Growing up, Dr. Annette Citzler spent many days on her grandparent’s farm. The time spent pickling vegetables, making cookies, butchering meat, and preparing meals showed her the true meaning of farm to table. From churning butter to homemade preserves, she learned how making food for others is an act of love. Citzler, a business professor, is a self-proclaimed recipe collector who feels best when she can share a meal with others.
“I take immense happiness in baking and cooking for others,” she said. “It’s a process of giving and nurturing for me. Think about it. Sitting down with friends or family to enjoy a meal goes back to our earliest history. Nowadays, I think we lack that social connection. We need to look at how food relates to family togetherness and how food can bring us back together.”
Along with her business courses, Dr. Citzler is teaching an honor’s course on food and culture. Her goal is for students to take pride in what they produce and understand the importance of hospitality.
“They will explore the meaning of food in their own lives,” Citzler said. “Whether it’s growing or cooking, I want them to relate their academic work to their own life experiences. People really do come together through cooking and sharing. I experienced that with my relatives and I want the same for my students.”
When her family homestead burned during the Bastrop fires in 2010, so did all of her family recipes and cookbooks. The TLU community came together for Dr. Citzler and collected around 300 cookbooks from colleagues and students.
“I was very grateful when that happened,” Citzler said. “It was moving. I’ll always love making food for people. It all goes back to the idea that we enjoy nurturing others. I don’t really know how to cook for one. However, I do know I get the happiest feeling from sharing a homemade meal with others.”
Read More Got Passion? Stories
Although a gardener at heart, Tim Barr is passionate about more than just growing vegetables. From his young daughters to TLU students to members of the Seguin community, Tim sees himself as a co-educator emphasizing the interconnectedness of life in Seguin and on this planet. Whether it’s with local farmers or members of his church, developing a sense of community and cultivating relationships are his main focus. “We’re all part of something bigger,” says Barr, director of the Jon and Sandra Moline Center for Student Leadership. “I hope I can help students deepen their understanding of global citizenship and local involvement. I want students to connect with the Seguin community, invest in their new home, and grow relationships with one another.”
Some people refer to Beth Barry as the “Tina Fey of TLU.” A lecturer in TLU’s Communication & English Studies department, Beth has a passion for words and a gift for humor. She knows a few jokes in class can break the ice, but once everyone is comfortable it's time to get to work. Beth realizes that not everyone shares her love of writing. “A writing class shouldn't be a series of meaningless assignments," says Barry. “It’s an opportunity to find your voice, sharpen your writing skills, and practice using those skills to empower yourself and others. Writing is like music or painting. Even academic writing should be creative and compelling – it should touch an audience and inspire action, just like great art does.”
Dr. Robin Bisha has found a way to pair her love for animals with teaching. The communication studies professor’s unique approach to studying leadership involves students in the practice of animal welfare with rescue dogs. The benefits of animal companionship come to life in her Communication Studies 332 course Leadership For Social Change. “We can learn skills that are relevant to our human relationships through our relationships with animals,” Bisha said. “We think about leadership in terms of business and government, but I want students to see how studying positive reinforcement with animals can open our minds when it comes to leadership. People must have trust in those who lead them. I believe my class shows how conflict resolution and building relationships with animals translate to how we interact with other humans.”
|Chef Ernest Servantes|
When a teenage Ernest Servantes first stepped into a busy restaurant kitchen, he knew it was his calling. Having always been intrigued by food and the art of preparing dishes, his natural leadership abilities, determination and sense of pride are what he says make him the chef he is today. As TLU’s executive chef and winner of Food Network’s Chopped Grill Masters he wants everyone to remember more than just his big, bold flavors. “It’s important to remember that it doesn’t matter the degrees you have on your wall or how many famous restaurants you own,” Servantes said. “It’s about where you come from and who you are in your soul. My family, friends and the TLU community remain at the heart of my cooking.”
Working with the Black & Gold President’s Council is like being a parent over and over again for TLU’s First Lady Michelle Dorsey. Inspired by her mother’s encouraging nature, Michelle wants students to have both an academic and social education. From etiquette to wardrobe, students who serve on the President’s Council develop social leadership. By involving them in various University events, they learn how to interact with people and gain confidence in social situations. “We’re committed to turning out a whole person,” says Dorsey. “TLU is transformative. When you see the change in these students from the time they join the council to the time they leave, it’s wonderful. They have lots to offer and with the right tools, they really shine.”
When Rodrick Shao moved to the U.S. from Tanzania two decades ago, he saw endless opportunities. He also noticed how basic needs like food, shelter, and education were sometimes taken for granted. Now an instructional technologist, giving back to those less fortunate remains his passion. For the past 10 years, he and his wife Elly have raised funds and awareness for orphans in Tanzania. “Our hearts go out to these children,” says Shao. “AIDS has wiped out a generation of young parents. Their children are now the responsibility of society. I encourage people to look at their own lives, what they’ve been given, and how they can return the favor. I was given the chance to succeed and they deserve the same.”