The Accomplished Debater
As the department chair and associate professor of communication arts, Web Drake proudly displays the numerous awards he’s earned as both an undergraduate student and an orator. Myriads of books, which reflect his passion for both speech and debate, occupy every single shelf on every bookcase. Yet, amid these collections are a few interesting artifacts and collectibles which enhance the rich history already characterized within his office.
Though half of his office is lined with several plaques and certificates, the other half is neatly organized with a collection of different hats Drake has collected over the years, since the beginning of his academic career, as a solo performer.
“They started off as props for on-stage performances…and it just kind of turned into a collection,” Drake said. “So now pretty much every vacation I go on, I end up getting a new hat.”
Drake even collects the hats his children have worn. In addition to this collection, his office also showcases two major art projects which his daughter and son both made individually. One piece of artwork features an elegant painting of a woman in an umbrella, while the other is a Lego model of the Big Bang Theory.
Some of Drake’s other unique trinkets include an impressive arrangement of his Taekwondo belts, Christmas ornaments, and multitudes upon multitudes of trophies his debate students have earned throughout his career as the director of Union’s debate team.
Another one of Drake’s personal favorites, is his collection of the bald eagle statures huddled together atop his file cabinet. Not only do they evoke memories of his mother, but they also serve to remind Drake of the promise made to those who wait on the Lord.
“I told my mom one time that my favorite verse was Isaiah 40:31…so she bought me eagles for the next five years,” Drake said. “That stopped 10 or 15 years ago, but there was a period there for about five or 10 years [where] I got eagles just about everywhere I went.”
The Loving Father
Across campus, within the obscure department of physics, Fonsie Guilaran, professor of physics, works in an open space that caters more to someone who’s more willing to relax than conduct an experiment. Soft music fills the room as he quietly types away on his computer — music that a little child would listen to.
In almost every corner of his office, Guilaran features pictures and artwork of his two sons, Angel and Xiao Yu. In fact, some of their personal work sits right beside his desk.
“These are Angel and Xiao Yu’s first color finger paintings,” Guilaran said.
Among his son’s art work are also two framed maps that mark the locations where Guilaran and his wife, Lesley, traveled in order to adopt Angel and Xiao Yu.
“[Lesley] likes to work with pictures and sort of keep a visual history of our family,” Guilaran said. “So she put together these two framed pieces that show some of the places we went.”
Guilaran then pointed to a picture of four separate hands connected together in a circle, using the same symbol in sign language.
“When we first came to Union, we had a picture of mine, Lesley’s, and Angel’s hands saying ‘I love you’ in sign language since that is Angel’s primary language. Then, when Xiao Yu came, we did another and put his hand in there.”
Since both Angel and Xiao Yu have special needs, the Guilarans have learned to use sign language as a primary way of communicating with them.
Guilaran has also collected many science projects from his previous students, which he proudly displays on top of each bookshelf. From the intricate paper models of the atom, to the plasticware modeled after a toilet, Guilaran treasures every one of them, as if they were his children’s, to remind him of what his students made as part of a creative assignment in physics.
“It was just a way to give students the creative space to merge their desires with some content of the course…,” Guilaran said. “…and it’s worked really well over the last eight years.”
In addition, since Guilaran has avidly collected board games since he was a child, it only seemed right for him to dedicate a special place on his wall for the nicely framed pictures of the German boardgames, Elfenland and San Marco — games he has owned for 15 years.
“I’ve had this board game hobby since I was a kid, and it [was] honestly one of my desires to play board games with friends…and teach them how to play,” Guilaran said. “I think that was also the beginning of me learning how to teach interestingly enough. It’s part of what God used to bring me into this vocation.”