Honoree: Amy Shuman

Amy Shuman
Amy Shuman
Professor, Department of English
I can say she is the best thing that ever happened to me as a student coming from the U.S. Virgin Islands looking for answers about my identity.
Viola Newton illustrates Amy Shuman's crucial influence on her development as a scholar, as well as Amy's personal interest in Viola's background, and her passion to help Viola complete her doctorate degree.


VIOLA NEWTON: I am speaking about Amy Shuman, a professor in the English Department. My name is Viola M. Newton, I am a professor here at the Ohio State University, and I met Dr. Shuman in the year 1985. She was my teacher, and I was a PhD student and I remember her very well because she was so interested in who I was. She was kind, very small, and very compassionate, and I really began to like her. But I liked her mostly because she was so interested in my cultural background and she was always so interested in having me speak about who I was.

In the book, "The Natural," in 1952, Bernard Malamud writes: "We have two lives: the life we learn with, and the life we live with after that. Suffering is what brings us toward happiness." And this maxim is certainly applicable to my relationship with Professor Shuman, because she helped me to find my voice as a scholar. Amy taught me how to read literature to find meaning in stories and this way I pass on my learning to my students because she taught me, in the words of John Ciardi, "How does a poem mean?"

So I can say that she is the best thing that ever happened to me as a student coming from the U.S. Virgin Islands, looking for answers about my identity. She was always there for me, and she helped me through my dissertation. She helped point out the things that shouldn't be and those that should be. She even had me come to her house, even when she going on her own sabbatical, she made sure she kept in touch with me. Her happiest day was the day that I passed my generals and I passed my defense and she was so happy, she said: "Viola, you're a scholar!"

Today I do very well with my teaching, but I can't forget Amy Shuman. A young black woman coming from the islands, being embraced by this little, little white young girl-- I think of her as a girl because I'm older than she-- and she really, really helped me to be who I am today. We don't call each other and hug each other, none of that. But when we see each other, we know that we've done something well by knowing each other, and also that she has taught me how to be a good teacher. I won several distinguished teaching awards, and I can only attribute that to Amy because she told me to "just be yourself," and for that I think she is the best woman at OSU for whom I will always hold the greatest, greatest love and respect.

Transcription by Transcribe OSU