TCC Writes Fall-Winter 2016

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“Promoting student success one writer at a time.�

Our Trinity River Hallmarks An Unshakeable Focus on Student Learning Service and Community Engagement Strong, Open Communication Professional and Personal Growth Multicultural Competence and Language Acquisition Interdisciplinary Collaboration Wellness

inside this issue...

10 16 22 34 36 38 42 50 52 54 56 10. TCC Writes: A Reflection Promoting student success one writer at a time 16. Dream Big: An Interview with Joanne Carmarce A musician and graphic novelist on the verge of striking gold 22. Al Dias: In the Crosshairs Actor, producer, businessman, and TCC student shares his thoughts on success and family 34. Who I Am? By placing yourself in the right place at the right time, you can uncover who you really are 36. I Am Amongst You A veteran’s powerful story of overcoming not only death but life 38. Everything Has Changed An inspirational story of a mother suffering from a severe autoimmune disorder that threatens to shatter the lives of a close-knit family; told through the eyes of her daughter 42. Keland Sparks: Tragedy to Triumph After a gunshot to the face, Keland Sparks lives to share his amazing story of strength and courage 50. Jabari: Just Keeping It Real An animator uses rap to keep it real and to better others and his own environment 52. When Society Happens “The American Dream” means different things to different people; see what it means to this writer 54. If You’re From A Small Town Sometimes the big city can be a very unforgiving place 56. The Way We Were Looking into a mirror can often uncover that sometimes our bodies have minds of their own

Promoting student success one writer at a time. This publication is made possible through the generous writing contributions from the students of Tarrant County College, Trinity River Campus, and the Trinity River Campus Writing & Learning Center. Our Hallmark is An Unshakeable Focus on Student Learning

The first issue of TCC Writes Magazine began as a newsletter published in October of 2009. To read previous issues of TCC Writes Magazine visit our resource site at, then follow the TCC Writes link.

“Promoting student success one writer at a time.�



veryone has a story. In fact, I have found that during the seven-plus years of occupying the role of Managing Editor and Publisher of TCC Writes, I continue to be amazed and humbled by the people of the Trinity River Campus. Their shared stories, art, and photography have been the cornerstone of success for TCC Writes. I thank each of them for choosing us as their platform for sharing works. Over the years, I have been privileged to provide a positive avenue for bringing to the public narratives that focused on survival, overcoming adversity, and accomplishing the seemingly impossible. Through the incredible human lens of engaging art and introspective writing from the Trinity River community, I have witnessed the beauty of achievement and growth, as well as devastation and reconstruction, as told by each author. During the seven-plus years TCC Writes has been in existence, I have been both inspired and encouraged by the internal fortitude and strength of our students, as they pursue the journey of achieving their education. I have also come to believe, that there is nothing stronger, powerful, or more resilient than the human spirit. Regardless of whatever circumstance an individual is born into, what country or culture they come from, or language they speak, in the end, despite our differences, on many levels, we are still the same. On this campus, it is our diversity and connection to each other that always seem to make Trinity River such a unique place. Call it a Disney culture, or the TR experience, it is our differences that are the key element to our strengths. Finally, as each of us strive to improve the quality of his/her life, reach goals, and achieve pieces of the American Dream, we must never forget that TCC is a vehicle for achieving not only a dream, but also anything in life one could ever hope for. As contributors to TCC Writes, over 150 individuals are one step closer to reaching whatever goal they established for themselves. The following pages are a salute to the writers and former contributors to TCC Writes who took that step. The pages acknowledge their contribution to Tarrant County College, the Trinity River Campus, TCC Writes, and (most of all) themselves. They shared their stories. It is my sincere hope that, as readers and supporters of this magazine, you have enjoyed the artistry and inspirational messages that have been reflected in each of the 12 issues. It is also my desire that, whatever your personal goal, you never quit; continue telling your story and pursuing your dream. Again, TCC is a place where dreams become reality, so use every opportunity afforded to display your talent, not just for personal satisfaction, but to serve and benefit your community and the world. Thank you,

Steven LeMons

Winter 2010 “The Hidden Truth About Service Learning” by Angel Garcia “Turning Activity Into Creativity” by Samantha Windschitl “Up Close & Personal: A Conversation with Dr. Tahita Fulkerson” by Steven LeMons “The Trinity River Movie & Book Review Club: Writing About Movies” by Shawn Stewart “Library Sciences: Taking the Art of Language to a New Level” by Carol Everhart “Le Poisson—The Fish” by Tania McKinney “All Chains Have Been Broken” by Lorraine Hutson “The Positive Significance and Future of the Latino Student” by Michelle Menchaca “Why I Will Not Fail” by Ngong Kok “Jim Schrantz: A Professor Who Mixes Passion With Purpose” by Shawn Stewart “Motivational Moment: Thriving on Chaos” by Steven LeMons

Fall/Winter 2010: “Last Call” by Meaghan Pugh “Blind” by Ariel Stucker “Patricia Barker” by Patricia Barker “A Man on the Move” by Samantha Windschitl “Art Imitating Life in Black and White” by David Vest, Jana Ayers, and Jose Torres “Ting Lennartson” by Ting Lennartson “A Pilgrimage of Self Destruction” by Shade Everton “Bella Blues…Bella Blues…” by Marlon Moore “Not Synonymous” by Toni Jane Wiethoker “Nilanjana Rahman” by Nilanjana Rahman “The Making of a Leader” by Eric Ruvalcaba “55 Stupid Words” by Brian Patman

Fall/Winter 2010: Cont. “The Place” by Joel Miller “Sanctuary” by Chandra Mayeux “The Liz” by Teya Kelly “Katherine Brooke” by Katherine Brooke “Diversity” by India Arie “Laura Escamilla” by Laura Escamilla “Janet Rodriguez” by Janet Rodriguez “Babita Daware” by Babita Daware “I Am an American” by Steven LeMons

Spring 2010: “The Final Voyage of John Muir” by Craig Gipson “The Warrior Princess” by Adriana Rodriguez “Moving in Circles” by Candy Boerwinkle “Hoke and Paw Paw” by Maricia Johns “Ideal Creation” by Carl Howell “Tired of the Same Old Same Old?” by Samantha Windschitl “Divorce” by Bryan Young “My Treasure True” by C. Monday

Spring 2011:


“Trinity River Campus All Stars: Hitting it Out of the Park!” by Eric Ruvalcaba “Special Delivery, Home Births” by Connie D. Alling “From High School to College” by Jimmy Rouyre “In His Hands” by Mathew Dean “A Formal Look at Trinity River Campus” by Christina Holmes “Student Warrior” by Ryan Lanham “The Art of Being Casey Mitchell” by Casey Mitchell “My Biggest Supporters” by Erika Platou “Suffering Erica” by Ryan Lanham “Epiphany” by Betty Spencer “From Russia with Love” by Nikita Tembo “The Edge of Ruin” by Miles Martin “Coming Out of the Dark” by Haley Cole “Welcome” by Steven LeMons

Spring 2012: “College Is for Losers” by Gregory Morris “Feel the Heat” by Elizabeth Martin “East and West, North and South” by Sofia Wong “The Professors, the Essay, and the Magic of Life” by Scott Thrower “Catching Every Red Light in America” by Payne Parker “Cosmo” by Betty Spencer “Sadie” by Connie Alling “Choreographing a Dinner Party” by Peter Zweifel “Food for Thought” by Jessica Hoover, photography by Jessica Hoover and Peter Zweifel “Through the Lens of Alice Hale” by Alice Hale “Fear of a Parent” an Excerpt by Huda Jabbar “You Write” by Lauriva Day “When Your Soldier Comes Home” by Chelsea Slater “The Wizard” by Kenny Kost “The Day the Earth Shook” by Raymundo Buggs “Destruction Lack Victory” by Terryon D. Desse “My Dream Revisited” an Excerpt by Shalamar Stricklin “Let’s Make It Happen” by Steven LeMons “Disneyland, 1986: where are you now? by Shawn Stewart

Fall/Winter 2012: “Making A Difference” by Steven LeMons “My Scholastic Epiphany” by Lori Banks “Getting the Boot” by Connie Moyer “The Sailing Warrior” by Connie Alling “A Blessing, Not a Chore” by Janis Hare “Dreams from Beyond the Bottle” by Charlotte Johnson “Stepping Stones to a Dream” by Sarah Reckling “My Dream Job” by Caroline Diaz “My Dream” by Shirley Smith “My Father’s Dream” by Lauriva Day “6,840,507,000” by Julie Highland “Your Rays” by Sumer Semmens “Achieving My Dream” by Kathryn Humphreys “Si, Se Puede” by Rudy Oalde “Let’s Make It Happen” by Steven LeMons Cover photograph by Brandon Tucker

Spring 2013: “Rising Stars” by Hana Jaafari and Madeline Paddock “Coming Out of the Dark: a Conversation with Former TCC Student Haley Cole” by Steven LeMons “Crazy Driver” by Dana Reid “College Is for Losers” by Gregory Morris “Leadership and Motivation” by Conner Moyer “Trinity River Campus All Stars: Hitting it Out of the Park!” by Eric Ruvakaba “When Your Soldier Comes Home” by Chelsea Slater “It Could Happen to You” by Pamela Shephard “The Day the Earth Shook” by Raymundo Buggs “Student Warrior” by Ryan Lanham “In His Hands” by Mathew Dean “Why Am I Here?” by Nicole Slater “Let Go” by Melissa Porter “Last Call” by Meaghan Pugh “A Short Story” by Sage Bevan “And I Just Bought a Watch” by Josh Noble “Reflections from the River: Student Art Exhibit” drawings by Cahn Tiet, Valarie Salazar, D. Reinhardt, Kynda Franklin, Jokson Holguin, Rachel Keefer, and Brandon Tucker “Moving Forward” by Steven LeMons

Spring 2014: “On the Road to Success There Will Be Obstacles” by Dr. Tyson McMillan “Boxed In” by Samuel Colunga “The Journey” by Patricia Perez-Macias “Keeping Your Head in the Game of Academics” by Billy Lyons III “Wes Moore: Phi Theta Kappa Mission Personified” by Sharon Maxwell “This Beaten Path” by Tamishia Allen-Franklin “Movement” by Todd Fratt “My Golden Ticket” by Everett J. Davis “What Draws You In” by Thomas Rudolph “The Tides of Loss” by Kathryn Humphreys “ Painting With Words” by Sarah Reckling “Going Places: an Interview with Nathaniel Peoples” by Steven LeMons “A Word from Michael Garner” by Michael Garner

Winter 2014: “Two Worlds” by Kelly Jo Loftin “Nothing: a word that means more than you think” by Steven LeMons “Conner Moyer: Turning it Around” by Conner Moyer Reprinted for publication in spring 2013 issue

Winter 2014: Cont. “The Chase of Summer” by Sarah Reckling “Katrina” as told by Trenice Winchester “The Night I Lost Control” by Katie Jones and “Happy Birthday Trinity River” by Lauriva Day

Winter 2014-2015: “Our Hallmarks” by Dr. Tahita Fulkerson “Upward Bound: an Interview with Hakim Zackaria” by Steven LeMons “Through the Lens of Imagination” by Heather Shannon “Exchanging Words” by Casey Mitchell “Condoms on Campus” by Rebecca Bentley “The Red Rubber Band” by Theresa Cortez “Not a Hero, but Heroic” by Mike A. Lopez “The Best of All Worlds” by Barrett Camille Rice “American Robin Friends” by Sarah Reckling “My Gift Back to the World” by Lauren Anikwe “Double Exposure” by Jalayah and Jazelle Lumar, and Jonah and Haden Wendt “My Glitch” by Angelica Camacho “A Soldier’s Son” by Chelsea Slater

Fall/Winter 2015-2016: “Climbing Mount Everest” by Steven LeMons “The Sign” by Ruth Ann Hodges “The Last Day of My Childhood” by Kim Byas “From Vietnam to America” by Nhi Phan “The Black” by Jonathan Rose “Passion, Purpose and Progress: an Interview with Dr. Sean Madison” by Heather Shannon “Takeaways, Realizations, and Life-Long Lessons:” A Reflection” by Lindsey Taylor “L.T.” Wallace “Rolf” by Heather Olivia Shannon “Tribal Wars” by Amina Abdi “The Fighter” by Maricia D.C. Johns

Special thanks to these individuals: Dr. Sean Madison Dr. Bryan Stewart Dr. Jim Schrantz Dr. Scott Robinson Dr. Tahita Fulkerson Dr. Robert Munoz Dr. Mary French Terri Schrantz Adrian Rodriguez Michael Saunders Freddie Sandifer Samantha Windschitl Maricia Johns Cheryl Roberts Michelle Menchaca

Dr. Tyson McMillan Patricia Barker Carol Everhart Danelle Toups Angel Garcia Michael Bumgardner Robin Birt Dr. Justin Brumit Nidya Chavez Christi Bluefeather Jessica Garcia Abby Hanson Monica Lea Sharon Maxwell Hector Gomez

David Vest Jana Ayers Jose Torres Ting Lennartson Nilanjana Rahman Colleen Fitzpatrick Kathrine Brooke Laura Escamilla Janet Rodriguez Babita Daware Haylie Cole Sgt. Clinton Riggins Lionel Bailey Cheryl Garrett Scott Thrower

Maggie Engel Mathew Dean Christina Holmes Ryan Lanham Miles Martin Casey Mitchell Alice Hale Jessica Hoover Sofia Wong Peter Zweifel Angel Bresiño Barrett Camille Rice Kaley McGill Shelley Smith Briana Ringgold

Shawn Stewart Erica Bennett Troy Langston Monica Prochnow Donna Shannon Ruth Ann Hodges Stevie Blakley Beta Sigma Mu Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Elizabeth Gonzales Nia Dillon Merrill Cope The Trinity River Copy Center

Brandon Tucker Canh Tiet Kynda Franklin D. Reinhardt Joksan Holguin Frachel Keefer Valerie Salazar Angel Fernandez The English Department Dee Parish Candice Eldridge Trenice Winchester

Did you know that of the nine staff members working in the TR Writing & Learning Center, seven have been certified by the National Tutoring Association, and six have taught in a classroom as either a teacher, college instructor, or corporate facilitator? For us, it’s more than just tutoring; it’s also about helping you tap into your own creative skills and academic potential. Let us help you take your writing to another level.

Melanie George PT Certified Tutor, Instructional Associate, Former Teacher, Master of Arts in Applied Psychology and Reading

Shawn Stewart Certified Tutor, Instructional Associate, Co-Coordinator, and Former University English Instructor

Natalie Stringer PT Certified Tutor, Instructional Assistant and College Adjunct English Instructor Master of Arts in English

Jimmy Peebles Certified Tutor, Instructional Associate, Former Teacher, and Master of Arts in English

Stephanie Sargent PT Certified Tutor, Instructional Associate, Former Teacher, and proficient in American Sign Language

The Writing & Learning Center Sarah Schrantz PT Certified Tutor, Instructional Assistant with a BA in English

Briana Ringgold PT Instructional Associate with a BA in Art History

Jonathan Rose PT Instructional Assistant with a BA in English

Location: TREF 1402 Hours: M-F 8:30 AM - 7:30 PM Sat 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM

Phone: 817-515-1069 Steven LeMons Certified Tutor, Writing & Learning Center Coordinator, Former Curriculum Developer and Corporate Trainer & Facilitator

Resource Site

The Trinity River Writing & Learning Center, where writing is our business.

Big Joanne Carmarce, marketing major and TCC student, has an incredible talent and big dreams of someday working in public relations. Not only is she an accomplished musician who plays guitar in her own band, she is also a graphic artist. She is so gifted that she views her talent as “Just one of those things.� She is the author and illustrator of her own graphic novel, GAIA: the Gestalt of Anamnesis, and TCC Writes wants our audience to know more about Joanne: who she is, where she is going, and what she is doing with her amazing talents.

TCC Writes: Joanne, where are you originally from? Joanne: I’m originally from the Philippines. TCC Writes: So what brings you to Texas and, specifically, what brought you to TCC? Joanne: Well, years ago, my family applied for a family migration, and my mom was sent by an agency here in Texas, and, since she had to work here, we moved here as well. When we looked for the best schools here in Texas, we found TCC to be one of them, and that’s why I’m here now. TCC Writes: What do you like about attending TCC? Joanne: I probably like the way that my teachers teach. It’s very different from the Philippines. I like how they teach here, it’s very open and I can manage my time studying while doing other things. TCC Writes: So, what’s your favorite class? Joanne: It had to be my philosophy class. It was really interesting. TCC Writes: Have you declared a major? Joanne: I am actually majoring in marketing right now. TCC Writes: And you also have a very unique talent. What is that talent? Joanne: It’s drawing, really. TCC Writes: How long have you been drawing? Joanne: I’ve been drawing since sixth grade. It’s been a long time. TCC Writes: Have you worked on any specific projects? Joanne: Not really. I start a lot of them, but I never get to finish them. TCC Writes: So, you said you started around sixth grade. Just as a hobby? Joanne: Yeah, it was mostly because we had an art class when I was in the sixth grade, and I always drew. TCC Writes: Well, what really surprised me is that you have this incredible ability to create graphic novels, and when you showed me one of your novels, I was blown away by your abilities. When did you discover you can create like that? Joanne: Probably, when I was in first year of high school. The first year of high school comes after sixth grade in the Philippines. So around that time. TCC Writes: This is a very unique story, it really is. Do you in any way relate to the character or is it really you? Joanne: Yeah. It’s a story about my personal life. TCC Writes: Since it is about your personal life, please describe some of the features to our audience so they can understand what it is they’re looking at. Joanne: The cover is supposed to be me right now and inside the character is supposed to be me, like, ten years from now. TCC Writes: And what is the story about? Joanne: It’s basically about me remembering what I did before I left the Philippines for America. I spent my last summer, which was seventy days, in the Philippines. Every day, I went out with my friends, because I wanted to treasure that remaining time, because I knew it was going to be a long time before I would be going back. TCC Writes: Right. Well, you know, as I look through it and read it, the detail of your work is amazing. I mean, the graphics, the characters, their interaction, the way you use your pencil, brush, or tools to get that point across is absolutely amazing. You also did the binding as well. Now, explain that, how did you do that? Joanne: Well, it’s basically easy. I just took another long sheet of bond paper and I folded it and then glued each paper to one another, that’s why there’s this gap. And then, after I did that, I kinda poked holes here and I sewed them together so they wouldn’t separate. After I stitched the pages together, I put on the

cover. Since it was longer, I then glued it together, making sure that it wouldn’t come off. TCC Writes: So, when you look at it, the style seems to be anime or manga. Is that something that inspired you? Joanne: Yes, I really like anime, and I’m really into reading mangas. In fact, I wanted to be someone who made mangas, but I don’t think I can achieve that dream as of now. TCC Writes: Why not? Joanne: Well I’m studying here and I can’t do everything at the same time. TCC Writes: Well, you did that. Joanne: *laughs* Well, it was for my class, so I did it. TCC Writes: Really? Ok, have you created any others? Joanne: Not really. Just drawings. TCC Writes: How long does it take you to create something like this? Joanne: I don’t remember exactly, but I think it took a week or two for me to create this. And it was time pressuring for me, really. TCC Writes: And you did it for a grade in class? Joanne: Well, not just a grade, I wanted to express myself. TCC Writes: So what did you get on the paper? Joanne: I got an A on it. TCC Writes: I would think so. Now, did any other Western comics influence you at all? Joanne: I’m not really sure, but, when I was a kid, I kept reading, like, Marvel stories. I read a lot of those. That’s basically what got me to start drawing. TCC Writes: Why did you decide to tell this story in this format? Joanne: It was supposed to be originally a paper, but I found this chance to draw, because I really love drawing and I want to express myself in this way, so I said, why not take this chance to show off what I can do? And then I did it. TCC Writes: So, how long did you work on it? Joanne: I worked on it every day. TCC Writes: For how long? Joanne: As soon as I got home, I started working on drawing it, and sometimes I don’t even sleep at night. TCC Writes: Really? Well, it definitely shows. What if someone said, “y’know, Joanne, we really like this. Could you create others for us and we’ll pay you?” Could you see yourself doing this as a career? Joanne: That’s sounds really nice. I would love to do that someday. TCC Writes: Since music plays such an important role in everything we see on television and in video, did you ever think about songs that would go along with your graphic novel? Joanne: Yes, I actually wrote one song in here. TCC Writes: What song was that? Joanne: The title is “Once in Neverland,” it’s in the third chapter. It’s an original composition with one of my bandmates. TCC Writes: Band? So, you’re a musician, too? Joanne: Yes. TCC Writes: What do you play? Joanne: I play guitar. TCC Writes: And how long have you been playing guitar? Joanne: Since I was in first year high school. TCC Writes: Do you have any other works of this type planned for the future? Joanne: I have lots of plans for doing this type of work. I also do have other works, but they’re not graphic novels, they’re just drawings and paintings. TCC Writes: If you could share any advice for other aspiring artists or musicians, what would it be?

Joanne: The best advice I could give them is to just do what they want, express how they feel, and everything else will come into place just at the right time and in the right place. Know that everything will be fine. TCC Writes: Thank you Joanne for sharing your time and thoughts with us. Joanne: Thank you for inviting me. 

Excerpts from Joanne Carmarce’s GAIA: The Gestalt of Anamnesis

All images used by permission - Copyright © Joanne Carmarce 2015–2016

You can read the rest of this and other stories on Joanne’s blog at All images used by permission - Copyright © Joanne Carmarce 2015–2016

Hey, dawg! Now that I got yor atension, lissen up. If I had wint to the riting senter, i no i wodda made a beter grade on my paper. So, dont en up in the dog house like me. Make yor apontment too day.

Bow wow.

Visit our resource site at

Al Dias

actor, producer, businessman, father, husband, and TCC student. Al Dias is making waves in the Texas movie industry both as an on-screen and behind-the-camera success. Over twenty-three acting credits and four years as a producer make Al a true powerhouse, a force to be reckoned with. Al doesn’t just play characters; he lives them. With unmistakable swagger combined with an attitude that exudes confidence and starpower, Al is creating a brand that makes him unique. However, even with all the success Al has achieved, he is not only down to earth, but he’s also the type of guy you’d like to go out and have a beer with. We caught up with Al to learn more about how he got started and where he is going with his career.


What was it like growing up in your household? I was living in a very active and culturally diverse environment in Bridgeport at a time when immigrants from all over migrated. Family was very tight. Raised by a single mother, a loving grandmother, and uncles that I looked up to. The oldest, Uncle Tony, was my Godfather and the father figure I was lacking in my early years. My mother and I then moved to Miami where she met my step–father, a military man serving in the Air Force. We went from the active neighborhood setting to living on Homestead Airforce Base, which was a culture shock for me, and took some time to get used to. Before I knew it, things changed again: my father was reassigned to Biloxi, Mississippi for a few months, and then we came to Ft. Worth, Texas, sometime when I was between ten and eleven. I have since made Fort Worth my home and have raised my sons here. At the age of thirteen, I began working in Denver, Colorado where one of my uncles ran a prominent restaurant called the Paramount Cafe. I worked in the basement of the deli cutting fruits, making breakfast burritos, and doing deliveries. During the summers of my teenage years, I would go back east to work in the family construction business. My uncle always told me “If you don’t want to work this hard the rest of your life you better use your head.” This only ignited the entrepreneurial spirit in me and the desire to make something big happen. You spent a great deal of time in the music industry as a producer. How did that industry impact your life? The music industry did change my life around 198485. As HipHop was on the rise I was drawn in by Ozone & Turbo from the movie Breakin. That movie was instrumental in revealing the art of breakdancing and a form of music that just motivated me. Ice T, Reckless, Run DMC, King of Rock, LL Cool J, Rock the Bells, Public Enemy, Rebel Without A Pause, Big Daddy Kane, Set it Off, Eric B & Rakim, NWA, they all had anthems that motivated me to want to make something happen, no matter what it took, I was going to “Do It!” In the Mid 90’s, I formed MTD Records, an independent record label, with my group

Deviouz, and put together another group of talented young men who called themselves Immortal Soldierz. They began traveling and performing with us as we developed and recorded their material. The Soldierz have since evolved to a household name throughout the south due to their hard work and persistence. In 1998, I closed my independent label, and joined forces with producer Zeno G of Yin Yang Productions and Kevin “26” Smith of Dallas Cowboys, to form Puppy Dog Unlimited Records. We had many talented artists, which led us to recording a compilation record with Zeno Gonzales entitled The Black Spanish. We partnered with a huge Tejano label out of Corpus Christie, Hacienda Records. Hacienda wanted to break into the rap industry. That record has a hit single entitled Negro Cumbia along with many great songs from some of the most talented creatives gathered from the DFW Metroplex at that time. In 2001, I formed Organized Management and decided to take my management skills and work ethic into a more diversified business. That is when I began marketing for a commercial collections firm and learning the collections industry. My specialty was working with defaulted business-to-business transactions. While in the music industry, there were times when I would be up for two or three days straight producing songs, so I figured, if I could do that, I could certainly work in collections. The music industry prepared me for the work ethic and constant drive needed for the continued pursuit of success. The entertainment industry never sleeps. Did you work with any famous people in the business? I worked with many talented up-and-coming independent artists and producers who worked with some of the biggest names in the business at that time. The most notable album I worked on before I transitioned out of the music industry was with Vanilla Ice, who at the time went by V-Ice. I wrote a few songs on his Bi-Polar album, and one of the songs Detonator is one he performs quite often at his shows.

Who are your mentors and/or people you admire and why? I do not have any specific mentors that guided me through my entrepreneurial career, that I called to get advice from, whether personal or business, although I had, and currently have a working relationship with people I have learned valuable lessons from. I do admire many successful individuals who have overcome the odds that seemed stacked against them, not only to achieve success, but maintain it in a healthy and productive manner. I believe in the power of affirmation, metaphysics, and the law of attraction. My mentor is God, but I would like to acknowledge people like Tony Robbins, Les Brown, Napoleon Hill, Louise Hay, and Zig Ziglar for their help. It is through their writings, which guided me through a thought process, that I have been able to maximize the true power of “I am,� and how to be as productive as possible by guarding my time wisely.

been blessed to work with some of the biggest names in the industry. People such as Robert Rodriguez, The Farrely Brothers, Chuck Norris, Danny Trejo, Johnny Knoxville, Brian Cox, Katherin Heigl, Mike Starr, and more. What current motion picture projects are you currently involved? My most recent production Strait & Narrow, had its release on DVD and BluRay on October 25, 2016. Domestic and international distribution negotiations are being finalized for more widespread marketability. I was the producer and the lead bad-guy, Miguel, the muscle man to the Cartel boss. It is an action-packed film that we all had fun shooting. I also have a film under development entitled Oil Run. It is an action film that has a purpose and a community outreach, that brings awareness to an ever-growing concern, regarding the dangers of fracking and the use of waste water injection wells. This is not a documentary, but an action-packed edge-of-your-seat, drama and suspense feature film with a real-world scenario. Our company will also be launching a game app, called Run Tony Run, to accompany the film. In the film, two worlds collide and in the end lay a foundation for major change to be implemented, to preserve the environment and mankind. Our community outreach will include a petition for legislators in the remaining forty-eight states that have not yet banned fracking. An actual oil run will be set up in every major city we are able to obtain partnerships with. Stay tuned, and feel free to visit After all, blood is thicker than oil.

How did you transition from the music industry into acting? I was approached by a talent agent, who saw something inside me I never even considered before. By the power of acceptance and a willingness to give it a chance, I succeeded in the film industry. I have

How do you balance show business, while still maintaining a healthy family lifestyle? In the beginning, when I was involved in the music industry, I did not balance my time as effectively as I should have. I did not have the discipline needed to maintain a healthy relationship with my wife and children. This was at a time when it was most important for me to be there through every step of my sons’ early years. I could see the negative effect it was having on myself and the family as a whole. It came to the point where I was forced to make better choices to secure and protect everything that mattered most to me: my family. I lost a son. I believe it was because I was not living right. I needed to get my mind right and prioritize my life. I also came to realize that I was supposed to be second, God was supposed to be first in my life. So, in 2001, I decided to exit the music industry, to diversify my entrepreneurial pursuits in other industries. This enabled me to focus on taking care of my family. The film industry is only good when you are working, and most of the time you are unemployed. In my case, to stay active, I began getting involved with

producing, back in 2006. I have since produced several films, with others in various stages of development. This has its perks and benefits, but until you get to where you can write your own check, demand your own wage, and not risk your life savings, you must be disciplined enough to maintain all of your responsibilities. On top of that, I have to juggle the day-to-day events for survival, adding to the equation the responsibility of having children to provide for. I find balance in my life by appropriately managing my time for my family.

What has been the most challenging? Over the years, one of the most challenging things to do is stay available. Sometimes you receive a call only a day or two before you are needed, and you have to accommodate the producer or agency in order to participate in the project. Talk about just dropping everything.

What brought you to TCC and what is your major? I first obtained my GED, and later attended the Art Institute of Dallas, to get into the business of making After all of this, I pursue my entrepreneurship music videos. I dropped out halfway through the projects, while maintaining the support of my semester. I always felt like my education was an area significant other. I like to get the family involved in I had shortchanged myself, regardless of all the other some of the decision-making process, in my accomplishments I had fulfilled in the entertainment productions. This creates a healthy work environment industry, and as an entrepreneur. Obtaining a and makes everyone part of the process. We are in degree, at this stage of my life, is more about this together, whether I am acting as a producer, or personal satisfaction and fulfillment. I want the official talent. When I reorganized my life, I was able to be accolade to be present behind my name and to be there for my children, every step of the way. part of my legacy, not to mention the education. It provides me the opportunity to use my hands-on experience, while planning the second half of my life. This is something I did not do during the first part of my life. I simply lived day-to-day and flew by the seat

What has been most rewarding about your career? The most rewarding thing about my pursuits in the film industry to date is being able to go home at the end of the night, to my family. I was given the opportunity to meet Al Pacino, while working on the film, Any Given Sunday, which had scenes shot in the old Dallas Cowboys Stadium. For all my accomplishments, I have not had to leave the state of Texas. The Texas film industry has been very good to me, enabling me to establish myself, in this area. Getting paid for being myself is fantastic. Now that my kids are adults and taking care of their own business, it has ignited the desire for me to explore how far I can go. I get paid to have fun and escape from reality. I am fortunate to work with very humble people. Nothing is more incredible than the enjoyment I feel when one of my films is being screened. I am able to watch it with everyone who participated in it and join in the celebration that follows. The energy and excitement is one-of-a-kind. It also feels great to have the ability to point an aspiring talent in the right direction by providing insight and opening a door or two for a newcomer.

of my pants, while still thanking God for every day. I became a Tarrant County College student, after being out of a traditional class room for over twentyfive years, to begin my pursuit of a double major in Marketing and Management, and to eventually finish with an MBA in Finance. I want to work smarter and maximize my full potential. As an entrepreneur, I made a decision to pursue my education, while saving money during my undergraduate career. After visiting several universities in the area, I discovered I could take sixty hours at TCC which are transferrable to almost any major university. Being able to acquire this many hours at a lower price cut my learning expenses in half. Being in a smaller classroom setting at TCC enables me to get the one-on-one attention needed to prepare me for university courses. My overall goal is to obtain my MBA from an Ivy League College,

such as Harvard or Yale. How do you plan to use your education? I plan on using my education to expand my existing portfolio of business: in real estate, collections, and film productions. I want to do all of this while building brands for longevity that increase my market potential, all the while being positioned and diversified enough to minimize risk. I would also like to do some philanthropic work and join efforts with organizations and individuals fighting to protect the environment and our natural resources.

to be. I wish I could have known then, what I know now, and maybe I could have had a better level of focus with less distractions.

You have played many characters, but the role that seems to stand out most is the tough-guy role. How did you create that persona, and how does the image impact your life off camera? I have never acted in my life. I reenact instances from different environments I have been in throughout my younger years. I have never off-camera attempted to appear as a tough guy. I am a man who stands with confidence, who has had experience and paid his If you could go back and change anything about dues. I am serious about this business, and there is your life, what would it be? And why? always someone tougher, bigger, or badder. No one I think everything I have been through in my life has individual is indispensable, no matter how tough they prepared me for who I am today, and for who I am yet are, act like, or would like to be. Respect is more to become. Could I have made better choices in important, staying humble, thankful, and knowing you certain areas? I am certain, but I believe that all the are blessed to be alive. Do not judge a man by what experiences were given to me for a reason, and they he has or does not have, judge him by his actions and make me who I am today, scars and all. Faith has no his character. I feel I am the best now that I have ever fear, and I feel that I have learned invaluable lessons been, only because I truly know where I come from through every situation, enabling me to evolve. There mentally, spiritually, and physically. Any actor that are some relationships I wish could have been falls into a role needs to be able to decipher the times salvaged, or ended on a better note. In many cases, to use character application and let his or her true it took only once to learn what not to do, and who not personality shine through when not working. Respect is not given; it is earned. After all, there is not a reset button in life. What recommendation would you give aspiring entertainers? You must get familiar with the pros and cons of the industry, so you can understand what drives it. You must also know where there can be shortages of opportunities for work in your area. This may make it necessary for you to travel to other states in order to pursue different openings, when there is a slow-down, and until you get the call saying, “Congratulations, you have been booked.� You must develop rhino skin, by preparing yourself for constant rejection.

To be successful in the entertainment industry, you must do your homework and spend time training for the role, in the event you do receive the call that casting has requested you. Before the audition, you must do research on character development and the project itself, or at least be able to deliver your interpretation of it with minimal information. Know what it is that you want, and what you are seeking. Set boundaries for yourself, and do not just accept anything that comes your way. When entering the industry, I suggest one thing—do what you want to be a movie star, a sitcom regular, or a working actor whether it be print jobs, commercials, industrials, theater, plays, or combination. Ask yourself “What is my risk tolerance?” and “How much am I willing to sacrifice to make my dream a reality?” Set realistic goals, take it one day at a time, and understand that persistence pays dividends. If it is meant to happen, trust me, it will. And finally, do not act, become. Get familiar with your state and local film commissions. Know which universities have film departments. Check for local film festivals and events, and get connected. 

The following are just a few of Al’s film credits:

    

        

      

Oil Run (announced) Bernie Napolino - (in production) Strait & Narrow - Miguel - 2016 Silent Red - Dino - 2015 Mission Air - Solomon Herrera (as Al Dias) - 2014 Sin City: A Dame to Kill For - Tony (as Al Dias) - 2014 Bail Out (TV Series) - Joe Esposito / Joe Espostio - 2013-2014 - The Set Up Part II (2014) - Joe Esposito - Nothing Personal, Just Business (2014) - Joe Esposito - East Meets West Part II (2014) Joe Esposito - Whattya Kiddin' Me? (2013) - Joe Esposito - La Famiglia Part II (2013) - Joe Esposito India (Short) - India (as Al Dias) - 2014 Finding Hope - Officer Hill - 2013 Hate Vegans (Short) - Frank Cicero - 2012 Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D - OSS Agent #1 (as Al 'Train' Dias) - 2011 Small Timers - Sykes - 2011 Inventors and Vendors - Blackbird - 2010 Machete - Bodyguard #2 (as Al 'Train' Dias) - 2010 The Good Guys (TV Series) - Big Lou - 2010 - Silvio's Way (2010) - Big Lou (as Al 'Train' Dias) Bail Out (Short) - Councilman Esposito - 2010 Mafia Tech Support (Short) - Courier (as Al Dias) - 2010 2006 Prison Break: Proof of Innocence (TV Mini-Series) - 2006 - Consequences (2006) ... Featured (uncredited) The Ringer - Michael (as Al 'Train' Dias) - 2005 La Ley del Silencio (TV Series) - Chef - 2005 - Episode #1.1 (2005) - Chef The Riff - Crew (uncredited) - 2001 Living the Life - Club Bouncer - 2000 Walker, Texas Ranger (TV Series) - Hector Montalto / Oso / Flaco—1998 - Soldiers of Hate (2000) - Hector Montalto (as Alcides 'Train' Dias) - Jacob's Ladder (1999) - Oso (as Alcides 'Train' Dias) - Royal Heist (1998) - Flaco (as Alcides 'Train' Dias) To Serve and Protect (TV Mini-Series) - Bodega Teen Boy #2—1999 - Episode #1.1 (1999) ... Bodega Teen Boy #2

Source: The Internet Movie Database IMDb

As a former TCC student and contributor to TCC Writes, Heather Olivia Shannon is definitely on the move. She is a woman with big dreams and a determination to match it. Now attending Texas Tech University as a journalism major, she is living proof of what can be done once a person puts her mind to it. Heather asserts that her affiliation with TCC Writes has helped open doors for her in incredible ways. By gaining a press pass as a writer for TCC Writes, Heather was granted entry into a presidential candidate’s press conference during the campaign and posed a question to the candidate. She also received an invitation to attend the presidential inauguration, and was interviewed by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Although Heather is making positive strides to make her dream of becoming a national news correspondent a reality, she still credits TCC for providing her with the tools and encouragement necessary for her success. TCC Writes salutes Heather Olivia Shannon and wishes her all the best.â–

Tarrant County College



Come join our team. The Men of Color Mentoring Program (MCM) is designed to address the challenges of first generation college students, traditionally underrepresented groups and students in need of academic and personal direction. The program will serve as a support system and resource for these students, with the end goal of maximizing their level of achievement at Tarrant County College and beyond. The MCM Program is available to all students enrolled at TCC. If you are interested, please register online at    

Provides academic and personal support Reviews mentee academic and program progress Promotes participation in campus activities Provides encouragement and support with challenging situations For more information, please contact Freddie Sandifer at or Eligio Martinez at or call 817-515-5294

An Equal Opportunity Institution offering Equal Access to persons with disabilities

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Working with a tutor in the Trinity River Writing & Learning Center could help you turn your writing from drab to colorful, and help you to get you one step closer to achieving your academic goals. Call and set up your appointment today.

Who am I? At first I didn’t know! I never considered myself smart. Intelligence was certainly used to describe anyone, but me. Who was I? It became so easy to not exist that I lived at the back of life and ideas unexplored, for fear of being exposed as dumb, stupid, crazy, or different. My voice quivered mentally and was kept unheard, but the silence reverberated so, it shook the very walls I had imprisoned myself in. I knew there was more. There had to be. I could feel it! Even in my quietness, I fear not, for it means that I am thinking of the next obstacle I must successfully overcome, the next doubt I will dismiss, the next……….whatever! Who could I become …I wonder. I began to think! My isolation became too crowded. I had to get out… The tear’s fell like a torrential rain into puddles of dryness. They still fall, but I am now able to use them. As I write in pen without having to erase, what was once pools of untapped resources, now rivers of knowledge form, falling and spilling over like waterfalls of understanding into oceans of brilliance, creativeness, and talent. I can do this! The hallways that once seemed like a maze of miles are not long enough, nor wide enough for me to carry my confidence down. The rooms that once felt so huge that I felt like a tiny speck of stupidity, cannot hold the enthusiasm and freedom I eagerly exhibit. Who am I! I am a poet. I take consonants and vowels and build pyramids of hope. I am an artist. Each word and paragraph painting beautiful portraits. I am the composer of words that have the ability to restore, singing out melodies you can’t ignore. I am a writer! I can write a five page thesis in a single night, and be seen carrying a backpack full of books the next morning up six flights of stairs. I can add to a problem or have multiple solutions. I know if I continually keep trying, subtracting any negative thought of giving up to the highest power, the sky’s not a limit but the height in which I wish to reach. The valley of books and the intensity of learning is deeper than the red sea, but I fear not, for now I can be me, a student!

I Am Amongst You I am. I am amongst you. I am amongst you as a student, But before I was a student, I was a soldier. I was a soldier who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan between 2002 and 2011. I was a 92M, a mortuary affairs specialist in the U.S. Army. I have lost count, but I have assisted in laying over 1000 souls to rest: old, young, black, white, brown, coalition forces enemy, men, women . . . and children. I cared for each and helped each get home. Think of me as a glorified travel agent. If done properly, you should never have known that I ever existed or even passed through. Now, I am a veteran and a student with ample time to ponder. I have since been compensated monetarily for my new limitations due to post-traumatic stress disorder. And now, every month, for the rest of my life, I am reminded of what I have seen . . . and done. A lifetime reminder of the dark memories of America's fallen. To some, this would be like winning the lottery, but to me it is blood money that I capitalized on in a time of war. Quite simply, I am a war profiteer off of my deceased comrades. I say this for no applause, no fanfare, no pat on the back, and no sympathy, but to simply tell you that I feel guilty. Guilty that I should profit, dare I say capitalize, on the pain, misery, and death of others. My well being, from the food I eat to the bed I sleep on to all of my creature comforts, is due to the death of others and is thus tainted with their blood and sacrifice. I pray that you do not find me as being melodramatic, but instead sincere. And with that, I pour out my heart to you on paper or in pixel.

I am amongst you. I am.


Everything Has Changed

ooking back, I believe everything began to change, in November of 2012, on the day after Thanksgiving. My family and I were cleaning the house, after our enormous Thanksgiving feast we hold for our whole family, when my mom began feeling extremely ill and run down. Her stomach, head, and chest hurt. She became more and more fatigued, until she had to lie down. At first, my dad and I wondered if she ate something strange which messed with her stomach. Y e t , a s t h e d a y progressed, she began to feel worse. Her stomach started cramping, she began to have chills, and felt as if she were about to pass out. Suddenly, she started saying her whole body felt tingly. Before I knew it, my mother was lying on our living room floor, unable to move her body. We called for an ambulance, and she was rushed to the hospital. The rest of the day was a blur, and I still cannot recall all of the details. I do remember seeing my mom lying in the hospital bed, and somehow I knew nothing would ever be the same. At the hospital, the doctors had no idea what was wrong with my mom. They ran test after test, but nothing “abnormal” appeared. “All of her tests came back normal,” they told us. Her blood work was “fine,” and so was the rest of her body. The cardiovascular doctor told her it “was all in her head.” The neurologist said she was suffering from “severe anxiety.” To hear those doctors tell my mom she was anxious and crazy made me absolutely livid. My mom is

not an anxious person. In fact, my mother is the most vibrant, loving, and clear-headed person I know. When the doctors said she had anxiety, I knew they were wrong. I was watching my mother slowly deteriorate into nothing, and not a single person could help my family or I figure out what was going on.

wake up in the middle of the night. These are only a few of the problems she suffered from. In total, she had 48 symptoms. We were able to find a holistic doctor, who understood my mom’s symptoms. He ran tests on my mom, and we found out she did have Celiac Disease. We also learned it can be genetic and that it was passed down to my little brother. Celiac Disease can be corrected with proper diet and nutrition. People who have it cannot eat foods such as bread, pasta, and pastries. They cannot have anything with gluten in it, which is a protein found in many grains such as rye, wheat, and barley. Celiac Disease can also cause many other food sensitivities, and we found out my mom had those as well.

After the hospital, my mom grew worse every single day. She lost so much weight that she looked like a skeleton. The color drained from her face, until she was a pale shade of white. She could barely eat, and her stomach hurt constantly. I tried to help her, but there was nothing I could do. I sat and watched helplessly, while my mom suffered. It was an extremely dark time in my family’s life. There were times when I wondered how much longer I would get When we figured out both my mom and brother had to be around my mom. this disease, my dad and I decided to go on a glutenThen, one day, my dad began researching. He began free diet, too. When I first started on the diet, it was looking at auto-immune disorders and the affects only because I did not want them to feel alone, but the they have on the body. He found a genetic auto- longer I ate like they did, the better I felt. I was not as immune disorder, called Celiac Disease. This particular tired in the mornings. I was never sleepy after I ate, disorder causes severe damage to the small and my face did not break out. My stomach did not intestine. When a person, who suffers from this hurt, and I was able to focus more in school. The disease, ingests gluten, a protein found in bread, the more I learned and researched, the more I realized gluten attacks their gut flora. These attacks lead to the importance of diet and how it can affect your damage on the villi, which are tiny, finger-like health and body. Although this diet was working projections that line the small intestine and promote wonders for my family and me, life was still a struggle. nutrient absorption. As the villi become more My mom had Celiac Disease for 38 years and never damaged, the fewer nutrients your body absorbs. knew she was sick. A great deal of damage had The more we read about and studied Celiac Disease, already been done to her body, and it was going to the more her symptoms began to make sense. take a while to repair it. It was hard to see this usually energetic woman, unable to get up, off of the couch. My mom was extremely dizzy all of the time. She There would be days where I would be talking to her, could not concentrate on simple tasks, and she had but she could not respond. Driving became a struggle trouble forming words. She was beginning to have for her. There were days when I would play music for short-term memory loss, so she would ask me the her, in hope she would react, to her favorite songs. same question five times in a row. Her eyes were The diet was working, but it was a slow process. Then blurry and she could not focus on anything. Her face at last, we began seeing progress. She became more felt tingly, she described it as “pins and needles.” She energetic in the mornings, and carrying on conversations had severe neck spasms and pain constantly. Her became easier. I noticed her recovering, and she mouth was always dry and she said she tasted metal began to take our dog on walks. She had the desire to every time she ate. She had severe digestive workout again. Her appetite returned, and her problems, and could not keep any food in her stomach quit hurting as often. She gained weight and stomach. Her muscles quit working properly. She had the color came back into her face. She seemed alive, severe muscle weakness, slowness and clumsiness. again. She often said she felt as if she were covered with a “heavy wet blanket.” Her circulation was poor, and Going through this experience with my mom changed her fingers and toes turned white. She was cold all of me as a person. I learned humility, because, at the the time, and she suffered from inner trembling. Her lowest points, I had to accept the fact there was little heart would race and pound horribly, causing her to I could do for my mother. I had to take responsibility,

because I had to step up and take care of her. I learned how to cook and began doing much more around the house. I knew I was going to do anything I could for my mom. Finally, I developed trust, because I had to have insurmountable faith in knowing everything was going to be okay. There were times when I was angry, and did not want to have faith. How could there be a God, if He would let something like this happen to my mom? Yet, through the whole experience my faith actually grew. My mom’s sickness taught me about love and the importance of always being there for someone. I changed as a person, and I am truly better for going through the dark times. My mom’s illness also changed my views on doctors and medicine. I am still thankful for modern medicine and the doctors we have today. Without them, people would not live past 30. I do believe nutrition is a key factor in life longevity, many people overlook. The ingredients we put into our body do affect our health. If we fill our system with chemicals and processed food, won’t it have adverse reactions with the chemicals in our bodies? I learned how important it is to eat foods, full of healthy fats and good protein. I have become a believer in nutrition and healing through more natural ways. Now, I strive to help anyone, who might be struggling with auto-immune disorders. I can honestly say that seeing all of the people my mom has helped has made the whole journey worth it.

Yes, it was hard, and dark, and difficult. There were times I thought I might lose my mom, my best friend. She has used her story to make such a difference in numerous peoples’ lives. I am blessed to be able to witness her heart for others, her determination and her perseverance. There have been many times in my life, when I wanted to quit, but the thought of how strong and determined my mom is pushes me on. I chose the title of this article “Everything Has Changed,” because, four years ago, everything did change. Now, my mom is healthier than she has ever been. My little brother has been saved from a lifetime of illness. My dad and I are healthier for the way we eat. As a result of her experience, my mom has been able to help many people. It has been amazing to see her help change lives, and share her story with others. Everything did change for my family and me, and I am truly a better person for it.

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Breaking Free Presentation


ot even the neardeath experience of a gunshot wound to the face, could keep Keland Sparks, from giving up on himself, or his dream of becoming a fashion designer.

Keland Sparks


Do you truly believe that erasing an incident from our history would do us any good? Although the memory of the experience may feel like too much to bear, totally dismissing the fact that it impacted your life is not something you can overlook. The memories we develop from these life-changing experiences sometimes allow us to reflect. If necessary, there are times when we can use these experiences to help others avoid tragedy, and to relate to them on a level we previously may not have been able to. Attending Tarrant County College, Trinity River Campus, is providing me with an academic avenue for achieving my long term goals and the ultimate dream of becoming a world-renowned fashion designer. I would like to impact the world and others’ beliefs about succeeding after facing a horrific tragedy in life. It is possible to overcome, and hopefully my story can serve as an inspiration to others who may question their own ability to rebound from disaster. The following is part of my story. It was May 16, 2008, in a quiet and peaceful Dallas, Texas suburb. Although the days were getting longer, this one simply seemed to slip away. It had become late afternoon, and the night had begun to creep into the evening. After receiving a text message at 8:30 PM, from a friend regarding a party, like most young people my age, my childhood friends persuaded me to go. After all, we hardly ever did the spontaneous party thing, as we only attended our own birthday parties. There we were, Zach, Jeffery, Delcy, and I, ready to go out, enjoy the evening and each other’s company. Little did we know how this decision would change all our lives forever. We all piled into Zach’s car and began to make our way to the house party our friend Nando was hosting. None of us were very large, but Zach’s car felt extremely cramped.

Maybe it was my imagination, or maybe it was due to the fact he never cleaned out or emptied his belongings from his car, nor did he ever take them inside the house. Once we arrived at the party, everyone was excited and ready to have fun. In addition to the excitement and atmosphere, I was happy to be surrounded by people who I strongly cared about and who cared about me. Due to the lack of space inside the house, the actual party was held in the back yard. It was truly shaping up to be a great evening. It could not have been more than thirty minutes after our arrival when the entire crowd froze in deep silence. Gunshots had been heard by several individuals, who were dancing. At the time, no one had taken the warning seriously, because the individual who reported the news began laughing afterwards. However, a few minutes later, gunshots could be heard again. This time, it was serious. Given the fact that everyone had now become fully aware of what was going on, my first reaction was to run to safety as quickly as possible, but I did not do that. As a result, all my friends had scattered during the commotion. A young lady

tragedy to

triumph I had known from high school ran directly in front of me. She moved swiftly, without any thought of running into anyone. Afterwards, I felt the sting of being hit in the face by an unknown object. I assumed my friend had unknowingly bumped into me. By this time, the situation had turned to chaos, but as Jessica was running, her thoughts turned to checking on me to see if I was okay. As soon as she turned to make sure I was alright, she noticed I had blood all over my shirt and pants. Without warning, she began screaming my name in such a terrifying way that it brought chills to me. “Keland! Keland!” is all that I remember hearing. I began to rub my hands slowly

against my face and body, not wanting to accept the reality of what I thought my hands would discover. Regardless, I soon had to face the inevitable, I had been shot. Not just anywhere but in my face, and I was losing blood by the second. Apparently, one of the bullets had ricocheted off a car parked in the backyard. I could feel myself accepting this strange reality, and immediately began going into shock within seconds of realizing what happened. Both an ambulance and the police had been called. I was later told that once the ambulance arrived, I was unconscious. My friends followed the ambulance to the hospital to make sure I would be okay or to confirm I might die. Once I was rushed into emergency surgery, I could not think about anything else, other than whether I would survive or not. My friends were always by my side, so it was no surprise to me they would be there with me, during the time I needed them most. At the time, I was residing with my grandmother, who was at home. When she received a phone call stating I had been taken to the emergency room for immediate surgery at Baylor Hospital, she became overcome with grief. She immediately rushed as fast as possible to be there. My doctor said I would be alright, but would have to remain in the hospital for at least two months and would require reconstructive jaw surgery.

My classmates looked at me differently, and everyone questioned me, daily about the incident. Everything I had believed, trusted in, and fought for had gone completely out the window. At that moment, I did not know what to think about life, nor how to process the unanswered questions. Going through these obstacles took a great deal of courage to face each day. However, it was through this experience I learned how to manage adversity and still come out of it with a smile, instead of bitterness. This challenge was one I could not get over in a day or

Jessica was running, her thoughts turned to checking on me to see if I was okay. As soon as she turned to make sure I was alright, she noticed I had blood all over my shirt and pants. Without warning, she began screaming my name in such a terrifying way that it brought chills to me. “Keland! Keland!” is all that I remembered hearing.

two, or even in a couple of months. After much soul searching and self evaluation, I decided to look at what I had experienced as a tool for building me into the person I am today. Without the memories of my experience, I would not appreciate life as I do. Life has a way of causing us to experience things beyond our control and shape us into the people we are. Erasing those experiences would defeat the sole purpose of having to living through them. Having to wear a metal brace around We do not experience things in life only my face for the next several months for our own benefit, but also for others. made my confidence drop dramatically. Through this adversity, I have been

empowered to pursue my dream. I have visited the threshold of death and I know that there are many unpleasant experiences we may have to endure. In fact, some leave scars that we never want to resurface. I have learned that if I share the wisdom and knowledge I learned from my own personal situations, I could help others avoid a great deal of regret and embarrassment. We all could share key elements of our personal stories and hardships with others who may experience similar challenges, and tell how we survived them. However, if I have my experiences erased, then all the positives I gained as a result of them would have been in vain. I never found out who committed this painful and untimely act upon me. I was able to forgive them for an apology I never received, or may never get. A wise person once told me, “When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.” At the time, that quote may not have been the answer I wanted to hear, but it still has a great deal of meaning. It truly helped me in the long run. As I stated before, do not allow the situation to get the best of you, by preventing you from helping others. Let the experience empower you to become much more. To me, being more means taking my life’s lemons, and turning them into designing my own fashion line. And I will not stop until it this dream becomes reality.▲

This was by far the hardest experience I had ever experienced. I found myself in a great deal of confusion. “Why had this happened to me? What had I done to deserve this fate? Was I going to be alright? How would I look when this was over?” These questions swirled through my mind. Nevertheless, with strong will and a determination to come back, I recovered more quickly than my doctors had anticipated.

Keland Sparks at sixteen, wearing a facial brace. The device was necessary to keep his jaw in place during recovery.

By Heather Olivia Shannon

Assistant Director of Library Services, Phi Theta Kappa, Beta Sigma Mu Chapter Advisor, Tarrant County College, Trinity River Campus


any people define success as the achievement of one life goal, whether it is getting that perfect career or paycheck. What I love about my job as a librarian at Tarrant County College is that I feel like I succeed over and over again by helping others be successful. Every time a student gets an A on a paper that leads to a great GPA (that leads to a great job), I am a part of that success. When my nursing students learn how to do quality research and become great nurses, I am a part of that. Every day, I see students change their lives with the education they receive here, and it both inspires and humbles me. Many people become librarians because they love to learn, and I am definitely that kind of librarian. I believe in experiencing everything life has to offer and always learning something new. I am a certified Laughter Leader and Zumba Instructor. I attended shoe school, where I learned to make hand-made shoes. I am a member of the Fort Worth Weaver’s Guild, the North Fort Worth Historical Society, a founding member of the Texas Makers Guild, and served as the first secretary of the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers. I created the Tarrant County Inventors Association and have gone through the patent process. I have learned to weave baskets, make cheese, and build furniture. I sew, am an avid crafter, host the annual National Craft Month events in the library each March, along with the Making Mondays craft circles every week in the CafÊ (10AM-noon). I am a ballroom dancer, scuba diver, camper, kayaker, and hot air balloonist. I volunteer at most Fort Worth festivals and love to explore this wonderful city! This summer I plan to spend my vacation at book-binding school.


Just keeping it real.

Jabari Adams is a film and animation major at the Trinity River Campus. In addition to being an animator, Jabari has another unique talent: not just rapping, but spinning positive lyrics. When you see him going down the hallways on the way to a class, always in his trademark baseball cap, you see a quiet, mild-mannered, flyingunder-the-radar young man. But his rap side brings out an entirely different flavor. TCC Writes caught up with Jabari for a little insight.

TCC Writes: So, Jabari, please share with our audience a little bit about yourself. Jabari: I was born February the 18th, 1995. Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. I’ve been wanting to make movies for a long time, way back when I was a little kid. I fell in love with movies first, and then I picked up on rap music. TCC Writes: What attracted you to making movies? Jabari: I used to watch movies as a kid. Toy Story’s my favorite of all time. And speaking of my favorite movie being about toys, some of my favorite toys growing up were construction toys, like K’nex, Legos, Megabloks… I even had a Playmobile set one time. So, I just knew I wanted to make something. TCC Writes: So, film—when you watch movies, and then the construction tools and toys sort of go together for you, right? Jabari: In a sense, especially if you’re making a stopmotion movie. TCC Writes: So, explain stop-motion. Jabari: Stop-motion is where all the characters are figures, kind of like action figures, but made to be handled by adults. So, you make the characters, and they even have interchangeable face parts, so you morph the characters to make one pose, take a picture of it, and then make another pose, take a picture of that, and so on. Then you place them in sequential order, and put a soundtrack behind it to make it look like and sound like the characters are actually talking, and moving on their own. TCC Writes: Well, you talk about film and animation, and I understand that you performed at the Trinity River Student Film Festival, but you did not submit a film, rather another talent. What did you do? Jabari: I did a song. TCC Writes: What kind of song did you do? Jabari: It was a rap song. TCC Writes: So, in addition to making movies, you also have a talent of rapping? Jabari: Yeah, I hadn’t practiced my animation very much, so that’s why I decided to sing. So, when I was given the chance to do a song instead, I hopped right on it. TCC Writes: Okay, so tell me about your rap. What kind of rap do you perform? Jabari: I make raps that talk about myself and tell a story with it. TCC Writes: What kind of stories do you tell? Jabari: Stories about me and my life, and hopefully people can relate to it. TCC Writes: Okay, when did you discover you had that ability? Jabari: When I was in fifth grade. My stepdad used to work in a studio some time ago, so he had exposure to rappers. He also had a music program called FL Studio that he liked to tinker with on his computer, so, at some point, he ended up sharing it with me, teaching me how to use it, and to rap. He also helped me write my first rap song. It was never finished, but it was a start. TCC Writes: So what would you say your style is?

Jabari: Storytelling and honesty. TCC Writes: Honesty. Jabari: Yeah, telling honest stories about myself. TCC Writes: You mean, some rappers don’t tell honest stories about themselves? Jabari: Well, I don’t know, I won’t say that, but, some rappers might not talk about themselves and some of them do. I listen to both types and can enjoy them both, but I’m more drawn to the rappers who tell stories, true stories about their lives that I can draw from. TCC Writes: Do you like performing? Jabari: Yep. (At this point, his eyes lit up). TCC Writes: How does it feel when you are performing in front of a group of people? Jabari: Hmm…When I’m performing, I feel like, “Hey, this is what I wrote when you guys weren’t looking,” and I’m thinking to myself, while I’m writing it, “I wonder how the crowd’s gonna feel about this?” Well, we’ll see when I get on stage. So, it’s like I made something, I made it for me, but, if you’re willing to listen, I’d like to share it with you, too. TCC Writes: I noticed while watching you perform that your rap is clean, and the message I heard from the particular song was positive. So, what is the message that you try to get across to people? Jabari: The message is to just be yourself regardless of how conventional or unconventional it may be, but just be ‘you’ and don’t try to be something or someone that you’re not. TCC Writes: Good message. Who are some of the musical figures you’re most influenced by? Jabari: Notorious B.I.G., N.W.A, Eminem, Slick Rick, and Tyler the Creator. TCC Writes: What role is TCC playing in promoting your talents? Jabari: TCC gives me a platform through the showcases, festivals, and the community of other people who are interested in the same things that I am. TCC Writes: Any advice you’d like to share with other aspiring performers? Jabari: Be yourself and tell your life story, maybe it’ll get somebody else through something that they’re going through, and just be real. Just be you, no matter how unconventional it may seem, because the neighborhood I come from, although it’s poor, it’s not the same type of ‘danger zones’ a lot of gangster rappers rap about. Being from a working class household, I felt kind of belittled by that. But after a while, I just thought about my life, and I said, “You know, I could talk about this, and so I will.” And that’s my advice to anybody listening who’s aspiring to be in music, just keep it positive and be yourself. Don’t be afraid to be different. TCC Writes: Okay, we’ve been talking to Jabari Adams, he’s given us insight into the person and student behind the music, and his thoughts on where he’s been and where he’s going. So, with that, thank you, Jabari, for stopping by. Jabari: Thank you for having me. 


pledge allegiance to a flag that will only ever see me as just another stereotypical statistic, or maybe just a misconstrued delinquent. I pledge allegiance to a flag that stands for liberty and justice, but justice is just beyond our reach. I pledge allegiance to the flag of a nation that has the hashtag I can’t breathe as a trending sensation. This is America, land of the brave and home of the free, but no one is ever truly free. Freedom is just a state of mind with discrepancies of norms and technicalities put in place by society. Somewhere in America it became okay to watch murder on a 52’ inch highdefinition screen. Somewhere in America it became okay to rape, to claim it is the girl’s fault that she looked that way. It is not okay to speak on rape, because it makes people feel uncomfortable. Freedom of speech has become freedom of opinion, and deception has become the only perception we hold. To the republic for which it stands, one nation, under a twisted assessment of Christianity, divided, with liberty, and justice for some.


am walking my dog at my apartment complex, in a Dallas/Fort-Worth area municipality. I have a little girl at home. My dog trots over the grass in the octagonal space we pretend is our yard. She squats, while I stand idling. I begin to think about when I was my daughter’s age. When I was four, I lived in a town of 12,000 people. Throughout school, my family knew most of the other families in the town. In Winfield, Kansas, it was unknowingly a privilege to walk the streets at night and feel afraid. That town was ours, and I never could imagine anything negative happening.

Now when I left Winfield High School, I unknowingly moved to the hood. I may be from a small town, but I grew up in Dallas, Texas, Oak Cliff, to be exact. There were people I knew in my neighborhood who had been shot in the face. I saw a crackhead who burned down the apartment building across from mine. The severed bodies of four men were found in trash cans around the corner from where I drove to see my friends. I was not surprised when my friend told me about someone he saw shot. Men would follow me to my parking spot, harassing me for my number. I have been told to leave a building more than once in fear that someone would soon be shot. Helicopter lights shining in my home was a norm. I have ran from gunshots in a parking lot more times than I can count. I have choked on mace being sprayed into crowds. I have met some of the most prestigious rappers from the Deep South. In fact, I dated a rapper that people in hoods all over Dallas and Houston knew. I have been pulled over by police, just so they could holla at me. Police would blockade our streets

and make each of us stop, regardless of what we were doing, and arrest many of us in one night. More than a pimp or two has tried to add me to his roster. I almost didn’t have a single friend who didn’t have someone in prison they missed dearly. I have family members who walk amongst the homeless in downtown Dallas. I have slept in my car without any other place to go. And now, I am 75% of the way to being free from having to worry about robbers breaking into my home when I am away. I can now feel comfortable leaving my daughter inside while I walk my dog. My advice, is to be happy you are from a small town and have seen less. I am burdened with the things I know. I cannot wait to go back to a small town to become a “small-town person” again. If anything, I will be happy for that.

The Way We Were


t was a hot summer’s day, seven years ago, when I was introduced to you through a mutual friend. That was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was looking good and on point. We began by secretly stealing looks, and brandishing bashful smiles. I was more than sure this introduction would lead to something more than just “Hello.” Then out of nowhere, Cupid arrived and shot us both with arrows of burning love, and I have not been the same since. Like two peas in a pod, we hung out together, going to movies, parties, dinners, concerts, bar-b-ques, you name it, we did it. “I,” Tina, (as in Turner), was having the time of my life. I was setting the world on fire with my sexiness, having the figure of a Coke bottle, and consistently sporting thigh-high split dresses, colorful high heels, with the perfect hair and face to match. “Diva,” is the nickname that was given to me, due to “Flawless,” being my best friend. Becoming one as a couple and moving in together, the spoiled, rotten pathway began. From new cars, clothes, fancy electronics, jewelry, and expensive meals, we splurged together. Week after week, Friday after Friday, we frequented expensive seafood restaurants, devouring lobster, crab, shrimp, oysters, calamari, and sushi, never thinking about the calorie consumption or consequences. You’d text me at work, and hint at, “seafood,” and I’d promise you, “I’m on my way,” and off we’d go. Being you’re my “Honey Bunny,” you have never complained or mentioned my fluffiness at all, because I know you love me, unconditionally. However, it was “me,” who passed the full length mirror in the nude one day, and with horror screamed, OMG! The person I saw in the mirror was not the “Diva,” I knew, but more like the Michelin Tire woman, whose assets had reached the horizons. Soaked in disbelief, I immediately summoned a meeting with you, and requested my King’s undivided attention. Upon mentioning my cure for this ailment, which just so happened to be a membership to LA Fitness, I could hear the sound of your eyebrows hitting the ceiling. You glared at me subconsciously yet stated, “Hit the track, it’s cheaper. Spending money for fitness is for dummies,” instantly returning to ESPN, not knowing you crushed my soul. With deep meditation and loving the skin I’m in, I did a thorough research of joining LA Fitness, and the benefits it offers, as well as investigating what luxuries we’d have to let go, to budget it. Included on the list of things to be abandoned was: beer, cable, clothes, Nike shoes, my hair appointments and products, and restaurant hopping, were all a great start. With the list rolled up like scrolls from the bible, I summoned the King again with new plans on how we could afford my new make-over. With a stern stare, I concluded that I the Queen, would not back down and the cut-back would surely take place, if my well-being was not sought after. Then the King, with a humbled look on his face, came to the conclusion that the Queen’s health and physique is very important and LA Fitness would be a wonderful start. The cost for a healthier Queen to love, is priceless. With red cheeks and alluring eyes, I looked in that same mirror and stated, “Be gone love handles, dimples, and dents. I’m bringing sexy back!” To love yourself and be healthy, you have to do things that are not always easy to maintain. I feel as though I’ve headed off the road of human destruction, by eliminating diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation, stroke, heart attack, and nagging back aches. Hello, flat stomach, tight leg muscles and tighter abs. I will always remember, “You are what you eat”!

Student Contributors Al Dias - Actor, Producer, and Businessman

Al Dias has been involved with the entertainment industry for over 25 years. A successful start as an independent record label owner/producer, led to his introduction to television and film. With several films in post production and a diversified slate, Mr. Dias plans to deliver not only a great performance when cast, but productions with substance. He is currently pursuing a degree in business, with plans to obtain an associates in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management & Operations from TCC. Strait and Narrow Trailer: Demo Reel: Twitter:

Joanne Carmarce - Author, Illustrator, and Musician

Joanne Camarce is from the Philippines. She considers herself a self-taught artist, because she has no formal training in it. “Ever since I was young, I liked to draw, but it was not until high school, that I took drawing more seriously,” says Joanne. “I was inspired to draw by watching anime and reading manga and comics. Music is also my passion and I play the guitar in a band, and even though I like art, I am not an art student.” Joanne is a junior, currently pursuing a degree in Marketing and Management. She loves to solve problems and connect with other people. She also says that she decided her major, based on how she could benefit from making comics, playing music, solving problems, and connecting with people. Sounds like she is making a great choice.

Our Student Contribu-

Blog: YouTube Channel:

Keland Sparks - Fashion Design & Gunshot Survivor

“I really admire the individualism that fashion allows for one to exhibit within their personal lifestyle. It allows for one to express themselves freely and without any fear, of the world accepting them for who they are,” says Keland. “After graduating from TCC, Keland hopes to obtain his Bachelor of Science degree from TCU and then transfer to Parsons School of Design, in New York City, for further study. He also desires to develop a non-profit organization that houses the less fortunate, and homeless. Keland wishes to inspire others by being a role-model and someone who overcame tragedy, yet still accomplished their dream.

Madison Jackson - Black Belt & Future Journalist

“I have always had a passion for creating stories and listening to others, as well. I believe everyone has a story which deserves to be told. I have always had a strong love for reading, and my love of writing grew from books. Mr. Bartell is an amazing English teacher, at TCC, and is the one, who encouraged me to send in my paper. I was homeschooled most of my life, and am so thankful to have been able to learn the way that I did. I am a black belt in Judo, which my family inspired and encouraged me to pursue. I love Christ, my family, and friends, whom I have been so blessed with. I am majoring in Journalism, with a minor in creative writing, and hope to transfer to TCU. “

Jason Wilson - Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, Survivor

Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on his 22nd birthday Jason joined the U.S. Army six months after 9/11. According to Jason, he was not the Alpha male type, but still wanted to serve, so he was assigned as a 92M, or Mortuary Affairs Personnel. For close to a decade, he gave dignity and respect to fallen brothers and sisters of the war. He followed in the steps of his mother and grandfather, who both served in the Army. Jason said, “My father’s father was one who stormed the beaches of Normandy, on D-day, plus one, and even though I never met him formally, I hope my service would have made him proud.” Jason is currently pursuing a degree in Psychology, with hopes of serving at a Veteran’s Affairs facility, in the Mental Health Department.

Sarina Procter - Blogger, Mother, and Former Small Towner

Sarina Proctor is a 25-year-old native Kansan, turned Texas advocate, moved to the DFW area, in 2010, and began pursuing a communications degree, in 2014. Through education, she learned the value of writing and took it to another level with the initiation of her blog in June 2016. The blog served as a weekly, story-telling saga, complete with 29 diary entries, that ended, in December. In her ‘About’ page, she expresses her incentive for writing, claiming to need the art-form, as a method to cope with her life. She says: “I write because I am a story-teller. I have two minds, and they allow me to look at my life from two viewpoints: personally and from the outside. Sometimes I am shocked by my own words. I display my stories to my audience, in hopes to reassure many, they are not alone. I write because I know I have stories that need to be written.” Sarina is currently pursuing a communications degree, while working full-time, in Uptown Dallas, and being a mother to her fouryear-old daughter. She plans to use her degree to expand her network, as an aspiring artist, writer, and citizen of Texas.

Brianna Ruffin - Non-Writer Writer

“I am not a writer. Every time my pen encounters paper, I am confronted with an internal conflict between my fingers, my brain, and my heart. All I ever want to be is free, but freedom is a state of mind, with standards that I cannot meet. Sometimes, I pray the pain will fade away, but all it seems to do is stay. Ironic how wisdom is power, but you can be bound, by that very thing, which gives you power. I go to school to gain knowledge, to gain purpose, to gain wisdom, and to gain freedom. My goal is to obtain a BA, in Marketing and Advertising. I really have no idea what I am going to do when I get out of school, maybe go back to school. At times, I find myself dreaming of the good and the bad. Maybe I will dream, a dream that will change the world, maybe, just maybe my fantasy will become reality.”

Jabari Armani Adams - Musical Poet and Graphic Designer

Jabari Amani Adams is a native of Fort Worth, Texas, who is determined to become both an animator and musical poet. He has stories to share with others, and believes those two methods are the best ways for him to share his work and inspire others. When asked what he likes most about attending TCC, he stated, that he likes the TCC community, the platforms TCC provides for showcasing talent and the relationships between the students and faculty. His guiding philosophy for his work is to, “Be yourself, and lift people up.”

Vonda Carroll - Non-Traditional Student & Full-time Diva

Vonda considers herself a determined and driven individual, who believes that education is a MUST! She states that, “This is my second time around with, college and I do mean business.” Vonda was previously accepted into Texas Wesleyan University, lived on campus, but says that too much partying ended her campus debut. Vonda says, “I came to the conclusion that I made some really bad decisions.” I was given the opportunity to once again continue my education and I am now loving it. I believe that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.” Vonda is majoring in Health Information Technology, with plans of transferring to Tarleton State University. Her desire is to establish a career in health services at John Peter Smith Hospital.

Royletta Woodard - Survivor, Writer, and Student

“I never considered myself smart. Intelligence was certainly used to describe anyone but me.” “Who was I?” It became so easy to not exist, that I lived at the back of life, ideas unexplored for fear of being exposed as dumb, stupid, crazy, or different. My voice quivered mentally and was kept unheard, but the silence reverberated so it shook the very walls I had imprisoned myself in. I knew there was more, there had to be, I could feel it! Now even in my quietness, I fear not, for it means that I’m thinking of the next obstacle I must successfully overcome, the next doubt, I will dismiss, the next……….whatever! Who could I become … I wonder. I began to think! My isolation became too crowded. I had to get out…



A sincere thanks to all Trinity River student writers, staff, faculty, administrators, contributors, and supporters of TCC Writes Online Magazine, who contributed to making this and other issues possible over the years. We sincerely appreciate your participation and encouragement.

Student Writing Contributions

Cover Photo by Additional Photography Transcriber Writing & Learning Center Staff & Editors

Faculty Editor Managing Editor Additional Contributions Printing - The Trinity River Copy Center

Al Dias “In the Crosshairs” Jabari Armani Adams “Jabari: Just Keeping It Real” Jason Wilson “I Am Amongst You” Joanne Carmarce “Dream Big” Keland Sparks “Tragegy to Triumph” Madison Jackson “Everything Has Changed” Royletta Woodard “Who I Am” Sarina Proctor “If You’re From A Small Town” Vonda Carroll “The Way We Were” Steven LeMons Dee Parish Shawn Stewart Steven LeMons Sarah Schrantz Briana Ringgold Jimmy Peebles Jonathan Rose Melanie George Natalie Stringer Sarah Schrantz Shawn Stewart Stephanie Sargent Steven LeMons Dr. Jim Schrantz Steven LeMons Danelle Toups Dr. Scott Robinson Steven LeMons Alice Jimenez Watkins David McDonald Sandra Watson

For more information about the Trinity River Writing & Learning Center, or to read previous issues of TCC Writes Online Magazine, please visit our resource site at, or

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