Written by: 
Amy Friedrich-Toulouse

The Mean Green have much to celebrate. The I can't remember a time when UNT was not a part of my life. As a small child, I wandered the campus with my maternal grandfather, Roscoe Adkins, a professor of political science who taught at UNT for 35 years. Precarious stacks of books filled his office in Wooten Hall, and a seemingly endless hot sidewalk led to the campus swimming pool. From the lawn of the Super Pit, my brother Sam and I would watch the booming Fouts Field fireworks that seemed to cover the whole sky.

As an older child, I attended university events at the invitation of my paternal grandparents, Virginia and Robert Toulouse. Grandfather was then dean of the graduate school and later provost. My favorite gatherings were the dinner parties they would host at their home. The guests were a mix of international students, faculty, university women and neighbors. I would often sneak a peek at my grandparents in their kitchen. They didn't even need words to communicate. After dinner, they would treat us to a delicious dessert, coffee and a slideshow of the photos from their latest travel adventures.

The memory of these hours spent in their company is precious to me. I share their passion for cooking. I use their silver, their recipes and many of the lovely serving pieces I inherited from their eclectic collection. It gives me a chance to feel close to my grandparents again.

I was very happy at UNT during my college days. I was a French major, lived in Kerr Hall for a short time and was a job counselor in the student employment office as a work-study student. I completed my teaching certification with the Professional Development School within the College of Education. While I wasn't entirely convinced I wanted to continue the legacy of my family in the world of education, I nevertheless completed my student teaching experience, immediately discovering that teaching came quite naturally to me and was a good fit.

Drs. Alexandra Leavell and Marie-Christine Koop were key in supporting me. Dr. Leavell helped me prepare for the ins and outs of actual teaching. Dr. Koop helped facilitate my overseas semester study in Normandy, France, at the international school at the Université de Caen. It was like someone turned on a lightbulb, and all the French I had been studying fell into place. It was an incredible feeling. I have been teaching high school French for 21 years, thanks to their exemplary guidance and mentorship.

I was a student at UNT for part of my grandfather's second stint as provost -- after he had already retired once! On days when I felt overwhelmed and stressed, I would visit his office in the Hurley Administration Building and he would encourage me. I was only just beginning to understand the impact of the manifold things he had done for UNT during his tenure, including building the graduate school into one of the largest in Texas and finding ways to give back to students. People loved and respected him. The love and profound dedication he had in return for the institution, even up to the very end, became apparent to me over time.

The legacy my grandparents have left me is one of love: from the lovely meals they shared, to the long visits in their home; to the lessons they taught me about the value of travel and the how-to's of financial investment; to their example as steadfast, active members of their church; to their attitude of humility and service to others throughout their lives. These are all invaluable teachings that I have tried to pass along to my own child and, as much as possible, to my students.

Editor's note: Amy's grandfather Robert B. Toulouse, Provost Emeritus of UNT and longtime dean of the graduate school, which was named in his honor, died April 11. He helped UNT transform into a university firmly focused on becoming a top-tier public research university. Read more tributes.