June 2021

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June 2021

Alum making entertainment music

When Caleb Burnett enrolled at Wayland Baptist in 2013, he chose a major in church music out of comfort and familiarity, having grown up in the church in his hometown of Odessa.

But a single course in his music major would send Caleb down a totally new path that has him now living in California and pursuing a career in music for the entertainment industry.

Burnett Production
Caleb oversees a recording session.

“When I think back, it is usually at Wayland when I took the class American Film Music that sparked my interest. I came in as a church music major, then changed to general music, then took that class and fell in love with analyzing film scores and other music,” says Caleb, who earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 2018. “Analyzing film in general reminded me how much I love movies, and I felt like my place in that whole world is in the music. That was a way I could contribute.”

Longtime movie buff

A love for cinema was not new; Caleb had grown up watching movies and television with his grandmother and was a longtime fan. But he never really identified a love for the music of entertainment until much later in life.

“Studying in music made me realize that the combination of everything in a movie has to be perfect for it to be great, and music is a big part of that,” he added. “When I would think about movies I love and the music in them that I love, I started saying, ‘I wanted to make things like that.’”

Caleb had never done any composing nor took a lesson on the skill while at Wayland. He was nearing the end of his degree program and had already moved back home to do an internship in Odessa at the ad agency CVA, taking his last few courses online through WBU. He helped with a project that involved creating a 2 ½ to 3-minute video showcasing his hometown, and he happened to ask about the plan for music. There was none.

“I asked, ‘what if I wrote something?’ and they said OK,” recalls Caleb. “I contacted Dr. Ann Stutes (dean of the School of Music) and Dr. Gary Belshaw (retired professor of composition) and asked to take some composition lessons. I did 6 or 7 lessons with him, driving up to Plainview on a Saturday and showing him what I was writing.

“I ended up getting to record it with an orchestra in Odessa and that  was really my first experience with composing. On the day of the recording session, I remember one of my coworkers at the agency saying, ‘this is what you are meant to do, man. This music is really great.’”

Heading to New York

With a new path in mind, Caleb began researching graduate programs in film music and applying.

Caleb Snow
Caleb with X Files composer Mark Snow

He was accepted to New York University, known for its focus on arts and entertainment. He moved to New York, completed the master’s degree in 2020 and decided to move to California late that year to be closer to the entertainment industry he hopes to impact.

“I was fortunate that the ad agency let me work for them remotely (while at NYU), and I actually still work with them occasionally. The whole degree was honing music composition skills, learning to produce film music, learning what it takes to run a recording session, and studying the history of film music, analyzing film music and learning to compose for different genres,” he explained. “I got to study privately with some very cool film composers and get their advice as well.”

While in school, he created a jingle for the hometown agency, as well as some other ads that gave

him additional experience. As an NYU student, he did four student film projects which continued to build his portfolio and hone what seemed to be a natural talent. But perhaps his biggest breaks have come through chance connections.

“In summer 2019, I went to a friend’s wedding in Pennsylvania and I met a couple of guys who run one of the biggest Jurassic Park/Jurassic World news websites. I have become good friends with them over time, and they have gotten more in league with Universal Pictures,” he says, noting he has always had a personal love for all things Jurassic Park.

“They found out I was a musician, and we were talking about film music and Jurassic Park music, and the first thing they asked me to do was produce some music for a podcast they do. It was a lot of fun because I got to create the same type of music that is in the Jurassic movies.”

Jurassic joys

More than a year later, the same crew contacted Caleb for another upcoming project: they were producing a

Burnett at recording
Caleb looks over a music score.

web series in conjunction with Universal Pictures for Jurassic World and they wanted him to work his musical magic once more. Busy at the time with other projects, Caleb said it didn’t take him long to say yes. His talents are now featured on a web series titled “Beyond the Gates,” which showcases toys and other developments in the Jurassic World.

Besides his ongoing projects for CVA and another agency, Current Media Partners in Midland, Caleb is embracing whatever comes his way that builds experience. He recently completed music for a friend’s audiobook recording, and he’s keeping an open mind.

“I’d love to keep doing the occasional jingle or ad music every once in a while. Outside of that, it’s just seeing where these projects might take me. I really think ‘Beyond the Gates’ might lead to some cool stuff just because it’s connected to some cool people, so I am kind of seeing where that goes. Honestly, you never know where any person you meet or any project you do is going to lead,” he says, noting that his current life is certainly unexpected. “If you would have told me this is where I would be way back then, I would not have believed you.”


Wichita Falls alum cooking up fun

When she signed up for culinary school several years ago, Carrie Richardson would never have imagined herself in a school cafeteria. Yet here she is, not only crushing her role as executive chef for Chartwells K-12 in Wichita Falls but loving it.

Carrie’s role involves setting menus and providing resources for those in the serving lines and kitchens of the 24 schools in the Wichita Falls school district. In partnership with the marketing director and the district’s registered dietitian, Carrie plans what the school children will eat on a daily basis and ensures the food service runs smoothly.

Carrie at discovery kitchen
Carrie shows students how to cook.

“We really collaborate and think about what local farmers can we buy from, how can we incorporate more whole grains and make things healthier for the kids,” says Carrie, a 2019 graduate of the Wichita Falls campus. “Our dietitian applies for a lot of grants, and with those we can get new equipment and cool items that are not typically worked into your budget for the school year.”

Carrie just celebrated three years with Chartwells in May and has found the work highly rewarding as she uses creativity in the kitchen and her personable nature to impact the young people of the city. She recalls seeing the initial job posting and getting a mental picture of a lunch lady. The interview revealed something much different, and she’s found that to be true.

“It’s a lot of community involvement, and we have a food truck that we take around to events. We are adding fresh fruits and vegetables into the school’s programs, so it’s not just cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets anymore,” she says. “It’s honestly been really fulfilling working in the school district. It’s the best career decision I’ve made.”

Going back to school

Carrie’s culinary career has not been a direct route either. After graduating high school, she knew she wasn’t ready for college. After about a year of work, she knew she needed another plan, so she joined the Navy. She completed one tour, stationed mostly in San Diego, and worked in aviation electronics. She knew pretty quickly that wasn’t meant to be her life’s work.

A coworker in the Navy was taking culinary classes at night, so Carrie was inspired to give the field a try. She took her VA benefits and enrolled in culinary school in Austin, finishing in two years. At that time, she opted to move to Wichita Falls, where the rest of her family had relocated. She went

Cajun fest Carrie
Carrie shows her skills at Cajun Fest.

to work as a chef in several hotels and casinos. But the path was about to change again.

“When I turned 31, I decided I wanted to go back to college,” said Carrie, who started with her associate’s degree at Vernon College. “One of my guests from the casino that I talked to regularly was going to Wayland Baptist. I didn’t know Wayland at the time, and he told me it was smaller classes and shorter semesters, and he really enjoyed it. That got me thinking about Wayland.”

Carrie enjoyed the encouragement and assistance of the Wayland staff while she completed her degree in business administration using her VA benefits. While there, she took a leap of faith and quit her casino job with nothing else lined up.

“I was at that point where I felt like there was something more for me. I’m not meant to be doing this and feel like I was destined for something more. It only took less than a month until I found the school district with Chartwells K-12,” says Carrie.

Challenges arise

When the COVID pandemic hit, Carrie’s job took a sharp turn. Instead of being in the school kitchens every few days as more of support staff for the cafeteria employees, Carrie was charged with rethinking how to continue to feed Wichita Falls’ children who were now learning from home.

The district kept 10 school locations open for lunches, while Carrie and her team partnered with the bus barn to deliver meals to neighborhoods with no school nearby. She also was filling in for sick kitchen employees and trying to plan transportable meals with the dwindling supply of takeout boxes and disposables.

“Since March 2020, we have served two million meals, and that was with the shutdown. Over the

Discovery Shep
Carrie shares creations at Discovery Kitchen.

first five months it was nearly 600,000 meals that we served for free, all while the kids were at home. It was rough, but it was needed,” she said. “We also put together a weekly meal box, partnering with the school counselors to identify families in need that didn’t have transportation. I personally had the pleasure of delivering some of these boxes, and the looks on these kids’ faces was unreal, how excited they got because they had a box of food.”

When schools returned to an in-person format this year, Carrie was back to her normal role, but food safety has taken on a heightened importance. She loves visiting the various campuses and talking to the children about what dishes they like and dislike and what they’d like to see on the menus. While Chartwells has a nationwide database of recipes, Carrie and other chefs are allowed to tweak those or to suggest additions that reflect local flavor. She was able to resurrect a Wichita Falls favorite – the Western Burger – shortly after she came on board. The district has featured the nostalgic item on its food truck, which Carrie and staff often take to farmers’ markets, district events and festivals, and the dish is always a sell-out.

During the summer, the food truck is employed for summer feedings to neighborhoods without schools thanks to a USDA program that provides for free breakfast and lunches at various locations. Carrie enjoys challenges like improving nutrition for students and promoting messages like reduced food waste.

Her work has not gone unnoticed. Chartwells honored five chefs from across the nation during September’s Chef Appreciation Week for their response to the pandemic, and Carrie was one of those. She credits the cooperation of all the kitchen staff for their success but said the honor was humbling. In mid-May when the Wichita Falls campus held its commencement ceremony, Carrie was honored with the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award by campus leadership.

“Since we partner with farmers’ market, local farms and the food bank, the value I have in our community is unbelievable and that is super gratifying for me. The interaction with the kids, and trying to keep a balance of menu mix is challenging too,” she says. “It’s very gratifying to make an impact in kids’ lives. We are literally feeding our future.”


Devotional: Where is our identity?

One of the life lessons that I feel the Lord has taught me has to do with work… Men and their work.  Men are so closely tied to their work (their job), and too often it becomes not only what they do to make a living; it becomes (sort of) who they are. Have you noticed how often we even introduce others as, “This is Larry, he’s a doctor (or lawyer or farmer or whatever).” Or it is often the first topic of conversation when we meet someone new: “So, Larry, what do you do?” 

Maybe it’s just a conversation starter, but, none the less, it seems to place some importance on what we “do” meaning “what’s our job.” Sometimes we deviate from these typical conversation starters with something like, “This is Larry, he’s Lucy’s husband,” or “he’s Freddy’s dad,” or something like that. I think I would prefer being introduced as, “Hey, meet Mike, he’s a child of the King.”

Work is a good thing… When God created man he said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  (Genesis

Whose mark is in our handprints?

1:26). God gave man a job. Sounds kind of like being a wildlife biologist. After the fall, God still gave man a job: he was to become (in addition to the above) a farmer and, to make it challenging, God made weeds (thorns and thistles) for the man to deal with. Even after the fall, work is still a good thing. Paul exhorted the Colossians to work “as unto the Lord” (Col. 3:23.) So, again, work is a good thing. We should take some sense of pride in our work. But it becomes a little dangerous for us when we let what we do (job) become who we are. Many of us (especially men) can be guilty of this.

I was a year ahead of Kathie in college. We had been married a year when I graduated. I was working for the City of Plainview at the time, and they offered me a full-time position upon graduation. I took the job, but I was not really very happy in it.  It was not related at all to what I had studied and to what I hoped to do. Kathie and I had a desire to travel, to live somewhere else and to have an adventure. We had always been sort of drawn to Australia—perhaps because we were both biology majors in college. The interesting animals of Australia had always fascinated us, and maybe that was the source of the strange allure we felt in wanting to travel there.

So we began working toward that goal, making contacts there, applying for jobs, etc. I quit the job I was in and Kathie’s dad offered to let me work for him during the interim period while Kathie finished up school and we prepared to make the leap to Australia. As it ended up, Kathie was employed by the Western Australian Department of Education as a teacher in a high school in a suburb of Perth. I landed a job with the Museum of Western Australia working as a wildlife biologist as a part of a survey crew that was to do a study of reserves scattered through the wheat belt of WA. As it turns out, this was every bit the adventure we had hoped for. We made many friends and grew in our faith through our involvement in the South Perth Baptist Church.

It was always our intention to return to the US. Kathie’s parents traveled to see us after our first year in Australia. During that visit, her dad asked me what my plan was for a job when we returned. I didn’t really have a plan. As I indicated, I had worked with him on the farm and we found that we seemed to work well together. I really enjoyed the work. He knew he was planning to retire in a few years, so he asked if I would like to come home and farm. No one else in the family had a desire to do that, so it was a good opportunity for us. We returned to the US about 6 months later and bought the farm house that Kathie had grown up in and started farming. In that community farmers were well respected. It was honorable work. We did pretty well for a few years. But things changed. 

Kathie was injured in a farm accident resulting in the loss of her hand. However, the accident along with financial challenges we faced as production costs went up and prices for farm commodities went down, forced a decision to think about doing something else. There was a science teaching position at the High School that became available and I applied and was hired. As they say, the rest is history. I spent 26 years in public education… But what I really want to share about is that experience of quitting farming. You see, as I said, farmers were well thought of in our community.  They were the “movers and shakers” in that town, and I was an ex-farmer. I had failed at farming. My ego was tied to what I did – my job. In retrospect, being a teacher is pretty cool, but in Hale Center, Texas, I saw myself as a failed ex-farmer. I started looking for a teaching job that would take us out of that town and to a place where I would not be seen as a failure.

I was offered and accepted a teaching position in Perryton and we moved away from Hale Center.  But somewhere along the way (and this is the point of the story) God began to show me who I really am; I’m His child. It isn’t about what we do for a living. It isn’t about how much money we make. It isn’t about the office we hold with some civic club… It is about who we are in Christ. Paul writes in Romans 8:16 & 17, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

I encourage you to make every effort to not be identified by your job, or by your office in the club, or by the money you have in a bank, or whatever it is that you let “define” who you are. Those kinds of identifications can be taken. Jobs are lost. Money can be lost. If those things are what define us, then we begin to feel lost if we let them define us. Be defined by who you are in an everlasting relationship with the God of the universe.

Mike Jackson is a 1973 graduate and a retired educator and superintendent living in Amarillo, Texas. He and wife Kathie, a 1974 graduate, have three grown children and ten grandchildren.


From the History Files

Moody original
Moody Science Building when first built in 1970.

This month's history recap continues a series about some of the historic buildings on the main campus in Plainview, where Wayland was founded in 1908.

Started in 1969, the Moody Science Building was added during a time of great activity on the campus. The Student Union Building was created, Harral Auditorium was finished and Hutcherson Center was also constructed. The building was completed in 1970 and dedicated in 1971.

Located very near the center of campus between the McClung Student Center and Caprock Hall men's dormitory, the building has been home to the science and mathematics programs for more than five decades. The structure, funded in great part by the Moody Foundation in Galveston, has three stories, including a basement that contains much of the laboratory space for the sciences, a computer lab on the first floor, offices and classrooms on the first and second floor and a greenhouse on the top of the edifice.

The structure has gotten extra attention of late as it was one of the main focuses of the Impact 2020 capital campaign that recently met its fundraising goal. One of the primary projects in the campaign, the renovation of the Moody Building will include an added wing to the west end of the building to house state-of-the-art laboratories for chemistry and other courses. In addition, the

Moody renderings
Update renderings, Moody Science

greenhouse will be moved to the ground level near Caprock Hall and enlarged. The interior of the building will also receive some remodeling and plumbing work. Construction is set to begin later in 2021. 

The Moody Foundation renewed its commitment to the named structure with a sizeable gift to the campaign.