As a bio major, I usually know when the end of the term comes, I’ll see my professors again soon in some capacity or another. Whether it’s just wandering the halls of the building or in another class, I know I’ll bump into them. But when I wrap up electives, it’s always bittersweet. I never really know if I’m going to see these professors again around campus, and sometimes I’m not really sure if, beyond this 10 weeks, they’ll remember me or I’ll remember them.
But for the most part, my beloved English teachers have always stayed with me, whether it be in my memory or through email or through my writing. Today wrapped up my American Literature class. My professor was a kooky, fantastic older lady who is just wonderful. From the very start, she had us engaged in some type of discussion, albeit slightly awkward. But as my roommate always says, in awkwardness you find beauty. And so we did. This class always flew by. Three times a week for an hour, I never knew where the hour went. She was always finding ways to make us talk to each other, to challenge us, to make us step outside that comfort zone. And great things came out of that.
She was also extremely knowledgeable. I know all professors are, but some simply shine when they talk about their passion, and hers was forever English. When we really delved into a book, short story, or poem, I saw how much she loved it and how much she wished we didn’t have to go on. She was so great at imparting that love of literature on to us, or at least on to me. I met with her twice throughout the term during office hours for help on the papers. Each time, we had a good hour-long (or more) discussion about not just the paper, but literature and life. And it was wonderful. I loved talking with her. I always came out of that office feeling better about my work and just myself in general.
Today, our last day, she took the time to tell us that our class had submitted, consistently, a high level of work. I got the impression that she didn’t say that a lot, and she even later said that she doesn’t say things like that likely. So it was nice to hear that from someone who’s been around a while and seen a lot of classes. It might sound like something a lot of professors say, and I’m sure they mean it, too. But this meant a lot to me. What surprised me, though, was she took the time to then stop each student as they packed up to leave, to give them an individual thanks for their contributions to class. When she got to me, and thanked me and said her piece, I was truly moved. I wanted to hug her, and I kind of wish I had. All I could say was, “Thank you, thank you so much,” and hope that she understood I was thanking her for everything she’d given me. I know I’ll be visiting her office next term just to check in and see how things are. Because that’s the impact she had on me. I couldn’t quite put it into words at the time, but they’re on paper now, as they should be.