Hill appointed to vacant MCC trustee position

The McLennan Community College Board of Trustees has appointed Jonathan Hill as their next board member, filling the District 1 position that was vacated when board member Doug McDurham moved out of the district.

Jonathan Hill

Hill is senior brand strategy specialist at Baylor University. He graduated from MCC in 2013 with an associate’s degree in general academics and from Tarleton State University-Waco in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. He continued his education and graduated in 2018 with a master’s in educational leadership from Baylor University.

Hill has served on a variety of local and statewide boards, including the City of Waco Transit Advisory Board, Bosqueville Excellence in Education Foundation Board, the City of Waco Animal Welfare Advisory Board, Baylor Sport Management Association, and the Texas Junior College Student Government Association.

“As an alum of both MCC and the University Center, I am thrilled for this opportunity to serve the college’s faculty, staff, students, and the community as a trustee,” Hill said. “MCC never shut the door on me and offered me patience and grace as a student when I needed it the most. I hope to give back even a fraction of the gift that the college has been to me and my family.” 

District 1 includes precincts 1, 9, 10, 12, 14, 17, 38, 39, 41 (partial), 42, 45, 46, 47, 48, 54 (partial), 88 and 89. It encompasses the area around the MCC campus on 19th Street and College Drive, as well as parts of North and East Waco. Hill will take the oath of office at 6 p.m. Feb. 28 during the regular board meeting at Northwood House at MCC. 

Hill is married to Erin, a licensed social worker at Baylor University. They have one son, Jameson, and live in the Cedar Ridge neighborhood in Waco.

Read more about Hill on the MCC website.

“The Addams Family” to be featured at Feb. 23 Hearts in the Arts Theatre Gala

Reservations are open for the 21st Annual Hearts in the Arts Gala sponsored by the McLennan Community College Foundation. This year’s gala on Feb. 23 features a McLennan Theatre performance of “The Addams Family-A New Musical” at the MCC Ball Performing Arts Center. 

Tickets are $100 each and include drinks and dining at 6 p.m. and the performance at 7:30 p.m. Dessert will be served at intermission. Tables for eight are $800 and include preferred dinner seating.

Guests will be transported to the Addams’ ethereal Central Park mansion for an evening hosted by the most macabre family in the neighborhood. Wednesday Addams, daughter to the delightfully spooky Gomez and Morticia, has invited her new boyfriend, Lucas, and his parents over for dinner. There is only one catch: Lucas is a well-mannered suitor from Ohio who does not have a ghoulish bone in his body. Musical comedy carnage ensues as Gomez and Morticia try to persuade the family to act “normal” for Wednesday’s sake. Also appearing are familiar Uncle Fester, devious brother Pugsley, stoic butler Lurch, and the ever-helpful Thing. 

The McLennan production will be directed by Kelly Parker and choreographed by Joe Taylor and will feature elaborate costuming and sets to immerse the audience in the Addams Family vibe. Honorary Hearts in the Arts Chair Nell Hawkins will host the evening as the elegant Morticia Addams.

Hearts in the Arts is an affinity group of the MCC Foundation that supports the arts at McLennan. All proceeds from the gala benefit McLennan scholarships and special projects benefitting visual and performing arts students and faculty.

Gala reservations are due by Feb. 16. For more information, visit www.mclennan.edu/foundation/hearts. To make reservations, contact the McLennan Community College Foundation at 254-299-8604 or [email protected]

MCC unveils new logo through rebranding project

McLennan Community College has unveiled a new logo as part of its ongoing project to unify its brand and create an identity that portrays the value of an MCC education and the focus on student success, a news release said. 

The College partnered with World Design Marketing, “a firm with extensive higher education experience,” the release said. “WDM researched the college and held numerous workshops with students, employees, the Board of Trustees, and community leaders to gain understanding of the college.”

The new logo combines features that reflect MCC’s history, location, and values. “The outer ‘M’ represents the Bosque River, where the campus is nestled along the banks, and the greater Waco family. The inner ‘M’ signifies the culture of the college as the MCC Family. The chevron heart ties back to the McLennan Family Crest and represents the students and their families.”

McDurham steps down from MCC Board; application process now open

Doug McDurham, District 1 trustee, has resigned from the McLennan Community College Board of Trustees effective Jan. 1. The Board officially accepted McDurham’s resignation at its monthly meeting Dec. 8. McDurham was first elected to the Board Aug. 17, 2015, and resigned from the position due to moving out of the district.

Doug McDurham

“Board member Doug McDurham will be missed,” said MCC President Johnette McKown. “From his commitment to the success of our students to his advocacy of our employees, Doug has made a difference. His leadership is much appreciated. I wish him well in his new adventure.”

“Doug’s background as a social worker and professional experience in the food insecurity field made for terrific insight to the improvement of student services. We will miss his keen insight,” said MCC Board of Trustees’ Chair K. Paul Holt.

McDurham said it has “been an honor to serve” as a MCC trustee. “MCC is the best opportunity for many people in our community to improve their quality of life. My focus has been to support the college’s efforts to address the unique needs of diverse populations, as well as the needs of students who struggle to afford college. Our staff, faculty, and administration excel in providing a quality education that is also affordable and obtainable. I’m humbled to know I’ve been able to contribute to that effort.”

District 1 includes parts of North (including the area around the college) and East Waco. This includes the following precincts: 1, 9, 10, 12, 14, 17, 38, 39, 41 (partial), 42, 45, 46, 47, 54 (partial), 48, 88, and 89. 

To hold the office of trustee, one must be a qualified voter, hold residency in the State of Texas for at least 12 months, reside in District 1 for six months before the day on which the appointment is made, serve without compensation, and take the proper oath of office before taking up the duties thereof.

The person appointed to fill the unexpired term by trustees for District 1 will serve until the expiration of the term in May 2023.

Applications will be available for download on the MCC’s website. Applications should be returned to the president’s office in person or electronically by email to Lindsey Vanek ([email protected]) no later than 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23. Interviews with current trustees will take place Feb. 13, and consideration and appointment of the new member will be Feb. 28.

New CREW in town; MCC fights basic needs insecurities among students

By Clara Lincicome

College students often face circumstances that make pursuing their education especially challenging. An online student at McLennan Community College recently let the school know that a broken had prevented him from finishing a semester.

Shanna Rogers is project director for MCC’s Campus Resources Education Web (CREW), which is a program to help students struggling to meet their basic needs. Rogers learned of the student’s broken laptop and connected him to the library, which had recently received a grant to lend laptops to students in such situations. The student had no form of transportation, so Rogers drove the laptop to him in Killeen.

“When he got the laptop he got reinvigorated,” she said. “He was able to get back on his feet.”

CREW is funded by a federal grant and is MCC’s latest initiative to support students with their nonacademic needs. CREW “strives to ensure every student who wants an education can receive one without being hindered by basic needs insecurities.”

CREW meets with students and faculty on an individual basis to assess their needs and connect them to a resource that can help, ranging from child care, to groceries, to gas money. 

Another resource CREW provides is Paulanne’s Pantry – a stop-and-go place to shop for free groceries. Shoppers at the pantry are given autonomy to select their food, rather than given a bag of miscellaneous items. On the backend, CREW orders food and gets shipments twice a month to fill the pantry. Student volunteers are also a part of keeping the pantry stocked.

Not only does CREW offer their own resources, they also partner with other organizations in Waco and McLennan County to best serve students.

“We work to connect them with different resources off campus,” Rogers said. “That means learning about the resources, but also building those relationships with the resources off campus so we know that we have them. For instance, Shepherd’s Heart.”

Shepherd’s Heart is a food pantry in Waco that provides the community with free groceries through mobile distribution, hosting food pantries in four local schools and delivering groceries to seniors.

“We have Shepherd’s Heart that comes on to campus now to help deliver food to students, faculty, staff, or anyone in the community that could use it,” Rogers said. “It provides a location where students don’t need to drive all over town to get food.”

CREW hosted a Resource Fair Sept. 15, where dozens of organizations from the Waco area came to MCC’s campus to talk to students about what they provide.

In addition, the first “Third Thursday Thoroughfare” will be hosted in the Student Life Center Oct. 20, where several local resources are going to be available to talk to students over lunch about their services, the student’s eligibility, and how they can apply.

CREW hopes to remove any stigma around using available resources. Emma Cartisano, a doctoral intern for student engagement at MCC, researches stigma in her study of higher education. 

“The biggest act towards removing stigma is by talking about it,” she said. “Stigma gains its power through silence. As much as we can, we will talk about resources available for students. There is no shame in using them.”

Rogers noted that many students need help, which is why MCC is dedicated to the effort. “I haven’t met many college students who haven’t needed extra help,” she said. “Usually the ones who don’t need help are the exception to the rule, not the rule.”

For more information, check out the webpage.

Clara Lincicome is a senior journalism major on the PR track at Baylor University from Washington state. Her minors are corporate communication and leadership studies. She is a PR intern for the Department of Marketing and Communication at McLennan Community College and a tour guide for Baylor University.

Member of MCC Dance Company recalls time in Marine Corps this Veteran’s Day

By Clara Lincicome

On your way to class through the McLennan Community College campus, you might run into Morgan Wishart, a 22-year-old human development and family studies major from Mineola. Her zip-up jacket boasts the words MCC Dance Company, and she presents herself with a bright smile and excitement for a challenge.

Off the bat, you might assume she is a member of the dance company, a student at MCC, and that she came to MCC directly out of high school. What you likely will not imagine upon first glance is that Wishart spent the past four years as a corporal in the Marine Corps before arriving at McLennan Community College. 

Wishart grew up in an Army family — parents, uncles, and both sets of grandparents. But after talking to an Army recruiter, she said she did not get the “homey” feeling she was hoping for. Then, Marine Corps recruiters visited her school in September 2017. 

“You know how they come to high schools and you do the pull-ups and everything?” Wishart said. “Well, I did that, and I got their number from there. … I signed the papers that day.”

Wishart graduated from Lindale High School in June 2018 and left for boot camp at Parris Island in South Carolina one month later. She described boot camp as nerve-wracking, especially since she was one of few females. The process of getting there was a blur for Wishart, she didn’t know where she was flown into and was without a phone or any form of communication.

“You get off the plane, then they put you on this bus. They’re just screaming at us, and we’re putting our heads down for the whole ride to Parris Island. I don’t know how long it was,” Wishart said. “It was dark, and my legs were shaking, I’m flustered just thinking about it.”

Upon arrival at Parris Island, Wishart recalled seeing the infamous yellow steps in person for the first time.

“That is your ‘entering into learning how to be a Marine,’” she said. “And there are literal yellow footsteps on the ground, every Marine has stepped on those footsteps. It was like, ‘I’m really here.’”

Wishart emphasized that the purpose of the three-month boot camp was to “break you down from individuality and build you up as a Marine.” When calling her parents for two minutes to let them know she arrived at Parris Island, she read a script, and could not use the words “I,” “me,” or “love you.” “There is no ‘I’ or ‘me’ in boot camp. No one cares about you,” she said.

The culmination of boot camp and the last step in becoming a Marine is the Crucible, notoriously the hardest three days of the three months spent at Parris Island, Wishart said. She got four to six hours of sleep total as they completed obstacle courses that simulated war, with the goal of completion without losing gear or a teammate. After completing the Crucible, recruits receive their Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, the emblem of the Marine Corps.

After boot camp, Wishart went to San Diego for Marine Combat Training. 

“You’re just shooting guns, out in the field for weeks,” Wishart said. “You only get one porta-potty, and you’re sharing it with your company, like 300 people. No showers, lovely baby wipes, and sleeping under the stars. It was not the time of my life.” 

From there, Wishart was sent to Jacksonville, N.C., for a short time before being stationed at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., where she worked and attended Pensacola State College. 

“They just put you wherever they want you,” she said. “You’ll hear it forever in the Marine Corps, where they need you is where they’ll put you.”

Wishart worked in supply and was in charge of a $4 million account managing the station’s money and tracking where it went, making sure students had everything they needed to complete their training. 

Marines have a four-year contract, starting the day before departure for boot camp, followed by a four-year reserve. Wishart’s contract was up on July 15. She decided to fulfill her goal of becoming a member of the MCC Dance Company.

“MCC has always been a dream of mine,” she said. “My sister went here from 2017-19, and I got a glimpse that this was what I wanted. Ten-time national champions? I want to be a part of that!”

Dancing since she was 12 years old, Wishart grew up attending MCC workshops and competitions. She spoke highly of director Ashlee Keyes, as well as the alumni base of the dance company. 

“So many alumni come back and talk to us, and I love that,” Wishart said. “I love to have people that have been in my shoes give me advice on how they became national champions.”

Being part of the Marine Corps has impacted every aspect of Wishart’s life, including her role as a teammate on the MCC Dance Company.

“My formative years, 17-21, I was in the Marine Corps. It’s crazy how different you become,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine myself without the Marine Corps and what I was taught. Everything I think about is from my Marine Corps standpoint. It’s all I know.”

Wishart regards Veteran’s Day as an opportunity to honor and remember those who paid the price for us to live in the United States. 

“My whole family was in the military, and they have friends that aren’t with us today,” she said. “My Marine Corps brothers and sisters, my family’s Army brothers and sisters all went out there and fought for us to live this life that we have. It has always been the same for me, respecting our veterans that are here and aren’t here with us today.”

Clara Lincicome is a senior journalism major on the PR track at Baylor University from Washington state. Her minors are corporate communication and leadership studies. She is a PR intern for the Department of Marketing and Communication at McLennan Community College and a tour guide for Baylor University.

Loftin-Conner, Hutchison honored as MCC alumni

The McLennan Community College Foundation’s Highlander Alumni & Friends Association honored Mandy Loftin-Conner and Killian Hutchison recently with two MCC alumni awards. Loftin-Conner received the Distinguished Alumni Award, and Hutchison received the Distinguished Leader Award.

2022 MCC Distinguished Alumna Mandy Loftin-Conner (left) with McLennan Community College President Dr. Johnette McKown

Loftin-Conner is a graduate of China Spring High School and attended MCC as a theatre major 1991-93. She then continued her education at Texas Tech University and has taught locally for 25 years. During that time, she earned 13 trips to the regional UIL One Act Play Meet and eight trips to state.

In addition to teaching and directing, Mandy is an established playwright. She has published the well-received play, “Lafayette No. 1,” which has been produced in 31 states, Canada, and AustraliaShe has also published “AGO,” “Should Not Cause Harm,” “Unclaimed,” “Dirt,” “11,” and “Rue.” 

Most recently, Mandy partnered with Creative Waco to create a pair of life-sized Columbian Mammoth puppets that will be used by Mayborn Museum and the Waco Mammoth National Monument.

“Mandy is deeply grounded in her personal faith and values,” said Creative Waco’s Fiona Bond. “She embodies those values in her work and creative practice, inspiring others, and giving those who feel unseen the opportunity to find their voice and shine.”

2022 MCC Distinguished Leader Killian Hutchinson (left) with McLennan Community College President Dr. Johnette McKown

Hutchison, of Waco, came to MCC as a Presidential Scholar. She maintained a 4.0 GPA at MCC in the nursing program, while working a part-time job, serving on the Student Advisory Committee and volunteering at several Waco nonprofits.

Killian did all of this during the peak of a pandemic. She volunteered to help vaccinate our community. Killian is an all-around incredible person, and is the epitome of McLennan’s drive to build future leaders and heroes. Killian will continue to serve our community as a NICU nurse at Ascension Providence.

MCC campus gets new Watson Arbor; ceremony Jan. 11

By Lisa Elliott

The McLennan Community College Foundation will be joined Tuesday, Jan. 11, by MCC and community leaders to mark the opening of a new outdoor gathering space on the MCC campus. The Greta and Murray Watson, Jr., Arbor will open with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m. beside the Enrollment Services Center. The ceremony will conclude with hot chocolate and cookies, and the public is invited.

Greta and Murray Watson, Jr., Arbor

The Watson Arbor project was conceived and funded through the generosity of Brazos Higher Education Service Corp., the student loan financing company founded by Murray Watson, Jr., in 1975. Among other gifts, the company and the Watson family have funded more than $579,000 in endowed scholarships through the MCC Foundation to support the McLennan Presidential Scholars program.

To honor its founder’s lifelong support of higher education, Brazos and the Watson family wished to create an outdoor space where students, faculty and staff at the college could gather. The company’s generosity means no college funds were expended for this beautiful campus enhancement.

Watson was a lawyer, rancher, politician, and philanthropist who had a passion for serving others. He was elected to the Texas State House of Representatives at age 24, shortly after graduating from Baylor Law School. He represented Central Texas in the Texas House until 1963, when he was elected to the Texas Senate, where he served until 1973. 

As senator, Watson carried many important pieces of legislation, but he was especially proud of helping create what is now Texas State Technical College (TSTC), and he was a strong advocate for establishing MCC in 1965. Watson passed away in 2018, and his wife, Greta, continues to lead the family’s Mart-based operations, including a cattle company and Watson Feed Store. Their daughter, Missy Larson, also serves on the MCC Foundation Board of Directors. 

“We are so grateful to our friends at Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation and the Watson family for their generous donations to our campus and student scholarships. This space will provide an area where our students are able to relax, study and find tranquility in their busy schedules,” said MCC President Johnette McKown. “This is the perfect tribute to the Watson family that cares so deeply about students and their success.”

The MCC Foundation raises public and private support to fund scholarships, faculty and staff professional development and capital projects at the college. To learn more, visit www.mclennan.edu/foundation or contact Executive Director Kim Patterson at 254-299-8606 or [email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email the ALW team — [email protected].

Wilbur Ball, MCC’s founding president, remembered

By Lisa Elliott

McLennan Community College’s founding president, Dr. Wilbur Allen Ball, passed away after a brief illness Wednesday morning, Dec. 15. Ball served as president at MCC 1966-1988, when he retired.

Wilbur Allen Ball, Ph.D., founding president of McLennan Community College

“He was the builder who laid the foundation for the college and set the vision to provide an affordable, quality education for students, while supporting the community,” said Dr. Johnette McKown, MCC’s current president.

Ball was born in 1928 in Berclair and graduated from Goliad High School. He served for three years in the U.S. Army Air Corps, which earned him an affordable higher education through the G.I. Bill. In 1949, Ball enrolled at the University of Texas, earning a bachelor’s degree in education in 1952, followed by a master’s in education administration in 1953. Later, Ball was awarded a W. K. Kellogg Foundation grant and returned to the University of Texas to earn a Ph.D. in higher education administration.

After college, Ball taught high school English and Spanish in New Braunfels 1952-1953 and in Corpus Christi 1953-1955. Ball started his tenure in higher education in the registrar’s office at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi and later as an assistant to the college president. He continued in higher education at Wharton County Junior College in Houston as vice president and dean until he was appointed president of the new community college in Waco, McLennan Community College. 

Ball was one of 30 candidates for the new presidency at MCC. Founding board members said, “Ball had an unbridled optimism that he could hire a staff, set a curriculum, and find a location for the permanent campus within the next 9 months to open for fall classes in September 1966.”

On Feb. 22, 1966, the board unanimously voted to hire Ball, who become MCC’s first president on Mar. 1, 1966, leading the college for the next 22 years. On Sept. 19, 1966, MCC opened its doors to approximately 800 students and was temporarily located in the barracks on John Connally Air Force base. Ball and the board were soon planning the permanent campus location on the former Cameron Estate in north Waco. Upon his retirement, Ball was honored at MCC with the dedication of the Wilbur A. Ball Performing Arts Center. 

According to MCC’s 40th anniversary history book, “The board and Ball agreed to establish an open-door admissions policy and [stressed] the importance of attracting students from all races and cultural backgrounds to the new school as well as providing continuing education courses for working adults.”

“A community college has to have something for everybody,” Ball said.

He left an indelible impression upon the college and thousands of students with his leadership and vision for higher education in McLennan county. 

Retired history professor, Paul Holder, said, “[I] lost a friend today, but the people of Central Texas lost even more – a powerful voice for an affordable quality education and a better life for all.”

Ball is survived by his wife, LaWanda Gersbach Ball; daughter, Christi Lee Ball Nichols; son, Jason Allen Ball; and four grandchildren. Services are pending.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email the ALW team — [email protected].

MCC food pantry receives $5,000 gift from Atmos Energy

Atmos Energy recently donated $5,000 to the McLennan Community College Foundation to help support Paulanne’s Pantry, the MCC food pantry. 

MCC Completion Center Associate Director Natalie James, Atmos Energy’s Tammie Bowman, and MCC Foundation Executive Director Kim Patterson celebrate a $5,000 donation from Atmos Energy to MCC’s Paulanne’s Pantry.

“This gift will do so much to help us serve students who are working hard to support themselves or a family while they attend college,” said Kim Patterson, the foundation’s executive director. “Hunger is a real issue on college campuses, especially at community colleges where many students live perilously close to the edge of financial security. We are incredibly grateful to Atmos Energy for their commitment to support our students.”

The gift will enable MCC’s pantry to provide meals for up to 200 students because of the pantry’s supply partnership with the Central Texas Food Bank, according Natalie James, Completion Center associate director. Students who access the pantry are typically limited to one visit per month and are provided with coaching to help with accessing other community resources. Each pantry visit provides enough food for three meals for a family. 

Paulanne’s Pantry was named in honor of Waco resident Paulanne Ream Hoover, who left a gift to the MCC Foundation in her estate plan. This gift funded an endowment to cover basic costs of pantry operations, as well as establish the first scholarship fund for part-time students at the college. 

The MCC Foundation raises public and private support to fund scholarships, faculty and staff professional development, emergency aid and capital needs at the college. To learn more, visit www.mclennan.edu/foundation or contact Patterson at 254-299-8606 or [email protected].

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster.