Annual Tech Night set for Thursday will showcase programs, offer giveaways

The array of technical programs available at Lee College will be on display this Thursday, April 14, at the Sports Arena for the annual Tech Night event, where students and members of the community will also have the chance to win a scholarship and enjoy hands-on demonstrations and interactive exhibits.

Tech Night will be held from 6-8 p.m. Free refreshments will be served.

In addition to connecting with faculty from technical programs ranging from nursing and welding to computer technology and instrumentation, Tech Night attendees can win prizes in video game and Jeopardy tournaments. Big-ticket items like an iPad mini and a remote-controlled, camera-equipped helicopter will also be given away.

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‘Celtic Nights’ bringing Irish music, rhythm and dance to the PAC on Saturday

A cast of the finest singers, dancers, musicians and actors from the British Isles will bring a rousing and rhythmic celebration of 100 years of Irish independence to the Performing Arts Center (PAC) stage this Saturday, April 16, in “Celtic Nights – Spirit of Freedom.”

Tickets for the show are $25-45 and available for purchase online.

“Celtic Nights – Spirit of Freedom” will take audiences on a spectacular, 2-hour musical journey of courage, pride and determination. Interwoven among the songs, music and dance are stories of profound love, passion and courage taken from the history pages of Ireland at the time of The Easter Rising of 1916, also referred to as The Poets Rebellion — complete with costumes and sets depicting the time period and narratives that encapsulate the cry for an independent and free nation through the eyes of heroes and heroines.

For more information, contact the PAC Box Office at 281.425.6255.

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Three times in a row: LC Debaters are national community college champs

In a feat previously unseen in collegiate debate, the Mendoza Debate Society at Lee College has earned its third consecutive International Public Debate Association (IPDA) National Community College Debate Championship – and Director of Forensics Joe Ganakos has been named the 2016 IPDA Bennett Strange Coach of the Year.

The honors were announced at the 2016 IPDA National Championship Tournament and Convention hosted March 31-April 3 on the Lee College campus. Nearly 500 competitors participated.

Lee College debaters were the IPDA National Championship Tournament Community College Champions – delivering the best performance in the tournament’s 19-year history – and the Season Long Community College Champions, capping off a standout regular season in which the team amassed more than 150 awards and several members reached national prominence for their individual accomplishments.

The duo of captains Kyle Diamond and Rigo Ruiz won the 2015-16 IPDA Team Division National Championship, setting an all-time record for points earned in team debate. When combined with the scores earned  by the third-place pair of Emmanuel Perez and Josh Lyrock, Lee College debaters also set an all-time points record en route to winning the IPDA Team Squad National Championship. Jerry McCauley was named 2015-16 IPDA Junior Varsity National Champion, and Diamond finished the season as the 2015-16 Varsity Division National Runner-Up and National Championship Tournament Varsity Finalist.

Overall, the Mendoza Debate Society at Lee College was the top-ranked debate program in Texas for the 2015-16 IPDA season – besting opponents from Southern Methodist University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Prairie View A&M University, East Texas Baptist University, College of the Mainland, San Jacinto College and Tarrant County Community College, among others. The team was also competitive against some of the top universities in the nation, finishing fifth in the IPDA Founders’ Cup race that reflects combined success in the Novice, Junior Varsity, Varsity and Professional divisions.

Diamond and Ruiz will next defend the team’s 2015 Madison Cup victory April 18 at the 2016 James Madison Commemorative Debate & Citizens Forum in Virginia. The competition field will include 36 teams from prestigious debate programs like Stanford University, Cornell University and Emory University.

The 2016 Lee College National Championship Tournament Team consisted of Carley Anderson, Cody Buchanan, Diamond, Lilly Gutierrez, Alyssa Hooks, Lyrock, Julio Martinez, McCauley, Joselyn Mendoza, Logan Morris, Adam Naiser, Ricardo Nunez, Perez, John Prochazka, Ruiz, Chrome Salazar, Leah Sparkman and Shawn Start.

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‘Race to Your Career’ Job Fair draws record number of jobseekers

As a new Baytown resident fresh from the shores of Trinidad, Glenda Morales attended the Race to Your Career Job Fair at Lee College with nearly 500 other jobseekers — eager to meet nearly 70 potential employers who could help her make her mark in a new country.

“I wanted to get a feel for what is happening here, get to know the local job environment,” said Morales, who spent 15 years in her native Trinidad working in administrative positions. She visited each company at the fair — drawn, like many, to perennial favorites like ExxonMobil, Chevron Phillips Chemical and Covestro — but most enjoyed the Speed Networking sessions offered by the Center for Workforce and Community Development to help fairgoers improve their interviewing skills.

“It was excellent and I got so many deeper insights,” Morales said. “You have to use the correct terminology, you have to sell yourself, you have to be your own brand.”

In another corner of the Sports Arena, Elida Puentes of BCFS Health and Human Services in Baytown greeted job-hunters with an application to fill out and details about the on-site interviews and on-the-spot hiring taking place at the fair. Participating in the event at Lee College was invaluable because it allowed BCFS to meet and connect with hundreds of potential new employees at once, she said — and with an emergency shelter at its capacity of nearly 170 children, maintaining the necessary staffing levels at all times is critically important.

“Even if they’ve never worked, we can get them started and help them get that training and experience,” said Puentes, who was looking to hire as many qualified jobseekers as possible for full-time and PRN positions. “Doing the job fair has helped us a lot.”

Seth Robbins knew firsthand that attending the job fair could be the first step toward landing a rewarding position within local industry. A Lee College alumnus and graduate of the Honors Program, he had secured a job with Covestro through contacts he made at the fair while still a student. This year, he attended to help recruit new Lee College hopefuls for the company.

“Being a student at Lee College literally changed my life,” said Robbins, one of several alumni manning the Covestro booth. “Your education and the experiences you get here mold you and become part of your life. We came back to find more people like us to bring into our career field.”

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Doctors and nurses: LC Nursing faculty pursuing advanced & terminal degrees

Lee College Nursing Division faculty have always encouraged students to continue their education beyond the associate degree. Now, with six full-time instructors currently pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees while also teaching in the program, the budding nurses are seeing firsthand what it means to embrace the ethos of lifelong learning.

“The students think it’s pretty interesting that I’m teaching them while being a learner myself,” said Roy Barefield, an Associate Degree Nursing instructor and candidate for a doctorate in nursing practice. “I like the fact that I know what they are working on, can understand their challenges and hopefully assist in meeting their needs so they can be successful. My goal is to be a better teacher so that my students can be better nurses. Never stop, never quit.”

Like Barefield, several others in the Nursing Division are enrolled in doctoral programs in nursing practice. Tracy Allen, Director of Nursing, led the way and will earn her doctorate this summer. Nora James, coordinator of Licensed Vocational Nursing, and Rizza Martinez-Attain, an Associate Degree Nursing faculty member, are also seeking their doctoral degrees in the field.

Cheryl Sheffield, coordinator of the Clinical Lab and Simulation Center, is pursuing a doctorate in nursing, and Mary Victory, a Licensed Vocational Nursing instructor, is working on her master’s degree in nursing education. In addition, adjunct faculty member Carla Ramjit just completed a post-master’s Family Nurse Practitioner program.

Two major factors motivated James to return to school for a terminal degree: the example set by her colleagues who enrolled before her, and personal ambition to continue what she started after dropping out of high school at 16 and proving she could still become the first in her family to go to college.

“I think it does the students well to see that I am balancing my obligations to them – grading, teaching and counseling – with my doctoral responsibilities and home life,” said James, noting that Lee College and Allen, in particular, have been very supportive of her decision to go back for her doctorate.

“When my students complain about tasks and assignments, I sometimes share with them what I have due as well – and they decide they don’t have it so bad after all,” James said with a laugh. “If they see that I can manage, they feel they can, too.”

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Rebel Rousing: Employee kudos, news, views, hires & resignations

Dr. Christina Ponce, Vice President of Student Success, Workforce and Resource Development, has been awarded the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence.

The Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, yesterday announced that Ponce joins the inaugural class of the Aspen Presidential Fellows, a diverse group of 40 extraordinary leaders with the drive and capacity to transform community colleges to achieve higher levels of student success.

The Fellowship is a highly selective yearlong program to prepare leaders aspiring, or recently appointed, to the community college presidency. Fellows will participate in a series of innovative seminars and ongoing mentorship focused on a new vision for leadership, delivered in collaboration with Stanford University faculty and top community college leaders.

Ponce was selected through a rigorous process that considered her abilities to take strategic risks, lead strong teams and cultivate partnerships and focus on results-oriented improvements in student success and access.

The 2016-2017 Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Experience Fellows hail from 17 states and 30 community colleges. They will begin their program in July 2016 at Stanford University with anticipated completion in spring 2017.

Congratulations, Dr. Ponce, on this incredible achievement! Lee College is lucky to have your leadership, vision and insight. 


David Ensminger, an instructor in the English and Humanities Division, will lead a workshop at the University of Houston Clear Lake to discuss his book, “Visual Vitriol;” participatory culture; do-it-yourself media; and digital literacies.

Ensminger also now has the covers for two upcoming books: “The Politics of Punk,” an academic text exploring the conscience and ideologies of punk music due out in August, and “Out of the Basement,” a memoir and oral history of the underground music scene in his native Illinois that will print in November. His interview with Daniel Makagon at DePaul University was just published in the Los Angeles-based Razorcake magazine.

Way to go, David! It’s always exciting to see the work of one of the world’s foremost experts on punk music — who also happens to be our colleague.


Victoria Marron, director of the college’s federal First in the World (FITW) grant, was invited to the White House this month to share details about the Weekend College program with other grant directors and educational leaders from around the country.

Lee was the only community college in Texas — and one of only four community colleges in the country — awarded a FITW grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase access and completion for underrepresented, underprepared and low-income students. The college received the $2.7 million grant in October 2014.

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Weekly Wellness from Jason Summers

Foods Claiming Fitness Benefits Make People Eat More and Exercise Less

By Karen Foster

We are a nation of dieters and we’re attracted to foods promoting health and fitness because we love the promises of fast and easy weight loss. However products flogging fitness may encourage weight-conscious consumers to eat more and exercise less — leading the scientists behind the research to call for closer monitoring of sports nutrition marketing practices.

It’s hard to imagine a sports nutrition product whose packaging is not fitness branded – that is, emblazoned with pictures of athletes, sports references or fitness accessories to incite consumers to get fit.

But a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research has suggested that such cues may actually be counter-productive for people who need them the most.

Take sports drinks, for example, that have more than 2 ingredients. Any drink with various ingredients is likely to either have added calories in the form of simple sugars, and if it’s sweet but has no calories, it’s got artificial sweeteners, which aren’t great for your waistline, either.

Premade or store-bought smoothies are another example when you your purchasing something healthy when in fact many have more calories than a cheeseburger! Smoothies can have as much as 650 to 1000 calories in them due to added simple sugars and syrups. We feel more comfortable getting larger sizes of smoothies because they contain plant-based nutrients our bodies need, but as with anything, you can overdo it.

In three studies involving more than 500 people, researchers found that fitness cues for trail mix increased consumption and reduced physical activity afterwards — and the more weight-conscious the individual was, the greater the effect.

Although healthy trail mix is possible (ones made with just nuts, some dark chocolate, and some dried apricots is one option), most of the versions we are buying at the store are loaded with candy-coated pieces, yogurt-covered raisins, sesame sticks and deep-fried banana chips. If you put your hand in the bag twice, you’re looking at almost 600 calories chock-full of simple sugars, trans fat and refined carbohydrates!

“One may have expected that ‘restrained eaters’ would be more physically active in the presence of fitness-branded food, because the fitness label might prime an exercise goal and restrained eaters want to make up for increased consumption by burning additional calories.

“However, we show that the opposite is true,” they wrote.

For co-author Joerg Koenigstorfer, this could be because portion sizes for sports food were often smaller meaning consumers underestimated the appropriate serving or because they were labelled as low-fat and boasted ‘healthy-sounding’ names associated with natural ingredients of sport, thus implicitly giving the green light that the consumer could eat more guilt-free.

Instead of acting as a visual stimulus encouraging the participants to do exercise, the fitness imagery acted as a substitute for exercise.

Need for regulation?

That this was especially true for restrained eaters, who were more at risk of being misled by marketing. The researchers called for additional consumer protection for this vulnerable group. “More emphasis should be placed on monitoring food manufacturers’ marketing practices […], in particular when cues related to human fitness are used on food products.

Protein and energy bars are another big problem. Most about two steps away from a candy bar! We’re often lured in by promises of high fiber or protein, but other than these added-in nutrients, there’s not much else. Want fiber? Have some of an apple instead! Want protein? How about an egg? These are much better options if you’re trying to get back into your high-school jeans.

“I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have about healthy eating is in thinking these so-called cereal or energy bars and drinks are a good choice, and most are definitely not,” says Lona Sandon, MEd, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
“While there is extensive regulation about nutritional information (including health claims), public policy makers have largely ignored other elements of branding and product packaging.”

But Koenigstorfer said that he was not calling on sports nutrition companies to remove all fitness references on their packaging or branding. For one, some of their target consumers such as athletes needed a calorie surplus.

Instead, he suggested that a brand could offer gym vouchers or provide exercise tips on the packaging.

“[This] may decouple the link between the food product and restrained eaters’ weight control goal, thus inhibiting overconsumption and the kind of compensatory thinking that likely led to less physical activity in our studies,” he stated.

The study

For the first study, 162 male and female participants were assigned to one of two groups. The first was given a trail mix called ‘Fitness’ with a pair of running shoes depicted, while the second was simply labelled Trail Mix.

Eating behavior of all subjects was assessed using a 33-item questionnaire. They found the restrained eaters ate more food bearing the fitness label than the plain label.

In study two, the researchers looked at the effect on eating patterns when a food was promoted as healthy (‘dietary permitted’) or unhealthy (‘dietary forbidden’).

For the healthy group, 231 mixed subjects were told about the vitamin and mineral content of the trail mix and its positive role in weight management. The second group was told it contained fatty acids, sugar and oils and could lead to weight gain. The higher the level of dietary restraint, the more ‘healthy labelled’ trail mix subjects ate.

Finally, the researchers evaluated the effect on physical activity. 145 subjects tasted the trail mix (labelled as before) and were then asked to cycle on an ergometer for as long as they felt like. Again, the restrained eaters exercised less after eating the healthy-labelled food.

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Annual Health Fair on Tuesday, ‘Race to Your Career’ Job Fair on Thursday

Lee College will host this week two free, public events that draw hundreds from the community each year: the eighth annual Health Fair on Tuesday, March 29, and the “Race to Your Career” Job Fair on Thursday, March 31.

The Health Fair is set for 1-4 p.m., Tuesday, in the Sports Arena, and will include free screenings, information, demonstrations, giveaways and more to help concerned individuals explore opportunities to improve their health and wellness. Attendees can have their blood pressure, body mass index and body fat percentage measured, receive a chiropractic evaluation, have their vision tested and learn more about personal and family health insurance options.Representatives from more than 40 local vendors – including recreational organizations, fitness and wellness centers and medical providers of all kinds – will be available.

Sponsored by the Student Career and Employment Office, the “Race to Your Career” Job Fair is set for 3:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday, in the Sports Arena. The annual event routinely attracts hundreds of job-seekers to connect with local employers for full-time and part-time employment opportunities and internships. Job fair attendees can also practice their interview skills and receive on-the-spot feedback at a speed-networking session offered by the Center for Workforce and Community Development. Nearly 70 employers from a variety of industries will participate in the job fair.

For more information about the Health Fair, contact Jason Summers, wellness coordinator, at or 281.425.6439. For more information about the “Race to Your Career” Job Fair, contact the Student Career and Employment Office at 281.425.6572.

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Debate Team set to host IPDA National Championship Tournament on campus

With a No.1 ranking as the Top Community College and a third consecutive national championship squarely in their sights, the Mendoza Debate Society at Lee College will host more than 450 of the best collegiate debaters on campus March 31-April 3 for the International Public Debate Association (IPDA) National Championship Tournament and Convention.

Also participating in the national tournament are debaters and teams from Southern Methodist University; the University of Tennessee; Louisiana State University; the University of Southern Mississippi; Boise State University; Arkansas Tech; Colorado Christian University; California State University; Florida International University; Valdosta State University; Oregon State University; Whitworth University and dozens more from across the country.

The Lee College Debate Team closed out the regular competition season by taking Top Community College honors and 13 other awards at the “End of Hi-Bear-Nation” Debate Tournament hosted by the University of Central Arkansas. To date, the team has won five overall tournament championships and been ranked top community college at every tournament of the season while amassing more than 150 awards and honors. They will head into the IPDA championship tournament ranked as the No. 1 Community College in the nation, with the No. 1 Team Debate Pair of Kyle Diamond and Rigo Ruiz, and No. 1 Junior Varsity Debater Jerry McCauley.

Following the national championship tournament on campus, the Mendoza Debate Society will travel to Washington, D.C., to defend its victory at the prestigious James Madison Cup Debates and Public Forum hosted by James Madison University.

For more information about the Lee College Debate Team or to volunteer to serve as a judge for the IPDA National Championship Tournament on campus, contact Joe Ganakos, director of forensics, at or 281.425.6502.

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Well-known American potter & educator John Britt to give free lecture Friday

Noted studio potter, educator and author John Britt will give a free lecture this Friday, April 1, in the Edythe Old Studio about his road to creativity and interest in the study of glaze chemistry for potters and other artists.

The lecture will begin at 6:30 p.m., and is sponsored by the Lee College Ceramics Department in conjunction with the Campus Activities Board and the Art League of Baytown.

Based in the western mountain town of Bakersville, North Carolina, the Ohio-born Britt has been a potter and teacher for more than 3o years. Though much of his artistic skill has been self-taught, he has worked and taught both nationally and internationally at universities, colleges and craft centers like the Penland School of Crafts, where he served as the clay coordinator before assuming the role of studio manager.

Britt is the author of several books, including “The Complete Guide to High-Fire Glaze: Glazing & Firing at Cone 10” and, his most recent work, “The Complete Guide to Midrange Glazes: Glazing and Firing at Cone 6.” In addition, Britt has also been a juror for the book, “500 Bowls,” and the technical editor for “The Art and Craft of Ceramics” and “The Ceramic Glaze: The Complete Handbook.” He frequently contributes articles to Ceramics Monthly and numerous ceramics publications, including Ceramic Review; Studio Potter; Clay Times; Ceramic Technical; New Ceramics; and The Log Book.

For more information about Britt’s lecture at Lee College, contact Jennifer Herzberg at or 281.425.6484.

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