Dr. Berg epitomized the best parts of Newman

DR.BERG, KNOWN FOR HER FUNKY STYLE, was an fierce, passionate and inspiring woman. Courtesy photo, Teresa Wilkerson

If you never had the opportunity to take a class from Dr. Suzanne Berg, I am so truly sorry.

That means you likely never rhetorically analyzed the meaning of Beyonce’s “Lemonade” album or watched a clip of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” to discuss gender identities.

You never got to hear her sing the words on a PowerPoint slide or go on a four-minute tangent about how people in the Midwest really should watch more hockey.

You missed out on hearing her refer to acclaimed communication theorist Kenneth Burke as “my man Kenny B” and you didn’t get to see her eyes light up when she started talking about gender theory.

You never found out about the deal she got on her dresses from the Victoria Beckham line at Target or listened to her rant about how there is no ‘s’ on the end of the ‘communication’ major.

You didn’t get to hear her talk about playing Pokemon Go around campus or how she found a new website to buy yarn from over the weekend.

You missed out on all of these things. And I am so sorry.

But what you really missed out on was the chance to fall in love with learning the way she had.

All it took was one week in a class with Dr. Berg and I knew I had made the right choice in coming to Newman.

She was the perfect combination of everything you could want in a professor.

 She understood the importance of finding a balance between professional and personal. She was warm and inviting and so unbelievably genuine. She saw potential in students that they didn’t see in themselves, and she knew how to get it out of them.

I wouldn’t be heading to law school this fall if it weren’t for Dr. Berg. I don’t think I’d be a communication major right now, either.

This is a woman who taught me how to be comfortable in my own skin and to stand up for what I believe. She did so by being unapologetically herself, every single day.

Dr. Berg had pink hair and a uterus magnet stuck to her desk, and she commanded respect in every room she walked in to. 

I didn’t know people so raw and inspiring even existed. And I am so thankful she chose to share some of that with Newman students.

Dr. Berg was a mother, a teacher, an activist, a chef, a friend, a self-proclaimed nerd and so much more.

Her passion for life and learning touched the hearts of every student to sit in her class, I guarantee it. If there were ever a professor to prepare students to transform society, it was Dr. Berg.

I know whatever I do after Newman, I wouldn’t be able to do it without having known Suzanne Berg. And I’m confident the same goes for quite a lot of Newman students.

Here’s to hoping she’s looking down on us from heaven, watching RuPaul reruns and knitting ‘pussy hats,’ pissed off that I used the word ‘really’ in this column.

This story first appeared in the February 8, 2018 issue of The Vantage.

%d bloggers like this: