Eastern Oregon University senior Timmy Brown is the valedictorian and Presidentís Scholar of Easternís Class of 2013. Brown will graduate from Eastern on Saturday with bachelor of science degrees in math and computer science and a bachelor of arts degree in English, all with high honors. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
Eastern Oregon University senior Timmy Brown is fast becoming a skilled language translator. Brown is converting an anthology of short stories by the popular Swiss author Peter Bichsel from German into English. Brown’s work has caught the attention of a book company in India, which may publish the translation the EOU student is completing.
Bichsel’s short story collection is in need of translation but not Brown’s body of work at EOU.
It speaks for itself in any language.
Brown, a 2008 graduate of Imbler High School, is the valedictorian and President’s Scholar of Eastern’s Class of 2013. He took a road less traveled to reach the top of EOU’s student-academic world. He essentially did the work of three talented students over a five-year period. Brown will graduate from Eastern on Saturday with bachelor of science degrees in math and computer science and a bachelor of arts degree in English, all with high honors.
It is rare for students to graduate with three degrees, but Brown’s combination may be unprecedented because of their technical and diverse nature. They reflect Brown’s broad range of interests and understanding of how interrelated the world is.
“Not many people can see across disciplines like he can,” said EOU President Bob Davies. “He is a great renaissance man.”
Brown plans to enroll at Portland State University this fall where he will earn a master’s degree in mathematics education. The move means Eastern will soon be losing not only one of its premier students but also a gifted tutor. Brown has served as a math tutor for Eastern’s Learning Center since the fall term of his freshman year. He was a hit with students from Day 1.
“He received nothing, and I mean nothing but glowing recommendations,” said Anna Maria Dill, who was the head of EOU’s Learning Center where Brown worked as a tutor. Dill now is acting dean of student success and engagement.
Brown’s tutoring skill reflects his ability to connect with people and make others feel at ease.
“Intelligent people are sometimes very inward,” Dill said. “Timmy is able to reach out. He is quite socially adept. He provides a comfort zone, an environment everyone feels comfortable in.”
Brown said that some of his best friends are those he met through tutoring.
“I like helping people learn to do things they thought they could not, to realize their potential,” Brown said.
He felt a sense of sadness when he did his last work at the Learning Center as a tutor last week.
“I really felt at home there. The last week I was there was a little emotional,” Brown said.
Brown initially intended to earn only degrees in math and computer science but last year decided to also pursue a degree in English.
“I have always loved books and literature,” Brown said.
He said that his pursuit of an English degree actually helped him in math and computer science because it forced him to change academic gears and not get too focused on one subject. He found the time he spent taking English classes provided him with a welcome change of pace from math and computer science.
“It recharged my brain,” Brown said.
English majors must take a foreign language and Brown chose to study German. Brown rapidly learned the language and he soon found himself reading an anthology of short stories by Bichsel. The student so enjoyed Bichsel’s works that he decided to translate many of them from German into English for his senior capstone project. Brown completed his capstone project, under the guidance of German professor Regina Braker. He wants to later translate all of the stories Bichsel has in his anthology. Brown hopes his translations can be published so that more people in the United States can be introduced to the Swiss author’s works.
Brown expanded his horizons even more during his final year at Eastern when he began serving in Eastern’s student senate. There his leadership ability began to surface and caught the attention of Davies.
“I see a leader, not someone with leadership potential but an actual leader,” Davies said.
The time Brown devoted to student politics had no impact on his academic performance. Brown maintained his perfect 4.0 grade point average. Brown also had a 4.0 cumulative GPA at Imbler. The last time he received anything other than an “A” was when he received a “B+” in science while a sixth-grader in California.
Brown has many interests but there are few things he is more passionate about than music. He has a strong interest in history’s great composers and unwinds by playing the piano.
“It takes me someplace else, it calms me,” Brown said. “Music is something that just fulfills me.”
He is a familiar face at Grande Ronde Symphony concerts where he leads discussions about upcoming pieces and prepares pre-concert notes for those attending.
Brown is the son of EOU faculty members Ray and Mary Brown. Ray is an education professor and Mary is an adjunct faculty member. Timmy Brown wants to follow in his parents’ footsteps and also become an educator. He would like to someday teach math at a university or community college.
Brown said he has long been struck by his parents’ passion for teaching and concern for their students.
Ray and Mary Brown will both be recognized along with their son at commencement Saturday. Ray will be saluted as the recipient of EOU’s Distinguished Teaching Faculty Award and Mary, who already has a master’s degree in education, will receive a bachelor of science degree in mathematics.
“It will be a totally unique experience. When I graduated from high school, I don’t think any of us thought that in five years all three of us would have roles in graduation at Eastern (on Saturday). It is kind of neat,” Brown said.