Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thursday morning office hours, the long version

People of all walks of life: Hear ye, hear ye.  This is my last Thursday morning office hours for the indefinite future.  And my coffee shop is obviously celebrating me by having the salted caramel coffee for the flavor of the day.  It's like they knew I was coming in today and that it's my last Thursday morning.  I actually used the words "I'll have my usual" the last time I popped in this past Saturday when I had my mother-in-law and a sister-in-law in tow.  My SIL snickered at me, she who guzzles the coffee by the pot full, or so it seems to me. 

The Younger is right now this very moment enjoying her last normal day of pre-school before next week's bounce house shindig whereupon there will be a variety of finger friendly snacks and a big grassy yard full of bouncing toddlers.  It will be all that and a bag of chips, I've no doubt. 

Those pre-school teachers...bless their servant hearts. 

While I just said that in all honestly (seriously...talented women who love our children), it's also my clumsy way of transitioning to this press article that I read last night and had me both brimming with pride as well as sighing wistful sighs.

I am such a huge fan of higher education as a safe place, a questioning place, and a guiding place.  Colleges are full of brilliant, brilliant minds that are using their skills in unbelievable ways, and my alma matter is much the same.  Every once in a while, it bounces around in my head that I should write a bloggy love poem (of sorts) for those whom impacted my development the absolute most of any set of adults before or since.  That I even attended, let alone applied, to this college at all is nothing short of a miracle among miracles.  That I never questioned myself in so doing and then excitedly packed the proverbial car on that first day defies logic and very tellingly shows my sheer naivete as an 18-year old.

At the top of my list of remembrances is the general feeling that everyone cares about everyone at Manchester, and I find this to be evident in peers voting for and cheering on their peers.  I'm not at all suggesting that Manchester is the only college where this feeling is pervasive or where the faculty is this way.  But I am here to say that these people nailed it when voting this year, at least from my very distant perspective.

Admittedly, I do not know the first professor mentioned, Dr. Rachel Polando, as her time began after my time ended.  Regardless, props to her!  The biology department is one of the absolute best departments on campus.  I say this will all the authority of never having taken a single class with any of those professors.  But you hear people talk.  You see people continue on to doctoral work.  You congratulate friends who are now practicing doctors (I can think of 8 just off the top of my head.).

So while I'm simply waxing eloquent (so to speak) about a professor whom I don't know so far, I'm about to change my tune here.  If you read further in the article, you'll meet Dr. Jim Brumbaugh-Smith.  And I know him.  I played with his kids, especially his daughter, Claire.  I ate a lot of pizza at his house on Sunday nights when the Union was closed.  We invited his family to our wedding and remember them every time we use the adorable picnic basket they gifted us.  I'm openly jealous that Dr. Brumbaugh-Smith began the Latin & Ballroom Dance club on campus after we graduated.  There was a moment around junior year when a new science professor who was only around for a year or two before moving on to his next professional gig led some swing dance classes, and that was amazing fun.  (We still remember "the pretzel," and readily pull it out at any opportunity.  In other words, invite us to your wedding!)  Service opportunities are readily available in a multitude of ways.  Community comes together when members serve each other.

And then there's Dr. Katharine Ings, Canadian import and incomparable genius.  She epitomizes all that I wish I had the talent to be--big thinker, dedicated writer and researcher, analytical, logical, caring, memorable, and purposefully direct.  If you have taken any class with me, I guarantee you that you have also felt Dr. Ings' impact.  There are times when I hear myself saying something that I know to be true while my brain remembers the moment in her class when I learned the truth.  I want to write down my "I remember when..." moments from my time in her classes, but I know that such memories wouldn't translate.  In hindsight, I learned from being around her that when you are blessed with just such a teacher in your life and in whatever capacity, you learn from that person.  You ask questions of them.  You sit quietly and listen.  You take notes, mental or otherwise.  You soak up as much of their verve as you can.  You store that nuggets away someplace readily accessible because you will need them again soon and often.  And you say thank you and often.


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