Timothy Berkey Professor Profile
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Professor Profiles

Meet new communication professor Timothy Berkey

By Victoria Lawson | Echo

New communication professor, Dr. Timothy Berkey, shares his story of determination and devastation in this week’s Professor Profile.

There it was. After sitting abandoned in a Texas barn for 20 years, $250 later, it was his. The black 1969 Volkswagen Beetle would need a lot of tender love and care, but Instructor of Communications Timothy Berkey knew he was up for the challenge.

Berkey was 16 when he started working on the Volkswagen that would be his first car. His family was large — he was one of six kids — and his parents knew they would be unable to afford brand new cars for each of their children. This reality prompted the Berkey family to travel throughout the Midwest, visiting old barns and garages and searching for broken down Volkswagens to purchase.

Every morning, Berkey would wake up, go to school, then work a few shifts at his parents’ machine shop. There he learned the skills he needed to go home and fix his Volkswagen on his own. He spent hours after school working on the car, then doing homework, going to bed and doing it all over again. On Saturdays, Berkey spent most of his day tending to his Volkswagen. He even gave the black Beetle a fresh coat of blue and orange paint to support the Chicago Bears. Eventually, after a year and a half of repairs and restorative measures later, Berkey finished the car. It ran, it was reliable and he was delighted in his success.

For two months, Berkey proudly drove his beloved Beetle until a truck ran a stop sign and collided with him, reversing his months of meticulous rebuilding.

“It was one of those accidents people don’t walk away from,” Berkey said. “It was a really long recovery for me, and the car never recovered.”

Berkey was devastated. In spite of his misfortune, though, Berkey looks back on that day with gratitude; he could have easily lost his life in the wreck.

Berkey said the most significant lesson he took away from his car being totalled is that nothing this side of heaven will last — sometimes even things we pour our hearts into.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” Berkey said.

In addition to teaching interpersonal communication, public speaking, communication writing essentials and strategic communications this semester, Berkey has some meaningful life lessons to share.

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