Thursday, November 11, 2010

an incredible compliment

I went a relatively small, private, Catholic high school and was fortunate to have personal relationships with all of my teachers. They all knew exactly who I was, who my siblings were, who I was related to on-staff, what I was good at, how I worked, my intellectual abilities, my likes and dislikes, and my name a few things. There are even some who know my shoe size, medical issues, and what happened on various dates I've gone on over the years.

I loved having relationships with my teachers like this, because I knew they were invested in my growth and development as a student and as a person.

I cherished these relationships, but I had come to terms with the fact that college probably wouldn't be this way. For the most part, it hasn't been.

Sure, there are teachers who learn your name in classes, and they recognize you vaguely when you appear in their office hours, but the personal relationship is often lacking - understandably so, considering they often teach hundreds of students and have a lot on their plate at any given moment.

I have been lucky to have two teachers (one a professor, the other an instructor) in college who know me a little more personally than just my name. It's not to the point that they know all about my family or my shoe size, but they have come to know me as a student, and I feel as if they truly care about me as a person.

I am in the midst of applying for a very exciting opportunity (referred to as '-' later in this post, since I'm keeping it quiet until I find out what's going to happen), and I needed to have two recommendations completed as part of the process. I immediately thought of my Spanish professor, who has taught me for three terms (currently working on the fourth). He submitted my recommendation, talked briefly about it with me in class, and that was that. I didn't even consider asking what he had said - I'm not an invasive person by nature, even though I'm sure he would have happily shown me what he submitted.

I then thought of my writing instructor, who I took two classes from last year. I liked his class, and he has helped me in a lot of areas. He's the one who suggested I apply for the internship I already had, and the one who recently told me I was a "special student". He submitted my recommendation today, and send me a copy of what he said.

I was blown away. It brought a tear to my eye - he said such nice things, and I know that he believes them. Take a look:

Since I first began teaching at OSU in 2004, I've had the good fortune to have Abbie Silva in two of my classes: WR201 Writing for Media and WR327 Technical Writing. From everything I have seen concerning Abbie's academic and personal achievements, I think she would be an excellent fit for the - . Her maturity both as a scholar and human being is outstanding. Above all else, I would like to call your attention to the nature of Abbie's work in my classes. Although students are able to write about many topics, Abbie always selected topics that involved social and cultural diversity, and working for the public good. Specifically, I would like to cite the two following examples. In my Writing for Media class, Abbie's profile story was an insightful and heartfelt look inside the life of Kari, a young girl who suffered from Cystic Fibrosis; a story which took substantial research and courage to write. In my Technical Writing class, Abbie took a leadership role in the final assignment phase, which involved students working on five-person teams to develop public presentations on a subject germane to their area of study. These presentations were developed from intensive analytic proposals the class participants had written earlier. After it was put to a vote, Abbie's team elected to do her proposal, which was a program to address problems of childhood obesity in public schools. In bringing this presentation to fruition, Abbie went above and beyond to call of duty, organizing, mentoring and enabling her crew to present a best practices presentation. In all such matters, Abbie conducted herself with maturity and aplomb, with a special sensitivity to the diversity of her teammates learning abilities and educational backgrounds. In short, both Abbie's choice of projects and her ability to think articulate meaningful results in a cross-cultural context are a dead ringer for what is expected of OSU students in the -. Of the more than 1,500 students who have entered my classroom during my time at OSU, Abbie truly stands out among the best.

What an incredible compliment. I feel so fortunate to have teachers who have my back in college, and to know that I can count on them to produce such nice recommendations for me. And I feel so fortunate to be the kind of person who has earned this particular recommendation.

I'll let you know how things turn out!

♥ abigail

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