LU Moment: Highlights from the College of Arts and Sciences | S3 Ep. 24



Shelbe Rodriguez:

Welcome to the LU Moment. I’m Shelbe Rodriguez, social media and digital marketing manager here at Lamar University and you guessed it! I’m back to host the LU moment this week where we showcase all the great events, activities, programs, projects and people at LU. Alright, so let’s talk about new happenings within our LU community. Last week, the JoAnne Gay Dishman School of Nursing partnered with CHRISTUS southeast Texas health system to host the 18th Annual Nightingale Experience. It was a two-day event and students from 15 different local high schools interested in nursing as a career choice were able to come onto campus and participate in a few fun hands-on nursing experiences. It was really just a great way for our local high schoolers to get a jump start on their future in healthcare so way to go guys! I’m sure they enjoyed that.

Joseph Mann, instructor of American sign language has been awarded teacher of the year for the 2021-22 academic school year by the department of deaf studies and deaf education. They held a contest for two weeks allowing students to vote both virtually and in-person. They had cute little canisters with each professor’s face on them and they allowed students to vote for the professor that they felt deserved that title and so professor Mann came out right on top so way to go professor! We’re proud of you.

The Dishman Art Museum just opened up an exciting new exhibit called Heaven and Earth by Linnis Blanton. Blanton actually happens to be a professor of art and ceramics here at LU, so the exhibit is opened up now until July 31st so if you’re looking for something fun and free to do this week, the Dishman Art Museum is open Monday through Friday from 9am-4pm and Saturday from noon to 4pm, so bring the entire family out, enjoy some beautiful art pieces and again, free. Professor Blanton will surely appreciate you showing up and looking at his art. Alright guys, it’s time for a few Cardinal shout outs. Our alumni are always in the community, making a difference, breaking down barriers, so let’s give it up for a few of our alumni in the news. First up, LU alum Dr. Mike Gonzales, he is the superintendent for PNG ISD. Dr. Gonzalez was recently named the Region Five Superintendent of the Year from the Region Five Educational Service Center. Way to go, Dr. Gonzales. That was a big win for you there. The next LU alum, Sommer Reynolds was promoted to assistant principal at Little Cypress Elementary school. Congratulations Sommer, we’re all so proud of you. Lastly, if you’re ever in the Houston area and you’re looking for some good seafood, you can look up LU alum, Bradley Lewis. He has a food truck and catering business called kreole Soul. Congratulations to all of our Cardinals out there who are constantly making a difference in making big moves. We love to see it, guys.

If you are an LU alum and you have exciting news or updates about your life that you would like to share with us, be sure to visit and submit your class note. You never know, you might hear your Cardinal shout-out on the next LU Moment.

Alright guys, let’s get into the meat of this interview. I have a special guest here with me today. The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest academic college that we have here at Lamar University, but it is a well-oiled machine. I know there’s some exciting things going on this fall and here to talk a little more about that is my awesome coworker, Natalie Rhodes. Natalie is the marketing communications manager for the College of Arts and Sciences. Natalie, I’m glad you could join me today.

Natalie Rhodes: (3:38)
Thanks for having me, Shelbe. I’m super excited to be here.

Shelbe Rodriguez: (3:40)
Awesome! So, tell me a little bit about what your role within the college of arts and sciences.

Natalie Rhodes: (3:45)
Well, like you said, I’m the marketing communications manager. I serve the college of arts sciences to oversee their website, I help plan events that are going on, I’m creating new marketing pieces to help promote our programs. I like to stay busy and this job definitely keeps me busy.

Shelbe Rodriguez: (4:02)
It sounds like it and you’re also an LU alum, right?

Natalie Rhodes: (4:05)
I am. I graduated from Lamar in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in dance.

Shelbe Rodriguez: (4:10)
So that was the college of fine arts and communication. How awesome! So, after being a student and coming back, working on the team, working with even some of those professors that you had. How does that feel?

Natalie Rhodes: (4:23)
It’s really awesome, it’s really rewarding. When I first started working at Lamar, I oversaw the campus tour program and was an admissions counselor so I love seeing student success. I loved being a part of the excitement of getting them enrolled and seeing them succeed at Lamar and find their fit. And then working with the faculty. I think seeing the love for their discipline and kind of getting that out to their students and getting their students involved in research with them so that kind of was one of my favorite things working at Lamar was the interactions between students and faculty and staff.

Shelbe Rodriguez: (4:57)
I love that! One thing that I really love about the college of arts and sciences is that your faculty, staff and students are always so involved in the community. Like the nursing students in the Nightingale Experience. I bet that was something awesome. That’s an amazing thing. The 18th Annual Nightingale Experience. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one next year. I know just this past Saturday the history department hosted their 1st Annual History Alumni Meetup for the community. Alumni were able to come, tour two museums and just kind of chat and catch up, so that was awesome as well. Just this past spring, your college hosted a virtual diversity meetup series where we had various faculty members and guests have discussions on diversity and inclusion. Any plans to bring that back for the fall?

Natalie Rhodes: (5:46)
Absolutely. We’d definitely love to continue that. We found it very successful by not only including faculty members, but also having our students involved in this series too, so hearing from an educational, but also the students’ side and how they feel and getting involved in everything. My favorite thing about it was seeing the diversity and equity and how it looked in each discipline because it varies so much. We have social and health sciences, we have liberal arts and humanities, so trying to find how everything all pieces together was really neat. We loved hosting that and we were so proud to be the first college that hosted something along that line.

Shelbe Rodriguez: (6:27)
Ya’ll definitely did. You all had it on YouTube, right?

Natalie Rhodes: (6:31)
We did, yeah. We recorded it live and invited a ton of people to watch and then made sure that we made it available to anyone and everyone after wards. So, it is on YouTube and it is on our arts sciences webpage.

Shelbe Rodriguez: (6:47)
Okay. What exciting things can we kind of expect from the college of arts and sciences this fall?

Natalie Rhodes: (6:54)
I think one of the coolest things that we have going on right now is a few brand-new programs. We’ve got a new degree called university studies. This one has encompassed our bachelor of general studies and our bachelor of applied arts and sciences, so instead of it being a generalized degree, we have now given it a little more of a tighter name with a concentration with it. Students who choose to major in university studies can choose between global health, race, equality and gender concentrations. That is new for Lamar University, organizational leadership, multidisciplinary and development. There are so many options for these students who may not want to choose just one specific specified program. They get to learn a little bit of everything, but have something that’s a little more specialized.

Then we have a new master’s degree in geospatial sciences, new certificates and we’re just really excited for all of those. We also have some exciting news with our literary press. We’re one of the world’s smallest university presses and it’s on our campus and we publish and produce original fiction, nonfiction and poetry and we are now in five bookstores across the world. You can find us on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and now Fleur Fine Books, a few other small ones, but those are the big exciting ones that they have.

Shelbe Rodriguez: (8:23)
That’s exciting. I love that. Now you guys, again are the largest academic college that we have here on campus, over 200 faculty members, at least a hundred staff members, twelve academic departments. I mean, it’s insane how much you guys have going on. Do you have anything for our future Cardinals coming in? What exciting things do you have for maybe a future Cardinal who might be interested in the college of arts and sciences?

Natalie Rhodes: (8:51)
I think. Something fun that happens within the college of arts and sciences is that students of every discipline come through our college to take basics which is your math, history, English and some of you may have done them in high school, but a lot come to college for the first time to handle those. You meet students of engineering majors, CoFAC, business and that’s how people really become friends in the community and that’s how they get involved in research together. So, we have faculty right now that are doing research in computer science with engineering faculty and that kind of stuff really wouldn’t happen unless they took their basics together and kind of found similar interests. That’s really cool to me and I think that’s interesting to a lot of students who are interested in research. Just getting involved and that’s something that Lamar promotes and preaches is the LU community and that right there is every display of community.

Shelbe Rodriguez: (9:50)
Yeah. I know you guys host inside view? Cardinal view? Do you have any upcoming inside views?

Natalie Rhodes: (9:59)
We will have an inside view in the fall. I don’t believe dates have been determined yet. Then we will have Cardinal view which is a bird’s eye view of campus. If students are interested in Lamar and maybe not sure of what they want to do, come out and visit that day. It will be the weekend of Halloween.

Shelbe Rodriguez: (10:14)
Yeah. That’s perfect. Cardinal Boo is what think we’re calling it.

Natalie Rhodes: (10:17)
Yes. Cardinal Boo and you can show up in your costumes and we like to give out candy and we give out a scholarship for those who attend too.

Shelbe Rodriguez: (10:25)
That’s perfect and I know we hosted Cardinal Boo last year so that’s awesome. Natalie, I want to back up a little bit. COVID-19 kind of hit us all really hard, you know. What were some of the things your college, being such a large college, what were some of those things you guys kind of had to adjust? Or maybe within your role? You kind of had to adjust last year for our students.

Natalie Rhodes: (10:47)
Absolutely. I mean, I think that goes for everyone, but turning our courses into online courses was a challenge, but a challenge that everyone accepted and pushed through. I mean, it’s really tough to make a laboratory course an online course. Or even our nursing students who go to our hospitals and work with patients. I mean, it looked completely different, but our faculty adjusted, overcame and did what they had to do to make sure our students were able to graduate and graduate with all that they needed.

Shelbe Rodriguez: (11:21)
Right. Yeah and I know you guys also did informational videos on different departments, academic programs, I mean, that was super awesome, so how was that kind of having to transition to a virtual? I think before this, none of us was really in that virtual mindset but having to quickly adjust to that virtual mindset, but having to quickly adjust to that virtual mindset and host those live sessions for our future Cardinals. So how was that?

Natalie Rhodes: (11:45)
It was fun. I actually enjoyed it. It was whenever Lamar was still pretty much working from home, so if you watch the videos that I did with my college, you will see a scrabble board behind me. I have a scrabble board on my wall that’s magnetic. We play all the time, but it was just a lot of fun. It was so nice for me to hear about what’s going on with other programs. Like Shelbe said, I have fourteen different programs, twelve departments within the college and so I know a little bit about each one but really hearing in depth what they hope for, how they want to get students involved. That was crucial for students whenever we’re all really not sure what’s going on, but students, goodness, they signed up to attend college in person, face-to-face and then- BAM! You’re all online and let’s do the best we can and we’ll help however we can.

Shelbe Rodriguez: (12:42)
Yeah. I think you guys did an awesome job. I think the entire university did an awesome job, but I know yourself as well as JT who I’ve also had on the show before and the other marketing liaisons, you guys also worked to create personalized videos for incoming Cardinals. You guys worked really, really hard. So, shout out to you guys. And the entire university, all of us. We all kind of came together and so for the fall, we’ll be stronger together, stronger than ever. Natalie, we’ve got about a minute left. What are you looking forward to most for our fall return?

Natalie Rhodes: (13:17)
I have missed the student interaction, faculty interaction. I’ve missed smiling faces. I’ve been so appreciative of masks and all that they have done to keep us safe and healthy, but I’ve missed those moments when a student finds out that they have received a grant or they’re going to study abroad. I just miss the happiness and Lamar puts that on people’s faces.

Shelbe Rodriguez: (13:40)
I think we’re all looking forward to seeing some smiling faces coming up in the fall. Natalie, thank you so much for joining me today. Guys, I think that’s a wrap here with Natalie Rhodes. So, again, just follow us on social media. You know the username, Lamar University. Be sure to tune in to the next episode of the LU Moment. This is Shelbe Rodriguez, social media and digital marketing manager here at Lamar University, the pride of Southeast Texas.