Name: Vallery Bergez
Hometown: Tempe, Ariz.
BS: How has it been being back at the University of Dallas after living on the Rome campus for two years as a Residence Coordinator (RC)?
VB: It’s been awesome. I really miss Rome a lot, but it’s been pretty overwhelming, because I know 400 people here now [after] four semesters, with almost 100 people every semester. It’s pretty awesome, and I’ve been good so far [at] remembering what semesters people were, which is good, because I was worried about that. The nice thing is that at UD, it always feels like home. Coming back, it doesn’t feel like it’s not home, and now, there’s even more of a sense of belonging, which is really, really awesome. Everyone who works here is so great, faculty and admin, they’re all awesome. They’ve been so welcoming and exciting.
BS: Is it strange returning to UD as a staff member, after being here as a student?
VB: It’s been weird, but I think it’s better this way. The way that I am, I think, there needed to be some distance for me to feel that I had moved on. I’m not an undergrad anymore, and I’m not supposed to be here with all of my best friends anymore. It’s weird, but it’s good. There are some people who graduated around the time I did so it retains that familiarity, but it’s not congested with all of my friends so that it makes it feel like I haven’t moved beyond my undergrad.
BS: Tell us a little about your undergraduate experience.
VB: I double majored in French and English, and my poet was John Donne. I was so not excited for JPo. I hated, well, maybe hate is too strong of a word, but I did not like poetry at all. I really didn’t. When I found out that JPo was part of the English major, I was so bummed and upset. So I picked my poet maybe two weeks into the semester, I was very last minute. I had Dr. [Eileen] Gregory, and I know English majors have her now. She’s phenomenal. She said some quote by John Donne in class, and it sparked my interest to look into him. I started reading some of his poetry, and I was immediately immersed in everything he wrote. I ended up leaving the class obsessed with poetry. So it did its job, which is kind of the point!
BS: What was your favorite class?
VB: Ever? That’s so hard. I had two really influential classes in terms of my development as a writer. There were a lot of great upper-level classes which were incredible, but I took creative non-fiction with Dr. [Brett] Bourbon. I had one class with him before, and I really enjoyed his teaching style, which is really different from [that of] a lot of other professors. I really appreciated him. But this class in particular was smaller and made up of mostly English majors and a lot of seniors who I knew really well. It was this cool class that was so different; we were reading different things and writing different things, and it was with a group of people that was just pumped to be in the class with Dr. Bourbon, and he was pumped to be there teaching it. It was a really awesome energy, and it had such a different feel from any other class I’d ever took. I learned unique writing styles that were different than anything I’d heard of before. So that was one really influential class!
The other one was with Dr. Gregory, I had her for tons of classes. It was 20th Century Literature. I loved that class in particular, because before that, I didn’t know what area of literature was the best, and in that class, I realized that was what I was most interested in, both in terms of poetry and novels and things like that. It really became evident that that was what I was interested in. At that time, I was interested in doing post-grad, and I thought I would go to grad school for English, so that was exciting because I realized . . . if I do study English more, then I kind of know the area I’m interested in and I can dive into that and see what sparks my mind in terms of a life-long career.
BS: Who is the smartest professor you’ve met at UD?
VB: Smartest? This is going to get me in trouble! I mean, everyone is so smart. For example, the two professors I just mentioned. Dr. Bourbon’s intellect is so different from Dr. Gregory’s intellect. They’re nowhere near the same style. They’re both such powerful people who really influenced my idea of English literature. I would say that they’re equally brilliant, but in such wildly different ways. I think that’s one of the best things about the UD faculty is that you can say without a doubt that all of them are incredibly intelligent and have so much to offer to a UD student, but in such different ways. The way that Dr. Bourbon teaches is so different from the way Dr. Gregory teaches. I’m a very emotional person and the way that I would respond to them would be different as well. Dr. Bourbon would say something that would bewilder me, absolutely bewilder me. And Dr. Gregory would say something that was so profoundly beautiful that I would want to cry in class. But still, it’s that my responses to them were so, so different, and it’s just cool that you can take two wildly differently professors that influence you so strongly. So I totally skirted around the question.