It’s true that sometimes a student can run into a not-so-great-professor, but in my experience that has happened only 1% of the time. Instead, I have been fortunate enough to have an amazing support system. Nobody gets to graduation completely alone. Even if a student has little to no support at home, there is bound to be a professor cheering them on as they succeed. This support means the difference between average work and high achievement, between dropping out and graduating. I have been influenced, inspired, and encouraged by quite a few, but in particular, these three professors have made a huge difference, and all in different ways!
Dr. McCormick is my first “encourager.” Some students might not realize just how much she cares, but she does. How did she encourage me? Well, she didn’t coddle me, she challenged me. She took the time to help me and see my ideas through to the end. She took a personal interest, not only in my college career but also in my personal welfare — that made a world of difference for me. Most importantly, she was authentically herself: a strong-willed, intelligent, independent woman — a role model to a student like me who felt like a complete and utter failure when we first met.
Dr. Blaine was my first Cal State Fullerton professor who became an “encourager.” He was the first professor at my new transfer campus that made me feel welcomed into the college and the English department. And his class/es have been a source of both knowledge and joy. He promotes critical thinking and he encourages participation. The other day I mentioned that I would be taking another class with Dr. Blaine because I like continuity — not because I have found a comfortable spot, but because I have found a professor who respects my ideas and gives me the agency necessary to use my critical thinking skills.
Dr. Caldwell, she is a gem. She is my most recent, but not less influential, “encourager.” She believes in me and what I aspire to be. Basically, she sees the “end game” where it concerns my career goals. She sees me as having potential for being a great educator and that means a lot to me. I sometimes question my choices, but she reminds me often that I am more than capable to see these dreams through to the end — not just with becoming a teacher, but also with writing my book for moms in college. And she is courteous! She literally embodies all of the qualities that she teaches in her medieval and Chaucer classes.
So, to the professor who encourages from students like me:
You mean the world to us. You equip us with confidence, with motivation. You give 200% of yourself to your career and it shows. When we think that we are failures, you remind us that we are works in progress. When we struggle to hold on through the semester, you throw us a life preserver in the form of understanding and concern. I cannot repay the gratitude I owe to you, to each one of you. I can only see my goals through to the end — Not just for me, not just for my family, but for you too.