John Rubedeau: Interview II – RealAcad Mondays

Picking up from last week’s RealAcad Monday, we have an interview with Professor John Rubedeau here thanks to Justin Yiu, a fellow RealAcader from Stanford’11. I was at the camp with Justin, who is now just starting out on his career as an Actuarial Analyst. Justin just graduated from the University of Michigan and is a wonderful presenter, a basketball star, huge Kobe Bryant fan and a great guy.

During our time together, Justin spoke of his admiration for his English Professor, John Rubedeau. He spoke of John as a fantastic teacher who inspired his students to think different. And I am very glad Justin took time off his busy schedule to interview John. I couldn’t help but smile as I read John’s responses to our questions.

I am very excited about this interview for many reasons. This is a first for this blog on many levels and I look forward to your comments, feedback and suggestions for questions for future interviews.

Bio: John Rubadeau is currently a Senior Lecturer at the University of Michigan. Before his teaching career, John was a social worker for the Red Cross in Europe. He obtained his doctorate at Georgia State University and began teaching at the University of Michigan in 1987. Through his inspirational lectures, he hopes to makes students love the English language. John won the Golden Apple in 2005 which is awarded to the faculty member who best inspires and engages his students through the course’s subject material. During his free time he writes books, catches up with students, and plays with his two dogs.

1. What inspires/drives you?

What drives me is that I have been fortunate enough to find a career that I love. I so enjoy going to class every day, anticipating my happy interactions with my students. The real joy I get is preparing them to enter the real world where knowledge of written English is paramount to their success. I feel that I have a certain storehouse of knowledge that very few people have, and I take great pleasure in transmitting that knowledge to my students.

As we progress in this technological age and people are getting away from reading books and writing, I see that the skills that I have learned are becoming increasingly more valuable in the marketplace of idea, and I get a great joy out of helping my students progress in their careers.

2. What has been the most defining moment of your life so far?

This is probably not what you’re looking for, but the most defining moments of my life are when I discovered, first through experience and then through voluminous amounts of reading, that there could not be a providential God. Raised as a firm believer in the Roman Catholic Church, one who believed that praying to God would serve as a way to communicate with him, I was, over ten years, made aware that if there is a God who answers one’s prayers, then there must be a God who does not answer one’s prayers.

So, with an alcoholic father, a mother who spent the last five years of her life as a vegetable at a public welfare hospital, as a father who lost his first and third sons at eight and a half months, and a man whose wife died when she was thirty, I lost my faith. And this loss of faith has changed my life, surprisingly, I think, in a much better way. I suppose frequent death between the ages of twenty and thirty would affect any person’s view of life.

3. What advice would you have for future leaders?

I’ve never aspired to be a leader, so I feel ill-prepared to offer anyone advice about leadership. I do not have a high opinion of those who would lead others. I think it’s a character flaw. I’m always reminded of the great English axiom, “Politicians (substitute here the name of any person in any profession) are like soap in the tub; the scum always rises to the top.”

John on teaching for over a quarter of a century at the University of Michigan
 I reflected on my life and come to the conclusion that I could not have designed a better life for me than the life I’ve lived.
I would like to be able to say that at the end of my career as well. :)

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