Thursday, December 10, 2009
Lillie S. McNeal has seen it all at Rust College
By IRVING R. SMITH
Lillie Spell McNeal is one of the longest serving instructors at Rust College. She is an assistant professor of religion at the institution and has the task of assisting with the religious life program and teaches biblical studies.
With an overall teaching career of nearly 45 years at Rust, McNeal joined the college in 1963 and stayed until 1972 when she left the college and came back in 1975. McNeal said she has seen everything, from the different kinds of students who have come and gone from the institution, to the evolution of the school itself, including the many accomplishments and additions in the campus’ physical expansion and academic programs.
McNeal said the most rewarding part about teaching is seeing her students graduate and make it out in the world.
“It’s the fulfillment that you get from teaching, especially when students come back to you and tell you years later that they really appreciate you,” said McNeal. “That is the greatest gift any teacher can have, seeing those students attain high ranks and high marks.”
Originally from Palatka, Fla., McNeal is a graduate of Bethune Cookman College, a historically black college, now a university in Daytona Beach, Fla. She got her bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religion. She then attended the Interdenominational Theological Center of Atlanta, Ga., for her master’s in education. The longtime teacher at Rust College still maintains her drive to help students in whichever way she can.
Offering some advice to students everywhere, she said, “You’ve got to have experience to get your foot through the door. The world in which we are living is a big one, so take advantage of what you’ve got; prepare yourself today and believe in yourself.”
She thinks highly of Rust because the institution gives many young adults an opportunity for education.
Next to being a teacher of students vying for a college education, McNeal has another goal of organizing a religious program.
When asked the question of retirement, McNeal responded, ”I don’t plan on stopping as an instructor until the day that God either speaks to me and tells me, it is time to stop teaching, or takes me on to glory.”
Editor’s Note – Contributing writer Irving Smith is a print journalism major at Rust College, and writes for the campus newspaper, The Rustorian.
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