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Professor Captures Texas History and Coast: The Mortality of Whooping Cranes Along Texas Coast

Michael Berryhill, professor at Texas Southern University’s School of Communication and former Texas Wildlife and Parks magazine editor, is writing a book about the deaths of 23 endangered whooping cranes near San Antonio Bay.

The book which is not titled yet, outline details about a lawsuit, The Aransas Project (TAP) vs. Shaw in the U.S. District Court in Corpus Christi. The suit accuses the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality of not allowing sufficient flow of freshwater from the Guadalupe River into the San Antonio Bay for the whooping cranes spending winters there can survive.   

“This trial involves water rights,” Berryhill said.  “Money is water and water is money. Water is becoming a battleground almost like oil. “It’s valuable, there’s a limited amount of it.  And there’s going to be an increasing battle over water in Texas as Texas grows. Water determines the economic future for the state of Texas. Wildlife is getting the short end of the stick in the water planning in Texas.  I’ve seen the planning. I’ve talked to the environmentalists. I have to write about it.”

According to Berryhill bays need freshwater just as much as cities and farms need it. During a time of drought, nothing is left for the bays, he said.

“The direction the water flows affects the ecological system,” Berryhill said.  “It affects the farming and urban development while depriving the wildlife of fresh flowing water when they retreat into their habitat. If water is saved for the whooping cranes then it is saved for the crabs, shrimp, fish and the ducks.”

 Whooping cranes are territorial about their winter grounds. They stake out a territory about 425 acres of coastal marsh along the peninsulas and barrier islands of San Antonio Bay.  When territories were first mapped in the late 1940s, only fourteen birds existed.  Over the years the flock multiplied to almost 270 birds by winter of 2008 to 2009.  Whooping cranes are not a social bird. Although whooping cranes depend on blue crabs they are carnivores.

Earlier this year, Berryhill sent the editor of an environmentalist non-profit press in Minneapolis his Texas Monthly article on the case.  The editor sent back a one-word response: fascinating. That one word gave Berryhill the green light to invest time into writing the book.  Berryhill plans to interview scientists, hydrologists, biologists and other experts that will include professional environmental assessments to impact the process of water planning in Texas.

Berryhill’s book will educate the public about the water planning in Texas and the quality it has to sustain the life of the endangered species. His hope is that readers will be drawn into the legal, ecological and ethical issues and critical processes involved in the water planning in Texas.

“For the editor to look at it I knew I had to have something passionate,” said Berryhill. “One of the problems of pitching a book is you must be sure you have enough material to write it. The information has to be interesting enough where a writer would invest the time into writing the book. I have enough research and a trial to open up a host of issues. If I do this well, I will make the reader fall in love with this place.”

Berryhill is the recipient of the Texas Institute of Letters prize for nonfiction. He has gained recognition for his latest book, The Trials of Eroy Brown: The Murder Case That Shook the Texas Prison System, a story recounting the details of the murder of two white Texas prison officials at the hand of inmate Eroy Brown who faced the deprivation of prison civil rights and the Jim Crow Justice within the Texas prisons. Berryhill is also the chair of journalism at Texas Southern University’s School of Communication.

Berryhill projects to complete the book during the next two years.

“If I don’t do this nobody else will. I have this feeling like I’m the person that’s suited to do this,” Berryhill said. “I’ve been going down there 15 years.  I want to capture a piece of Texas history and I want to capture the Texas coast.” 

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New College Graduates May Face Slow Job Market this December: But Should Consider The Option to Be Their Own Boss.

By T. Janelle Morehead

James Hawkins, TSU SOC student

James Hawkins

James Hawkins, a senior in the School of Communication won’t be among the number of college graduates looking for a job after graduation.  He has a job, being his own boss.

Hawkins, a senior at Texas Southern University’s School of Communication and sole proprietor of Hawkstyle Media is a videographer, editor, radio personality and voice over talent who provide services to corporate and municipal clients like Radio Disney and Houston Community College. Hawkins makes good use of SOC’s television station to increase his media production skills. He pursues coaching and guidance from the dean and professors of SOC who advise him on professional development, presentation and interpersonal communication skills to polish up his marketing and consultative techniques.

“Once I graduate in May, 2013, I’m looking for my business to sort of catapult from where it is,” Hawkins said. “Since I have been working in radio and television for three years, completing a communications degree for my bachelors, will give me that sense of being a lot more confident in what I have to offer for my company.”

Texas Southern University School of Business

Dr. Jeff Brice

If entrepreneurship professor Jeff Brice, Jr., has his way, more and more students will follow Hawkins’ example. Brice is organizing a concentration and practical training entrepreneurship program where he serves as Interim Department Chair at TSU’s Department of Business Administration.

“An opportunity that a lot of college grads fail to consider is the prospect of entrepreneurship,” Brice said. “I always urge students to start entrepreneurship while they are in school because they have very little to lose. If you’re going to make mistakes make them now.  In other words, I’d rather have them do business while in school than when you get out you already know what you need to know to be successful.”

Brice envisions the entrepreneurship program will offer students the opportunity to compile a portfolio of projects that they have worked on to present to prospective clients and future employers. For students wanting to start and operate their own business, the hands-on experience offered in the program will be their foundation for the world of enterprise.

“Hands-on, wanting to start a business while being in college is the best place you could be. It’s not like being at a junior college, you can get so much more from a university,” Hawkins said. “I want to walk away knowing that what I’ve learned from this university is going to pay off for me in a great way.”

Hawkins is slated to graduate May, 2013 and enroll into law school while working on a MBA program simultaneously.

Brice’s leadership and expertise the former assistant professor of management, entrepreneurship and general business at Hofstra University, Brice produced a number of students who launched business careers with corporate giants, while others pursued their own entrepreneurial ventures in various areas. One of Brice’s students recently launched a concept for male grocery shoppers called the “man aisle” in a New York City grocery store. It received rave reviews in the New York Times.

According to Money.CNN.com, a recent study by Millennial Branding shows that nearly one third of employers are looking for entrepreneurship experience when hiring recent college graduates. In fact, some companies would rather hire an unsuccessful entrepreneur than a student with multiple internships on his resume.

“A lot of people have the mistaken idea that students that go into entrepreneurship just want to work for themselves, but that’s not the case,” Brice said. “Students that go into entrepreneurship want to develop entrepreneurship skills that they can use for other companies also. That’s really what corporate America is really looking for. They are looking for a self-starter, people who know how to do things, people who know how to analyze the market and come up with things as if it were their own company.

“Enterprising students can take advantage of concentration courses offered through TSU’s entrepreneurial program,” Brice said. “The program will prepare students for entrepreneurship while they are in school.  It will also allow students to incorporate the concentration courses with their existing degrees which will not require them to spend any additional time in school.”

As the interim department chair, Brice manages the management degree, marketing degree and MIS degree and provides support for the MBA and the Executive MBA programs for the department of business administration. The only doctorate of philosophy (Ph.D.) of entrepreneurship currently at the School of Business, Brice manages approximately75 percent of the faculty.

Brice is a business owner and founder of several firms which include radio, television and film productions, management consulting and commercial construction. He enjoys developing his own businesses and experimenting with new business models around the country.

“Aside from playing pool, my career is like a hobby to me,” Brice said. “Helping other people get started on the right foot and giving them support and setting up programs that are innovative is just something that I like to do.”

Tana Janelle Morehead
Senior – School of Communication
Phone: 281.845.4452
Email: moreheadsconnections@gmail.com