Magazine Reflections

What College Course Most Shaped Your Future?

Winter 2023

In 1954, during my freshman year at the University of Florida, I took an introduction to the humanities course that changed the way I looked at the world. The class exposed me to great works of classical music, art, philosophy, and literature. Before taking this course, the only music I had listened to was the Saturday-night broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry on my grandfather’s Philco battery-operated radio. The only painting I had seen was one on my grandmother’s kitchen wall of Jesus Christ holding a bleeding heart. I had never even heard the word “philosophy.” The class served as a gateway to rich and wonderful experiences that helped fill major gaps in my education.

—Terry O’Banion
Kansas State University

Although I majored in psychology, the college classes that most shaped my life were philosophy courses. For instance, an epistemology course helped me understand the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge. Epistemology also addresses the concept of beliefs and how we acquire them. Are they fixed or do they change? The class fostered my sense of curiosity and motivated my lifelong love of learning. Although I did not know at the time that I would become an educator and develop my own philosophy of education, the course inspired me to continuously determine what my beliefs are concerning both teaching and learning.

—Billi L. Bromer
Brenau University

As a graduate student in a master of education program, I took a seminar on business entrepreneurship that transformed my professional goals and aspirations. I worked directly with my professor to develop a business plan for establishing the first drive-through espresso stand in Kansas. Even though I moved back to Washington State and never started the espresso stand, my passion for business persisted. I eventually combined my interests in business and education and now run my own business for educational products and services.

—Teresa Day Walker
Central Washington University

During my junior year, I took a course on the legends of King Arthur. The professor took us to the library’s rare book room to view medieval manuscripts. She then offered us an extra-credit assignment that involved paleography, the study of handwritten books. For the assignment, we tried to decipher and transcribe part of a manuscript. As a first-generation college student, I was up for new experiences, and I figured I’d never have another chance to work with a medieval book. So I signed up. The moment I sat down with the manuscript, I was hooked. I changed both my major and career path. Today, I work as a medievalist.

—Lisa M. Ruch
Bay Path University

At eighteen, I was trying on college majors like new outfits. Then, I enrolled in a Model United Nations class. The faculty mentor was a political science professor, but the students were an interdisciplinary group with majors ranging from English and French to history, education, and business. We spent the semester researching and preparing to role-play our assigned country, Chile, at a simulation of the United Nations. Fast-forward to 2023: now I’m the political science professor and faculty mentor for an interdisciplinary group of college students on a Model United Nations team.

–Linda Veazey
Midwestern State University

Photograph by Ann Cutting