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Reuel Barksdale & Tesa White

Reuel Barksdale is a professor of Business, but he prides himself on teaching about life.

One student who took that lesson is Tesa White. The 22-year-old Columbus resident credits Barksdale for helping her find her path.

White has taken three classes with Barksdale: Organizational Behavior, Business Management and Human Resources. In his classes, she learned to be more organized, to pick her battles, and how to deal with people from all walks of life.

“He actually taught me to be more communicative, to come out of my shell, and not be so wrapped up in what I think,” White said.

Barksdale encouraged her to set up a side business in fashion styling, and counseled her on her eventual career goal. Although she started in Business, she now plans to study Psychology.

“When I chose Psychology to be my major, he told me to go for it. It will open me up, in developing the character that I truly want to be,” White said.

Barksdale can be demanding, but he never expects more than he thinks a student can give, White said. He advises students to acknowledge that their careers are in an early phase – but to always be planning for the next steps.

Barksdale had a long career in business, mainly in human resources, before striking out on his own as a consultant. He started teaching at Columbus State on the side, but gradually found he had a passion for teaching students.

“Teaching is a different type of reward system,” Barksdale said. “Here, you make a difference that’s tangible and maybe matters more. I wouldn’t trade this for the world.”

One of Barksdale’s major themes is teaching students to communicate. In the business world, it’s important to know what your clients and coworkers are thinking, and take the time to see things from their point of view.

That’s not a bad lesson in general.

“I don’t think I teach business,” Barksdale said. “I teach life, and business is the vehicle.”