Like every semester, the one ending has been full of learning and experiences for students everywhere. As my students part for the holidays, I’m thinking about how watching them do what they do every day is my learning experience.
I’m amazed how much some students accomplish in addition to attending classes. They commit to multiple extracurricular activities, volunteerism and part-time jobs. Sometimes they’ll even do extra research, write a longer paper, or take a class for the sake of learning.
Many have overcome significant obstructions: difficult family lives, emotional or physical challenges, poverty, and more. Their spirits seem un-crushable.
They can experience unbearable personal tragedy and, with the support of friends and family, are incredibly resilient. Others struggle to recover, needing time and understanding as they try to finish missed work.
They take to public relations quickly. Most come into the program from other majors, and by the time they finish their first course, they know they want to do this professionally. And they’ll do 3-4 internships to get a leg up on the competition.
Little things give them happiness. Dressing up for a special on-campus event? Happiness. Being challenged with trivia questions in class? Happiness. Networking with a PR professional? Happiness.
They’re terrified of graduating. They can’t wait to finish school but they’re stressed by the idea that for the first time in their lives, they don’t know where they’ll be next September.
They’re incredibly tolerant and patient. They are far less judgmental about personal lifestyles than my generation, and they always seem ready to help classmates who sometimes face struggles with everything from English to emotional issues.
They’re excited about the future. Despite having lived with a log-jammed government, a serious economic crisis, terrorism and gun violence everywhere around them, they see themselves as catalysts for making the world a better place.
What I’ve most learned during this and in past semesters is how deeply I care about my students, and how much hope I have for their path to however they define success. They are truly my everyday inspirations. Your thoughts?