Al Sampson

A 27-year break between one's sophomore and junior year may seem a bit much. Truth is I never intended to stay away that long. But I did. So when an opportunity to complete my degree presented itself, I jumped at it. Soon I was accepted as a junior, a 40-something who was after a writing degree. And I intended to craft it.

It didn't take long, however, before I was told how impossible that would be. After all, where did I think I was, Evergreen? That comment might have dissuaded me years before, but not anymore. I was a woman with a mission. And my sleuthing soon revealed a flexible degree program through Arts and Sciences and the Department of Technical Communication. I applied and was accepted.

But an urge to expand my scope to advertising and public relations writing soon overtook me. And before long I faced Al Sampson, seasoned ad man and advertising instructor. When I asked him how I could get into his ad classes, not if, he told me that, as a non-major, I was out of luck; then he suggested that I might get my foot in Communication's door during summer quarter when such restrictions were lifted. It worked! When he spotted me in his beginning copywriting class that first day, he smiled.

Then disaster hit. Two days later, I tripped on stairs at the HUB and sprained my ankle badly, an injury that would immobilize me for two weeks. Crestfallen with thoughts of having to drop summer school, I called a sympathetic Al Sampson who told me not to worry. I was to continue with all reading assignments; then catch up with other work upon my return. Was I ever relieved!

For the rest of that summer quarter, Al Sampson grew accustomed to seeing me in class with my left leg, enclosed in a boot cast, resting on the seat of an adjacent desk. His empathy for my condition showed repeatedly as he allowed me to present my work to the class while seated. When it came time for us to break into groups, he always asked those students in my group to move to where I sat. And when I won first place for my direct-mail package promoting a hypothetical newsletter called Wine Lines, Al Sampson presented me, where I sat, with a bottle of Columbia Crest, Gamay Beaujolais.

That unopened bottle sits on a bookshelf in my office to this day, a souvenir from a happy day and a reminder of an instructor whose door was always open. I reveled in partaking of this ad man's sage advice and did so often. He always encouraged me to stretch; then to stretch even more. But a visit to his office, two quarters later, is forever etched in my memory, the day he said, "Karen, you have a real flair for ad copywriting. You should do it rather than that dull old technical stuff!" High praise, indeed, from this seasoned ad man who believed me and showed it.

Karen Noblet, '95

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