Category Archives: Events

Wall of Honor 2015

Audrey Self

Audrey Self

Audrey Self

Audrey Self knows that life can change in the blink of an eye.

Audrey was homeschooled and came to Richland in 2010 as a dual credit student. She maintained a 3.96 GPA and earned an Associate in Science degree while also volunteering extensively in numerous ways. Her outstanding grades and dedication earned her a full scholarship at Southern Methodist University. Audrey’s hard work was paying off.

Everything changed on November 21, 2013, when Audrey was in a devastating car accident on her way to class at SMU. The accident left Audrey with serious injuries, including severe brain trauma, a collapsed lung and a broken arm in three places. The deputy chief with Dallas Fire and Rescue who was first on the scene didn’t expect Audrey to make it to the hospital. The ER nurse didn’t think she would survive the day. According to the "Journal of Neuroscience", 90 percent of patients with Audrey’s diagnosis never regain consciousness.

But within one month of the accident, Audrey was breathing on her own – a remarkable accomplishment.

Audrey’s goal is a complete recovery. As a gifted musician, she wants to be able to play Vivaldi concertos. After several surgeries and extensive therapy to repair her arm, Audrey recently started taking violin lessons again.

"I want to work and teach and play music and help people," said Audrey.

In addition to her music, Audrey also plans on returning to SMU to complete her education. SMU is holding that full scholarship for her until she is ready.

Bill Holston

Bill Holston

Bill Holston

Bill Holston credits Richland College with getting his professional life on the right track.

"I appreciated getting a quality education I could pay for", said Bill. "My professors all cared, were accessible and provided a great, well-rounded education. I would not have been able to get a degree, a 30-year law career and now a human rights profession without that beginning."

Bill attended Richland College from 1974 to 1976 and later went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Dallas and a law degree from Southern Methodist University.

During his law career, Bill tried jury and non-jury cases in federal and state court and conducted oral arguments in numerous State Courts of Appeal and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. His practice focused on bankruptcy and creditor’s rights, business transactions, civil trial and appellate, church and Canon law, equipment leasing law, probate and surety law.

Since 1987, Bill has provided pro bono legal representation for political and religious asylum applicants, assisting clients from 20 countries in Immigration Court or before the Houston Asylum Office. He has volunteered his services to the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas since its founding in 2000, and in 2012 Bill left his law practice to become the organization’s executive director.

In 1997, Bill received the Outstanding Political Asylum Lawyer Award from the Dallas Bar Association. In 2002, he received an award for Distinguished Pro Bono Service by the Dallas Bar Association’s Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program. He was awarded in 2005 with the Angel of Freedom Award by the Human Rights Initiative and was also awarded the President’s Award by the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association. Recently, the SMU Dedman School of Law named Bill the 2015 Distinguished Alumni for Public Service.

Claudia Graves

Claudia Graves

Claudia Graves

Despite living in economic poverty, Claudia Graves grew up in a household rich in love and support.

As the oldest of three children in Lima, Peru, Claudia often helped take care of her younger sisters while her mother sold food on the streets. Her family always encouraged her educational pursuits, and she was a great student.

Claudia noticed the educational system in Peru lacked many opportunities for women. Frustrated and forced to withdraw from school because of limited financial resources, Claudia decided to learn English in hopes it would help her get a better job. Her grandmother, who was illiterate, was especially encouraging and supportive of Claudia’s dream to learn a new language.

It was at this time that Claudia entered a beauty pageant in her native city, and the winner would receive a trip to the U.S. After beating 39 other contestants and winning, Claudia was able to apply for a visa to come to the U.S. and realize her dreams of a better education for herself.

Claudia started attending Richland College in 1998 and received an Associate in Arts. She later received a bachelor’s degree in humanities and a master’s degree in dispute resolution and conflict management from Southern Methodist University. Today, she works at SMU as the director of the international office.

"Richland is and will always be my home," said Claudia. "I became an adult in the halls of Richland. I met my husband and friends I now call family. I held my first professional job, and I was given the chance to help others who felt lost with the system."

"Richland taught me that my dreams were possible."

Linda Dao

Linda Dao

Linda Dao

When Linda Dao first came to Richland College, she spoke almost no English.

Linda grew up in Vietnam; her father was an American who fought in the war but left the family when Linda was only three-years-old. Because of her father’s heritage, Linda was ostracized and bullied by the community, teachers and government officials.

Linda, her mother and sister eventually were forced to do agricultural work in a rural area of Vietnam to survive, and Linda had to leave school in 8th grade to work in the rice fields by day and as a seamstress by night. Linda and her family emigrated to the U.S. in 1991, and Linda worked on an assembly line for several years before finding the English for Speakers of Other Languages program at Richland College.

Linda graduated with her Associate of Science in accounting in 1998 and then transferred to the University of Texas at Dallas to earn her bachelor’s degree in business administration. In 2013, Linda received an M.B.A. from Texas Woman’s University.

"Richland College opened the door for me to learn and pursue my dream," said Linda.

While pursuing her bachelor’s degree at UT Dallas, Linda worked at Richland College. Her husband also works at Richland College, further cementing the school’s important role in her life.

"I feel Richland College is my home since I worked and studied at the same time here," said Linda. "The library was a place for me to do research papers and also a relaxing place after studying. Richland built my confidence, education and career."

Today, Linda works as a financial affairs manager at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Quentin Rhoads-Herrera

Quentin Rhoads-Herrera

Quentin Rhoads-Herrera

Despite a slow start to his educational pursuits, Quentin Rhoads-Herrera is now thriving.

As a teenager, education wasn’t important to Quentin. He got into fights, skipped school and ignored his studies. After being kicked out of school, Quentin got his GED and decided to join the U.S. Army, in which he served for almost five years. His service included deploying overseas.

It was after his military career was over that Quentin decided to give his education another shot. He enrolled at Richland College in the summer of 2013, and since then he has thrived.

"When I first started going to college, I didn’t have very high expectations," Quentin said. "But when I made my first A, which happened to be in my first class ever, I started to realize I could do this. Currently I have a 4.0 GPA, which is a huge success for me, and I am a member of Phi Theta Kappa, which really made me feel proud as it was the first time I was recognized for my education."

Quentin is currently working on his Associate in Science. He hopes to transfer to the University of Texas at Dallas next spring to pursue a bachelor degree and a master’s, and eventually he hopes to earn a doctorate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

When not at work or doing homework, Quentin helps other students study for tests and grasp difficult concepts in their classes. He also does contract IT work and donates a portion of the proceeds to charitable organizations.

Richland College Honors Current and Former Students in Wall of Honor Ceremony

Richland College to Host Renowned Forensics Expert Sgt. Jim Huggins

Sgt. HugginsThe Richland College Anthropology Club is presenting guest speaker Sgt. Jim Huggins, deputy director of the International Consortium of Forensic Identification and esteemed Baylor University lecturer, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Jan. 30, on the topic of “Forensic Science in South Texas: Putting a Name to Those Who Died Crossing the Border.”

The lecture will discuss the steadily rising numbers of border crossing deaths of undocumented individuals, despite increased government enforcement and local landowner response. Through collaboration between universities in Texas and Indiana, identification of these unnamed individuals has become a reality with the “Reuniting Families Project,” and for the past three summers Baylor faculty and students have tasked themselves with the identification of those who passed while crossing the border.

“We are thrilled to host Sgt. Huggins at Richland College and hear more about his work on this project,” said Kaitlyn Smith, president of Richland College’s Anthropology Club.

Tim Sullivan, Ph.D., anthropology professor and sponsor of Richland College’s Anthropology Club, agreed. “This is a unique opportunity for people to hear a firsthand perspective on a less-discussed aspect of border crossings between Mexico and the United States, along with how the identification occurs.”

Sgt. Huggins is a retired Texas Ranger and was named one of the top 15 CSI professors nationwide. He is a court-certified expert witness in bloodstain pattern analysis, death investigation and shooting incident reconstruction. He has held state certifications as a master peace officer, forensic hypnotist, forensic polygraph examiner, special investigator and hostage negotiator. He has been a character in more than 12 fictional Texas Ranger novels and is a cast member of a proposed reality TV show about cold case homicides.

The lecture is free and open to the public, and it will be held in room WH115 of Wichita Hall on the Richland College campus. Richland College is at 12800 Abrams Rd. in Dallas.

Richland College Gets Groovy With Annual ‘Dance Jam’ Festival
Dancer break dancing

Richland College student Darrell Rodgers performs at the 2013 Dance Jam Festival.

The Richland College dance program will get audience toes tapping at the sixth annual Dance Jam Festival, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Dec. 4.

A summation of student learning throughout the fall semester, the Dance Jam Festival will showcase students from all fall semester Richland College dance classes performing tap, ballet, hip hop, jazz and contemporary modern.

“Each year, our students look forward to showcasing their talents and all they’ve learned throughout the semester,” said Gina Sawyer, director of Richland College’s dance program. “The Dance Jam Festival offers them a chance to do that while celebrating the joy of dance and the spirit of the Richland College community.”

Sawyer will direct the Dance Jam Festival, along with dance faculty members Cheryl Callon and Julie Rowley. Guest dancers include the Lakeview Centennial High School dance program under the direction of Crystal Post and the Richardson High School dance program under the direction of Kelly Fishback.

The Richland College dance program provides a challenging teaching and learning environment for students that values diversity and develops artistic excellence, fosters creative and collaborative practices and encourages personal agency and social responsibility in appreciating dance.

The Dance Jam Festival is free and open to the public, and it will take place in the outdoor breezeway in between Lavaca and Fannin Halls on the east side of the Richland College campus. Richland College is located at 12800 Abrams Road.

Photo: Richland College Dance Program’s ‘Moonstruck’

Two students dancing on stage

Richland College students Darrell Rodgers (left) and Natalie Brown (right) perform during a presentation of “Moonstruck” on Nov. 7. The production, performed in conjunction with the 2014 Richland College Arts Fest, featured Richland College dance students and faculty, guest tap dancer Sean Smith and Dallas Black Dance Theatre II dancers performing a variety of dance styles, including contemporary modern, jazz, tap and hip hop. Richland College dance instructors Cheryl Callon, Julie Rowley and Gina Sawyer also contributed pieces to the show, as did guest choreographer Jamie Thompson. Photo by Paul Knudsen.

Richland College Hosting ‘Fall Recycling Round-Up’ Event

green recycling stampSpring cleaning may be a few months away, but Richland College and the City of Dallas Sanitation Services are encouraging community members to start that cleaning a little early and participate in the “Fall Recycling Round-up” from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 15.

Residents can drop off recyclable items, big or small, including but not limited to electronic items, small appliances, used cooking oil, toys, light bulbs, batteries, textiles, medical equipment and tires. People may also drop off up to five legal boxes of documents for destruction, though boxes must be no larger than 15 inches by 20 inches, and binders will not be accepted. Other items not accepted include household hazardous chemicals or paint, building supplies, pharmaceuticals, furniture or mattresses.

“Richland College is looking forward once again to partnering with the City of Dallas Sanitation Services,” said Lisa Eades, Richland College assistant director of facilities support services. “This is an all-day, fun event that allows the community to safely and conveniently recycle items they no longer need.”

The “Fall Recycling Round-up” will take place on the Richland College campus, 12800 Abrams Road, in parking lot E located on the west side of campus off Abrams Road and Walnut Street. The event will occur rain or shine, and the first 50 cars in line to drop off recyclables will receive a pair of tickets to the Studio Movie Grill.

For more information on the event, contact the City of Dallas Waste Diversion Hotline at 214-670-4475.

Richland College Arts Fest ‘Moonstruck’ Celebrates All Things Lunar

Four drawings of the moon in various cyclesRichland College will be looking to the night sky when it presents “Moonstruck,” the 2014 Richland Arts Fest, Nov. 3-7.

“The theme ‘Moonstruck’ is about the cultural celebrations of the moon and the madness the moon inspires,” said Jennifer Rose, Richland College art faculty member. “We’re hoping visitors will not only have a great time, but that they’ll also come away with a greater sense of the moon’s importance throughout history and in current pop culture.”

Some of the festival’s highlight events include:

On Nov. 3, Humanities faculty member Aditi Samarth will be displaying student projects about mourning rituals in other cultures. Lois Parrot, Ph.D., Richland College’s 2013-2014 Excellence in Teaching honoree, will also give an informal lecture about the crescent moon in art.

On Nov. 4, visitors can get their faces painted in the style of calavera candy skulls that are used during the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) holiday. In the east breezeway, the crowd is invited to participate in a spontaneous tap and modern dance performance.

On Nov. 5, the Richland College String Orchestra will be performing in the cafeteria. Participants are also welcome to give back and donate blood for the American Red Cross during the Harvest Moon Blood Drive.

The highlight of the Nov. 6 events is the full moon viewing party when the sun goes down. The art department and science department will host the party.

Moonstruck will culminate on Nov. 7 with a samurai sword fight and two performances of the “Moonstruck” dance performance at 12:30 and 7:30 p.m., featuring dance students, faculty, the Dallas Black Dance Theatre II, guest choreographer Jamie Thompson and guest tap dancer Sean Smith.

Richland College’s social media channels are also hosting two contests that will run throughout the week: the “Crater-Quest Scavenger Hunt” and the “Man in the Moon Photo Contest.”

All Moonstruck events are free and open to the public. To learn more about Moonstruck and see a full schedule of events, visit To participate in the contests, visit or for more information on how to enter.

Richland College Dance Program Celebrates Moon Madness with ‘Moonstruck’

Four drawings of the moon in various cyclesThe Richland College dance program will present “Moonstruck,” featuring the Dallas Black Dance Theatre II, for two performances at 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, in Fannin Performance Hall on the Richland College campus. Both performances of “Moonstruck” will be free and open to the public.

The production will feature Richland College dance students and faculty, guest tap dancer Sean Smith and Dallas Black Dance Theatre II dancers performing a variety of dance styles, including contemporary modern, jazz, tap and hip hop. Richland College dance instructors Cheryl Callon, Julie Rowley and Gina Sawyer are contributing pieces to the show, as is guest choreographer Jamie Thompson.

“This is a great opportunity, not just for our students, but also for the public to experience what a powerful medium dance can be,” said Gina Sawyer, director of Richland College’s dance program. “Our guest artists have reputations for a high standard of excellence in performance, and we are thrilled to be able to share the stage with them.”

The Richland College dance program provides a challenging teaching and learning environment for students that values diversity and develops artistic excellence, fosters creative and collaborative practices and encourages personal agency and social responsibility in appreciating dance.

Jamie Thompson earned a B.F.A. in dance performance and choreography from Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss., and he received additional training from the Belize National Dance Company and Dramatic Forces School of Dance. Most recently, Thompson dances with the internationally acclaimed Dallas Black Dance Theatre.

Sean Smith received training from the Goh Ballet Academy, Ballet British Columbia and the Ailey School, and he has performed with companies including Mascall Dance in Vancouver, Ballet Creole in Toronto and the Bruce Wood Dance Project in Dallas. He is currently in his fifth season with Dallas Black Dance Theatre.

Dallas Black Dance Theatre II, directed by Nycole Ray, is a semi-professional company founded in 2000 and consists of 10 aspiring artists. Continuously growing in popularity, the dance company allows young artists the opportunity to develop their dance skills while serving the Dallas/Ft. Worth community and touring nationwide with diverse, quality artistic performances.

The event will be in conjunction with the 2014 Richland College Arts Fest, taking place Nov. 3-7 on campus. The theme for the festival is “Moonstruck,” and it will focus on cultural celebrations of the full moon and the madness that the moon inspires.

Richland College Partners with Woodbridge Neighborhood for “Moonstruck at Woodbridge” Event

Four drawings of the moon in various cyclesRichland College is partnering with Woodbridge, a neighborhood adjacent to the campus, to host “Moonstruck at Woodbridge,” an outdoor art exhibition created by Richland College art students, Oct. 25 from 2-5 p.m. at the intersection of Shadow Way and Woodlake Drive.

The artwork highlighted at “Moonstruck at Woodbridge” will involve painted wood surfaces, clay and wood sculptures. A jury of Woodbridge residents will award three scholarship prizes totaling $700 to participating students who show exemplary achievement in 2D and 3D art categories.

“We are so excited to partner with the Woodbridge homeowners association for this unique event and showcase some amazing artwork created by our talented art students,” said Jennifer Rose, Richland College humanities faculty visiting scholar. “We are really looking forward to this event and cultivating an ongoing relationship between Richland College and the Woodbridge community.”

The event will be in conjunction with the 2014 Richland College Arts Fest, taking place Nov. 3-7 on campus. The theme for the festival is “Moonstruck,” and it will focus on cultural celebrations of the full moon and the madness that the moon inspires.

For information on the 2014 Richland College Arts Fest, contact Jennifer Rose at To keep up-to-date on Woodbridge and “Moonstruck at Woodbridge,” follow @WoodbridgeHOA on Twitter.

Richland College Honors Academy Class to Host Food Drive, Oct. 21-Nov. 14

Grocery bag of canned goodsStudents in Visiting Scholar Mary Wood’s Honors English class at Richland College will make real-world connections between their coursework and the local community when they host a food drive Oct. 21-Nov. 14.

The food drive will kick off with a screening of “A Place at the Table,” a documentary film that investigates hunger in America and proposed solutions to the problem. The screening will be at 4 p.m. Oct. 21 in room SH118 in Sabine Hall and is free and open to the public.

“In class, I want to focus on how we can use writing to address and remedy social issues in America,” said Wood. “I am using the film to highlight the national issue of food insecurity while also opening a discussion of how this insecurity affects the Dallas area. Students will also look into other local issues to gain a better understanding of our local community and how they can use their writing to enter a dialogue about these issues.”

Richland College’s Honors Academy and the Office of Student Life will be assisting the students in the food drive that will benefit the North Texas Food Bank.

“It’s important to keep in mind that many people in our community are struggling to feed themselves and their children,” said Honors Academy Coordinator Kathleen Stephens. “The food drive is one way to help reduce food insecurity in our area and be mindful of those who need help. The Honors Academy and the Office of Student Life are delighted to partner with Mary Wood on this important project. Richland College students and the surrounding community can really help make a difference.”

Food drive organizers are hoping to meet a goal of collecting at least 250 non-perishable, nutritional food items during the drive. Acceptable donation items include granola bars, low-sodium vegetables and soups, canned tuna or chicken, peanut or almond butter, fruit rolls, whole grain crackers, brown rice and more. Glass containers will not be accepted.

Anyone interested in donating items may drop them off at one of the following locations on the Richland College campus: Honors Academy offices (El Paso Hall, room E056); Access Office (Alamito Hall, room A110); World Languages, Cultures and Communications office (Lavaca Hall, room L208); Multicultural Center (Thunderduck Hall, room T150); Richland Collegiate High School office (Crockett Hall, room C179); LEAD office (Crockett Hall, room C243) or the Office of Student Life (El Paso Hall, room E040).

Richland College to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Federal TRIO Programs

Richland College is hosting an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Federal TRIO Programs (TRIO) from 9 to 11 a.m., Aug. 21, in room W201 of Wichita Hall on the Richland College campus.

A symposium from the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Services Area in Washington, D.C. will be streamed via live video feed during the event. The symposium, “Celebrating 50 Years of Promoting Excellence by Providing Hope and Opportunity for Success,” will celebrate, review and discuss the impact of TRIO. Refreshments will be available, and Richland College’s event is free and open to the public.

“TRIO has provided Richland College students with a variety of tools and services to help them succeed in their educational pursuits,” said Noeli Biggs, Richland College TRIO director of community programs. “We are proud to be able to make such a positive impact in students’ lives, and we hope everyone who attends our 50th anniversary event will come away with a better awareness of how much TRIO benefits the community.”

Established in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, TRIO includes eight federal outreach and student services programs that serve individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, including low-income individuals, first-generation college students and individuals with disabilities, helping these students progress through the academic pipeline from middle school through college.

For more information on TRIO at Richland College, visit