The American professor who pushes a Vietnamese student beyond boundaries
  • | | February 19, 2021 03:59 PM
I clearly remembered my first year experience creative writing class. It was a required six-credit intensive writing course and I was not much of a writer. Yet, Dr Tingle saw right through my writing and was determined to show me my own potential.

Dr Jacob K Tingle

The campus of Trinity University is intentionally designed for different paths to cross. Dr Jacob K Tingle and I are one of those paths. Though not new to life’s surprises, I could never guess such a dynamic professor and avid sports fan would be able to teach and inspire me so much during my time at Trinity University. His many nudges out of my comfort zone are exactly the reasons I got to challenge my limitations and experience new things.

Dr Tingle has always been a good listener and dedicated teacher. Once, while working on my final paper, I told him I wanted to describe this minuscule detail about pulling out the drawer of a heavy and expensive table, and he actually went through the trouble of Googling the most suitable existing table just so I could satisfy my punctiliousness.

Dr Tingle in class

In the end, I graduated from the writing course with an honourable A, announced as Winner of the FYE Writing Contest, and became his Peer Tutor for the following year’s FYE Creative Genius class, all thanks to Dr Tingle’s tireless encouragement.

I gained increasing respect for Dr Tingle as I worked as his peer tutor. He treated me as an equal coworker, meaning, he was attentive and took my opinions seriously. If there is anything I could do to help this gentleman happier with his job if he hasn’t already, I will.

I thought I had no more chances to be Dr Tingle’s student again, as his main profession was in sports and I hardly kept up with my daily steps goal. That was until my sophomore year when he invited me to take his one-credit Sports Philanthropy course. He thought I might enjoy the content as I was passionate about volunteering and social work. And I certainly did.

Due to Dr Tingle’s flexibility and creativity in the face of obstacles, the class progressed well even after the sudden COVID-19 lockdown forcing the university to go online. We finished the course strongly and impressed Spurs Give’s representatives with our final projects - mine being about building all-accessible parks in San Antonio, our university and Spurs Give’s hometown. The Spurs Give’s representatives could not believe groups of undergraduate students were that capable, and their amazement lighted up Dr Tingle’s pride in us.

Thao Dinh, a Vietnamese student at Trinity University.

Since the pandemic began, I have not been able to return to the university. In place of greeting smiles from afar and energetic high fives, I have been keeping contact with Dr Tingle through emails with updates, pictures, and personally designed eCards. He responds as soon as possible, usually addressing my positive energy is like a ray of sunshine. Little does he know, Dr Tingle is a giant ball of zeal.

Another Lunar New Year is here. In Vietnam, the first day of January is used to honour the father, the second - mother, and the third - the teacher. Similar to what I did in Vietnamese’s Teachers Day, I would like to dedicate this third day of Lunar New Year to present my gratefulness to the talented and enthusiastic professor Jacob K Tingle. If I was not closely instructed and kicked out of my comfort zone multiple times, I might not have realised what I’m made of.

This Year of the Ox, I want to sincerely wish you and your family an abundance of health, wealth, and happiness. May the education system continue to thrive for your contributions! Greatly miss you and hope to see you in the nearest future.

*Jacob Tingle, Ed.D., is a busy man at Trinity University, Texas, US. Dr Tingle is an Assistant Professor of the Practice in Business Administration, Director of the Office of Experiential Learning, Chair of the Sport Management Advisory Committee, and serves as the Department of Athletics NCAA Faculty Representative. Dr Tingle graduated from Trinity University in 1995 and is teaching and working at his own alma mater for 20 years and counting.

**Thao Dinh is a junior international student from Hanoi, Vietnam. Currently, Thao is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies, International Development Concentration at Trinity University, Texas, USA. In 2018, Thao graduated from the Foreign Language Specialised School (one of Hanoi’s top high schools for the gifted), majored in Japanese, and successfully received prestigious scholarships from all four universities she applied to.

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