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Finding Encouragement Through Giving

Roger Steckly and others

Roger Steckly, ’89 M.A., CCC-SLP is a vocal and enthusiastic alumnus of Hardin-Simmons who is currently serving as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the HSU Cowboy Band Foundation. In the article below he recounts his Hardin-Simmons memories in his uniquely warm and often humorous voice and shares why he stays connected with HSU. Roger lives in San Antonio where he is active with his church and community. In this photo, taken with his former HSU roommates at a Cowboy Band Foundation meeting, Roger is on the left, Todd Johnston ’88 is center, and Jon Wheeler ’87 is on the right.

When did you attend HSU?
I began this love affair with HSU in 1982. I attended from 1982 until 1987. I walked the stage in 1986, completed the last course in 1987 and paid the bill in 1989. My diploma says 1989.

Why did you choose HSU? 
The biggest factor in my decision was class size. I wanted something big enough to offer expansive, broad coursework, but small enough so I did not get lost in the fray of huge classes. HSU also came highly recommended by my brother and sister. It has become a kind of family tradition.

Who were your most memorable teachers and mentors? 
My favorite teachers were Lawson Hager, legendary professor and former Dean of the School of Music; Dr. Carol Haire, former professor and director for Speech Pathology programs; and Charlie Hukill, a former professor in the Theater department.

What is a favorite story or memory of HSU from your time there?
In an early morning art class, I recall a professor off-handedly ending a long paragraph midway through a dry lecture with, “It’s all about creating great art!” As students are prone to do, we took that as an opportunity to distract from the assigned lecture. We questioned, “What is great art?” Our strategy worked. The professor shuffled papers and then calmly explained that there are three types of art: bad, good and great. He went on to explain that anyone can make bad art. It’s the kind that elicits a negative response. It’s the easiest to produce. As with graffiti, bad art is obviously offensive. Good art is more difficult to achieve. It elicits a fond memory or recall in the observer. It takes more thoughtful effort and skill to conjure up good memories in someone’s brain. But, be cautious. Fond memory work can easily turn into sappy, syrupy sweet, and a little bit of it goes a very long way, getting old quickly. We were hooked into the unexpected deep-dive and peppered back, “What’s great art?” He continued explaining that great art is the most difficult to achieve and is the holy grail for artists. Great art causes someone to think about something, anything, in a totally unexpected way. Great art does not offend but transports people away from a negative response, through a pleasant memory, to a new or different way of thinking or perceiving. As rowdy students, we accomplished our disruptive goal and went on to the next classes. But I’ve pondered that derailed lecture for 35 years. I now see that the professor magnificently accomplished his goal, too. I have taken that bit of wisdom to heart, finding that it applies to everything I’m involved in from work, home, cooking meals in the church kitchen, or directing the community choir. Let’s make great art! Let’s, in a positive way, transport people, employees, family, friends, and co-workers from negative responses, past the sentimental memory stage, and forward to thinking and perceiving our experiences in a vibrant, new, fresh, and different way.

How do you stay involved and connected to HSU?
I am extremely active in the Cowboy Band and the Cowboy Band Foundation. I become so encouraged to see how much we are able to make a real and tangible difference in the lives of students through our Foundation.

Earlier this year, we were shaken by the deaths of Gary DeShazo and Larry Moore, two of our Cowboy Band Foundation family giants, respected elders, and fine men that we greatly miss among us. We lift up their families and loved ones in prayer. Fond memories of performances, much laughter, some tears, hamburger cookouts, golf, shotgun shells, road trips, cutting up at appropriate and inappropriate times, coffee-counseling in the music store, and warm greetings at the Texas Cowboy Reunion Rodeo are but a small part of a much grander, beautiful, and cherished picture.

I think one common characteristic we share is that we are “givers.” Our Band Foundation, through the help of countless volunteers, families, exes, students, faculty, and staff, has recently been able to start funding the Cowboy Band Memorial Lounge renovation, provide food, and volunteers for Band events, give toward sending the Cowboy Band on its first out-of-state tour in many years, scholarship funds, new band uniform shirts, a more modern rehearsal space, and even an equipment trailer. That is how ALL of us, together, are a part of this grand, beautiful and cherished picture I was describing above.

Why did you choose to give back to HSU? 
I choose to “pay it forward” to help in my own small way to propel young people forward as I was propelled.

What do you think other people should know about giving back to HSU? 
God has given all of us just three things: ourselves, our time, and our possessions. These are signs of His gracious love for us. We are joyful and with thankful hearts ask God to use every bit of our being, and what we have gathered, to feed and care for the world through His love.

Like Roger, you can help launch HSU students toward bright futures. To learn more about giving back to Hardin-Simmons and establishing a planned gift, contact Mike Hammack or one of our development officers at plannedgiving@hsutx.edu or (325) 670-1260.

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