Most Influential Mass Media Professors

Apples

Continuing with my post-grad nostalgia, there are a few professors who certainly made an impact in my life while I attended Washburn. Although I did have a lot of wonderful instructors throughout my two and half years, there are a few who stood out and I want to honor them with this humble post. Think of this post as a very long ratemyprofessors.com article.

Since my major was Mass Media, I’ll start with two professors from said department, but will talk about two professors in the English Department (my minor) in a future post.

Mass Media Department

Dr. Stover

I would have to start with Dr. Maria Stover. While I had a few classes with Dr. Stover, there’s one that really made an impact and that’s Media Literacy. I went into the class not really knowing what to expect, but I came out with a whole new perspective in how I see the word.

Thanks to Dr. Stover’s class, I was able to recognize all the gender and racial biases in the media, as well as in my own life. Although I was raised by wonderful women, I certainly grew up in a patriarchal society, where machismo is touted as the norm to follow. However, thanks to this class, a lot of my own biases were removed. Thanks to this class, I began to make smarter decisions as to what toys to buy my daughter. For instance, my daughter doesn’t just have the stereotypical girly dolls, she also has a doctor’s kit, as well as a set of hammer and tools. And that’s just one thing.

Besides those eye-opening lectures, Dr. Stover grew up under a Communist regime, just like me. It’s an unfortunate bond to have, but it was incredible to learn that the hardships she faced in her native Bulgaria, were the same exact things that I faced in Cuba. Dr. Stover also invited me to speak to the entire class about Communist propaganda during one of the lectures, which was a great and wonderful experience.

But besides all that, the thing that I appreciate the most about Dr. Stover is an encouraging conversation she had with me. She told me that it’s not often that she comes across students like me and that I could literally do anything I wanted to. She said that if I wanted to, I could have a very successful career in the Mass Media field. She even encouraged me to pursue my Masters and maybe even teach one day.

It’s hard to overstate what hearing those words from someone you highly respect does to your self-esteem.

Regina Cassell

Although I had Regina early on in my Washburn career, it was online, so I didn’t get to really meet her until this Spring. One thing that immediately stands out with Regina is that she really cares about her students. Because I work full-time, I had a hard time juggling work and school, but Regina was very understanding and flexible.

Someone once said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun” and Regina understands that well. In her Creative Media Practicum class (where we created the Mass Media Messenger alumni magazine) she allowed us to be creative, to explore, to have fun. At the same time, she made sure to keep us on task and motivated. And whenever we had a question about something, she would help us out because she does know her stuff.

But the class that really made a difference in my life was the Independent Study class where we put together a live half-hour news show on YouTube, KSWU News. Not only did I learn a lot about cameras, sound, editing., lighting, reporting, etc., I also made a lot of good friends. There were people in that class that I’ve had in previous classes, but given the nature of the studio environment, we got to know each other a lot more. I think one of the best parts about college is getting to know other awesome people and this class made that so much easier.

Finally, Regina also has a literal open-door policy with her current and former students. To celebrate out last KSWU show, she had a party at her home and invited all of us, as well as other Mass Media students. It’s rare to have a professor be so welcoming and accommodating, but Regina made room for all of us and made us feel right at home.


Thanks Dr. Stover and Regina!

I didn’t want to make this post too long, so I’ll be talking about two professors in the English Department in a few days. Those professors are Tom Averill and Liz Derrington.

Las Mujeres De Mi Vida

Finalmente me gradué de la universidad con un título de licenciatura, 14 años después de terminar la escuela secundaria. La última vez que fui a la escuela fue en el Miami Dade College, donde obtuve mi título de Asociado, pero eso fue en 2004. Por desgracia, un título de  Asociado no significa mucho hoy en día.

Gracias al apoyo de mi esposa, pude terminar mi carrera. Y cuando miró hacia atrás en mi vida, puedo ver que siempre estuve rodeado de mujeres maravillosas que no sólo me criaron, pero me enseñaron muchas cosas.

Mi Mamá

going to school
Mis primeros recuerdos de mi mamá son de ella enseñandome a escribir. Yo tenía alrededor de tres años de edad cuando aprendí a escribir mi propio nombre y nunca he dejado de escribir y soñar desde entonces. Y todo comenzó con mi madre, que es una mujer amorosa y maravillosa.

Cuando tenía 11 años, mi madre tuvo que tomar una decisión muy difícil. Ella no fue capaz de salir de Cuba, pero yo si tuve la oportunidad y ella tuvo que elegir dejarmer venir a los Estados Unidos sin ella. Ella optó por darme la oportunidad de vivir en una tierra libre,  ella decidió darme la oportunidad de convertirme en un hombre mejor. Si ella hubiera dicho que no, probablemente estaría en Cuba, bajo un régimen que no sólo destruye la libertad, pero también la esperanza.

Sé que mi mamá lloró todos los días durante 12 años hasta que finalmente nos pudimos reunir en Miami. No fue fácil, pero estoy agradecido por su amor y su sacrificio.

Mi bisabuela

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Como mi madre no pudo venir a los Estados Unidos, mi bisabuela se convirtió en mi segunda mamá. Ella siempre ha estado al tanto mío y siempre me ha cuidado. Tal vez debido a mi situación, ella siempre se encargó de protegerme y de que no me faltara nada. Estoy muy agradecido por ella!

Ella es una mujer maravillosa y es un ejemplo de una persona muy trabajadora. Ha vivido una vida bien difícil. Tuvo que abandonar la escuela a una edad temprana para ayudar a cuidar de su familia, y su esposo (mi bisabuelo) falleció inesperadamente por un infarto.

Mami, como todos la llamamos, es simplemente increíble y estoy muy agradecido a Dios por todos los años que la ha dado. Le pido a Dios que le de muchos más.

Mi Abuela

My grandmother! This was taken this year. Maybe my grandfather took it?
Tati, como la decimos, es como si fuera otra madre para mí. Junto con mi bisabuela, ella me crió y siempre se aseguró de que no me faltara nada. Si yo quería un par de zapatos de baloncesto (sin importat lo caro) ella me los compraba. Su forma de expresar amor es dando y, vaya, ella me debe querer cantidad porque siempre me ha dado tanto!

Tati es muy trabajadora. No he conocido a nadie que haya trabajado tan duro toda su vida sin quejarse. Ella trabaja incansablemente y todo lo que hace es para ayudar al resto de la familia.

Mi Tia

My aunt, on the right, captured in my mom's selfie!

Cuando salí de Cuba a la edad de 11, vine con mi tía, tío, dos primas y mi bisabuela. Mi tía siempre me ha apoyado. Ella siempre me trató como si fuera su propio hijo.

Cuand el programa de ayuda financiera de Miami Dade College me negó la ayuda, mi tía fue y hablo con ellos. No se como lo hizo, pero los convenció de ayudarme. Si ella no hubiera hecho esto, probablemente yo habría regresado a Cuba. Realmente lo consideré. Estaba tan deprimido. Mi mamá había sacrificado tanto para que me convierta en un hombre productivo, y mis posibilidades por poco fueron interrumpidas por falta de dinero.

Además, todo lo que sé acerca de la moda, lo he aprendido de ella.

Mi Esposa

With my gorgeous wife, going out for a date!
¿Por dónde empezar? Creo que todo el mundo sueña con encontrar a esa persona especial, con conocer a esa persona que te hace creer en cuentos de hadas. Mi esposa es esa mujer. Elena es amable y cariñosa y muy inteligente. Gracias a su amor y su apoyo, me he convertido en un hombre mejor.

Si no fuera por su aliento incondicional, no me hubiera graduado hoy.

No sólo es una mujer maravillosa, pero también es una madre buenisima. Ellie y Oliver aún no saben lo afortunados que son de tener una madre tan increíble, pero a medida que crecen, se van a dar cuentas. Su amor por ellos y su dedicación a ellos es increíble y estoy muy agradecido a Dios por haberla encontrado.

——-

Si no fuera por todas esas mujeres increíbles en mi vida, yo no sería el hombre que soy hoy en día. He aprendido mucho de ellas y estoy muy agradecido de haber estado rodeado por mujeres tan increibles y amorosas.

grad

The Women in My Life

I finally graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree, 14 years after finishing high school. I did get my Associate’s degree, but that was in 2004. That was the last time I had gone to school. Unfortunately, an Associate’s doesn’t mean much in the workplace nowadays and I’m sure that in a decade or two, a bachelor’s won’t mean much either.

Anyway, it was a lot of hard work, and I couldn’t have done it without my wife’s support and encouragement. And when I look back at my life, I can see that I was always surrounded by wonderful women who not only raised me, but taught me so many things.

My Mom

going to school
My mom taking me to school. My cousin Danay is in front of us. You can see how happy we were going to school!

 

I have early memories of my mom teaching me how to write my name. I was probably around three years old when I learned to write my own name and I never stopped writing and dreaming since then. And it all started with my mom, who is a loving and wonderful woman.

When I was 11, my mom had to make a really tough decision. She wasn’t able to leave Cuba, but I did have a chance and she had to choose whether to let me come to the United States without her, or to keep me in Cuba. She chose to give me the chance of freedom, the chance to become a better man. Because of that difficult choice she made, I graduated. It all started with that decision. If she had said no, I would probably be in Cuba, under a regime that not only extinguishes freedom, but also hope.

I know that my mom cried every single day for 12 years, until we were finally reunited. It wasn’t easy, but I’m thankful for her love and her example of sacrifice.

My Great-Grandmother

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With Mami at some very formal event. I was around 15 when this was taken.

 

When my mom wasn’t able to come to the United States, my great-grandmother became my second mom. She always looked out for my best interests and always protected me. Perhaps because of my situation, she always took it upon herself to make sure that I was safe, even if that meant being a little strict at times. But I’m very thankful for her!

She’s a wonderful woman and she’s such an example of endurance and hard work. She’s lived a difficult life. From having to drop out of school at an early age to help take care of her family, to her husband (my great-grandfather) dying suddenly from a heart attack.

Mami, as we all call her, is just amazing and I’m so thankful to God for all the years he’s given her. I pray that he gives her many more.

My Grandmother

My grandmother! This was taken this year. Maybe my grandfather took it?
My grandmother! This was taken this year. Maybe my grandfather took it?

Tati, as we call her, is also another mom to me. Along with my great-grandmother, she raised me and always made sure all my needs were provided. If I wanted a pair of basketball shoes (no matter how ridiculously expensive) she would buy them for me. Her main way to express love is by giving and, man, she must love me so much because she’s given me so much!

Tati is such a hard worker. I haven’t met anyone who’s worked so hard all her life without complaining. She works tirelessly and she does it all for the rest of the family, to make sure that all our needs are met.

My Aunt

My aunt, on the right, captured in my mom's selfie!
My aunt, on the right, captured in my mom’s selfie!

When I left Cuba at the age of 11, I came with my aunt, uncle, two cousins and my great-grandmother. My aunt has always been there for me. She’s always treated me as if I was her own son.

I almost didn’t get in to community college because Financial Aid was being ridiculous, but my aunt went to the school and she talked, and somehow she made them accept me. If she hadn’t done this, I probably would have returned to Cuba. I really considered it. I was so depressed. My mom had sacrificed so much for me to become a productive man, and my chances were almost cut short by lack of money.

My aunt is also a hard worker and can talk her way into anything. Also, everything that I know about fashion, I’ve learned from her.

My Wife

With my gorgeous wife, going out for a date!
With my gorgeous wife, going out for a date!

Where to begin? I think everyone dreams of meeting their soulmate, of meeting that one person that makes you believe in fairy tales. My wife is that woman. There’s no else in this life that I’d rather grow old with. She’s kind and loving and very smart. She’s made me a better man, thanks to her love and support.

If it wasn’t for her encouragement, if it wasn’t for her not minding that on my first semester back I spent almost every weekend studying at the library, I wouldn’t be a graduate today.

Not only is she a wonderful woman and wife, but she’s a great mother, too. Ellie and Oliver don’t know yet how lucky they are to have such an amazing mother, but as they get older, they’ll see. Her love for them and her dedication to them is amazing and I’m so thankful to God that I found her.

——-

If it wasn’t for all of these amazing women in my life, I wouldn’t be the man I am today. I have learned so much from them and I’m so thankful to have been surrounded by such strong and loving women.

grad

Graduation!!

I’ll be graduating this Saturday! For those of you who don’t know me, I got my Associate’s Degree from a community college about a decade ago. I wanted to continue to my studies, but several things impeded my progress, but it was mainly money.

Now, ten years later, and thanks to the support and encouragement of my wife, I will finally get my Bachelor’s degree! She’s certainly kept me going when I wanted to give up and there were MANY times.

But I’m glad I didn’t.

Growing up in Cuba, I would have never thought that I would be graduating from a university in the United States. When my family left Cuba, they did so in order for me and my cousins to have a better life, to have a better future. When my parents allowed me to leave Cuba and come to the United States without them, they did it so that I could live freely and choose what kind of man I wanted to be one day.

I’ll be the first person in my family to graduate from college. To most people that probably doesn’t mean much, but it means a lot to me. It means that their sacrifices paid off. Not that going to college is the only thing that validates their sacrifice. College is not for everyone. But in my case, that’s certainly the best way to honor them.

I plan on writing a longer post on this soon, but anyway, I’m graduating!!

 

Ode to Things by Pablo Neruda

Neruda is my favorite poet. If you know Spanish, I suggest that you read this poem in its original language. But even if you don’t know it, it’s still a beautiful ode.

I have a crazy,
crazy love of things.
I like pliers,
and scissors.
I love
cups,
rings,
and bowls –
not to speak, or course,
of hats.
I love
all things,
not just
the grandest,
also
the
infinite-
ly
small –
thimbles,
spurs,
plates,
and flower vases.
Oh yes,
the planet
is sublime!
It’s full of pipes
weaving
hand-held
through tobacco smoke,
and keys
and salt shakers –
everything,
I mean,
that is made
by the hand of man, every little thing:
shapely shoes,
and fabric,
and each new
bloodless birth
of gold,
eyeglasses
carpenter’s nails,
brushes,
clocks, compasses,
coins, and the so-soft
softness of chairs.
Mankind has
built
oh so many
perfect
things!
Built them of wool
and of wood,
of glass and
of rope:
remarkable
tables,
ships, and stairways.
I love
all
things,
not because they are
passionate
or sweet-smelling
but because,
I don’t know,
because
this ocean is yours,
and mine;
these buttons
and wheels
and little
forgotten
treasures,
fans upon
whose feathers
love has scattered
its blossoms
glasses, knives and
scissors –
all bear
the trace
of someone’s fingers
on their handle or surface,
the trace of a distant hand
lost
in the depths of forgetfulness.
I pause in houses,
streets and
elevators
touching things,
identifying objects
that I secretly covet;
this one because it rings,
that one because
it’s as soft
as the softness of a woman’s hip,
that one there for its deep-sea color,
and that one for its velvet feel.
O irrevocable
river
of things:
no one can say
that I loved
only
fish,
or the plants of the jungle and the field,
that I loved
only
those things that leap and climb, desire, and survive.
It’s not true:
many things conspired
to tell me the whole story.
Not only did they touch me,
or my hand touched them:
they were
so close
that they were a part
of my being,
they were so alive with me
that they lived half my life
and will die half my death.

The Mysterious Manuscript – Excerpt

This is an excerpt from Chapter 6, from my novel The Mysterious Manuscript. Enjoy!

———

“The desk was cluttered with papers and there was an overflowing bookshelf to the right. The room had two small windows, but they brought in enough light that electricity wasn’t needed in the mornings. There was a computer sitting on the desk and a shelf behind it, which was filled with ancient relics and artifacts. Not much different than his home office, Jim thought. Since no one had touched anything, it seemed that Frank had just stepped out for lunch, but Jim knew this was not true. His father had been missing for a long time now.

On one wall, hung a reproduction of the painting The Marriage Feast at Cana, by Hyeronimus Bosch, which commemorates the miracle of Jesus turning water in to wine. Hanging on the opposite wall, there was a replica of the most famous triptych by Hieronymous Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights. The painting is so bizarre that there is no universally accepted interpretation. Religious and alchemical symbols are fused together with images of torture and torment.

“That painting always gave me the creeps,” Alexandra said.

Jim nodded, understanding her reaction, but like his father, he happened to like it.

“Jim,” John called. “Here’s what I really wanted to show you.”

He then handed Jim a familiar object. It was a canister, similar to the one where his note had been. This one also had a combination wheel of six letters.

“Now, I’m going to be honest with you,” John said. “Ever since I discovered this contraption I have tried to open it. I’ve tried all the logical terms and words that occurred to me, but nothing. But then again, there are millions of six letter word combinations, especially for a man like your father who spoke five languages.”

“Did you give it the old college try and tried to break it open?” Jim asked.

John laughed. “Oh believe me, I have thought about it. But on closer inspection I discovered that this mechanism is wired in such a way that if it experiences any sort of trauma, a corrosive agent will destroy its contents. Could be vinegar, or acid”

“Very clever,” Alexandra said. Then she turned to Jim. “Do you think you can open it?”

Jim studied the device. He held it up to the light and noticed the small vial with the corrosive liquid. His eyes then scanned the combination wheel. Six letters. He thought about the note. Could it be? There was only one way to find out. He carefully lined up the letters that in a way got him started on this journey. These letters formed the word that most closely described him.

S-E-E-K-E-R

All four of them stood silently for a very long second. There was a click. It had worked. The container was open. Another message from Frank Davis, another message that was apparently only intended for his son to receive.

“Well, what does it say?” John asked.

“I’m not really sure,” Jim responded. He then showed them the message.

3433442315311143442134312434

4323243315113124222344113314

4423151133435215424352243131

12154215511511311514

Out of all the things the note could have said, they were not expecting to find an assortment of seemingly random numbers. But if there ever was a group capable of deciphering this message, they were right in this room. Quickly, Jim and Alexandra grabbed pen and paper from the desk, while Boris took out a smartphone form his pocket to do his calculations.

Whatever this message said, it was important enough for Frank Davis to hide it inside of a canister and then encipher it. One thing was for sure though, no one was leaving the office until the message was decoded.”

———–

You can get the book on Amazon! If you own a Nook, Kobo or another reader, then please comment and let me know.

Great Advice for Parents Who Are Artists

Austin Kleon wrote a phenomenal blog post a couple of years ago about people who basically tell new parents that childhood equals the death of creativity. While it’s true that those first couple of months you barely have any time to even shower, things do get better and you have to make the time.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Don’t listen to these parents. They are using the precedent of their failures to predict your own. 

For every tired, overworked, bitter parent who tells you how much you won’t get done when you have kids, there’s a parent like John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, who talks about cradling his son in one arm, and picking out melodies on the piano with the other. Or George Saunders, who stole time from his office job for seven years to write the stories that would become CivilWarLand In Bad Decline. Or any number of moms and dads who make it work and make the work. They are out there. Find them. Hang out with them. Ask them how they do it. Let them be your role models.

Jung said, “Nothing has a stronger influence…on their children than the unlived life of the parents.”

You owe your kid food, safety, and love, but you also owe him your example. You give up on The Thing, and then when the kid grows up, he might give up on His Thing, too.

So don’t give up on The Thing.”