SMC welcomes new housing manager

Published 5:04 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2016

(Submitted photo)

(Submitted photo)

Charles Edward “Eddie” Terry IV joined Southwestern Michigan College March 21 as Keith H. McKenzie residence hall manager.

Terry has come full circle back to Michigan after a sojourn to a Phoenix science teaching job, graduate school in student affairs counseling at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and educational posts in Texas, Ohio and South Carolina since 2011.

Born in Lansing like another Everett High School basketball player, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Terry dual enrolled at Lansing Community College then graduated from Central Michigan University.

Terry, oldest of three children, with two younger sisters, aspires to a Ph.D. degree in higher education and admires SMC.

“(President Dr. David Mathews) has an incredible product in SMC,” Terry said. “I’m really impressed. This community college is top of the line in theory—just the whole design with green space, the Student Activity Center close to residence halls and the academic model of trying to get students to do the best they can.

“It’s funny,” Terry added. “On the plane, I sat next to a Notre Dame professor. I told her I was coming to interview at SMC. She said, ‘It’s a really good school doing some great work.’ It impressed me she knew so much about it.”

“Community college gave me confidence I could do college. I was ready to go to the next step,” said Terry. “In elementary school I was in special ed because I needed glasses. I couldn’t see to read, so everyone treated me like I was slow. Two teachers changed my life—Miss Mitchell, a track star from Detroit who realized I needed glasses; and Miss Johnson, Magic’s sister and my fourth/fifth grade teacher. She held me back and worked with me every day. She scared the living daylights out of me, but invested so much into me I knew I wanted to be a teacher and to work in education in some way.”

Another Johnson sister worked for the Boys and Girls Club. A brother coached the basketball team.

Magic “came to a few of our games, which was really motivating. He gave us all shoes—which we should have been grateful for, but we were ungrateful kids and hated them,” he said.

“Miss Johnson kept me after school for an hour of tutoring, then took me to the Boys and Girls Club for another hour of tutoring,” Terry said. “Magic’s siblings showed me I could change my stars. I went from being a loser to someone who could perform academically. In eighth grade, another teacher, Mr. Harris the history teacher, changed my life. I had no interest in history. He literally pushed me to the point where I could teach his class by the end of the year.”

Phoenix exposed the former thespian to the slam poetry scene.

“I liked the energy,” said Terry, whose TEDx Talk, “How slam poetry taught me the four pillars of social justice,” is available on YouTube.

“A teacher in Phoenix who asked, ‘What do you do you don’t tell people?’ was instrumental in me trying to find happiness. When she found out I liked poetry, she took me to every open mic night Phoenix had until I found one I liked. I asked my favorite poet to coach me. Before I knew, I was on a team, competing nationally in Charlotte.”

“My background’s in counseling,” Terry said. “I believe storytelling is the greatest way to change people. We try to not tell our true stories. But once you really connect with someone’s story, it’s hard to act in a way that hurts them or to not acknowledge what your behavior does when you know what’s at stake. A lot of poverty is about hiding what you don’t have and pretending you have it. There’s power in people knowing what you’re struggling with and allowing them to help. One thing I like about this institution is the message we convey that our students are not alone. We have resources here if you agree to use them that will help you find success.”

Terry is also a “huge foodie. In my spare time I’ve been taking in local food. Niles has one of the best barbecue places I’ve been. Wounded Minnow’s peanut butter, jelly and Sriracha burger is one of the best. I believe spending money locally is a good way to show respect to the community.

“Photography is the next thing I want to learn and I’m thinking about writing a poetry play to give students an opportunity to perform. There are some really talented writers who don’t have confidence being on stage. I can’t wait to see the summer production of ‘Little Mermaid’ because I missed it. I didn’t get here in time.”

Southwestern Michigan College is a public, residential and commuter, community college, founded in 1964. The college averages in the top 10 percent nationally for student academic success based upon the National Community College Benchmark Project. Southwestern Michigan College strives to be the college of first choice, to provide the programs and services to meet the needs of students, and to serve our community. The college is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the American Association of Community Colleges.