Pictured (from left) is: Ochoa, Wright and Castañon.
By: Dr. Andrew Yox, Honors Director
Three Northeast Texas Community College history students recently have won Brenda Godoy Awards for superior conceptualization in their semester essay submissions over the course of the 2021-2022 academic year. Heslie Castañon, Mattheson Wright, and Alyssa Ochoa will each receive $50.
The awards commemorate the achievement of former NTCC Presidential Scholar Brenda Godoy. She published perhaps the most conceptualized student essay in NTCC history in 2019, in Touchstone a journal of the Texas State Historical Association. Her essay on the Texas Revolution also won a Boe Award of the Great Plains Honors Council and formed the basis for a presentation to a professional organization, the East Texas Historical Association in 2017, in Galveston.
The scholarly poetry of conceptualization involves naming new realities. Conceptualized essays delineate creative topics, and therefore address creative questions. They are conceptualized both in how they discern a unique kind of story, and supply a conceptualized thesis, one with a newly minted name.
Heslie Castañon, a dual-enrollment student at Mount Pleasant High School displayed one of the most industrious efforts at conceptualization. Her essay examined the accommodation of German and Mexican church architecture to the United States. Castañon, who hopes to be an architect, compared six German and Mexican ‘archetype’ churches to six German-American, and Mexican-American ‘antitypes’ in the United States. In each case, she discerned a “purification process” with immigration. The “American Difference” involved the construction of simpler, more symmetrical and accessible structures. In each case an antitype mimicked an old-world archetype, but shortchanged what was idiosyncratic and mysterious.
Mattheson Wright, an engineering student from Harrison County, also broke new ground. He rooted his Godoy-Award-winning essay on the conceptualization of “Southern Faith Philanthropists.” He first discovered a remarkable pattern of Christian giving among some twentieth-century Southern entrepreneurs. To find this, he consulted a recent published essay by the NTCC Russell-Mowery Scholar, Israel Perez, on Bo Pilgrim, an essay on Mary Kay by former Presidential Scholar, Karla Fuentes, three books on R. G. LeTourneau, the founder of the largest polytechnic Christian university in the world, sixty miles south of NTCC in Longview, and recent essays about S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A. Mattheson determined that of the four, LeTourneau was the “Standout Faith Philanthropist.” Toward the end of his life, LeTourneau gave 90 percent of his income each year to fund not only a Christian university, but various Christian missions around the world. As the founder of LeTourneau Technologies, the Christian philanthropist developed earth-moving equipment. He won U.S. army contracts for 70 percent of the major projects concerning with land development during World War II.
Alyssa Ochoa, an NTCC soccer player from Bastrop Texas, won the third Godoy Award. Her essay on “Forgotten Americans” examined the role of the horse in early American history. She noted not only the obvious fact that Americans once relied on the horse as an agricultural power machine, and mode of transport, but that horses had a kind of suffrage power to determine leaders. As Americans fought four major wars in the first 100 years of its history, it tended to elevate generals such as George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, and Ulysses S. Grant, leaders who just happened to have an amazing control over their horses. This was essential because battlefield commanders had to inspire soldiers, and also direct the fighting, efficaciously from a horse. Ochoa showed that though Washington had strategic deficiencies as a general, he kept a journal on his favorite horses, Blueskin and Nelson, and devoted precious time to remaining in tune with their needs and health. Also, U.S. Grant was a horse fanatic, a “horse whisperer” who invested significant minutes of his day to talking to, and keeping up with his favorite horse, Cincinnati.
NTCC Honors Director, Dr. Andrew Yox notes that “Castañon, Wright, and Ochoa not only won awards, but showed through their conceptualization that they could define their areas of expertise. This is exciting because in our information age, expertise can always be leveraged. Because of their capacity for critical thinking and creativity, I believe Castañon, Wright, and Ochoa will all have exciting professional careers ahead of them.”
The inspiration behind these awards, Brenda Godoy, recently won a second $150,000 Jack Kent Cooke scholarship and will be entering Med School in Fort Worth this fall.