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Alumnus To Return To Talk 'Reality' For Fundraising Event

Feb. 22, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Amy Barnett

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Members of the Elliott T. Bowers Honors College benefit from the annual "LET'S TALK!" event, which has raised more than $250,000 for student research and scholarships since its inception in 2008. —Photos by Brian Blalock


“Do you know how sometimes you feel like God is playing a joke on you? This was God’s biggest joke. If you would have told me I was going to be on a national television show, I would have thought you were an idiot,” said Sam Houston State University alumnus Frank Bielec.

But that’s exactly what happened to the 1969 art education graduate.

After spending eight years teaching, followed by 20 years as a florist, Bielec and his wife opened their own online company, Mosey ‘N Me, offering needle art patterns and unique art pieces, in 1989.

Frank Bielec
TV personality and SHSU alumnus Frank Bielec will be among the experts who will visit SHSU for this year's event. Bielec will lead a conversation on "Reality Behind the Scene," sharing stories from his days as part of the "Trading Spaces" cast.  —Submitted photo

While demonstrating their products at a convention in the early 1990s, Bielec got the attention of a producer affiliated with The Home and Garden television network. She convinced him to take a job doing segments on one of the network’s shows, which led to another opportunity: hosting the show “Your Home Studio” on what was then The Nashville Network.

Although he had no intention of taking his television career further, in 2000, Bielec was asked to become a consultant on a new reality TV show airing on The Learning Channel. The show, “Trading Spaces,” had a never-before-seen storyline: neighbors would get the opportunity to redecorate a room in each other’s homes. Bielec became one of the show’s design consultants, helping a neighbor pull off the task.

During the show’s successful eight-year run from 2000 to 2008, Bielec showed off his eclectic country style, often having participants put their arts and crafts skills to the test, creating everything from wall art to headboards to display in their neighbor’s home.

“I loved doing it; it was one of the most rewarding and incredible experiences of my life. I’ve had my 15 minutes of fame plus some,” he said. “I’ve had my picture on a two-story sign in the middle of Times Square. I’ve met the president (George W. Bush) and have been to the White House. I’ve stayed in a castle. I’ve had experiences I would have never had just being Frank from Katy, Texas.”

Bielec admitted there is a downside to spending eight years on a popular reality show.

“You lose yourself. When people recognize you, they expect a certain type of person and it’s formulated from watching you in 30-second sound bites,” Bielec said.

Perhaps he will let guests know what he is really like on March 22 as a table leader for the Elliott T. Bowers fundraiser “LET’S TALK! A Night of Conversation.”

As one of 24 discussion leaders, Bielec said he hopes for an off-the-cuff conversation but isn’t trying to anticipate what guests may ask.

He’s ready to open up and share stories from his career and time at Sam Houston, even the time he knocked himself unconscious when he hit a parked car while sledding down “The Hill” after a freeze.

“They may be a little surprised at what they get. I don’t know what they are expecting, but it ain’t that little fat man on Trading Spaces,” he laughed.

The fourth annual “LET’S TALK!” event will bring together a National Football League referee, a cyber-warfare expert and state politicians for dinner, all to benefit the Elliott T. Bowers Honors College.

For 25 years, the Honors College has been cultivating the minds of SHSU students by providing them with a competitive intellectual and social learning environment. While each of the 340 Honors College students receives some financial support, offering them unique educational experiences would not be possible without substantial funding.

SHSU created “LET’S TALK!” to not only raise much-needed funds, but to put a spotlight on the university by inviting industry experts, entrepreneurs and high profile personalities to simply have dinner and chat with guests.

“We’ve always looked at ‘LETS TALK!’ from the philosophy that it’s a great opportunity for the university to showcase its faculty and to show that Sam Houston attracts important people, experts and authorities,” said Gene Young, Honors College director.

“Speaker series are great, but this is not about bringing one person on campus. It’s about bringing 24 authorities on campus.”

Terri Jaggers led a conversation entitled "Someone to Watch Over Me," discussing her foster care advocacy with honors student Jeremy Angus during last year's LET'S TALK! event.

Through the event, guests have the opportunity to dine and have a table conversation with one of the invited speakers. The event, which will take place in the Lowman Student Center Ballroom, costs $125 for individual tickets, with other sponsorship opportunities available.

This year’s guest speakers will discuss a variety of intriguing topics including “super bugs and super drugs;” “the great shale gas rush;” “cyber warfare;” and lighter topics such as “outrageous over-the-top party planning” and the “road to Frisco.”

Bielec, whose topic is entitled “Reality Behind the Scene,” said he is looking forward to the opportunity to give back.

“I really did not appreciate what I had when I was at Sam Houston, but I had very good teachers and all in all, I had a very good experience,” Bielec said. “It prepared me for a lot of things, and sometimes when you get to a certain age, you want to pay somebody back, so that’s what this is.”

While “LETS TALK!” offers a unique experience to guests, it also provides students with opportunities the Honors College would not otherwise be able to afford.

“‘LET’S TALK!’ has enabled us to do things we have never done before,” Young said. “The money goes straight to the students. There are no administrative costs.”

Funds raised benefit research projects and allow the Honors College to pay travel expenses so students can take part in various projects across the country and around the world.

“Without ‘LET’S TALK!,’ we would not have the budget or any free range of money to help students,” Young said.

According to Honors College assistant director Maria Holmes “LET’S TALK!” also provides students with an opportunity you can’t put a price on.

“Some of our students have gotten internships from people they’ve met at ‘Let’s Talk.’ The event really provides role models for our students, especially when the guest also attended Sam Houston. It shows our students what they can achieve,” she said.

LET’S TALK! A Night of Conversation” will begin at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails, followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and dessert and book signings at 8:30 p.m.

For more information on table or student sponsorship, or to purchase a ticket, contact Lorri Vickers Stewart in the University Advancement office at 936.294.2402.



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