23 April 2010

Day 27: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.  ISBN: 9780671027346.

The main character, Charlie, happens to have an amazing teacher by the name of Bill.  Bill gives Charlies extra assignments and books to read and encourages Charlie in academic and writing pursuits.  Reading about this relationship made me remember all of the wonderful teachers and people I've had in my life who have encouraged me in this way.  There are so many that I know I will leave a few out, people who range from "adopt-a-moms" to college professors who gave me glowing recommendations and pushed me to do things I didn't necessarily want to do.

Most recently, I have someone who has been a kind of informal career coach.  She has offered me advice on things from cover letters to interviews to what shoes to wear with a navy suit (cream or navy if you're curious, never black much to my frustration).  There is so little guidance about this stuff in college; they give you the knowledge to do the job, but not how to get the job.  They expect you to stumble around and screw up, and that's just not something most people can afford to do when they've taken out loans so they can supposedly get a good paying job.  Honestly, I would have found a course about applying for professional jobs much more interesting and applicable than "Information Technology," which was a kind of "Computer and Internet Basics for Dummies," only with a price tag of $1,400So thank you for teaching me how to get a job; it will pay off one of these days, maybe soon.  Also, I appreciate the work you threw my way: scooping litter for seven cats, cooking for your dogs, and pulling poison ivy out of your garden.

At Antioch I had numerous professors who were able to give me far more attention than I would have received otherwise, so this is one of those places I will leave people out.  I apologize, it doesn't mean your kindness and energy meant any less to me.  

The obvious person to thank is my academic and senior project advisor (why isn't this word in my dictionary?  Added).  We both started our careers at Antioch at the same time, and oddly ended them at the same time as well.  I stumbled into her class because I needed to replace Ceramics with something after being told there was "no room" for me because a bunch of seniors who signed up for the class hadn't stumbled in yet.  I never did get to take that Ceramics class, but I would not have traded my experience with my advisor for the world.  She is the whole reason I became a history major; before that it had never even occurred to me to get into history.  And I love her no less for forcing me to take classes I hated, because even though I detested the professor's personal beliefs and her material, I learned more from that class than I sometimes care to admit.  Also, having a gang of roughly ten people who went through the same hell I did to conspire with against the professor was kind of the most fun I had being miserable.  Thank you for allowing me to be your advisee.  You were one of the reasons I stayed at Antioch when I thought I wanted to leave that first semester.

 A not so obvious person from Antioch is my chemistry professor, who actually had a birthday recently (which I only know because of Facebook).  You may wonder why I bothered to take a chemistry class as a history major; well, it was my first semester and I thought about majoring in biology.  I could have taken "Everybody's Chemistry," but then if I actually did declare a science major I would have to take Chemistry I anyway.  I suck at chemistry.  There is no denying it; I will never be a science major, although if it got me somewhere professionally I'd probably try anyway.  My chemistry professor knew I was trying and knew that I could figure it out eventually, and he gave me all the help he possibly could.  I must have taken the midterm over three times, and he let me, because I attended class everyday and I was meticulous with my lab work (to the point they would last way longer than they should have).  Even the class where we made slime I chose the hardest one to make because he wanted us to make a variety of different slimes (mine was freaking awesome, thank you very much).  

He was also one of the few professors who made a point of eating in the cafeteria regularly, which is somewhat of a feat considering you needed a Teflon stomach most days.  It was also a great way for me to find the "nerd" table, which is where I made all of my friends.  And I've never seen someone have so many office hours.  There were times I would wake up early (9:00 am) on a Saturday and go take a walk on campus and find him sitting in his office working on lab reports, etc.  This happened consistently, and he was always willing to let me sit on the chalk dusted floor or chairs and talk about whatever I needed to talk about.  Thanks to my chemistry professor, for not judging my intellect on my inability to do chemistry.  PS: I am not one of the people in the slime lab photo, but that actually was from my freshman year of college.

I could indicate a number of people in high school, middle school, and elementary school who were influential to me, but to be honest many of the details are a little fuzzy.  Most of them were actually librarians, particularly in elementary.  I think I've covered the most significant people for my current situation.  I feel that I've been very lucky in this regard, and I hope everyone has had at least one professor like the ones I've had.  Feel free to thank an educator in the comments.

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