Extra header August 2019

'Keeping people moving' is Texas alum's passion

By day, Charles Akujobi is a mild-mannered human resources director at Randolph Air Force Base, home to the Air Force's Personnel Center. An active-duty airman since 2000, Charles earned an undergraduate degree in management from Wayland in 2008 while stationed at the Wichita Falls campus, picking up the Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in human resource management through WBU online in 2016.

But by night, the Wichita, Kan., native transforms into a song-spinning entertainment guru, helping groups of all ages and sizes dance their cares Charles prepares to deejay a partyaway. He's the owner of ChuckBeatz Music Group, a company started by Charles and his wife, Rachel, and their oldest son, Charles Jr., who goes by C.J. The family has four other children as well.

"Our motto is 'making the world dance through music, service and love,' explains Charles. "We feel like if we can take people away from their problems for 2-3 hours, we have done our jobs."

Birth of a dream

Started initially in 2015 as an avenue to produce music and work with other artists, Charles says ChuckBeatz is primarily a deejay business while he is still in the Air Force. Once he retires in a few years, he expects to grow the production side of the business more.

Like many great ventures, ChuckBeatz started as a fluke while the family was in Wichita Falls.

"It started back about 10 years ago while we were having a military picnic on base. No one had any music to play, so I offered to do something. I played music all night but I kind of got my hand slapped," he laughs. "It was all country, which is what I thought people would like. So at the next picnic, I mixed it up more and it just kind of grew from there."

When the Akujobis were transferred to San Antonio, people began asking for his help again.

"We took that interest and demand and wanted to get more serious about it. We started investing in equipment and doing events for friends and neighbors, honing our craft and getting feedback," he said. "Then we felt comfortable reaching out to others and getting clients."

Keeping people moving

Today, ChuckBeatz has a music catalog of more than 3,000 songs, and he said they have the ability to take live requests, even offering event-goers the chance to text their requests from the dance floor to the deejay station. Nearly 98 percent are family-friendly, edited versions.

"We give our clients a chance to provide a playlist or give us some genre ideas, or we will prepare one based on their desires. It really just depends on what they want. We have some standard lists as well that keep people moving during the event," he says.

So what do folks request most often? "We always do the Cupid Shuffle, and we get requests often for The Wobble, Achy Breaky Heart, The Electric Slide, and YMCA," he says.

The business deals heavily with weddings, though Charles says they do picnics, family Charles' view of the dance floor at a local eventreunions, military events, birthdays and more. They offer a 10% "heroes discount" to military, first-responders, law enforcement and nonprofits, whom Charles calls "the backbone of our community." The business also offers lighting services such as elegant up-lighting for a wedding venue or lights that change with songs and pulse to the music beat to add another element of fun. For weddings, they often offer all the ambient music for the ceremony and microphones for the toast and other elements.

Charles has other deejays that work for him, giving them the ability to cover the entire San Antonio area and even into Austin if requested. He hopes to expand the business to other cities once he retires from the Air Force. More information is available at their website, www.chuckbeatz.com.

Faith shapes business values

Heavily rooted in his Christian faith, Charles says the company adheres to a strong values model and will not do jobs that don't line up with those values, such as events at nightclubs or bars. That faith system shapes how he serves his clientele as well.

"We live out our motto by serving them and through love, because that's what Christ requires us to do. All of our clients we deal with in love. We want to know the clients and get involved so we have a vested interest in making the event great," he explains. "It's rewarding to see people happy and away from their problems for a few hours at a time, just laughing and dancing.

"When we get toward the end of the event and play slow music, people that have stuck around are having an intimate moment, and that is meaningful to folks too. We always end on two slow songs."

Charles' faith was another reason that Wayland appealed to him when it was time to work on his degree as a young airman in Wichita Falls. With classes in the same building on Sheppard Air Force Base as his job, it was super convenient as well.

"My faith is very important to me and I liked the curriculum. I liked the fact that they made us study the old and new testament as a requirement," he says.


Devotional: We all need a Redeemer

One of my favorite names for Jesus is Redeemer. The title has significant meaning. It comes from the word redeem, which means to buy back or pay off, as in paying off a debt. A redeemer therefore is one who pays off a debt for someone else - a debt the redeemer does not owe, but a debt owed by the one who is redeemed.

The very familiar story of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, is one that comes to mind when we talk about a redeemer. When Naomi returned to her home from Moab to Bethlehem along with her faithful daughter-in-law, Ruth, they were alone with no means of support. Naomi decided to return to a familiar place where she hoped life would be easier for a couple of widows. Ruth began to glean in the fields, searching for grain, that the two ladies might have enough to eat. Ruth caught the eye of Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi's husband and owner of the field. The fourth chapter of the book of Ruth tells us that Boaz stepped in (and stepped up) and accepted the responsibility for caring for the two women, assuming the position of kinsman redeemer. He took Ruth as his wife. The story uses that wonderful title "redeemer" in referring to Boaz, but as we know, Boaz was, in fact, a picture of a redeemer to come, one who would redeem all who would call on his name and make him Lord of their lives.

When I was a kid, growing up in south Old dusty Coke bottlesAmarillo, my buddy, Dennis, and I used to prowl the neighborhood, including the alleys, looking for "coke" bottles, then made of glass. Those glass bottles were embossed with the word "redeemable" on the bottom. Redeemable meant that the bottle could be returned to the grocery store and the cashier at the store would give us four cents for each bottle. If we could find 10 empty bottles (each) and redeem them for 40 cents, we had enough money to buy a coke float at the fountain at the D&S Drug Store next door. Or, 40 cents would buy three candy bars, pay the tax and have a little left over. Life was good.

But, about those old, empty coke bottles - you see, they were filthy. Many of them had a few cigarette butts in them or dead bugs that had crawled in there to sip up the last few drops of sweetness that was left in the bottle. The outsides were covered with dry dirt that was once mud. We had to dig through some trash to find them. In that day, there were no dumpsters; there were old 55 gallon barrels with the tops cut out of them for trash cans in all of the alleys. We would dig through those barrels as deep as our arms would reach looking for coke bottles. We got nasty, but when we were sipping on that root beer float at the D&S, it was worth it.

We had redeemed those old, dirty bottles. They were worth something (albeit not much), but only if someone would take the time to redeem them, then someone else would clean them up (sterilize them no doubt) and refill them with the goodness that they were designed for.

At some point in my life I realized that I was a whole lot like one of those old filthy coke bottles. I was living in the alley, covered with muck, filled with old dead bugs or cigarette butts. I knew I needed a redeemer. Then came The Redeemer, the one who paid a price to ransom my lost soul. The cleaning-up process for a Christian is called sanctification and as long as we live on this earth, it will be going on continuously. By the grace of God, we who know Him are the redeemed. One day we will become what we were meant to be, what we were designed for, to fellowship with and worship the Living God forever.

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, so that He might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5).

Mike Jackson is a retired teacher and school administrator living in Amarillo, Texas. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1973 at Wayland, where he met and married wife Kathie, a 1974 graduate. They have three children, all WBU graduates, and 10 grandchildren.


From the History Files

Spend a few moments with some of Wayland's most seasoned alumni and you will surely hear something about the Volunteer Mission Band. Starting around the early 1920s, the organization was made up of students who wanted to serve outside the walls of the university. The 1925 yearbook said the group's purpose was Volunteer Mission Band, 1950s"to win lost souls for the Master. The minor purposes are to train Christian workers, to call out the called and to establish a permanent spiritual atmosphere within the institution and the vicinity."

Students would load up into Wayland's bus or the famed "blue goose" station wagon and head to area churches, where they would then lead worship services or work with children's or youth programs. Different ministerial students would preach the sermon; others would sing, play musical instruments or share a testimony.

The group remained active through the 1950s and '60s and eventually morphed into revival teams based out of the religion department. Today, Wayland students are still actively involved in serving in area churches, often helping with Disciple Now weekends for youth, guest preaching or leading worship. Many also serve on church staffs to gain valuable hands-on experience.

Track reunion offers chance to reminisce, celebrate

It's been more than 40 years since Shelton Riggins donned the tank top emblazoned with the Wayland colors and laced up his running shoes for the Pioneer Track and Field team. A 1977 graduate, Shelton is now retired in College Station after 35 years in the U.S. Army, ending his service career as a military policeman at the highestShelton Riggins hands off the baton enlisted rank of command sergeant major.

But those memories of Hilliard Field are never far from Shelton's mind.

He and others will get the chance to catch up with teammates and hear from former and current coaches and athletes at the first Track and Field Reunion hosted by the Alumni Association and slated for Saturday, Oct. 12 on the Plainview campus.

"Track and field at Wayland has long been the most decorated sport of our university, and we wanted to set aside some time to really celebrate the program's accomplishments, reminisce a little and then share the current vision for the team," said Teresa Young, director of alumni relations. "This day is specifically for any of our former track athletes and I think they'll enjoy getting to celebrate a program that meant a lot to many of them."

Shelton definitely counts himself one of those to whom the program, and its people, are dear.

"I grew up in East Texas just outside of Tyler. I was a pretty good runner in high school and Coach (Bill) Hardage recruited me, so I came to Wayland on a track scholarship," he recalled recently. "I wanted to go to college, but my grandparents didn't have a lot of money so I knew I had to be good at something to get into college, otherwise I'd have to pay for it myself. It turned out that track was my ticket to college."

Fond track memories

Shelton ran the 4x100 relay, the 4x400 relay and the open quarter-mile dash, then majored in physical education at the suggestion of Coach Hardage. He also minored in journalism, and he enjoyed writing articles for the school's newspaper about the track team and the Flying Queens among other topics.

One of his favorite memories is Wayland's win over Jackson State in two hotly contested 4x100 and 4x400 relays at a meet in Fort Worth. It was Shelton's junior year, one of his best on the track and academically, and a hamstring pull his senior year slowed him down. He ran lead-off on the relay teams most of his time at WBU.

Shelton Riggins remembers his track yearsShelton remembers that track and field was nearly a year-long sport - cross country kicked off in the fall, followed by indoor track and then outdoor season, which didn't wrap up until the semester ended. He spent many hours in practice, on the road to meets or at meets.

These days, he keeps in touch with some track teammates and some basketball friends through a texting chain. The group checks in on each other daily and he chats with some, including Jack Gilmore, who ran behind Shelton on the relay team, and Stanley Chapman, who ran anchor, for longer stints.

"Jack would tell me in our pre-game warmup, 'Shelton, just get me the stick.' And sometimes that's all I did," he recalls with a smile. "He was a fierce competitor with a lot of heart. I talk to Jack at least 3-4 times a month still."

Time to celebrate success

The Track and Field Reunion will begin with an alumni track meet at 11 a.m. at Hilliard Field, with alumni able to compete in the 1,500-meter run, the 4x100 relay, the 4x800 relay, the 100-meter dash and the 4x400 relay. Athletes do not have to come with their entire relay team; teams will be formed from those registering for the events. Depending on the number of participants, races may be divided into heats by age brackets (39 and under, 40 and over), and prizes will be awarded by those same brackets. Participants will be required to sign a release waiver beforehand.

"This is just a fun way to reconnect with teammates and maybe show off your skills back on the track that was home for so many years," Teresa adds. "We think our athletes will enjoy being back at Hilliard."

Athletes will receive a swag bag for participating, and the event will conclude by 1 p.m. to leave time for lunch, cleanup and a rest before the evening banquet at 6 p.m. Doors will open at 5 p.m. for visiting with coaches and teammates in the foyer before the buffet meal opens at 6.

Cost for the dinner and any track meet participation is $25 per person, which includes a commemorative t-shirt as well. More details are available on the WBU Alumni website, wbualumni.com, with the link on the right-hand menu. Registration is required by Oct. 1 and can be done online as well.

For more information, contact Teresa at (806) 291-3600.


Welcome new alumni board members

For the new term, the Wayland Alumni Association board welcomed three new members. Rebecca Mince, a 2017 graduate, is a teacher in Lamesa and will hold one of the GOLD slots (Graduates of the Last Decade). Dr. Valerie Saffold is a 2008 graduate of the Lubbock campus and will hold an external graduate slot. She is clinical director at Children's Hope in Lubbock. Leigh Moreno is a 2013 graduate of the Plainview campus and lives in League City, where she is an accounts payable coordinator for a transport company.

Bradley Sell, a 2011 graduate, will serve as president for 2019-20, and Olivia Adams, a 2016 graduate, is vice president. Stacie Hardage is past president.


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