Humans of Hiram — December 2018 Spotlight
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Steve Matthews '71

Hiram college Alumni Spotlight

Steve Matthews ’71 did not begin his college journey at Hiram College but he credits it as the place that shaped his educational experience and strengthened his desire to pursue a career as a teacher and librarian. 

Steve started college as a freshman at George Washington University, commuting from his home in Washington D.C., but he wanted a residential experience on a small campus. He found Hiram College to match who he was as an inquisitive and jovial student so he transferred and stayed for four years to complete his double major in English and American History, a major he crafted on his own. During his studies at Hiram, two professors left a lasting impact on Steve: Professor Charles McKinley who taught an eye-opening course on the complex and amazing work of James Joyce’s Ulysses and Professor John Shaw who taught Shakespeare in a unique and inspiring way.

In addition to academics, Steve was very active on campus and within the Hiram community. He volunteered with organizations such as the yearbook, Literary Arts Magazine, Hattie Larlham, and Cell (a coffee house in the Whitcomb basement). He never joined a specific social club but rather enjoyed them all as a self-proclaimed, “gosh dang independent.” Sugar day and the Kappa dabowery were also highlights during his semesters at Hiram.

Steve also enjoyed the peaceful isolation of Hiram, its Western Reserve architecture, and the view to the east which he always found stunning. At the top of the Hill, he says, you get the sense you are a part of something that has such a unity of style and purpose.

For Steve, a profound memory from his time at Hiram is the May 4 shootings at Kent State Universityin 1970. He remembers the Hiram students, faculty and staff viewed the event as a learning experience to try and understand the turmoil in the country. Students voted on what actions they would take and the administration supported their active voices in writing letters, having teach-ins, speeches and even strikes.

After Hiram, Steve worked in a public library in Pennsylvania, then in Virginia before moving to New London and on to Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan to receive his Masters of Arts, Library Sciences in ’73 and a Masters of Arts at Connecticut College in ’77. His career path led him to Foxcroft, an all-girls boarding school in Middleburg, Virginia where he taught English, Advance Placement Literature, U.S. History, American Literature and World Literature until his retirement two years ago. Additionally, Steve owns a small antique business in Virginia at the Strasburg Antiques Emporium which he has run for the last 14 years.

Steve talks of his experience at Hiram enthusiastically and he’s remained supportive of Hiram over the years, even recruiting his sister to attend nine years after his graduation. Most recently, Steve joined the Alumni Executive Board. “Small colleges, like Hiram, are fabulous places but you must do your part to help them continue on,” Steve says. “For me, this was a good time to step forward and offer to help make the place I love even better.”  

Humans of Hiram spotlights a different faculty, staff, student, alumni, or friend each month.

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