Faculty Members Talk About Jobs in Their Past

Thursday, August 30, 2012
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UNH Today recently asked some faculty members to tell us about jobs they held prior to graduate school or while putting themselves through graduate school. Below you will find some short anecdotes as well as longer pieces.

Jeff BolsterIllustration of Jeff Bolster

Shortly after graduating from college in 1976 I bought a one-way plane ticket to the Caribbean. To someone who had always wanted to go to sea in sailing ships, the islands beckoned. Mom and Dad were not amused.

My first ship was a rusty, three-masted steel schooner run by a lecherous skipper with an appetite for West Indian rum. His navigation was slipshod, his engine room dangerous. On dive charters to Anegada Reef we planted doubloons and daggers for gullible guests. This was not the seafaring of my dreams.

A deckhand’s position opened up aboard the 95-foot gaff-rigger, Harvey Gamage. Manned by a competent crew, she was close to “spit and polish.” Sailing in the trade winds, the future looked bright. Maybe commercial sail was still viable.

Those milk runs in the Caribbean taught me fundamental seamanship, but the charter biz was full of wrinkles, such as “V.I.B.” cruises – Vacations in the Buff. That Caribbean sun bit like a shark and those nudists burned with a vengeance. A few seasons of chartering are enough for a lifetime of stories, so I happily shifted to sailing school ships and research vessels.

Mom and Dad are proud now. They’ve connected the dots, “from mariner to maritime historian.” And I remind my students that you only get your 20s once.

W. Jeffrey Bolster is associate professor of history. Author of the prize-winning Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail, and editor of Cross-Grained and Wily Waters: A Guide to the Piscataqua Maritime Region, his newest book, The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail has just been published by Harvard University Press.


Cartoon of Drew ConroyDrew Conroy

I was a teaching assistant at Northwest Missouri State University receiving free tuition and a $3000 stipend for the academic year. It was not enough to keep me fed and housed. Therefore, in addition to my T.A. duties, I milked cows at the university farm a few early mornings and some evenings. I also worked off campus on a private dairy farm in the summer for Charles Knorr.

Twice per year I helped a man named Leo Baumli, with his mule sale in the college town of Maryville. Leo was about 70 years old, and used to call me “New Hampshire” because he could remember that, but not my name. That horse and mule sale is still going on, run now by his son.

The college’s draft horses were named Doc and Bud. We also had a team of mules, but they were not worked often in a harness. They all belonged to the college farm. We used them for rodeo and other college events. I knew draft horses (as well as oxen) and part of my duties as a teaching assistant was to work the team on a regular basis.

My primary duties were to assist with the undergraduate courses on horseshoeing and blacksmithing, as well as animal nutrition and meats. I completed my master’s degree in agriculture with a focus on animal science in 1987.

Andrew Conroy is a professor of applied animal science. He has written three books, nearly 100 hundred articles, produced five educational videos, been featured in two major motion pictures, and consulted for numerous television stations assisting with documentaries on draft animals. In addition, he has conducted workshops all over the world on the subject of ox training, yoking and using oxen in both historic and contemporary settings.


Deb KinghornCartoon of Deborah Kinghorn

I worked my way through my undergraduate years. I picked raspberries (not as fun as when you can eat all you want); I worked (hard) at "suckering" and tying up grapes in a vineyard; I worked in an ice cream factory, where we were forced to wear white every day, and at the end of every day, came home with chocolate, strawberry and vanilla stains all over. But we got free ice cream!  To this day, I can't eat a fudgsicle. Seems like all the leftovers got thrown into the fudgsicle machine, watered down, frozen, and made into those frozen chocolate bars that I used to whine and beg for when I was a child. The more air you pump into the ice cream, the cheaper it is.  Good (I mean really good) ice cream is dense--creamy. Not a lot of air there. I worked the 3-11 p.m. shift. By 9 p.m., it seemed the night would never end. Every half hour we rotated on the machines--for example, on the "push-up" machines (the ones with a toy in the middle) one person would be making up boxes, one person would be putting the toy sticks into the ice cream, and the other would be packing them, six at a time, three in each hand, into a box. Six pushups would release at once from the machine. You had to grab them fast between your fingers so that you could put them in the box alternating the sticks. Twenty-four in a box, pass it down to the boxer, who would tape it shut, and make a new box. You ended up doing everything, but making the boxes was a relief to loading the boxes, that's for sure. Putting the sticks in wasn't easy, either. The machine would fill the container with the soft ice cream, and you would have to quickly put the stick in before the machine clicked over to the next container. You only had a second to do it, and if your aim was wrong, it couldn't be packed, and had to be discarded. You learned fast that discarding ice cream was frowned upon.

Those are some of the things I remember from my "factory" days. I've never forgotten that the ice cream most people enjoy as a treat was assembled by people working for minimum wage with only two 10-minute bathroom breaks and one half hour lunch break. Makes me more appreciative.

Deborah Kinghorn has worked as a professional actress and director, and teaches a variety of classes in theatre training. She is a member of the Voice and Speech Trainer’s Association (VASTA) and is a Master Teacher of Lessac Kinesensic Training. Her current research involves the Kinesensic training and its connections to the subtle energies of the mind and soul, and its applications to health and wellness.


Cartoon of John CerulloJohn Cerullo

When I graduated from college in 1971, I decided to take a year off to decide what to do with my life. I took a job as a bartender at a wonderfully unique little bar called The Onion in West Philadelphia, adjacent to the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. It was located in a basement; the upstairs was a steak house owned by a retired Philadelphia policeman. The Onion drew a clientele of students, hippies, bikers, artists, musicians – the kind of counter-culture crowd you would expect for a place like that in the early ‘70s. The upstairs drew a lot of off-duty cops and, for some reason, an odd assortment of gamblers and bookies too. The occasional interactions between the two crowds were always interesting, and sometimes combustible.

I decided I wanted to earn a Ph.D. in history but at the time I didn’t want to be a conventional historian. I loved studying history, but the academic atmosphere was too confining. I went to grad school on a part-time, pay-as-you-go basis. I took a course or two per semester, bartended on weekends, and supplemented that income by doing something that probably only a 20-something without family responsibilities would consider a productive use of time: writing movie scripts. The truth is, that’s really why I was studying history. I wanted to put what I was learning about the past on screen. I was lucky (or unlucky) enough to actually have a few “optioned” by producers (actually, “would-be” producers is more like it – usually just star-struck guys with some money burning holes in their pockets).

It took me eight years, working part-time, to earn that Ph.D. But in a way, I don’t regret it. A lot happened on the way. For one thing, I did get married, and I finally did learn something about responsibility. For another, one of my screenplays was actually produced – and the less said about that, the better. But most important, I learned a real appreciation for the art and craft of history, and deep respect for people who actually practice it well. I learned that historical scholarship, when taken seriously, is not an avocation or a “sideline.” It is a demanding, honorable, vital, and – dare I say it? – very exciting profession, and I’m very proud to be part of it.

John Cerullo is a Professor of European History at UNH Manchester. His book "Minotaur:  French Military Justice and the Aernoult-Rousset Affair," was released by Northern Illinois University Press in 2011. He is currently researching the background to the attempted impeachment of tne New Hampshire Supreme Court's chief justice in 2000. He hasn't set foot in a bar in years.


Tom Hainescartoon of Tom Haines

My story is a bit different, in that once I went back to graduate school for journalism, I worked in that field. During two years of grad school, for example, I worked three days a week as a stringer (cub reporter) in the New York Times San Francisco bureau.

Between college and grad school, I did something altogether different: programming cobol computer language as a business consultant for Andersen Consulting, a big multinational firm. Great people and learned a lot, but I hated the work. It was the thing that made me realize I wanted to reconnect with different layers of the world as a journalist.

Tom Haines is assistant professor of journalism and Society of American Travel Writers Travel Journalist of the Year (2003, 2005). During two decades as a journalist, Haines reported in more than 40 countries on five continents on topics ranging from coal to cricket, art to revolution. As a staff writer at The Boston Globe, he was three times named Travel Journalist of the Year in North America, and his stories were anthologized in “The Best American Travel Writing.”


John Nimmo

While working on both my master’s and doctorate I actually worked within my field as a teacher in the classroom with children or in the classroom with adults (as a resident assistant or teaching assistant for all six years). The only extra job I had was actually illegal (as I was on a student visa from Australia) in which I was the resident “security” and morning child care in a fancy independent elementary school in LA – I also lived there with my girlfriend (now spouse). I am a U.S. citizen now so I am safe from deportation!

John Nimmo is associate professor of family studies and executive director of UNH’s Child Study and Development Center. Born and raised in Australia, he taught and played with infants through school-age children for over a decade in various schools and programs before pursuing teacher education.


Dante Scala

I worked in a coffee shop through a good part of graduate school, making lattes and mopping floors.

I also spent a summer driving around Chicagoland, teaching reading comprehension enhancement courses to kids and adults.

In my Honda Civic, during one of the hottest summers in Chicago.

Dante Scala is an associate professor of political science. He has studied the changing political demographics of New Hampshire for more than a decade, and his expertise is recognized locally and nationally. He took part in a multi-state study of campaign communications in 2008 funded by the Pew Foundation and published by Temple University Press. His current work includes a study of campaign finance in the era of super PACs.


Andy Smith

I worked for a rock promoter when I was an undergrad and saw MANY interesting, funny and illegal things (including the lead singer from a big 1980s rock hair band stuffing things in his lamé pants to make him look better on stage). I also worked security for WWF and have a great image of George “the Animal” Steel sitting in his singlet after a match with half glasses, reading the Wall Street Journal.

Andrew Smith is director of the UNH Survey Center and associate professor of political science. The Survey Center is nationally known for its election polling. In recent years, the Survey Center has conducted polls for CNN, Fox News, WCVB in Boston, WMUR in Manchester, KYW in Philadelphia, USA Today, the Boston Globe, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Originally published by:

UNH Today