Compiled by Jessica Yerega
Challenging Viewpoints: Trudelle Thomas, English
When I signed up for the class, I remember hearing from friends that the professor, Trudelle Thomas, had a slight reputation as a "feminist." That term might have been passé then; it's certainly archaic now. Whether Thomas would dispute that label, I do not know. But I was a 19-year-old male student, and this idle talk convinced me that I would not like her or her course, and that I would hardly learn anything I needed to know. I never even entertained the idea that she might have any lasting influence on my life.
I was emphatically wrong. She did not teach by pushing ideologies down the throats of impressionable underclassmen, nor did she spout off riffs from her own personal manifesto on how things in the world should be. What she did do was challenge me more than any teacher I had, not only to excel in communicating my viewpoints effectively, but also to understand why I thought what I thought in the first place, and to have confidence in my own voice.
But Thomas did something else for me that I value even more. She helped me to identify and pursue what I consider to be my vocation: writing. As a direct consequence of her course, I became interested in writing, expressing my thoughts and ideas on paper. And, because she insisted we keep a journal, I also discovered my creative impulses in a new light. I went into the military following graduation, but I never forgot her course or her influence.
Seven years after taking her course, and with her help, I hasten to add, I enrolled in graduate school to study creative writing. Today I have a Master of Fine Arts degree, and writing is a daily part of my life. I still think of her when I think about why I bother trying to write, and I have a feeling she would be disappointed if I ever gave up the craft I love.
I am now 33 years old with a wife and daughter. I have published an essay in a national magazine, and I am very grateful to Thomas for her faith in me. Perhaps the best tribute to her influence lies in the fact that today, more than 12 years later, I still think about her energy, spirit, intelligence and compassion. I remember her class; I remember her voice, her gestures and her assignments. I doubt I will ever forget her as a teacher or person-and I can think of no better tribute to an educator. Jude Joseph Lovell '92 BA, writer
Going For It: Carol Tatham, Management
I was a senior at Xavier doing some interviews for my potential career in retail management, and one of the interviews was with Toys R Us. Prior to the interview I felt sick, but I was told that it was just butterflies and I should go on in and show them what I was made of. Well, evidently I wasn't made of much. I went into the interview and proceeded to vomit.
About a week later, I was preparing to give a speech and was feeling really nervous. My professor, Carol Tatham, called on me to be the first presenter. What luck. I explained that I would rather not go first, and she said to me, "Chelle, you have thrown up all over someone who was interviewing you not just for a job, but for your potential career. What could be more embarrassing than that? Now that you have your life's most embarrassing moment out of the way, go for it."
I hadn't told her of my interviewing mishap, so obviously I was a laughingstock and topic of gossip on campus. I can't remember what my grade was, but I did go for it and did fine.
I have gone for it every day since and until recently was the vice president of operations at a local marketing research firm. I am now an independent marketing research coordinator. Tatham was in marketing research and in a later discussion shared her excitement for her field, another piece of advice that shaped my life. Chelle Precht '85 BSBA, marketing research coordinator
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