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Patience and Passion: Adam Tavel’s Career Path
08.14.14 |

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On the day of his graduation, Lebanon Valley College alumnus Adam Tavel ’03 did not celebrate the end of his undergraduate career—he celebrated the beginning of a journey.

Like most post-baccalaureates, Tavel was faced with a multitude of decisions, with the first being what type of career to pursue. In 2005, he became an English professor at Wor-Wic Community College in Salisbury, Md. He also committed himself to writing and publishing poetry, a passion he first discovered at 12 years old. That decision meant sacrificing a lucrative career for a career of passion, and he’s never looked back.

This ideal career did not come without obstacles for Tavel, who quickly found that other responsibilities include doubling as a counselor. “I soon realized my job is to not only teach students, but to guide them in life,” said Tavel. In time, counseling became one of his strengths and the professor-student relationships he developed made the job intrinsically rewarding. “I love that I can treat my students like real people and never as just numbers.” This sentiment brings him back to the culture at LVC, where these types of relationships are common.

Tavel said three LVC professors in particular had a profound impact on his career: Dr. John Hinshaw (professor of history), Dr. Mary K. Pettice (associate professor of digital communications), and Dr. Marie G. Bongiovanni (chair and professor of English). Aside from helping him at LVC, they became examples of how to be an effective professor. “After becoming a professor myself, their commitment became more apparent,” Tavel explained, “they went above their duty and truly devoted their time to help students.” Their devotion is the trait he admires most and incorporates in his own methods of teaching. It is hard to deny Tavel’s impact as a professor, but writing poetry brings out his most passionate side.

“Poetry makes me feel awake. I see the world in all its vivid color,” he said. This year, he won the University of Alaska’s Permafrost Book Prize, an experience he described as life changing. “To be recognized for your work in a creative industry is a great feeling,” admitted Tavel. He is also the author of “The Fawn Abyss” (Salmon, forthcoming) and the chapbook “Red Flag Up” (Kattywompus). Though impressive, these accomplishments have not made him content; he plans to continue following his passion for poetry.

After reflecting on his post-graduation experiences, Tavel advises current and future LVC students to practice patience when entering the real world. “There is a great chance you might end up working a job you don’t enjoy at first,” he says. “It is important to remember your first jobs are short-term; think five, 10 years ahead, continue to work hard and when good job opportunities arise, you’ll be ready.”

There are many paths to a successful career, but what makes Tavel’s unique is that his gives him the ability to do what he loves. The philosopher Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Though some of his peers may define success in financial terms, Tavel chose another path: the path of passion.


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