When she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Communication, Chelsea Elliott ’12 had one goal — start a nonpro t to screen kids for the preventable vision and hearing ailments that had taken the sight in her left eye and the hearing in her right ear.
The newly minted
grad did just that, calling her nonpro t the half Helen Foundation after
her childhood nickname. (Since she is half-blind and half-deaf, she began calling herself “half Helen” Keller at age 10.) Today, Elliott has acquired ve cutting-edge
Spot vision screeners
that can take 23 eye mea- surements in a matter of seconds. She has screened more than 35,000 children in two states and devel- oped a treatment-tracking app thanks to a $100,000 grant from the St. David’s Foundation. In 2015, she was recognized as a CNN Hero, a program that hon- ors individuals who make extraordinary contributions in the lives of others. She has recruited a board of directors, which includes Dean Nancy Schreiber of The Bill Munday School of Business, and hired two
BY STACIA HERNSTROM MLA ’05
full-time sta members. And during the last session of the Texas Legislature, she collaborated with Rep. Dennis Bonnen ’94 for passage of House Bill 3157, which approved the Spot screeners for use in Texas public schools beginning last fall.
The foundation’s success hasn’t come without challenges. “For everything I knew, there were a thousand things I didn’t,” she says. “Even though I could craft a message and tell a compelling story, I had no idea about things like nance and operations.”
But thanks to the critical thinking she honed on the hilltop, she knew how to ask questions.
“I surrounded myself with people who believed inmycauseasmuchasI did and brought skills and ideas that complemented my own.”
She also relied on some- thing now-retired Professor of Philosophy Bill Zanardi used to say. “He would tell us, ‘Care is the mother of all things.’ I saw that at
St. Edward’s every day in the care professors gave to students, and it’s my guide for every child I meet.”
Excerpt from St. Edward's Winter Magazine
FAMILY PORTRAITS: A journalism professor collects the oral histories of the Chinese adoption community.
LAST SUMMER, COLLEGE students Char- lotte Cotter and Willa Mei Kurland, both Chinese adoptees who grew up in American families, decided to search for their birth families. The women posted about their quest on Chinese social media, and within 24 hours Kurland’s foster mother reached out, overjoyed. Meanwhile, a Chinese re- porter dug through records at the hospital where Cotter was born and identified her birth parents.
But both women’s stories turned out to be complicated. Kurland’s foster mother, who found Kurland on her doorstep, had wanted to adopt the baby herself. But the population-control authorities forbade the adoption because the woman already had two sons. After being threatened with legal action, she relinquished the baby the day before Kurland’s American parents — who knew nothing of the controversy — arrived to adopt her. Cotter’s birth parents said they made arrangements through an intermediary for a specific childless couple to adopt her, but a passerby assumed she’d been abandoned and took her to the police station instead.
Cotter’s and Kurland’s journeys are among the nearly 100 oral histories col- lected by Associate Professor of Journalism and Digital Media Jena Heath for Our China Stories, a digital archive of personal narra- tives from the Chinese adoption commu- nity. China’s one-child policy, implemented in 1980 and relaxed in late 2015, gave rise to the country’s international adoption pro- gram. But as Heath found when she adopted her daughter, Caroline, from China in 2008, the details of the adoptee’s life before adop- tion are often difficult to confirm.
Heath decided to gather the stories of other adoptees so that, as researchers wrestle with questions about the Chinese adoption program, they will have access to first-person narratives from adoptees as well as their families. Her next project is to collaborate with the Munday Library to incorporate Our China Stories into the library’s digital collection.
“We need these voices to be accessible to scholars,” Heath says, “so we can have a better understanding of how people are thinking about their own histories.”
Excerpt from St. Edward's Winter Magazine
Graphic Design major Jerry Silguero '16 reflects on his journey to a full-time position at an Austin-based advertising agency after graduation--from his love of Dragon Ball Z as a child, to his time on the Hilltop, and everything in between.
Carrie Fountain in KUT News
The School of Arts and Humanities faculty member Carrie Fountain, was featured in the KUT News sound cloud talking with Palestinian-American poet Naomi Shihab Nye.
Nye reads her poem Burning the Old Year, and they continue to explore the idea of what we take with us and what we leave behind as we enter 2018 through W.S. Merwin's To the Mistakes.
Listen to the interview here
Communication major Aaron Kennard '18 first learned about the pervasiveness of sexual assault by writing a paper about it in his rhetoric class. Now he's applying his learning by making a difference in his community. "It is our responsibility and every single person can do something — whether that’s big or small — to change it," says Kennard.
Professors Brian Sheerin, Alan Altimont, and Kim Garza traveled with SEU students to England and Ireland during the 2017 winter break, where they visited literary landmarks such as Trinity College, the Globe Theatre, and the Hogwarts 9 3/4 Platform.
A single mother was pulled over on a traffic stop. She was in the process of applying for asylum in the United States, but she spent a week in jail because she didn’t have the documents to prove it when she was stopped. Another woman applied for asylum but wasn’t able to afford an interpreter, and she came close to losing her case for that reason alone — she got lucky that the officer hearing her case understood her native Spanish, and her case was able to proceed.
Immigration attorney Karen Crawford presented the stories to a rapt audience of the cast and crew of Anon(ymous), this fall’s second show at the Mary Moody Northern Theatre. She explained the difference between asylum and refugee status (it’s based on whether you apply from within or outside the U.S.) and how difficult it can be to complete the application.
“Hearing all those stories made the issue more human and real,” says Luxy Banner ’18, who plays a goddess in Anon(ymous). “That’s one thing I love about this play: it’s humanizing. The characters aren’t just statistics, or one cookie-cutter image of who a refugee or immigrant is.”
In Anon(ymous) by Naomi Iizuka, teenage refugee Anon is separated from his mother as the two flee their war-torn country for the United States. His journey to reunite with her is filled with characters both realistic and fantastic. The play is an adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey that connects with current events and with the university’s common theme this year, Immigrant Voices.
Managing Director Michelle Polgar, who directed Anon(ymous), invited Crawford to campus to help the cast and crew understand the challenges facing real-life refugees. The stories she shared helped Banner and her colleagues connect their creative work on stage to immigration policy, and to the university’s mission to confront the critical issues of society and seek justice and peace. Theatre, too, can put a face on complicated issues, Polgar says.
“It’s so easy for us to talk about immigrants and refugees as part of a whole body of ‘others’ but lose sight of the individual,” she says. “In this show, my goal is to keep the focus on the individuals.”
By telling the story of one fictional immigrant, the team behind Anon(ymous) invited the audience to think about refugees and immigrants in a new way. Theater has the power to open people’s minds, says Jackson Pant ’20, who plays the Cyclops character.
“Our plays don’t just serve to entertain people,” he says. “When we produce them, we want people to think. There’s no better feeling than knowing that our work is purposeful — than going out after a show and hearing people in the lobby talking to each other and asking questions and truly being curious about what they saw.”
It’s a hot New York summer night, and Brandon Maxwell ’08, fashion designer and celebrity stylist, is casting his eye across a bruising Brooklyn sky. Across the room, a flash stutters above one of his best friends as she works the camera. The room thrums. Music plays in the background while a group of Austin transplants shout advice and pose for pictures. They rearrange one another, boss one another around and see things through one another’s lenses.
A producer for Condé Nast cues up a personal project he has been working on for creative input. A visual storyteller for VICE Media lingers over the shoulder of the shoot’s photographer, trying not to offer too much advice. In college, these friends formed a tightknit group. As adults, they’re making it in New York City. The threads of hard work, art and friendship have tied them together. They ground one another — and serve as one another’s ladders.
To Continue reading this story go to: https://www.stedwards.edu/articles/featured-stories/2017/10/shooting-stars
The Veteran and Creative Writer: Harding has circled the globe, with military deployments to the Middle East, as well as assignments in the Marshall Islands and Afghanistan as a satellite communications technician. Between these experiences, he traveled the U.S. and began his college degree at Austin Community College. His next big milestone was completing his bachelor’s degree with honors at St. Edward’s. He received the university’s Matthew Harris Scholarship for outstanding academic achievement and was on the Dean’s List four semesters. In a unique internship for his major, Harding used his creative writing talent and military background to help HARTH, a nonprofit that offers equine-assisted therapies to veterans. He crafted communications to veterans that explained the process and benefits of therapy with horses.
What He’s Doing Now: Harding is exploring writing opportunities in grant writing, marketing and advertising, and website content development. And he hasn’t dismissed returning to satellite communications for another far-flung adventure, possibly to Antarctica or Turkey.