Loretta Thornhill

Professor helps make a difference through service

Professor helps make a difference through service

May 16, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

HAGERSTOWN -- Loretta Thornhill said she thought she was going to be a lawyer.

But she never ended up in the courtroom.

Thornhill, 54, of Hagerstown, is helping determine people's fates in other ways -- through service.

A professor at Hagerstown Community College since 1997, Thornhill has been teaching her students more than English, American history and the ins and outs of business law.

She also is teaching them to serve their communities.

Thornhill advised HCC's honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, for 10 years, a post she gave up two years ago, and has been giving her legal business environment students community service projects.

Her efforts haven't gone unnoticed. In 2005, Thornhill received the Robert Giles Distinguished Adviser Award for her work with Phi Theta Kappa.


This school year, Thornhill started a student service club. The club most recently donated three purses to the Breast Cancer Awareness-Cumberland Valley "Purse-On to Person" fundraiser.

"I've always believed that one person can make a really big difference," Thornhill said. "So I think that if every person did a little bit of good for somebody else, it would make a difference."

Thornhill said being a teacher wasn't her first career choice. She thought she was going to go to law school after graduating from Western Maryland College. But after working at a law firm after graduation, she found it was not nearly as glamorous as she had perceived.

So after 12 years of working there, she decided to pursue teaching as a full-time career and applied for a job at HCC.

When she's not teaching or leading others in service, Thornhill spends her time gardening. She has been renovating her childhood home near Funkstown with her sister and roommate, Kathy Thornhill, who is a high school teacher.

"It's a tribute to our parents," Loretta Thornhill said.

She said it was her parents -- John Robert Thornhill Jr. and Ruth J. Thornhill -- who taught her the importance of serving others.

"The worked very hard for a living. They taught us to be responsible people, they taught us to have fun. They made us believe we could do anything," Thornhill said. "I just feel very lucky."

Q&A with Loretta Thornhill

Resides in: Hagerstown

Occupation: Hagerstown Community College professor

Q: What was your proudest moment?

A: "I got an award for being a good adviser at a Phi Beta conference and that was wonderful. My students nominated me, and it was a surprise when I got to the convention."

Q: Whom do you most admire, and why?

A: "Well, it's probably a cliché, but I admire my parents because they were very devoted to their girls and they gave us a very wonderful and solid childhood."

Q: What was the best piece of advice you ever received, and who gave it to you?

A: "My sister and my mother used to say to each other all the time, 'Elevate your thoughts.' It's basically the idea that you need to think positively, and I think that's pretty good advice."

Q: What is the next goal you would like to achieve?

A: "Well, I do try to think about trying to become a better teacher, and one of the ways I'm trying to do that is ... I'm not very technology-oriented, but I'm trying to improve in that."

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