Story by Catherine Solidon (BS '02)
Dr. Katherine Downey (B.A. '87, M.S. '90, Ph.D. '98) is currently in her second year teaching high school English at The Hockaday School in Dallas. She also teaches philosophy to doctoral students working toward a degree in management for the University of Phoenix, an online university. Prior to this, she taught literature and humanities at UT Dallas for eight years. She is also the author of Perverse Midrash: Oscar Wilde, Andre Gide, and Censorship of Biblical Drama.
Katherine credits her achievements as a writer and professor to her experience at UT Dallas. She fondly remembers her time spent at the university, first as a student and later as a professor. One of her most vivid memories is that of her second day in Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth's class. "The students sat in silence staring at each other when Dr. Ozsváth said 'What we're about to do is the most privileged thing a human being can do.' Then Dr. Ozsváth opened a book." This simple statement left a profound impact on Katherine and has helped shape her teaching philosophy. In a world that is full of struggles, reading and studying literature is a great privilege.
When asked of her most unique professional experience, she refers back to her years teaching at UT Dallas. She loved the diversity of her students; their uniqueness in age, experience and goals. She also loved the freedom she was given as an instructor. By teaching topics that fascinated and interested her, she was able to learn from her students as much as they learned from her. While many schools place heavy emphasis on standardization, UT Dallas gave her freedom.
Katherine asks the students of UT Dallas to take advantage of that freedom. Her advice to current students is to "think clearly and critically, and learn how to express yourself." As for alumni, she asks that you come back to campus and take the time to reconnect with UT Dallas and old classmates. UT Dallas "is a place like no other."
On a personal note, she sends her best regards to all the A&H Ph.D. alumni: She misses you all and hopes for a get-together soon!