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Student profiles: Michael Feyen


Michael Feyen

Michael Feyen

Teachers College students come from widely varying walks of life, but Michael Feyen, who spoke at the afternoon master’s degree ceremony in May, may stand alone in having previously worked as a car salesman.

“It was the worst experience of my life,” Feyen said. “All of the stereotypes you’ve heard about car salesmen? They’re true.”
But Feyen did bring to bear that experience, along with his time in Germany training businesspeople for assignments in English-speaking countries, on his studies at TC in applied linguistics. In Germany, he realized that in trying to relate to foreign markets, businesspeople faced cultural problems as much as language problems. He analyzed the background language used in daily business practice and wrote his thesis on whether knowledge of business content helped adults learn a new language. His conclusion: it benefited high- and low-achieving students, but not those in the middle.

Feyen says that TC gave him an additional wealth of experience, both in and out of the classroom. He cited experiences such as meeting the Dalai Lama, getting advice from Dr. Ruth Westheimer and living with a diverse collection of roommates who, he joked, were “the four other men” at TC.

None of those experiences did anything to help him get a degree, he said, but they did help him get an education.

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