Honors Northeast scholars win awards for Texas history essays

honors winners

For the third year in a row, Honors Northeast scholars from Northeast Texas Community College have won two of the four lower-division awards for scholarship in Texas History at the annual state-wide Walter Webb Society meeting.  William Fox of Mount Pleasant won second place in the essay competition, winning $300, and Rachel Jordan of Ore City, won fourth place and $75.  The Walter Webb Society is the collegiate auxiliary of the Texas State Historical Association which also met in Houston.

All of the NTCC scholars who attended the conference, Fox, Jordan, Kassandra Martinez, Cassidy Watkins, Brenda Godoy, and Adriana Rodriguez, reported on leading works of scholarship in Texas history completed at NTCC in 2016.  Cassidy Watkins, the 2016-17 Honors film producer, presented segments of Sam Houston, and the Fate of the Texas Cherokee which was recently premiered at the Whatley Center for the Performing Arts at NTCC.  Watkins focused on the cultural predicaments of the Texas Cherokee, and announced that the entire hour-long film is now on YouTube, and available through the film page of the Honors Northeast website at ntcc.edu/honors.

Fox, who recently became an Eagle Scout in a Mount Pleasant ceremony, wrote on the varieties of racism that informed the Cherokee exodus from Texas in 1839.  The key scholar behind the recent cinematic effort of honors, Fox argued that there was a spectrum of racism among Texans in 1839, from the “demonizing racism” of Edward Burleson, to the “ferallizing racism” of Mirabeau Lamar, and the far more subtle forms of racism expressed even by Cherokee sympathizers such as Sam Houston.

Jordan, who made state in UIL tennis while at Ore City High School, wrote a pioneering essay on Texas artists from the regionalist era of the 1930s to the modernists after 1945.  Jordan noted that though Texas artists such as Jerry Bywaters, Alexandre Hogue, Donald Judd, and Dorothy Hood developed styles similar to more nationally prominent artists of their time, the mood of the Texas artists went “up against the grain” of the national trends.  The sharply critical pre-war Texas artists became upbeat and exuberant after 1945.

A Whatley Enhancement Grant won by Jill Dietze, a Title V specialist, and an Instructor of Speech, helped enable the NTCC scholars to attend this year’s conference.

San Jacinto College in Houston walked away from the conference with both a group Caldwell Award, and first and third places in the individual contests.  Jacksonville College won the Chapter-of-The-Year trophy.

“This year’s results again showed that the kind of scholarship going on at the south campus at San Jacinto College in Houston is edging us out slightly. In the last three years, San Jac has replaced Lee College as our top scholarly competitor, and one of the reasons is that they too have combined a research-based honors program with an emphasis in Texas history,” NTCC Honors Director, Dr. Andrew Yox, noted.  “But our top essays that didn’t win such as those by Martinez, Godoy, and Rodriguez were exceptionally strong, and may compete better for entry into the state’s collegiate journal, Touchstone. Cassidy Watkins also won, I thought, the most heartfelt applause for a group project, after her fascinating, and humorous presentation.