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Alumni Profile: Tom Heleba

Tom Heleba (Class of ’89) is a sports copy editor for The Washington Post,where he’s worked since the summer of 2000. Prior to that he worked at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson for nearly 10 years and before that was a sports reporter for the Eagle Times in Claremont, N.H., where he was hired a
week after graduating Castleton. He currently lives in Ellicott City, Md. with is wife Julie, daughters Elisabeth and Emily and son Philip.

I never would have believed that when I walked into my first class at

Castleton State College that it would ultimately lead me to the South Lawn

of the White House, but that’s exactly what happened.

Over 20 years ago I stepped into my first class — Communications 101, I

believe — with Professor Terry Dalton. I had enrolled at CSC as a business

major, but Terry had such a huge influence on me from the very beginning

that I switched to communications/journalism within a week.

Over four years I took every journalism class that Castleton offered, and

Terry was the professor for about 90 percent of them. His classes were

usually small is size, but that was a huge advantage for us students. There

was a certain give-and-take that was a constant theme in Terry’s classes, and a lot of times they amounted to a round-table discussion between young

journalists and our professor.

Media ethics was perhaps my favorite class because more than any other it

allowed us to debate with fellow classmates. There was never a wrong answer, but we had to be able to support our beliefs with a well thought-out

argument. I’ve continued to have those same types of debates at every paper

I’ve worked since graduating.

Quite frankly, it’s because of my wonderful experiences at Castleton, and

with Terry Dalton in particular, that newspaper work is the only thing I

know how to do.

Looking back I must have really loved it because within a week of graduating

I took my first job at the Eagle Times in Claremont, N.H., where I worked

about 60 hours a week and was paid for 20 … or so it seemed. I was part of

a two-man desk and we did everything from writing stories to taking

photographs to designing pages.

After a year in Claremont, I took a job in Arizona and eventually moved on to Washington.

I’ve accomplished more than I ever expected thanks to my time at

Castleton — from covering the NFL and Division I college basketball to

reporting from the All-Star Game in Boston and heading to 1600 Pennsylvania

Ave. for the Red Sox’ World Series celebration.

Every day I get to work with some of the most talented people in the

business, and I’m quite certain that Castleton had a lot to do with that.