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Student spotlight: Austin Bennett & Aaron Conner

Posted on 22 April 2016 by admin


By: Dalila Kahvedzic


You can catch students Austin Bennett and Aaron Conner juggling together in the quad when the weather permits. The two friends met in high school and have been juggling on and off since.

Aaron Conner picked it up after a game of baseball, he said.

“One day I was playing baseball for high school and I came home and I had three baseballs in my hand. I started trying to juggle and I saw my buddy across the street who juggles so I went outside and he just showed me the ropes,” Conner said.

Student Austin Bennett started in high school, took a few years off and recently picked it back up.

“With this kind of activity, it’s all about flow – getting your mind focused on one thing and have a rhythm going,” Bennett said. “It’s just really relaxing and it puts your mind in a relaxed state.”

Conner agreed.

“With music too you just kind of get lost.”


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Meramec Interior Design students take The Windy City

Posted on 22 April 2016 by admin

A 3-day trip gives insight and knowledge to aspiring designers



The city of Chicago is well known for being cold and windy. It is also a place where students from STLCC-Meramec are able to gather inspiration for their future careers.

For the past three years, the interior design program at the Meramec campus has been taking students to Chicago for a 3-day trip which involved architectural boat tours, various museum visits and overall, an eye-opening experience – according to students.

STLCC student Jessica Mendenhall said the trip made her even more excited about the interior design profession.

“Interacting with people who do this for a living and kind of also just seeing the scope of what you can do in design has been a really neat experience,” Mendenhall said. “I think this is the kind of thing that year after year I can see myself coming to do to just keep that excitement up – it just kind of reminds you why you’re in the field.”

Mendenhall has learned plenty being enrolled in this program, she said.

“Thinking about what I learned since last summer has been pretty incredible,” Mendenhall said. “Starting from knowing essentially nothing, other than liking design, and now knowing how to put together drawings, space planning and finishing off an entire home – it’s pretty incredible.”

STLCC – Meramec interior design professor and organizer of the trip, Virginia Heisler, has been with the campus for six years. With an undergraduate from the University of Missouri – Columbia in housing and interior design, and a master’s of science from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville in environmental studies, she said the trip has a lot to offer students.

Heisler has worked for about 10 different firms, residential and commercial, and has owned her own business before she decided she would go back to college to teach, she said.

“I liked it [college] a lot, I always wanted to come back to a college –even when I was in school. I loved the college atmosphere,” Heisler said.

Heisler spent some time teaching at Maryville before applying for a full-time position at Meramec.

“I was adjunct at Maryville and many of my students were from Meramec,” Heisler said. “I was very impressed with the quality of the students and found out that there was a full-time opening and thought I’d give it a shot, I ended up getting the job and 6 years later I’m still here.”

The trip went into action three years ago, when students overheard how fun it was, Heisler said.

“I think everybody enjoyed it, and the people that didn’t go said ‘well I’m going next year’ so that’s how that started,” Heisler said.

The greatest benefit students can get from going on this trip is seeing more than just what’s in the classroom, she said.

“Exposure to what design actually is, what’s out there,” Heisler said. “I just think it’s invaluable to get out and see,” Heisler said.

Mendenhall agreed and said she would advise other students to go on the trip.

“Definitely go, I think it’s well worth it,” Mendenhall said. “You get to see some of the behind the scenes stuff – I would not have known where to go or what to do if I was here by myself.”

Being taken around
the city has really been phenomenal, she said.

“Now I feel like I’d be more comfortable coming and doing this stuff again,” Mendenhall said.

Besides the trip, the interior design program at Meramec can offer much more – including that which a four-year university does, Heisler said. Based off of experience, if students want to go on to achieve a four-year degree, Meramec has a strong variety of classes that will transfer to Maryville University and the University of Missouri – both CIDA (council for interior design accreditation) accredited schools.

“We have a really strong transfer with the two CIDA accredited schools. That’s the top accreditation for your interior design schools, so if they’re accepting our credits and our program, then it’s definitely good quality or they wouldn’t do it,” Heisler said.

Other than newly enrolled students wanting to achieve a four-year degree, the school receives a lot of returning students who already have degrees with this program and are very successful, Heisler said.

“If you transfer to Maryville you save around $40,000 by doing two years here and two years there,” Heisler said. “You would save substantially with Mizzou too – you’re not paying the housing and your degree is still going to say University of Missouri or Maryville University.”


enrolled  in       the program should look into internships, Heisler said.

“Doing internships – I think that’s a really good way to test out what you want to do,” Heisler said. “It’s a big city but it’s a small design community. It’s a
really nice way to work
at different places to see what kind of culture they have and how you feel there.”

Interior design has given Heisler a lot of opportunities that she would have never otherwise had, she said.

“I’ve been fortunate where I didn’t have a job where I just sat behind a desk – I love the fact that I do something different every day and even when I was in practice full time you do something different everyday – it’s never the same,” Heisler said. “And that’s why I try to emphasize that with every job, I do some type of research – you don’t just start – you need to understand what you’re dealing with and it’s more than color. We are not just pillow pickers and color choosers.”


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A day with Dr. Day: a moment with the long time Meramec professor

Posted on 22 April 2016 by admin

A look into a professor’s journey which led to his teaching style

Staff Writer


Dr. Leroy Day, French and spanish professor at STLCC-Meramec, has taught foreign language classes on campus for 20 years.  Day can relate to most of the students attending Meramec because just like them, he was always bored whenever he was in school.

“I start from the assumption that most kids are bored in class which is true. A lot of teachers seem to think that school is
just an amazing amount of fun – it’s not for most students. For most students, it seems dull and horrible,” Day said.

Personally, Day was bored during school and did not ever want to be that type of professor, he said.

“So I guess one of my main aims is not to be boring,” Day said.

Day became a professor because he could not think of anything else he would rather do career-wise, he said.

Day had grown a fascination with foreign languages when he was young.

“Even when I was a little kid, I was kind of amazed that there were people that could talk funny and other people could understand them,” Day said.
“To me, it’s like a secret code and I never lost my amazement that people can speak foreign languages and thought it was really cool.”

When Day began to teach at Meramec, it was a long journey in itself. He did teach some before he came to Meramec.

“This is my 20th year at Meramec and I taught at a little liberal arts college in upstate New York for five years. After I got my PhD and while I was getting it, I taught one course of comparative literature and beginner French at Wash U,” Day said.

He began to teach at Washington University as a graduate student, and then came to meramec 20 years ago.

Typically in the U.S., if you teach a college course, then you must get a PhD in the area that you want to teach, Day said.

“I did not intend on being a community college teacher and taught at a college for five years before coming here,” Day said.

He had an undergraduate degree in French and went to Washington University  for a PhD in a Comparative Literature field where he studied French and German.

The best reasons for teaching used to be the three months that they normally got off in the summer, Day said.

Day did not like the idea of working in a corporation if he was not a teacher.

“I never really wanted to work with a corporation. Working in a corporation to me is off-putting,” Day said.

There is a lot of flexibility
with the schedule, you have
to be in class when there is class and otherwise I like to read books and think about things,” Day said.

Day also has interests besides teaching which are playing the guitar and the mandolin, as well as building his own house.

“I built my own house and I was a general contractor for my house. Before I was here, I had a small woodworking business which
I no longer do but I have a partner that still does it. I’ve been a late beginner guitar player for decades and the progress has been agonizingly slow and I play it everyday. I also own and play a mandolin,” Day said.

The autonomy is one thing Day enjoys most about teaching.

“I do like the hours; there is a lot of work to do at home but it gets easier after the first few years,” Day said.

There was a program the college used to have called
“Achieve the Dream” where it was the teacher’s responsibility to take care of the students learning, Day said.

But there was a problem with Achieve the Dream.

“The problem with that is the idea that the teacher was supposed to take responsibility for the students learning and I wasn’t real enthusiastic about that. We have some terrific teachers at Meramec but they can’t get everyone to pass because its not going to happen,” Day said.

From his perspective,
if students cannot step up and play along, it is not going to happen, Day said.

“The French courses go along with those at public universities in Missouri. So we have
to have standards and hand out grades. So if a student took a French class here, they can go on to UMSL to take the next course and be viable,” Day said. “So I want students to succeed.”

After over 20 years of teaching, this semester will be Dr. Day’s last as he will be
retiring from his teaching career in May.


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Student Governance Council exhibits Magician Peter Boie for fundraiser

Posted on 22 April 2016 by admin

Magic show held on campus to help support a local Make A Wish child

Production Manager


Magician Peter Boie performed on campus on April 1 in the student center cafeteria. This show was to help benefit the Make A Wish program hosted by the student governance council. The show consisted of different illusions and tricks along with bringing audience members on stage. Boie, now a young adult, began learning magic at quite a young age.

“I was eleven years old and found a magic book at the library and I got hooked on it. Loved slight of hand and practicing it, working with my hands. Trying to be creative, so I just enjoyed the process. I had an obsession with magic as a kid as most kids do for a while and then I just started learning it and never stopped,” Boie said.

Boie had an unusual appreciation to the time and commitment it takes perfecting something difficult.

“Not many people would put in that much time and energy so I felt like if I committed I could be good at it if I really worked hard. It’s kind of this thing where not many people know the magic secret so you know something other people don’t,” Boie said.

Starting with library books and magic shops, Boie was also hanging out with other magicians, learning from them as well as giving his own pointers.

“We watch each other perform and try to give feedback and tips on how to improve. You learn the most by doing a trick for people,” Boie said. “We’ll share secrets. Some secrets we don’t share. It depends on how good of a friend you are. If you come up with something special and you don’t want it to get out yet you just kind of keep for yourself for a while.”

Kathryn Turek, Student Governance Council President was extremely pleased with how the event turned out.

“It literally took my breath away,” Turek said.

The event came together through the help of the student governance council and the student activities council, along with two very important staff members, Phillip Campbell and Carolyn O’Laughlin.  turek said the event would not have been possible without them. They have been a special force along the way, keeping everything together, Turek said.

“At the same time the students were given the initiative to advertise in whatever way we would like; making flyers and stuff like that,” Turek said.

This is not the first time Boie has done an event to help a greater cause.

“Every once in awhile I’ll do something that benefits charity or some other organization. I do a lot of college and university work. A college would bring me in to entertain their students and sometimes the students in a community. I work a lot of corporate events as well,” Boie said.

The whole event was hosted to help fund Student Governance Council’s project to grant a special child a wish.

“Mackenzie is our wish child that we have all semester. She is going to Disney World at the end of May. We are fundraising money to allow her to go to Disney World,” Turek said.

It is a blessing to work along side our student activities council, Turek said.

The student activities council has done so much to collaborate with SGC this semester in addition to giving back to the student body and allow them to have more of  a  local community, Turek said.

The Student Governance Council is more than hopeful to reach their goal for Mackenzie in May.  As for Boie,  he will continue to do shows and display what he loves.

“People don’t believe in magic,” Boie said. ”Its fine. Magic isn’t real, but I’m going to try and make you believe for an hour during my show.”


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Geology Club supplies global rocks and minerals to students for sale

Posted on 22 April 2016 by admin

Sale hosted on campus for over six years helps members take club sponsored trips

Art & Life Editor


The Geology Club of Meramec held a rock, mineral and gem sale  in the campus cafeteria on April 5 – 6.

The club sells the rocks once each semester,  according to Ian Stoner, the president of the club.

The funds made from the sale go towards the club’s activities. Some of these activities include going to Chicago to see the Field Museum or taking trips to Tuscon, AZ.

The club treks to Tuscon for a weekend to purchase the rocks and minerals in bulk to bring them back to campus to sell. The rock sale in Tuscon is the largest rock sale in the world and lasts for three weeks, Stoner said.

Geology Club sponsor Carl Cambell started the sale over six years ago, according to club member Bradley Hackworth.

The sale features rocks and minerals from all around the world that are also fairly resonable in price. The many types of rocks and minerals will be available once again in the Fall of next semester.


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A student’s recovery from childhood abuse drives her to success

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A student’s recovery from childhood abuse drives her to success

Posted on 31 March 2016 by admin

Catherine Hawkins uses past experiences to help women in abusive situations

By: Dalila Kahvedzic

STLCC – Meramec student Catherine Hawkins is graduating this Spring with a human services degree after countless people told her she would not be able to make it.

“You hear people say they can never get through something; they don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was the same way at one point and now? I’m graduating after people told me I wasn’t able to,” Hawkins said. “People told me I couldn’t go back to school because I had a baby; I actually went back to school full-time.”

The road leading up to the graduation stage had been rocky for Hawkins, beginning at the young age of six – a childhood that would unknowingly make a pathway for her career choice.

Hawkins suffered from child abuse by her mother for years before her mother committed suicide, she said.

“She was physically abusive, she would throw me on the bed and jump on me a lot,” Hawkins said. “Unfortunately it’s childhood trauma that you can’t forget sometimes – the last words my mother ever said to me were ‘happy birthday jackass’ on my birthday and that was my last birthday with her,” Hawkins said.

It was very hard growing up without a mom, Hawkins said. She faced challenges such as being bullied and being forced to grow up by herself. At one point, Hawkins described herself as a hermit – she would never leave the house.

Hawkins did not have much help growing up and school was tough, she said. Kids would always tell her that she would fail and flunk out.

“Even teachers were horrible back then. One time I was in math class and I was so traumatized by everything. I hated math, so my teacher would scream at me loudly in front of the whole entire class, I would try to look out the window, but she would come up to my desk and yell – ‘what are you looking at Catherine, are there numbers in the sky?’” Hawkins said.

Counseling was forced upon Hawkins, she said. Between counseling, therapy and the medicine she was taking – she gained 50 pounds, with her height only being 4-foot-11”.

“I was always so afraid of counseling. My school said that I was so outcasted that I had to go to therapy, otherwise I would get expelled. I was trying to make friends and everything but I didn’t have that motherly guidance.  My hair was always a mess, my face full of acne, so it was really hard. I went to another school eventually but I got made fun of because I looked like I was pregnant from all that medicine,” Hawkins said.

Social workers told her that college was not in the books for her, Hawkins said.

“I kind of just gave up on everything. I stayed home for years and just didn’t go out and social workers told me it wasn’t a good idea to go to college. Then they told me to just volunteer – I couldn’t even drive my own car,” Hawkins said.

The road to self-acceptance took a long time, Hawkins said.

“It took so many years. Starting from very early childhood to 21, actually. I met a boyfriend and decided to move out and move in with him – I couldn’t handle the environment I lived in anymore,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins believes her boyfriend at the time, now husband, is what got her out of the hardship she was in and pushed her to go to school.

Hawkins has since then received an internship with the Crime Victim Advocacy Center as a victim advocate.

“One of the first things I did over the semester was go to the courthouse in the city where I was able to sit with victims [of abuse]. They would come in and they might, for say, need assistance filling out an order of protection if they were abused or if they had a situation where they needed protection from something, and we would assist them,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins currently works primarily in the helpline center. It is specifically for intimate partner violence, she said.

“A woman will call, say she needs an attorney, she’ll tell us her story and we’ll have to do a preliminary take on her to see if she’s eligible and if we can get her what she needs,” Hawkins said.

Sometimes women calling in may be crying or freaking out, Hawkins said, and it is difficult to talk to someone this way – it is a very hard process.

“We get a preliminary out – and that is where we ask them questions like what they need and what they want,” Hawkins said. “Usually they’ll ask for an order of protection.”

A lot of women will cancel the order of protection because they are afraid, Hawkins said. They get frightened and worry that the situation will end up worse.

“One of the things we do go over with them is a safety plan, each and every time, if they want to go over it,” Hawkins said.

The helpline center advises women to take steps such as changing their hairstyle, their clothing, getting a haircut, changing their route to the grocery store and making sure that they have someone reliable to call in case of an emergency.

“We don’t ask them to or tell them to, we are not allowed to do that, we just ask if it sounds good to them,” Hawkins said. The center’s main goal is to help sufferers of abuse, Hawkins said.

 “To assist them as much as possible and to make them feel safer,” Hawkins said. “Just so they have that safety plan so whenever they do go out they can feel safe, because a lot of them don’t.”

Baby steps are taken with clients to insure stability.

 “Negative experiences are what made me better today,” Hawkins said. “One thing that I can say is that negativity can actually get you somewhere because people said I couldn’t do all this stuff and I said – let me see what I can do.”

Childhood experience drove Hawkins into this career field, she said, but her husband has helped her power through it.

“Everybody told me I couldn’t be who I wanted to be, they told me I had such bad anxiety and that I couldn’t be a human service worker, that I couldn’t go to college – people always lowered my self-esteem” Hawkins said. “He made me feel important, he was the type of person that said ‘yeah, you can do it – you can do whatever you put your mind to.’ He makes me go to school – he tells me I have to go to school and accomplish my dreams.”

Eventually Hawkins and her husband got married and now have a two-year-old boy.

“It’s so funny how people say that having a kid is very stressful. I think it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me, for sure,” Hawkins said.

Responsibility, working, going to college, having a kid and bills are all worth it compared to what she went through in her past, Hawkins said.

Hawkin’s husband sacrificed his own job just so she would be able to get to school, she said.

“He’s always saying there’s an answer for everything,” Hawkins said.

Having a child allows Hawkins to be the parent that she wished to have, she said.

“I can actually be the parent that I never had so it’s really good. I go through school and work for the benefits of him. Whenever I have hard exams or a hard semester I have a reason to go for it – he’s my little boy,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins always got told to go to school for money and to get a job for money, but she hopes to, along with her husband, teach her child otherwise.

“Money doesn’t buy you anything. I actually went from being very wealthy to living in a low class neighborhood, but it’s still worth it to me. I enjoy being poor rather than being miserable,” Hawkins said. “He [son] can do whatever he put his mind to.”

Hawkins is a full-time student, a mother and a wife. Hawkins is also set to graduate for Spring of 2016, despite the events she has gone through.

“One of the things he [son] needs to learn is empathy – knowing that there’s reasons for everything. A person who’s poor might be the happiest person, more so than a man with a million dollars,” Hawkins said. “Or a person with nice clothes and nice cars might not be as happy as someone without a dime on them.”


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The return of happiness lost: stories of hope and recovery

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The return of happiness lost: stories of hope and recovery

Posted on 14 March 2016 by admin

Center provides therapeutic approach to victims of war

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Old world to ‘New World’: three refugee women’s stories of adjustment

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Old world to ‘New World’: three refugee women’s stories of adjustment

Posted on 14 March 2016 by admin

Meramec hosts a one-act play to depict refugee women in United States

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National Weather Service’s Jim Kramper conducts Storm Spotter class

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National Weather Service’s Jim Kramper conducts Storm Spotter class

Posted on 14 March 2016 by admin

Sky Club hosts weather presentation for the public for the third consectutive year 

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Student Spotlight: Lauren Rist

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Student Spotlight: Lauren Rist

Posted on 25 February 2016 by admin

Hula Hooping during free period

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