“I’ve always had a passion for books,” said Cathy Whaley, an ETSU adjunct professor. “Everything in my life has just seemed to revolve around the written word.”

Armed with a passion for literature and film, Whaley was destined for a journey that would lead her back to ETSU. For her, with many closed doors came great opportunity.

“I applied to Ohio State and Ohio University for grad school directly after graduating from ETSU,” Whaley said. “After those fell through, my old mentor, Jack Higgs (former faculty member for which the Jack Higgs Reading Series honors), talked me into applying to Clemson University. It ended up being the best experience of my life.”

Fast-forward to now, and Whaley finds herself back where her academic career started. Nearing 14 years as an adjunct professor in the English department, Whaley still admires the chance she has to help her students learn and progress.

“My favorite part of teaching is being in the trenches with the students, helping them improve and seeing them succeed,” she said. 

Apart from teaching, Whaley is an avid reader and is rarely spotted on campus without a copy of the New York Times and her Starbucks coffee in hand. Her passion for reading the newspaper has blossomed into a unique Sunday tradition dating back to 2012.

“I’ve always said I can never live nor travel anywhere unless there’s Starbucks and a New York Times,” she said. “Every time I read, I always set aside the book review to read later in the week. One day I had set it next to the front page and thought it was kind of cool, so I took a picture of it.”

Now, every Sunday, Whaley sets out her copy of the New York Times and tries to find a connection between the pages. Then she uploads her artwork to her Instagram account, @themsmaven.

“I try to find stories in the pages, like some sort of poetry,” she said. “It’s like a diary.”