Dean Rhodes, an associate professor of Spanish and chair of the Spanish department, can lecture at length about Spanish accents or the topography of Peru, where he lived for several years. As it turns out, he can also speak in great detail about the artificial insemination of cows.
Rhodes used to be an artificial dairy cow inseminator—a fancy title for a not-so-glamorous job that involves placing a “sleeved arm into the cow via the rectum, while sliding a pipette with the [bull’s] semen into the vagina.”
After graduating from the University of Iowa, Rhodes held several jobs related to teaching but soon dove into the world of artificial inseminators. He wanted to help his brother, a dairy farm owner, save veterinarian fees, so he decided to learn the procedure.
Rhodes enrolled in a week-long artificial insemination class in the local livestock “Sale Barn” in Kalona, Iowa. “The first few nights consisted of formal class work, presentations and quizzes,” Rhodes said.
They later moved into hands-on work that included “retrieving the bull’s semen straws from a liquid nitrogen tank” and the proper handling of the “valuable merchandise” once it was out of the containers and inside the cow.
“And so,” he said, “I learned how to artificially inseminate cows.”
After the course ended, Rhodes put his skills into practice every time a cow was in heat at his brother’s farm. “I would do it on weekend evenings and sometimes in the mornings before going to school,” Rhodes said. Using bull semen purchased from a company that specializes in this kind of merchandise, Rhodes would arrive at the farm and begin the arduous process of artificially inseminating a cow.
His knowledge in this process came in handy even in Argentina, where he helped with the daily operations at a Mennonite church’s retreat center as part of the Mennonite Mission Board. During his one-year stay in the Patagonia region in southern Argentina, Rhodes taught Sunday school, directed the church choir and took care of a herd of 10 cows. After a local farmer asked for help in breeding his cows, the two ended up working side by side, inseminating the farmer’s cows.
Upon his return to the States, Rhodes began teaching full time at Iowa Mennonite School, near Kalona, Iowa.
Though he apparently is the only Goshen College professor to have credentials in dairy cow insemination, Rhodes is not the only professor to have unexpected experiences on a resume here.
Shortly after graduating from Goshen College, Jason Samuel, an assistant professor of communication and station manager of the Globe radio station, started working at a weight-loss center.
Samuel described his job as fun but also funny. “The older women treated me like I was their son,” he said. Some of the younger ones, on the other hand, were uncomfortable talking to him and wouldn’t step on the scale when he was around.
Samuel worked at the center for three months before becoming a sporting events broadcaster at WLTH-AM, a radio station in Gary, Ind.
After college graduation, Jan Shetler, a history professor, moved to Utah with her husband and became a factory-worker. She worked at Cache Valley Cheese, a factory that produced a variety of cheeses including cheddar and Swiss.
Shetler’s job was to weigh and label the pieces along an assembly line. Things got interesting when she fell behind and the cheese blocks would begin to pile up.
“It happened all the time,” Shetler said, laughing. She also said that she got used to the smell of curdled milk in the factory. Despite the odor, however, Shetler still loves cheese.
Duane Stoltzfus, who majored in English at Goshen College, worked 12-hour shifts as a taxi driver on the streets of the Bronx.
The pay was not all that great (well below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, he said), but neither were his orientation skills. “I got lost a lot,” he said.
For those of you who are struggling to find a job that you are passionate about, below are some pieces of advice on how to deal with the situation and find happiness in your career.
Career advice from the professors:
Don’t be afraid to take a first time job that you don’t like or you don’t think you will like. Sometimes jobs that you don’t think you will ever use, make you more interesting, more employable. (Dean Rhodes)
Your life will unfold in ways you totally don’t expect. You should be open to all kinds of things! (Jan Shetler)
Decide what you love to do and be the best at it. If you can find someone who will pay you to do that job and learn to live on whatever they pay you, you will be happy. (Jason Samuel)
–By Bojana Jankova