University of Rochester

Rochester Review
January-February 2009
Vol. 71, No. 3

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Linguaphile George (Tommye) Weddington Hometown: Columbus, Ga. | Major Plans: International Relations and Spanish
photo of Weddington

In high school, Tommye Weddington studied Latin, Greek, and Spanish. When he found out that his Latin teacher had taught English in Japan and was married to a Japanese woman, he founded the Japanese Club with support from that teacher, who hosted traditional Japanese dinners at his home.

The linguaphile plans to double major in international relations and Spanish with a minor in Arabic. And he’s taking Italian to boot.

“Language is just what I do,” he says. “It’s like math in that it’s fairly logical. There are rules and you get a chance to hear and understand how languages evolve over time. You get to understand cultures more thoroughly. I was just good at them, I guess.”

Wanting a break from the typical Romance languages, Weddington decided to try Arabic, which would make him a more competitive candidate for a future job with the Department of State.

Weddington, who grew up in Columbus, Ga., got his first look at Rochester during the spring of his junior year, at an informational session in Atlanta. At the time he was focused on an engineering degree—he wanted to help decrease dependency on fossil fuels—and both he and his mother were impressed by the curriculum in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. After a science camp at another university later that year nixed those career aspirations, he decided to take a second look at what the University offers. The timing was perfect. He had been thinking about pursuing political science, and the addition of an international relations major had just been announced.

Rochester sets itself apart from other schools with its personal approach and course offerings, says Weddington. While friends who attend elsewhere often complain that they have to take several classes during their freshman and sophomore years that have nothing to do with their majors, he is able to focus on courses that cater to his interests instead.

“You don’t have to take a biology class if you’re not going into biology,” he notes. “I think it’s just really amazing that you’re motivated by your own choice to learn a topic rather than motivated by a fear of failure.”

Soon after arriving on campus Weddington got involved with a campus hip hop organization that discusses issues in contemporary hip hop culture, and also joined the debate team.

He appreciates the welcome he has received from upperclassmen and his well-rounded group of friends with diverse hobbies.

“Everything is open to you here,” he says. “If you want to do it, you can.”