The Joy of Reading
By Carolyn Preul

If you ask my children what mom likes to do best, they don’t have to think twice. I’m an avid reader and remind them daily to read books, graphic novels or even the holiday toy catalogs.

You can imagine my excitement when I learned that Columbia College alumnus Jim Paillot ’82 is a children’s book illustrator. I immediately found his work online and purchased the first box set of the My Weird School series for our home library.

Paillot knew from a young age that he wanted to be an artist and shares his story in the Fall 2022 Affinity alumni spotlight.

The series, written by Dan Gutman, follows a group of second graders through the trials and tribulations at Ella Mentry School. My son was hooked from the first couple of sentences: “My name is A.J. I like football and video games, and I hate school.” Paillot’s drawings bring the relatable, quirky characters to life and prove over and over again how much the students – and my son – not-so-surprisingly enjoy learning.

In this issue of Affinity, we also introduce you to Taylor Hostens and Emma Chedwick, two members of Columbia College’s Class of 2022 who formed a powerful bond during their college careers, and we pay tribute to President Emeritus Dr. Gerald T. Brouder, who passed away on June 22. Brouder is remembered for his transformational impact on higher education which included three goals during his time at CC: increasing the college’s endowment, advancing technology and strengthening the sciences.

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Happy reading,

Carolyn Preul is the director of Alumni Relations and editor of Affinity magazine. The magazine is published by the Columbia College Division of Advancement. Readers are encouraged to share story ideas and provide feedback with the magazine production team. Please send comments to the editor at