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Tiger PAWS

St. Philip’s College Volume 7, Issue 1 Spring 2018


Tiger P.A.W.S. (Personal Academic Writing Space) St. Philip’s College Volume 7, Issue 1 Spring 2018

Cover Art: So I Thought by Brandy Guitron Digital Art Cover Design: Kara Lazzaretti

Tiger P.A.W.S. is a student publication consisting of prose, poetry, art, and photography created by currently enrolled St. Philip’s College students. The student editorial staff reviews dozens of submissions, selects works to be published, and creates the journal layout each fall and spring 3 semester. The selected works may not reflect the attitudes or opinions of St. Philip’s College or the Department of Communications and Learning.

Acknowledgments The Tiger PAWS staff wishes to thank the following: Dr. Erick Akins—Title III Director, Title III Grant Management Ty Williams—Chair, Communications & Learning Dr. Audrey Mosley—Faculty, Communications & Learning Velia De La Rosa—Administrative Services Specialist, Communications & Learning The UPS Store Department of Communications & Learning St. Philip’s College Public Relations Department St. Philip’s College Media Services

©2018 St. Philip’s College Selections for Tiger PAWS are printed with the permission of the 4 reverts to authors and artists authors and artists cited. Copyright immediately after publication.

Editorial Staff Student Staff:

Faculty Staff:

Ezekiel Acosta

Dr. Karen Cunningham

Kara Lazzaretti

Stephanie Gibson

Dana Nault

Spencer Key

Amanda Olveda

Jamie Miranda

Saren Perales

Marissa Ramirez

Vanessa Perez

San Juan San Miguel

Eunice Phinisee Reshonna Rifenbury

Submissions for the next edition of Tiger PAWS in Fall 2018 will be accepted through October 12, 2018. Enrolled SPC students are encouraged to submit essays, short stories, and poetry in English or 5 Spanish, as well as artwork, and/or photography.

Table of Contents In Flight — Eileen Elisa Munoz …..……………………….………………...


“Life” — Brittanie Salazar .………………………………….……………………


Yatzel — Eileen Elisa Munoz…………………………………..……………….


“Keeper of My Light” — Raquel Munoz ……………………….……..


[Sister] — Joshua Conway……………….………………………………..……..


“The Gift” — Rita Tucker ……………………....................................


Changing Course — Melody Luckenbihl ……………………………......


“Unforgettable Memory” — Kimberly Barba………………..…...


Sunset on the Farm — Laurel Friday ……………..……………….………..


“Inspired to Cook” — Itza Pantoja-Matos….……………………....


“What Speaks to Us All” — Juan C. Rodriguez ………………..


Little Dragon — Kelsey Wallace .…………………...………..……………..


“Ramen Noodles” — Vanessa Reid ……………………………………….


A Mobster in a Coffee Shop? — Denise Astran ……………………..……


“Cancerous Facts” — Daniel Becerra ………..………………….………


“Pencil” — Annie Maule ………………..………………….……………..…...


“The Power of a Pen” — Ariana Flores ...…………………..…..…….


“Eye of the Storm”— Rodnekka Hall ……………………………..…...


“Regret” — Maria Castrejon …………………………..…………………….


As Time Goes By — Denise Astran ………..…………………….……….….


“Hellevator” — Dana Nault ……………………………………...…………….


“What the Hel” — Kara Lazzaretti .………..……………..…………….


This Is Fine — Jared Boling …..…………...….………………….……….…….


Valencia — Brandy Guitron ………………………………...……….………...


“Every Bag Is a Little Different” — Annie Maule.…….………...


Motion Still — Saren Perales ………….……………..…………...………..….


“My Experience Playing Baseball” — Noel Ricarte .………....


[Friend] — Joshua Conway……..…………………………………..……..… .



“[Slowly Falling Down]” — Annie Maule .………………………….


Wild Life — Lauren Estrada …...……….………………………...…….……..


Table of Contents “Acacia” — Young Lan Kang …………………………………………..…...


“Being a Bouncer” — Willis Roberts………..……………………...….


The Dispossessed — Reshonna Rifenbury …….…………...……....…


“Harmful Friendships” — Septimus El Lunar Lupus .……...


“The House with the Green Tree” — Emily Aguilar ……...…


“The O’Neil House” — Kara Lazzaretti ……………………….…..….


“Welcome Mat” — Patricia Gavin ………………………………………..


Lumos Maxima — Anastasia Canu..………………………………………….


“The Fate of the Cicada” — Megan Kopecki ……………………….


Sunbathing — Kelsey Wallace ………………...……………………………….


“My Biggest Influence” — Dawniesha Thomas ..……………….


[Cousin and Husband] — Joshua Conway ...…………………………….


“Leadership” — Derrick Cordova ………..……………………………….


Fragile — Jared Boling ……………………………..……………………………….


“My Food Challenge Experience” — Madison Brummet ...


“My Writing Journey: From Santa Claus to Sandcastles”— Madeline Lee……………………..……………………….……………………….


“My Refrigerator” — Celsa Valero…………………………………………


You’re Mine — Ryan Martinez ………………...……………………………….


“Blue’s Trip to Vegas” — Kara Lazzaretti …………………………….


Deep in Thought — Reshonna Rifenbury ……..………………………….


“The Dark Side” — Kara Lazzaretti …….……………………………….


Dangerous Perspective — Reshonna Rifenbury ……………………….


“Stoplight”— Derick Requenes ………………….………………………….


Our Judges ………………………..……………………...……………………………….



In Flight By Eileen Elisa Munoz



“Life” By Brittanie Salazar

Life is a Journey hard and long. It’s something you can’t just walk through and not stumble and fall. Life can end without warning or pause, even I have had sudden and foreseen loss. Making the best is what helps us through; it takes courage, understanding, and forgiveness to. Don’t fall, and never get up; try not to hate and get foolishly stuck. For you only live once; your time could end in days, maybe months. So live with honesty and pride; don’t make excuses and say you never tried. Life is hard and long, So enjoy every minute; it’s the hard things that make you strong!


Yatzel By Eileen Elisa Munoz



“Keeper of My Light” By Raquel Munoz Dear, My Love, My love for you burns through the coldness of this crazy world. I cannot sleep without the warmth of your body radiating heat waves to my hands. The scent of your perfume lingers throughout my pillow. I grab my pillow tightly and take a deep whiff of the scent. This takes me back to a memory of us going dancing downtown and sharing laughs. That night, time flew by, and we were left hearing the words, "Last Call!" followed by our favorite song. You know our song, don't you? “Don't Stop Believin’” by Jonathan Cain from Journey. Oh, man, how we sang our lungs out thinking we were born to sing. Well, after a few shots of liquor and a couple of beers, anyone would sound better. But that was our song, and we would stop everything we were doing to sing and share the moment with each other. Our eyes would interlock with one another. Our mouths would start to form a genuine smile. This glow would come off your body and shine to make an outline of you, making the entire room light up. My palms would become sweaty and clammy. My whole body would heat up, making me more nervous and anxious around you. The military never prepared me for this moment. As personnel would always say, "If you were meant to have a spouse, the Army would've issued you one." I did not care; I was in love. So what would we do? We ran off and got married. Just you, me, and a tripod camera. I was the happiest I had ever been. Instead of saying "I do," we replied with, "Yes!" We were so nervous, but we laughed it off. However, happiness was soon challenged when I was involved in a vehicular accident while training in South Korea. Now, my body was numb from the right-side down. There was no feeling going throughout my right side at all. I still wonder if my right shoulder down to my right foot was still there. My once colorful days turned into darkness 11 with grey. I am surrounded by white brick walls, with an occasional sound of a beep coming from the heart monitor. I was not dead yet, but my left arm had two IVs

in it. Doctors came in and out all-day long. None of the doctors could figure out what was wrong with me. I began to feel uneasy because the doctors did not know why I could not feel or use my right side. Then, I become angry and started yelling while tears ran down my face. I thought, "What's wrong with me?" Then, this light appeared from down the hall and grew bigger and brighter until it reached my door. Through the darkness, you came. You were shining so brightly with tears of worry and sadness. The darkness around seemed to fade with each step you took towards me. Your hair seemed as if you just threw it up in a ponytail. I could see all your freckles due to the lack of makeup you did not put on. But none of that mattered to me because you were an angel sent to keep me safe and sane. Once you reached my bed, the light covered only me and you. Even in my darkest time, you lit my way by showing me that even in a cold, cruel world, there is a light of hope at the end of the tunnel. My heart shines brightly for you, as you are the keeper of the light. Love, Raquel


[Sister] By Joshua Conway



“The Gift� By Rita Tucker

Soft, silky scarf of blue, keeping out the morning dew, wrapped around me tight and warm, snug as a bug around my form. Smell of ash and cigarettes, covered in fur from purring cats, would not change it for a check, imperfections hug my neck. Made with love, a gift from Sue; this scarf is all I've left of you!


Changing Course By Melody Luckenbihl



“Unforgettable Memory” By Kimberly Barba

My grandma was wise. Her love was a tremendous size. Having her was a true prize. She was special, a full surprise. She was never to despise. Love and kindness were in her eyes. I wish she was still here, but time flies. I’ll never forget you; I hate that I had to say my goodbyes.


Sunset on the Farm By Laurel Friday



“Inspired to Cook” By Itza Pantoja-Matos Can you recall how old you were when you knew what you wanted to be when you grew up? I do. I was only nine years old when I was inspired and found my passion. The person who inspired me the most in cooking was Mrs. Betsy because she was seventy-three years old. She gave me my first lesson in cooking, loved taking care of me when I had to stay home alone, and taught me how to cook many other typical foods from our home island of Puerto Rico. Back in the extremely hot summer of 1982, my mom and I returned to Puerto Rico after seven years to take care of my grandmother for a while. That is when I met Mrs. Betsy for the first time. I remember that day as if it were yesterday. When we arrived at my grandmother’s house, I was surprised when I saw her for the first time in my life. She was a very old woman, who was my grandmother’s neighbor and friend. I thought she was so old because I had never seen a person with hair so white you could see the skin beneath it. Her face and her body were wrinkled, hanging, dry, rough, and scaly. Her glasses were as thick as the bottom of a glass Coke bottle. At least she had a nice smile. Her smile was like a newborn baby, with no teeth. One day my mom had to leave in a hurry to the hospital with my grandmother. When I woke up, I was locked in the house with no way out. All the security gates were locked, and I did not have keys to open them. Back in that year, not every family was able to afford a landline phone, so I had no other option but to sit and wait. I waited for such a long time for someone to come back, yet no one did. I looked all around the kitchen to find some ready-to-eat food. However, my mom was not able to do grocery shopping the day before, so we had nothing. I was so desperate, hungry, and scared to be alone that I yelled out to Mrs. Betsy. Mrs. Betsy lived alone and needed to use a walker to move around, so that is why it took her a while to walk to her balcony. Once she got there, I told her, “I am alone, hungry, and have no way out of the house.” 18 She looked at me, smiled, and asked me the strangest question ever: “Are you brave?” I looked at her, thinking if she were not only old but crazy as

well. I had just yelled out to her my situation, so I thought, why would she even ask that? My mom had taught me to respect my elders, even if we had different opinions on a matter, so to Mrs. Betsy, I replied, “Yes, I think I am brave.” She turned around and went back in to her house; I dropped to the floor and began to cry. I hated the fact that I was in the countryside, and no one else lived near to ask for help. I was already so hungry and had just realized it may be a while longer before anyone came home or could help me. Then, to my surprise, between my desperate crying, the rumbling of my stomach, being scared and alone in such a huge, empty house, I heard a soft voice calling me: “Itza, don’t cry. You will be okay. I am here to help you. Please stand up so I can show you some things you have to go get.” I stood up, drying my eyes from all the crying, when I saw it was Mrs. Betsy, standing with a lot of cooking things in her hands. She then said, “Itza, go look for things like this in the kitchen, and bring them back so I can see them.” In my mind, I thought, “OK, it’s confirmed; she is not only old but crazy. Why would she want me to get all of that if she had them right in front of her?” I did as I was told, gathered all I could find, and brought them back to the balcony. The moment my inspiration in cooking began, Mrs. Betsy first told me the names of everything I had gathered and asked me to get other things she called ingredients, such as uncooked rice, olive oil, and salt. Running back and forth from the kitchen to the balcony, as she was explaining, I followed her every instruction in how to cook white rice. Once the rice was cooked, I was so proud of myself, and I was so hungry that I almost ate it all. When my mom and grandmother arrived, I served them the white rice with burnt fried eggs. I took some rice to Mrs. Betsy, hugged her, and thanked her for helping me and for believing in me. I was amazed by what I had accomplished. I wanted to learn more, and I wanted Mrs. Betsy to teach me all the things she knew how to cook. After that day, I was eager to learn everything and all that I could, so much so that I would rather stay with Mrs. Betsy helping her to cook and clean every time my mom had to go out and every evening after school. I wanted to learn so much that I would 19 rather stay at Mrs. Betsy’s house helping and listening to her life stories than going to the beach with my family.

For those who are interested in learning how to cook or anything related to culinary arts, I believe that having both academic experience and the personal experience are important. In school, I learned the correct and safe way to cook without endangering other people’s health through food. I also learned how to present a plate and how to follow a recipe, among lots of other things. Learning from Mrs. Betsy is completely different from academic knowledge. With Mrs. Betsy, I had the authentic experience of learning how to cook Puerto Rican cultural food. After going through this life changing experience at such a young age, I realized how much I loved to cook and wanted to become a chef. I also want to teach other individuals with special needs how to cook so they can be more independent and survive on their own. I learned not to judge a person for being too old or too young because from their life experience we could learn. Most importantly, it takes a person wanting to learn and never giving up in order to learn, reach his or her dreams, or accomplish his or her goals.


“What Speaks to Us All” By Juan C. Rodriguez The effect that sound, melody, and rhythm can have on our emotions Can be as powerful and as great as the oceans; Becoming an outlet for our complicated feelings; There is always something we can all turn to as human beings; A universal language that can speak to us all; Something that is deemed too simple, but can pick us up when we fall; Nowadays we categorize it in different styles, But if we accept it all, then it can carry a broken heart for miles; This universal language is not based on nationality But instead based off of human rationality; Rational not in a sense of science, But rational in a sense of compliance; Compliance with the mind, body, and soul; Compliance that can make a broken man feel whole; This universal language, which is so crucial to mankind, Is music, which can free one’s heart and mind.


Little Dragon By Kelsey Wallace



“Ramen Noodles” By Vanessa Reid Slimy Plastic Noodle soup Runny Yellow Noodle soup Warm days Cool days Heaps of goop I just really love Ramen Noodle Soup. Bad for you? I don’t care I’ll eat them anytime, anywhere! On a train On a plane I’ll take them everywhere I go In Alaska In Nebraska Even in Tokyo. Chicken flavor Shrimp flavor


Spicy Oriental Ramen Noodles so good, I’ll build a noodle temple! Ramen Noodles so delicious Ramen Noodles so divine, I keep them on me so I can eat them anywhere, anytime! Maruchan Ramen is the tastiest of all, It makes my tummy happy, yum-yum Maruchan Ramen is so tasty Even though it’s 35% sodium Nissin Ramen is the worst; it causes me frustration It’s cheap, it’s bad, and it’s a poor imitation! Don’t ever feed me Nissin; I refuse to eat that slop. If you ever buy some ramen, make sure it’s not Top!


A Mobster in a Coffee Shop? By Denise Astran



“Cancerous Facts” By Daniel Becerra

The C.I.A. and D.E.A. fund terrorists and cartels; once the goals are reached they’re simply killed or sent to jail. Pablo Escobar was a decoy to them, Kennedy a spokesman, almighty Edward Snowden! Guinea pigs and puppets are heard everywhere throughout the Internet, “Make America great again”; God have mercy for each and every one of them. There’s a secret society amongst us, separating our loved ones from us. Sending troops to fight in other countries; the real war is in America; when will they stop being money hungry? High school students are persuaded to fight overseas once eighteen while college corporations feed off of individuals’ dreams. There is no such thing as “Free Education,” but there certainly is “Money Taken.” Aware that loans will be a burden, but informed that success is walking on stage with an open curtain. If you’re persuaded to go into debt, all they need is your head, to experiment, or simply put it in our food; you’ll soon be told on 26

social media that cannibalism is good.

Technology has helped individuals and businesses financially, but poisoned the mind of many drastically. I want more information about extraterrestrials; why is information about them sacred? Researching the cure for cancer when scientists, under a puppet’s command, have a hold of it. Did Lincoln refuse a task from a secret society? Which is why he received half credit on a copper coin facing the opposite side sadly? Poverty is commenced, racism is influenced, and corruption is constituted. America is not the greatest country on Earth; recognize its flaws to realize its worth. American history will repeat due to the fact that the truth is hidden away from us in paper sheets.


“Pencil� By Annie Maule Here it sits freshly sharpened With a shadow oh so darkened Color yellow to the tip Where sits a little sharp tip Here I sit so ready to write But nowhere around a paper in sight Scribble, scribble, scribble, The wish to write


“The Power of a Pen” By Ariana Flores I’ll never quite remember when I saw such beauty in a pen. The way it jots what comes to mind Or takes us to a different time. It takes our thoughts and writes them down, The words that make us smile or frown. Whether we write fast or slow The pen knows where he wants to go. It causes reality to go adrift, Creating a story, a confession, a gift. The way it glides across a page, Makes men believe the world’s a stage. And now I’ll never question again The mighty power of a pen.


“Eye of the Storm” By Rodnekka Hall A pair of gray eyes pierce through the light blue skies. A pallet of confusion paints the mouth of the horizon that was once cheerful. The flock of birds flies away, fearful. The once subtle skies come tumbling down in a puddle. There is now darkness near and far. Skies are as black as molasses mixed with tar. The smile is now gone. A frown appears and changes nature’s tone. Loud screams and yells cause an uproar of hail. A battle takes place above. After a brief silence, at last light gives darkness one last shove. The sky opens its eyes, and brightness peeks. A ribbon of color streams the sky. Over the rainbow is what the happy heart seeks. The beautiful array of colors is a blessing to the eye. During the storm there is rain to wash away the pain. Surviving the storm is necessary to move on and gain. After the storm, the sky smiles again. 30

“Regret� By Maria Castrejon Too late

Forgive me for everything Leaving you scars and letting you bleed Making you cry every night

Forgive me for not being your light Not giving you my love when you needed it Causing you to feel like a sinking ship

Forgive me for not trusting you Always asking questions about who And you crying to me it was a friend

Forgive me for walking away and not being a good boyfriend You running after me as if I did nothing wrong As I turned around you were long gone

As you turned away from me My heart began to bleed 31

And now I realized it's too late to forgive me

As Time Goes By By Denise Astran



“Hellevator” By Dana Nault I know I am lazy; I must have deserved this punishment for my sloth-like ways. Why couldn’t I just bring myself to plod at least one tired heavy foot up all those damned stairs? Why does this building have so many stories? They will be writing my obituary while I am still in this upwardly mobile coffin, pounding on the sliding doors for dear life. I think I recall seeing a clip on an investigative news story about how an elevator would have to be in free fall for at least 5 stories before occupants would perish, due to the speed at which the deathtrap device I willingly placed my fragile life into crumples into oblivion. Something about the Newtonian forces of gravity finally having enough inertia to fold the unstable frame of this vault. The Mighty Beelzebub must have designed this box himself. And some crazy building engineer, hell bent on torture who thought 4 floors were a proper count to make it too far to climb by stairs alone but not tall enough to crush me instantly and out my mortal candle. That four tiers of plunging, pondering all my short life’s mysteries, only to be heaped to a broken puddle of the person I once was onto a still intact catacomb, my bones impaled into the hideous linoleum bottom, and my hands still in grips of the handle on the walls only meant to steady a weaker person than I. I would be alive, yet far more tormented for having survived such an abominable experience. 3rd floor now, and I swear I heard a sound not dissimilar to a bugeyed, razor-clawed gargoyle that sits atop the dumbwaiter to the devil, plucking the few last precious cables that suspend me between heaven and Earth. Was that a snap? Oh, Lord, protect me from this evil contraption conceived in lazy forethought; I shall ever henceforth take the stairs. I know you mean for me to be in good body and health. I am too young for such perils! Then chimes the final bell, the one that opens the pearly gates. Well, they might be pearly on the other side of this booth, but from here, they are steel grey and vaguely hiding the scratch marks from the other occupants who must have made it to the other side. The doors 33 the worst 4 minutes of my life. release me from my cell block and Writing Lab! Here I come, with a renewed sense of purpose and intention for my life.

“What the Hel” By Kara Lazzaretti Deep breath, I’m ready. I tightened my grip on the knife and prepare myself for the searing pain to come. I can do this. I close my eyes, nothing. I open my eyes and flex my hand nervously. The knife is hovering hairs above my wrist. Ugh, I’m such a chicken. I gather up my courage. Shit, it hurts. Of course, it does; I just cut myself. I thrust my bleeding wrist into the chalk circle. I struggle to keep my arm steady. I grab the piece of paper next to me and almost knock a candle over in the process. Keep it together, Claire. Just recite the prayer: “Oh, great ruler of hell, hear my plea.” My voice wavers, and the words trip out. “This miserable soul I pledge to thee. In exchange, gift me with a fraction of your strength and power from now to my last hour.” Under my breath, almost unknowingly, I plead, “Please.” I sit there waiting, waiting for something, but nothing happens, not even a dramatic eerie silence type of nothing because even that would be something. I can still hear the sounds of the highway nearby. The black candles still burn brightly. The crudely drawn chalk pentagram remains intact and as crude as ever. I slump to the ground. Am I really such a failure that I can’t even sell my soul to the devil properly? I pick up the piece of paper and reread the sloppy handwriting. I did everything right. I groan, “I’m so stupid.” Tomorrow I have to go to the same school in the same uniform with the same boring jerks. Nothing has changed, and now it seems like nothing ever will. Just as expected, school is as dull as ever. I tune out Mr. Jacobs and fiddle nervously with the mass of bracelets around my wrist covering my scar. It itches like crazy, but if anyone sees it, I would be swarmed with questions. I glance around the room at the various jelly bracelets and shiny belts. I look just as normal as all these other people trying to look unique. I resist the urge to chuckle to myself from my deep insight on the mainstream plebian culture—not that I’m any better. I turn to stare out the window, and a scream threatens to burst out of my mouth. I swallow and digest what my eyes are seeing. It’s a figure, a girl; at least half of it is. She’s split down the middle, one side intensely beautiful,34and the other half is a corpse. Her ashen skin is sunken into her features, her bones almost visible. I notice her strikingly bright ember eyes, and those eyes are staring at


“You don’t seem like a plebian to me, but I could be wrong.” It takes me a moment to realize she is speaking to me, and before I can even think of how to respond, she chirps, “Yes, I can read your mind.” I realize why I didn’t register that she was talking. Only half of her face moves; the other half is frozen in its lifeless state, except for that eye. I think in what I hope is a loud voice: “How can you . . . .” She interrupts the thought in a matter-of-fact tone. “Well, you gave your soul to me, and what is a soul if not the essence of your very being, such as your mind? So in turn the thoughts you are thinking now belong to me, and it would be rather nonsensical if I didn’t have access to my own property.” Oh, my, what have I done? Who is this? She smiles unnervingly: “Hel goddess of . . . .” Like the place? I immediately think, flabbergasted. She interrupts herself to reply, mildly annoyed: “Yes, I am Hel, ruler of hel.” What the . . . . “Hell?” she answers. “First, it’s one L, not two; second, it’s not that uncommon. After all, Hades rules over Hades.” She sighs, disappointed. “Maybe you are a plebian, pity.” The lunch bell rings, prompting me to act. I hastily gather my things and rush out of the stuffy classroom. I must be hallucinating. I start to panic. Should I talk to the school counselor, my parents? I shudder at the possibilities that would bring. No, maybe it’ll just go away. The disembodied voice chimes in: “No, selling your soul tends to be a permanent deal. If you could get everything in existence to cry for you, then I might reconsider.” She chuckles to herself. I frantically make my way through the throng of students and into the cafeteria. I sit down at my usual table and grasp onto the worn veneer, praying the familiarity of it will somehow bring me back to reality and free me from this invisible demon. My eyes catch a glimpse of her in the shiny reflection of the table. She raises an eyebrow. “I’m not a demon. I’m a goddess, and I’m not invisible, simply hidden.” Oh, dear, what am I going to do? Just ignore the hallucination, Claire, at least for now. She chuckles, “Lovely plan.” 35 make it through the day, Despite her quips, I manage to pretending everything is fine. Finally, I make it home. I walk through the door and make a beeline for my room. I immediately collapse onto

my bed. What am I going to do? Hel’s voice remarks, “I’ve been pondering the same thing.” I open my eyes, and standing above me is her. I jump in shock and back myself up against my door. She’s a towering figure that seems to be made of shadows. She walks around my dark room, her body faltering in the tiny amount of light filtering in through my blinds. I watch, petrified; it was one thing when she was a reflection, but this? Hel corrects me: “Hidden, not invisible or a reflection. I’m hidden.” I nod. I can’t help staring at her. The contrast between her two halves is now even more abrupt, like a monster from a horror movie. She retorts with a chuckle: “You should see my brothers; they’re truly beastly.” Why is this happening? What is she here for? Hel turns to me and answers vaguely, “Your little mind is quite amusing.” She kicks a blanket out of the way to reveal the chalk pentagram on my floor. “What were you thinking when you offered up your soul?” I think about it, embarrassed; I wanted to be a part of something powerful. I wanted power. Hel smiles sympathetically: “I see.” She picks up the piece of paper with the prayer I used and remarks, “This has some obvious loopholes.” She smiles, “Luckily for you, I’m not my father.” I watch as she muses to herself, “A fraction of my power.” No way—on the off chance I’m not having a mental breakdown, could I get my wish? She looks at me, her eyes seeming to dissect me. Eventually, she remarks, “You’re so worried about what other people think.” She walks over to me and takes my hand in hers. I’m frozen with fear or maybe the cold of her touch. She whispers: “Hidden may be your person or your insecurities Hidden from harm or scrutiny Though what is hidden may be found To the searchers shadows will astound You shall have this power From now till your last hour.” With that final line, she lets go, and a soft breeze finds its way into my room. She warns, “You’ll find what others think of you 36 matters less than what you think.” Shaking her head, she continues, “Until then.” Then, she melts into the shadows, disappearing. I collapse against my door. It’s over; whatever it was, it’s over now.

This Is Fine By Jared Boling



Valencia By Brandy Guitron


Digital Art

“Every Bag Is a Little Different� By Annie Maule

One might prefer a colorful, over-the-top bag, but not me. I prefer a simple bag, one that matches most anything. Black is the color my bag would be and filled with some miscellany for no one but me. Inside, you would find a small wrapped gift, not for myself, but for someone, anyone else. Broken pieces of rosy red glass would fall to the floor if one were to empty my bag; a tiny little toy doll with her clothing stained and torn from hours of playtime from years long ago. A piece of used up paper, where there use to be a love story written upon, now is crinkled and worn to the point that it is unreadable by anyone. Broken more than once but fixed just as many is a chain that looks as though it once belonged to something more.


Motion Still By Saren Perales



“My Experience Playing Baseball” By Noel Ricarte When I was a kid, my father was always into sports. I remember watching him playing tennis, baseball, and basketball. He was just a physically fit and natural born athlete. While growing up, I never liked sports the way my dad did, but I enjoyed watching professional basketball games. My favorite team was the Chicago Bulls because of Michael Jordan. Besides that, I didn’t care for anything else. My father was also a huge sports fanatic. Throughout his whole life, he would watch every game that would come on TV and had me sit and watch the entire game with him until it finished, even if I had school the next day or if I had homework to do. Ultimately, sports, especially baseball, taught me many things both in and outside of academics. First of all, when I was old enough to play sports, my dad signed me up for baseball. I remember my first day of practice; I was overwrought and tense because I didn’t know the fundamentals of the sport, and I was also terrified to get hit by the baseball. I was also embarrassed because I didn’t know how to hold a baseball bat. I wasn’t strong enough to hold the bat up straight, but my dad always supported me, even if I couldn’t achieve in the sport that I was playing in. My dad never gave up on me. He would find ways to build up my self esteem, such as before the games, he would have a pep talk with the team and would also be cheering for me behind the fence. He would push me to overcome my fears, even while the other kids would laugh and make fun of me. So one day after baseball practice, my dad took me to Academy Sports and Outdoors, and that’s when I got my first baseball equipment kit. I was so excited, and every day we would go to the park or baseball field and practice together. My dad would show me different types of baseball strategies on how to play the game. One thing I learned was how to properly catch a ball with my glove and not my hand. He showed me different ways to position my batting stance with the baseball bat and taught me how to throw the baseball. He would take me to Ft. 41 Sam Houston military base gym to train my arms so I could build strength to throw the baseball far distances. He also took me to the

batting cages on the weekends to practice on my swings. My dad would push me to hit fifty baseballs every time we went so I could build my efficiency skills with the speed of the baseball; he was determined to not allow me to fail. Second, it was a Saturday morning when I had my first baseball game at Baptist church. I will never forget the feeling and how nervous I and the whole team was because we had never seen so many people around cheering and yelling. It was very intimidating to even focus on the game. I remember looking into the crowd and seeing my whole family wearing my jersey number on their t-shirts rooting for me. It was a tie game in the 4th inning. We had every base covered, and I was up next to bat. When I stood next to the plate, I could feel the sweat dripping off my face and my heart beating one-hundred miles per hour. It was up to me if we lost or won the game. I had two strikes, and I all could remember was all of the rough trainings that my dad and I practiced together. So when the pitcher threw the ball, that’s when I made contact with the bat and hit a home run. I was the first nine-year-old in Little League baseball to ever hit a home run in my age group, and we won that game. Ever since that home run, my team gave me a nickname. I was called Sammy Sosa that whole baseball season. At that moment, I knew all my hard work paid off, and I couldn’t be more thankful. I played with the same team until I was eighteen years old. Every baseball season my dad was always my number one coach who would push me to be better and never failed to educate me about the sport. One baseball season, we were undefeated and won two championships back to back. I was asked to play baseball with the San Antonio Missions semi-pro league. To this day, I appreciate my dad for putting me into sports. Ever since I was a little boy, because of him teaching me how to play, I fell in love with baseball. Now I have a daughter of my own who is eight years old, and she will be playing her first sport next year. I’m hoping I can be a perfect role model to her like my dad was to me when I was her age and support her with guidance and knowledge about athletics and for her as well to grow a passion for any sport. However, I feel that sports and academics are equally important. They both have the same knowledge because of the skills that are 42 developed through social skills and interaction and also by observing, listening, and speaking. In both academics and sports, a

person needs to implement the knowledge and skills in order to learn something new. All in all, my experiences in playing sports, helped me with school academics by learning how to focus and respect my teachers and to make good grades in order to stay on the team. It also kept me on track with all my class assignments and helped me make friends and to work as a team. It also kept me out of trouble from hanging out with kids that I grew up with who were trouble, so I really appreciate my father for putting me in sports ever since I was a little boy.


[Friend] By Joshua Conway



“[Slowly Falling Down]” By Annie Maule

Slowly falling down Crisp brown landing to the ground Little leaf there lays


Wild Life By Lauren Estrada



“Acacia” By Young Lan Kang

Following the fragrant smell, There is lonely acacia tree standing on the corner, by himself Forgotten by others, he feels sad and bitter. “I am here. I am here. Can you see me?” he is screaming. No one to him is paying attention. But he doesn’t hesitate to give it to the world, the sweet temptation, acacia.


“Being a Bouncer” By Willis Roberts In my early to mid-twenties, I was confused in which direction to take my life. I had taken some college classes, but I did not know what I wanted for my future. Due to the recession and familial problems, I was introduced to hardships that were foreign to me as a whole. Because of this, I had to step up, toughen up, and become a bouncer in bars and music venues. This was something I never imagined or saw myself doing. In the economic downturn of 2008 and not being able to continue with school, I was applying for jobs. I was living in Chicago, where the job market was very competitive unless a person had a college degree. I had become certified by the State of Illinois to become an armed security guard but was unable to find work in that field. I had previous experience working as a doorman part time for a friend’s neighborhood bar, so I put in an application at a venue in Chicago called Subterranean, in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. A month later, I was asked to come by for an interview, and I was hired. The pay was ten dollars an hour in cash and would be part time at first. This would give me two part time jobs since I was working the weekends at Shoe’s Pub, my friend’s neighborhood bar. I don’t think my parents could have ever imagined that their youngest son would have had to become a bouncer in a city like Chicago. Going through financial hardships was something completely new for my family. Both my parents have master degrees and worked in the white collar industry. My father was a retired sales executive for a timber company that did a lot of sales in Southeast Asia, and my mother worked in the financial field. We were not accustomed to being poor. I knew things were bad when my parents started to sell valuable antiques and other valuables our family had. It really hit hard when they had to sell their condominium, which was in a very nice part of Chicago, and had to move to one in a somewhat violent part of the city. When my parents asked if they could borrow seven hundred dollars for repairs on their car, I knew this was something we never saw in48our future. I gave them the money with no problem, but they insisted on paying me back. Working security in a nightclub/music venue was completely

different than working the door in a neighborhood bar. I had an opportunity to work more hours than just working busy weekends, as I would do at Shoe’s Pub. At Subterranean, I could work up to five or seven days a week. Some nights I would only work five hours, and other nights I would work up to ten. I knew guys in Chicago whose only profession was working security in bars and nightclubs because of the many venues Chicago had; it was a job that could always keep me employed. However, working in this business is very detrimental to one physically and emotionally. The stress and everything else slowly kills a person and eats away at him. Things one once thought of as strange or weird become the everyday norm, from having to forcefully detain and escort drug dealers off the premises to breaking up and getting into fights, all the while watching people’s hand movements to know if they might be reaching for a gun or knife. I worked at Subterranean for five years, the last three being the worst. My mentor, Chris, who hired me, had been fired. I was considered in the running to be his replacement as head of security, but I was already burned out as well. Like all of us, he had seen enough and was tired of it. I suffered a substantial concussion my first year at Subterranean and was unable to work for a week. Someone jumped from the second floor balcony towards the stage and landed on my head, and I was knocked unconscious for around a minute. I suffered two more concussions in the last four years of my employment there. I have some issues and problems to this day from those injuries, and my doctor wants me to get a brain scan. However, since I have no insurance, I cannot afford one. It is humorous to look back on that chapter of my life, but it is also very sad. I never want to go through hardships like that again. If anything, going through that part of my life has taught me that I am a survivor, and I want to continue my education and become successful.


The Dispossessed By Reshonna Rifenbury

Fine 50 Art Pencil

“Harmful Friendships” By Septimus El Lunar Lupus

My friends, I keep them locked away from me and others. I do not wish to disturb them from their Sleep. For when they wake from their rest, they become hungry and demanding. Let them sleep For while they sleep, I heal. Awaken them, and I’ll let them feast themselves once again. As they Eat; my life force is drained from me.

I see myself fading with every bite. In a puddle of my own blood, and essence. A weak (sense of Pleasure courses through my body) smile forms on face. My face contorts into a (weak) smile. As I see what I and my friends hath done to me. Lines of little rubies glitter upon my skin. What Amazing bracelets they are. How happy they make me feel. I thank my friends for helping me, Giving me the pleasure of them on my skin.

I look down at my hands, smile at the blood on my fingertips, The shine of my blades, and the Sickly-sweet smell of iron in the air. 51

“The House with the Green Tree” By Emily Aguilar

I once lived in a house of red, Where into the night I always would dread. The house was beautiful, ah, the smell of cake. Then into the green pasture where my white skin would bake. But when the night came, so did you. And my white skin turned purple and blue. Then one night my skin was black. It must’ve been a part of me where your love had lacked. You tore me like paper, like the one with no print. Then one day, under the green pasture you went. It holds your head six feet underground Where no longer you can hear your foul sound. Maybe one day I’ll grow you a tree, A statue of how now . . . I am free.


“The O’Neil House” By Kara Lazzaretti

You mustn’t ever go near the accursed O’Neil home It’s a place where sadness and misfortune freely roam But I will admit it was not always so Once upon a time not too long ago The O’Neils were nothing but happy A perfectly perfect white picket fence family They had a rosy cheeked little girl With unruly crimson hair that did curl She ran among the roses Missus O’Neil tended Each one a fairy of great power she pretended Yes, lovely and the happiest they were Till the bluest of blue events did occur Little O’Neil was frolicking, and a field she passed by The most vibrant purple wild flower caught her eye Why, a great fairy queen must reside there she thought 53 So a quest she underwent; many evil brambles she fought

To reach the greatest, loveliest flower of them all Yet this grandest, noblest quest was her downfall For when she reached the grand sacred bloom She was suddenly lost in a terrible foggy gloom Her parents they did search high and low But all fate did reward them with was woe Neighbors of near and far searched While fate just watched and smirked For it knew exactly what was and had to be They did too, but they were too stubborn to see Days went by before Little O’Neil was found But her tragic fate to everyone did astound Her cheeks no longer rosy, her eyes no longer bright She was colorless; something had vanquished her light Something had stolen every one of Little O’Neil’s tomorrows As a result, the remaining O’Neils drowned in their sorrow Now the O’Neils are long gone, but their pain stayed And there it will continue to live forever, I’m afraid 54

“Welcome Mat� By Patricia Gavin

Different shapes lay Amazing words to everyone Welcome, home sweet home


Lumos Maxima By Anastasia Canu

Fine 56 Art Acrylic

“The Fate of the Cicada” By Megan Kopecki

‘Neath the forest, oh so deep, Eighteen years of somber Sleep. Waking, digging, Breaking free, Climbing up the Old oak tree. Search for safety overhead. Looking for a place to shed Brittle, brown, and breaking skin. Bare the new life held within. Hanging like a tapestry. Wings appearing lazily, Swelling Slowly; what a scene. Working, at last, clear and Green. Fly away to find a mate. Screaming, screeching, gets the date. One month left to procreate. One month left to meet my 57


Sunbathing By Kelsey Wallace



“My Biggest Influence” By Dawniesha Thomas My mother is the woman who paved the way for so many others and me. She has done this in such a short time because she is only fifty -three years old. A true definition of strength, she is nothing short of a queen. She is getting ready for work, starting another day giving, helping and loving someone. She helps kids and adults with intellectual disabilities. My mother is my biggest influence in getting back into my journey in finishing my education. When I graduated from Southwest Preparatory, I finished a few months earlier than my original class year. I remember my high school advisor setting up a meeting for me about life after high school. He asked me if I ever thought about going to college and furthering my education. He questioned whether I had a career plan in mind that college could help me benefit from. I flat out told him no, without hesitation. I was so excited to get out of school and never look back again. I remember him giving me this sad look, telling me how smart I was. He said as I was leaving his office that it disappointed him that I would sell myself so short not even to consider doing something that would be beneficial to me . He asked me one more time, “Dawniesha, are you sure you don’t even want to look and see what may be available to you?” I just shook my head no and left, not looking back. I did not want to go to college because we did not have the financial support to afford it. This fact deeply saddened me. All my friends were going to school because they had financial support from their parents, government assistance, or scholarships. I did not take school seriously enough to qualify for scholarships. In addition, my parents had six kids, and my oldest sister and her three kids who were living with us at the time. This meant that we had a house full of people. There was no way they could add on another bill. Now that I was out of school, I went straight into getting my first job. I worked at Wendy’s, a fast-food restaurant. My mom took me back and forth to work. This required her to get up at five am, to drop me off and get back home to prepare for her day. In addition, she had to find me rides to get home from work. I never had full time hours, which was more demanding on her than it was on me. The problem 59 was that during her shift, she had to take excessive breaks to call and find me rides home. Sometimes she had to take her lunch break early to get me home from work. She never looked down on me, and she

never complained. She was always supportive. That was just the type of woman she was, a phenomenal woman. She was always there for me even if it meant her not being able to live her own dreams. Of course, I was humbled fast working at Wendy’s. Hard labor was not for me. I spent a lot time in the bathroom crying and calling my mom, saying, “I can’t do this.” This happened at nearly seven more jobs from the age eighteen to twenty- three. However, my mother was there to save me with the same sweet supporting words: "Dawniesha, not every job will be for you. You just have to find the one that fits you, the one that won’t feel like a job, but feels like something you love doing.” Here she was again, never judgmental, never telling me that I could not do it. She always believed in me. One day she asked me, “Dawniesha, why don’t you go back to school? You are so smart, and you talked about becoming a teacher. Why don’t you go to school for that?” Again I thought, school was not for me. I just could not afford it, and neither could our family. So why dwell on something that might never happen. All I was worried about was getting another job. I was just thinking about fast money, easy duties, short hours, but not stability. Consequently, while working these jobs, I heard my mother’s voice saying, “Dawniesha, these little throw away jobs won’t last forever. You need to go to school, or you won’t have any stability in your life.” I will never forget April 3, 2017. I had gotten a job at a call center making more money than I had ever made working all the previous jobs I had before. I remember my mother’s words the first day she dropped me off at work. “Dawniesha, I’ll make a deal with you. If you can stay on this job and promise me you will save your money for school, I will not make you pay any rent. I want you to go to school. I want you to further your education. I want you to have opportunities I did not have. So promise me, Dawniesha, you will stay at this job, save up, and by this time next year, you should be in school.” I cried and said, “Yes, Momma. You don’t know what this means to me because I know these jobs are not for me.” Seven months later with her help, I was able to save up for my first semester of school. I even had a little money left over that I could use to help her out with household bills. She continues to take me back and forth to school and work. She still asks me every day, “Boo Boo, how was school?” She is the mother every woman or man should have. 60 She is the reason I am in school today furthering my education. In conclusion, I plan to work hard so that she can retire one day. I thank my mother every day for her support.

[Cousin and Husband] By Joshua Conway



“Leadership” By Derrick Cordova Are leaders born, or are can people be molded to be leaders? Some people say leaders are born not created, but in my experience, that is not entirely true. Webster’s Dictionary defines leadership as “the action of leading a group of people or organization” (“Leadership”). My definition of leadership is inspiring, motivating, and encouraging people to do things they would not normally do, or do things they did not know they could do. One of my favorite sayings that I picked up while serving in the Marine Corps is inspiration by motivation, not intimidation; however, I was not always that kind of leader. My leadership abilities came from years of experience coupled with exposure to different kinds of leadership styles. Leadership can be learned by training, practice, and experience. The first thing I learned was when I joined the Marine Corps in March of 1996. I was a young, wiry know-everything punk kid; I thought I was going to be GI Joe. What I did not know was what to expect when I got to boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. As soon as the busses pulled up in front of the building, I received my first dose of reality. We were greeted by a thin, intimidating drill instructor. He began screaming, “THE FIRST AND LAST THINGS OUT OF YOUR MOUTHS WILL BE SIR. NOW GET OFF MY BUS.” Recruits were clamoring out of their seats, nearly climbing over each other, trying to get off the bus and onto the yellow footprints. Boot camp was a lot of the same: a whole lot of yelling, screaming, and physical training. The one thing I learned in boot camp was mental toughness. Physical training can break men down, but only the mentally tough can overcome the pain and continue to push through it. Leaders always lead from the front despite any pain or adversity. After all my training was complete, I was assigned to Echo Battery Second Battalion Twelfth Marines in sunny Southern California. This is when I met my first real fleet Marine leaders. Staff Sergeant McNeal, Sergeant Cruz, and Sergeant Mauldin were a few of my leaders. These men had been to Kuwait during Desert Storm, 62 and I figured these were what leaders were supposed to be like. These men had a very dictatorial style of leadership and had the

mentality of “do what I say without question.� The Marines were very professional in their demeanor and very intense in their leadership, especially during training, because they had already experienced the rigors of combat. During my time in this unit, I learned that leaders are aggressive dictators. The great thing about the Marine Corps is I got to experience many different people and many different places; these people and places would continue to mold me as a leader. Later in my career, after serving in several units, my true test and greatest learning experience as a leader came from the many deployments I had been on. However, none would test me as much as when I deployed to Afghanistan in November of 2008. I was on a four-man team in the cold and high-altitude mountains of Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. The giant mountains seemed to touch the sky; it seemed no matter where we were, there was always a snow-capped mountain above us. This deployment taught me more patience as a leader than any other. I was the team leader in charge of training and conducting combat operations with the Afghan Reconnaissance Company tasked to locate and destroy the hardened Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters in our area of responsibility. I learned with the aid of an interpreter how to communicate with my Afghan counterparts as well as the village elders and captured enemy, which took a lot of patience and negotiating skills. I learned that reading humans is an invaluable skill; in the Marine Corps we call it navigating human terrain. After my deployments had begun to wind down, life returned to a more garrison environment, and I had to learn a new set of leadership skills. These skills would include how to deal with the wounded Marines. When most people think of combat wounded, they think of gunshot wounds and shrapnel scars, but I am talking about the wounds that are not visible. Many of these young men and women choose to self-medicate with alcohol or sometimes with prescription pills that are prescribed by doctors for physical wounds. Many times, this leads to legal, family, and career problems. Left to their own feelings, young people can feel their problems are too big to handle and start thinking about suicide. This is where I learned that it takes a leader that truly knows the men and women who he has the privilege to lead. The leader must be willing to 63 sacrifice time from his or her own family to help these young people. Sometimes it requires seeking help from external agencies that know

how to deal with substance abuse issues and PTSD. Other times it just takes a little extra of the leader’s time to listen and give sound advice. In conclusion, during my twenty-one years of service, my understanding of what a leader is has varied. I learned that leaders are not just born, but they are created. My experiences showed me that a leader is not just an authoritarian but must be the older brother, the father, and the friend, but the key is to know when is the right time for each. A leader must be able to understand people and know different ways to communicate with different types of personalities. A leader must know when to be compassionate and when to be authoritative. The single most important thing a leader must know how to do is to care. See, leaders are not just born; they are made, either by chance or by choice.


Fragile By Jared Boling



“My Food Challenge Experience” By Madison Brummet “Good Morning! We are the Nutrition Nuts from Wilson County, and you have just been served!” This is the opening line that my Food Challenge Team used in our presentation. Food Challenge is a 4-H team cooking competition with three to five team members. At competition, teams aregiven a bag of mystery ingredients without a recipe and are allotted sixty minutes to prepare a dish along with a five-minute presentation. My participation on this team provided a year-long learning experience in cooking, public speaking, and teamwork. These learning experiences taught me skills that have broadened my knowledge and interpersonal skills beyond what can be taught in a classroom or be read in a textbook. My main goals with participating in this competition were to find a team that was willing to put in the necessary time to succeed in the competition, become an effective and contributing team member, learn how to cook meals with very few ingredients, and become a better public speaker without much time to prepare. First and foremost, my goal was to find people to join my team who were willing to commit time to participate in the many practices that were necessary to be successful in the competition. By finding hard-working team members, I was able to easily reach my personal goals. My 4-H club manager recommended a Food Challenge coach, Mrs. Ivy Lanier, who had been successful in past years with her teams. Once my mom heard of this wonderful opportunity for a coach, she contacted Mrs. Lanier, who knew of two girls that wanted to join a team, Jordan and Lauren. Sharon was a senior in 4-H and wanted to join a team as well. These three girls, my older sister, and I formed a team. We decided what role we would take in the presentation based on our strengths. Victoria did preparation steps since she was the best public speaker on the team; Jordan did cost analysis since she was knowledgeable in mathematics. Lauren did food safety because she knew how to come up with interesting facts for safety, and Sharon did the nutrition portion since she was very knowledgeable on that subject. I covered My Plate, which is a visual aid of a dinner plate stating the required intake of food for a 2,000-calorie diet. I was given this role since it is one of my favorite aspects of the Food and Nutrition project. This was how the Nutrition Nuts was formed. Five girls with different talents came together to learn from each other and benefit from each other’s talents. At our weekly practices, I started acquiring team building skills. These 66 practices taught us how to work together in different ways, such as agreeing on what we were going to prepare and in choosing our various roles for competition. If one team member was struggling to complete what

she was cooking and write her part of the presentation, another team member would help by taking over whatever she was cooking at that time. At most practices, Lauren, Sharon, and I would do most of the preparation and cooking of the dish. Victoria and Jordan required more time to write their portion of the presentation, so they would help with finishing the preparation and garnishing the dish once they had finished writing their parts. Our unity and organization skills helped us finish on time. These practices taught me that to work well as a team, I need to be willing to be a follower as well as a leader. Time was not the only challenge at our practices; another challenge was coming up with a dish out of the wide variety of ingredients we received in each bag. At one practice, we received tofu, zucchini, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and sesame seeds. My team members and I were totally stumped. First, we had no idea how to prepare tofu. My team members and I agreed to cook it and use it to make kabobs, along with the mushrooms, zucchini, and cherry tomatoes. We were very happy with the finished product. Later, we learned that we can either cook tofu or eat it raw. At each practice, we learned about new and unique ingredients that not only helped us in competition but also taught me not to be intimidated by unfamiliar ingredients. Through the thirty-five weeks of intense practices and competing at the county and district levels, we built our confidence in public speaking. Through the practices, I learned to not be intimated by not having extra time to study my part of the presentation. Before joining Food Challenge, I was used to being able to have weeks to practice a presentation before presenting to a judge at various other competitions. After joining a team, I learned to write and memorize my part of the presentation in less than fifteen minutes without getting extremely nervous or stressed out. My team and I learned that it is important in public speaking to stand up straight, speak clearly and not quickly, and also to smile and speak with confidence, even if we were nervous. Each competition taught us the importance of allowing ourselves time if we stumbled or forgot something and to continue on with our presentation even if we forgot a part. All these practices and competitions helped me to not be intimidated with public speaking and gave me confidence in my public speaking skills. Through my Food Challenge experience, I believe I achieved all of my goals. I had a wonderful team that worked well together. I learned how to prepare dishes with unique ingredients and became a confident public speaker without a lot of time to prepare. Through all of this, I built lifelong memories and gained skills that I will use all of my life, such as cooking, which I use every day. The public speaking skills will be useful one day in a 67 job interview or to use in my career in general. This experience not only helped me grow as a person but showed me that knowledge outside of academics can be just as rewarding and beneficial.

“My Writing Journey: From Santa Claus to Sandcastles” By Madeline Lee I am in the first grade sitting in class and listening to my teacher give us an assignment. Outside, the halls are decorated with tinsel and holly. Inside, there is a little Christmas tree by the window. The assignment is to write a letter to Santa Claus, asking him to bring presents to my whole family. I let out the softest groan. My parents were always blunt with us about Santa. The idea of writing a letter to a person I knew was fake frustrated me greatly, but I thought of it less like writing to an actual person and more like writing a story. So I sat down and wrote a letter to Santa. It included everything from a fifteen-passenger van for mom to a Barbie for my younger sister. My parents tell me that I started telling vivid stories when I was still very young. This letter to Saint Nick is one of the first memories I have of my writing journey. What began with colorful childhood storytelling continued through the years into college preparation and academic writing, from letters to Santa Claus to learning to build sandcastles out of words. When I was very young, I created a cast of imaginary characters whose stories I would tell to my family. Some of these characters included the following: Ponjay, a boy who lived on a farm with rainbow fish that tasted like Jell-o, my “fly” grandparents and my “blue” grandparents, and a pack of highly empathetic, possibly verbal, dogs. My mother still regrets not recording me telling the stories or writing them all down. She says that when I would regale her with stories of my jitterbugging, racecar-driving, skydiving, flamboyantly imaginary grandmothers, she made a mental note to try to be like them when she grew up. She says that to this day she can still see the places I described, vivid and three-dimensional in the telling. Creative writing always came naturally to me, but when writing non-fiction reports for school, I realized how outside my comfort zone I was. Fortunately for me, it was some time before I had to confront this weakness. It all came to a head one cool, autumn afternoon. My mother and brother had been arguing for months about writing. He never wanted to write, but she knew he had to. A lot was riding on his SAT essay. A good score would be one way to prove to colleges 68 that he was a smart student who would excel academically. Unfortunately, my brother had the habit of writing and then erasing a significant portion of his prose. He felt as if the writing were not good

or polished enough. It came down to forcing him to push through and write. My sister and I were recruited to spur him on to write better and more, or just more. As we all sat down to write, our notebook paper clean and fresh, I could feel my stomach sink like a stone. I have never been good at coming to terms with my weaknesses. The idea of seeing my terrible scribbles out on the page filled me with dread. The instructions were to write until the timer ran out. My mother loves to write, so when the timer started, she was off like a jet. Writing swiftly and skillfully, she wrote a full page before I had two words. As the minute came to a close, all I had written was two and a half lines. Luckily, I was not the only one struggling. My siblings and fellow writing students had written the same amount. This was the beauty of the system; my mother served as an example of what we needed to strive for, and we served as support for one another, mirroring each other at the same level, far from that of our juggernaut, writing-boss of a mom. Every day was the same: sit down, write for a minute, stop, and read what we had written. Some days my father would participate. He provided a second example, a contrast to our passionate, writewhat-you-feel mother. He was by-the-book, calm, and methodical. Soon my writing became longer and more articulate. Each time I wrote I told myself, “Do not worry about if it sounds bad or if there are mistakes. You can fix it later. Just write,” words my mother had said to all of us over and over again. Finally, it came time for my brother to take the SAT. All of the hard work and practice paid off. He pushed through his urge to erase and just wrote. Then, a year later it was time for me to use the tools I had learned to pass the TSI essay. Through repetition and writing with the motto of “write now, edit later,” I was able to pass the TSI. To me, the challenge is to understand that writing is a process, both in the course of a person’s life and through an individual writing assignment. One time my family went to the beach. We met a man who made beautiful sandcastles. He told us how to build them: “Pile the wet sand on, lots of it, maybe much more than you will have in the finished product. Then, start to scrape and shape the sand bit by bit, making what was once a formless mound of sand into a unique piece of art, which shows your personality and skill.” Sometimes we want to pile up sand and have a perfect sandcastle in front of us without all the trouble, the getting our hands dirty, the mess of it all. 69 Writing is like building sandcastles. Sometimes we want to write and magically have a finished project, but instead we must trust the process and let it teach us how to be the writers we need to be.

“My Refrigerator” By Celsa Valero

My refrigerator. He rumbles like he himself is hungry. He’s cold to the touch, But the thought of all he holds inside Warms me up very much.


You’re Mine By Ryan Martinez



“Blue’s Trip to Vegas” By Kara Lazzaretti I sit on the couch in the light of the TV and listen to the sniffles of my human. When she got home, she crashed on the floor and burst into tears. With some work, I managed to calm her down a bit. Then she informed me, “He’s gone.” I’m not sure, but I think she was talking about the male who usually hangs around that she cuddled and kissed. I had to hold my tongue. I mean, I told her he was no good. He smelled all wrong, like a cat. You can’t trust those sneaky, sly, lying, snobby creatures. Still, humans aren’t the most intelligent things. So I’ll give her a break; however, if that cat-smelling human comes back into this house, I will launch a furious attack on his ankles. Anyway, after that we curled up on the couch with the TV. Now she is trying to drown her sorrows by watching sadder stuff on TV. If humans can be fools, the ones on the TV are especially so. Needless to say, the TV doesn’t help anything. She goes to the kitchen, and I nod in approval. Food fixes everything. I move to my spot on the rug so I can keep watch on the back door. She comes back with ice cream and tissues. She flips the channels, causing a stream of colored nonsense. I try my best to tune it out. I don’t like the noise and colors channel flipping causes. I focus on the door; it’s nice outside. I could go outside. Well, I could go outside if I padded to the door and made enough noise to force my human to get up from the couch and. Sigh, that’s a lot of work. I have to bark, then wait, then bark, then wait until she gets up. She’s sad too, so getting her to get up from the couch will be even harder. I tried to tell her to get a doggie door; she didn’t understand, typical human. Now I have to rely on her to open doors, provide food, turn off lights, and find something not mind numbing on TV. Oh, well, I turn my head back to the TV. She’s settled on some show with people yelling at each other. Wonderful, why do humans find amusement in controversy? I don’t get it. I turn my head back to the door. I see birds hopping around the yard. I narrow my eyes, those stupid twittering fools. I get up and pad to the door. I paw at it to see if that’s enough to get her attention. I don’t want to scare those twittering pests yet. She looks over and sighs; however, she does get up. I try my best to form one of those human 72 smiles to show I’m grateful, but she doesn’t understand. Oh, well, I have a job to do. Unfortunately, the birds fly away at the noise of the door. Wonderful. I jog around the yard. I slip behind my bush where I’ve constructed a secret tunnel. I love my human. Sure she’s a bit of an

annoyance, but she means well. A girl just needs a bit of me time. She needs some right now, and I so do I. I worm under the fence and take a deep breath of unconfined air. Now to find something to terrorize, I pad to the woods, my collar tags jingling in the dark. I slip into woods, or what I call the woods. I know from the TV that real forests extend for miles. My woods are just an overgrown patch of land by the housing development my human calls home. Once under the cover of foliage, I burst out into a run. There are no walls to run into or humans to chase. This is my little slice of freedom, running with nothing to stop me but the ache of my own tiny legs. A huge round silver thing comes into view. I stop; this is new. Squinting at its bright blue lights, I try to investigate. I jog around the perimeter looking for clues. There are none of those signs in human scrawl. It reminds me of a place I saw on TV once. It has a lot of neon and bright lights. It was called Vegas, I think. My human was going there with that cat-smelling male. I guess that isn’t going to happen now. Maybe going there without him will make her feel better. After a few times around, I manage to figure out there is a door. It’s a weird looking one, yet a door no less. With that established, I run back home, into the yard, and start barking. She comes out and tries to shush me. I duck under the fence, and she curses. I stop suddenly, really? Cursing at me? I’m trying to help! She opens the fence door and reaches down to grab me. I bolt and run straight for the weird round thing. She yells out my name, “Blue,” as she chases me. She calls out, “Get back here; come back” Really? She is so ungrateful; I’m beginning to rethink this whole thing. Well, it’s too late now; we’re almost there. We arrive at the thing, and she looks at in utter surprise. I jump around and try to push her towards it. She looks at me, and asks, “What have you found?” I try to smile again. She cautiously nears it with my help. I pad up the door and gesture to it. She looks at me in disbelief. “You want me to go in there?” She shakes her head and backs away. “No, I need to call the cops, the military, NASA, Homeland Security, or the president!” What? Why? I sigh; humans are so confusing. The door opens, and I look at her. She’s acting weird and trying to get me to come to her. No, I took you here to cheer you up, and I’m not leaving until it works. I stomp my foot and run into the door. She yells, “Blue, get back here.” I stubbornly refuse. She gives in and reluctantly follows me. I run 73 around the inside of the weird thing, and she follows whispering angrily at me. There’s a sound like a door shutting then the air presses us to the floor; my ears pop. We then go weightless and start to float. I'm starting to think maybe this was a bad idea.

Deep in Thought By Reshonna Rifenbury

Fine Art 74 Pencil

“The Dark Side” By Kara Lazzaretti

I see the light inside myself It’s a small flickering flame I know you feel the same I see the darkness in you It’s empowering and freeing You know I share the feeling I see the power shadow holds It’s mysterious and enthralling I know it’s a siren calling I see all of its hidden dangers It’s a perilous enchantment You know the strength of its entrapment I see the power it promises It’s a feeling we’ll never admit But we know we’re never rid of it


Dangerous Perspective By Reshonna Rifenbury



“Stoplight� By Derick Requenes

Red like a sick person’s nose stopping them from doing anything

Yellow like a cautious child in a new location he has never seen

Green color vibrating, a forest in spring

Sometimes new, sometimes old, sometimes wanted, sometimes hated

Without it, there is chaos. With it, there is order


Our Judges Fiction: San Juan San Miguel is the Academic Program Coordinator of the Rose R. Thomas Writing Center and an Adjunct Instructor at St. Philip’s College. He has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from St. Mary’s University and a Master’s Degree in English Literature from UTSA. He enjoys travelling, cooking (and eating,) cycling, reading, writing, and funding Kickstarter campaigns but most of all basketball and aviation! He is currently in pursuit of two of his lifelong ambitions: 1, to be a pilot and 2, to be an NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Coach! Nonfiction: Alicia Dominguez has been a part of St. Philip’s College for almost 30 years. During those years, her job positions include adjunct faculty for Remedial Reading and Remedial English. Currently, as a full time staff member and adjunct faculty member, she teaches INRW. She finds outdoor activities most satisfying. Her personal favorites are long distance running and landscaping her home’s out door space with vegetable, floral, and xeriscape gardens. Poetry: Marissa Ramirez has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Latin American Studies from Oberlin College and a Master of Arts Degree in English from the University of Texas, San Antonio. Before embarking on a career as an English instructor, Ramirez worked as an event organizer with a local cultural arts organization. She has a seven-yearold son, and together they love to travel the world, eat ice cream, and sleep under the stars. Photography: Mitchell Miranda is an award-winning artist and photographer and is a graduate of St. Philip’s College. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art and a Bachelor of Science in Cultural Anthropology from Baylor University, a Master’s Degree in Middle Eastern & Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology from University College London’s Institute of Archaeology, and is currently pursuing a PhD at Reading University in England. When abroad, he FaceTimes his pet gecko, Little Man. Art: Esteban Delgado is a St. Philip’s College Art Faculty member, holds a B.F.A. degree from Texas A&M University at Kingsville and an M.F.A. degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Esteban 78 has received numerous awards that include selection for the 2011 Texas Biennial and is a 2013 Idea Fund recipient.



Profile for Tiger PAWS

Tiger PAWS Spring 2018  

Literary art journal composed of St. Philip's College students' writing and artwork and edited by a student editorial staff

Tiger PAWS Spring 2018  

Literary art journal composed of St. Philip's College students' writing and artwork and edited by a student editorial staff

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