It’s Okay Not To Be Okay

During my first semester of college, everything seemed fine — on the outside. I was passing my classes, involved in community theater, and was even selected for Reading the Globe! However, even with all the good things I had going on in my life, I always felt this inexplicable sense of inadequacy, coupled with the fear that it could all be taken away from me someday. I thought if I rose this fast, then I could fall just as easily too.

Soon, everyday became a struggle for emotional stability. In the shower, I scrubbed my scalp so hard that I found blood under my fingernails. I spent nights staring at my ceiling, crying and digging my nails into my skin, while my mind raced with no intentions of stopping. I stopped writing, unless it was for an assignment. I fluctuated between eating too much and eating too little, and looked forward to sleeping more than anything else.

While I did actually consider seeking professional help, I could never bring myself to make the call. In high school, I’d been told “Some people have real problems” by adults and peers alike, and took those words to heart. I felt my problems didn’t merit a visit to a counselor; I was just being over-dramatic.  Sure, I was running on empty with no brakes, but nobody needed to know that. Everything was okay, as long as I was able to keep pretending so.

My plan seemed to work up until one November morning, I sat in the library struggling to complete some homework for my (remedial) math class. I received an e-mail that the results from our most recent exam had been posted. I had an uneasy feeling about my score, and went to check it. My eyes filled with tears the moment I saw I had earned a big, fat F. To add insult to injury, I earned a D on my history test that same week.

I grabbed my things and bolted out of the library. I eventually found myself curled up on the floor of a smelly bathroom stall in Cowart Hall. I cried, screamed, and kicked, not caring for once if someone else heard me. In the middle of my little meltdown, I started frantically looking through my backpack. I’m glad I didn’t find what I was looking for, because it would have made this story harder to tell. Fortunately, that moment caused me to come back to my senses. After I had calmed down a bit, I knew where I had to go. I walked over to the nurse’s office, where I sobbed as I tried to explain myself. They referred me to Student Counseling. Once the paperwork was done, I was scheduled for an appointment two weeks later.

I wish I could say that I immediately started feeling better instantly, but that’s not quite what happened. Even though I hoped to finish counseling by the end of the following semester, I spent nearly two years in counseling. I originally went in to learn to deal with academic stress, only to discover that my issues ran deeper than that. Looking back on my formative years, I realized my insecurities were linked to the bullying I endured as a child; likewise, my fears of failure stemmed from my previous academic struggles and the subsequent need to prove myself to others. There was so much more I discovered during those sessions, in which I allowed myself to cry and vent. Slowly but surely, my smile became less forced. I started laughing more, even in sessions. I started going to slam poetry nights and joined The Bridge. Finally, I opened up to my friends about my feelings, after keeping them a secret for so long. For the first time in a while, my mind and body were waking up at the same time each morning.

However, this doesn’t mean the struggle is over. Recovery is different for everyone, and it is a lifelong process. I still struggle with toxic thoughts and managing my moods on an almost daily basis. With finals and other important events coming up, I know there are some bad days in store for me. But when I feel overwhelmed and my mind wanders to that dark place, I think of the semicolon. Sounds weird, right? But the meaning behind this little symbol lies in the fact that the semicolon separates two sentences that are too closely linked to be separated. The writer could’ve stopped the sentence, but chose to continue.

That being said, I will openly admit that I wasn’t kind to myself as a teenager; it’s always going to be a part of my past. But I fight for my happiness everyday by choosing to continue when I want to stop.

I share my story not to seek attention or pity, but in hopes that someone will not fall into the same trap I did. There is help out there, from the professional to personal level. Please do not think there is anything worth sacrificing your health over. Most of all, never think that you are alone in this journey; odds are, it’s quite the opposite.

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Gallery: TAMIU Students Shine at Benefit Fashion Show

Several TAMIU students and community members participated in a fashion show benefiting the Border Region Behavioral Health Center on April 27.

Photos by I.M. Kero

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Alfredo Corchado Describes “The Tragic Beauty of Mexico”

For individuals living along the U.S.-Mexico border, the feeling of being caught between two worlds is almost inevitable. The struggle of balancing two cultures and two languages has been portrayed across all types of media. With subjects such as immigration and drug cartel violence making daily headlines, border towns and their residents are becoming an area of interest for reporters and researchers from across the world.

Alfredo Corchado, a Mexican-American journalist based in Mexico City, is no stranger to this balancing act. His lecture, Still Midnight In Mexico? Mexico’s Challenges, Journalism and the Borderlands, and the New American Narrative was presented on April 13 in the Student Center Ballroom.

“This region has helped define me as a person and a journalist,” said Corchado, who frequently visits Laredo.

While mostly academic in nature, the lecture took a personal turn as Corchado recounted his experiences as an immigrant, migrant worker, and eventual journalist. These experiences provided the basis for his 2013 book, Midnight in Mexico. The book details his experiences as a reporter in the midst of the Mexican drug war, and what Corchado calls “the tragic beauty of Mexico.”

Excerpts were read from the book, which Corchado joked smells of “tequila, crying, and Juan Gabriel” upon being opened.

However,  all jokes aside, the circumstances behind his family’s move to the U.S. were heartbreaking. The drowning death of his two-year-old sister, Lupita, prompted his mother to consider leaving their hometown of Durango, Mexico for better opportunities across the border.

“I left Mexico kicking and screaming,” he admitted.

Corchado worked in the fields of California alongside his parents. It was in these fields that Corchado was approached by reporters.

Alfredo Corchado speaks to a full audience in the Student Center Ballroom on April 13th.
Alfredo Corchado speaks to a full audience in the Student Center Ballroom on April 13th.

“I was intrigued and touched that somebody wanted to give me a voice,” he said.

Though he and his mother were permanent residents at the time, his mother feared the consequences of speaking out. Civil rights activist Cesar Chavez and his work with the United Farm Workers attracted national attention, but also resulted in the deportation of many Mexican workers. She didn’t want them to lose their chance at a new life.

Still, the experience opened Corchado to the possibility of providing a voice for others. After moving to Texas and graduating from the University of Texas at El Paso, Corchado is now an accomplished journalist with bylines in several American newspapers, and the Mexico Bureau Chief for the Dallas Morning News.

As an expert on issues found along the border, Corchado is often faced with having to add to the negative press Mexico receives. He admitted this was difficult at the beginning of his career.

“At times I felt that I betrayed my country, but what could I do?”

On a similar note, Corchado spoke of the struggles faced by Mexican and Mexican-American journalists in the midst of the ongoing War on Drugs in Mexico. Noting that Mexico is now considered the most dangerous country in the world to practice journalism, Corchado recalled his own brief scare with the drug cartels. While working on a story in Mexico, he received a call from a trusted source in the U.S. This source notified him that the Zetas planned to kill American journalists; Corchado was one of those named.

They were eventually able to escape Mexico unharmed. Despite being a U.S. citizen at this point, he was told that he could still remain a target for cartel members, the reason being that he did not “look American.”

“Being an American journalist does not protect me,” said Corchado.

He also mentioned that the risks involved with his occupation were frequently the source of arguments with his mother.

“You are only as naive as an American can be,” she once told him. “I won’t let the government ruin my children like it’s ruining my country.”

Speaking for himself and his fellow journalists, he stated the following:

“Our goal is to add border voices to the national debate. No story, no reporter is worth somebody’s life, [but] I write because I have hope for a better Mexico.”

Yet the danger that comes along with being a journalist in Mexico does not deter Corchado from pursuing the truth.

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Student Seeks To Improve Daily Commute For Students

By Daniela Rodriguez, Student Contributor

As a student of Texas A&M International University, I am very proud to be part of a great community within a great city. I live near Merida Avenue, which is only a 15 minute car ride to TAMIU. However, when I ride the bus, travelling takes more than two hours. Besides myself, many other students struggle with the same situation. Throughout the eight months I have been riding the bus, I have realized the city needs to expand their routes and schedules, add the number of the route to every post, and add a map to every bus stop.
It is necessary that the proper authorities realize Laredo is growing rapidly, and that they should expand their routes to accommodate this growth. For example, according to El Metro Transit website, there are 22 bus routes covering the Laredo area, but none of them take you to newly-opened Alamo Draft House on East Point Drive, which is located in a rapidly booming and northernmost area of town. Similarly, bus services for the southern area of Laredo must be expanded as well. Like its northern counterpart, it is also growing at a substantial rate. Unfortunately, only three routes cover this area: Route 14 (Santa Rita), Route 19 (Santo Niño) and Route 20 (Los Angeles). The average wait time for an individual taking these routes ranges from 70-90 minutes.
Regarding the schedules of El Metro Transit, they must be expanded to adapt to Laredo’s growth. Personally, I need to take two different buses in order to get home. The first one is Route 16, which covers the TAMIU area, and it takes me downtown to the transit center where I must take Route 19 to get home. Route 19 only has one bus which takes more than an hour to complete its crossing. This means that if Route 16 is delayed, I must wait downtown for an hour to wait for the next Route 19 bus. Also, I have noticed that some routes end too early, which causes problems for workers who leave work late at night and to students who cannot enroll in night classes or have to leave during class to take the last bus.
Finally, I must mention the lack of maps at bus stops. A few months ago at a bus stop, I ran into a woman who was visiting Laredo. She asked me which route we were on. That made me realize the lack of maps and route numbers at all bus stops. It is difficult to get to know a city when there is no transportation capable of giving access to all areas of the city to its citizens and visitors. The first time I rode the bus, I had no idea where it would take me. If I had not been able to check the route schedule on my phone, I do not know what could have happened.
I encourage El Metro Transit to observe and improve these problems mentioned above. The people of Laredo deserve a better bus system. Laredo is the largest international port in the country, and many workers from Mexico use the bus to travel to and from work. Ensuring a better public transportation for not only students, but transnational workers as well, ensures a stronger economic future for our city.

I know that I am not the only person dealing with this problem. I hope when the authorities read this, they see what can be improved and work towards building a better Laredo.

Rodriguez invites all readers to participate in the following survey. The results will be presented to officials at City Hall on April 18th at 5:30 P.M:
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State Department Visits TAMIU

The US Department of State held a key event on campus to help promote recruitment. The event was co-hosted with Congressman Henry Cuellar. They came to give remarks and influence the importance of young professionals finding careers in the Department of State. The event was designed to answer some questions about the Department of State, as well as the application process, and the some of the criteria to earn a position.

Continue reading “State Department Visits TAMIU”

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TAMIU visits Texas A&M Law School

By Francisco Garza, Student Contributor

The drive to and from Fort Worth, Texas gave me enough time to decide where I wanted to go to for law school. Once the Pre-Law Chapter got to the hotel, settled in, unpacked, and washed up for dinner. Once we all met at the lobby, we took a unique bus downtown to Ricky’s Barbeque. It had the most delicious barbeque ribs and brisket I’ve ever tasted. This restaurant was recommended to us by the Texas A&M Law School staff. These people were tremendously smart and enthusiastic. They not only talked to about the beautiful city, but they encouraged us to attend their law school. Over dinner, one professor informed us about the majority of things that go on in his business law class and benefits of attending their Texas A&M Law School.

The next day, which was a Monday, at 8am the TAMIU pre law group met with the staff of the law school and together we walked down two blocks to get to the law school. The short distance really impressed me. The building is two stories tall and it reminds me a lot of a fancy hotel stocked with several neatly spacious classrooms. In addition, the school library made you feel automatically intelligent and like you could solve any problem because of all the books that were there to help you. The most exciting part was that the students there get along with each other just like we get along. One pretty girl came to talk to us and provided us with answers to our questions.

Finally, after visiting live class rooms and buying things at the book store, we headed back home. The TAMIU Pre-Law Chapter and Texas A&M built a strong connection. They visited the Cayman Island in the summer for conference meetings and they like cabrito. Now they are coming to our school and offering a law class about immigration. Their professors and some of their students are coming down to TAMIU to teach and attend the class. If there are any questions about law, law school, or any legal opportunities contact the TAMIU Pre-Law Advisor Dr. Palmer. Her office is located in the Western Hemispheric Trade Center room 216. I want to formally thank the Texas A&M Law School for providing us with the trip and encouraging us to give our best at standing out as leaders and attending Texas A&M Law School in Fort Worth, TX.

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Home of the Mighty Fighting Buckaroos

By Adrian Campos, ECHS Student Contributor 

My hometown Freer, Texas located in Duval County at the intersection of U.S. Highway 59 and State highways 16, 44, and 339. It’s only 60 miles east of Laredo, Texas and is where I’ve grown up all my life. It’s a small town with a population of only 3,241 where everybody knows each other. If you’ve ever lived in a small town then you know what it’s like.

Freer is named after Daniel John Freer, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1866. Freer married Nancy Gabehart in 1890. They had six children, one son named Charley, and five daughters. In 1915 the family discovered an advertisement in a newspaper for people to come to “Rosita Valley” (later known as Freer) to buy land at $1.000 for 60 acres. Mr.Freer sent his son Charley to check out the situation. Charley liked what he saw and met and married Hinnie Riley while the rest of the family moved to Rosita Valley in 1917.

At the time there were no stores or post office in Rosita Valley. Mr.Freer purchased and developed the original townsite. He operated the Post office out of his home. He built the first utility plant for the town, he owned one of the first gas stations, he donated land for the first church, and he helped establish the first Chamber of Commerce in 1934.

In 1938 the City of Freer was the second largest producing oil field in the United States. At the time the population was estimated at 5,000 to 8,000. There was a monthly payroll of $500,000. The 3,000 oil wells produced 50,000 barrels of oil a day. D.J. Freer died on December 7, 1941 at the age of 75.

Freer, Texas is home to the “Official Rattlesnake Roundup of Texas.” The first Freer Rattlesnake Roundup was in 1965 and it was known as the Oil-O-Rama. This year will be the 51st anniversary of the Freer Rattlesnake Roundup. Many people come from all over Texas to come to this event 2 day event. It’s on Friday and Saturday, during the last weekend in April. There are many things to do. It’s a time for many nonprofit organizations to raise money by selling food or other things. There is live music, vendors, a carnival, a parade, and a live rattlesnake show. Last year there was even a monster truck show and a helicopter ride.

Each year there is Miss Freer Pageant and a new Miss Freer, Jr. Miss Freer, Little Miss Freer, and a Little Mr.Freer get chosen by judges to support the city. They dress up in rattlesnake skin and they go to many local parades year round.

Freer is home to the mighty Buckaroos. The team symbolizes family because without even one of them the team wouldn’t be the same, like a family. The team all supports other in events like football and baseball. We all work together with pride. Without the support of the citizens of Freer the High School Athletic program wouldn’t be able to accomplish what they do.

We may be a small town but many things go on year round and it’s is a pleasure to be part of it. Lots of love and affection get put into everything. Since we all know each other we treat everyone as family. I wouldn’t want my life any other way. Yes, there are benefits to living in a big city, but Freer is home and it always will be.

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Comic Class Teaches History

By Edward Garza, Student Contributor

Anybody who has picked up a comic book will more than likely say that they are a source of entertainment and nothing more. The brightly toned panels leap at the reader to capture their attention. Crafty home brewed villains act to generate fear and antagonize civility. Then by the end of the comic, the titular superhero rescues the girl, stops the robbery, and captures the bad guy. Today, they have spawned a multibillion dollar industry that continues to inspire wonder among viewers of all ages. But, what if they were more than entertainment? What if they were a source of knowledge: a looking glass into the past? If readers read carefully, they can be viable sources of historical information.

This is what Dr. Richard Hall’s “Intellectual History of the U.S.”  class concerns itself with this spring semester. The creation of the modern American comic book comes in the 1930s as the Great Depression loomed. Superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman saw their debut and maintained the little hope that readers had. As war approached in the 1940s the comic book medium became an almost propagandic entity asking for readers to join the war effort any which way they could. The Red Scare of the 1950s would transform the superhero comic and even kill off other genres entirely for their “communist sympathetic” qualities. Then the 1960s seemingly broke all ties of conformity in America and thus, a rebirth of the superhero genre occurred. Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man–these and more were born in the wake of the rebellious 60s. This pattern of reactionary creationism continued throughout the 1970s, 80s, 90s, and even post-9/11 America. Every time America was suffering or rejoicing, the comic book was there to capture the thoughts of Americans and voice them out on cheap newsprint.

Dr. Hall gives his attention to each decade and traces various societal products or “isms” like racism, sexism, nationalism, communism and others. In this history class, comic books themselves become the primary sources. Students analyze speech bubbles and the bold illustrations and it is then, the entertainment value of the comic book is surpassed by the intellectual value.

I spoke with Mr. Christopher Garcia and Ms. Alejandra Guajardo, both students of Dr. Hall’s “Intellectual History” class and they offered me their thoughts and outlook on the course.

“I’ve been a big comic book fan since 2008” says Mr. Garcia, a communications major.  “I had knowledge of current events but no knowledge of the comics before 2002…I’m taking this class because a friend suggested it,”

When asked what he has learned in this class he said, “I’ve learned how the historic events and social movements at the time affected the writing of comics from day one, when Superman debuted. As history progressed so did the comics such as the X-Men, arriving during the height of the Civil Rights Movement and Superman became an embodiment of Moses and Roosevelt”

Likewise, I asked Ms. Guajardo, a history major, why she took the class: “I had to take it because it is a history class. But, I chose it because the topic looked interesting. I had no knowledge of comics at all. I only knew about superheroes because of the movies.”

She continued on what she learned, “I have learned that pop culture reflects society. As a historian it is important because the expression of cultures tie to the ideals of the time. We portray our sentiments in different ways. I have also learned many things about comics that I’ve never imagined. I feel like a better critic now. Also, I have learned to appreciate the genre more.”

Thus, to sum it up, this class is suited for armchair historians, historians-in-training and comic book lovers in general. Dr. Hall takes his passion for both comic books and history and wraps it up for students to unravel over the course of the semester. If interested, keep a lookout for any and all classes offered by Dr. Hall because he is sure to bring a welcome twist to learning.

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Warp-PLS and the Gold Mine Every Company Does Not Know They Have

The rise of technological devices has forever changed the way we do things in our everyday lives. Just as it played a big impact on everything we do, technology also changed how we see many things. For instance, everything we do with our devices nowadays generates data. Even though we might not be aware of it, we all generate significant amounts of data, and in the right hands, this data can prove to be a gold mine waiting to be discovered. Much like this, businesses generate a vast amount of data that, without any interpretation, can go unnoticed. Data analysis will prove to be crucial in the foreseeable future as more companies start realizing that within them is the answer to all their problems.

Dr. Ned Kock, Chair of the Division of International Business and Technology Studies here at TAMIU, will be offering a workshop stressing the importance of understanding many types of data through his program WarpPLS.

Continue reading “Warp-PLS and the Gold Mine Every Company Does Not Know They Have”

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Splash! South Padre Island

At the end of this month, right before finals week, I will be attending a festival in South Padre Island where members of the LGBTQ community will unite in celebration. This celebration will honor the progress of acceptance that the community has made these past years. There is no doubt that there is still discrimination alive against this community. It is not easy to be accepted, but it is possible.

I have always said that I became gay by accident, but it’s not true. Since I was a little boy I knew how I felt, but some believe that children don’t recognize their decisions when in fact they do. This festival makes you accept yourself more and it also enhances your confidence about your sexual preference. At least that’s how I felt when I attended last year. It was the first time I ever attended a gay event and I don’t regret going at all. I talked to a lot of people and I found out many things.

Five years ago, I wasn’t who I am now. I wasn’t confident about saying that I am gay. It takes guts to admit to your truths. There are plenty of guys out there that are living in fear because they are worried about other people’s judgement. The truth is that people can’t try to control judgement. The fact that we can’t control makes things more complicated in our minds. For example, one thing I learned I couldn’t control is acceptance.

When I mentioned that I became gay by accident, it was because I thought the end solution would be different. I fell in love with my best friend because of the gay tricks he would always play on me. It’s not right to do gay things if you are not gay. In the end, I couldn’t make him accept what he did or who he was. I was thrown away like trash on the side of the road. I was crushed and disappointed about gaining feelings for someone that never reciprocated them tp begin with. So, I see it as an accident, because I wonder who I would be if I never gained those feelings for him.

I used to date girls, but once I grew feelings for a guy, I knew it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I honestly thought that he would just accept his truth and become my first boyfriend, but we didn’t have a happy ending like in the movies. From there on, I was trying to figure more about my identity. I was trying to learn how to be gay. Now I feel like a pro because I’ve met some of the most amazing people that have told me their experiences. Some people don’t chose to be gay either. I’ve heard stories about guys getting raped by their uncles. All that does is confuse the individual and begin to make them think they are gay because they got raped by a man. This is an example of a man becoming gay by accident, and not like my situation where I knew what I was doing, and the choices that I was making to continue my relationship.

Attending the festival the first time made me feel comfortable about who I really am. It helped me be the person I had been hiding on the inside. I’m so excited that I get to go back and replace my experience with a new one. I think that no one should ever have to wait to be loved by the person they desire. I waited so long, thinking that maybe one day he would return, and we could start over.

After seven years of not speaking to each other, we finally decided to hang out again. I just couldn’t believe how he thought that I would still be in the same position. Now that I know more than I used, I know not to treat this like a game. All I ever wanted was an explanation why he stopped talking to me. Now I don’t even want to know. He still can’t accept what he did, and those are not the kind of men I want to connect with anymore. I want to communicate with the ones that know more and are comfortable about being true to themselves.

That is exactly why I made every effort to return to this festival because Laredo has a lot of guys that can’t be true to themselves. I don’t know what the problem is about being gay, and there’s no way I can try to figure it out on my own. That is why communities like LGBTQ come together to try and figure out more about this reality in our lives. Just remember there’s no rush. People take time to get comfortable and well mine came around pretty soon in my life. Consider coming to this celebration. Maybe you too can feel like a whole different person.

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