Sometimes it is easy to forget that professors were once normal teenagers and young adults. It’s hard to forget that they weren’t always grading papers, and that some of them may have been delivering papers at one point in fact.
Dr. Sharron Sullivan, professor of Women and Gender Studies, and Theater, had her first job when she was nine. She was paid to deliver papers on a bicycle to the neighborhood. She did this job, so that she could pay for dance lessons. The job required getting up early, and riding her hideous yellow bike.
She also helped out at the community center that held her dance lessons, so that she could receive a free lesson every month.
“Someone stole my yellow bike, and I was excited at first, because I wasn’t going to have to ride that hideous yellow bike anymore, but I had to deliver papers on foot after that. I had to get up earlier and my brother helped me,” Dr. Sullivan said.
She indicated that the job taught her to go above and beyond to accomplish her goals. It also taught her the value of hard work.
Speaking of hard work, Dr. David Weed, of the English department’s, first job was as a busboy when he was in his teens.
“I broke a lot of glassware,” Dr. Weed said. He laminated on the fact that after he had worked there for a while, they had him train different people. It helped him realize how much stress there is in the restaurant business.
Lastly, Professor Karen Barren, of the English department, actually had her first job in high school. She worked at the Topeka Public Library and made $1.64 an hour shelving books that were returned.
“One of the most interesting thing about the job is that the Exorcist came out during the time I worked there, and everyone was so freaked out to go downstairs to the stacks,” Barren said. Since there were, so few people down in the basement with the books stacked in huge towers, she was able to pirouette down the halls for fun.
“I didn’t always get a lot of work done, mostly because I spent time reading the books. I learned a lot from my second job at the Pizza Hut on Gage, because it was with people,” Barren said. She went on to explain that she was waitress at the time she worked there, and eventually worked her way up to Head Waitress. The added title allowed her to train incoming waitresses.
As hard as it can be to forget how professors are these intelligent, well-read, and savvy individuals, they were at one point at their first job. At one point in their lives, they may have ridden a hideous yellow bike, or dropped a few cups and plates, or even danced on the job. Sometime, ask a professor what their first job was, and uncover their history.