A positive education

At a small university of approximately 10,500 undergraduate students, it is easy for class sizes to be small and for students to become well acquainted with their professors. It’s great to be more than a number and to be able to call a professor by their first name.

At a university like UW-Eau Claire (and every university), it should be the professor’s job to challenge students. To give them a reason to come to class everyday. To strive to be a positive guiding force in a student’s
academic career.

I have had many wonderful professors in my life, but there was one instance when I was basically told I would never amount to anything in life by a professor I thought I could trust.

That’s rough. It made me a little teary-eyed at first but then I decided to use that comment as fuel to kick some butt during and after my college career. Regardless, that should never ever happen to a student.

It’s one thing to be challenged and to be told to do better. I don’t mind when a professor calls me out on being lazy when I deserve it. Or when they give me some tough love.  All they want is for their students to excel and to be able to graduate with a degree in their chosen field.

I know after graduation I am going to run into some pretty intimidating and maybe even rude bosses. Right now, at this moment, positivity in continuing my education is what should be offered.

Why on earth would you say something like, ‘you will never amount to anything?’ It makes no sense to me. Shouldn’t people who become professors want to be working closely with students? Shouldn’t they want to have a positive impact on the lives of others?

I feel it is a professor’s job to be a role model in a way. I know for me, I look up to my professors. They have been incredibly successful in life and that’s what I strive for after graduation.

It’s comforting to know there are people out there I should be able to speak with about multiple topics for guidance.

I’m not saying your professor should be your best friend. No way.

But it’s fantastic when they are real people, having real lives, who don’t mind understanding that you are a real person with a real life as well. With that said, they can have bad days too. Heck, they can have all the bad days they want, and maybe they say things they don’t mean, but it should never be comments that are hurtful in nature.

Anthropology professor at Eau Claire, Jill Smith said the relationship between a student and professor is very complex.

“If they want that degree, then really all we are is a pathway to that degree,”  Smith said. “We then can act as more of a mentor role, which means guiding them as much as they are interested and open, some teachers don’t take that as their responsibility but most teachers do.”

Smith said she writes countless letters of recommendation for her students and said she believes it is the role of the professor to help students with graduate school.

“We have a lot of responsibilities for students,” Smith said. “Some of which students aren’t aware of, and some of which faculty aren’t aware of.”

Smith is one of my anthropology professors. She is a tough professor, but I come out of class every day learning something new. She provides a challenging environment, but also cares about how her students are doing. To me, this provides the best learning environment.

My favorite saying a professor once said was, “life happens.” Because yes … it does. Sometimes you are going to have a bad day and turn in a less-than-stellar assignment. Or sometimes you are going to not understand a topic and need to ask twenty-one questions.  That is when, at least for me, I need a professor who understands the life of a student, because they too have been in our shoes not too long ago.

I understand they are not counselors, they should not be completely
responsible for their students in every way, but it’s a little hard to separate church and state in that area if you know what I mean.

I hope the negative experience I had with that one professor is a unique one. I won’t let it negatively affect me, because I’m proud to be a Blugold and nothing will stand in my way of achieving what I have always set out to do.