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13 Years Later: My Last Quarter Was Just the Beginning

Written by Tim Russell, (Communication B.A. '04)

I remember how thrilled I was when my advisor cut to the chase on that steamy July day, even though I faced a sun-soaked 15-minute walk to my car.

“Tim, if you complete five more courses, you will graduate this December.”

It was a far cry from our meeting two years earlier, when I felt my world was collapsing.

After falling behind my high school peers, and reluctantly accepting that I’d never be an on-air meteorologist at the Weather Channel, I needed to find a new passion. Fortunately, the electives I took through the Department of Communication opened my eyes to a new possibility.

I wanted to learn as much as I could, from time-tested rhetorical strategies to the latest trends in reaching diverse audiences. I began to feel a sense of optimism and excitement about my future, that I wouldn’t just be taking a job. Instead I would be making a real impact on the world. I no longer feared what would come next. Rather, I wanted to experience it as soon as possible.

All of us have flaws, and for too long, I succumbed to the temptation of cutting corners. Taking the easy way out is likely what led to my failure in meteorology, and I went to great lengths to make sure I didn’t do the same thing in Communication. Yet I faced a moment of weakness the night before my final quarter of classes began: I could transfer and take an easier course while still fulfilling one of my requirements. No one would know and my journey would likely be much easier.

After considerable reflection, I decided to stick with the more difficult class. And that class is where I met the woman who would one day become my wife.

More than a decade later, I realize how important the Department of Communication has been to my life. I have enjoyed a rewarding career in fundraising and helped others gain access to life-changing educational opportunities. I have developed friendships and connections that make me a better person. And I have the honor of doing something I truly enjoy each day, which is something that transcends monetary compensation.

There are current and potential students who likely face the same challenges I did. Let’s give them the same chance to thrive and build a life they can be proud of.

Tim Russell


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