Eight Angelina College Employees Graduating Children, Grandchildren This Week


Young people graduate high school every year, but for eight Angelina College staff and faculty members, the Class of 2016 will mark a special milestone.

Those eight AC employees will this week watch their children or grandchildren walk across a graduation stage somewhere. At Lufkin High School’s commencement ceremony will be Graci Escobedo and daughter Liliana; Contessa James and daughter Timiya Allen; Tiffany Williams and son LaVante; Crystal Carter and daughter Bethany; Nelda Poskey and grand-son Kenneth; and Michelle Brazeil and daughter Samantha.

In Hudson, Karen Holmes will see her son James graduate; and in Rusk, Howard Cox will be present for his daughter Anne’s ceremony.

As the offspring of Angelina College employees, those students received scholarships to attend AC. Some already have begun taking classes as concurrent students, while others have plans to begin course work immediately after graduation.

LaVante Williams, who also signed a track scholarship with Prairie View A&M University, said his mom’s affiliation with AC helped him get off to quick start to his academic career.

“I talked about it with her, and I started taking classes here my sophomore year of high school,” Williams said. “I knew I wanted to be a plastic surgeon, and going here was a way for me to get the ball started rolling early. As soon as I finish my semester here, I’ll transfer to Prairie View A&M University, where I received a full ride for track. I’ll be starting pre-med courses there. Going to AC first got me moving in the right direction.”

Liliana Escobedo said as soon as she heard “free college”, she was all in on the idea.

“I knew I would come to AC when (Graci) said it was free for me,” Liliana said. “I’m taking all my basics here, and my major when I go to the University of Texas in Austin will be Literature.”

Michelle Brazeil is seeing her third child come through Angelina College; she said she made it clear early there wouldn’t be much discussion in the way of other, more expensive plans.

“They really didn’t have a choice,” Brazeil laughed. “Samantha is going to SFA eventually, and she received an Academic Excellence award.”

“It was never really a discussion,” Samantha agreed. “Lufkin High School offered dual-credit classes here at AC, so I started that way.”

James said it just made sense financially to take advantage of such a unique opportunity.

“Timiya never really discussed it, but I did,” James said. “She had the scholarship here, and we can’t afford to throw away money. Besides, it really is a great place to start.”

Bethany Carter said she didn’t need a push from mom Crystal; she has a plan in place, and she learned through her mom that starting at AC would help her achieve her goals.

“It was really my decision to start here,” Samantha said. “I want to do cosmetology, but I want to get all my basics at AC so I can take business classes and open my own salon. This is what I’ve wanted for about three years now, and this is going to help me get there.”

Of course, trying to attend college where one’s parent works provided a different sort of challenge. Everyone on campus knows everyone else, so there aren’t many secrets.

“I’m good all the time, but just in case, I was extra-good in my classes here,” LaVante said. “I knew my mom would hear about it if I wasn’t.”

Timiya Allen said she received constant reminders of her mother’s presence while taking classes on the campus.

“It wasn’t hard, but it was kind of weird walking through and having people say, ‘Hey, you’re Contessa’s daughter!’” Allen laughed. “I heard that a lot.”

Gary Stallard
Sports Information Director Gary Stallard, who also serves as a Liberal Arts Instructor, begins his eleventh season with Angelina College. Following a career as a U.S. Marine, Stallard completed his bachelor’s degree at Stephen F. Austin University, where he majored in English and Journalism. For more than 16 years, he has worked as a sports writer/columnist/photographer for the Lufkin Daily News; he continues to contribute free-lance articles on occasion. Stallard has won several awards for writing, including the Golden Hoops Award for basketball writing in 2003, Regional Sports Writer of the Year in 2004, and the Texas Press Association’s first-place award for column writing in 2007 and in 2014. He has also done basketball, football and baseball radio and live streaming play-by- play and color commentary for an ESPN affiliate. Currently Stallard serves as play-by-play broadcaster for AC basketball, baseball and softball games. Prior to arriving at Angelina College, Stallard taught English at Lufkin High School for four years. He currently teaches Developmental Writing classes at AC. He and his wife Susan live in Lufkin.

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