Suttles Scholar Thomas Breideband tells students to participate, socialize and explore
By Sarah Banick; Contact Kim Cretors, (404) 413-3424
GSU Development and Alumni Affairs
Doctoral candidate Thomas Breideband, a graduate teaching assistant in the College of Arts and Science’s Department of English, didn’t expect to find much when he began his search for financial assistance on Georgia State University’s scholarships website. A native of Germany, he knew that most endowments are established with domestic students in mind.
So he was pleasantly surprised when his research turned up the William M. Suttles Endowed Scholarship, which is awarded annually to an outstanding student based scholarship and need. “As an international student, it is quite difficult to finance school beyond the graduate level,” he says. “So it is wonderful that GSU offers these scholarships for students of all backgrounds so that they can focus on the curriculum rather than worry too much about cost.”
Breideband (above) is working toward a dual degree in rhetoric/ composition and American studies through a program offered by GSU and Johannes Gutenberg-Universität in Mainz, Germany. He holds a master’s degree from Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz and spent a year abroad at Oberlin College, where he also worked as a graduate teaching assistant. It was there he found his calling, which he detailed in an essay for his scholarship application.
“I wrote about the moment when it became clear what I wanted to do for my career. This moment occurred on Election Day of 2004 while I was attending school in Ohio,” he says. “This day was particularly rainy and unexpectedly chilly. Most citizens of that tiny town where I studied hadn’t prepared themselves for that. But still, they waited in line to cast their vote. . . . I helped to organize umbrellas, blankets and served soup to make their time of waiting bearable. . . . [O]f course, I did not qualify to vote. But being involved in that whole process helped me find purpose, and it gave me the incentive to focus my studies on the American political system.”
Breideband teaches first-year composition classes at Georgia State while working on his dissertation that focuses on the roles of new media for 21st century activism. “I like being a teacher,” he says. He encourages his students “to experience new things” during their college years. “[P]articipate, socialize and explore . . . It’s important to keep an open mind.” He plans to continue teaching at the university-level. “I am hoping to obtain tenure,” he says.
The Suttles Scholarship is named for William M. Suttles (right) ― who after nearly 50 years of service to the university ― was GSU acting president for two years until his retirement in 1989. He held numerous positions at Georgia State, including executive vice president and provost for 19 years, as well as professor and chair of the speech department, dean of students and vice president for academic affairs.
The Suttles’ family left a strong legacy at GSU. In addition to the scholarship endowment honoring the former president, there is the William M. Suttles Chair of Religious Studies and the William M. Suttles Fellowship for Graduate Students. The Lanette Suttles Child Development Center and the Lanette L. Suttles Scholarship are named in honor of his wife. The Wiley M. Suttles Math Award recognizes his father.