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The University Star

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The University Star

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The University Star


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Storytellers gleam at fifth annual Star Stories

Carly Earnest
James Bouzard, University Seminar professor, telling his story, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023, at the Performing Arts Center

Members of the Texas State community gathered on Oct. 12 at the Performing Arts Center to attend The University Star’s Star Stories. The event was organized by The Star’s public relations team and featured seven speakers to share stories about Texas State’s opportunities and obstacles.

Kelly Damphousse – Texas State president

23 years ago, Kelly Damphousse went to Brazil for a week. He was mugged by two men at a beach in Salvador. The men stabbed him, pushed Damphousse on the ground, took his shoes and his fanny pack.

Through this experience, Damphousse reflected on how it built him up and made him admirable to others.

“I think it’s so valuable for us to always think about how [we got] here,” Damphousse said. “I can look back on my life and recognize that I’m not the president of this university because of the things I accomplished, but there are people who invested in me and believed in me.”

LaTonya Henry – Career Services coordinator

In March 2000, LaTonya Henry took a job at Texas State as a Career Services adviser. However, nine months before, Henry was diagnosed with Goodpasture syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease that attacked her kidneys.

Henry was on dialysis for three days a week for two years. Although she had a kidney transplant, she had to put her plans for grad school on hold for three years.

After six years, Henry got her graduate degree and another kidney transplant.

“I do still have dreams; I do still have goals,” Henry said. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to accomplish them. As for my other dreams, we’ll see; maybe I’ll be redirected again.”

Miranda Williamson – Psychology sophomore

When Miranda Williamson was 20 years old, she was diagnosed with a seven millimeter pituitary microadenoma. This resulted in severe migraines and headaches, eventually causing her to drop out of Texas A&M.

By 22, Williamson was able to slowly pick herself back up and soon created the “38,000 Strings Project”, a visual display of strings representing Texas State students. 3,420 teal strings represents students who have considered suicide, 9,120 purple strings represents students who have seriously considered suicide.

“And there are 24,614 uncolored strings to represent each and every person who has the power to make a difference in the silent sound surrounding suicide at Texas State University,” Williamson said.

Amy Chaffee – International studies freshman and former U.S. Diplomat to Kenya

For the past couple years, Amy Chaffee was a U.S. Diplomat to Kenya and the events director for the United States Embassy in Nairobi. Chaffee was able to reach these titles without a college education, allowing her to feel achieved, but still wanting more.

Chaffee, now 55, is enrolled at Texas State. Chaffee believes that her Texas State student ID card easily replaces her diplomatic passport.

“This student ID is opening up a whole new world to me that I never thought at my age I would do,” Chaffee said. “I’ve done a lot of great things, but this thing is expanding my mind and opening my eyes. I want to say thank you to Texas State. Of all the titles that I’ve had in my life, Bobcat is the best title I have ever had.”

James Bouzard – University Seminar professor

James Bouzard has a booth set up on the Quad by the stallion statue. With the booth there’s a sign that says: “Let’s talk about anything”.

Bouzard was a pastor for 20 years before setting up on the Quad. Bouzard shared many stories of students that have visited his booth. One that stuck to his mind was a student whose girlfriend was pregnant and considering an abortion.

“I realized that very first day that my presence on the Quad was meeting a need,” Bouzard said. “That my being there provided a place for students to speak about their sorrows, their shame, their joys and their triumphs.”

Joshua Kayo – Second year MFA student

Joshua Kayo was accepted to Texas State as one of only five students for the jazz studies program. However, four years ago, Kayo became a college dropout with a 1.8 GPA.

Kayo started feeling the pressure of being a musician which caused him to have panic attacks.

After dropping out of college, Kayo revealed all the information to his mom.

“Needless to say there was a lot for my mom to take in,” Kayo said. “But I think that became a catalyst for me realizing that when I had issues like this, I didn’t have to handle it alone.”

Kayo started working to get back into school, where he is now getting his Master’s degree and teaching multiple English courses.

Kayo thanked English professor Vanessa Johnson, English professor Steve Johnson, former Editor in Chief at The Star Carrington Tatum and his other friends and family.

Jeanette Pacheco – Academic adviser

Jeanette Pacheco recalls attending the Texas State versus Texas A&M football game in September 2005. As cars were fleeing due to Hurricane Rita, the Texas State buses made their way to College Station.

Texas State ended up losing that game 44-30 but the closeness of the match gave Pacheco hope as the school shared the conference championship title.

After winning the first playoff game against Georgia Southern, Pacheco said the crowd’s energy was electric as they stormed the field.

Students did this again at the next game versus Cal Poly. Then, the semifinals happened against Northern Iowa.

The game ended up going into overtime, but Texas State lost that game by three points. Although Texas State lost, Pacheco said the energy at the game was unforgettable.

“I feel that magic returning to our campus,” Pacheco said. “Maybe it’s already here, the team’s doing pretty good. But when that magic’s here, you’ll know it.”

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