New English class designed to retain students


Originally posted at:

New English class designed to retain students

Jennifer Roche, Student Writer
May 31, 2012

Abraham Lincoln said, “Determine the thing that can and will be done and we shall find a way.”

This quarter, Southeast Community College offered a new English course designed to provide students with the skills they need to be successful at the collegiate academic level.

The goal of the English 0999, College English Studies course, is to help students improve their reading and writing skills for other college courses.

The 7.5 credit course, offered for the first time this quarter, is designed to prepare students for the reading and writing that will be expected at the college level.

In addition, the course will develop students’ critical thinking skills and teach them how to use Internet technology for research purposes.

The course meets Monday through Friday for lecture from 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., with additional time in the computer lab from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

Instructor Kara Gall said, “One of the most important thing this class offers students is the opportunity to develop critical thinking and writing skills that they need as they advance in their academic careers.”

“When we met initially to discuss the class proposal we wanted to accomplish several things,” Gall recalled.  “We wanted to find a way to connect students to campus. We also wanted to provide students an opportunity to finish their courses with the skill set necessary to advance.”

In addition, she said, “Our goal in this class is to minimize a student’s exit points. We want them to have the tools they need in order to do well in their courses so that they don’t fail or drop out.”

While the course may be intimidating to some, Gall said, “There is also a lot of support from myself and the students in the class.”

Like anything that is new, there have been occasional bugs to be worked out.

“We talk a lot of things out,” Gall said, “and [students] have been really flexible when things don’t work out.”

The biggest benefit Gall says is how much the students have worked together to support one another.

“The students have worked really well together and are always willing to help each other out,” she said.  “It is so exciting to me when they are able to share ideas with one another.”

The course is part of a program that is grant-funded for three years.

What Lies Under the Heart

Illuminations Volume 13 2012

Illuminations Volume 13 2012

For the first three decades of my life, I had lived with an unidentified pain, an invisible wound that I wasn’t even aware of.  I felt the mask of my adoption shattering around me.  Memories flooded my mind, cracks in the veneer of my pretense.  I saw myself at age four, waking from a recurring nightmare in which I had been abducted or my parents killed in house fires and natural disasters; at age six, overhearing my parents discuss my teacher’s frustration at my constant crying; age nine, asking my mother if it was possible that I had a twin somewhere who had been adopted by another family; age twelve, filled with guilt after responding to a saleslady’s observation that I looked just like my mother with a curt, “No I don’t.  I’m adopted;” age fourteen, racking my brains trying to respond to an English assignment prompt that asked me to tell the story of my birth; age fifteen, paralyzed by the recessive/dominant gene trait worksheet my Biology teacher had assigned.  I was a tongue-roller with a widow’s peak and free ear lobes (dominant) and had light hair with reddish tints (recessive), but none of my physical combinations aligned with the family I grew up with like my classmates’ did.  

“What Lies Under the Heart” is a narrative essay published in Illuminations, Volume 13 | 2012, edited by Kimberly Fangman. Also published in this edition is the poem “Garlic.”

Illuminations ( is the award-winning artistic publication of Southeast Community College. In the Community College Humanities Association’s literary magazine competition, Illuminations contributor Cameron Koll was awarded the Judges’ Merit Award in Fiction for his short story, “Baby Doll,” which appeared in Illuminations, Vol. 10.


Illuminations Volume 12 2011

Illuminations Volume 12 2011

My heart is pounding. I know what I have to do. I have to free the mouse. I have to feed the mouse. Uta stares blankly at me. Can two seconds possibly be enough time for her to assess my situation? Are two seconds enough to comprehend the passionate fiasco of hundreds of uneaten cartons spanning the sticky rice seasons of five years? Can the sweet and glutinous liberation rising in my chest, a thick, fermented, bubbly sensation, possibly travel from my side of the table to hers in just two seconds?


“Caught” is a short story published in Illuminations, Volume 12 | 2011, edited by Kimberly Fangman.

Illuminations ( is the award-winning artistic publication of Southeast Community College. In the Community College Humanities Association’s literary magazine competition, Illuminations contributor Cameron Koll was awarded the Judges’ Merit Award in Fiction for his short story, “Baby Doll,” which appeared in Illuminations, Vol. 10!

Getting Back on The Horse


It is a hot, dusty Saturday in May, and I’m standing in front of an empty corral, cold beer in hand, the fleshy smoke from branding burning my eyes. My shoulders are sunburned, despite cumulative layers of sunscreen and dust. We’ve just “worked” – vaccinated, castrated, and branded, as needed – 300 head of cattle. We’ve sorted them back into cow-calf pairs and driven them to grassland pasture where they will fatten over the summer. Dozens of neighbors, friends, and family sit around the chute, celebrating a hard day’s work.

My mother’s cousin Jeff calls to me from across the yard. Not unexpectedly, his skilled horsemanship helped him gain favored status in my father’s eyes in the fifteen years since I left home.

“C’mon, let’s go for a quick ride. Cool these ol’ gals down,” he says as I limp toward him. I’ve only been sitting for ten minutes, and already I’m starting to stiffen up. He tries to hand me the reins of his old sorrel mare.

I lift my hands in defense, backing away. “Oh, no. Not me, Jeff. I don’t ride horses.”

“You grew up on a farm, and you don’t ride? What the hell is wrong with you?” he asks.

I raise my eyebrows. “You’ve never heard of my infamous horse grudge with dad?”

The author, her horse, and her father, circa 1978.

The author, her horse, and her father, circa 1978.

In her essay  “Getting Back on the Horse,” writer Kara Gall uses a twenty-year “horse grudge” with her father to examine the heart of her relationship with her father. She is not alone in this theme.  Writers Michele Scott and Kate St. Vincent Vogl also speak to their relationships with their fathers and how horses were at the very heart of those relationships.

Horses have captured women’s attention and intrigue for centuries.  For many women, these strong but gentle creatures held their hearts long before any boyfriend, husband or baby ever did. The memory of desperately asking your parents for a pony, and posting pictures of shiny horses to your bedroom wall, is one many women share. But why?

In Why We Ride: Women Writers on the Horses in their Lives (Seal Press / May 2010 / ISBN-10: 1580052665; ISBN-13: 978-1580052665/ $15.95), educator, literary agent, author, and editor, Verna Dreisbach attempts to answer that question. Dreisbach has compiled 27 personal essays from various women writers about their horses—or their dreams of owning a horse. With a foreword by best-selling novelist Jane Smiley, the book includes personal narratives from women who rode as children, those who spent their girlhood years dreaming of owning a pony, and women who have made a lifelong hobby or career out of riding. Each story openly reveals how horses have made a difference—and an impact—in their lives.

If you’ve ever dreamt of that first horse, contributor Dee Ambrose-Stahl will assure you you’re not alone. Jacqueline Winspear suggests we all need to return to basics, and it’s her horse that reminds her to keep things simple. Writers Michele Scott, Kara Gall, and Kate St. Vincent Vogl all speak to their relationships with their fathers and how horses were at the very heart of those relationships. Valerie Riggs, Janice Newton, and Samantha Ducloux Waltz discovered their horses held insight into their marital relationships. Why We Ride shares the enduring and personal experiences these women have had with horses, and is the perfect read for any woman who has ever held a special place in her heart for a horse.

For more information, please contact Jodee Krainik, Publicist, 510.809.3824,

Gall Finalist in “Lincoln’s Got Talent”


Kara Gall was one of 13 finalists in “Lincoln’s Got Talent,” a local spin on a national idea.

On September 14 and 16, nearly 50 performers from around the city auditioned for the Friday, September 18 final competition  used to raise money for the Lincoln Community Playhouse.

Anthony Messineo, Playhouse President-elect says, “With America’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, some other different ideas, we thought it would be a great way, being in the art community, to have people come out and showcase their talents to us.”

From musicians and comedians to singers and dancers, the competition showcased all forms of talent.

Gall sang her original song, “Demeter Waiting.” While she didn’t place among the top three, Gall walked away with a positive feeling from the experience. “Unfortunately, I came with only one shill, my daughter, who assures me that “lots of the grown-ups” voted for me. This was a really fantastic opportunity to meet some amazing local artists, make some musical contacts, and get really great (and useful!) feedback from the judges.”

Featured Artist at High Plains Art Council Event


[clipped from Hi-Line Enterprise, April 23, 2008]

“Shooting for the Arts” is the theme given the premier event of The High Plains Arts Committee to be held this Saturday April 26 in Eustis, NE. Various individuals with local ties will provide entertainment, homemade deserts will be served, and free-will donations accepted. Held at the United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall from 7:30pm to 9:30pm, a casual evening is planned, during which people may come and go as needed. Proceeds from the Local Talent Café and Silent Auction will benefit the activities of this non-profit organization, which formed in conjunction with a Town Hall meeting last September.

Kara Gall, of Lincoln, NE, will bring her talent home for this event. Kara is a singer/songwriter and poet. Gall says, “So much of my writing and music reflects the life and times of the people and land where I grew up, so I’m thrilled to be able to share that with the community.” Sherry Timm and Bruce Koch, both residents of Eustis, will bring their crowd-pleasing style of entertainment to the gathering too. In addition, members of the Eustis-Farnam school body will highlight the evening’s entertainment with musical selections and interpretive readings.

The committee is accepting donations of items for their Silent Auction from a variety of sources. Members of the Kearney Area Artists Guild have donated artworks. Signed volumes of poetry by Nebraska poets highlight the unique items donated. In addition local business owners have come forward with offers as well. You may donate an item for the event by contacting Catherine Snow at 308-486-5495.

According to chairperson for the group, Catherine Snow, the organization has a two-fold mission; to provide cultural offerings and develop youth activities for the Eustis area. “We choose to name ourselves the High Plains Arts Committee, because we hope to serve the surrounding communities and area with our events and activities, we believe we must pool our resources and celebrate our connections in rural Nebraska in order to accomplish our goals.” said Snow. The group would welcome new members and encourages residents of Farnam and Elwood, as well as representatives of the youth population, to consider becoming involved too.

Original Song about Drought on the Plains wins 1st Place


[clipped from Hi-Line Enterprise, July 2005]

Cozad, NE – Kara Gall, returned native of Eustis, won the 3rd Annual Bands Brews and Barbeques Talent Contest with her original song, Demeter Waiting. Gall, a writer and freelance graphic designer, is employed full time by the Middle Republican NRD in Curtis, NE. 2nd place in the contest went to Dustin Gleason, also a Eustis resident.

Gall’s song, a folk song about dry times on the Plains, is also featured on the Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival website, in the “Turning the Century” storybook, a collection of short stories, poems and songs written about the life and times of people from southwest Nebraska.

Contest judges included Stafford Thomson of The River, Jules Cooper of Mix 97 and Margaret Atwood, producer of the independent film, Independence, filmed last year in Cozad.

Gall’s original song selected for Buffalo Commons Festival Website


McCook, NE – Kara Gall’s original song “Demeter Waiting,” a song that weaves in imagery from the Demeter/Persephone myth to express the endless waiting in times of drought, was selected to be published in May 2004 as part of a Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival. The website collection, called Turning the Century” can be found at and is a collection of short stories, poems, songs and essays written about the life and times of people from southwest Nebraska, northwest Kansas and northeast Colorado by those living there, having lived there or about those who did.

Gall explores the great and terrible famine brought to earth by Demeter’s anger at Hades for stealing her daughter Persephone. She says, “Throughout the past six years of drought in Southwestern Nebraska, many of us have felt as though we were suffering at the hands of the gods … that a much larger force is at work…the anger of a god scorned.” As in much of her writing, Gall strives to capture the particular fate of women, in this case, farmer’s wives. “I was looking back to the time when I was a young girl. I can remember my own mother standing at the windowsill certain summers, looking defeated. The women stayed at home, tending the children, waiting, always waiting, and praying for the rain.”

You can view Demeter Waiting online at:

It’s the Region, Not the Vegan

“I felt like I was having a bunch of one-night stands with my dinner plate. The intimacy with food that I was craving was not a California thing. It was a Nebraska thing. It had something to do with chicken poop on the bottom of my shoe, the smell of Rocky Mountain Oysters–flame-broiled bull testicles also known as “fries”–on my father’s tattered denim work jacket, and the sound of cows happily masticating in the corral beyond my bedroom window. Somewhere between Nebraska and California, I had lost my connection to the source of my food. And it was time to get it back.”

It’s the Region, Not the Vegan appeared in the anthology Women Who Eat: A New Generation on the Glory of Food, edited by Leslie Miller. Seal Press. 2003. ISBN 1-58005-092-1 This long-overdue rebuttal to the notion that all women are on a diet puts a fresh spin on the joy of cooking. Women both in and out of the culinary profession share their stories about the many ways food shapes and enhances their lives.

Women Who Eat

Women Who Eat

Book Description:

Move over, Betty Crocker. Women are reclaiming their pots and pans, but it’s a new era in the kitchen. Today’s generation of women is putting a fresh spin on the “joy of cooking”—and eating and entertaining. Women both in and out of the culinary profession share their stories about the many ways food shapes and enhances their lives. New York Times columnist Amanda Hesser praises the joys of simple food, and Food and Wine editor Kate Sekules discusses the importance of having a restaurant where you’re recognized. Theresa Lust, author of Pass the Polenta, vividly remembers a childhood making sauerkraut with her grandmother, and Michelle Tea describes her working-class Polish family’s meals as “tripe, kielbasa, shellfish and beer.” One woman owns up to her culinary ineptitude in an era when being a gourmet cook is all the rage, while another remembers preferring chicken nuggets from the cafeteria to mom’s homemade vegetable biryani. Women Who Eat not only presents an illuminating look at food today, but dishes out generous helpings of great prose that are sure to titillate the palate. Recipes are included.

Editorial Reviews:
-Library Journal, October 4, 2003
“These essays explore the intimate side of food that comforts,transports, and takes us home. Entertaining and well written.”–Library Journal