Small Town Heroes

McKaylei Munden


May 3, 2017

Small Town Heroes

The Stigma 

A Sonic Drive-In, Dairy Queen food chain and a downtown square with boutiques and antique shops are familiar sightings to small town natives.


There are many small towns in the state of Texas and they all seem to carry the same stigma of everyone knows everyone and how high their dirty laundry is stacked. Although there are many disadvantages of living in small town, there are just as many advantages that outweigh those taunting rumors of what small town life is like.



Panoramic view of the Kaufman County downtown square.

Rachel Yancey, a junior at SFA, is from McKinney, Texas, a suburb outside of the Dallas area. McKinney has a population of about 160,000 people with three high school and more than 10 elementary schools.


“It has, pretty much, anything you need very close to you, you never have to go far,” Yancey said.

Going From Big to Small 

The perks of living in a large town is the accessibility of shopping and endless options for dining, but personal connections are lost. Living in a smaller community, such as Nacogdoches, offers a closeness in the community that bigger, suburban towns don’t get to experience.


“Moving to Nacogdoches and living here for the majority of the year for school, has been quite a change,” Yancey said.


After living in the Dallas metroplex her whole life, Yancey reflects on the differences and changes that she had to adapt to while attending the university.


“It’s definitely been interesting going from living in a bigger city and in Dallas to way out in East Texas, in a college town,” Yancey said. “It takes you about five minutes to get anywhere you need to go in Nacogdoches; however, there are not a whole lot of places to actually go to in Nacogdoches.”

Advantages & Disadvantages 

The advantage of getting places quick is a perk of living in a small town; however, there are limited activities. With the limited opportunities for things to do, responsibility is left in the hands of… you.


When you’re a small child, growing up in small town is wonderful. Friday night football games are always on the agenda for the week and church on Sunday is a given.


As you grow older, as in a high school student or a college student coming home for the weekend, it doesn’t seem as fun as it used to be.


“There are benefits of being in a small town, you never have to drive far, even if you go to the opposite side of Nacogdoches, it takes you, maybe, 10 minutes,” Yancey said. “Everyone knows everyone, so everybody will remember you and it’s just very friendly.”


Yancey also explains that living in Nacogdoches is very homie and easy to navigate. Yancey also offers some advice for incoming freshman that will be attending SFA in the fall of 2017.


“The biggest piece of advice that I can give to incoming freshman is to prepare yourself that there is no Target,” Yancey said, laughing.


All joking aside about Lufkin Target, Yancey says that coming to Nacogdoches and coming to SFA has been great for her. She also says that she would not take for granted getting the experience of coming to a small town after living in such a big city for so long.

Wise Advice 

As I am getting ready to graduate from SFA in the spring and incoming freshman are gearing up to attend in the fall, I will leave you with this advice.

  • Don’t let the narrow turning lanes in the middle of North Street scare you, your car will fit.
  • A little secret, Pearl Street runs parallel to North Street. If North Street is to be congested, you have a plan B.
  • Commuters: leave an hour before your class and you may find a parking spot in the garage by Lumberjack Landing.
  • Enjoy your time at SFA and try not to rush the process. Looking for a job and sending out resumes is not as fun and rewarding as “they” say will be.

For incoming students, check out to see what the community offers.

This is McKaylei Munden, reporting for


[email protected]


Living the Lumberjack Dream

McKaylei Munden


April 19,2017


Introducing Allison Rand- Hawkins


Imagine a world full of joy, laughter and picture that world where the is always a good time to be had. That image in your mind was the world that Allison Rand-Hawkins lived in.


Her contagious laugh and loving body language is something that will always play in the minds of her family and friends. Hawkins was always the first to run and give a hug, her family says.


Hawkins and SFA


Hawkins graduated from Kaufman High School in 1997 and the fall semester, she began her college career at SFA.


Hawkins chose SFA campus because of the diversity in the student body and the campus was close enough to home.


“She should have graduated from SFA in 2002 but went back later in 2009, 2010,” Bryant Martin, cousin of Hawkins, said.


“She was a few credits short when she left school and got a job, and then, eventually, she went back to school,” Martin said.


Beyond the campus


After leaving SFA, Hawkins received a job at Cargo Kids, which was a furniture store in Dallas that is no longer in business. This job was only a stepping stone for the opportunity that was upon her.


Wisteria, a high-end, international catalog company that displays furniture products and home decorations was one of Hawkins proudest accomplishments. Hawkins started our working at the outlet store as a clerk, moved to the called center and then was promoted to a member of the design team.


“She worked her way up to visual merchandising, which she did for the catalog,” Martin said. “For all the photoshoots, she would create the scene; sometimes they would do them in studio or on location.”


Hawkins was the master-mind behind it all. She picked out the layout of the products to the color of paint on the walls.


While working at Wisteria, Hawkins was given the opportunity to travel the world and experience how the designing process works. She was a member of the product development team, where they would travel across the nation, take items to meet with companies making the product to ship it back to the United States to sell in store.


“It wasn’t until she went to work for Wisteria, where she literally worked her way up from the bottom and got to travel the world,” Martin said. “After that that job, her health wouldn’t allow her to stay there and that when she went back to school where she met Ben.”


Hawkins contributions to MS Society


After suffering from symptom of Multiple Sclerosis, Hawkins was unable to travel at such an intensity level, that she decided to return to SFA. Hawkins was officially diagnosed with MS in 2008.


Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that captures the nervous system and disrupts the flow of communication between the brain and the body. To learn more about MS, visit


This diagnosis was not an excuse for Hawkins to be down in her spirit, but gave her a bigger reason to help find a cure.


Hawkins was a member and a committee chairman of the Yellow Rose Foundation, which raised money to help fund the fight to cure MS.


“She was on the Steering Committee and having MS herself, it was really important to her to get involved in the cause,” Martin said. “Her main job was helping to get donors and auction donors and help with décor and centerpieces.”


The Yellow Rose Foundation was established in April 1986, after Dee Wynn’s, a Dallas native, diagnosis of MS. This foundation has brought in millions of dollars to fun the research to find a cure for MS.


For more information about the foundation and to donate, you can visit


What would Hawkins say now?


Although Hawkins is not here to tell us her fondest memories at while being a student at SFA, her friends and family laugh at the stories that she has shared in the past.


“She just fell in love with Nacogdoches, the campus and the people there, it was hard to get her to come back,” Martin said. “I feel like every story starts with ‘do you remember that night at Flashbacks’?”


Martin said if there was one thing that she could tell an SFA student, it would be to go to class. As he began to laugh, he said if you go to class, you can’t fail.


A big part of Hawkins motivation came from creativity. She could have an outlet and be herself as a student at SFA. She loved art, Martin said and that she embraced others artistic abilities.


She loved the adventure and followed things that interest her and would dive into it. She was good about seeing things and recreating things, Martin remembers.


“She was a perfect example of not everything you learn is going to be in a classroom, and so you need to embrace opportunities to travel and to learn about different people and different things,” Martin said. “She wasn’t the best student, but she was incredibly smart.”


This is McKaylei Munden, reporting for


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Graduating, Where Now?


Many young adults are about to embark on a journey that is unfamiliar, stressful, rewarding and worthwhile. That journey will be graduating from a university and delving into a career.

Graduating from a university is an accomplishment that not everyone has the privilege to say they have earned. Students put in hours of studying filled with both frustration and hard work, and in the end it is all for one day, a two-hour ceremony and a bright future.

Raw emotions 

Stevie Stolusky, a senior at SFA, explains her thoughts and emotions on graduating in May.

“Being able to graduate is a cool thing because not everyone gets to do it, and not only that a lot of people don’t get the chance,” Stolusky said. “The fact that I am going to get the chance to graduate or event the fact that I got to go college, is just mind blowing to me.”

Imagine, the final semester of your college career; ordering graduation regalia, sending graduation announcements and planning parties to celebrate your new chapter with your closest family and friends. Sounds fun, right?

For many, yes, the process is fun, but for others the idea of graduating is scary and uncertain.

There you are with so much time, money and effort invested in a piece of paper with a university stamp and thinking, where now?

“I am excited, I am nervous,” Stolusky said. “This is a step in life that you take without your parents and you have had your parents for so long, and now it’s your turn.”


Stevie’s graduation hat, sash and Tri Delta chords.

Searching for a career post-graduating is so tasking and raises questions of doubt that could lower one’s confidence.

Graduating from a university versus graduating from high school is a vastly different emotion. Graduating college with a degree and the expectation that a job will be on the other end of the degree is more pressure and frightening, whereas high school graduation was more of a celebration that you are moving on to college.

According to the research conducted by McGraw Hill Education, 4 in 10 college students feel that their college experience prepared them to take on a career. Men, rather than women, are more likely to feel they are equipped for their jobs post-graduation.

Included in the research, “STEM majors are the most likely to report that they are optimistic about their career prospects, while students in Arts and Humanities and in Social Science majors are the least likely.”

You can view more information and statics here at this McGraw Hill Education article.

After talking with graduating seniors, there are mixed emotions about the current endeavor.

A parent’s perspective 

A mother of an SFA student spoke about her perspective on college graduation. Alisha Michelle goes into detail about her graduate’s upcoming chapter.

“I am very excited for her and her life, I do believe that she has been prepared and advised correctly from the university.” Michelle said.

As much as graduation is for the graduate, it is for their parents, also. For some graduates, their parents paid for their education, so their time and money is equivalent to the student’s effort in getting the degree.

Although Michelle feels that her student has been prepared for a career, she has some reservations about entry-level jobs and the cost of the educations compared to a starting salary.

“One thing I do not agree with is the cost and interest rates on student loans for students that have to get loans to pay for their education over four years or maybe even six or eight.” Michelle said.

“I think they [students] are not prepared for an entry-level job even with a Bachelor’s Degree is probably about $35,000 per year if they are lucky, I think these student loans have increased in interest so much that they won’t be able to afford it monthly.”

Michelle also says that if they don’t have any help from their parents or other family then starting out with a new job they are already set up for failure because of the amount of debt they have accrued.

For some students, they are the first generation in their family to attend college.

SFASU Career Services Advice

SFASU provides career services to all students who are graduating, looking for an internship or wishing to boost their cover letter and resume content.

Based on the career services website, it is recommended that when beginning your job search, “begin with the end in mind.”

The first piece of advice posted on the career service homepage is to get organized. The more organized you are in the job search process, the more prepared you will feel when walking into an interview.

SFASU career services suggests keeping a specific acronym in mind and approaching a job search with these methods; F.I.A.

“F” is for find, identify people or companies that you would be interested in working with.

“I” is for interact, connect with the companies or employees of that company through social media and through private contact. Demonstrate your knowledge and skill set and show that could be of help to them.

“A” is for ask. Asking questions is not a bad thing, if anything asking more questions could help you get a job. Asking specific questions can also lead to other opportunities that you may not have thought of.

To check out career advice videos and other helpful resume building tips, visit is McKaylei Munden, reporting for


[email protected]




Making All Things New

McKaylei Munden

March 22, 2017

The Beginning of a New Normal 

A rusty, old, now refurbished building that was once a drug store in a small town near Dallas, Texas, holds hope, restoration and vision to bring awareness and insight to a dark subject.

Drinking and driving is something that affects many lives and is heard of happening very often. Driving while intoxicated is a felony offense that can damage the lives and relationships that once prospered.

About Meagan

“She wanted to go to Texas Tech. She had a lot of opportunities to go anywhere, but she chose Lubbock,” said Kari Rough, the mother of Meagan Rough.

Meagan Michelle Rough, or May as most called her, was a student at Texas Tech that was active in campus life, a member and officer of Kappa Alpha Theta Gamma Phi Chapter and was hoping of one day becoming a medical doctor upon graduating.


Photo of Meagan Rough in an office space in the Charter Room.

“She wanted to be a doctor. She talked about being a surgeon or radiologist and even nursing, but her heart was to heal,” Rough said.

Devastation Strikes

Returning home for Thanksgiving break, Meagan’s family was able to spend time with her. Little did anyone know this would be her last trip home.

As Rough was preparing for finals, she was meeting with study groups and gathering with some friends for lunch earlier in the day on December 5, 2012.

After studying all day and rigorously preparing, she and some friends were going out to enjoy the last night of the semester. It was already determined who would drive if anyone ended up drinking alcohol.

“That day of the year is known, since it is the last day of class, it is known as a party day,” Rough said. “They were diligent about not getting behind the wheel if any of their friends were drinking.”

What was supposed to be a drop in at a friend’s house to say goodbye before leaving for Christmas break, turned into a nightmare on Glenna Goodacre where the apartment was located.

“They left their friend’s house and walked across the yard, got in the car that was parked on the street, and pulled away from the curb. That was about a second and a half before they were hit,” Rough said.

The truck that hit Rough’s vehicle was going so fast that they could not see what was coming and they did not have enough time to react. Rough was ejected from the back of the car and was unresponsive when paramedics and other official personnel arrived on the scene.

Rough’s mother explained that the force was strong enough that Rough was ejected from behind and that the seatbelt was still buckled after the ejection.

After arriving at the hospital, aggressive measures were taken to save Rough’s life. Nothing worked.

“Meagan was an organ donor so we went through the process of getting the organ donation coordination taken care of which took about a day and a half after the point where they told us we would not be bringing her back home, ever,” Rough said.

Although devastation was obvious, the blessing of Rough being an organ donor is that it gives the Rough family hope that her heart is still beating somewhere. Rough says that it is comforting to know that her heart is physically on this earth.

Honoring Rough

Although May is no longer physically on earth, her spirit lives on.

In Rough’s honor, the students at Texas Tech wanted to commemorate Rough’s life by creating an event and spreading awareness that drinking and driving is not acceptable.

The May Day 5K Glow Run and the Red Raider Against Drink Driving, or RRADD, was a product of this horrific event. Students now run these events and organizations on the Texas Tech campus.

The Meagan Rough Memorial Foundation was also established in her honor. This foundation gives scholarships to students, but in order to receive the scholarship a pledge is signed stating that you will not drink and drive and that you will prevent others from doing it to the best of your ability.

“With all the money that was raised from the 5Ks, one hundred percent of that has gone to students who are dedicated to helping us in the endeavor,” Rough said.

The Foundation

In the beginning stages of the memorial foundation, scholarships were exclusive to Texas Tech student and Kaufman High School graduates; now those scholarships have been expanded into other university campuses.

The Meagan Rough Memorial Foundation is now housed in that rusty, old, refurbished building that was once a drug store. The Charter Room is a meeting place that represents Rough’s gathering spirit.

The Charter Room

 This office space is a place to get coffee in the morning, for out of town attorneys to hold mediations and other business type mixers. Defensive driving classes and other court compliance classes are also conveniently held at The Charter Room. Check out all the services offered at The Charter Room on their Facebook page,

The mission statement for the Meagan Rough Memorial Foundation is to be diligent about creating a plan before going out and drinking alcohol, but creating plan B and C if plan A doesn’t work.

Although Meagan Rough was a student at Texas Tech her legacy and story is continuously reaching the university platform. You can view more about the Meagan Rough Memorial Foundation at


This is McKaylei Munden, reporting for

[email protected]








Hitting Home Runs For St. Jude



Hitting Home Runs for St. Jude


March 1, 2017


By: McKaylei Munden

SFASU Tri Delta

Delta Delta Delta members at SFA are smoothing the diamonds of the intramural baseball fields and creating team brackets for their annual Triple Play philanthropy event that benefits the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Triple Play is a philanthropic event that each Tri Delta chapter does in the spring semester to raise money for St. Jude. It takes 2 million dollars a day to run facilities at St. Jude so every contribution to the hospital is appreciated.

Ally McCurry, President of Tri Delta Beta Xi chapter, explains why the weeks leading up to the event are so crucial and why it is so important for each member to pull her weight.

“We are so excited to see the success that this Triple Play Tournament will bring to benefit the children of St. Jude,” Ally said. “To get ready for the tournaments, we ask members to bring certain items that are necessary to make the tournament run smoothly.”

“We ask girls to bring a lot of water, Gatorade and different snack items that we sell at our concession stand throughout the day,” Ally said. “All of the money from concessions goes to St. Jude.”



Triple Play Tournament

Although this is a philanthropy event, it is also an opportunity to be outside and enjoy a spring day. It is a tournament style softball play where member’s family and friends can play.

Triple Play promo

Last years advertisement for the Triple Play tournament. Every member changes her profile picture to this image on social media to help spread awareness of the event.

Last year, the Triple Play tournament was held in conjunction with Tri Delta’s Dad’s Day. A team of Tri Delta dads is joined in the Triple Play bracket

Different organizations on campus and businesses in the Nacogdoches community can donate to play in the tournament. Last year Tri Delta members raised almost $13,000.

Donations include registration, t-shirt sells and concessions.

This year, McCurry says they are expecting 15 teams. Registrations has not closed yet, that number could increase by the time of the event.

“Our philanthropy chairman has been going around to local businesses, other sororities and fraternities and reaching out to the Nacogdoches community asking for sponsorships and spreading awareness of our event,” Ally said.

A complete list of the chapter’s philanthropy events throughout the school year and how much they have fundraised is available to see on

Quote from Ally question: what sets your philanthropy apart from the others.

One hundred forty–two chapters of Tri Delta across the nation are striving toward a goal of $60 million in the span of 10 years. Before, Tri Delta members nation wide surpassed the timing of their previous goal of $10 million in 10 years in just six years.

The difference Tri Delta is making nationwide 

In 2014, Tri Delta was named the top partner and received the Partner of the Year Award because of its largest pledge to St. Jude’s history with competing pledges from Chili’s, Domino’s and other large corporations. You can see other partners and affiliates at

As Tri Delta members get ready to have one of the biggest philanthropy events of the year, they are remembering why it is they do what they do. McCurry says that getting ready for this event is stressful in the planning stages, but worth it when the chapter sends a significant check to St. Jude.

“As Tri Deltas we are honored to be able to help out such a great cause,” Ally said. “We are all Tri Deltas because we want to help out the children of St. Jude. And our hope is that one day, no child would die from cancer.”

To join in and see the impact that Tri Delta makes in fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital the tournament will be held April 1 at the intramural fields behind the Recreation Center on SFA campus.

If you are interested in making a team, you can email Ally McCurry at [email protected].

This is McKaylei Munden reporting for

[email protected]