Decorated office gets ‘reaction’ from chemistry students

by ADÁN RUBIO//Staff Writer


Professor Timothy Werenko sitting in his office. AUTUMN BIPPERT/PLAINSMAN PRESS


Posters, banners, pennants, bumper stickers, and sports memorabilia are all items one may find at a sporting goods store or a gift shop.

But in the Science Building on the Levelland campus of South Plains College, the office of Timothy Werenko has these items everywhere. To some people, these collectibles may appear to be just a way to express his hobbies. For Werenko, they depict his life-long experiences and diverse interests.

Werenko, professor of chemistry, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Wesleyan University in Connecticut in 1980 and later joined the Air Force in 1981. During his time as an officer, the Air Force offered to send Werenko to graduate school with all expenses paid so he could get his graduate degree in chemistry and teach at the Air Force Academy. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1989, and he began teaching at the Air Force Academy in Colorado for four years. It was not until 1993 that Werenko accepted an offer to teach chemistry at SPC.

“I found that I enjoyed teaching chemistry,” said Werenko. “SPC was the first place that gave me a solid offer.”

IMG_5878Teaching is not the only thing Werenko enjoys. From taking a few glances around his office, it is very clear that he has many sentiments toward his past and has a variety of interests.

In just one corner of his room, there are banners that signify his alma maters. There are even a few posters that portray Werenko’s time at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. Werenko explained how these few mementos are from his travels, and they are representative of what he has been through and accomplished.

“When I was in the Air Force, I moved around a lot,” said Werenko. “People start giving you things.”

  There are a lot of collectibles that represent Werenko’s past, but there are even more that represent his hobbies. The office has its fair share of movie posters, books, and souvenirs from other cities and events, though the main theme that stands out in the room is sports.

Sports teams, advertisements, and bumper stickers are only a few things in the office that Werenko listed that express his love for sports. He has everything from pennants that are from his alma maters, to trinkets, such as miniature football helmets, stickers, and magnets, that represent his favorite teams. One thing that is for certain is that the room expresses a variety of interests.

“It’s not just focused on one particular thing,” said Werenko. “I’m not sure there is a theme.”

IMG_5879Despite the number of collectibles that he obtained through past experiences, Werenko said he had no plan in accumulating these items.

Everything in the office is simply a reminder of the experiences he has gone through as a student of chemistry or as an Air Force captain. Werenko explained that his office environment is something that “developed with time,” and it is nothing more than a depiction of himself.

“An office is a reflection of yourself in some way,” said Werenko, “the pride you take in what you do, the pride you take in where you work.”

Whatever the reason for this unique setting, Werenko spends a majority of his time in his office.

“A lot of times, an office is just where somebody does their work,” said Werenko, “might as well be a nice environment to work in.”

This need for a comfortable work environment is something he strives for himself and for his students. He said that he hopes students can come and feel relaxed in his office while also taking an interest in the many collectibles.

He may be a chemistry professor, but chemistry is not the only point of conversation he presents in this unique office.

“You won’t find another one like this on campus,” said Werenko.

Whether it is the history behind each item or the sentimental value, a specific piece of Werenko can be found within everything in the room. He explained how this place where he works is more than just an office, but an extension of his personality. Usually an environment affects the person, but in this case Werenko said he affected the setting.

“I have a life outside of here, and I guess I brought some of that in here,” said Werenko. “I hope when people come in they enjoy what they see.”

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