Here at MindsEye, we could never accomplish what we do without our hardworking volunteers. Each year we like to take time to acknowledge those volunteers who have gone above and beyond. Today, we would like to recognize this year’s Rookie of the Year recipient Monica Hatch!

After being an English teacher for 20 years, Monica recently retired and wanted to continue using her love of language. She decided to connect with MindsEye and now handles a few shows a week for our Broadcast Information Program.

Laura Foughty chatted with Monica and got to know one of our newest volunteers a little bit better.

LAURA: What can you tell me about how you got started volunteering with MindsEye?

MONICA: You know, I knew about MindsEye for many, many years from when I was in Junior Service Club and they had people that read for it. I came in and did a reading and they didn’t want me because I read too fast! Back then I had children and was very busy. But when I retired I thought, “Yeah. I’ve got time for this and it’ll be fun to stay intellectually engaged with some text and maybe meet some folks,” so I came back.

LAURA: And now that your kids aren’t little and you can calm down a bit, you can read more slowly!

MONICA: Yes. I also have taught English for the last 20 years – rhetoric and composition – and I think a little wisdom and maturity and having to present in the classroom helped. I got better.

LAURA: I was going to ask about your background in teaching and in English. How do you feel that factors into the work you do here?

MONICA: Well, there is kind of a presentational almost performative aspect to teaching and I think that’s also true of the writing and what I’m reading. I love language and so I love doing the Travelogue show because I get to ham it up and pronounce the French and Italian words with my accent. I spent a year in Italy and I speak enough to get by. I just like the play of language so it’s fun.

LAURA: That’s so fun! What other shows do you read?

MONICA: I do the New York Times Sunday magazine and I do the Travelogue show. I usually do the New York Times Magazine from home remotely because it needs to get in on Monday night. Then I come in Monday or Tuesday, maybe Wednesday, for the Travelogue show. I like to do that in the booth just to see folks and, well, because I don’t have a subscription to the Travel and Leisure magazine which is so lush. I sometimes worry about the fact that it’s such a luxury and I remember when I said to Mike when he first assigned it to me, “You know, this is really out of reach for a lot of people,” and he said, “Travel is about dreaming.” I like to think of it that way.

LAURA: Do you ever describe the pictures?

MONICA: I do my best. I taught writing and so description was one of the things I taught, but I do my best and I think people appreciate that you’re trying.

LAURA: Practice, not perfection. Yeah?

MONICA: I probably use the same adjectives over and over again. “This is lovely.” “This is gorgeous.” But I try not to use very descriptive words because I did the training for the Audio Description Program with Magan. That was helpful.

LAURA: How long have you been volunteering with us?

MONICA: Let’s see. I retired in August of 2019 and I think I started the following fall, so I’ve been here I guess almost two years.

LAURA: Enough to still be a rookie.

MONICA: I guess. When Angela called me, I said, “I must have been the only newcomer this year.” She said, “No. That’s not true.” But, yeah, I’m still a rookie. I would say I listened to other people sometimes to pick up pointers. Marilynn [Kramer] was one person I tuned into very early to see how she introduced things and segued.

LAURA: So the “Rookie of the Year” learned from the “Lifetime Achievement” winner!

MONICA: Absolutely. It just so happened one of the first times I came she was here. We stuck up a conversation and it made me think, “I’ll listen to what she does,” and it was really helpful. Alan with the Rolling Stone was also here one of my first times that I came and I listened to him and thoroughly enjoyed it.

LAURA: Now, we ask everyone this: What’s your favorite pizza topping?

MONICA: Well, I like Margherita pizza, so I guess fresh basil.

LAURA: From your time in Europe?

MONICA: Not necessarily. I grow it. It’s just something I like.

Congratulations to Monica on her Rookie of the Year award! Feel free to leave your congratulations for Monica in the comments below!

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