After helping break the glass ceiling at the University of Virginia's law school and several years practicing in the largest law firm in Alabama, it was a Rotary Club meeting that ultimately changed the life of Carolyn Burgess Featheringill '69.
Featheringill was expecting her daughter Elizabeth at the time, and she had just left her law practice in order to spend more time raising her family with her husband, Bill. "He went to his Rotary meeting and came home and told me I had a job," she laughed. "Bill realized that my legal education was important enough not just to be used for a few years."
Through a connection at the meeting, Featheringill was engaged to fill a temporary faculty opening at the Cumberland Law School of Samford University. The temporary opening quickly turned into a full-time position, one that Featheringill held until retiring as a professor of law 24 years later. "My personality was better suited to teaching," she said. "The opportunity to have that relationship with students, to see the light come on in their eyes, was just very exciting to me."
While at Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Featheringill developed close relationships with her professors, and she used those experiences in her own teaching. During her years at Cumberland, she taught Charlie Crist, the former governor of Florida, as well as a number of students who became judges, lawyers, and legislators.
"It was a gratifying career," Featheringill said. "That speaks to a big part of liberal arts education. You don't major in a job, and when a different opportunity comes your way, you are well equipped to embrace it."
A member of the College's Board of Trustees since 2007, Featheringill often attends symposiums and other student panels and events on campus.
"It is just wonderful," she said. "You really feel like the same things you got out of the place-the respect, the good relationships, the strong liberal arts background-are still there."
Featheringill has also been an active volunteer in her community, serving as chairwoman of the State Public Affairs Committee and volunteering with the Junior League. She has been equally involved in the College, serving as alumnae chapter president, district director, and ultimately as Alumnae Association president in the '90s. One of her most enjoyable endeavors was chairing the planning committee for the inauguration of President John E. Klein in 2008.
"There is something unique about the College," she said. "When you are a student, and the faculty and administration go home at night, the place belongs to you. You feel so much a part of it. It's just an experience that stays with you. It's exciting and makes me so happy to see the College being the same special place it has truly always been."