countries in Latin America. This year’s theme is “Embracing Latinidad”.

Not only have I had the opportunity to be on the student communications team for the event this semester as a part of our class, but I will see the event come to fruition this today, April 27 at Texas State University-San Marcos in the LBJ Student Center Ballroom from 7-10 p.m. Thanks to El Centro (the Center for the study of Latino Media & Markets), student organizations and community sponsors, the event is free. However, registration was required for the event.

This is only the second year for Lazos, but we anticipate a good turnout. Lazos is the closing ceremony for Puntos De Vista, a Latin documentary competition which involves students from Colombia, Peru, Spain, Mexico, Chile and the U.S. The students participating in the competition will find out their ranking at the awards ceremony at Lazos. This year’s film festival included 14 documentaries by students in the participating countries. Student filmmakers will be honored at Lazos.

In addition to awarding students, Lazos will include special entertainment from Texas State’s Mariachi Nueva Generacion as well as Salsa and Latin Jazz Ensembles Salsa del Rio and Orquesta del Rio. Salsa del Rio was the first Latin Jazz Ensemble created at Texas State. The group is dedicated to the performance of music from Latin America, including Cuba, Puerto Rico, The Dominican Republic and Mexico. Orquesta del Rio also focuses on music from these countries. Popular styles include Mambo, Son-Montuno, Cha Cha, Bolero and Morengue.

The student group Mariachi Nueva Generacion, also a Texas State student group, performs the Mexican art form known as Mariachi. They perform many different styles, including Huapango, Bolero, Polka and many others.

The student communications team included myself and three of my graduate student peers (Shannon Delaney, Eileen Suarez and Doug Seliger), but so many others have spent months coordinating this event and Puntos De Vista. Organizing Lazos was an idea that professors Dr. Sindy Chapa and Olga Mayoral-Wilson thought of when they were brainstorming about Puntos De Vista.  Students from organizations and student workers at El Centro have eagerly assisted them with both Lazos and Puntos De Vista.

This year’s Lazos event is being co-hosted by the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Inc.

“To be a part of an event such as Lazos has meant a lot to Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha Inc,” said Catherine Arriaza-Ortiz, SIA treasurer and Lazos committee member.

Other organizations and departments are also participating in the event, including Alpha Upsilon SIA, Ballet Folklorico, Communication Disorder Bilingual Cognate, Latinas Unidas, Love Across Borders, LULAC, Sigma Delta Pi, the Texas State Sociology Department, and the Texas State International Student Association.

Lazos participants will be able to learn from Keynote Speaker Robert Bard, the CEO of Latina Style Magazine. In his 11 years leading the company, he has developed four signature programs. These include the LATINA Style Business Series, the most successful ongoing business development program for Latina business owners in the nation; the LATINA Style 50 Awards and Diversity Leaders Conference, reporting on the top 50 companies for Latinas to work for in the U.S.; the National LATINA Symposium recognizing Latina achievement in all areas and professions; and the Distinguished Military Service Awards, honoring outstanding Latinas for their military Service.

For those who want to learn from accomplished professionals such as Bard and celebrate student filmmakers, Lazos is the perfect way to end the semester. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Hope to see you tonight!

The Abacus, the Overhead Projector, and Classroom Technology

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By Jael Perales

Classroom Technology at RRCThe Round Rock Campus is set to host the Technology for Today’s Classroom workshop on Saturday, April 28. This full-day workshop will address topics related to technology and education, and that got me thinking about my own experiences with technology as a student.

My first calculator (well, besides my own brain) was the easiest thing I could get my hands on; namely, my fingers and toes. As you would expect, the math eventually became harder than what my 10 digits could manage, so the next tool provided to me was a basic calculator. You know the type, perfect for doing all kinds of adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and apparently something to do with %. But this too was insufficient to tackle the math problems of middle school. Once algebra came into my life, the ol’ number cruncher had seen better days. So, once again, I upgraded, and this time perhaps more than I needed to. You see, I began competing in calculator-based academic competitions, so the tool provided to me was the kind that could handle problems beyond my grade level. I was solving equations, converting units, tackling trigonometry…and I hadn’t even met those issues in my own mathematics classes! And yet, even then, I was limited in what I could do. To advance further as a mathematics competitor and eager, young scholar, I needed something that could handle bigger equations, more complex situations, matrices, and, eventually, graphs. Thus came the powerful graphing calculator and, so it seemed, near limitless capabilities.

But, as luck would have it, I went on to college and was presented with a whole new array of problems. Real-world physics problems to be more precise. And I must say, even the powerhouse that was my graphing calculator was unable to stand up to the challenge. At this point, the only other powerful computational engine available that wasn’t the human brain was, you guessed it, the personal computer. I was introduced to a computer program that could handle giant, complex, mountains of math as easily as I can click the mouse attached to the computer I am writing with now. Suddenly, I looked at newer, more ambitious mathematical projects with a sense of boldness I had never known before.

It is only now that I see the neck-and-neck race that had been occurring in my academic experiences. The technology I used in math seemed to be the deciding factor in what level of math I could study. Or was it that the level of the math determined the tools that were required? It is no secret that technology and education go hand in hand. What one can teach is often directly related to what one can use to teach and learn. When the abacus was the primary tool for doing math, what a student was expected to learn and do was miles behind what most elementary students can handle today. The educator was limited in what he or she could teach. But, as we have all seen, when the technology available to both students and educators advanced, so too did the level of information being taught. In other words, I can teach a 3rd grader how to handle multiplication problems with a calculator that the student may have never been able to accomplish with just an abacus.

Classroom equipment has also experienced significant upgrades. I remember my teachers working out math problems on an overhead projector and showing slightly dated science videos on VHS. Now, teachers can display a computer desktop on a hardwired screen and use their hands or other devices to draw students in with high-tech visuals and up-to-date streaming videos. Advances such as this allows teachers to draw on a wealth of knowledge and visual aids like never before, which not only improves the way they can teach and keep students engaged, but also allows them to teach content that would otherwise have been too high-level.

And you, ever plugged-in college student, how much more useful to you is an educational environment that synchs up with the technology you are accustomed to already? Class projects posted on a social media platform, textbooks on e-readers, and class participation using smartphones. These are just some of the many ways educators can interact with students in and out of the classroom. And “out of the classroom” learning is key in expanding what educators can teach and students can learn. In reality, technology is even expanding the classroom itself.

For educators, the first response to this reality is pretty straightforward. With all the technology out there, where does a teacher or professor even begin? A good place to start is at the upcoming Technology for Today’s Classroom workshop. The event, sponsored by Kappa Delta Pi, Dell, and ePals, is a full-day technology workshop with hands-on exploration and sessions that address 21st Century Learning.  The current list of speakers includes teachers from AISD, PISD, RRISD, DELL, and ePals, with more to come. The event will be held on Saturday, April 28, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Texas State University Round Rock Campus. Registration is free for all Texas State Education majors, but space is limited. Go to http://www.planetreg.com/E4414551083153 to register. The registration deadline is April 22, 2012 at 10:00 p.m. I encourage you to take advantage of this great opportunity. Expanding what educators can do in the classroom is the key to expanding the capabilities of students. I personally can’t wait to see the abacus of tomorrow!

Rome in 6 days or less

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Article and photos by Dr. Edna Rehbein, Ph.D., Texas State RRC Director

Dr. Rehbein's niece, Vickie, at John Cabot University

Dr. Rehbein's niece, Vickie, at John Cabot University

Over Spring Break, I traveled to Rome to visit my niece who is studying there at John Cabot University. JCU is a liberal arts university in Rome with students from various countries. My niece, Vickie, is perfecting her Italian and studying Communications there and has had an incredible semester.   The weather was perfect – a brisk 50 degrees most of the time. I made a point of actually sitting and observing the crowds, the local artists and musicians, and the incredible fountains and artwork that are found in every direction throughout the city.  Piazza Navona is my favorite.  It has three incredible fountains.

You cannot help but wonder what life must have been like there in the 1500 and 1600s when the majority of the statues and artwork were created.  The statues, fountains, and churches are massive and ornate with incredible attention to every tiny detail carved into the marble.

Bernini's St. Teresa in Ecstacy

Bernini's St. Teresa in Ecstacy

My favorite statue is Bernini’s St. Teresa in Ecstasy.  If you have seen the movie, “Angels and Demons”, you will recognize the statue from the movie.

Umbrella Trees in Rome

Umbrella Trees in Rome

And just when you finally come to grasps with the contributions and history of that period, it hits you that Rome’s history actually goes back many more centuries  and that the Roman Forum and the Coliseum represent another highly advanced era that dates back even earlier in time.  There are some gorgeous trees called the “umbrella pines” that grow on the Palatine Hill. They look like they have been pruned so they only have branches at the top, but that is actually how they grow and they tower over all the ruins.

I was especially fortunate to be in Rome at a time when 100 documents from the Pope’s Secret Archives are on exhibit in the Lux in Arcana Exhibit at the Capitolini Museum.  The exhibit includes documents from kings, czars, sultans, and other world leaders from several centuries.  Included are, the original depositions of over 200 Knights Templar in the 1200s; King Henry VIII of England’s letter requesting the Pope to grant him a divorce;  Martin Luther’s excommunication document; letters from Galileo, Bonaparte, St. Bernadette, St. Theresa, and even the Pope’s appeal for the release of prisoners from the concentration camps of WWII.  This exhibit was truly incredible.  It will be on display through September of this year.  No photographs allowed indoors, of course.

St. Peter's Square after mass

St. Peter's Square after mass

Going to Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, hearing the Pope bless the masses in various languages, watching the fervor of the crowds in St. Peter’s Square, seeing the massive Castel Sant’Angelo, and celebrating the “festa della donna” – International Women’s Day – a day when all women are treated special – were all pretty nice as well.   But while these sites were incredible, you cannot visit Rome without enjoying its culinary delights and the warm hospitality.  We had gracious service wherever we went. The food and gelato were awesome.

gelato

gelato

Jill Seidenberger’s adventure in Italy

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Article and Photos By Jill Seidenberger, Student Development Specialist

Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Assisi, Italy

Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Assisi, Italy

If you have graced my office with your presence, you may have noticed three pictures of what I thought Italy would like look – tall cypress trees lining the long and winding driveways, scenic views from a hilltop, and vineyard upon vineyard.  I suppose the movie Under the Tuscan Sun was on my mind and much more of what I expected than I realized.  Don’t get me wrong, Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rome each have their highlights, but it was the scenery that drew me to Italy.

Montalcino, Italy

Montalcino, Italy

Finally, six days into the trip, I experienced what I fondly refer to as my Italy, on a half-day tour from Siena into the countryside of Montalcino.

Yes, tall cypress trees lining the long driveways, scenic views, villas, and vineyards!  The city of Siena was quaint and cobblestoned.  The hotel had one of the most beautiful views overlooking a valley.  Ah, Siena…

Overlooking Assisi, Italy

Overlooking Assisi, Italy

Though I fell in love with Siena and the surrounding countryside landscape and thought that it would be my number one Italian city, it was Assisi that made it to the top of my list.  Assisi is even more quaint as it is nestled on the side of a hill.  It is one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever experienced.  And, it has a restaurant that served the best lasagna I’ve ever tasted!  Speaking of food… oh, the food, fantastically fresh!  Everywhere!  In exchange for my money, I brought back a few unwanted souvenirs – a few extra pounds to prove just how good the food was!

We finished the trip in Rome and visited many of the historical highlights that the ancient city is known for – the Vatican, the Pantheon, the Coliseum, Fountain of Trevi (assuring a return trip to Italy completed by tossing coins into the fountain – legend has it), just to name a few.  With a city so rich in history, it was simply amazing to walk the streets that were created so long ago.  It was also in Rome that I was able to fuse my love of potatoes (yes, it’s the German coming out in me) with my love of Italian food – pizza topped with potatoes!!

It truly was a vacation of a lifetime that excited all of the senses.  A few special thank you’s to: the One Stop Center staff for covering for me, Travel Guidebooks by Rick Steves, the incredibly knowledgeable tour guide in Rome, Claire with Devine Tours, and to her husband, Charlie, who set up a special Vatican Radio tour for us.  Grazie! Grazie! Grazie!

Jill Seidenberger visited Italy during Spring Break. Stay tuned to the blog for another story of a fascinating Spring Break trip to Italy by Dr. Edna Rehbein, Director of the Texas State University Round Rock Campus.

Overcoming A “Fear” of the Texas State Round Rock Writing Center

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By Chris Muse, Writing Center Coordinator

What is the Writing Center?  To summarize, it is a service of trained tutors that provide individual counseling in writing for Texas State students at any level of study.

This includes help with: essays, technical writing, research papers, formal letters, in-class essay exams, MLA/APA documentation, professional writing, and resumes. We also tutor for the GSP.  Overall, the Writing Center is a beneficial place to learn how to improve and even sharpen writing skills. However, there are students that still have reservations about the Writing Center.  Typically, there is the false impression that students will be judged for their writing and tutors will single out any or all “mistakes” in an insensitive manner.  But this perception could not be further from the truth.

In the Writing Center, tutors realize that students are reluctant to share their written work.  For example, I had a session last week with a student who was experiencing her first semester of college after taking a twenty-eight year break from pursuing a degree in nursing.  At first, I noticed she was nervous about letting me read her paper.  I told my client that I would not ridicule her in any way and am only here to provide support.  Also, I informed her on how the Writing Center is a safe place because we offer a service that specializes in developing writing skills without judgment.  After our brief counseling session, she opened a folder and handed me her paper.  Moreover, students will find that tutors are not abrasive in their teaching styles and take the time to calmly address any issue.

To conclude, the purpose of the Writing Center is not to emotionally scar students.  Rather, it is a resource on campus that is available to use if a student is interested in learning how to strengthen aspects of his/her writing.  Tutors will instruct students on how to brainstorm for a topic, form an outline, implement sources, and organize the paper effectively.  Of course, any major concerns the student has will be addressed first.  Quite simply, we are here to help.

The Writing Center is located in Avery 203. Spring 2012 hours are Monday-Wednesday from 1-8 p.m. and  Thursday from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. E-mail cm1913@txstate.edu or stop by to make an appointment.

QR Codes on campus

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Round Rock homepage QR Code. Scan to go to our website.

By Jael Perales and Kristen McLaughlin

Social media has been a major topic of interest in the Austin/Round Rock area, especially with the annual South By Southwest Interactive Conference being held in Austin during Spring Break. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and QR Codes are among the many outlets being used and discussed.  As a university in one of the fastest growing areas with a tech savvy customer base, we are striving to implement new social media outlets at Texas State University Round Rock Campus.

This past week, we began using QR codes on the plasma screens that you see around campus. If you have a moment, please scan the QR codes to link to our social media.

QR codes are bar codes redesigned to increase the amount of information that can be stored on them. Whereas your standard bar code is 1D (i.e. it can only store information from left to right), a QR code is considered to be 2D because it stores information and can be scanned both from left to right and from top to bottom.

QR codes were first created to be used by Japanese auto makers to keep track of vehicles as they were being manufactured. However, the potential use of the codes made them ideal for marketing and promotion, and since the individuals holding the patents on QR codes agreed to allow people to create and use them free of charge, they have quickly been put to use all over the world. QR codes are like hyperlinks for the physical world, removing the need to have a computer in front of you in order to use a hyperlink. In fact, QR codes don’t have to be digital. You can print them out or even iron one onto a t-shirt and become a walking hyperlink! And no more grabbing a pen and paper to write down hyperlinks either, because QR scanner apps have been developed and can be downloaded for free to your mobile device. QRafter is a popular choice for iPhones, QR Pal and QR Droid are good choices for Android devices, and Kaywa Reader is useful for many phone varieties as well.

The QR codes you can now see on the Social Media slide displayed on the plasma screens throughout the Avery Building were developed through Microsoft Tag. They are simple and easy to make, and Microsoft Tag will allow you to make both QR codes and their own brand of codes called Tags. Tags are more customizable than QR codes as far as visual design, but the way they function is essentially the same. Microsoft Tag also provides a scanner that can read QR codes and Tags.

You can try making QR codes yourself. Create an account with Microsoft Tag or, if you just want to make one now without setting up an account, try QR Stuff. You can use them to promote your Facebook page by creating a code with the link to your page, or you can even create a hidden word scavenger hunt by using QR codes to store text instead of hyperlinks. The uses for QR codes are many, and the only limitation currently is your own imagination.

Since you are reading this post, you are obviously aware that we have recently started a blog. The blog is produced using WordPress, but there are other websites available (e.g. blogger) for those who are interested in starting a blog. Through the blog, we hope to keep students, faculty and staff updated about the university and also attract the attention of prospective students.

Students are definitely not strangers to social media. This past week, Texas State students had the chance to cover South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) in Austin through various media outlets. Shannon Delaney wrote a blog two weeks ago about this amazing opportunity.

Social media has been impacting universities and, many times, it is not even the employees who are starting the conversation. While reading a CNN article, I found a perfect example of college students driving social media about the university. The story was about Lucie Fink, a prospective student who was accepted to John Hopkins University. Wanting to get a student perspective about the university, she looked to social media. After reading the comments, she started her own social media site, Hopkins Interactive.

This is just one example of social media success at a university. Texas State University-San Marcos recently won a social media award from the Austin American-Statesman. They also have a blog, Twitter and Facebook as well as other outlets. We would like to get your input about our social media efforts and ideas you would like to see implemented. Please connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and our blog. E-mail km1745@txstate.edu or jp1642@txstate.edu for more information.

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