Meet Daniel Brewster, a campus celebrity! Brewster is a well respected professor at WVU with his outspoken, yet honest teachings. In addition he is a public figure on campus for his involvement in student organizations, especially the LGBT community. His story of becoming who he is has been documented in the video “Enough is Enough”. Brewster’s influence has not only been on his students, but he has had a noteable impact on the WVU and Morgantown community.
Q: When deciding a career path, what led you to becoming a professor?
A: I never thought that I would be an instructor at the collegiate level. I never had any aspirations of being a faculty member. I wanted to be an attorney but got an incredible opportunity and after some deliberation could not pass it up.
Q: Many times, students in college, including myself, have had that moment where they don’t know what they want to do next. Did you have this moment in college?
A: I wouldn’t necessarily say that I had the moment that told me what I wanted to do next but I did have that moment that changed who I was, how I saw the world and what I ultimately have become. I don’t know that I knew it then but somewhere in the end of my last year of graduate school I realized the lesson was simple.
I had a class with Dr. Melissa Latimer and I ended up taking all her courses but I remember a lecture in the Race Relations class where we talked about white privilege, it was at that moment that I realized that I wanted to be someone who fought against inequality. I now advocate for equality in many different ways.
Q: Following college, once you began your profession, did you eve have to answer the personal question: Is this what I want to do with my life? If so, how did you go about answering it?
A:I think that I am still answering that question. However, I had taught for 5 years before I realized that I loved it. I was in the middle of the 2008-2009 school year. It was a rough year with the election of President Obama, I had some pretty testy moments that year in my classes but I knew that I was doing something right one day after class when I was told “Thank you” for a lecture for the first time in my career.
Q: Is there one single moment that stands out to you, a moment where you knew you were meant to be a professor?
A:The moment that stands out was after a discussion on depression, suicide and LGBT bullying. I told my story to my classes, you could have heard a pen drop, it was the first time in my career that I felt like I had the full attention of everyone. I gave that lecture 4 times that day and probably shook hands or hugged 400-500 students that day.
Q: What makes WVU special to you?
A:This is my alma mater. I grew up coming to games. I loved WVU before I even understood the concept of college. I think that today it is special because it is the place that allowed me the opportunity to “come out”. I have hopefully changed some lives at WVU because I know that this institution has changed me for the better.
Q: After your years of experience, what mistakes do you see students making, and what is your advice to them?
A:The mistakes are different than they were when I started teaching. When I started teaching students were focused on taking down every word that came out of a professors mouth which forced them to miss some important material while trying to record all material regardless of its importance. However, today the problem is our educational system. Students think that they should be taught for a test and few seek to acquire that higher level learning. I am shocked by attendance rates in class, though I have a pretty high rate of attendance it still stuns me that 10-15% of a class could miss on any given day for no good reason.
Q: Many of your classes fill up quickly and have been noted as a must take class. Can you explain why you think this is? (It’s okay to have a self brag moment)
A:I think that I relate to the students. I often dress like them. I listen to the music and watch the shows they watch. I think they appreciate my honesty, my courage and my willingness to stand up for what is right even when I am standing alone.
I am stunned when a student sends me an email begging to get admitted to my class. I never thought I would experience that when I started teaching. I remember the greats before me and how I begged them. It is really quite humbling.
Q: For a fun question to wrap up the interview, if you have one song to sing for karaoke what would it be?
A:I thought about this long and hard and was torn between several songs but I think that the song I would sing would “True Colors”. In many ways this song helped me survive my childhood and still to this day when it comes on my Pandora, I stop and sing.