News Archives May 8, 2012

News for May 8, 2012



A total of 226 students, 144 at Sul Ross State University-Alpine and 82 at Rio Grande College, are candidates for degrees during Saturday, May 12 spring commencement exercises.

Ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. in the Pete P. Gallego Center on the Alpine Campus, and at 7 p.m. in the Del Rio Civic Center for RGC graduates.

State Representative Jim Pitts, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, will deliver the commencement address at Sul Ross-Alpine ceremonies. Dr. Jaime Garza, a member of the Texas State University System Board of Regents, will speak at RGC.

At Sul Ross-Alpine, Steven Bennack, lecturer in Music, will play the processional, "Pomp and Circumstance," and the recessional, "Postlude in G Major." Dr. Lorie Rubenser, associate professor of Criminal Justice, will be the mace bearer. Dr. Avinash Rangra, professor of Chemistry, and Dr. Chester Sample, professor of Physical Education, will serve as marshals.

Sul Ross President Dr. Ricardo Maestas will deliver the welcome and confer degrees. Dr. Jimmy Case, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, will deliver the invocation and preside over the ceremonies and announce recognitions and honors. Dr. Donald Freed, associate professor of Music, will lead the singing of "God Bless America" and "Alma Mater."

Pitts, Waxahachie, represents District 10, consisting of Hill and Ellis counties, in the Texas State Legislature. He was first elected in 1992 and has twice been named one of Texas’ Ten Best Legislators (2005 and 2009) by Texas Monthly magazine.

He received the "Fighter for Free Enterprise" Award from the Texas Association of Business for his voting record on pro-growth policies. Other honors include the "Patient Protectorate Award" from the Texas Medical Association; one of the "12 Stars of Texas" by the Texas Farm Bureau Friends of Agriculture; and a "Leader of Excellence" Award by the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas.

Pitts was born in Dallas and attended Southern Methodist University, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration, Master of Business Administration and a Juris Doctorate. He has practiced law in Waxahachie for the past 36 years and owns the Ellis County Abstract and Title Company.

A 14-year member of the Board of Trustees for the Waxahachie Independent School District, he was serving as board president when elected to the Texas Legislature. Other offices include director of Citizens National Bank in Waxahachie, director of Sims Library, a past-president of the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce and immediate past-president and treasurer of the Board of Trustees of Presbyterian Children's Services. He also currently serves on the Community Advisory Council for the Scottish Rite Learning Center. Pitts was chosen as Waxahachie’s Outstanding Citizen of the Year in 1999.

He and his late wife, Evelyn Eastham Pitts, have two daughters and one son. Pitts also has three grandsons.




Krista Ford. Lubbock, was voted Sul Ross State University’s Female Athlete of the Year, while Luke Fry, Rocksprings, received Male Athlete of the Year honors as student-athletes were recognized May 1 for the past year’s performances.

Ford competed in cross country, track and field and women’s basketball, where she averaged 18 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Fry, a right-handed pitcher for the Lobo baseball team, compiled a 5-5 won-lost record during the season.

Samantha Baker, Odessa, and Andy Silcox, Glendale, Ariz., were selected as 2012 Scholar-Athletes. Baker was a member of the women’s basketball team and Silcox played baseball.

Kaitlyn Moody, Clyde, and Jural Hickman, Waller, received Sportsmanship awards. Moody was a member of the cross country and women’s basketball teams, while Hickman competed in football and track and field. The annual awards banquet was held in the Espino Conference Center, Morgan University Center. All©conference and academic all©conference awards were presented, as well as team honors.

Recipients (and hometowns) of team honors are listed below.

Volleyball: Offensive Player of the Year, Brooke Bankston, El Paso; Defensive Player of the Year, Kathy Peralez, San Antonio; Outstanding Player of the Year, Josette Delgado, El Paso; Newcomer of the Year, Tamika Harris, New Caney; Coach’s Award, Kaitlyn Thomas, Del Rio.

Cross Country: Outstanding Female Runner, Ford; Samantha Medrano, Snyder; Male Outstanding Runner, Guillermo Sanchez, Jr., Fabens; Marcario Lopez, San Juan.

Football: Offensive Most Valuable Player, Lee Carothers, Austin; Dominique Carson, Waxahachie; Defensive Most Valuable Player, Robert Pyssen, Pleasanton; Lobo Spirit Award, Cody LeCroy, Needville; Special Teams Award, Kellen Gierke, Christoval; Leadership Award, Scotty Walden, Cleburne; Freshman of the Year, Daryn Young, Spring.

Women’s Basketball: Most Valuable Player, Ford; Defensive Player of the Year, Baker; Hustle Award, Misha Henderson, Anderson; Curtis Bozarth Leadership Award, Rosa Cruz, Harlingen.

Men’s Basketball: Most Valuable Player, Braylyn Thomas, Austin; Offensive Player of the Year, Colton Thompson, San Antonio; Defensive Player of the Year, Monio Mark, Houston.; Newcomer of the Year, Jordan Merchant, Lubbock; Most Improved Player, Juan Hernandez, Penitas; Most Important Rebounder, Eric Garcia, El Paso; Lobo Spirit Award, Jamail Deal, Houston; Freshman of the Year, Darrell Gardner, San Marcos.

Softball: Most Valuable Player, Julie Kalmus, Needville; Golden Glove, Lamar Rodriguez, rio Grande City; Offensive Player of the Year, Clarissa Lara, Rio Grande City; Hustle Award, Mariah Lopez, Lubbock; Lobo Award, Gaby Cordero, Fort Stockton; Rookie of the Year, Amanda Garza, San Benito.

Baseball: Pitcher of the Year, Fry; Reliever of the Year, Ray Gutierrez, Cahoma; Lobo Award, Mikey Apodaca, El Paso; Defensive Player of the Year, Apodaca, Marty Ballez, El Paso; Newcomer of the Year, Dakota Dill, Spring; Freshman of the Year, Emmett Crisp, Del Rio.  

Tennis: Most Dedicated Player, Chris Villafranco, Floresville; Most Improved Players, Joseph Rubio, Eldorado; Holly Sawyer, Austin.

Track:Outstanding Male Track Athlete, Hickman; Outstanding Female Track Athlete, Ford; Outstanding Male Field Events Awards, Christian Cruz, Bandera; Clint Kiger, Forney; Vince Moore, El Paso; Outstanding Female Field Events Award, Jayde Brunell.

Training Awards: Shelby Clark, Childress; Jodie McNew, Alpine; Justin Dominguez, Monahans.




"Cupcakes and Crossbones," a senior exhibition by Sul Ross State University student Jami Turner, Alpine, will be on display through May 11 in the Main Gallery, Francois Fine Arts Building.

Using a Neo-Pop Art style, Ms. Turner paints in both oil and watercolor. Her paintings illustrate the world with very bright vibrant colors, while portraying images of friends and family or pop culture Icons that are influential to her.

Gallery hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.




Sul Ross State University will host an inaugural class ring ceremony Friday, May 11, 4 p.m. in the Gallego Center, Room 129.

Students who ordered the newly-designed class ring earlier this year will receive rings and be recognized at the ceremony. Refreshments will be served.

For more information, contact Karen Brown, (432) 837-8443 or




Sul Ross State University student Emily Sims, Bellville, won first place in the Working Cow Class competition of the National Collegiate Ranch Horse Championship, held recently in Amarillo.

Sims, a junior Elementary Education major, finished ahead of 47 other contestants in the Working Cow Class of the Limited Non-Pro Division. Sul Ross, competing for the first time, placed sixth among 18 collegiate teams in the championship finals.

Sims, whose father is a professional cutting horse trainer, has long been active in both the National Cutting Horse Association and the American Cutting Horse Association. She qualified for the Texas high school state finals for four consecutive years, winning regional competition twice. In the ACHA she was the Senior Youth World Champion one year and in the top ten the other years. She went on to be honored in the American Youth Cutting Horse Association Hall of Fame. Her awards include two trophy saddles and 38 buckles.

Sims and her coach, Melissa Venetti, plan to compete in Stock Horse of Texas (SHOT) shows this summer, including events in San Antonio, San Angelo and the Big Bend Ranch Rodeo, held at Sul Ross.




Eight Sul Ross State University students were initiated into the Texas Chi Chapter of Alpha Chi Wednesday, May 2. Initiation ceremonies were held at Kokernot Lodge.

Membership in Alpha Chi National Honor Society is limited to students in the top 10 percent of the junior class and the top 10 percent of the senior class who have a grade point average no lower than 3.3. As in past years, the 10 percent cut-off for both classes is considerably higher than 3.3.

New members are: Todd Cantu, San Antonio; James Dean, Midland; Angela Greenroy, Alpine; Adam Heidrick, Sierra Vista, Ariz.; Anthony Morales, El Paso ; Jamie Seabourn, Midland; Laura Villasenor, El Paso; and Kaitlin Ybarra, Alpine.

Returning members are: Jodi Carnes, Uvalde; Grace Fox, Alpine; Jose Guevara, Presidio; Kim Morrow, Alpine; Kitty Sibayan, Fort Davis; Rebekah Whitehead, Alpine; and Desire Williams, Marfa.

Alpha Chi, the Phi Beta Kappa of small universities, is an interdisciplinary honor society. Sul Ross’ chapter, Texas Chi, chartered in 1926, is one of the oldest in the nation. There are over 300 Alpha Chi chapters nationwide, and Sul Ross was the 22nd chartered.





by Jason Hennington, News Writer

Six Sul Ross State University students are preparing to attend the American Society for Microbiology General Meeting (ASM) in San Francisco, California June 16-19.

Anthony Morales, El Paso; Desirae Melton, Fort Davis; Jonathan Navarrete, Odessa; Laura Tang, Westminister, Cal.; Rachel Milan, Fort Stockton; and Jodi Carnes, Uvalde, along with faculty advisors Jackie Denson and Anne Marie Hilscher will be representing Sul Ross with two poster presentations of their research at the event.

"The students submit an abstract of their research, and the abstracts are peer reviewed before they are accepted, so it really has to represent a significant body of work," Denson said.

Tang, Carnes, and Milan will be presenting a poster in molecular microbial ecology; communities and organisms, entitled "A Survey of the Microbial Diversity from Two Distinct Locations within the Chihuahuan

Desert Research Institute; a Perpetual Spring and a Desert Soil Site."

"Tang is a graduate student, and Carnes and Melton are undergraduates who have been assisting her with the project," Denson said. "They're studying the distribution and activity of microorganisms involved in the cycling of nitrogen within desert ecosystems. The process of nitrification can lead to an increase in the pH of the soil which in turn impacts plant life and ecosystem productivity." Denson said.

The students will present the results of a DNA-based survey to quantify which microbes are performing critical steps within the nitrogen cycle. This study will expand into Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, and the Chinati region during the coming summer.

Melton, Morales, and Navarrete will be presenting a second poster entitled "A Survey of the Prevalence of Select Diseases within Feral Swine (Sus scrofa) and Javelina (Pecari tajacu) of Trans-Pecos Texas" Navarrete, Morales and Melton were all McNair scholars, and their work was funded by the McNair Program.

"We have been collecting serum samples and conducting immunological assays

in the lab to see what diseases these animals have been exposed to during their lifetime." Denson explained. "We're looking at influenza, the West Nile Virus, and the parasite Trichinella to see how prevalent they are in within the Trans-Pecos."

According to Denson, no influenza has been found to date, but he believes the scarcity of domestic swine farms combined with our large geographical area could be the reason.

"It varies in other locations, with greater numbers of domestic animals occasionally intermingling with feral populations. You often find exposure rates as high as 20 percent in wild populations," he said. "Tentatively, we have several animals testing positive for both West Nile Virus and Trichinella, and further testing is being performed by collaborators."

The students worked collaboratively with Dr. Richard Webby from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. and Dr. Kristen Bernard from the School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison, Wisc. Webby is a leading expert on influenza surveillance, while Bernard studies West Nile and other zoonotic viruses.

The expected attendance at ASM is anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000. "ASM is

the biggest national meeting in Microbiology, with topics ranging from disease to environmental microbiology," he said. "We are extremely fortunate to have this opportunity to attend."

For further information including a video on the general meeting visit the ASM website at