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The Blue & Gray Press | August 24, 2019

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Tweedy inspires students


Danny Tweedy, professor of English, is a well-known name around the University of Mary Washington Campus. With a masters from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. in twentieth century American and African American literature, he is more than qualified for the job. However, there is more to Tweedy than what the average student would expect.

Tweedy was born in West Germany, when there was a “West” Germany. He lived there with his mother and nanny for five years before moving to the States.

Tweedy could not speak a word of English, and had to learn how to speak English through the “soap method”. If he used German in his grandmother’s household, she washed his mouth out with soap, so Tweedy learned the essentials quickly.

Tweedy graduated high school to attend the Virginia Military Institute, where he was a college wrestler. After breaking his back and talking to his professors, he made the decision to focus more on his own education and earned his degrees in both English and history.

He had planned to become a high school teacher, but his new freedom promised new experiences. Before joining the teaching staff at UMW, Tweedy worked as a bouncer in many bars spanning from New York to Lynchburg. It was during this time that he met his wife.

Before long, his friends decided that he needed to go to graduate school and forced him to take his GRE after already filling out all of his applications for him. So, Tweedy received his masters from the University of Kentucky.

After obtaining his masters, he remained in school to stay with his wife. He loved learning so much that he began taking classes to earn his Ph.D. Later, Tweedy applied as a visiting professor at UMW. He loved the experience, learning much and growing a lot personally.

He decided to apply to a full time professor position at UMW when, on the final day of his African American literature class, ten of his students stayed back and told him simply that he wasn’t leaving, which became his most fond memory as a professor.

He also realized that teaching at the college level was exactly what he wanted: to influence students in the same way his own professors at VMI had helped and encouraged him.

“I like teaching because I get to give something back. When I think about teaching, I feel as if I’m paying back what was given to me from past professors,” said Tweedy.

Now Tweedy’s students feel like they are receiving that same great education. “I enjoy what he is able to bring to the class. Tweedy is not just teaching me one subject, but is teaching me like 18 in the package of one,” said freshman biology major Roy King, who is taking a class on graphic novels with Tweedy.