I am sorry I do not remember your name. I do remember your shaved head, riding your bike to class, and the way you didn’t stand in front of the class to teach; instead, you insisted on sitting with us as if we were all sharing ideas together instead of just being lectured. I remember your words “you are better than this” after reading a paper I had written. You weren’t referring to my writing, but to how I thought of myself at the time. You always told me to “write what you know” and “write what you love”.
When I dropped out of college, I wasn’t worried about disappointing my parents. I worried I was disappointing the one person that, at the time, seemed to act like I was worth something. A person that believed not just in me, but in my writing as well. You liked my story about my family and asked to share it because I had done what you said and truly wrote what I knew and wrote how I felt.
It took me a while to see a better life; it took me a while to get back to college; it took me a while to follow my dreams, but it is never too late. And it isn’t too late to thank you. You may not remember me but sometimes the job of teacher is to leave an impression not to remember names. When I write, I remember your words and it encourages me. It motivates me to keep writing…Not for anyone else but for me.
So thank you. Thank you for taking the time and thank you for being an “out of the box” professor. It has truly made a difference even after 20 years. I hope that one day I can make such a lasting impression on my students and readers. I hope.