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Sibling Legacy: New professor Prewitt keeps family name at Peace

Courtesy of Laura Prewitt

Courtesy of Laura Prewitt

Ethan McElvaney

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As many know, professor Neill Prewitt, beloved communications teacher at William Peace University, left for a new job at Georgia State University. A few months later, his sister, Professor Laura Prewitt, was welcomed to Peace as an adjunct professor of English.  

Laura Prewitt started her teaching career in 1993, helping freshmen learn English while she was at N. C. State University for graduate school.

“When I started out… I was focused on literature, writing, and just a love of exploring human questions [while] being in discussion with students about ideas and helping them find their own perspectives,” she said.

Over the summer, she got back from teaching English in China. She has spent four years teaching there, two of them spent in Shanghai and two of them spent in Wuhan.

“I did two years at a university in each of those cities, both of them large, important universities. In Shanghai specifically, I taught all majors oral English, only oral English, for two years,” Prewitt said.

She decided to start teaching these students in 1997 after being impressed with her Chinese roommate’s strong relationship with her native English Canadian professor who also taught in China.

“When China came out of a cultural revolution in the late ‘70s, it began to open up, about 1980. Native English-speaking teachers were in demand and that demand grew,” she said. “I was not one of the very first, but it was still a very pioneering experience and I liked that.”

Professor Prewitt had some exposure to Chinese culture through the English as a Second Language class she taught international students at N.C. State, but she only knew three words of Chinese when she first went there and she found it as an opportunity to explore.

She and her brother grew up in Raleigh, yet they lived in Florida until Neill was 2 and she was 9.

“Neill is a wonderful person,” she said of her brother. “I think he is a very good teacher; we’re really close, we’re like best friends. He’s a very supportive and giving person.”

Laura Prewitt earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. It was not until close to the time she went to grad school that she returned to Raleigh.

On the way there, she was once a student at Peace for the second semester of her sophomore year.

“The professor I got to know the most and really benefited from her, her name was Bess Spangler,” said Prewitt. “She was in the English department for years here and she’s known by current faculty.”

She also met a great friend of hers at Peace. In fact, her friend’s graduation was actually how professor Neill Prewitt got introduced to the university.  

“Neill got on campus for the first time when I brought him and a friend to witness the graduation of my good friend Susan Briggs,” said Laura Prewitt. “That’s when he was first exposed to Peace, so actually, I brought him here!”

Currently, she teaches Public Speaking at Peace and she seeks to continue her mission to teach students to find their own ideals.

“I consider myself a facilitator, someone who can help prompt them in discovering and expressing,” she said. “It’s not so much that they discover their own opinions, they do discover their own opinions, but I think we’re all growing all the time. We’re all learning, we’re all exploring.”

Either way, professor Laura Prewitt  is not worried about if she will in professor Neil Prewitt’s shadow.

“I’m delighted to be associated with my brother, I have immense respect for him and I know he gave a lot to Peace students and Peace as a school, so I hope I live up to his reputation,” she said. “We’re different, we don’t do everything the same way but I think that we do have a lot in common in terms of our orientation on teaching as educators and personally.”

 

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The student news site of William Peace University
Sibling Legacy: New professor Prewitt keeps family name at Peace