When I embarked on an academic career in the late '50s--at age 45, a housewife with seven children at home, it was Dr. Sverre Arestad, the head of the Scandinavian Department, who gave me the most encouragement.
Under his guidance, I was able to earn a teaching certificate as well as a master's degree in Scandinavian Languages and Literature.
My tuition was mostly paid for by scholarships and I attended classes early in the morning and evening, riding on buses to the campus from my home near Bothell. After I started teaching Dr Arestad arranged for both my teacher-husband and me to attend seminars following our last class of the day so that we both earned master's degrees at the same time.
It was through Dr. Arestad's recommendations that I was able to attend UCLA one summer as part of a team of educators writing a text book for the teaching of Norwegian.
Although I became an English teacher, I also taught Norwegian classes at night school whenever there was an interest shown for the class, mostly at Shoreline Community College. Now I have retired from teaching and live in the San Juan Islands. However, occasionally I still teach Norwegian classes at Skagit Valley College.
When I consider the rewards I received through a long successful career, I would like to give credit to this wonderful educator, Dr. Sverre Arestad, who advised, encouraged and helped me and many other students achieve our goals.
Gurina McIlrath Palmer, '63
How pleased I was to read of your offer to alumni to write about a remembered professor from earlier days at the UW. Like Ann Rule (from the early '50s), I, too, remember Mark Harris from a later date. How well I recall the 20 or so students sitting around a large table in Parrington Hall for novel writing ... only by the early '60s he was reading aloud the students' writing efforts. I remember his reading from my "novel" and his continual stopping to laugh. "This one reminds me of 'The Egg and I,' " he chuckled. I was pleased at his response for, indeed, I didn't mind comparison to Betty McDonald.
In addition to Mark Harris, I want to pay tribute to Dr. Sverre Arestad of the UW.'s Scandinavian Department. He taught Norwegian language and Scandinavian Literature... and what a dynamic professor he was! I well remember my first day in Norwegian 101 in September 1960. He took roll call by calling student names with a Norwegian pronunciation. My name was Mary Steen and although I had grown up around Norwegians, I had never heard the last name pronounced 'Stay-en."
"Mar-ri Stay-en," I heard Dr. Arestad say. "Mar-ri Stay-en." After the third or fourth time, I thought maybe he's saying Mary Steen, so I finally responded. I loved that class, took every Norwegian class I could for two years, and ended with a minor in Norwegian and a major in English (writing rather than lit.) How I wish I could have had Dr. Arestad before my junior year because he really encouraged me to go into teaching (and, as he put it, perhaps I could also teach some Norwegian in whatever school I was in). Thanks to Dr. Arestad, for the first time I truly became interested in teaching as a vocation. However, I was determined to graduate in four years ... so maybe, I said, I would return to obtain a teaching certificate.
Although I've worked for three school districts from writing and editing work in one district to theme reading for the past nine years in Kent School District, I have never gone back to school for my teaching certificate. I think often of Dr. Arestad and how I should have listened more carefully to him--in English.
Mary Steen Story, '62
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