Debate team earns two state titles in consecutive weeks of competition

Building on the success of three back-to-back International Public Debate Association (IPDA) National Community College Championships, the members of the Mendoza Debate Society at Lee College have now added accolades that are a first for Lee College: Texas state debate championships.

For 2017, both the Texas Intercollegiate Forensics Association (TIFA) and the Texas Community College Forensics Association (TCCFA) have added IPDA-style debate to their state respective championship tournaments, and Lee College has made a statement by bringing home both state debate titles in consecutive weeks.

A select group of debaters competed in the 2017 TIFA State Championships held Feb. 3-5 in College Station, where Lee College debaters were the top three debaters during preliminary rounds.  Team Captain Kyle Diamond captured the 2017 TIFA IPDA Debate Speaking State Championship and finished as an IPDA Debate Octofinalist, while Josh Lyrock brought home the 2017 TIFA IPDA Debate State Championship.  Lyrock also finished as the second-ranked IPDA Debate Speaker, and Chrome Salazar finished as an IPDA Debate Quarterfinalist and took third place in IPDA Debate Speaking. Despite having one of the smallest entries in the field against top opponents like the University of North Texas, Texas State University, Lone Star College, San Jacinto College and nearly a dozen other university and community college programs, Lee College placed second in the TIFA Small School Sweepstakes.

Lee College also brought home the gold from the 2017 TCCFA State Championships held Feb. 10-12 at at San Jacinto College-North. Diamond won the 2017 TCCFA IPDA Debate State Championship, while Josh Lyrock finished in second place in IPDA Debate.  In a rare foray into Individual Events, Alyssa Hooks finished in sixth place in Extemporaneous Speaking and in seventh place in Poetry Interpretation.  And as at TIFA, despite taking just three debaters, breakout performances by Diamond and Lyrock allowed Lee College to finish in third place in TCCFA Overall Debate Sweepstakes against programs with triple and quadruple the number of entries.

Lee College debaters have won more than 70 awards and honors to date as they head toward the end of the 2016/2017 IPDA Season as the No. 1-ranked Community College in the Nation.  For the third consecutive year, Lee College boasts the No.1-ranked Team Debate pair (Diamond/Lyrock), the No.1 -ranked Varsity Debater (Diamond), and a host of other divisional Top Ten standings.

For more information about the Lee College Debate Team, contact Director of Forensics Joe Ganakos at or at 281.425.6502.

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Black History Month film screening & discussion of ’13th’ set for Wednesday

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution may have abolished slavery, but the era of mass criminalization and incarceration that followed calls to question whether African-Americans in this country will ever truly be free.

Acclaimed director Ava DuVernay of “Selma” explores the links between slavery and the modern-day criminal justice system in the award-winning documentary “13th,” which will be screened from noon-1:30 p.m., this Wednesday, Feb. 15, as part of the ongoing Black History Month celebration at Lee College. Hosted in part by the Reaching Excellence Against Limitations (R.E.A.L.) student organization, the screening will be followed by a discussion and light refreshments will be served.

DuVernay suggests to the audience that the American justice system has long been a vehicle for racism and cruelty in which a third of all those behind bars are black. The documentary includes archival footage and testimony from a wide array of activists, politicians, historians and formerly incarcerated men and women to provide an in-depth look at racial bias and the rise of the prison industrial complex.

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Lee College Theatre production of “Play On!” opens Friday

Get your tickets now for the Lee College Theatre production of “Play On!,” a lighthearted comedy that opens at the Performing Arts Center (PAC) this Friday, Feb. 17, and tells the story of a plucky community theatre set to produce a new murder-mystery play and the hilarity that ensues as they move toward their big performance.

“Play On!” will debut at 7:30 p.m., in the PAC Black Box Theatre. Additional performances will be held Feb. 18, 24, and 25 at 7:30 p.m. nightly. Tickets for all four shows are available for purchase online or by calling the Box Office at 281.425.6255.

Written by Rick Abbot, the play begins as the local community theatre rehearses for their production of “Murder Most Foul.” The harried cast is beset by calamitous dissension among the cast members, backstage support and the director, all under siege from the meddling playwright who agreed to let the company perform the show for no charge. The director, Gerry, thought producing the play was a great idea but had no inkling of what awaited her: the show is hilariously amateur, the “murder mystery” plot doesn’t really have a murder and the playwright keeps changing the story and script only two days from its premiere. It also doesn’t help that the cast is disgruntled and the playwright accidentally deletes the entire sound effect board. All of the disasters come to fruition in Act III when the company performs the actual show with hilarious mishaps at every turn.

The Lee College production of “Play On!” is directed by guest artist Marc Anthony Glover, with an energetic cast of students that includes Samantha Duran, Abigail Vernier, Alexis Grusecki and Beth Powell, along with alumnus Triston Haq and special appearances by Susan Walker, Josh Figueroa, Bryan Rivera and Bailey Smith. The show also features Alex Musgrove in her first local appearance since returning from New York City.

Chad Arrington and Alyssa Torres are stage managers for “Play On!,” while Amy Miller Martin and Blaine Glover-Garcia serve as assistant directors. Rounding out the technical crew for the show, which is under the production guidance of Lee College instructor Kim Martin, are Logan Romero, Gilbert Perez, Aria Giacona, Sonia Valdovinos, Josh Gonzales, Alyssa Carter and John Arrington.

For more information about “Play On!” by Lee College Theatre, contact Martin at

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Weekend College helps working students get degree; info session on Feb. 23

As a mother of four working full time to support her family, Raquel Velazquez didn’t think she would ever be able to go back to school and earn the college degree she always wanted. Then she learned about the Weekend College at Lee College.

Through the Weekend College, students earn associate’s degrees in less than 2 years by attending classes only on Friday evenings and Saturdays. Funded through a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the program caters to adult learners and others who want to advance their careers but have to juggle school with work and other responsibilities.

The first of several free information sessions for prospective Weekend College students will be held from 7-8:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 23, in the Rundell Hall Conference Center on campus. Participants will hear from faculty, staff and current students about the five different program options – General Studies -Transfer in Allied Health, General Studies – Social Science Concentration, Business Administration and Management, Industrial Welding Technology and Computer and Network Maintenance Technology – and learn how to enroll in the program for the Fall 2017 semester. Information will be available in both English and Spanish, and refreshments will be provided.

Additional information sessions will be held March 4, April 13, May 21, June 10, July 18 and Aug. 2.

“It sounded like it was going to work for me,” said Velazquez, who picked up a flyer about the Weekend College while helping her daughter register for classes. She entered the program just as her son and daughter were getting started at Lee College and will be the first of them to graduate, earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Business Administration and Management in May.

Of the first cohort of students to enroll in the Weekend College in Fall 2015, fully 65 percent are expected to complete their degree programs within three years or less – significantly more than the state average of 12 percent.

Grant director Victoria Marron attributes the high success rate to the unique design of the Weekend College program. The same groups of 18-25 students are kept together from enrollment to graduation or transfer. Courses are offered at multiple Lee College locations to make them more convenient, and many are delivered in a hybrid format that blends online and classroom instruction. Block scheduling ensures students know exactly which courses to take and when they will be held, and Weekend College courses are never dropped or filled to capacity. Once accepted into the program, students will always have the classes they need for their degree.

Weekend College students work with a completion coach who helps them apply for the program, secure financial aid and conquer any challenges that arise while they are enrolled in school and even after graduation. They also receive personalized advising, financial assistance and round-the-clock tutoring as needed.

Initially “terrified” to return to school and unsure how she would make time for everything on her lengthy to-do list, Velazquez said she now encourages others to consider the Weekend College. Having guaranteed classes and a cohort of classmates with whom she has forged strong connections make completing the program easier than she expected.

“Looking back on it, it just happens; time just flies and everything ends up working out,” Velazquez said. “What I tell people is that if I can find the time, you can find the time. If I can do it, you can do it. Ask questions, contact a counselor, get all the information you can and see if it’s a good fit for you.”

For more details about the Weekend College at Lee College or the upcoming information sessions, contact Completion Coach Jessica Falla at 281.425.6421 or Outreach and Recruitment Specialist Sharon Guillory at 832.556.5776, or visit

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

Jeannie Colson, librarian for the Lee College Huntsville Center, was recently featured by The WiderNet Project for her work to ensure that even incarcerated students have access to the World Wide Web and the research skills to navigate it.

Colson wrote and Lee College was awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Texas State Library and Archives Commission to purchase the eGranary Digital Library: an innovative offline information store, also known as “The Internet in a Box,” that gives Huntsville Center students access to millions of multimedia documents within a closed and secure local area network. eGranary comes with a built-in proxy and search engine that mimics the Internet experience, and internal security that monitors what students do and view. Read the WiderNet article here

Colson will also be featured in a Texas State Library and Archives Commission webinar about leveraging offline technology to prepare inmates for real-world success. Click here to  register for the free webinar online.

Kudos to you and your great work for our Huntsville students, Jeannie! Your innovative approach to research and education will make a difference in their lives.

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Weekly Wellness from Jason Summers

Five Anti-Disease Properties Of Essential Spices In Your Diet

By Vineetha Reddy

With changing lifestyles, we have become increasingly vulnerable to diseases like hypertension, high cholesterol and blood pressure that have long term effects. We choose to depend on antibiotics to battle these diseases. However, small changes in our diet can help reduce risks of common lifestyle diseases. In the west, we are unaccustomed to include a lot of spices in our food, but here’s why it is advisable that we start doing that.

Spices have been found to have the potential to reduce chronic inflammation that result in the long term lifestyle diseases. Here is a list of five such spices that have the anti-disease properties.

1. Turmeric: Turmeric is the most common spice used in Indian curries. It has the anti-inflammatory agent called curcumin that helps fight chronic inflammation. Turmeric helps reduce digestion problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBD), arthritis, dental procedures and other injuries. It also helps cure colds and is a natural antiseptic. It helps against skin conditions as well. Recent research by Monash University has found that turmeric has the potential to boost memory among patients with diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies are underway to understand turmeric’s ability to reduce risks of cancer.

2. Ginger: Ginger is a highly potent root that needs to be included in our everyday diet. The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center has found that ginger can destroy ovarian cancer cells. Destruction of cancer cells is called ‘apoptosis’. Simultaneously, ginger prevents body cells from destroying themselves, and this process of destruction is called ‘autophagy’. Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology shows that consuming ginger roots reduced chronic inflammation of the colon and intestines, thereby reducing risks of colon cancer. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties also help fight other inflammations like arthritis as well as digestive problems like heartburns. Other benefits of ginger include healing a cough and sore throat, congestion, headaches and migraines, muscle discomfort, menstrual cramps and other digestive problems.

3. Cinnamon: Cinnamon is believed to have been used by the Romans to increase appetite and relieve digestive problems. Limited use of cinnamon in food is beneficial in regulating blood sugar levels by controlling post-meal sugar level from spiking. Cinnamon also has antimicrobial properties as well as anti-inflammatory properties that help fight infections and inflammations.

4. Red Chili Pepper: Red chili pepper includes cayenne, crushed red pepper or paprika. These peppers contain a pungent compound called ‘capsaicin’ which is responsible for the health benefits. Not only does this particular spice add a load of flavor to your food, but it also enhances metabolism, increases satiety as well as stimulates fat loss. Capsaicin is also capable of reducing risks of intestinal ulcers by stimulating the stomach to fight ulcer-causing bacteria. Red chili peppers also help lower the bad cholesterol in blood and prevent long-term heart disease risks.

5. Parsley: Parsley contains flavonoids that are anti-inflammatory in nature. It is a rich source of vitamins C and A, which help to reduce risks of atherosclerosis, diabetes, asthma as well as colon cancer. It also helps against arthritis and in maintaining a healthy heart. Parsley contains volatile oils, especially myristicin, which have been found to reduce tumor formation in lungs of animals.

With diseases on the rise, our increased dependence on antibiotics has also been increasing. Antibiotics, however, have harmful long-term effects by making the body’s immune system dependent on medication. A natural way of curing diseases is always advisable since it has no side-effects and is also cost effective. The need of the hour is to devise a way of life that is healthy and safe, and essential spices are the answer to such a life.

Vineetha Reddy is a regular practitioner and adviser of everything related to nutrition, fitness, health and wellness. She has also begun to write and contribute to this knowledge ecosystem. She strongly believes that the organic food you find in your pantry provides the best benefits for good health.

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Black History Month celebration starts Tuesday with opening reception

Lee College will celebrate Black History Month throughout February with a variety of free campus events that showcase and explore the myriad ways in which African-American culture and contributions have shaped and influenced the country.

Sponsored by International Education and the Reaching Excellence Against Limitations (R.E.A.L.) student organization, all Black History Month events are open to the public:

Tuesday, Feb. 7 – Opening Reception

Black History Month festivities will begin with an opening reception from 2-4 p.m., in the Lee College Library. Attendees will hear from guest speakers, enjoy a display of work from African-American artists and more.

Wednesday, Feb. 15 – Movie Screening: “13th

The college will host a screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary “13th” from noon-1:30 p.m., at the Rundell Hall Conference Center.

Directed by Ava DuVernay of “Selma” and “Middle of Nowhere” acclaim, the film examines how abolishing slavery through the 13th Amendment to the Constitution did little to quell racial inequality in the United States, where black Americans have had to face Jim Crow laws and continued mass incarceration by the criminal justice system.

Monday, Feb. 20 – Read-In

Faculty, staff and students will bring the words of African-American authors to life in a read-in scheduled for 3-4 p.m, in Edythe Old Studio. Readers will share passages from both literature and poetry.

Wednesday, Feb. 22 – “Did You Know?” Tribute to Great African-Americans

Lesser-known African-American heroes will be spotlighted in “Did You Know,” a theatrical tribute set for 5:30 p.m., in Tucker Hall, that will include live re-enactments of great moments in black history.

The show will feature Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all-white school in the American South; Robert Smalls, a former slave who escaped to freedom and later became a sea captain, businessman and politician in the South Carolina legislature; Noble Drew Ali, founder of the Moorish Science Temple of America; Miriam Makeba, a South African singer and civil rights activist known for denouncing apartheid and campaigning for the end of the oppressive policy on the world stage; and the Soledad Brothers, three young men who were falsely accused and later acquitted of murdering a white prison guard in the 1970s.

Tuesday, Feb. 28 – Movie Screening: “Thomlinson Hill”

The Black History Month celebration will end with a screening of the documentary “Thomlinson Hill” from 2-4 p.m., in Edythe Old Studio.

Set in Marlin, the film takes it name from the Texas slave plantation that was once the defining landmark of the region. The story focuses on a pair of descendants — Loreane Tomlinson, who is black, and Chris Tomlinson, who is white — who return to find a crumbling community still divided along class lines and on the verge of either economic revival or ruin.

For more information about Black History Month events at Lee College, contact Nader Naderi, chairman of International Education, at

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Have you donated? ‘Give Once. Share Twice’ to help LC students & community

For some Lee College students, not having $5 for gas or $20 for childcare means they can’t make it to class or complete their chosen degree or certificate program.

Donating to the “Give Once. Share Twice” campaign benefits the Lee College Foundation Student Success Fund and the United Way of Greater Baytown Area & Chambers County — two organizations that help those in the local community who need it most. Your monthly payroll deduction or one-time donation gives you the opportunity to support deserving students finish what they started by knocking down the hurdles that threaten to slow their progress or derail their success.

The deadline for donating to “Give Once. Share  Twice” is Tuesday, Feb. 14. Click here for the donation form and details about the campaign.

Need more information? Contact Pam Warford at 281.425.6361 or, or Susan Smedley at 281.425.6336 or

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College Day draws more than 300 students to learn about university transfer

More than 300 local high-school and Lee College students descended on the Rundell Hall Conference Center last week for College Day, where dozens of representatives from four-year institutions across the state provided information about how best to prepare to transfer in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree.

The crowds were so large at the annual event, presented by the Texas Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers, that admissions staff from some of the participating colleges and universities ran out of materials to share with the interested students who traveled from every corner of the Lee College service area and beyond to attend.

Many praised the free refreshments provided, the goodie bags and prizes given away and the offer for students to take a tour of the Lee College campus during their visit.

“Students, parents, high school counselors and the representatives from the colleges and universities had nothing but positive feedback for us,” said Sharon Sampson, who organized the event.

In addition to the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, several other colleges and universities took part in the event and shared details about transfer requirements and qualifications for admission: East Texas Baptist University; the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising; Lamar University; Midwestern State University; the Sam Houston State University Springfield College/School of Professional and Continuing Studies; Stephen F. Austin University; Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi; Texas Southern University; Texas State University; Texas Woman’s University; the University of Houston Clear Lake; the University of Houston Downtown; and the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

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Weekly Wellness from Jason Summers

Overconnected? 5 ways to unplug — a little more often
How to find better balance with small changes

By United Healthcare

There’s no denying the allure of technology. Constant connection. Instant interaction. Answers with the tap of a finger.

It’s fun, amazing and useful. But if you’re desperately devoted to your smartphone, it could be too much of a good thing. And if your free time often means screen time, it may be at the expense of other parts of your life — relationships, hobbies and health.

Of course, not everyone can unplug fully — or would want to. The key is to find what works for you. If you’d like to find a better balance, here are 5 practical ways to begin:

1. Plan digital downtime

Set reasonable limits for yourself and stick to them. For instance, you might:
—  Turn off — or silence and set aside — devices during meal times.
—  Aim to spend no more than two hours a day of your recreational time online or with screens, such as watching TV.
—  Set a timer for activities like browsing social media or playing games. Then take a break when the time’s up.

2. Switch things up to help you switch off

Do you grab your phone or tablet at frequent intervals, just to glance at your notifications or check social media? It can become automatic, even habitual. To counter the compulsion, try leaving your device out of reach or sight.

Shaking up your daily routines can help too. For example, maybe you often cuddle up with your laptop after dinner — and hours go by. Instead, check email or social media sites standing at the kitchen counter before you settle down to relax for the evening.

3. Make yourself earn it

Instead of turning to your digital device by default, make it a reward instead. Get busy — work out or fold laundry, for instance — before you enjoy your electronic time.

One caveat: If this makes you feel even more attracted to your electronics, it’s probably not the best strategy for you.

4. Tap into screen-free fun

Shaking one habit is easier if you replace it with activities you like. Try taking up a digital-free hobby to keep your hands and mind busy. Here are just a few ideas: gardening, yoga, knitting, sketching and model-making.

5. Relish your real-life connections

Seek out friends and loved ones for quality, in-person time. So that you can give them your full attention, set aside your phone and other devices.

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