Stints at Miami University Regionals lead to lifelong careers, successful 'Miami Merger'

By Mary C. Dillon for Miami University Regionals

Photo of Terri Carter Marcum and Jim Marcum from the 1980'sSchwarm Commons on Miami University Regionals’ Hamilton campus holds a special place for Terri Carter Marcum (Miami ’88). It was there that she met her future husband, Jim Marcum (Miami ’89).

“I still remember the first time I saw him and our first conversation. I made him an ice cream cone and I told him I thought it looked like Mickey Mouse,” said Terri. “I know he thought it was ditzy, but he never admitted it.

“He also said I was the one who could fix his coffee just the right way,” Terri continued. “If I wasn’t working, I was usually hanging out or studying in the cafeteria, so he would ask me to fix it for him even when I wasn’t working.”

Jim remembers that ice cream cone and their first in-depth conversation; it was about Barry Manilow.

“I was immature and self-centered,” he said. “Terri saw something in me. I know I got the best end of the deal.”

That “deal” led to a Miami Merger that has lasted 29 years. But both admit that college wasn’t always something they saw in their respective futures.

Jim found his first experience at MUH a bit overwhelming, causing him to leave in 1984. He ultimately returned and earned his degree in history in 1987. After working as a therapist with the Drug and Alcohol Council, he decided to become a teacher.

“There was an on-site school,” Jim remembered. “I was having lunch with the teachers one day and it somehow transitioned into me becoming a teacher.” He went on to spend eight years teaching at Middletown High School and seven at Mason High School, all in special education.

Recent photo of Terri Carter Marcum and Jim MarcumTerri’s father urged her to give college at least a one-year try, and she chose MUH because it was closer to home and less expensive than the main campus. That try ultimately turned into a degree with her spending her last year on the Oxford campus, where she did her student teaching and earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

“Miami had many opportunities to go into classrooms before you did your student teaching. This is where I received my best learning with hands-on experience,” said Terri. “The advisors also had you working with all age groups and different districts to give you experience in various types of schools and districts. Many of the instructors were also former teachers, which helped in real-world situations.”   

Terri went on to work as a Title One remedial reading teacher at several schools within the Hamilton School District. A federally funded program, Title One provides economically disadvantaged school districts with monies for teachers and programs to help bridge the gap that poorer students have due to lack of experience in reading and math. She retired in 2015.

“I loved working with small groups,” she said. “It enabled me to get to know my students better as a whole and not just their reading abilities.”

After a stint as a Meals on Wheels driver and transportation assistant with Community First, Terri returned to the classroom as a paraprofessional with Mason City Schools in the special education department, working with third and fourth grade students.

In their spare time, the Marcums have volunteered at Living Waters, a local after-school program for disadvantaged youth, and they are passionate advocates for the adoption of shelter animals, with three dogs, six cats, and one foster currently sharing their home.

Terri and Jim are quick to credit Miami University Regionals not only with bringing them together, but for helping them create lifelong careers that have made an impact on the lives of countless students.

“I would encourage anyone, especially those who are nontraditional students, to attend a regional campus. They are more flexible with schedules, and you can still have a college experience,” Terri said. “There was myriad of activities for the students in which to participate, including dances, parties, tutoring, and sports.”

“Miami taught me how to ‘school,’” Jim added. “It taught me how to be a successful student. I met my wife at Miami. I met my lifelong adult friends at Miami. I cherish the wonderful memories.”