Keith Thomerson '68

Thomerson is a retired Senior Technical Writer/Trainer. After graduating from Rio, he began his career as a Varsity Football Coach and high school teacher. Thomerson also worked in the insurance business, earning Hall of Fame honors as a sales representative and manger before turning his attention to Information Technology.

He specialized in the software development process, beginning with the mapping process, and also wrote software specifications, test scripts, training manuals, and software user manuals. His computer training material and instruction manuals have been used throughout the United States and several countries, including a software program with over one million users.

Thomerson has been happily married for 48 years to Sally. They have a son of whom they are very proud, and one granddaughter. Thomerson now volunteers his time as a web master of two neighborhood web sites, and a monthly neighborhood newsletter. 

 

          1.     What made you choose to pursue a college education at Rio Grande?

After making four official visits, seeking a football scholarship to a major university, I was told each time I was too short, too small, and too slow. During my last visit, I turned down a preferred walk-on offer. So I made the decision to secure a good college education. I asked two people whom I respected to recommend a college that did not have a football team - they both recommended Rio Grande. I made my unannounced visit with all of my records in hand to look over this college located in Southern Ohio. I remember picking up a student handbook that contained the statement, "Rio Grande College was for those students that needed help to help themselves." That statement fit me perfectly. I walked into the Director of Admissions office and secured my acceptance to attend Rio Grande. I paid my first semester's tuition, room and board, plus fees from money I had saved. I told my parents the first semester was on me. 

          2.    How involved were you on Rio's campus?

One evening, Ron Burgher offered me a non-speaking part in an upcoming play. The next semester, I was offered a small speaking part and a $100 per semester scholarship. That small part grew into larger parts to lighting director, stage manager, and director. I was inducted into Delta Psi Omega. I also was a member of Circle K. 

          3.     What did Rio offer you besides an education?

At Rio Grande, I was permitted to make mistakes, learn, and mature.

          4.     Was there any teacher, advisor, coach, etc. that made an impact on your life? 

John Alberti – Dean of the College – He was a mentor to students teaching lessons of life. Several times, he would seek me out to teach me a lesson.

Ron Burgher – He taught me how to be a public speaker. I was invited to a special school for a Fortune 500 Company. They held five speaking and training contests during the school year. Each person would be given a few minutes to prepare. They would speak and train the class on the some aspect of the previous sessions work. The class would then vote on a single winner and provide the winner a gift book that each participant would autograph and provide special individual recognition. I won the first three contests. That had never happened in previous years. I was disqualified from the last two contests by the organizers because the other invitees did not want to compete against me. I later joined Toastmasters International and won so many speech contests that others would not enter contests if I were participating. I earned Toastmasters International's highest achievement - Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM).

John Graham – He discovered a trait I have and he taught me to be patient with others that do not have my ability to organize. He encouraged me to write beyond the minimum requirements.

Clara Poston – She taught me English grammar and punctuation. All through my career, I would write outlines before beginning a training manual. Managers would ask me where I learned how to write and I would always answer Rio Grande College and Miss Poston. Whenever a company needed an important written document, they would always ask me to be the author.

Sam Smith – He taught me how to see issues from both sides. He made learning fun.

          5.     What did you learn about yourself during college?

I learned to motivate myself. I learned that college is not terribly difficult. However, a person must stick to it. As a college student, you must jump through some hoops that at the time seem silly. Later in life, that silly tasks seem to become important. 

          6.     Tell us about life after Rio.

I started out as a teacher in public education before transitioning into management, then teaching others how to develop and use computer programs. I have never stopped being an educator. 

          7.     How did Rio prepare you for your career?

The professors at Rio Grande taught me how to be a public speaker, educator, and writer.

          8.     Why are you proud to be a Rio Alumnus?

I once asked a visiting doctorial candidate from Ohio State University, who was visiting to teach a special class, if I was receiving the same quality education at Rio Grande as I would at OSU. He shared with me that outside not having the ability to visit and use a great library system and the many activities that OSU offered, I was receiving an equal if not better education at Rio Grande. He told me that since I did take advantage of interacting with my professors, my education was superior. I learned interaction between the student and professor at large schools seldom occurs. 

          9.    Do you have any advice for current students?

I have been fortunate to have so many older people teach me about life. I am still a student and educator. Never stop learning. To this day, I carry with me lessons taught to me by my elders.