Five Minutes with Trocaire English Professor Solomon Nelson

Solomon Nelson, associate professor of English and recent Patricia Lavender Educator of the Year recipient, has been with Trocaire for six years and has brought with him a myriad of expertise and experience.

Solomon said what he likes best about Trocaire is that it is a friendly place to work, and that he has the freedom to explore academic pursuits. Currently, he is working on two articles for publication.

Solomon has a doctorate in English literature and integrates a variety of topics into his lectures, such as ethnicity, LGBT issues, race and gender. In addition, he co-founded Trocaire’s Film Club, a group that has screened and facilitated viewing and discussions of seven films over the last four years.

“Film Club was started to foster an intellectual culture in our campus,” he explained. “Sometimes, students learn better when they don’t feel the pressure to perform and prove themselves. The club is a team effort, where faculty, staff and students come together in an informal setting to not only watch a film but also get a chance to talk about the film and learn from each other.”

Service learning is also important to Solomon, and he includes it in his courses—for example, one project involved serving a Thanksgiving meal to local refugees.

“As a student, I enjoyed service learning a lot … it helped me bridge the gap between what is learnt in the classroom and the life that is lived outside of it,” he said. “I want to extend the same opportunity to my students.”

He also co-chairs the TroGreen team that works to reduce waste and foster environmental awareness within the college community.

“I’m involved in TroGreen activities because I’m convinced that we are at the crossroads of the biggest environmental crisis of our life time, and we have a chance to make a difference,” Solomon said. “The environmental conservation that is happening around the world is probably one of the biggest grassroots movements in the history of the world, and I’m happy to be part of it.”

Solomon has been married to his wife, Julia, for 10 years, and together they have two boys, ages 6 and 2. He is active in his faith and plays drums in the band Eleventh Hour. He is also on the Elder Board at his church and has taught faith-based courses there.

When asked why he became a teacher, he responded that in addition to several college professors who mentored him, he was inspired by his grandfather who started the first school in his village in south India.

“He was a visionary who served his community well,” Solomon said. “He was inspired by the Anglican and German missionaries who helped him with his education. Instead of choosing a better life for himself, he went back to his village and started a school to help educate the children of his community. For a very long time, his was the only school in the community.”

In addition to his scholarly writing, Solomon is also working on a part-historical, part-political novel based on his grandfather.