A Professor’s Impact

Samantha Higgins

We’ve all had those professors that we hated, the ones who we talked to our friends about nonstop, who made us hate getting up to go to class no matter what time of day the class was. But what about the opposite? What about the professors that were just so great you found yourself looking forward to class? Did you ever stop and take a minute to truly appreciate all the great teachers and professors you’ve had?

As graduation gets dangerously closer I’ve found myself doing this a lot more. I’ve been thinking back as far as elementary school, where of course I had some great teachers as well, but I think the first time I really connected with a teacher and realized school didn’t have to be dreadful was in middle school. Four specific teachers come to mind for me, one was a science teacher who not only found a way to make me understand science for the first time but also found a way to get all the class clowns to behave and make us laugh, she was entertaining and helpful all the time. Another was a teacher who was like a teachers aid for a specific student in the classroom, but she always cheered me on, and does to this day. She never discouraged me and always encouraged me to keep reading- even giving me a book by my favorite author in 8th grade. Speaking of 8th grade, if it wasn’t for my 8th grade social studies teacher I don’t think I would have made it to college. She is the one who taught me the importance of organization and being on time. Before that class I was a mess, plus she was like a mom to all of us. Throughout my three years in middle school I spent a majority of my time in the chorus room with that teacher though, she was someone who was so passionate for what she did, and truly cared for her students. I could vent to her about my middle school drama and she made it seem like it was important to her too. I remember crying in her room on the last day of 8th grade because I had no idea how I would ever have another teacher who I connected with like that. Teachers like that are what help students learn and succeed.

High school was a mess for me, I got the lowest grades I have ever gotten my freshman year, but also had two of my favorite teachers. I remember learning about the hidden messages in Disney movies during English and thinking “this teacher is ruining my childhood” at the same time I was completely flabbergasted that there was so much more to a Disney movie than I had ever imagined. And my history teacher was so passionate and put so much work into her lesson plans I still to this day feel bad that I would pass notes in her class and not pay attention (I had her again Junior year and like to think I made up for it; I did much better). But these two teacher, plus yet another chorus teacher were once again the guidance I needed to get through my high school years. They were the ones who you could tell weren’t there for just a pay check but were there because they loved what they did. They truly cared for their students and their job, they went above and beyond and while I had a lot of teachers I didn’t like, its teachers like this that made high school bearable.

Then came UNH, we all can relate to the professors here (Computers and their Applications anyone?). My freshman year I didn’t really connect with a professor, and I can’t say that I didn’t feel lost, but since then I have found a few that I am so grateful for. One that inspired me to declare a minor, who was so passionate about her work she pursues it outside the classroom not for a job, but because it’s the right thing to do. One that helped me decide what I want to do with my life, and I don’t think she even knows it.

The moral of this is- yes there are crappy professors and crappy teachers, but there are amazing ones too. And they can change your life and make a tremendous impact. Maybe they haven’t taught you in a classroom, maybe they were a sport coach or an advisor for a club, I have had both who, I swear, know me better than I know myself. One advisor here I think is the sole reason I am still sane, I talk to her about everything. So find your “person” here. Or think back and just be grateful for the great professionals you’ve had in your life. It’s easy to be stressed out at this time of the year, it’s easy to focus on the negative and to hate the professors for all the homework you have. But try to be thankful for the great ones. Because soon enough we all graduate, we all leave, and those amazing people keep impacting other lives, while you go off and succeed because of all the great advice they gave you (hopefully).