The Alumni Relations Office recently sat down with Dwain and Bené Thomas, both 1976 graduates, to talk about why they attended TLU and how the university has impacted their lives.
Why did you choose to attend TLU?
Dwain attended Klein High School in Houston and was a standout athlete. During his senior year, he was being recruited for the basketball team and Coach Shuler asked if he knew anything about TLU. His answer was yes. He was already interested in the school because; one of his high school coaches attended TLU and his cousin was a student there at the time. Dwain visited the campus and met the basketball team and was immediately drawn to the unique environment. It was what he was looking for, a small school with a close-knit group of students and a strong business department. Bené attended Lamar High School and was a member of the debate team. She was also a member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church where TLU football and campus events were discussed every week after Sunday School. So, deciding to attend TLU was not a surprise. For Bené, the words “quiet campus and liberal arts” caught her attention since she planned on majoring in political science.
How did you meet?
Bené clearly remembers first meeting Dwain on her 18th birthday, September 17, 1976. She was leaving the homecoming dance early to call home and one of his roommates were just arriving. After that, we ran into each other on campus and hung out with mutual friends. Ultimately, the stars aligned, and we found each other.
What are your favorite TLU memories together?
Whether it’s shared memories or just a shared feeling - but taking the Texas Lutheran University exit on Interstate 10 is where it begins. Once we arrive and park behind the student center, we both look around and sigh. Sometimes we joke, that we’re home again or that this is where it all began. First stop is the bookstore and next the walk over to the gym. Walking across campus brings back so many memories. We share the TLU experience – social, academic, and athletic – the experience is part of who we are.
How did your education impact your life?
Our liberal arts background and TLU’s curriculum provided a well-rounded foundation and enabled us the ability to adjust and grow professionally. We were secure in the fact that we had a strong foundation and were flexible enough not to be defined by our degrees, but rather our ability to learn. We adapted to our careers. Neither one of us ended up in the careers that we planned. Instead of sales and marketing, Dwain spent 35 years in leadership roles in the railroad industry. Bené took a couple of business courses her senior year and enjoyed the challenge. Her career choices led her into information technology as a systems analyst and project manager. Now that we’re retired, we look back and agree that we enjoyed the challenges.
What professional or personal experiences have made a significant impact on you?
The TLU experience has been in integral part of our lives. The TLU community was there to encourage and nurture us as students. We both recognize the value and importance of the gifts that we’ve received. So we believe that it is important to support TLU to ensure that there are opportunities for others. TLU is the gift that keeps on giving, but in order for that to continue, we give back in any way that we can.
What advice do you have for current students?
The TLU experience is not simply a scholastic experience, it is an experience that shapes your life. You learn how to navigate life and relationships while attending TLU. In our case, the most important relationship that we developed was our marriage. We also began hundreds of other relationships at TLU that still exist. You will too. We left our homes and families as freshmen and joined a community of new people. Those people became our extended family. For over 40 years, we still socialize, encourage, and support each other. We have lifelong friendships with people we met at TLU. In fact, text messages, calls and social media likes are part of each day. Attending TLU is a wonderful and challenging experience.