Although I graduated from TJC in 1981, it seems like yesterday in many ways. Twenty-eight years later, as my vision begins to blur, I am amazed and even tickled by the detailed and clear memories I have of my time spent on the beautiful TJC campus and how it helped form the person I would become.
Choosing TJC changed my life for good! It was a transition period when plans and promises were made.
I didn’t know then that something so close to home could take me so far in life. I cherish the friends I made, the professors I had and the activities I participated in that helped shape my life and give me direction.
I grew up in Tyler, graduated from Robert E. Lee High School and was recruited by Mr. J. W. Johnson from TJC’s music department. I sang in TJC’s Harmony and Understanding and acted in numerous productions of the theater department. Just as I was graduating from TJC, the Young Americans came to perform on campus and held auditions. Dressed in overalls as a stagehand, I auditioned a cappella and the next thing I knew, I was touring with the Young Americans and tap dancing with Liberace! He was very gracious and so humble while still being the consummate showman. He loved to thrill audience members with his jewels and outlandish costumes. I remember trying on the famous white fur cape! We performed in enormous amphitheaters and it was an incredible experience. I had the good fortune to work with many talented people in many unique settings.
Little did I know that my experiences in music and theatre at TJC laid the foundation for my most valuable life lessons. I found myself with strangers. (Some stranger than others!) I had to take direction, give direction, work as a team player, and be prepared to perform, often times in short order. After attending Ole Miss to finish my undergraduate degree, I received a master’s from OU. I later joined Baker and Botts law firm in Houston as a paralegal where I worked on parts of cases but never the whole. The big picture interested me which led me to law school.
I met my husband, David, at church in Houston, and we married the summer after my first year. When I graduated, I started prosecuting at the DA’s office. My theatre background was very helpful in court. I was later appointed as city attorney for Pearland and addressed various aspects of municipal law. From Pearland we went to California for David’s job.
From California we returned to Tyler, where my family is located. Our sons, Alex and Hayden, are 12 and 6 years old now, and we love being back home to raise them here.
I recently attended my 30th high school reunion, and it was great to visit with old friends and acquaintances about where life has taken us. Having a great public college like TJC that is affordable and close to home has made a huge difference in the lives of so many of us. Now with the unsettling economic climate, access to colleges like TJC is especially important in keeping alive the American dream for future generations. As a scholarship recipient, I recognize that TJC’s Alumni Association plays a major role in helping create opportunities for area students and access to a brighter future, not only for them, but for us all. Funds raised through membership dues in the TJC Alumni Association provide scholarships for our students. The College also has a “Promises to Keep” scholarship campaign so that students who have anticipated financial assistance, and those who particularly deserve it will receive the scholarships they need to get a great start on their higher education journey– just like I did many years ago–regardless of today’s economic situation.
- TJC Hero and Friend Amy McCullough is currently the president of the TJC Alumni Association. She is also involved in many community organizations and is a member of Green Acres Baptist Church.