The MSU Cowboys Take Over The Odyssey

The MSU Cowboys Take Over The Odyssey

The Odyssey has finally arrived at McNeese State University, and we couldn't be any more excited!

The Odyssey finds itself at the Home of the Cowboys with an incredible staff ready to share their views on social media with the students and world.

Buried in the southwestern corner of the Great Boot State is the bustling town of Lake Charles. Known as an industrial and cultural center in the southwest of the state, the city is also home to McNeese State University. With roughly 7,500 students, the campus is populated with a diverse range of students who are constantly trying to find ways to engage with their peers and the community in new and exciting ways.

Having a presence and impact on many national campuses, The Odyssey is just what McNeese needed for the student population to stay informed and entertained.

I am so excited to be leading the launch of The Odyssey at McNeese as the Editor-in-Chief. Of course, I couldn't do this without my incredible staff members. I have many unique and creative writers teaming up with me to help create an entertaining and resourceful social media outlet for McNeese.

We are all very thrilled to create some of the best local and national content just for you! We hope you enjoy all The Odyssey has to offer.

Meet our staff writers:

Mariah Allen: Mariah is a junior majoring in Biology/Pre-Med. She has been a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, the Student Union Board, Colleges Against Cancer, Students for Life, the Pre-Med Society, and has written articles for The Contraband student newspaper. She would like to add new and exciting science in the news to The Odyssey at McNeese, along with keeping people up to date with the latest lifestyle in the news, what to listen to and not listen to, and getting students more aware of what is going on in the community.

Gandy Osburn: Gandy is a senior majoring in Mass Communications/Public Relations. She has been a member of Honors College, College Republicans Club, Athletic Engagement Committee, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Baptist Church Ministry, Residents and Housing Association, Public Relations Student Society of America, and she participated in the July 2015 McNeese in London Program. She has written many press releases for McNeese's public relations office and has tried out blogging and creative writing. When asked what she would like to add to The Odyssey at McNeese, she responded, "It could use a little humor every now and then! I hope I can help make people laugh when they read an article they can relate to. Laughter is a gift and I think everyone should enjoy it a little more often!"

Hannah Murrell: Hannah is a sophomore majoring in Business Management. She has been a member of the Student Union Board and will be a Rowdy Rider for Cowboy Camp 2015. She plans on going through Formal Recruitment this semester, works as a lifeguard at the Recreational Complex on campus, and is active in Intramural Sports. She has always enjoyed writing, whether it be personal work or essays for classes, and she is excited to write for The Odyssey at McNeese. She hopes to bring to the table articles that students can relate to and say, "Wow, this is exactly my life, what I was thinking, or how I felt."

Toni Winbush: Toni is an incoming freshman majoring in Mass Communications/Journalism. She plans on joining the Student Union Board in the fall or spring semester. She wants to contribute stories that students as well as the community can enjoy reading. "Whether its politics or pop culture, I'll do my best to keep it interesting, funny, and truthful!" She is also the Facebook social media director for The Odyssey.

Tammy York: Tammy is a junior majoring in English/Creative Writing. She is the secretary of Chi Omega Sorority and is a member of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society. She has recently started blogging, and she hopes to bring honesty and different perspectives to The Odyssey. "I wish to add a dash of progressive ideals and an appreciation for things considered different. Toss in a few humor pieces and pop culture and BAM!"

Kylie Smith: Kylie is a junior majoring in Criminal Justice. She is a member of Chi Omega sorority where she is an assistant social media marketer. She has journaled off and on since she learned to write and has kept a Tumblr for over five years. Her dream is to one day work for E!News because she is in love with all things pop culture and entertainment. "I want to bring a lot of myself out in my work and write about things of interest for other young adults."

Ryan Robledo: Ryan is a sophomore majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He is involved in the Astronomical Society of McNeese, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, the Multicultural Volunteer Program, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Students for Life, and the Presidential Society of McNeese. He managed and wrote for for over two years. He says, "My somewhat nontraditional student status gives my college experience a bit of a different flavor. Pop-culturally more like the grad students, academically more like the freshman! I worked for over five years before coming to school, so I know what to expect in the workforce post-graduation! I hope to bring to The Odyssey content that encourages students to make diligence and a strong work ethic an aspect of their daily lives." He is also the Twitter social media director and photographer for The Odyssey.

Amity Delaney: Amity is an international student from Australia. She is a sophomore majoring in Mass Communications with a concentration in Journalism and is a member of the McNeese track and field team. Prior to attending McNeese, she completed one year of a degree in Media and Communications at the University of Sydney. She has had experience in writing articles for many assignments, and she said, "I want to bring to The Odyssey my personal views across a variety of topics in an engaging way that readers can identify with and be entertained by."

Averey Hollier: Averey is a junior majoring in English Education. She is a member of Chi Omega where she is the campus activities cardinal cabinet director, and she is also a member of the Student Union Board, the Greek Unity Board, the Newman Club, Habitat for Humanity, Students for Life, and the College of Republicans. She has been journaling for years and has shared some of her pieces on Tumblr. She is a fan of pop culture, style, and entertainment. "I hope to bring in some interesting, honest, and humorous pieces that other people will really enjoy!" She is also the Instagram social media director and photographer for The Odyssey.

Kaley Willis: Kaley is a sophomore double majoring in Mass Communications and Political Science with a minor in history. She is a member of Phi Mu, the Student Union Board, the Greek Unity Board, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She has worked as a reporter and photographer for Youth Journalism International for four years, and she has shared her writing on Tumblr for the past six years. She said that she wants to bring her "mostly weird thought process to The Odyssey in an interesting and honest way that other people can relate to!"

Tryfon Boukouvidis: Tryfon is an international student from Greece. He is a senior majoring in Mass Communications with a concentration in Journalism with a minor in Criminal Justice and Political Science. He is the Vice President of McNeese's Forensics team, a member of the Academic Integrity Panel, and has been involved with the European Student Association as Senator and Outreach Coordinator, along with being the co-founder. He has worked as a journalist for the College of Engineering, producing articles, covering events, and interviewing. "I want to bring a unique perspective in the form of interesting articles about a variety of topics to The Odyssey."

Emily Bissel: I am a junior majoring in English with Creative Writing and minoring in Latin. I am a member of Alpha Delta Pi, McNeese Honors College, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Pi Society of Leadership and Success, the Presidential Society of McNeese, have written for the school newspaper, and am the co-editor of The Log Yearbook for 2015-2016. I attended New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and studied in the Creative Writing discipline. I self-published my first book of short stories and poetry in 2012, and I have continued to enter writing contests, placing in the Scholastic Art and Writing Competitions and the Faulkner-Wisdom Short Story Competitions. I am excited to work as the Editor-in-Chief for The Odyssey at McNeese, and I hope to bring fun, interesting, relatable content to the students.

We have an incredible staff of writers, photographers, and social media directors, and we are ready to show McNeese and the world our talent and views in social media!

Cover Image Credit:

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I'm A Christian And I Have A Tattoo

Stop judging me for it.

Like most people, I turned 18 years old during the course of my senior year of high school.

I'll never forget the months prior to my birthday, though, because I spent hours making a decision that would be with me forever, the decision of where I would go to get my first tattoo and where that tattoo would go, and of course I spent a lot of time deciding on the font, the colors, and all of the other aspects of the tattoo I wanted.

Throughout this time, two things stood firm 1) the fact that I was going to get a tattoo, and 2) the six letter name that it would consist of.

Now, three years later, I'm 21 years old and I still get the occasional dirty look at church on Sunday or in line at Walmart, and more often than not this look is accompanied by the following words: “Why would you do that to your body when God says not to?"

A few weeks ago at a new church, a woman came up to me and said, “How can you consider yourself a Christian when you have that blasphemous thing on your foot?", I simply smiled at her and said: “God bless you, have a good week." I let it roll off of my back, I've spent the past three years letting it “roll off of my back"… but I think it's time that I speak up.

When I was 8 years old, I lost my sister.

She passed away, after suffering from Childhood Cancer for a great deal of my childhood. Growing up, she had always been my best friend, and going through life after she passed was hard because I felt like even though I knew she was with me, I didn't have something to visually tribute to her – a way to memorialize her.

I, being a Christian and believing in Heaven, wanted to show my sister who was looking down on me that even though she was gone – she could still walk with me every day. I wanted it for me, for her. I wanted to have that connection, for her to always be a part of who I am on the outside – just as much as she is a part of who I am on the inside.

After getting my tattoo, I faced a lot of negativity. I would have Leviticus 19:28 thrown in my face more times than I cared to mention. I would be frowned on by various friends, and even some family. I was told a few times that markings on my body would send me to hell – that was my personal favorite.

You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks on you: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:28

The more I heard these things, the more I wanted to scream. I didn't though. I didn't let the harsh things said about me and my choice change the love I have for the Lord, for my sister, or for the new precious memento on my left foot. I began to study my Bible more, and when I came to the verse that had been thrown in my face many times before – I came to a realization.

Reading the verses surrounding verse 28, I realized that God was speaking to the covenant people of Israel. He was warning them to stay away from the religious ways of the people surrounding them. Verse 28 wasn't directed to what we, in today's society, see as tattoos – it was meant in the context of the cultic practice of marking one's self in the realm of cultic worship.

26 "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. 27 You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. 28 'You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. 29 'Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness. 30 'You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD. 31 'Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God."
Leviticus 19:26–31

The more I have studied my Bible over the past few years, the more I pity those who rely on one verse in the Old Testament to judge and degrade those, like myself, who made the decision to get a tattoo for whatever reason they may have for doing so.

This is because, you see, in the New Testament it is said that believers are not bound by the laws of the Old Testament – if we were, there would be no shellfish or pork on the menus of various Christian homes. While some see tattoos as a modification of God's creation, it could also be argued that pierced ears, haircuts, braces, or even fixing a cleft lip are no different.

24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."
Galatians 3:24-25

In Galatians, we read that the Old Testament law was created to lead people to Jesus. However, we know that Jesus has come and died on the cross for our sins. He has saved us, therefore we are no longer held to this law in order to have a relationship with the Lord. Our relationship with Him comes from believing that Jesus came to Earth to die on a cross for our sins, and repenting of our sins – accepting Jesus as our Savior.

I am a Christian, I have a relationship with the Lord that is stronger than it has ever been, and - I HAVE A TATTOO.

I have a beautiful memento on my left foot that reminds me that my sister walks with me through every day of my life. She walked with me down the red carpet at my senior prom, she walked with me across the stage the day I graduated from high school, and she continues to be with me throughout every important moment of my life.

My tattoo is beautiful. My tattoo reminds me that I am never alone. My tattoo is perfect.

Stop judging me for it.

Cover Image Credit: Courtney Johnson

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The Pulse Affect

Where do we stand 2 years later?


It's been 2 years since the infamous Pulse shooting and everyone, including myself, is still affected. I remember so clearly how I was too scared to go to any pride events afterward. I knew that's what the shooter wanted, was for us all to retreat back into the closest we so bravely came out of, but still, I couldn't bring myself to leave the bed.

The news had hit me harder than any of the previous shooting. While it was still a mass shooting such as what was happening at the schools, the target was more specific. He went in there with the mind of not just killing people, but people associated with the LGBT community. The scene was so horrible, that some of the first responders have even mentioned having PTSD still from the scene.

The news had sunk everyone's heart and many flocked to social media just to find out if friends were there or not. The toll was 49 innocent people who had lost their lives to a despicable individual I refuse to name. I feel he received too much attention in the media as it was.

It also didn't take long for the focus to switch from the victims to the "how could we prevent this"—which isn't a bad question, but the two sides who seemed to differ on opinions so much just turned it into yet another screaming match. That being said, those who weren't on the extreme end of it found themselves seeking comfort from each other. For many people, this attack did scare them, but I think within the horrifying event came a new sense of community.

For those who had family or friends that were victims of such an attack, my heart goes out to you. The mourning doesn't stop, and while I know there are no words that can be strung together to bring closure, I can show my support and continue to fight for equality and help educate whoever I can. The tragedy isn't something I wish on anyone, and the wound stills fresh to me despite not having any personal connections to anyone.

To end this story on a hopeful note, today people are doing positive things in honor of the victims of the pulse attack. One article writes about a couple who spends their time cleaning up the area of litter and mentions others donating money, objects, or their own time in hopes to help anyone in need. One direct quote from this article is "Last year, more than 2,500 people volunteered their time in support of Acts of Love and Kindness, and while there was no official tally yet for this year's outpouring, it seems likely that many will go uncounted."

I encourage people today to reach out to one another, no matter orientation or identity. Love one another and don't let things strip others of their human qualities. We are all human and have the ability to do good. The shooting was tragic, but we should not let it keep us from celebrating who we are and embracing each other with open arms. Don't let the worlds hate scare you or stifle your creativity. We will not let anyone push us back into the dark, no better their best effort. Live on and keep your heart open to love.

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