By Katie Middleton –

Having always had a passion for writing, Courtney Justus ‘18 came to Trinity ready to embrace opportunities for improving her creative writing. She participated in open mic nights at Trinity to read her poetry and prose and declared a major in English and a minor in Creative Writing her sophomore year. That same year, she was told about San Antonio non-profit Gemini Ink from her academic advisor and began searching for an internship opportunity. She found that opportunity through the Arts, Letters & Enterprise (ALE) summer internship program and applied her junior year with Gemini Ink as her top choice. Spoiler alert: She was accepted!

Gemini Ink, Courtney Justus, Internship, ALE
Intern Courtney Justus outside Gemini Ink
Courtney enthusiastically immersed herself in her work at Gemini Ink over the last few weeks, working 8 hours a day in a five day work week, using the experience to “challenge [herself] to become more proficient and efficient” every day. Her daily tasks often include social media work, helping to maintain the organization’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram - she even created a Snapchat account for Gemini Ink to help daily outreach and interest in their programs and classes. Courtney has been focusing on bolstering the promotion of the 2nd annual Writers Conference that will take place in July and is looking forward to getting to meet the speakers and help put on the conference.

Courtney's philosophy says it all, “If you’re really passionate about it you’re going to do it, and I want to work as hard as those around me, if not harder, to make it happen.”

Other opportunities involve grant writing, proctoring classes, and helping with the set-up and closing of classrooms to aid the Gemini Ink teachers. This is all in a day's work for Courtney! In her many different tasks, she interacts with both Gemini Ink employees and volunteers and is grateful for the positive reactions as well as the constructive criticism she receives, giving her “really valuable experience in the writing world.”

Summer Internship, Gemini Ink, Courtney Justus, ALE
Justus working at her computer in one of the Gemini Ink classrooms
There is more to come! It is clear that Courtney found her creative writing hub and is at home in her work with Gemini Ink. Though not the first Trinity student to have an internship at this organization, she hopes to see the relationship between Gemini Ink and Trinity University expand and grow to help create a “community of support and encouragement” for other students interested in creative writing. In her work at Gemini Ink she has become more flexible and receptive to new tasks that will transfer into her academic career at Trinity.

Gemini Ink, summer internship, courtney justus
San Antonio nonprofit Gemini Ink
Courtney's long term goal is to become a full-time writer. She also plans to attend graduate school for a masters in fine arts in creative writing with a focus in fiction writing. In the meantime she is enjoying seeing writers of all different experience levels come together and grow together at Gemini Ink, “seeing people doing it and having them say, ‘Yeah, you can do it too!’” She is happy to take this time to gain experience in the writing world as well as pursue and better her own craft.
By Allyson Mackender –

Tucked away in a small, second-story room of the Ruth Taylor Fine Arts Center, Austen Yorko ‘17, the only senior member of Trinity’s varsity policy debate team, tirelessly prepares for his final semester of collegiate debate. With the help of the team’s faculty advisor, Professor William Mosley-Jensen, Yorko and the three other members of varsity debate spend hours each day researching this year’s assigned topic: climate change and how to best mitigate its effects.

While many of us are likely familiar with the pop-culture depictions of debate, Yorko says collegiate debate is actually much larger than most people think. “Almost every university in the country has anywhere from 2-10 individual partnerships that compete in debate,” Yorko explained. Upwards of 130 teams enter in each competitive tournament – Trinity participates in eight per year – with the hopes of qualifying for the national tournament. Teams across the nation are assigned the same topic and expected to complete research so they can debate in favor of the proposed topic and negate the other teams plan.

“We have to complete a lot of research and be prepared for anything,” Yorko said, “We do five weeks of preparation for each debate.”

In addition to the rigorous research, the debates themselves can sometimes be daunting. “Tournaments can be intimidating,” Yorko explained, “You’re about to debate Harvard and they have six coaches comprised of world-renowned climate scientists.” However, despite this apparent challenge, Trinity’s committed team manages to perform competitively at nationals. They are looking to make a bigger splash this year in Yorko’s final collegiate tournament.

“I hope we get into the top 20 teams,” Yorko said, “Trinity hasn’t had a team that deep in the tournament for a long time.”

Debate provides students with the opportunity to become experts on topics that they may not otherwise encounter. Trinity’s team has debated on military presence in foreign countries, the legalization of marijuana, prostitution, online gambling, and physician assisted suicide, and Presidential and executive war powers. These various topics have allowed Yorko and his teammates to engage in a wide array of social and political discourses, which is especially pertinent as Yorko pursues a degree in political science.

“Debate is especially useful at a school like Trinity where classes are based on discussion and idea development,” York said, “Our breadth of knowledge allows us to better engage in classes.”

Upon graduation this May, Yorko is planning on working as a debate coach, either at a local San Antonio high school or for a collegiate team.

The other members of Trinity’s debate team are Drew Sposeep ‘19, Ansh Khullar ‘20, Ian Dill ‘20, Sasha Faust ‘18, Abby Dennis ‘20, Travis Boyd ‘20, Isaiah Mitchell ‘20, Benjamin Collinger ‘18, Cristian Vargas ‘18, Zabdi Salazar ‘19, Karina Mendez-Perez ‘19, Cathy Terrace ‘19, Daniel Conrad ‘18.

Special congratulations to first-years Ansh Khullar and Ian Dill for their 18th place finish in the tournament. For more information on Trinity’s debate team and the Baker Duncan Debate Scholarship, please visit their website or contact William Mosley-Jensen at
By Allyson Mackender –

Have you ever dreamed of being on TV? Do you see yourself sitting behind the news desk? Standing in front of the greenscreen? Or maybe you dreamed of working in a control room, making sure everything on-screen goes exactly as planned. For Trinity students like junior Joseph Khalaf ‘18, Tiger TV has made this dream a reality.

Khalaf '18 is an on-screen talent for Trinity's Tiger TV. 
Last fall, Khalaf, an accounting major and Spanish minor from Houston, Texas, volunteered to work in the control room, operating the technical aspects of Tiger TV’s four shows, including audio, cameras, and video playback. Enjoying his time backstage, Khalaf decided to further get involved in Tiger TV by enrolling in Professor James Bynum’s one-credit Tiger TV apprenticeship in Trinity’s communication department. Today, after an informal audition, Khalaf is an on-screen talent in two of Tiger TV’s shows, EndZone, where he commentates the Trinity sports highlight reel, and Studio 21, where he does the Music Video of the Week segment.

Tiger TV’s live-to-feed programs may appear straightforward. However, Khalaf explained the great amount of energy committed to each week’s show.

Studio 21 airs on Tuesday at 5 p.m. but preparation for the week’s show starts days in advance. 24 hours before the show airs, the students must turn in all scripts, graphics, and video so the show’s producers have time to review the material. At 4:30 p.m. the next day, the students arrive at the studio located in Trinity’s Richardson Communications Center for the final preparations before the show goes live: the set gets finalized, the live band is welcomed to Studio B, the teleprompter is set up by the control room, and the cameras are placed. Just 30 minutes later, the cameras begin rolling.

Khalaf and Randi Reinhardt '17 co-host the highlight reel on Endzone. 
The show opens with hosts Zach Wooten ‘17 and Faith Byrne ‘17, and is followed by an interview with the band of the week, two segments, Gossip Guru and Release Date, and a brief public service announcement. Next, Khalaf introduces the music video of the week. As his segment ends, senior Alyssa Tayrien ‘17 announces the band of the week; they play a few songs as the show closes and the credits roll. The show lasts around 30 minutes and is broadcast live on Tiger Network.

The seamless production of Tiger TV’s shows, like Studio 21, is due in large part to the communication department’s model of experiential learning.

“The training is brief but hands on,” Khalaf explained, “I could have listened to lengthy instructions on how to use the equipment and not retained any of it but actually using the equipment made it easier to learn how everything works.”

Aside from being a great chance to try something new and creative, Khalaf was excited about the unique opportunities offered by Tiger TV that aren’t available at larger institutions. “At a bigger school, only communication majors interested in broadcast journalism would have the chance to participate in this and if you wanted to be on camera you’d have to be a senior,” Khalaf said, “At Trinity, you can join as a first year and have a talent position or a spot in the control room and you don’t have to be a communication major.” This is especially exciting considering Tiger TV’s state-of-the-art studio is just like what you’d experience at a television network, due to a generous donation by AT&T.

Tune in on Tiger Network for access to Tiger TV's shows. 
The upbeat, energetic environment has made Tiger TV a place filled with great memories for Khalaf. However, the experience he found most rewarding was making pre-recorded packages in the control room with sophomore Jacob Sanchez. “It was exciting to hear that people thought the package was funny when it went live,” Khalaf recalled.

During his final three semesters at Trinity, Khalaf looks forward to continuing to prepare and deliver his segments. This April, he will be attending Maverick Music Festival with press passes from Tiger TV. Tune in to get exclusive access to the bands that will be featured on Khalaf’s segment.

For more information on Tiger TV and how to get involved, visit Trinity’s communication page or contact the department chair, professor Jennifer Henderson. Visit Tiger Network for access to Tiger TV’s shows and live streaming of other Trinity athletics and events.
By Allyson Mackender –

In recent years, Brooks County, located just three hours south of San Antonio, has become one of the deadliest stretches of land for migrants crossing the border into the United States. According to an article in the Texas Observer, “migrants must leave the highway and hike through the rugged ranchlands” in order to circumvent the US Border Patrol checkpoint. This detour is often deadly. In the grueling south Texas heat, hundreds of migrants die each year from heat stroke and dehydration.

Recognizing this, Eddie Canales founded the South Texas Human Rights Center (STHRC), a community-based organization located in Falfurrias,Texas, in 2013. Since then, Canales and a group of compassionate volunteers have begun numerous projects to minimize the number of deaths in Brooks County. Specifically, the Water Station Project, which installed 90 water stations consisting of a barrel with six jugs of water and an aluminum flagpole, over 1200 square miles, has been implemented to alleviate dehydration and disorientation, which is often fatal for migrants. This year, as a part of Trinity University’s engineering design projects, the South Texas Human Rights Center asked senior engineering students for help to make the Water Station Project even better.

Seniors Kathryn Schoer '17 and James Regan '17 work with the solar panel used in The Emergency Water Supply Station. 
Education professor Angela Breidenstein read the call for senior design project ideas that the Engineering Department sends out annually and was encouraged by her colleagues in the Engineering Department to make a pitch on behalf of STHRC. She presented “The Emergency Water Supply Station” to the rising seniors in the spring of 2016 based on experiences collaborating with the STHRC, Borderland Collective, and the International School of the Americas, Trinity’s professional development school partner. Excited by the opportunity to complete a project with immediate implications, 13 students asked to participate the design project, a group almost three times larger than normal. With the help of engineering professor Mehran Aminian, the students have worked tirelessly over the last two semesters to make the project a reality.

“What appealed to me about this project was the urgency of it,” James Regan ‘17 stated, “A lot of engineering projects can help people, but when we are done they’ll probably start using the design right away.”

“The South Texas Human Rights Center wants light identification so the water barrels can be identified at night when the majority of movement happens, a way to track the amount of water in the barrel, and a durable and insulated container,” Kathryn Schoer ‘17 explained. In order to accomplish these tasks, the thirteen students working on the project split into five groups:

1. Water Station Structure and Base 

Photo of Water Station Structure and Base design, courtesy of The Emergency Water Supply Station. 
The Water Station Structure and Base group is responsible for designing a rectangular high density polyethylene base that will house the electrical equipment. It will also have a place for an aluminum flag pole and a slot for the 55-gallon cylindrical water barrel to sit. Additionally, they are adding shelving and insulation to the barrel to allow for increased storage and better temperature control.

2. Website 

The platform the students are using to design their website. Image provided by The Emergency Water Supply Station. 
This group is designing a user-friendly website for volunteers to access to get live updates on the water barrels. Using a password-protected, interactive map, volunteers will be able to see the location, power level, and water level of each barrel, making it easier for them to know when they should replenish the supply or perform maintenance on a barrel.

3. Weight Sensor 

An example of the Compression Load Cells. Photo provided by The Emergency Water Supply Station. 
This Weight Sensor group is designing a mechanism that will detect the number of jugs in each barrel and will detect the position of the barrel, in an attempt to avoid vandalism. Using four compression load cells placed an equal distance from each other, the weight of the barrel will be recorded between 0-200 lbf. The data gathered by the weight sensor will be converted into the number of jugs in the barrel and sent to the website via the arduino, an electronic platform that serves as the source of communication from the water structure to the real-time website.

4. Communications 

The Arduino is being used to communicate data to the live-feed website. Photo courtesy of The Emergency Water Supply Station. 
The Communications group is working to relay water and power level information from the structure to the real-time website. Using an Arduino Mega and Arduino GSM Cell Shield, all housed in a waterproof, sealed container in the base, data will be sent to the website and, in case of a sudden drop of weight indicating vandalism, an SMS text message will be sent to volunteers.

5. Power Supply and Identification 

A graph showing daily hours of daylight and median cloud cover in Falfurrias, Texas. Provided by The Emergency Water Supply Station.
The Power Supply and Identification group is creating an apparatus that will illuminate a green LED light strip so the water barrel will be more easily visible at night, when most migration occurs. Power will be supplied to the light, the Arduino, and the rest of the electrical components by a 30-watt solar panel and two lithium ion batteries with enough energy capacity in the case of a few cloudy days.

All of these components will eventually be combined to create a life-saving and approachable structure to be placed in Brooks County. “We want the barrel to look homemade,” Regan said, hoping that immigrants will be comfortable taking water from the barrel if it looks humanitarian.

Despite the current political climate, Schoer continuously reiterated that The Emergency Water Supply Station is not a political statement. “The point is simply to demonstrate that these are human lives,” Schoer stated, “We are not trying to encourage or discourage people from crossing the border. We’re just trying to respect the sanctity of human life.” Certainly a valiant project, its impact is even more meaningful considering these barrels are placed less than three hours from Trinity’s campus. However, its success has not come without challenges.

Most of the project requires expertise in programming and mechanical and electrical engineering. Many of the students are focusing on other disciplines such as chemical or biomedical. Over the last four years, Trinity’s unique engineering science program has taught students the fundamental skills in electrical, mechanical, chemical, and design and analysis to allow them to pursue a career in any field of engineering. While a few group members have experience in data collection and analysis from previous internships, most have had to learned new material as the project progressed.

The students will present their final project at the end of the semester. 
“It’s an academic challenge,” Schoer explained, “Sometimes we face a problem that we could have never predicted in class so we need to be innovative to solve it. We rely on each other.”

Despite this challenge, though, the students agree it has been a rewarding glimpse into what life as a professional engineer looks like. “This project has demonstrated how all the fields of engineering work together,” Schoer said, “You can’t have just a mechanical engineering project or just a chemical engineering project. You have to work with everyone.” This lesson is certainly important as the students graduate and pursue graduate school and careers this spring.

Although the students intend to pursue professional engineering careers, this project exposed them to the idea of volunteer engineering. “I’m fascinated by the idea of analyzing an existing problem, looking at the materials available, and solving it,” Regan said, “Most engineers have the newest technology and access to the best tools, but that isn’t the case in many places across the globe. I’d love to volunteer and use my engineering expertise to help people more directly, like this project is doing.”

Regardless of their plans, the senior engineering students working on The Emergency Water Supply Station project certainly have promising futures. “Engineering is about making a difference and being ingenious,” Schoer said, “This project allowed us to do just that and I think we all look forward to continuing our education and career with this spirit in mind.”

Seniors Amanda Dinh '17 and Katherine Walls '17 work on the Communications aspect of the project. 
The thirteen senior engineering students working on this project are Rebecca Bond, Joshua Bradley, Christine Campbell, Amanda Dinh, Erika Edrington, Yasmeen Farra, Brad Hood, Clay Lansdale, Sneha Pottian, James Regan, Kathryn Schoer, Katherine Walls, and Andrea Zavala.

For more information about the South Texas Human Rights Center, please visit

Funding for Trinity’s senior design projects is provided by the engineering department, courtesy of generous donations from board members, alumni, and parents. To learn more about engineering sciences at Trinity, visit their webpage.
By Allyson Mackender –

In a recent interview with junior theatre major Allie Butemeyer ‘18, she recalled a particularly impactful scene in Trinity’s recent production of Good Kids:

“There was a moment when we took out all the lights so the stage was in complete darkness. All of the actors hit the home buttons on their phone to light up their faces and in this moment the main female character sees the video of her rape. All the actors are assumed to be watching it in darkness, then we put a pale blue spotlight on the main female character as the phone lights turn off and fade into darkness again. It is haunting. It takes your breath away. It is the only way to capture the sadness of that moment.”

Allie Butemeyer '18 works at the lighting control station in Trinity's Stieren Theatre.
Those of us who have been to a production have likely had this experience- a moment in the show that gives you goosebumps and sends chills up your spine. Likely, you attributed this to the performers, score, or set. But imagine that same scene happening in a well-lit room, similar to your classroom or office. It certainly would not have the same impact. That’s where Butemeyer, the Assistant Lighting Designer for Trinity’s upcoming production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, comes in.

After taking a lighting design class with theatre professor Tim Francis, Butemeyer became involved in Trinity’s productions as the Assistant Lighting Designer. In this role, she is responsible for designing, hanging, focusing and writing cues for the lighting in the show.

“Like the rest of a show, we want the lighting to look effortless,” Francis said, “which means we have to hide the immense amount of effort put into it.”

An “immense amount of effort” may be an understatement, though. Butemeyer begins the lighting design process by researching how to operate the lighting. With this knowledge in mind, she and Francis discuss the lighting and design concept for the show, including what gobos, which are patterns on the lights, and colors they want to include. As opening approaches, the more technical and labor-intensive work begins. Butemeyer and student workers hang each light individually, lowering the lights so they are out of sight of the audience.

“It’s a balancing act,” Butemeyer laughed, “You have to pick up a heavy light, pray that it won’t fall, and pray that you won’t fall.”

Once the lights are hung, they are patched into a control board so each light can be individually controlled from a console in the theatre. Next, Butemeyer and the student workers balance more than 20 feet above the stage on a narrow lift to focus each light, ensuring that they are are getting a sharp image in the right place on the stage. With hundreds of lights in the theatre, this task is tedious and time consuming.

As the manual labor comes to an end, Butemeyer and Francis begin a process referred to as cue design. “We sit down at the computer and decide when we want one light to turn on and another to turn off for the entire show,” Butemeyer explained, “That way someone can sit at the board during the show and just press go.” This particular step requires collaboration with the stage manager, director, and other members of the production to ensure the lighting coincides with what is happening on stage.

“We don’t see the lights with the actors until the tech rehearsal, so collaboration is crucial to making sure the lights fit the aesthetic of the show,” Butemeyer explained, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream is an especially unique show because there are basically no limitations to what we can do with the lights. The show has magic and fairies, so that pushes the bounds of creativity for what [Professor Francis] and I can do to make the show come to life.”

Butemeyer adjusts a light on the catwalk in Stieren Theatre.

In addition to the tangible skills Butemeyer gained from this experience, its contributions to her Trinity experience have been invaluable. Trinity’s theatre department focuses on creating well rounded students who are able to pursue a career in various theatre capacities. However, this particular experience has given Butemeyer the chance to explore her specific interests, preparing her for her career goals as a lighting designer.

Butemeyer came to Trinity as an engineering major, but after three semesters changed directions to pursue a theatre degree.

“I got involved with theatre freshman year,” she recalled, “But after taking [Professor Francis’] class I thought, ‘I really enjoy this. I could make a career out of this. Why am I not doing this?’”

What’s special about lighting design, though, is that it allows Butemeyer to incorporate her expertise in electrical engineering, a testament to Trinity’s liberal arts model. “Each light has a power source,” Butemeyer explained, “You still have to draw power from somewhere so I still frequently deal with circuits.”

A Midsummer Night's Dream will run until February 25, 2017.
When asked what Butemeyer was most looking forward to this production, she stated that she is excited to see how the minimalistic set and costume design combine with the lights to create the aesthetic. The show, which was directed by Stieren Guest Artist Nona Shepphard, is meant to imitate Shakespeare’s Globe in London.

“We have a black steps and black flats and all the characters are dressed in black,” Butemeyer explained, “We want the audience to interpret the magic and decide what it means to them.”

Trinity’s theatre department encourages everyone to attend a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will run until February 25. For information on curtain times and tickets, visit the Current Season page. Courtesy of Trinity’s Student Government Association, 500 Trinity students will receive free tickets to the show on a first come first serve basis. To claim your tickets, visit the box office the night of the production and show your TigerCard.
By Allyson Mackender –

Anyone with an iPhone is familiar with Apple’s Night Shift mode, the feature added last year allowing users to turn off blue light with promises of a better night’s sleep. However, not many of us are familiar with the significant effects blue light has each and every day. Trinity University sophomore, Logan Morrison ‘19, is researching just that.

Morrison's mentor, Dr. Jerry Hizon (right), is a primary care sports doctor. Source:
While other students enjoyed their time off, Morrison, a neuroscience major, spent his winter break serving as a research assistant at Motion Sports MD, a family and sports medicine clinic near his hometown of Temecula, California. Supervised by Dr. Jerry Hizon, Morrison worked with two students from the University of California Riverside studying the effects of blue light blocking glasses on the improvement of insomniatic sleep patterns.

More than 30% of the United States’ population suffers from some level of insomnia, 10% experiencing severe and chronic insomnia. Research suggests that the exposure to blue light could explain some people’s difficulty sleeping. Light is received through retinal ganglion cells and is relayed to the brain through the retinal hypothalamic network to the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that serves as our circadian pacemaker. As this process concludes, blue light prevents the secretion of melatonin making it harder to go to sleep and stay asleep.

A diagram, provided by Morrison, demonstrating the reception of light.
“Evolutionarily we didn’t have blue light,” Morrison explained, “There wasn’t TV, or cell phones, or tablets… Also, a lot of light is switching to LED because it is brighter and higher energy but those are pretty much pure blue light.” The modern introduction of blue light clearly has serious effects on sleep patterns. Dr. Hizon, Morrison, and UC Riverside medical students are now tasked with solving this problem.

Over the next few months, Morrison and his research partners will be testing patients with insomnia using Fitbits and blue light blocking glasses, which can be bought online for as little as $8. For two weeks, the subjects will track their sleep patterns without the glasses and then for the subsequent two weeks they will track their sleep patterns wearing the glasses from 6 p.m. until they go to sleep.

Morrison, who will be working remotely from San Antonio, will collect and analyze the data from the Fitbits, hoping to discover a correlation between improved sleep and blue light blocking glasses. “The end goal is to find data that suggests wearing blue light blocking glasses as an additive treatment method for insomnia,” Morrison said, “And I’m optimistic because I really think it will work.”
The Uvex Skyper Blue Light Blocking Computer Glasses with SCT-Orange Lenses being used in Morrison's research. Source:
When asked about the challenges faced while completing his research, Morrison was surprised by how many logistical steps must be completed to actually begin the project. After writing a research proposal and doing an extensive literature review, the UC Riverside students had to propose the topic to the Dean who then submits it to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval. Since this project uses human subjects, the process was even more exhaustive. However, this step was one of the many learning opportunities Morrison experienced while completing his research.

“The research I’m completing actually relates to neuroscience,” Morrison explained, “I learned a lot of the terminology and pathways in class so when Dr. Hizon would talk about the more scientific parts of the research I could understand them.” This exciting connection between Trinity’s courses and medical research helped solidify Morrison’s future plans of going to medical school and completing medical based research.

“I think Trinity has prepared me well [for medical school] so far because as a sophomore I already feel comfortable putting myself in a medical research environment,” Morrison added, “The skills I’ve developed here help me set myself apart from other pre-med students.”

For more information on Trinity University’s neuroscience department, visit their homepage.