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Honors Scholars win awards at Webb/TSHA meeting in El Paso

students behind El Paso sign

Pictured (from left) is: Sam Pollan, Alyssa Ochoa, Michelle Calderon, Skylar Fondren, and Aubrey Watkins.

By: Dr. Andrew Yox, Honors Director

Last weekend in El Paso, NTCC honors-student essayists won their 31st and 32nd Caldwell essay awards in Texas history.  The film effort of NTCC’s Webb Society and Honors Northeast won its fifth $600 Chapter Project Award, for the best creation in Texas history performed by any collegiate or university group.

The generous awards are in memory of Texas oilman, Clifton M. Caldwell who in 1974 set up an endowment to reward the best collegiate scholars in Texas history.   The El Paso session, where the awards were given, was a joint meeting of the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), and its collegiate auxiliary, the Walter Prescott Webb Society.

chapter caldwell award
TSHA Education Director, Lisa Berg, awards
the Caldwell Chapter Project Award to
NTCC’s Sam Pollan and Skylar Fondren.

TSHA Education Director, Lisa Berg, noted that state judges were very impressed by the scope of the NTCC film effort.  The scholars of Honors Northeast have developed a yearly cycle of film research, writing, casting, filming, and producing novel new stories based in Texas history. The most recent cinematic effort has produced the first feature-length film ever, of the Texas Suffragettes.  As the NTCC chapter report noted, this story deserves public attention.  Texas broke away from the rest of the Solid South, which articulated the most pronounced opposition to the suffrage movement, and became the tenth state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919.

For the twelfth year in a row, Honors Northeast scholars coming out of the BioTex honors seminar won Caldwell awards also for their individual works of scholarship. Presidential Scholar Neida Perez, entering the above sixty-hour division, usually dominated by university students, won second place and $300 for her story on Texas’ losing battles with pathogens.  Presidential Scholar, Aubrey Watkins placed fourth in the under-sixty-hour category for her essay on the Cowboy Church as an unexpected phenomenon and won $75.

Winning Essayists from NTCC, Neida Perez, and Aubrey Watkins
Winning Essayists from NTCC,
Neida Perez, and Aubrey Watkins

NTCC Honors Director, Dr. Andrew Yox, chaired two sessions at the El Paso TSHA meeting, both dealing with the Webb society.  He noted, “the Caldwell awards were again wonderful, but I was most electrified by the skein of presentations made by our NTCC group. With help from our Mount Pleasant Library, we had had some serious rehearsal, but I was thankful that Alyssa Ochoa, Aubrey Watkins, Michelle Calderon, and then our film group, headed by Skylar Fondren, and Sam Pollan made such articulate and terse presentations of our scholarship. The university professors in attendance especially asked some very pertinent questions, and our students addressed and answered them in a winsome way. It seemed like a magic moment.”

The premiere of the NTCC-produced film, Texas Suffragette: The Minnie Fisher Cunningham Story, will be featured in the Whatley Center for the Performing Arts, Friday, 24 March at 7 p.m.  The film is free, and the public is invited.  There will be a brief panel discussion after the production in the Whatley Foyer. Donors of Honors Northeast also will provide free refreshments after the showing. The trailer for the coming film can be viewed at:


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