Last May, I graduated from Ashland University. At the time, I was nothing but excited and looking forward to beginning my career, with the slight apprehension of what the next phase of my life would bring. A much-needed rest and time spent with my family were needed this summer so I spent as much time focusing on them as possible. I’m now preparing my own classroom at Loudonville High School, which will fill up soon, with students who will undoubtedly expect me to know all the answers. I may not have every answer, and I may not be able to fix every problem; however, one element that will not be missing in my classroom will be passion. If I learned one thing at Ashland University (and I learned many things) it’s that there is no room in education for those with a lack of passion and understanding for this generation of learners and a drive towards instructing them to the highest level of their ability.
While at Ashland, I met my husband. We were married between semesters my junior year and welcomed a daughter into the world during finals the same year. I would not have been able to complete my education without the patience of my professors. I learned the importance of compassion, of recognizing potential. Humanity has a drive, an innate instinct for learning. We are continuously striving to expand our minds in whatever form the individual is particularly inclined. As educators, recognition of the individual is crucial—not only in the element of learning but in every instance. I would not have finished my degree if my professors at Ashland had not also recognized this. I was not looked at as one of the masses; I was seen by them for who I was and for what I was capable of becoming. They believed in me, inspired me, helped me, pushed, strove, compromised with me every step of the way and they cultivated—even more finely— within me, a desire for learning and for the distribution of that learning that influences every action, every day, and only burns increasingly brighter the more I learn.
I will never cease in my endeavor of learning. I will never allow my students’ minds to lay complacent, I will strive daily to inspire, cultivate, and embed the desire for learning while remembering they are all unique individuals with different learning styles. I will adapt, flex, compromise, help, push, and believe in them the way my professors taught me to.
I will never give up. I learned that at AU. I walk past the university with my daughter –now 18 months old. She coos to herself, laughs, fusses and points at the tall buildings. I remember dashing in and out of dorms, digging through my purse for a flash drive while running to Patterson to print out term papers with already extended dead lines, laughing with my friends. Crying sometimes. I remember finding out I was pregnant the first day of my junior year and realizing, I may never graduate. I wondered how I would ever be able to take care of a baby and finish school, thinking maybe I’ll just postpone graduation and go back later. Looking back, I will never regret my decision to trust my professors, to believe in myself and to finish my degree.
I graduated with a job in my field. Two weeks before graduation I was hired. My employers were impressed with the education I’d acquired at AU and I got to walk across the stage, accept my diploma, knowing I had a way to provide for my family. There is no greater accomplishment than that, and I owe every bit of it to Ashland University, its esteemed faculty, and the “accent on the individual” motto that is more than just words –I’m living proof. Thank you, to all those who had such an impact on my life, I will never be able to adequately repay you.