Professors’ Secret Lives

It just dawned on me today… professors are not like high school teachers. Of course, I knew this in the general sense, but I realized that high school teachers are just that – high school teachers. But many professors worked in their field before committing to a life of academia.

Dr. William Thorn

Take my Journalism 1550 professor, for example. Dr. William Thorn started out as a reporter for the Minnesota Star and became interested in religious journalism. He is invovled with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and has met several popes multiple times. With the recent resignation of Pope Benedcit XVI, Dr. Thorn took time out of today’s lecture to talk about his experiences. He recalled reporting for NPR at 2AM during the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Thorn said the line during John Paul’s wake was three miles long and the city of Rome shut down the transit system to assist the mass influx of people and lack of hotel accommodations. Then he casually mentions that the Wall Street Journal called him this morning at 6AM for an interview because he seemed like one of the most knowledgeable people in this field.

Is that not amazing? I am a freshman in a second-level journalism class and am being taught by someone who has written for NPR and being interviewed by WSJ.

Another amazing person I’ve met in the classroom is Meryem Karaman. She was the T.A. for my statistics class last semester. Although she has not altered my life’s course, talking with her during office hours came to be one of my favorite things during the week. Muge, as she is better known by her students, is from Turkey and is working to get her Ph.D. in computational sciences. She has been working towards this degree since 2009 and will (hopefully) be finished in 2014. Muge has focused her research on neurobiology and that’s the extent to which I know about her field. Perhaps what is so fascinating about Muge is not that she is so brilliant, but that she can teach math-illiterate students like me in such a comprehensible way.


I didn’t intend for this article to be so promotional about Marquette University, but it’s really starting to sound like that. I guess I’m just amazed at how well professors keep up in their respective fields but at the same time can form close relationships with their students. All professors have a story, a secret interest, a life beyond the classroom. It is our job as students to ask about it.