Get to know professor T. O’Rourke

Thomas O’Rourke did not know exactly what he wanted to do with his life. It took decades jumping around between jobs and exciting experiences for O’Rourke to discover that teaching was his passion. O’Rourke would come to find that his journey would be more of an unusual path than the average person, creating a lively and amusing life story to share with the world. He started his adventure in the field of communication marketing, found himself moving to a commune,  and eventually ended up at the University of San Diego to pursue teaching.

As a first-year college student, O’Rourke thought marketing would be the best and safest option for him to study after getting his bachelor’s degree at Southern Illinois University.

“I was able to move my way up in the marketing world, becoming a marketing director at a number of firms,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke became interested in television and radio production, making it his primary focus in his profession. He was able to make a great career out of it by working in the marketing field for 25 years, controlling many teams in the company. After many decades in the marketing business, O’Rourke started feeling like an old man.   

“Marketing is a little like sports; it’s for young people,” O’Rourke said.

He experienced the urge to start jumping to the untouched part of the map, wanting to encounter the unusual. The marketing field he was in paid well, but something did not seem right for him at this point in his life. O’Rourke said he felt he was due for a change.   

He became bored and burnt out of the “9 to 5” lifestyle, so he decided that a drastic change was needed.

“I wanted to do something different and quit the advertising business,” O’Rourke said. “I sold all my stuff in Chicago and moved to a hippie town.”

O’Rourke was determined to find a career that excited him, so he chose to go an opposite direction. “[I] can’t be the person that stays in one spot for a long time,” O’Rourke said.

He explained that he could not be confined behind a desk for too long, and his new journey started by joining an ultra hippie, clothing-optional commune on the West Coast. With the original intent of staying at this commune for six months, he ended up making it his home for six years.

This hippie commune was a complete lifestyle change: everyone lived and shared everything with each other. It was a community that depended on one another to survive, helping and taking on any task that was needed. O’Rourke, explained that he worked very closely within the younger part of the community.

“I helped raise four children, even though they are not my biological kids I consider them my own. I still stay in contact and updated with their lives,” O’Rourke said.

While living there, O’Rourke was able to handle the marketing and was the spokesman for the center after they begged him to help them. It was a radical change in his life that would shape who he is to this day.

O’Rourke was ready to move on to the next chapter in his life, and teaching was the best fit for him. He never thought that he would get into the education business, but decided to take the leap and give teaching a chance. O’Rourke went to San Diego State University, where he would obtain his master’s degree in communication studies.  He found that he enjoyed teaching much more than his previous career.

“Teaching is more fulfilling than marketing and sales have ever been.” O’Rourke said.

He started teaching at the community colleges around San Diego, before moving to USD eight years ago. O’Rourke explained that his diverse background has greatly contributed to his teaching career, allowing him to bring his experiences into the classroom.

O’Rourke’s life has been a whirlwind so far, and he is always looking for the next journey to experience. He has been able to dabble in many other careers, ranging from being a weatherman,  to participating in numerous non-profit organizations. Teaching is his new passion, and O’Rourke explained that he is accomplishing more at USD than he ever did while working for the marketing company. O’Rourke has a dynamic method of teaching by taking his life experiences and bringing them into the classroom he can create a unique classroom for his students. As a man that is not known to stay in one spot, no one knows what he has in store for his next journey, but it will be exciting to find out.

Written by Michael Fitzpatrick, Contributor