Life is never dull with Dr. Bertolas


Photos by Julia Baxter, Photo Editor Dr. Randy Bertolas in his office

Brianna Parsons , Staff Writer

In Connell Hall, students always see Dr. Randy Bertolas making jokes and making the most out of his job every day.

“As a very little kid, I was a big fan of science fiction,” Bertolas said. “I wanted to be an astronaut and travel in space but if I took off these glasses, I couldn’t even tell you were in the room, so I knew I would not qualify for NASA, but I did like traveling and seeing new things.”

According to Bertolas, in seventh grade, a teacher was getting rid of a lot of maps in the world geography classroom he was in and asked if anyone would want them. Bertolas took them and read them all.

“I went to college pre-med,” Bertolas said. “I was going to be a doctor, even though I fainted at the sight of blood and vaccinations to myself.”

“The first class I walked into at college, was a physical geography course,”

“It came so easy to me, at the end of my freshman year, I went to the professor who taught that class and I asked if there was anything I could major in that revolved around what we learned and he said geography; so I took the courses, did the work, graduated and the rest, as they say, was geography.”

Being so young and only just starting his journey with college, Bertolas knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life at an early age.

“I knew at the age of 19, I wanted to teach geography, at a small college somewhere in the Midwest, all these years later, what was I doing? I was living my dream job, it really was a dream,” Bertolas said. “If you found a job you loved, you would never work a day in your life, that has been my motto forever.”

Being a professor, Bertolas got to engage young people and get them interested in the science of differences, how people were unique, different around the world, showed them pictures, told them stories and educated them about all the wonderful places and people there were.

“I tried to open up students’ eyes to what was going on in the rest of the world,” Bertolas said.

He was always wanting to do whatever he could for his students.

“I wanted our students to be ready for all these [life changing] opportunities because you guys were ready to take it in, you wanted to know and be your best, you were curious and smart,” Bertolas said.

Bertolas taught an independent study course, “Shapers of the Modern Mind” for Neihardt scholars.

“I guided a number of students through their honor projects, taught world regional geography, human geography and physical geography,” Bertolas said.

Bertolas loved the opportunity to serve as a professor and the faculty advisor for clubs and organizations such as Geography Honors Society and the Explorers Club.

“I tried to get to know my students, showed respect for them and learned their names; it gave me a shot to get to know some people,” Bertolas said.

Everything about Bertolas’ job he loved, from helping students with their problems to teaching students new things.

“It was the greatest job in the world, I got freedom of thought, I got to read,” Bertolas said. “In fact that was my job, to read, learn and from the literature, tried and find ways to explain more complex events to people in the public who may not understand it.”

“I worked with the best students in the world, it made me very mentally stimulated, it kept me going every day. I got a real kick, it was a heck of a lot of responsibility, but we worked for the governor, to give students a good education.”

Throughout all his years of teaching, Bertolas’ funniest moment in class was when his students threw him a birthday party.

“My students threw me a 50th birthday party, all these goofy things were on my desk, I thought it was Halloween at first because they put little coffins and headstones on my desk,” Bertolas said. “All this stuff was saying that it was the end for me, [because I was getting older]. [The whole surprise] was very moving and very touching.”

Bertolas knew that these people made a commitment and the least he could do was make a commitment to them, Wayne State College made him who he was as a professor, and he learned so much about what he knew about teaching from being there.