The Last Word

By Jimmy J. Fuller, B.S.'01

The Oath of the Horatii (1784)

The Oath of the Horatii (1794), by Jacques-Louis David and his pupil Girodet

When my friend Rob [Robert Lee, B.A. ’01, M.S.’03] and I decided to take Art History, our expectations were low. I was raised in New York City’s 38th Street projects, and my experience with art only amounted to graffiti. My writing skills were horrid. I couldn’t afford a home computer, so I wasn’t comfortable with typing until I took my first EOP class, which forced me to type papers, not hand-write them. That core class, and Art History I, formed a foundation that has helped me to this day.

After a few Art History classes, I could tell I was in way over my head. Once I got my first F, I contemplated dropping the course. But I didn’t. I stayed. I started to focus more on the material, actually trying to learn about this foreign notion of art history. I received a C-.

The next semester, Rob mentioned Art History II, a writing-intensive course. I was fond of Professor Warren Roberts and his passion for the material in Art History I, but I was trying to make the dean’s list and could not afford another C-. I decided to give it another shot. I did much better in Art History II; Professor Roberts even read my final paper to the class. That remains one of the top-10 accomplishments in my life. I felt so honored. To this day, I smile as I think of that moment. The professor prefaced the reading of my paper by saying that I had come a long way. He doesn’t know how much that meant to me.

I’m doing very well. I work nights as a Lincoln Financial senior analyst manager; my day job is with TD Bank. I reside in Philadelphia, in a house that has a reprint of The Oath of the Horatii, one of my favorite paintings, in the main dining room. When Rob, now a teacher in Queens, N.Y., and I talk about the painting and our Art History days, Professor Roberts always comes up in the conversation.

Professor Roberts changed my life. I am not an author of books, but I have written proposals to seek funds for my department, and I understand the power of writing. I am still fascinated by art and history. I frequent Philadelphia’s various art museums, and while I don’t care much for abstract art, I understand why it exists.

Thank you, Professor Roberts.