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Students

Who's WHOO in the Honors College?

Each week Hannah Mabry, a sophomore Communications major from Stephenville, writes about a student in the Honors College. These are shared via Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TarletonHonors/ on Thursdays. 

Victoria Villaseñor - October 19, 2017

Victoria Villaseñor is passionate about kindness in many aspects of her life and our society. “We have issues being civil and understanding others’ lives and backgrounds. It goes back to consideration,” she said. She strongly believes that our world is lacking general respect, which causes issues between social classes. On a lighter, but still serious note, this junior Honors student also doesn’t like it when people litter and don’t have consideration for Tarleton State University’s campus. “There are trashcans that literally specify where to throw your trash,” she said.
Victoria also cares a lot for education and her San Antonio community and culture. That is why she wants to be a museum curator and perhaps serve in a local government position. “I love to add more tabs, personal files, in my brain. I also want to get back to my community.” She is currently majoring in History and minoring in Spanish, and she hopes to go to graduate school and study art history. As a museum curator, her focus for art will be southern Texan and Latin American culture. “It’s very representative of my culture and shows my community of San Antonio and the way we think and learn.” Victoria grew up in the South side of San Antonio in a community that was predominantly bilingual and Mexican-American, and as she told me all about it, I could see the pride in her eyes. “It’s a very close community. Mexican-Americans as a whole have gone through a number of ordeals and that has strengthened the bond within the community.” She says the relationship between each person in this area is based on protection and assisting one another and the next generation. They long to push the next generation to go beyond the status quo. “It’s given me a foundation to jump off of; it’s sturdy.” That’s the main reason Victoria wants to be in public service: to give back the confidence they’ve given her. 
Within this close-knit community is Victoria’s family. She has two brothers who have kiddos, and she admits that moving away from them was hard, but necessary. “It’s made me more self-sufficient. Not just feeding myself, but also emotional support to get through the semester. I needed to learn how to take care of myself.” She also explains how rewarding it is to see them at Christmas and be a role model to her nieces and nephews. “They are so much of my motivation. That’s so cliché, but it’s so true.” When asked if she could go anywhere in the world for two months, she answered Monterrey and Laredo, Mexico after giving it some thought. That is where her grandpa and grandma grew up.“ I would go and see if there’s any other family members there and see if anyone knew them. I know they left a lot of friends when they came to America. I don’t know a lot about them, and I would like to find out more about them and myself, too.”
Even though her hometown had seven colleges, Victoria chose Tarleton to get away and grow up. She was also attracted by the academics, specifically the professors. “I wouldn’t have gotten that experience had I stayed home...But getting away and getting to know myself and study for myself; I think I’m more of an adult now.” Victoria admitted that she chose Honors because of her “over-achieving” attitude and her competitive nature in academics. “I have a really big head,” she laughed, “and I don’t like to lose.” She also said she wants to show her family what she’s capable of, which is rooted in where she comes from. “I wanted to be who I could be and be in the best place at Tarleton, in Honors. I want other Hispanic students from my community to see me and say that ‘if she can do it, I can do it.’”
Victoria is the President of the Hispanic Student Organization (HSO). “It’s all about providing support where I want to be supported.” She admitted that during her first semester she felt isolated because she didn’t know there were people like her, with similar backgrounds, on campus. She doesn’t want other hispanic students to feel that way. “It’s weird when you can walk down the street and know everyone. Then you get placed on a campus in a city and you don’t know anyone and they don’t know you.” HSO is providing a support system, specifically to first year hispanic students who are the first ones in their family to go to college.
If you’re struggling with Spanish, History, or Government, visit Victoria in the tutoring center. She says she understands what stress is, and that’s another isolating feeling. “It’s not a great place to be expected to be a great student, and to have this badge of being an Honors student, but not be doing well.” She wants to help people who feel this way to help themselves. 
If you see Victoria on campus, you can definitely find her in a crowd. She has incredible style. When asked where she shops (which was 99% for the interview and 1% for my personal interest), she said she shops locally in San Antonio because she likes to know the story behind the items she buys. She is a firm believer in the statement, ‘if you look good, you feel good.’ “What you wear represents how you feel about yourself...Everything I adorn myself with is for a purpose.”
When I asked Victoria if she had any final thoughts, she replied, “If my parents are reading this, I love them.” If that doesn’t show her love for her family, I don’t know what does.

Sarah Neal - October 12, 2017

“I try to be a nice person because what if that’s the only time they’ll ever meet me? I want to come off as a nice person. Always give a good first impression.”
Sarah Neal doesn’t just try to be a nice person. She genuinely is one. She has a gentle spirit and is so sweet and soft-spoken that I had to ask her to repeat herself multiple times because my keyboard clicks were too loud. 
Sarah is a freshman Biomedical Science major who hopes to be a pediatric physician assistant (PA). Her calling came while working in a family friend’s physical therapy office over the summer during high school. She realized that she didn’t want to do that the rest of her life, but someone suggested that she look into PA work. She shadowed a PA and fell head over heels for the job. “It showed me exactly what everyday was going to be like, and I loved it. I thought, ‘I can be passionate about this every single day.’”
So, how did the Tarleton Honors College snag such an amazing student like Sarah? Sarah was trying to decide between six colleges when she was a senior at Tivy High School in Kerrville (it may or may not also be Johnny Manziel’s high school, but she didn’t want you to know that). When she came to Tarleton for her campus tour and Honors College Campus in Action (CIA) day, something was different. She saw “Welcome to Tarleton, Sarah!” on a sign and liked the personal touch. She also connected really well with her Welcome Center tour guide. “It just felt like home. I knew this was my college.” Sarah didn’t even know about Honors until she got an email about CIA (go Erica!). She came back to TSU for the Honors-specific tour and was led by an Honors student to regular and Honors classes. “The regular class had about 60-70 people, and the Honors had 20-25...Honors was one-on-one and she knew the names of the students.” 
Besides being in Honors, Sarah is actively involved in the Paradigm college ministry, which she says is her favorite part about Stephenville. She attends the bible study on Thursdays from 8-10pm, and shares that it’s where she’s found her community that she can trust and go to when she misses her family. Her most memorable moment in college so far was at the Paradigm Cowboys watching party. She played corn hole for the first time and won, but she didn’t even know her partner’s name until afterwards. “I gave him a hi-five and was like, ‘Hey, what’s your name?’”
Next year, Sarah wants to be a Residential Leader (RL). She said she had a friend at another university mention it to her, and she was interested. She also added that her RL, Jessica Vaughn, helped her make her decision as well. Jessica was one of the first people Sarah met when she came to college. “I didn’t really talk to anyone, but she always complimented me and talked to me. She inspired me to want to help incoming freshman and be a friend to them.”
Since being in Stephenville, Sarah has decided that Peacocks has the best pancakes, and Pastafina gives you a lot of food for not a lot of money. When asked what is the coolest thing she has ever done, she answered without hesitation, “My trip to Japan.” It was obvious to me that she’s passionate about Japan when she excitedly told me all about her trip and the people she met there. She even knows a little Japanese after being there for only ten days. “Every time we would say hello in Japanese the kids would just laugh at us. They were so cute. The people were so nice.” Sarah hopes to return to Japan in the future for at least three months, and maybe a full year.
If you ever see Sarah munching on a Peacock’s pancake, I suggest going up to her and asking in Japanese, “didn’t Johnny Manziel go to your high school?” Just don’t tell her I told you to do it.

Luis Zamora - October 5, 2017

“Service above self: it means putting the needs of others before my own and it allows you to open your eyes and open your heart to other people in a selfless way.” As Honors student Luis Zamora sits in the office telling me about what he’s passionate about, it’s obvious that service is at the top of his list. Whether it’s in Houston helping with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, teaching English in Bulgaria, or translating for Spanish families with the American Red Cross in Austin, Luis is serving through all of the organizations he’s involved in. He recognizes that sometimes helping others is in the form of manual labor or speaking another language. But other times, like when he went to Austin, it’s being a good listener at three in the morning and letting people know that everything is okay.
Luis is majoring in Political Science and minoring in Spanish. He grew up near Ft. Hood, a U.S. military post, which played part in his decision to join the JROTC (Junior Reserved Officers’ Training Corps) in high school and the National Guard and ROTC in college. Before TSU, Luis went into the army to complete 14 weeks of infantry school in Ft. Benning, Georgia. After getting his degree at TSU, Luis will be considered a second lieutenant in the U.S. army. He hopes to be an Infantry Officer, and when the opportunity arises, a Foreign Area Officer (FAO), which is a liaison, translator and diplomat between the U.S. army and a foreign nation’s military and government. 
Luis combines his passion for service with an immense amount of discipline to be the most effective in his activities. By the time most people get out of bed, Luis has already completed the ROTC physical and tactical training, eaten breakfast, and gotten some homework done. He keeps a good grip on his schedule by keeping a calendar and texting himself so he won’t forget to do things. He calls it “checks and balances.” In fact, his advice to freshmen is to use their time carefully. He also warns them that there will be times when doubts spring up about college.“Remember why you started, why it matters, and, at the end of the day, it’ll work out.”
The reason why Luis started is to inspire his fourteen nieces and nephews. He and his brother were the only ones who graduated high school in his family, and he wants to change that. While they hold him accountable to his studies, Luis encourages his nieces and nephews to work hard, too.
“In five years, I’m going to see my niece graduate, and that’s something I know will happen.”
His family, life experiences, and service have molded Luis to be disciplined and have a desire to help others. They have also given him the confidence to know that he can do well in what he participates in because he’s been challenged. According to Luis, success is his ideology and the standard for all of his activities, and there’s no doubt that he’ll exceed that standard.

Randall Toops - September 28, 2017

It is actually quite ironic we chose Randall Toops for the first Who’s “Whoo” feature because almost everyone on campus already knows “whoo” Randall is. His involvement in Campus Life and the Tarleton Transition Mentor (TTM) program makes him recognizable by many. Even President Dottavio, someone Randall says he looks up to, remembered his name when he showed up for Freshman move-in. This kid is hard to forget.
Randall wants to be a physical therapist and is a sophomore Kinesiology major with a minor in Biology. He prefers his tacos crunchy, with meat, cheese, lettuce, and rice (he says it provides texture contrast). When asked what his spirit animal is, Randall responded “clingy lemur,” then referred us to this YouTube video: "Kids petting Lemur." If you really want to know who he is, I suggest watching it. 
To first-semester freshmen, Randall advises that “Tarleton is what you make it, so despite any setbacks or things that come your way, what happens this year is up to you, how involved you get, how hard you work, and how much you truly love the school and spirit of Tarleton.” Randall is really passionate about students getting involved, so much so that it bothers him when students only go to class, the “d-hall”, and their room. “Get out, meet your RC, or join something!” Thus, don’t get caught simply being studious, eating, or sleeping by Randall. 
He’s definitely a cat person, and his reasoning for this is because they’re cuter and the memes of them are “so dank.” Though we didn’t ask if the roof was related to him in any way, he wanted to be clear that it’s not his son, but he will still raise it. Speaking of family ties, his non-biological twin is Reece Cary, pictured below. 
Well, that concludes the first Who’s “Whoo” of the semester. Don’t forget to go follow Randall on all social media platforms by using the handle @randizzle116. Because, let’s be honest, that’s the only reason he agreed to do this.