News Archives: School of Humanities

HPU Moot Court takes several awards at national tournament

Moot Court National Tournament for webBROWNWOOD – January 26, 2017 – Members of Howard Payne University’s Moot Court team brought home several awards from the American Moot Court Association’s National Tournament held at the beginning of January at Stetson College of Law in Gulfport, Florida.

Two HPU teams qualified to compete in the tournament. Caitlin Wood, a December 2016 graduate from Miles, and Jackson Spencer, a junior from Georgetown, qualified by advancing to quarterfinals at the Texas A&M University School of Law Regional Tournament. Rebeca Puente, senior from Waskom, and Isaac Sommers, senior from Boerne, qualified by winning the same regional tournament, beating the United States Air Force Academy in the final round.

At the national tournament, Sommers was named the fifth overall speaker out of 786 competitors. The team of Puente and Sommers advanced to out-rounds, placing in the top sixteen of 80 teams.

In a competition of written arguments submitted prior to the tournament, two HPU teams won awards for petitioner briefs. The team of Bailey Myler, sophomore from Brownwood, and Justin Harris, junior from Fort Worth, placed sixth. Puente and Sommers placed seventh.

Moot Court is a competition during which students participate in the preparation and arguing of cases in front of judges, designed to simulate argument before the United States Supreme Court. The case and allowed resources are selected beforehand and students must prepare arguments for both sides (petitioner and respondent). Moot Court involves appellate cases as opposed to those at the trial level, which are often called “mock trials.” Judges are usually law professors, attorneys from the community and even members of the judiciary. Students are judged on their ability to incorporate case law into their arguments, their oral and written arguments and their presentation style.

Lorianna Kelley, assistant professor of government and Moot Court sponsor, said she is proud of how HPU’s Moot Court team performed this year.

“Winning awards in both the oral and written components of the tournament demonstrates how well rounded our students are,” she said. “Not only are they well spoken, but they also have the ability to apply complex case law to difficult legal problems. HPU has been recognized as one of the top 20 teams in the nation, and that is only possible through the hard work and dedication of our team. I look forward to continued success at the spring invitational tournament at Southern Methodist University this March.”


Cutline: Members of HPU’s Moot Court team recently competed in the American Moot Court Association’s National Tournament. Left to right: Jackson Spencer, Isaac Sommers, Rebeca Puente, Bailey Myler and Justin Harris. Not pictured is Caitlin Wood.

Ten HPU students recognized for achievement in Spanish for Law Enforcement

spanish-for-law-enforcement-for-webBROWNWOOD – December 9, 2016 – Ten Howard Payne University students were recently recognized for the successful completion of the university’s Spanish for Law Enforcement course. Each student received a certificate recognizing his or her accomplishment.

Dr. Danny Brunette-López, associate professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Modern Languages, explained the importance of the course.

“Spanish for Law Enforcement is so necessary in our society today,” he said. “I believe that by knowing a second language, in this case Spanish, many situations faced by law enforcement officers can more quickly come to a peaceful resolution.”

The students learned vocabulary and phrases in Spanish and were taught the importance of establishing trust between members of the community and law enforcement officers.

“The students completed assigned tasks professionally and have worked together as a tight-knit group for the common good,” said Dr. Brunette-López. “I am so proud of what they have accomplished.”

Lynn Humeniuk, director of HPU’s criminal justice program and associate professor of criminal justice and sociology, said a working knowledge of the Spanish language is an important skill that sets these candidates apart from many others entering the law enforcement profession.

“These students are well equipped to handle a wide variety of situations,” she said. “I look forward to seeing the great things they will accomplish in their law enforcement careers.”

The students who completed the course were Derick Boese, sophomore from Mercedes; Sebastian Contreras, senior from Brownwood; Jordan Easterling, junior from Junction; Lorenzo Flores, senior from Brownwood; Matthew Gomez, sophomore from Brownwood; Maria Mireles, junior from Brownwood; Krystal Moreno, junior from Marion; Kyle Ramon, senior from Floresville; Jacob Salazar, junior from Lockhart; and Serayah Smith, junior from Fredericksburg.


Cutline: Ten HPU students were recognized for the successful completion of the university’s Spanish for Law Enforcement course. Left to right: Kyle Ramon, Sebastian Contreras, Lorenzo Flores, Derick Boese, Matthew Gomez, Jordan Easterling, Jacob Salazar, Serayah Smith, Krystal Moreno and Dr. Danny Brunette-López, associate professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Modern Languages. Not pictured is Maria Mireles.

HPU Model United Nations wins Distinguished Delegation award at national conference

By Jimmy Abbatiello, HPU senior

BROWNWOOD – December 7, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Model United Nations team recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to represent Spain at the National MUN conference, which involved more than 1,000 participants from universities around the world. The team was presented a Distinguished Delegation award, with its representation of Spain among the top 23 percent of the more than 125 countries represented.

HPU students majoring in political science, history, family studies and communication met with others interested in developing possible solutions to world crises through a detailed recreation of the different bodies of the United Nations. MUN conferences have been established around the world, allowing students to learn how the United Nations functions internally and immerse themselves by becoming representatives of countries with views possibly different than their own. Delegates are expected to research their respective countries’ positions on certain subjects and debate from that perspective during formal and informal sessions. The end results are resolutions outlining how to effectively solve current problems which are submitted, debated and voted upon with the same procedures the actual UN utilizes.

Topics discussed in the various councils included the implication of technology on global security, international counterterrorism measures, empowering youth through sustainable development and promoting nuclear safety and security.

“Model United Nations, as always, opens doors for deeper cross-cultural communication,” said Braxton Clark, senior social science major from Southlake. “Learning the viewpoints of foreign students and working with them toward common goals allows us to grow as academics and become more well-rounded global citizens.”

Due to the timing of the conference, the group visited the Capitol in the midst of the presidential election. Some members even witnessed the president-elect’s motorcade as he left his first audience with Senate leadership. The team also was able to tour the facilities of the United States Department of Agriculture, meet and network with legal and communication staff and learn more about the day-to-day work of the executive branch. The delegates explored the major historical and political sites of Washington, D.C., including the National Mall, Library of Congress, National Archives, Smithsonian Museums and Mt. Vernon.

In addition to Clark, team members included Jimmy Abbatiello, senior from Kerrville; Mike Hord, freshman from Montgomery; Augusta Johnson, junior from Gatesville; Joel Justice, junior from Brownwood; Cody Perrin, senior from Eastland; Emma Reed, sophomore from Arlington; Sydney Spencer, senior from Georgetown; Penny Stehlik, freshman from Round Rock; and Caitlin Wood, senior from Miles.


Cutline: HPU’s Model United Nations team recently received a Distinguished Delegation award at a Washington, D.C., conference. Team members, pictured at the Potomac River making the HPU “sting ’em” gesture, are Cody Perrin, Joel Justice, Mike Hord, Caitlin Wood, Sydney Spencer, Braxton Clark, Penny Stehlik, Jimmy Abbatiello, Emma Reed and Augusta Johnson.

HPU students tour important historical, cultural sites in San Antonio

BROWNWOOD – November 22, 2016 – Students from Howard Payne University’s Department of Modern Languages recently traveled to San Antonio to experience the Hispanic culture in the city and learn more about the history of Texas.

The students were accompanied by Dr. Danny Brunette-López, associate professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Modern Languages, and Rafael Franco-Cuevas, instructor of Spanish.

“We visited several historical sites including the Mission San José, a beautiful mission established by the Spaniards in the eighteenth century,” said Dr. Brunette-López. “The students were able to visit the church there and learn the history of how the Spaniards and the indigenous people worked together to maintain this mission.”

The group then participated in a guided tour of Casa Navarro, the former home of José Antonio Navarro. Navarro was one of only three native-born Texans to sign the Texas Declaration of Independence.

“We were able to view his home and learn more about this man who was a very important figure in the battle for Texas’ independence and helped draft the Constitution of the Republic of Texas,” said Dr. Brunette-López.

The students and faculty concluded their trip by visiting the Alamo and the San Antonio River Walk.

Students on the trip included Vanessa Albert, sophomore from Irving; Balentín Carranco, senior from Georgetown; Lydia Conrad, sophomore from Brownwood; Sebastian Contreras, senior from Brownwood; Catrina Hooten, junior from Kerrville; Jason Washburn, junior from Brownwood; Kylee Wright, junior from Anson; and Katelyn Zimmer, junior from Shepherd.


Cutline: Students and faculty from HPU’s Department of Modern Languages recently toured several historical and cultural sites in San Antonio. They are pictured at the entrance of the Mission San José. Left to right: Kylee Wright, Catrina Hooten, Jason Washburn, Katelyn Zimmer, Rafael Franco-Cuevas, Lydia Conrad, Vanessa Albert, Sebastian Contreras, Dr. Danny Brunette-López and Balentín Carranco.

HPU social work students rethink poverty following simulation

BROWNWOOD – November 10, 2016 – Nine Howard Payne University students and two faculty members recently took part in one of Mission Waco’s poverty simulations, an experience designed to give participants a firsthand look at poverty in America. This was HPU’s eighth year to participate in the event.

Mission Waco creates a safe, controlled weekend of experiences that is designed to increase empathy for those living in poverty in America. HPU students joined approximately 30 other people of various ages to go through this simulation together.

Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of HPU’s Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work and Sociology, takes part in the simulation with his students each year.
Humeniuk commented that one of the most interesting aspects of the weekend was the lunch-on-your-own project on Saturday and how students got to experience people in Waco who were very benevolent to the homeless.

“The whole point of the simulation is to take the participants out of their comfort zones,” said Humeniuk. “They send you out on your own so you get to know the lack of food and security a bit. It also emphasizes a Christian’s responsibility in reference to how people of faith should respond to poverty. It is my hope that the students brought back with them a sensitivity to those in need and a clearer understanding of their obligation as Christians to advocate and assist those in need.”

Brittiny Kelley, a junior from Brownwood, attended the simulation and gave her perspective of the event.

“This weekend humanized the word ‘poverty’ rather than allowing me to continue to believe its terminology was a dollar sign,” said Kelley.

The poverty simulation participants were not given any luxuries, including transportation. They walked everywhere they needed to go which totaled about 18 miles over the weekend.

The group had the opportunity to experience a church service and worship under the I-35 bridge over 8th Street in Waco on Sunday morning. Mission Waco conducts the church services and, as part of the simulation, participants have to walk one-and-a-half miles from the site to the bridge. On the way to Church Under the Bridge, they walk past two large, affluent churches. Groups of people from all over Waco including college students, families and homeless people join together to worship under the bridge.

Attendees experienced a very small sample of the hunger, tiredness and aggravation many homeless people have to endure on a daily basis. Dr. Millard Kimery, dean of the School of Humanities, chair and professor of English, had the opportunity to attend the poverty simulation event and reflected on his experience.

“The Bible is filled with challenging passages that call on Christians to identify with the poor and the marginalized and it’s important that we find ways to embody that concern,” said Dr. Kimery. “It was humbling and very gratifying to watch the students in Mr. Humeniuk’s class as they gave up their comforts and privileges to walk in someone else’s shoes for a weekend.”

Junior Jacey Martinez of San Saba attended the event and realized that she takes things for granted.

“My parents have always worked hard to get me what I wanted and I should be more thankful than what I am,” said Martinez.

Another HPU student who attended the poverty simulation weekend, junior Abbey Beardsley from Fort Worth, always wanted to make a difference in the world by helping people. She shared her takeaway from the event.

“This has taught me that it doesn’t take a superhero cape to change the world,” said Beardsley. “To change the world, all you need is a friendly smile, a heart for people and the willingness to go out there and make the change happen.”

In addition to Beardsley, Kelley and Martinez, other HPU students who attended were senior Jaclyn Bonner from Lytle; junior Efrain Garces from Floresville; sophomore Elijah Garces from Floresville; senior Sydney Spencer from Georgetown; junior Sierra Spruill from Ranger; and junior Maggie Van Nes from Keller.

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Photo cutline: HPU students and faculty participated in a poverty simulation in Waco earlier this semester. They are pictured on the HPU campus. Left to right: Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work and Sociology; junior Maggie Van Nes from Keller; senior Sydney Spencer from Georgetown; junior Efrain Garces from Floresville; Dr. Millard Kimery, dean of the School of Humanities, chair and professor of English; senior Jaclyn Bonner from Lytle; junior Abbey Beardsley from Fort Worth; junior Brittiny Kelley from Brownwood; junior Jacey Martinez from San Saba; junior Sierra Spruill from Ranger; and sophomore Elijah Garces from Floresville.

HPU Student Speaker Bureau competes in Houston and Colorado, prepares for Oxford

SSB Team PhotoBROWNWOOD – November 1, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Student Speaker Bureau speech and debate team recently competed at two separate tournaments. The Bayou City Swing was held at San Jacinto College North in Houston and the Southern Colorado Debate Challenge was held at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Four members of the team are also preparing to compete in Oxford, England, later in November.

Braxton Clark, senior social science global studies major from Southlake, won Top Parliamentary Debate Speaker and second place in International Public Debate Association (IPDA) style debate at the Bayou City Swing tournament.

“Braxton has been an unbelievable competitor all three years at HPU,” said Dr. Julie Welker, Student Speaker Bureau team coach and chair of the Department of Communication. “His talent and leadership are really shining through this year.” In September, Clark was named third top speaker at the Rice University debate tournament.

Additionally, Clark and teammate Tyler Olin, sophomore social science jurisprudence and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Howe, were quarterfinalists in National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) debate at the Bayou City Swing tournament.

HPU won second place overall in debate sweepstakes and the tournament.

Other team members competing at the Bayou City Swing were Erin Haley, freshman communication major from Mason; Mike Hord, freshman political science and social science jurisprudence major from Montgomery; Madison Neal, freshman social science jurisprudence major from Chandler; Aimee Orozco, junior communication major from Shepherd; Isabelle Stahrfisher, freshman communication major from Fort Worth; and Haylee Williams, freshman communication major from Bellville. Assistant coach Sidni Kirby, instructor of communication, traveled with the team.

At the Colorado College debate tournament, students competed in World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC) style debate in preparation for their trip to Oxford, England, to compete at the third largest WUDC debate tournament in the world.

WUDC debate involves four teams of two debaters, and each debater presents an eight-minute speech.

“WUDC debate is the standard format of debate on the international circuit,” said Dr. Welker. “Students debate a different topic each round, and we typically debate a minimum of five to six rounds per tournament.”

Competing in Colorado were Morgan Ashmore, senior communication major from Weatherford; Christopher Freeland, sophomore biochemistry major and Guy D. Newman Honors Academy major from Bangs; Reagan Grisham, junior communication major from Arlington; and Andrea Balderas, junior biology major from Lytle. These four students will represent HPU in November at one of the most prestigious debate tournaments in the world, competing against teams from Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Harvard and many other Tier I universities from the United States and around the world.


Cutline: Howard Payne University’s Student Speaker Bureau recently competed in Houston and Colorado. Pictured from left are: Dr. Julie Welker, Morgan Ashmore, Braxton Clark, Aimee Orozco, Isabella Stahrfisher, Madison Neal, Christopher Freeland, Gabi McWhirter, Erin Haley, Brooklyn Britton, Isaac Sommers, Andrea Balderas, Haylee Williams, Reagan Grisham, Tyler Olin and Ms. Sidni Kirby.

HPU takes first place at crime scene investigation competition

With reporting by Alsatia Jowers, HPU junior

BROWNWOOD – October 31, 2016 – A Howard Payne University team recently won first place in a crime scene investigation competition at the Southwestern Association of Criminal Justice conference in Oklahoma City. HPU students competed against six other teams from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

crj-group-photo-for-webHPU participants included Jessica Huckaby, sophomore from Brownwood; Alsatia Jowers, junior from Brownwood; Jacob Salazar, junior from Lockhart; Amy Segura, senior from Brownwood; and Blake Wynn, senior from Rockwall. The team members were students in a crime scene investigation course taught by Dr. Paul Lilly, assistant professor of criminal justice and director of HPU’s Department of Public Safety. Lynn Humeniuk, director of HPU’s criminal justice program and associate professor of criminal justice and sociology, and Gina Gibbs, instructor of criminal justice, accompanied the team to the competition.

“These were dedicated students who represented HPU in a very professional manner,” said Humeniuk. “I am so very proud of these five students, Ms. Gibbs for guiding them at the conference and Dr. Lilly for preparing them in class.”

At the competition, students were asked to demonstrate their knowledge in conducting an investigation by securing the crime scene, finding evidence and creating logs for all information related to the investigation, all in a span of 40 minutes. Each member had a specific task to handle, but the team worked closely together to ensure complete diligence.

Gibbs said she was very impressed with how the students conducted themselves during the conference and at the competition.

“It is very rewarding to work with such outstanding young men and women,” she said. “Our students’ professionalism, courteousness and preparedness made a strong impression on the conference attendees. I am very proud to have them represent HPU.”

The students also attended several roundtable panels and lectures at the conference, during which they learned about many important issues and studies related to the criminal justice system. Topics included incarcerated women, the difficulties students have in online classes and the dangers of the dark net.

Dr. Lilly was unable to attend the conference but said he was proud of the students for winning their first competition.

“Crime scene and criminal investigations are very difficult subjects to learn, and both fields take a tremendous amount of studying accompanied by practical training to master,” he said. “For these students to have taken first place in the competition, and to do so the very first time HPU has ever competed, is simply remarkable. Words cannot adequately express how proud I am of them.”


Cutline: A team from HPU recently took first place at a crime scene investigation competition. From left are Gina Gibbs, Blake Wynn, Jessica Huckaby, Amy Segura, Alsatia Jowers, Jacob Salazar and Dr. Paul Lilly.

HPU announces new online master’s degree program in criminal justice

BROWNWOOD – September 15, 2016 – Howard Payne University has announced the unveiling of the Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree program to be offered beginning in October 2016. Coursework, offered completely online, is designed to provide preparation for those who are interested in furthering their career goals in a field of criminal justice.

The degree program’s curriculum is designed to provide an appropriate balance of theory with practical application. Instruction will be centered in a Christian servant-leadership model focusing on the balance of justice and restoration. Two tracks will be offered in which the student will choose either nine hours of law enforcement elective courses or nine hours of corrections elective courses. The 36-credit-hour, non-thesis degree can be earned in six semesters including summer sessions.

“After a successful 12-year history with our undergraduate criminal justice program at Howard Payne University, we are thrilled to be able to offer a Master of Science degree in criminal justice,” said Lynn Humeniuk, director of HPU’s criminal justice program and associate professor of criminal justice and sociology. “Additionally, the online format will help make the program more accessible to those whose work schedules or locations would keep them from attending classes at HPU during regular daytime hours.”

HPU recently received word that the program has been added the university’s scope of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, fully authorizing the university to proceed with the enrollment of students and the delivery of the degree. The new degree program was developed with the committed involvement of Dr. Millard Kimery, dean of HPU’s School of Humanities.

“Our faculty and staff have been working hard to create a program that will challenge students, developing in them, within a Christian context, the knowledge and skills they need to be effective practitioners in the field of criminal justice,” said Dr. Kimery. “We are grateful for the opportunity to equip those who serve our communities.”

The new master’s degree is an attractive option for graduates of other colleges and universities but especially for students of HPU’s undergraduate program in criminal justice. Christina Calleros, a 2015 HPU graduate, plans to enroll in the new master’s program and is grateful for her HPU experience during her undergraduate years.

“As a single mother who works full time, I was searching for a program that was accommodating to my needs,” Calleros said. “The faculty members at HPU are friendly and supportive. They always go the extra mile.”
More details about HPU’s Master of Science in Criminal Justice program are available at Students interested in pursuing this or any other degree offered at HPU are encouraged to contact the Office of Admission at (325) 649-8020. Information about the university can also be found online at


HPU students participate in Social Work Student Day at the Legislature

LBJ Library-2016 for webBROWNWOOD – May 11, 2016 – Ten Howard Payne University students traveled to the Texas State Capitol in Austin this spring to take part in the Social Work Student Day at the Legislature. The travelers are students in Dan Humeniuk’s Social Welfare Programs, Policies and Issues course.

“The purpose of the trip was for our students to gain advocacy skills and learn about opportunities for participation in government processes,” said Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work and Sociology.

HPU students attended a session with a representative from the Christian Life Commission during which they learned about the legislative process and policy initiatives of the Commission. The class also attended a presentation by Leah Gonzalez, Master of Science in Social Work, who is a 2013 graduate of HPU. While at the Capitol, the students visited with their district representatives to present their concerns with payday and car title loans. The HPU group also toured the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.

HPU students in attendance included Bryan Adams, senior from Fort Worth; Leo Baker, sophomore from Lindale; Jaclyn Bonner, junior from Lytle; Melanie Hammond, senior from Springtown; Efrain Garces, junior from Floresville; Brittiny Kelley, junior from Snyder; Shannon Matthews, senior from Brownwood; Shay Pate, senior from Red Oak; MaryClaire Swallow, junior from Midland; and Brittony Walker, junior from Abilene.


Cutline: HPU students recently visited the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum while in Austin to participate in the Social Work Student Day at the Legislature. Back row, left to right: Bryan Adams, MaryClaire Swallow, Brittony Walker, Efrain Garces and Shay Pate. Front row, left to right: Brittiny Kelley, Jaclyn Bonner, Melanie Hammond, Shannon Matthews and Leo Baker.

HPU’s Spirit of Social Work Award presented to Becky Smith of Brownwood

Dan Humeniuk and Becky SmithBROWNWOOD – May 6, 2016 – Howard Payne University’s Social Work Advisory Board recently presented its Spirit of Social Work Award to board member and HPU alumna Becky Smith of Brownwood. The award is presented annually to an individual whose career reflects an outstanding contribution to the social work profession or to the field of human services in general.

Smith, currently employed at Senior Care of Brownwood, graduated from HPU in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in social work. Later that year, she became a Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker and subsequently received an Independent Practice Recognition.

In addition to serving on HPU’s Social Work Advisory Board since 2000, Smith has served the Brownwood and Early communities in a number of ways. She has participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life since 1998; became a member of the Kiwanis Club in 2002; and was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Lions Club in 2005. She was selected as an ambassador for the Early Chamber of Commerce in 2008 and was appointed to its Board of Directors in 2009, a position she held until 2014. She additionally served as an ambassador for the Brownwood Chamber of Commerce in 2009.

Smith participated in Good Samaritan Ministries’ Empty Bowls project in 2008 and 2009 and spent two years as the fundraising director for the Early Volunteer Fire Department. She has additionally served her community by organizing health fairs, assisting with a variety of carnivals and rodeos, volunteering with fund-raising campaigns and helping with Early’s Pioneer Day activities.

She began supervising social work field interns in 2002 and, in that capacity, has overseen nine HPU undergraduate students and one graduate student from The University of Texas at Arlington. She and her husband of 16 years, Rafe, have two children, Arron and Rachel.

“The Social Work Advisory Board is pleased to recognize Becky Smith for her outstanding achievements in the field of social work,” said Dan Humeniuk, assistant professor of social work and chair of HPU’s Department of Criminal Justice, Social Work and Sociology. “She is a valuable member of our organization and a caring and committed member of the community.”


Cutline: Dan Humeniuk, left, recently presented the HPU Social Work Advisory Board’s Spirit of Social Work Award to Becky Smith.