A Publication of Connors State College
V O L U M E
N U M B E R
CSC CAAP Scores Rank Above National Average
C O N N O R S S TAT E C O L L E G E WARNER CAMPUS 700 College Road Warner, OK 74469
Inside this issue V O L U M E
N U M B E R
THR E E R IV E R S PORT CAMPUS 2501 N 41st St E Muskogee, OK 74403
A D M I N I S T R AT I O N PRESID ENT Dr. Tim Faltyn S E N IOR V IC E PRESID ENT FOR ACADEMIC & STUDENT AFFAIRS Dr. Ron Ramming V IC E PRESID ENT FOR FISCAL SERVICES Mike Lewis
CONNECTION LA YOUT & D ESIGN Stacy Pearce CONT RIBUT ORS Cindy Anderson Dr. Ryan Blanton Wayne Bunch Jonathan Dallis Ami Maddocks Zadie McElhaney Stacy Pearce DeAnn Warne
3 COMMUNITY 5 C O W B OY FA M I LY 11 AT H L E T I C S 15 E D U C AT I O N 17 C A M P U S L I F E 22 F E AT U R E
Lt . G ov. V is i t s B e A C ham p C amp C A A P S c ores A bove N at i onal Average A c c el erat e M us kogee/ War ner Pr ograms Student Suppor t Ser vices Grant Renewed A g D iv i s i on R ec eives D onat ion S um m er C am ps M eet R odr i guez , M c E l haney, J o hns on and S eabol t • D i nger W i ns W I L Awar d H arding H onored D ur i ng N J S G HS Henson Inducted to College Basketball Hall of Fame • NJCAA Baseball Academic All-Americans • Golf Tournament S t udent s I nt er n at N at i onal G ar dens C onnors C onnec t s P i lot P rogram T it le I I I I m plem ent at ion S t udent U nion S t udy A rea N A H B uilding N ow O nl ine Week of Welc om e W here’s C onnors ?
Connors State College, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability, or status as a veteran in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This includes but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. This publication was printed and issued by Connors State College as authorized by the Director of College and Community Relations. The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination or endorsement is intended by Connors State College.
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Lt. Gov. Lamb Returns For a Fourth Year to McPeak’s “Be a Champ” Camp
or years Connors State College has hosted Representative Jerry McPeak’s “Be a Champ” camp on the Warner campus, allowing young students, ages nine to 18, the opportunity to spend a few days not only learning to work with cattle and sheep, but also how to interact, show respect to others, and value a college community. McPeak said the camp is important to Oklahoma’s future, because camps like this will ensure the agriculture industry in Oklahoma will thrive for years to come. “It doesn’t just teach the fundamentals of being a showman,” said McPeak. “‘Be a Champ’ camp has turned into teaching kids to be the best in their everyday life.” Many of the students who gathered at the “Be a Champ” camp come from small towns
and attend smaller schools and often think a college career is out of their reach. Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, who returned for a fourth year as guest speaker, reassured these young men and women they have an opportunity to succeed in life and to do something countless others do not, attend college. “When you are back at school, what you have done at this camp will be the ground work for success,” said Lamb. “I have never met anyone in agriculture who was not respectful, does not know how to look someone in the eye, or who doesn’t have a work ethic that is second to none.” Lamb, who grew up raising cattle near Enid, said working with livestock lays the foundation and the groundwork for a strong work ethic.
The agriculture industry accounts for more than a $6 billion impact in the state and roughly 10 percent of the state’s gross product. Oklahoma is the No. 5 leading source of beef in the country and the No. 8 leading source of hogs, and there are more than 86,000 farms in the state. Lamb said Connors wants this camp on campus while relaying to students that as they make college decisions, heavily consider Connors State College. Connors State College President Dr. Tim Faltyn spoke to a similar tune. “Going to college is an honor and a privilege,” said Faltyn. “We are so honored to have you at Connors State College and hope you pursue your degree here.”
CSC CAAP Results Above National Average
n recent years, Connors State College has continually surpassed state and national colleges and universities on a variety of planes. The college has been named the number one safest 2-year college in the state and the number two safest college in the nation. Diversity magazine recently named Connors first in the nation for Native American healthcare education and the same magazine continuously names CSC one of the Top 100 associate degree producers. Now, Connors is surpassing others on the educational field with CAAP test scores above the national average. The Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP) is the standardized, nationally normed assessment program published by the ACT Company. The purpose of CAAP testing is to enable institutions to assess, evaluate, and enhance the student learning outcomes of their general educational programs. CSC gives five objective CAAP tests: Writing Skills, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and Critical Thinking. CAAP Tests are utilized by many four-year institutions as a “mid-level assessment” and by two-year institutions as an “outcomes assessment” of achievement in general education
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studies. “For the first time in our history, our test scores were above the national average for both two and four-year institutions,” said CSC President, Dr. Tim Faltyn. “This is a result of the dedication and knowledge of our faculty. I am very proud of them for bringing our students to this level.” At Connors State College, CAAP test results are used to compare students’ academic achievement to the national norm. CAAP test scores of students are also compared to the same students’ ACT and/or COMPASS test scores in order to determine the level of achievement of the students since attending CSC. Not only are these results intended to be used by faculty to monitor student achievement in order to adjust instruction, but the results are also presented in the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Annual Student Assessment Report and the ongoing Higher Learning Commission Assurance Argument. The information gathered is also utilized by the many various programs that request information concerning the assessment of general education student learning outcomes for reports to accrediting or funding agencies. Programs that have requested this
information in the past include the Nursing program, the FOCUS program, the Academy for Persistence and Completion Committee, and various individuals writing grant proposals. “The mean score for sophomore students at CSC was above the national average for two reference groups: Two-Year Public College Sophomores and Four-Year Public College Sophomores,” explained Debara Corrado, director of assessment and student learning at CSC. “This means that the sophomore students at Connors State College are performing, on average, better than the sophomores at comparable four-year and two-year institutions across the nation. This means that when the students leave CSC, they will be able to transfer seamlessly into a four-year institution, or other program, and not miss a beat!” These results are huge for Connors State College, as the college is known for taking students with very low ACT scores and preparing them for their future. “We take students where they are and we bring them up to where they need to be,” said Faltyn. “These results prove we are doing an amazing job of building futures one at a time.”
Concurrent Student Accelerate Pilot Programs Launched in Warner and Muskogee
cross the state high school students are concurrently enrolled in college classes, allowing them to jump start their higher education career. Most of these programs, however, are only for a select group of students who meet the State Regents’ admission policies through high ACT and/or GPA rankings. Through its Accelerate pilot program, Connors State College has taken this opportunity and opened college doors to students who may otherwise not have a chance. “Our goal is to increase college degree and certificate attainment in Oklahoma,” said Robin O’Quinn, interim assistant to the senior VP for academic and student affairs at Connors State College. “To do this, we requested an exception to Board policy by broadening the criteria for admission to the concurrent credit enrollment to impact a wider range of students. Basically, this
exception will allow us to target students with a composite ACT of 18 and/or a cumulative high school GPA of 3.0 or higher.” Two school systems, Muskogee and Warner, are currently participating in the pilot program. The Accelerate Muskogee and Accelerate Warner pilot programs are allowing students who previously would not be admitted under the current Regents’ guidelines to now enroll and earn college credits. “These students would have, before, had to wait until graduation and/or continued taking the ACT to become eligible,” said O’Quinn. “They would have lost one semester, possibly two, of college credit while still in high school. Taking concurrent classes would have also saved them tuition. The state pays for six hours of college credit a semester for concurrent students.” To participate in the program, students
are encouraged to speak with their high school counselor. Students are identified by their counselors as fitting the new guidelines and are notified by the school. Students then meet with a representative from Connors State College and their counselor to apply and enroll in classes. “This program allows us to reach a wider range of students and give students who are typically underrepresented in concurrent enrollment the opportunity to enroll in concurrent credit college courses,” said O’Quinn. “While enrolling one student stated, ‘I am so happy about this. I never thought I would be able to go to college. Now I can. I am going to finish this.’ I believe that statement represents the future of this program and the possibilities our young people will have for their future.”
Student Support Services $1.2M Grant Renewed
hanks to the renewal of the U.S. Department of Education Student Support Services program grant, the Connors Student Support Services (SSS) department can continue the work they do to help students each semester. “The Student Support Services program provides support services to low-income students, first-generation college students, and disabled students who are enrolled at Connors State College,” said Kenard Booker, director of the program. “The services may include personal and academic career counseling, career guidance, instruction, mentoring and tutoring.” The $1.2 million grant will fund the SSS program for another five years. To qualify
students must meet one of the following criteria: • Be a first-generation college student whose parents did not graduate with a four-year degree • Students with any kind of disability • Students who meet a certain financial need “The SSS’s goal is to help students persist, graduate, and transfer to a four-year college. In doing so, we strive to serve at least 175 students a year,” said Booker. “The program not only serves as a tutoring and transferring center, but also provides students with personal counseling, academic advisement, social and cultural events and financial planning.”
The grant will continue to help increase the college’s retention and graduation rates and help students make the transition from a community college to the next level of higher education. “We are very proud of the excellent work that Mr. Booker and his staff have done with this program in the past,” said Dr. Ryan Blanton, associate VP for external affairs. “SSS has consistently exceeded their program requirements, and we are excited to be able to continue that level of excellence over the next five years.” For questions, or to see if you qualify for the program, contact Kenard Booker at 918-463-6398.
Foundation Ewes Donated to CSC Division of Ag
he livestock judging team recently added an outstanding set of foundation ewes, donated by some of the most successful club lamb breeders in the country. A total of 21 ewes valued at $68,500 were generously given by
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Middlesworth Club Lambs of Fremont, Iowa, Kennedy Club Lambs from Kirkville, Iowa, and Allen Club Lambs of Elk City, Oklahoma. Nolan Hildebrand, assistant livestock judging team coach said, “We are extremely fortunate to be able to acquire such high quality ewes, with relevant pedigrees from arguably three of the most successful breeders in the country.” These ewes will become the cornerstone of the club lamb operation at Connors State College and the judging team coaches look forward to not only having them as great teaching tools for the classroom, but also the opportunity to raise competitive show lambs for FFA and 4-H students. In the near future, a donation
ram with comparable genetics will also be put to work once breeding season becomes more imminent. Each semester Animal Science students will have the opportunity to learn the process of sheep herd health from vaccinations and hoof care all the way to lambing the ewes out during the winter and spring months. “Connors has a tradition of really outstanding livestock units,” said Livestock Judging Team Coach, Clint Mefford. “I truly believe it gives us a competitive edge to attract some of the best agricultural students in the country and to eventually train them to become the most sought after animal scientists in the industry once they graduate with their bachelor’s degree.”
Summer Camps Engage, Teach and Inspire Youth HEALTH CAREER CAMPS CSC welcomed the next generation of local Health Heroes to campus through MASH (Muskogee Area Science and Health) Camp and Camp MD (Medical Detective) programs for area students in 7th – 12th grade. These fun, interactive summer camps are designed to inspire more young people to consider pursuing health care education and careers. The two, week-long camps offered 48 area students an interactive opportunity to explore health careers, investigate the major systems of the body, visit local health care providers, hear from a wide variety of health care professionals, and learn about area health education programs like CSC’s Nursing program and the Muskogee Difference Healthcare Scholarship (MDHS). CSC teamed up with the Eastern Oklahoma Health Care Coalition (EOK Health), Indian Capital Technology Center and a variety of area partners to make
the camps possible, including EASTAR Health System, the VA Medical Center and Cornerstone Hospital. Lisa Wade Berry, director of the MDHS scholarship and EOK Health, organized and directed the camps and Wren Stratton, health careers instructor at ICTC, served as the lead instructor and camp host at ICTC. Joyce Johnson and Susan Lybarger of CSC’s nursing program kept campers riveted and earned many “ewwws” and “oh, grosses” with a graphic slide show that introduced campers to a variety of emergency health challenges and accident situations. They explained that nursing school helps people learn to provide outstanding patient care even when it’s difficult to look. CSC President Dr. Tim Faltyn encouraged campers to consider one word that describes each of them and to let that word be a guide to building their future. Dr. Faltyn also invited campers to gaze at a
blank wall at the back of the lecture hall in the new Nursing and Allied Health building and imagine it as a canvas for their future. “Where do you see yourselves in 20 years,” he asked. For Aaron Lewis, a 2015 Hilldale High School graduate, MASH Camp helped him envision and shape a future as a health professional. After attending camp in 2011, he participated in the Health Careers class at ICTC and the fast-track practical nursing program, from which he graduates this December. Currently, Lewis is taking online classes at Connors, and will attend CSC full-time beginning in Spring 2016 to earn an Associates of Applied Science in Nursing. “MASH Camp showed me opportunities I didn’t even know existed and helped me create a plan to quickly pursue a future in health care,” Lewis told the campers at the closing camp ceremonies. MASH Camp and Camp MD are a starting point to help area 7th – 12th CONNORS CONNECTION
graders envision and build futures in health care. That’s why CSC is proud to partner to make this fun learning opportunity available to area young people. LIVESTOCK JUDGING Each summer, hundreds of kids look forward to visiting Warner for a weekend that they will talk about for the rest of their lives. Each year, two sessions of the Connors State College Tradition of Excellence Livestock Judging Camp are held in June and July. During this time, kids from across the United States travel to learn the fundamentals of livestock evaluation. Each morning the CSC livestock judging team and coaches discuss the basics of evaluating specific species. Students then put their learning to the test with classes of four animals to be placed from first to last. The students were split into groups by experience and age to learn to present a set of reasons, explaining their placings like they would in an actual contest. The art of livestock evaluation is not just to be a stockman and to know a good animal from a bad one. Students who are on judging teams learn to present ideas to complete strangers and to sell it well enough that it convinces the listener of 8
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their opinion. It also teaches students that mastering a skill takes hard work. Dedication, responsibility, and integrity are all things that a person can take away from judging, if they put in the time and effort to be one of the best. “The Tradition of Excellence Judging Camp developed into an intense training for 4-H and FFA members who not only want to succeed on the contest floor, but who also want to thrive in the reasons room,” said the CSC Livestock Judging Coach Clint Mefford. “This camp helps improve the skills of those who attend, and best yet, it’s a great recruiting tool for the college.” The Tradition of Excellence Livestock Judging Camp allows attendees to learn and gain knowledge from one of the most respected junior college judging teams in the country – an experience they will never forget. MCPEAK’S BE A CHAMP Even longtime campers learn something new on the first day of Be a Champ Camp. “You never run out of things to learn,” said Savannah Burt of Waddell, Ariz., as she helped another camper clip a cow Monday. “I’m learning more about showmanship.”
Campers learn from each other, as well as from livestock experts at the camp, now in its 33rd year at Connors State College’s Warner campus show barn. Former CSC agriculture professor and current Oklahoma State Representative Jerry McPeak, who conducts the camp, said 170 students from 13 states came this year. “We have a full dorm with waiting lists of students wanting to get in,” he said. “The growth of this has been tremendous. Kids telling kids. Parents telling parents.” Students attend the three, weeklong sessions to sharpen their skills at preparing sheep and cattle for livestock shows. “I’m learning new tricks for the shows, like how you step when the judges come toward you, or how you walk your animal into a certain setup,” Burt said. She said she looks forward to learning something new each time she comes to the camp. “Cattle are my passion,” she said. “And it’s a really neat camp. I spend four days doing what I love.” Tiffany Stroup, a first-year camper from Clinton, followed Savannah’s guidance in clipping the cow. “I’m learning how to do showmanship,
how to fit your cattle before you get them into the show arena,” Stroup said. “You learn things like fluffing their hair.” Colton McCorkle of Holdenville is a fourth-year camper. He said his father attended the camp when he was a teen. “I just wanted to go to the camp that first year,” he said. “But you learn and you get better. There’s always so much. This year, I’m learning to clip better.” The campers stay in CSC dormitories and spend their days working and learning inside and around the barn. They are encouraged to drink plenty of water and to keep their animals hydrated in the 90-degree heat. McPeak used the hot weather to motivate the campers into thinking they’re someone special. “Your friends aren’t out here, getting hot and sweaty,” McPeak said. “You’re special, not average. Don’t stick around negative people.” Motivational affirmations fill the camp. Posters hang around the show barn, reading “You fail only when U don’t give ALL U have!” and “Winners are ex-losers who keep on trying.” *Reprinted from Muskogee Daily Phoenix, Article by Cathy Spaulding
WILDERNESS ADVENTURE Middle- and high-school students from across the state got a chance this summer to handle snakes and catch catfish at Connors State College’s science camp. Campers were able to experience a variety of outdoor activities at the college’s South Ranch, which is south of Warner. The 1,613-acre ranch features nature trails, lakes and shooting facilities that provide plenty of options for the students to learn. “Who else has that?” said Dr. Stuart Woods, a biology professor at Connors. Students from rural communities across Oklahoma attend the science camp. “We invite 40 each week,” Woods said. “Honestly, our approach is for them to have so much fun they don’t know they’re learning.” The week-long sessions are funded by a federal grant program by the U.S. Department of Education called GEAR UP, for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. The program helps students acquire the academic skills, planning information, financial assistance and support they need to succeed in college. The last session is funded by the Oklahoma State Regents’ Summer Academy program. “Support from GEAR UP, the Summer
Academy and the staff help make it successful,” Woods said. Students take part by learning about nature and science. They also get to see what college living is like by staying in the Connors’ dormitories during the week. The students were able to fish, practice shooting, handle snakes and learn about insects. BABYSITTER BOOT CAMP Nineteen boys and girls, ages 8 to 18, recently participated in Connors State College’s second annual Babysitter Boot Camp class. The class, designed to teach safety and babysitting basics, was taught by the revamped child development department with help from the nursing department. “The class was held as a service to the community,” said CSC Child Development Instructor Kimberly Phillips. “We also hope to foster young minds into future early childhood careers.” The babysitters learned storytelling, games, arts, crafts, basic care, and made simple healthy snacks. Each participant authored their own big book with the help of the Cherokee Nation Child Care Resource Center. CSC Nursing Instructor Julie Scott, CONNORS CONNECTION
taught hands-on basic first aid and CPR skills. The babysitters also learned how to market their skills to be the best and most called on babysitter around. Participants took home a babysitting bag full of fun ideas including games, business cards, and a certificate of completion. The child development department at Connors State College has undergone considerable changes to the curriculum and leadership recently to stay up-to-date on the latest in the field and was awarded an Impact Award this past spring. To learn more visit www.connorsstate.edu. SPORTS CAMPS More than 20 youth participated in the Bill Muse Cowboy Basketball shooting camps in July at Melvin Self Field House on the campus of Connors State College. The emphasis of the camp was on developing the basic fundamentals of basketball including shooting, dribbling, rebounding, passing and defense. “We had a pretty good turnout for our camps and the kids had a good time and enjoyed themselves in learning all aspects of the game of basketball,” said Muse. Connors State Head Baseball Coach Perry Keith, and Assistant Bobby Foreman held their hitting and fundamentals clinics 10
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at Biff Thompson Field, June1-3, for ages 5-14, in which 35 youths attended. The young baseball players learned about the fundamentals of hitting, throwing, fielding and base running. “It was a good experience for the young players to learn about the game and interact on the field with each other,” said Keith. “I think everyone learned a lot from each other and gained some experience.” The Cowgirls’ Basketball Camp was one of the most successful in recent years. While the 35 2nd through 8th grade girls who attended were taught the basics of basketball, it was the mentoring they received which made the experience a success. “We teach kids the Cowgirl way to do things and how to have fun while doing it. Having some of our players show up and help out is a bonus for the campers. Our kids have such an influence on the campers and give them someone they can look up to,” said Cowgirls Head Coach Rusty Laverentz. “We had several kids from Haskell that knew DeNora from watching her play in high school. They really enjoyed getting to know her better, getting to play basketball with her and learning from her.” Campers learned the fundamentals
of shooting, dribbling, passing, defense, rebounding, footwork and teamwork. By learning the fundamentals and practicing them, the coaches hope the knowledge gained by the kids will result in their increased enjoyment of the sport. “We also hold this camp so the campers can develop friendships that can last a lifetime with kids that don’t see every day,” said Laverentz. “Plus, there is just this great feeling you get inside when you see a kid accomplish something that they never have before. The smile on their faces when that happens makes everything we put into the camp well worth it.”
Karen Seabolt, Staff
aren Seabolt, senior accountant, started her college career like many who attend Connors State. Coming from the small town of Checotah, and graduating with only 80 in her class, Seabolt was not quite ready for the university experience, instead she wanted a more hands-on close-knit relationship with classmates and students. Seabolt said she began taking concurrent classes at Connors while in high school and chose to continue her education at the same, because she admired how the faculty and staff members cared for each of the students on campus and genuinely showed interest in their lives. “One of the main reasons I chose to pursue an education at Connors was because of the location and the campus size,” said Seabolt. “I could get the college experience without uprooting my life and moving
to a university. I could still live at home and spend time with my family and also gain the experience and education I needed to get a career.” After graduation from Connors State College in 2005, Seabolt attended Northeastern State University and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting. “Connors helped me grow as a student and a person,” said Seabolt. “After earning my associates here I had the confidence and life skills to go to NSU and really buckle down and focus on my education. The great thing about Connors is they really helped me make the transition from high school to the university.” After earning her degree at NSU, Seabolt chose a career in accounting. She has worked as an accountant for eight years,
beginning employment with an industrial supply store, followed by time at a hospital in Tahlequah, and, now, Connors State. Seabolt was the first person in her family to graduate college. Now she and her husband and son live in Fort Gibson and own a ranch in Checotah and raise cattle.
Joyce Johnson, Instructor
n 1990, Joyce Ann Johnson was a single mother of two precious girls and only making $90 a week. That all changed when Johnson decided she was not going to get any financial assistance from the state. That was when she decided she was going to go to college, Connors State to be exact. “In my mind, at the time, that was the best
and only way to become independent and self-sufficient,” said Johnson. When Johnson decided to go to CSC, she had help from a very special person, Beverly Wilcoxon. Wilcoxon, who currently serves as Connors’ veteran’s advisor, helped Johnson fill out her financial aid papers. Johnson remembered, “She made sure to always call me by name when I came into her office and made sure that I understood how to utilize the monies received and not to take any more money than needed each semester.” Johnson followed Wilcoxon’s advice and only took what she needed. Because she did, she had very little debt upon graduating. After graduation, Johnson joined the work force. Working at local hospitals as a registered nurse, Johnson was thankful she was able to successfully support her family
financially. During her time at CSC, Johnson was so inspired by her nursing instructors that she knew she wanted to return and make an impact on future students. Outside of being a teacher at CSC, Johnson is a very active member of the Connors’ faculty. She is not only a division chair for the Nursing and Allied Health programs and an academic advisor to students pursuing a nursing degree, but she is also a chair for the curriculum committee, and part of academic council. When asked what her favorite thing about working at Connors State was, she said, “The students I serve and the people I work for and with. Connors allows me, as a faculty member, to be autonomous with teaching in the classroom and the ability to be creative in the classroom.”
Alumnus John Rodriguez
ohn Rodriguez played for Connors State Cowboys Head Baseball Coach Perry Keith during the 1994 and 1995 seasons. Following Rodriguez’s graduation from CSC, he was an undrafted free agent signee by the New York Yankees in 1996.
He was previously drafted right out of Brandeis High School in New York in the 16th round (425th pick) by the San Diego Padres, but did not sign, instead opting to play at CSC for Coach Keith. After graduating from Connors, Rodriguez signed with New York and was in the Yankees’ minor league system for eight years before signing with the Cleveland Indians in 2005. He was traded to the Cardinals later that season and was called up from the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds to replace the injured Reggie Sanders in St. Louis. While at Triple-A Memphis, Rodriguez hit .342 with 17 home runs. He performed well enough that the Cardinals signed him to a one-year contract following the season. On July 20, 2005, Rodriguez hit his first home run off Ben
Sheets of the Milwaukee Brewers. Rodriguez got more playing time for the 2006 Cardinals and was on the postseason roster, winning a World Series ring when the Cardinals won the 2006 World Series. In two Major League seasons, 2005 and 2006, with the Cardinals, Rodriguez hit .298, with 7 home runs and collected 43 RBIs. After being released by St. Louis in 2007, Rodriguez played in the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets, and New York Yankees minor league systems, before signing with Veracruz of the Mexican League in 2011 and with Wichita in the American Association in 2012, before retiring. The former Cowboy is currently an instructor at a baseball academy in Manhattan, New York.
Zadie McElhaney, Student
ike most small children, Zadie McElhaney had big dreams for her future that would change over time. As a child she wanted to be a pharmacist, but years of growing up on a ranch in Hitchita, Oklahoma, impacted her decision and she chose Connors State College to help lead her down a new path. “I was raised by my wonderful, hard-working parents, Jeff and Mary McElhaney,” said McElhaney. “My dad is a farrier (horse shoer) and my mom is a sixth grade school teacher. I have two brothers, Tanner, who is an alumni of the Connors State rodeo team, and a younger brother, Tiger, who will be taking concurrent classes at CSC this year.” Her love of agriculture and her family’s history with Connors State College groomed McElhaney to pursue her passions of becoming a rodeo broadcast journalist and the sport of rodeo. At
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Connors State she found an outlet for both. “I enjoy getting to be a student and learn all I need to know to further my career, but at the same time I get to do what I love, rodeo,” she said. Growing up in a small town and a close family made Connors’ small class sizes and personal attention a comfortable and exciting choice for McElhaney. “I chose Connors because of the close-knit family feel to the campus and the staff,” she said. “I also chose Connors because of the amount of money you are able to save to get the quality education you need. I have made many life-long friends on my journey here.” In addition to being a member of the Connors State Rodeo Team, McElhaney is a member of the President’s Leadership Class and the communications department. After graduating from Connors, she plans to attend Oklahoma State University
and receive a degree in Agriculture Communications. “If I had it to do all over again, I would choose Connors every time,” said McElhaney. “The staff go above and beyond to make sure you receive the education you deserve.”
Dinger Wins Spirit of Excellence Award
ulie Dinger is leading the way for women in higher education. In addition to being a wife and mother, she is a sociology professor, division chair, advocate for the abused and a member of the Connors State College Executive Council, where she serves as the Interim Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. Her passion and dedication to these roles are what prompted College President, Dr. Tim Faltyn, to nominate her for a Women in Leadership Award. “Julie is a dedicated member of our college,” said Faltyn. “I am so proud to have her on the Executive Council. She works tirelessly to make our college one of the best and I know she does it for the love of the students.” Dinger was surprised when she won the award, having no idea she had been selected by the deciding committee. She received the Spirit of Excellence award during the Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce’s “2015 Women in
Leadership Conference.” “The purpose of the Women in Leadership Awards is to recognize individual women who have distinguished themselves in the Greater Muskogee Area through exemplary success and hard work in her profession and her community while living a balanced lifestyle,” said Chamber President Treasure McKenzie. “Julie’s vision for the future forges new roles and inspiration for women and builds capacity for empowerment.” The Spirit of Excellence Award is based on career accomplishments, community involvement, work-life balance, educational accomplishments, being a role model and door opener, and chamber participation Dinger credits the supportive atmosphere at Connors State College for her success. “It allows me to help mentor women of any age,” Dinger said. “From the first-time freshman at Warner to the adult student in Muskogee, it gives me pride to help
mentor them academically.” Co-worker and friend, Robin O’Quinn, couldn’t be happier for Dinger. “This award was presented to an outstanding woman who is demonstrating well-rounded and exemplary success throughout the many facets of her life and community and is at the peak of her experiences,” said O’Quinn. “Julie demonstrates this immaculately and has the potential to continue to impact many women and girls in the future.” Photo: (L to R): Ann Ong, chairwoman of the Chamber Board of Directors; McKenzie; Dinger; Dr. Ryan Blanton, CSC associate VP for external affairs; Dr. Faltyn.
Harding Honored During Santa Gertrudis National Show
he 2015 National Junior Santa Gertrudis Heifer Show, held June 21-27 at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Okla., was held in honor of former Connors State College Division Chair for Agriculture, Dr. Gary Harding. The show, themed “Red Gerts on Red Dirt,” featured approximately 200 junior members exhibiting more than 400 head of cattle. A past president of the Arkoma Santa Gertrudis Association and 30-year board member, Harding was on the Board of Directors for Santa Gertrudis Breeders International (SGBI) for a total of 12 years, and once judged the International Santa Gertrudis Show in Brazil. “There is no one more deserving of this honor than Dr. Gary Harding,” said Rance Reynolds, Arkoma Santa Gertrudis Association president. “He is one of the true pioneers and spokesmen of the breed.” Harding earned a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University, where he was a member of the livestock judging team, Block and Bridle Club, Alpha Zeta, and worked at the purebred Beef Center. He then received a Master’s of Science in Animal Science with an emphasis in range livestock nutrition
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from the University of Nevada at Reno. Upon graduation, Harding returned to Oklahoma to farm and ranch, and eventually, took a position as an agriculture instructor at CSC. “I started with 16 students, 35 Hereford cows and 200 acres,” said Harding. “Jerry McPeak [CSC livestock judging coach] and I decided we needed to add both an American and a Continental breed to the college’s cattle herd, to have a complete learning experience for our students.” To facilitate the herd expansion, Santa Gertrudis breeders donated 12 heifers and provided bulls and semen to the college, and Oklahoma Simmental breeders followed suit. Due to the increase in cattle and student numbers, more resources were required to keep operations running. A 1,316-acre ranch, not far from the school, became available, and Harding was able to acquire the entire property for the college for $1. By this time, the college had also hired more staff – a farm manager to help with the livestock, and an assistant judging team coach to help with the increasing student numbers. Harding then got the Bekhaert Corporation behind the ranch project, which provided fencing materials. Not long after it was finished, the ranch officially became known as
the “Gary Harding Ranch and Research Center.” “I am proud of all we were able to accomplish with the South Ranch – from purchase to completion,” said Harding. “It’s a real asset that not many two-year colleges, and a lot of universities, are able to provide.” Connors had a long-dormant, bull test facility and program, which Harding also rejuvenated. Under his supervision, more than 10,000 bulls were tested during his 27-year tenure. By the time Harding retired, the Connors agriculture program had grown to more than 200 students from 17 states and a staff of seven, while the farm grew to more than 1,600 acres and 200 cows. “I was just a professional bum with a love for kids and cattle,” said Harding. Harding and his wife Marjorie were married for 38 years and had two children, DeeDee and Chad. Harding retired from Connors State College following the death of his wife in 2005. In 2013, he sold his farm in Warner and reduced his cowherd. He married a lifelong friend, Karen Green Martin, and now they spend a lot of their time traveling.
Henson Inducted to College Basketball Hall of Fame
ou Henson, a 1952 graduate of Connors State College, who played two years of basketball for the Cowboys in 1951 and ’52, will be inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in November in Springfield, Mass. A native of Okay, Okla., Henson, following his graduation from Connors State, attended New Mexico State University where he later coached from 1966 to 1975, then spent 21 years at the University of Illinois before retiring in 1996. Henson’s retirement only lasted one year as he returned to New Mexico State replacing Neil McCarthy. In his 41-year coaching career, Henson
became the winningest coach at Illinois and New Mexico State. He led both schools to the Final Four—the Aggies in 1970 and Illini in1989. Henson began his coaching career at Las Cruces High School in 1957. During his coaching career he posted a 779-413 win-loss record which made him one of the winningest coaches in Division I basketball history. He was the first Connors State player to have his number retired, that occurring in 1996, and he was inducted into the Connors State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.
Baseball NJCAA All-American Academics
hree Connors State Cowboys baseball players have been named National Junior College Athletic Association Academic All-Americans for the 2014-15 academic year: Tim Smithson, Jake Tolbert and Hunter Harrison (photos, left to right). Smithson, a freshman infielder from Warner, achieved a 3.8 GPA; Tolbert, a sophomore pitcher from Salina, a 3.8 GPA; and Harrison, a sophomore infielder and
pitcher from Muskogee, had a GPA of 3.7. Smithson played in 36 games as a freshman hitting .286 including 9 doubles and 2 home runs. He had 25 RBIs with a .429 slugging percentage. Tolbert appeared in 16 games on the mound for the Cowboys his final season at Connors State. He posted a 5-1 record with a 2.88 earned run average. Tolbert walked 9 and struck out 32 in 34 1/3
innings on the mound. In Harrison’s final season at Connors, he played in 36 games hitting for a .329 average including 3 doubles and 2 home runs. He collected 15 RBIs and had a slugging percentage of .452. On the mound he posted a 2-0 record with an ERA of 2.10. He struck out 25 and walked 15 in 34 1/3 innings.
Connors Golf Tournament Provides Scholarships
onnors State College’s Athletics Department recently held a golf tournament to raise funds for the school’s athletic scholarships. Sixteen teams participated raising more than $6,000. “We had a very good turnout for the event and we appreciate everyone who participated,” said Cowboys’ Basketball Head Coach Bill Muse. “I believe everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and are looking forward to next year’s event.”
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The winning team was Harrison Tire, made up of Mike Young, Jordan Whitford, Larry Young, and Kyle Tingel. The Harrison Tire Team fired a 51 to take the championship. Second place went to Firstar Bank with a 53 and third place to Team Phillips with a 55. The funds will be used to provide athletic scholarships to students wishing to attend Connors State College. For more information on the athletics program
at Connors State College visit www. connorsstate.edu. Photo: (L to R) CSC Associate VP for External Affairs, Dr. Ryan Blanton; Mike Young, Jordan Whitford, Kyle Tingel, Larry Young, and CSC Cowboys’ Basketball Head Coach Bill Muse.
Horticulture Students Complete Stunning Internships
wo Connors State College horticulture students were given the opportunity to showcase what they’ve learned through summer internships. Sophomore, Sam Bynum, completed a Seasonal Horticulture Internship this summer at the Myriad Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City, while Kendall Golden, a 2013 Connors graduate and current OSU senior, completed an internship at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. “I am very proud of both of these students,” said CSC Director of Horticulture, Debra Golden. “They have taken the skills and knowledge they received here at Connors and shared their passion with the world.” Bynum spent his summer working in the Children’s Garden at the Myriad Gardens, which bolstered a Charlotte’s Web theme. Bynum implemented weekly walk-ups in the Children’s Garden with horticulture crafts, foods, reading, up cycling, and scavenger hunts. He was also responsible for watering and care of the animals inside
the conservatory. “This has been a good experience,” said Bynum. “I have learned a ton about plant maintenance and watering demands. I have also experienced an expansion of my people skills while at the Myriad, because of the wide range of visitor’s ages and backgrounds that come through the gardens. “ Golden was selected from more than 100 applicants for her seasonal internship at Longwood, and completed studies and work experience there in Outdoor Display, Greenhouse Production and Conservatory Management. Longwood Gardens is more than 1,000 acres of the former Pierre DuPont Estate outside of Philadelphia. The conservatory is almost 5 acres under glass. “I have learned so much in my short time at Longwood,” said Golden. “This opportunity has given me experience that I could never get from just books. I plan to continue my education in graduate school and complete another diverse internship
next year. It was a big step for me to come to Pennsylvania from Oklahoma for an internship and I am so glad that I did.” The horticulture program at Connors State College provides students the opportunity for hands-on learning in a wide variety of introductory horticulture subjects including, plant propagation, greenhouse management, commercial plant production, residential landscape design and management, turf grass management, floral design, woody plant and herbaceous plant identification, horticulture sales management and promotions and interior scaping. Facilities include two 36’ x 50’ teaching greenhouses, a horticulture lab classroom and a walk-in cooler for bulb production and cut flowers. Demonstration beds for student experience include vegetable, herb, perennial, herbaceous, succulent, and tropical beds. Cold frames and temporary shade houses are also utilized for student learning.
CSC Provides Students with Free Tablet Computers
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Instant access to instructors and classmates is another benefit of the Connors Connects program. “This program is going to help me further my education and not be limited by a lack of technology,” said student John Nelson. “I can now immediately communicate with my professor.” The program also reduces the financial burden for students as electronic textbooks are significantly more affordable. “It’s going to help me tremendously with the book cost,” said student Sarah Patterson. “I have to pay out of pocket for all of my books and e-books are cheaper. I’m really excited.” The pilot program is currently funded by the Connors Development Foundation, directed by Blanton. “We’ll collect and analyze data on student success for passing the course and persisting to graduation,” said Faltyn. “We anticipate that providing students with the technology and tools for success will improve their path to graduation.” The Connect program exemplifies the spirit of innovation that Connors State
College strives for as part of their strategic vision for the future. As the program grows, so will student success. “We serve a lot of underprivileged students,” said Hodges. “Allowing them to have access to technology they normally wouldn’t is pretty awesome.” Photo: Pictured are CSC administrators surrounded by the students selected for the Connors Connects pilot program. Seated, (L to R): Dr. Ryan Carlton, biology instructor, President Tim Faltyn, Dr. Ryan Blanton, associate VP for external affairs, : Julie Dinger, Interim Assistant VP for Academic & Student Affairs (standing), and Heath Hodges, director of IT.
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wenty-nine students in Dr. Ryan Carlton’s General Biology class at Connors State College were shocked and surprised today when the college’s president, Dr. Tim Faltyn, interrupted their class to give them all free computers. The class was chosen for a pilot program called Connors Connects, which aims to put a computer in the hands of every student on campus. “This particular class was chosen because the demographics of the class are almost identical to the demographics of our entire student body,” said CSC’s Associate VP for External Affairs, Dr. Ryan Blanton. “If this program works well for this class, we believe it will work well for all of our students.” Faltyn and CSC Director of IT, Heath Hodges, came up with the idea in response to the demands of creating and maintaining lab spaces for students and classes. “The vision is to make every classroom you are in an instant laboratory,” Faltyn told students. “I don’t know of any other college in Oklahoma doing this; but, we don’t want to just be first, we want to be the best.”
Title III Implementation
onnors State College was recently awarded a five-year Title III grant totaling $5 million from the U.S. Department of Education. Connors was one of the few institutions in the U.S. to receive the full $5 million, as other awarded institutions received less than half that amount. Connors State College President, Dr. Tim Faltyn, said receiving this grant is likely the most transformative thing to happen to the college since the Muskogee campus was opened. Along with online and hybrid classes, Connors will use these funds to develop comprehensive online support services and to create a Native American Success Cultural Center (NASCC). The NASCC will provide access to Native American databases, journals, books, DVDs, and storytelling. Access will be available to Native American students, staff, faculty, and other interested community members. The NASCC will also provide students areas for personal or collaborative use. The Title III funds will also bring guest
speakers from the Native American community to aid in cultural understanding and, in addition, will go to provide tutors for evening hours. Title III has funded development of a new center for faculty development (Center for Excellence in Teaching, Technology, and Innovation). The CFE is available to be scheduled for room usage and laptops are available in the CFE for faculty check out. Faculty will also have access to a new recording studio with the latest equipment, technologies, and staff to assist with lecture capture. The staff who work diligently to ensure the funds are appropriated correctly are Gwen Rodgers, Title III project manager; Kim Phillips, Title III curriculum specialist and activity director; Colleen Noble, Title III Native American success and Cultural Center director; Randy Mayhall, Title III research analyst; Matthew Hackler, Title III instructional designer and online support services; Barbara Martin, Title III Native American and ADA coordinator; Callie Connolly, Title III Native American student advisor; and Brandy McElyea, Title III
administrative assistant. Online faculty now have staff and a center for quality assurance, training, and encouragement. Title III is funding new services for online education. Many of these services may also be used for face-to-face courses. Services include the Readi-Tool, Tutor. com, Respondus, Panopto, Class Climate and Blackboard Collaborate. Title III will be providing innovated monthly trainings for faculty to enhance classroom design, teaching methods, learning styles, and plans to have all online classes aligned with guidelines provided by Quality Matters. “We strive every day to make a difference in the lives of our students, faculty, staff and community,” said Faltyn. “The Title III grant helps us achieve this goal.” Photo: Title III Staff Members (L to R): Randy Mayhall, Gwen Rodgers, Kim Phillips, Colleen Noble, Barbara Martin, Brandy McElyea, Callie Connolly, and Matt Hackler.
Student Union Study Area Now Open
ith the fall semester underway, Connors State College has opened up the latest addition to the A.D. Stone Student Union in Warner, a study area for all students. Mike Jackson, Dean of Students said the area, located just outside of his office, will be open to all from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. and was designed to be a study area and hangout lounge. “The Student Union Study Area is available to all of our students, both residential and commuter,” said Jackson. “It’s a great area with fast, well-working computers and a color printer for anyone to use. We have also designated a few areas for students who want to use their own laptops or just want to watch the latest news or catch the ball game on our new 80 inch TV.” One of the key features of the new student union is the accessibility to Jackson’s office. As the Dean of Students, Jackson oversees several aspects of the students’ lives while attending Connors and having his office in a communal area,
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with his door always open, reassures the students and staff he is always available should they have a concern. “I can’t think of a better place for it to be,” said Jackson. “I enjoy meeting the students and it gives me an opportunity to learn what the students’ need, as well as what is important to them. Our staff is flexible and if there is an idea to do something different we can usually make it work for them if it has merit.” Student Activities Coordinator Derek Drake’s office is also located in the new Student Union Study Area. One of Drake’s walls is an open glass window, which allows him to be accessible at all times. Whether having a question about where a classroom or building is; a student wanting to sign up for, or suggest an event or activity; or even just hanging out for a while, Drake is always around to meet the needs of the students and to ensure everyone has a meaningful college experience while on campus. “It’s always good to meet the students
and to get to know them on a personal level,” said Drake. “The new TV will change the way people interact on this campus and with cable connected to it, we’ll be able to watch a live ballgame, or other popular program as a group.” Jackson said the Student Union Study Area also has a conference room which seats 15 comfortably, has a Smart Board, and will soon have iTV capability. “The Student Government Association meets here and it is also available to any other campus group or organization if they need a nice, quiet place to meet in the middle of campus,” said Jackson. For student safety the area is monitored at night by campus police and is under constant video surveillance. “During the day Derek Drake and myself are usually in our offices, and if anyone ever has a concern, they can always openly come talk to one of us or find the Campus Police,” said Jackson. “There may not be a safer area on this campus.”
Nursing & Allied Health Facility Now Online
n April 24, 2014, the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents joined Connors State College faculty and staff, along with a host of others, to break ground on the CSC Nursing and Allied Health building. On that momentous occasion, CSC President, Dr. Tim Faltyn, spoke to the crowd saying, “For thirty years Connors has been turning out quality nurses, making our nursing program one of the premier programs in the region. It is because of this success that we are able to be here today to break ground on the Nursing and Allied Health building.” Thirteen months later, the $9.5 million, 35,000 square foot building is open, featuring state-of-the-art classroom and lab space, a student common area, a lecture hall and student courtyard. “When I met President Faltyn, he shared with me his vision to make Muskogee the healthcare capitol of Oklahoma. Through much planning, fundraising and hard work, that vision is becoming a reality,” said Muskogee Mayor Bob Coburn. “As a community partner and leader, Connors State College has partnered with many
organizations to not only improve the student experience, but to improve the community as well.” Currently, Connors State College’s nursing program holds the distinction of being number one in the nation for healthcare education among Native American students. In addition to graduating more than 100 qualified nurses per year, Connors State College has partnered with the City of Muskogee Foundation to offer the Muskogee Difference Healthcare Scholarship. This scholarship offers free tuition to Muskogee county residents pursuing an allied health education at Connors in exchange for their commitment to work two years in the county. “I want to congratulate Mayor Coburn and the City of Muskogee, ICTC Superintendent Tony Pivec and the Indian Capital Technology Center, and Connors State College on this historic partnership that includes a $9.5 million investment in one of the most successful nursing and health education programs in the state of Oklahoma,” said Oklahoma A&M Regent Tucker Link. “This is not just an education
being provided, but this education provides for the development of a career that can last a lifetime and benefit thousands of our fellow Oklahomans.” The new facility is located at the Three Rivers Port Campus at 2501 N. 41st Street East, adjacent to the Indian Capital Technology Center. The Three Rivers Port Campus occupies a corridor off the Muskogee Turnpike, on an existing public transportation route, providing easier access for students. “Connors State College has been proud to call the cities of Muskogee and Warner home for more than 100 years,” said Faltyn. “The Three Rivers Port Campus expansion provides a wonderful opportunity for our academic programs and thriving partnership with ICTC to continue to excel.” Connors has made a commitment to not only improving the lives of its students, but also to improving the communities they serve. For more information on Connors State College’s many degree options and scholarships visit www.connorsstate.edu.
Campus Life For the first two weeks of class, the Campus Life Department wanted the students, faculty, and staff to feel welcomed, and offered several events for individuals to meet and develop relationships. Nearly a thousand experiences were had with the planned events, including a Welcome Back Luau, performances from Magician Nate Staniforth, DUI Go Karts, hotdog cookouts on the Three Rivers Port Campus, game night, open house, and bowling, among others.
Connors State Collegeâ€™s Leadership Connors Class III met with Oklahoma State Representative George Faught. Class participants meet with several community leaders throughout the year to learn different leadership styles. Pictured are (left to right): Kenard Booker, Student Support Services Director, Jonathan Rowe, Coordinator of Residential Live & Special Events, Rhonda Wilson, Academic Business Chair, Kwanna King, Registrar, Lee Ann Garland, English Instructor, Faught, Freeman Culver, History Instructor, Kevin Isom, Assistant Director of IT, and Austin Rosenthal, Purchasing Specialist. 22
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Cindy Anderson, executive assistant to the president, took CSC to the Alamo.
Instructor Cathy Monholland and students took Connors State to England during a study abroad trip.
t’s been said your college years are always with you. While this is true, we want to know where you are taking Connors State College! Send a photo of you wearing your CSC gear – we want to see where CSC travels. Wear it on vacation, out to dinner … anywhere you go! Photos will be featured in the next issue of the CONNECTION and uploaded to Facebook. The image with the most votes will win a prize. Send photos to: email@example.com.
Jonathan Rowe, coordinator of residential life & special events, and wife Jana, financial aid counselor, took Connors to the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii.
C O N N O R S S TAT E C O L L E G E 700 College Road | Warner, OK 74469
Students wind down the evenings on the first week of class with Campus Life activities and conversations with friends. New brick seating in front of the Classroom Building was a project of the Presidentâ€™s Leadership Class and Student Government Association. 24 VOLUME 5 NUMBER 5
A publication of Connors State College in Warner and Muskogee, Oklahoma -- the Connection: Volume 5, Number 5.