1990 Distinguished Alumni Recipient

Thomas F. Tedder is a 1976 graduate of Okaloosa-Walton Community College where he received his Associate of Arts degree in Biological Sciences. He is now a cell biologist with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Wellesley, Mass., and a lecturer in Immunology at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.

Tedder has published numerous articles on cancer research and is making major contributions toward understanding and curing this disease. The college is extremely proud of Tedder’s contribution to science and its role in helping him get to where he is today.

Tedder’s own words tell the story:

As a Molecular Cell Biologist/Immunologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, my days are filled with searching for answers to the cancer puzzle. I have traveled a varied and seemingly long road in my pursuit for answers to questions about the workings of normal and malignant cells, but it is a journey that would not have begun if not for my years at Okaloosa-Walton Community College.

During my first year at OWCC, I enrolled in a botany class taught by Professor Herb Cash. Without question, that class was the inception for my thirst for science and the beginning of my pursuit of knowledge about how cells work. That pursuit has lead to my present endeavors in cancer research.

The direction of my scientific efforts took form during my second year, again with Professor Cash as my teacher. Professor Cash taught the most fascinating and informative course in microbiology, an experience that ultimately would lead me to both bachelor and master degrees in microbiology and my present career. Professor Cash took a personal as well as professional interest in the students in his classes, instilling in them an enthusiasm for biology.

Although he demanded excellence from his students, often to their great dismay, I am sure the lessons learned by each student benefit them for years to come. I feel that I am an example of how his guidance and inspiration can encourage a young mind to pursue things they would not have otherwise dreamed. After leaving OWCC, my further studies in the biological sciences were greatly accelerated because of the solid background that I had obtained in the Biology Department of OWCC. This background provided me with many opportunities to jump ahead to more advanced courses without difficulty or reservation.

Eleven years later, my early experiences at Okaloosa-Walton continue to play an important role in my life. As an Assistant Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and a principal investigator in the Division of Tumor Immunology at Dana-Farber, I often think of Professor Cash and how he insisted that I work to the limit of my potential. I know that his encouragement and persistence laid the foundation of my work ethic and interest in the biological sciences so integral to my work today. OWCC and its faculty played a critical role in providing the guidance necessary to insure a successful continuation of my education at the University of Florida and to the completion of my Ph.D. at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

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