By Roger A. Bowles
I have been teaching at Texas State Technical College for almost 23 years. I am reminded of how fast time goes by when I get students who are the children of former students. And, one student recently said that his grandfather and I knew each other years ago. Makes a person feel old. I think it was Andy Rooney who once said that “life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.” I am thankful for the opportunity to work in this career field and teach in it for so many years. It almost didn’t happen. I never thought I would end up teaching and I sure didn’t think I would be teaching this long.
In 1996, I was working as a BMET for Reading Hospital and Medical Center in Reading, Pennsylvania. I worked with a great group of co-workers up there and a few of them still work there. Amazingly, we still keep in touch. It wasn’t that I wasn’t happy working in that shop. I learned a lot and had some great times. And, I think they enjoyed the novelty of having a Texan working in the shop. My nickname was “Hoss,” and they would regularly ask me, “Whaddya fixin’ to do, today?” However, I knew deep down that I wanted to get back to my home state of Texas. My first wife wasn’t happy about that because she was from Pennsylvania and that was the whole reason I had moved there from Dallas. Come to think of it, she didn’t care much for Texas at all. Maybe that was one of the reasons … never mind.
I started looking for biomed jobs back in Texas. Most of the employers I applied to asked me why I went to Pennsylvania in the first place. When I told them, they seemed to lose interest in me very quickly. I can’t say that I blame them.
One day I called TSTC and asked one of my former instructors, who also happened to be the department chair at the time, if he knew of any positions that were open. He mentioned that one of the current instructors was fixin’ to retire (yes, it is a real term down here) and maybe I would consider coming to teach there. The thought had never occurred to me. I didn’t consider myself a teacher and the thought of standing up in front of a whole bunch of people didn’t really appeal to me. However, I thought about it and realized it could be my only chance to get back to Texas. I could do anything, even teach, for a little while.
The retiring instructor didn’t actually retire until a year later. I waited for him, applied and accepted the position. At first, it was a bit rough. I was taught how to teach over the course of six months. The students were very patient with me. The thing about teaching is that it grows on you. The enthusiasm and the success of the students motivates you to do more. Soon it becomes a passion.
Still, the thought did occur to me that maybe I should see what else is out there. After all, a very senior instructor had told me that if I stayed there too long I would never leave. It sorta reminded me of the whole “Hotel California” thing. Needless to say, one year turned into five years and then 10 years. Next thing I knew, I was getting a 20-year plaque.
The curriculum and students have changed over the years but hopefully I get to stay around here for another 10 to 15 years. I’m thankful that I get to influence future biomeds. And, I’m thankful that some of you read this column! Have a great new year and be thankful! This truly is a remarkable career.
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