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7 Things About Michael Turnacliff

What inspired you to do this kind of work? I think that most of my inspiration to this work came from my own high school experience. I realize now what an impressionable time it was and how much of an impact my teachers had on me. Their counsel, example and support in times of difficulty are still very present to me after all of these years. I don’t really remember many of my college teachers, but I can recall easily all of my high school teachers. That being said, I would like to give back to my students in the same way that they gave so selflessly to me. If I can give back a fraction of what my teachers gave to me, I will consider my career a success!

What is your position here and how long have you worked at O’Dowd? I was coordinator of the Ancestors Project for freshman for my first 10 years here at O’Dowd. The other part of my job during that time was teaching Spanish. Now I am just focusing on Spanish. I am beginning my 12th year at O’Dowd.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? The best piece of advice that I have received is, “You cannot think yourself into a new way of living; you have to live yourself into a new way of thinking.” It can be easy to get caught up in the tide of ambivalence with endless thinking and anxieties about situations, relationships, plans, etc. I find that when I act and move forward into something, I feel better. When I have success with an action I have taken, I find a new level of confidence and a shift in the way I think about life and myself!

What is your favorite thing about your job? The best part of this job is working with the wonderful students. I have been at other schools and none of them compares in terms of the authenticity of the O’Dowd students. I feel like they bring out some of the best parts of me and I appreciate them more than they probably know. I am also grateful for the support and encouragement I have received from my colleagues.

What about your field or position do you think would surprise people the most? During my experience in the seminary, I received three master’s degrees (philosophy, theology, and counseling psychology). During that time, I also earned my license as a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT). Oh ya, I also have a degree in Spanish!

What is the most interesting or surprising thing about you? Although my students have heard me sing Spanish songs, I think that many are surprised when I tell them that I sing in a barbershop chorus!

If you could rescue only one thing from your burning office, what would it be? I would try to rescue my photo albums and passport! I don’t want to wait another six hours in line at the post office if I don’t have to.

What is your favorite kind of music/what are your favorite bands? I grew up on the Beach Boys, Beatles, The Who, Chicago, Crosby, Stills and Nash. Recently, I have developed an affinity for classical music. I appreciate the complexity of the music and how it soothes the spirit!

What is your favorite sports team or who is your favorite individual athlete? This is a tough call, but I am going to go with the Oakland A’s. I became a fan when they ran off three straight titles in 1972-1974 and have been a loyal supporter ever since. I grew up in Sacramento and my father bought season tickets for his company (all 81 home games) during the run in the late 1980s. I remember driving down for 40 plus night games one year. Back then I could make it down to Oakland in less than 90 minutes! My favorite player during the A’s tenure in Oakland is probably Rickey Henderson. He could do it all (outfield speed, power as a lead-off man, high batting average, high on base percentage and, he is the stolen base king!) and would be my first pick on an All-Time A’s Team.


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