English and Philosophy Graduate; 2016 Poet Laureate, State of Washington; English Faculty Member, Gonzaga University
Meet Tod Marshall '90
English and Philosophy Graduate
English Faculty Member and Award-Winning Author and Poet
“I just kept building on that energy I first got (at Siena Heights). That energy came out of how the Siena community embraced me and made me feel good about who I was. … There was something here that made me recognize … that there’s an excellence inside of me that others are seeing. It was wonderful. It was transformative.”
Tod Marshall doesn’t know where he would be if not for Siena Heights. Actually, he has a pretty good guess.
“I probably would have ended up in jail,” said Marshall, who was an underachieving, soccer-playing, trouble-seeking, drug-using high school student in Wichita, Kansas. “In high school, I was more or less a delinquent. It’s a miracle that I graduated from high school, and it’s a miracle I lived in the few years after high school.”
Not even taking a few classes at nearby Wichita State University could change lingering bad habits. After a year or so, Marshall knew he was at a crossroads.
“Some intuition inside of me told me it would be a good thing to get out of town,” he said.
Siena Heights provided the escape route, via men’s soccer coach Doug Mello and an athletic scholarship. Tossing his belongings in a couple of trash bags, Marshall journeyed to the Adrian campus ready to start a new chapter in his life. Helping to turn that page was the Siena faculty, especially the late history and philosophy professor Sister Pat Hogan.
“I was a good student, not a great student,” Marshall said of his early days at Siena. “I had a couple of semesters of independent study with Sister Pat, to read one-on-one. One day before our meeting I was supposed to have done a reading, and I hadn’t done it. … I was in the library for something else and I came upon Sister Pat. She was bent over her notes and pouring over what we were going to talk about that day. Guilt is a good thing in some ways, because I felt so guilty that I never again dropped the ball in getting ready when I saw this teacher was putting so much time for me. Just for me. … That shaped my attitude.”
Marshall soon went from good to great as a student, eventually graduating from Siena with degrees in English and philosophy. He has been in higher education ever since.
After earning his Master of Fine Arts degree and a PhD, Marshall is now an award-winning poet and teacher. In 2007, Marshall received the Exemplary Faculty Award from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., where he teaches English.
“I just kept building on that energy I first got (at Siena Heights),” Marshall said of his literary and academic accomplishments. “That energy came out of how the Siena community embraced me and made me feel good about who I was. … There was something here that made me recognize … that there’s an excellence inside of me that others are seeing. It was wonderful. It was transformative.”