Historian and lecturer Ron Dalton points to the exact spot where an iceberg ripped into the hull of the "Titanic" ocean liner. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing department.
Titanic expert visits college on 100th anniversary of disaster
Rob Vanya, July 27, 2012
HOUSTON — This year marks the 100th anniversary of the epic Titanic disaster, and San Jacinto College recently hosted an interactive presentation by historian and acclaimed Titanic expert Ron Dalton.
Houston resident Dalton has been researching the Titanic disaster for more than 50 years and owns a large collection of rare Titanic artifacts and memorabilia. To engage the students during his lecture, Dalton passed around artifacts among the audience, and had students portray characters that were passengers on the ill-fated ocean liner.
Dalton presented little-known facts about some of the passengers, such as Rhoda (Rosa) Abbott, the only woman rescued from the frigid waters after the ship sank into the North Atlantic Ocean. Abbott refused to board a lifeboat designated exclusively for women and small children because it would have meant separation from her teenage sons Rossmore and Gene. Instead, she jumped from the deck of the sinking ship, gripping Rossmore with one hand, and Gene with her other hand. The impact of hitting the icy cold water caused the trio to lose their grip. The mother was able to surface and stayed afloat on wreckage until survivors in a lifeboat pulled her out of the ocean, but both her sons were lost.
Dalton’s lecture was part of San Jacinto College’s innovative summer Upward Bound program, which introduces high school students to college life through academic and recreational activities. “The Upward Bound Literature and Research students are reading SOS Titanic by Eve Bunting, and doing research about the ship and its times, so I arranged for the lecture by Mr. Dalton, who is one of the foremost Titanic experts in Texas,” commented Sherron Lux, an instructor and librarian at San Jacinto College North.
Lux said Dalton’s Titanic presentation is unique and captivates the imagination of students because he brings the ship’s passengers to life. “Looking at the similarities and differences among people of an earlier time and people of our present day is not only interesting, but also useful,” she said. “We realize we have more in common with past folk than we think we do.”
San Jacinto College culinary arts students added an inter-disciplinary flair to the presentation by providing sample dishes based on recipes from the book Last Dinner on the Titanic, including roast duck, curried chicken, éclairs, and a fruit medley that resembled a sinking ship (an angled half-watermelon formed the ship’s hull).
The week before Dalton’s presentation, many Upward Bound students visited the Titanic exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, and also viewed the Planetarium show “Night of the Titanic,” which provided more background for Dalton’s presentation.
Upward Bound student Kimberly Estrada, a senior at Galena Park High School, said she was enriched by all of the Titanic educational projects. “Mr. Dalton’s presentation was brilliant,” she commented. “He knows so much that it seemed like he was there and experienced it, and I liked how he interacted and allowed us students to participate.”
She said she was overwhelmed by the scope of the Titanic exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. “It was just massive, and my favorite part was being able to see the many personal items of the people on board the ship,” she said. “The Planetarium show was also interesting, and it was awesome to be able to lay prone and see the presentation from a different perspective.” Estrada is still weighing her college options, and is “leaning toward” attending San Jacinto College.
The Upward Bound program, funded through a U.S. Department of Education grant, provides low-income and first-generation high school students a preview of college life. The grant, championed by United States Congressman Gene Green (TX-29), funds a staff of advisors, instructors, and tutors to operate summer sessions, academic year sessions, Saturday sessions, university campus visits, a reading and science development program, as well as a number of educational field trips. Upward Bound students from Channelview and Galena Park High Schools enter the program the summer before becoming ninth-graders.
For more information about Upward Bound, please visit http://www2.ed.gov/programs/trioupbound/index.html.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
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