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The Columns: Alumni Reviews

 

Friends establish scholarship in honor of former instructor and alum

Emalie Appleton Brooks
Emalie Appleton Brooks

By Greg Russell

Emalie Appleton Brooks was often referred to as “the Godfather” by her many University of Memphis friends because she was able to “take care of everybody and everything with apparent ease and grace.”

“She was the first to check on someone who was sick, or drive someone to the doctor,” said Cathy Dice, an instructor of English at the U of M. “The first to take food to a friend or church member who had lost a loved one.”

Now, Dice and others are taking care of Brooks’ legacy by establishing the Emalie Appleton Brooks Scholarship. Brooks, an alumna and former English instructor at the U of M, passed away in 2006.

“Emalie was an amazing individual — she seemed to know something about every topic under the sun,” said Dice. “When we are screening applicants for the scholarship, one of the main qualities we look for is Emalie’s passion for learning and for soaking up as much life as the world has to offer.”

According to Brooks’ brother, Tom Appleton, Emalie loved exploring — she often traveled to Europe to absorb the pages of literary ink that were penned by the masters that she held so dear. Among her favorite places were Stratford-upon-Avon, England, where she saw several Shakespearean plays performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company; the Lake district, where she visited the home and grave of her favorite Romantic, William Wordsworth; and Florence, Italy, where she toured the apartment of Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Dice said Brooks carried this passion for learning into the classroom.

“She saw teaching not simply as a job, but as part of her identity,” said Dice. “Her dedication to her students was obvious. She believed in challenging them and making sure that they lived up to their responsibilities, but she genuinely wanted them to succeed and was constantly looking for new topics to discuss and new strategies to use in the classroom.”

Becky Argall, assistant professor and director of lower division programs in English, said the scholarship was created in Spring 2007 and that it specifies the award go to a junior or senior undergraduate student who is majoring in English and who has a minimum GPA of 3.0.

The scholarship was awarded for the first time during the 2007-08 academic year. Rebekah Hope Guess is this year’s recipient.

Appleton said that his sister first taught in the public school system in Memphis after receiving an undergraduate degree at Rhodes. He said she pursued her love of the “Romantic poets, Shakespeare and the 19th century English novel” at the U of M, where she received a master of arts in 1970. In the late 1980s, she began teaching at the University.

“She was regarded as a superior classroom instructor and mentor,” said Appleton, who often traveled with Emalie and her husband, William Brooks, to Europe.

Said Dice, “What I remember most about Emalie is her extraordinary kindness and warmth. She had a wicked sense of humor and loved to make people laugh.”

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