Finding Time to Laugh

By Sarah Wallace

Tyler Tabenske ’14 charmingly poses for his picture in Kalamazoo’s cafeteria, where you can often find him.

Tyler Tabenske ‘14 has a laidback nature, joking attitude, and obvious humor that make it seem as if he doesn’t take anything too seriously. But he is on top of his college career.

You can normally find Tabenske in K’s cafeteria with a cup of chocolate milk, or in the basement of Harmon, where I found the “Harmon Basement Dude,” as he referred to himself jokingly.

I expected our conversation to hover around the fact that Tabenske is graduating a year and a quarter earlier than his incoming freshmen class, and perhaps hear about some sort of captivation with math. Instead, I ended up as the receiver of a series of ironic bits of wisdom as he explained his first days at college.

Tabenske’s ambition was obvious when he came to K, as he attempted to take advantage of all of his talents. The 12 credits he earned from Advanced Placement tests gave him the drive for his first “stupid idea,” as he called it.

“My initial plan was that I would stay here for four years,” Tabenske said. “I was going to have five majors and three concentrations. It was going to be no problem. I had it all set.”

He recognized, however, that he couldn’t do it all. After his first classes at K, he could not ever see himself pursuing a career in biology or chemistry.

Tabenske eventually took notice of his capabilities in math. He is graduating with a double major in math and economics, and has been working in the Math Center since his first year at K. Nevertheless, math is not his greatest passion.

“I think I like economics more than math. But I am good at math. So, I mean, when you’re good at math, you can’t squander that. If you can do math, you should be doing it!” Tabenske said.

Despite working in the Math Center, grading two math classes per quarter and finding time to play racquetball and handball, Tabenske’s demeanor lacks stress. My interview with him proved to be a series of laughs, one after the other, stemming from his ironic commentary.

At the same time, it is unimaginable that no stress comes of the workload he has taken on. It seems, rather, to be exhibited in the ironic humor he uses to dismiss this workload.

His greatest strength is time management. When I teasingly asked him what his secret to success was, he laughed.

“You just have to be able to manage your time and know how to plan ahead. That’s it.” Tabenske said. “I know how long it takes me to do things. That’s extra nice if you know your own workload ability.”

When I asked Tabenske about possible career choices, he talked about being an actuary or a financial consultant. After his years at K, Tabenske’s work ethic will no doubt propel him into the work world.