Wall of Honor 2007
Hsiang K. "Frank" Fei was born in Hua-Lien, a small east-coast town in Taiwan facing the Pacific ocean. Frank spent the first four years of elementary education in Hua-Lien. But his father’s job relocated the family to Taipei when he was in fifth grade. The new school in Taipei posed a big challenge for him in the beginning because the academic standards there were much higher than that of the schools in Hua-lien. He did poorly at his new school, but was able to gradually catch up and eventually finish high school.
After high school, Frank attended college and majored in automatic control engineering. After graduation, he served in the Taiwanese army and later worked in an electrical component company. He then decided to come to the U.S. to enter a master’s degree program. After completing a master’s degree in Mobile, Alabama, Frank was offered a job in Dallas.
While everything in Frank’s life seemed exciting and promising, he was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1998. Over the next few years, Frank experienced a physical and emotional battle with all of the treatments, drugs, and tests he had to undergo. On top of that, he was laid off from work twice.
In 2002, a doctor from Baylor Hospital approached him with the possibility of having a bone marrow transplant (BMT). After some research, Frank decided to have the transplant as his last resort to survive. His sister graciously donated stem cells to him. Following the transplant, Frank spent 3 months in the hospital and struggled with several complications from the procedure.
After recovering, Frank decided to make a career change to a health-related profession, hoping to help others who experience similar events in life. For the past two years, he has taken 10 classes at Richland, making straight A’s.
Frank finds learning to be very rewarding loves to help my fellow classmates with what he has learned. His new career path allows him to offer encouragement and support to others who are receiving chemotherapy or are recovering from BMT. Frank’s ultimate goal is to contribute to the prevention and treatment of cancers.
Ervin "Koe" Jones often reflects on a quote he once heard in a human development course here at Richland by motivational speaker Les Brown: "If you can look up, you can get up." And Koe has done just that.
At an early stage, Koe began experiencing a variety of unfortunate events and tumultuous home life. He ran away from home at age 10 and began living a life on the streets. By 13, he entered the juvenile court system and lived the majority of his childhood in the foster care system.
At age 11, he developed a relationship with a woman he calls "Grandma". She ran a shelter for displaced teens. He was originally drawn to her shelter because he thought it was a drug house. It turned out to be "his sanctuary" and his "go-to place".
While Koe was living a life on the streets, "Grandma" encouraged him to go back to school and get an education. Despite the odds against him, Koe completed high school and later came to Richland College to play basketball. But there was one problem, he couldn’t read.
Koe struggled his first year, having to start with fundamental courses. But Koe pushed on to complete two years here, all while playing basketball, and left with a 3.4 GPA.
After leaving Richland, Koe earned a basketball scholarship to Peru State in Nebraska but the struggle continued. "Grandma" died due to injuries sustained in a car accident during his time there. But Koe continued to persevere, and later received his degree in sports management.
Koe returned to Dallas in July of 2006. He currently works for the U.S. Postal Service, serves as a youth minister at the Mount Olive Church of Plano, and serves as the strength and conditioning coach for the Thunderduck basketball team.
Gloria Reckner is a life-long student who loves being a teacher at Richland College. Her Emeritus students consistently appreciate Gloria’s enthusiasm and patience as they learn the latest in computer technology.
“When my students learn a new skill, it lights me up as much as it does them,” Gloria said. “I never stop looking for more effective ways to communicate whatever I’m teaching.”
Since 2003, the Richland adjunct faculty member has used her love for technology to teach senior students how to understand and use computer programs such as Photoshop Elements, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. In addition, Gloria has organized and written course materials for classes in Digital Photo Galleries, Advanced PowerPoint and Photoshop’s Organizer workspace.
Having first learned word processing on a memory typewriter with a read-out panel “about the size of an address label,” Gloria now has 30 years of computer experience to share with her students.
When Richland College opened in 1972, Gloria was among the first student body to earn an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree. Over the years, she has been a single parent for her two children and a surrogate parent for two of their teenage friends. By working days and taking night classes at Richland, Gloria also earned a Technical Writing Certification. She is an award-winning poet, a photographer and a SCUBA diver.
Gloria considers keeping up with the ever-changing world of technology one of her highest priorities. “For me, keeping up with technology is a passion,” she said. “I’m fascinated by the age we live in because there are so many interesting things to learn.”
Every day Jasmine Deshone Thomas wakes up at around 5:30 a.m. to catch the bus to Richland. Since transferring from Town View Magnet Center in August 2006, Richland Collegiate High School student Jasmine has already completed 52 course hours at Richland College, all while maintaining a 2.5 GPA. She takes 18 to 19 hours per semester, and works close to six days a week as a restaurant hostess to support her family.
Since starting college, Jasmine has displayed determination and commitment by taking on a full load and choosing to spend her summer here at Richland taking developmental courses so she could start in college-level classes in the fall of 2006.
Upon graduation in May 2008, Jasmine will earn both an associate’s degree from Richland and a high school diploma from RCHS, making her a first generation college graduate. Jasmine plans to transfer to the University of Texas at Arlington and major in psychology. Her ultimate goal is to become a forensic psychologist so that she can help others who are in need. Jasmine also plans to open her own practice.
RCHS principal Krystn Edny says, “Jasmine arrives to school every day with a huge smile on her face and a willingness to help others. Jasmine’s ability to persevere through difficult times is a true testament to her character. She is a strong, independent, joyful, and thoughtful individual with a servant’s heart.”
When an accident pierced Rick Walker’s left eye as a child, doctors said he would be blind in that eye, and probably would lose most of his sight in the right eye because of an infection. However, his sight remained intact and he now has a successful career in television and radio.
The Richland adjunct journalism faculty member of 10 years earned an associate’s degree in applied arts/ science from Richland College in 1986 and a bachelor’s degree in radio, TV, and film from the University of North Texas in 1991. Rick also earned a master’s degree from Southern Methodist University in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in communication.
Rick is a recipient of 34 national, regional, and local awards for “Excellence in Broadcasting.” He also has extensive public speaking experience, which started when he was 13 and traveled to Indonesia to speak to village churches for three months. Overall, Rick’s public speaking experience includes international travel – addressing crowds as large as 250,000.
Professionally, he is represented by the Thomas Agency as an actor and has appeared in dozens of commercials and TV shows. Rick currently hosts two cable TV broadcasts called “College Television” and “Richland Television.” He also hosts and produces Powertalk on 89.7 FM in the Dallas/Fort Worth market.
For the past eight years, Rick has been the youth director at New Life Fellowship Church and has done mission work in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Indonesia. He’s also a member of the Advisory Board for Livingway Church in Garland, TX.
An education did not come easy for Richland College graduate Barbara Goldstein. And starting her education as a mother of three small children wasn’t the half of it. Her first day of class was also the day her mother began a two-year fight of breast cancer. Not only did she juggle college courses and a busy home life, but also assumed the role of primary caregiver to her ill mother.
Despite these challenges, Goldstein persevered and earned an Associate of Science in Biology and Chemistry in 1978. During her college career, she maintained a 3.9 GPA and earned a coveted spot as a member of Phi Theta Kappa and Beta Beta Beta, the national honor society for biology.
After graduating from Richland, Goldstein transferred to Texas Woman’s University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology/Chemistry. She continued on to make great contributions as a long-time volunteer at the Northwood Hills Elementary library, a deed that earned her a lifetime membership of the school’s PTA. She also served as the Vice President of the Jewish Women’s Organization of Dallas, where she coordinated large speaking events and developed and facilitated an adult education curriculum. Additionally, Goldstein served as a library volunteer at the Sherith Israel Synagogue and has supported a variety of events for senior citizens.
Her determination and attitude of service has touched many lives and continues to be an inspiration.
Jamie is a woman who had the courage to turn a negative situation into a positive one. She persevered through domestic violence and sought shelter at the Family Place in the Spring of 1998.
With no time to waste, Jamie joined Richland College in the summer of 1998. She worked as a student assistant on campus and was hired full-time as a Secretary in the World Languages Division in June of 2001.
Jamie balanced full-time work and school, and received an Associates of Applied Science from Richland in 2004.
Her triumphs through difficult circumstances have given Jamie a compassion and understanding for potential students’ needs. Today, Jamie is the Admissions Coordinator for Health Professions at Richland.
She uses advising sessions to mentor students and cultivate positive relationships. Jamie is a survivor and a strong voice for the women seeking assistance from domestic violence in our community.
Jamie is on the Board of Directors for the Family Place, an organization for women who have been abused and are seeking a safe haven. Having the strength to support other women, she also speaks publicly about her past for fund raising events, television shows and press conferences to increase awareness regarding domestic violence issues.
Jamie is bilingual and extends her expertise to offer services to the Hispanic community. She dedicates time to Los Patos Listos, which focuses on marketing and recruiting in what she considers an underserved population.
Now happily married, Jamie is an ideal former student and faculty member for Richland and the community.
The quality about Eddie Mercado that others find so special is his great sense of humor, with a touch of humility due to hard work.
Eddie started at Richland College in 1989. He began as a mediocre student and progressed into the early 1990’s as his grades got stronger. After he left Richland, he worked his GPA up to a 3.23 and transferred to Texas A&M, where he hit the cold wall of reality, finding the courses tougher than he thought they would be. The original plan of pursuing a pre-med major began to change.
Eventually, he received his Bachelor of Science degree, which renewed his interest in health professions. He had been working at a grocery store as a pharmacy technician for years. He decided to get serious about becoming a pharmacist.
In 2000, he transferred to Texas Tech University to become a full-time student in order to get into their pharmacy school. He was accepted, went through with excellent grades including some honors, and graduated in summer of 2006 with a doctorate in pharmacy.
At Texas Tech, Eddie is well-known for his contributions in service learning. He volunteers by calling students as a recruiter for the pharmacy program, as well as serving on interview panels for prospective pharmacy students.
He speaks to classes at Richland about the reality of pharmacy school and mentors eager students.
At present, he is working at Children’s hospital in the Emergency Room in a new program where pharmacists are placed in the E.R. along with doctors. New pharmacy graduates are almost never offered this position, however Eddie’s clinical rotations at Children’s made them aware of his wonderful work ethic, and offered the position that few are chosen for.
Eddie is currently married and now has a son. His path to success started at Richland, where he now graciously gives back, engaging in the lives of current students.
In 1972-1974, Richland College provided the setting for Jane Shelton Merz to begin her education, but the faculty and staff provided the encouragement and motivation for her continuation.
Jane came to Richland as a single mother of two young children and many times felt she would not be able to succeed, but with the encouragement of faculty and staff she persevered.
She struggled to support her children by working at various part-time jobs at the Richardson Library, a hospital emergency room, and playing organ for Arapaho Methodist Church.
Following a successful experience at Richland, Jane continued her education and earned a Bachelor’s degree in English, and a Master’s Degree in Library Science at the University of North Texas.
Currently, Jane is the Director of the Richardson Public Library and supports a variety of literacy projects in the community. At the library, she hosts the Murder Mystery each year, which benefits the Richardson Adult Literacy Center.
She was instrumental in establishing the Richardson Reads One Book Project, which has brought outstanding authors to the community. She is secretary of Altrusa International of Richardson, serves on the board of the Richardson Adult Literacy Board and is a member of the Richardson Woman’s Club.
Jane is a graduate of Leadership Richardson and former member of the Richardson Symphony Board and Chamber Music International.
Her commitment to the community proves that Richland students are carrying out the mission that Richland holds dear — Teaching, Learning and Community Building.
Andy Pang is a lifelong learner with a remarkable story. Born to illiterate parents in Hong Kong he is the fifth of seven children – the only one to earn a college degree. He spent the first three and one half years of his life living on a houseboat in Hong Kong Harbor. Despite growing up in primitive living conditions, no electricity, no running water and no bathroom, Andy says he had a happy childhood. He helped his family make ends meet by making plastic flowers at home. Pang says, "I kept wondering who were buying these millions of silly plastic things. Imagine my surprise and joy when I first stepped into a K-mart in 1989 in Dallas and saw the darn thing on sale!" At the age of 14 Pang determined he would head ‘west’ to pursue higher education. After high school and two years of Business College, Pang worked for five years to save money towards this goal. He left Hong Kong with just enough money for one year’s tuition.
Pang attended Richland College 1990-1993. With a 4.0 GPA and a full scholarship, he transferred to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island where he majored in Marketing. There he graduated Summa Cum Laude completing the 4 year degree program in 2 years and 3 months while working at least 20 hours a week throughout the entire program. Pang also holds an MBA in International Business from UTA. He earned this degree while holding a fulltime job.
Pang has spent years tutoring and mentoring underprivileged children and adults here and around the world. From October 2004 through September 2005 he took a sabbatical from his successful career in the computer industry. He traveled around the world spending half of the time in Costa Rica teaching English and Computer Applications as a volunteer for different organizations. His sights and experiences are published in his book, Life’s Scenic Lookout.
On his personal website Pang describes himself this way, "In a nutshell, I am one of the most blessed people in this world and often times I envy myself."