The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Students learn how to apply lessons from class to real-world situations, come out of shells

By Dylan Bradley/editor-in-chief

The core speech class requires more than what most introverts may be comfortable with, such as giving a speech to a classroom or a camera.

Irene Thrower, recipient of the Chancellor’s Award, arts department chair and TR speech instructor, tries to help students come out of their shells, overcome their fears and understand the deeper meanings of speech and communication.
“You’ve got to know that internal self before you can present it externally,” she said.

Having just celebrated her 10th year with TCC, Thrower currently teaches the speech portion of an integrated Cornerstone honors class that blends speech and history.

Thrower said students have to delve into who they are, why they are who they are and what the motivations are behind decision-making.

She remembers a student who had a hard time with introducing herself to the class. Afterward, Thrower reached out and connected with her.

Irene Thrower, TR arts department chair and Chancellor’s Award winner, teaches the speech portion of an integrated Cornerstone honors class. Photos by Eric Rebosio/The Collegian
Irene Thrower, TR arts department chair and Chancellor’s Award winner, teaches the speech portion of an integrated Cornerstone honors class. Photos by Eric Rebosio/The Collegian

“I spent a lot of time with her,” she said. “Her first major speech she made it through but was still scared to death. By the time she got to her third speech, she was one of the best speakers. She was really able to find a way. Helping students conquer a fear is something I enjoy.”

One of Thrower’s current students, Christian Villarreal, said her teaching style helped him see past the barrier between students and teachers as well as become more confident around his peers.

“I’m generally a less outgoing person, but after being in her class, I feel a little more comfortable coming out of my shell,” he said. “We call her by her first name, so it makes it more personal for us, and it’s a lot easier to receive information from her.”

Thrower said she wants what she teaches to help students with lifelong skills that improve their interpersonal relationships and help them be better people. “Communication is our external representation of what’s going on inside,” she said. “We think that just because we do it every day, we’re good at it or we understand it.”

TR student Justin Conger said the integrated class has helped him apply the concepts to day-to-day life. “Maybe you’ve had misperceptions and that you know because of your own understanding it was limited,” he said. “It’s nice to look at things in a much more open way.”

Thrower identifies with the challenges her students face in their academic journeys. “One thing I can always understand with students are the struggles and the time constraints they have,” she said. “My life is so busy and packed with stuff, so I try to be pretty cognizant of it when I give out assignments.”

Thrower wishes students would stop worrying about one class and trust in themselves as students. “It’s not just about that class that they’re in or that semester of classes that they’re in. It’s about how all of that stuff adds up to an education,” she said. “I think students need to jump in with both feet and make it about becoming better people and being a well-rounded person.”

One of her students, Victoria Ziegler, said Thrower has helped her understand the importance of taking what’s learned in the classroom and applying it to her life. “Being a good listener is often greater than being a good talker,” she said. “I work at my church. When I communicate with my team members, it’s really great to be able to know that it’s not about me at all and that just to work as a team is so much better than doing everything on your own. She’s incredible.”

Thrower’s advice for all college students is to make college less of a goal to reach and more of a doorway to the next phase of learning. “Be prepared and make it a priority,” she said. “I know a lot of students think that they want to come because it’s going to get them someplace better, which it will. But you have to care about it and make it more than that.”

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