Ode to Professors
I have had so many absolutely fantastic professors this year who have inspired me in all sorts of ways. My heart is brimming with gratitude and excitement thinking about them all, so I'm going to devote this post to recognizing all of my teachers and mentors from this year.
Beatriz was my spanish teacher first semester. She wasn't originally supposed to be teaching the course, but there were too many people in the original class with Patrick O'Connor, so she graciously volunteered to take a small portion of us. There were only 12 of us in her section, and she cared very much for each and every one of us. She is very kind and compassionate, and took a vested interest in all of our lives. She also has extremely adorable little boys, and would often come to class with their toy cars in her pockets.
Professor Belitsky was my chemistry 101 professor. Although it was a pretty big, lecture-style class, he knew our names and did his best to keep up with our personal progress in the class. His lectures were sometimes hard to follow, but he was always willing to answer questions and his quizzes and tests were very fair. It was obvious he spent a lot of time preparing for his classes and thought carefully about what material to present and how.
David taught my first year seminar. I've mentioned him in several of my previous blogs, and for good reason-- this man can make any old subject into a thought-provoking, paradigm-shifting labyrinth of philosophy and reasoning. David gave us the best feedback on all of the papers we turned in, and made an effort to get to know us all outside of the classroom setting. He even invited us all to his house at the end of last semester to have a little get together and holiday gift exchange! I don't have him this semester, but I still sometimes stop by his office hours to say hi.
Jen taught my favorite class that I've taken so far at Oberlin. It wasn't offered through the college, nor was it taught during the school week. Every saturday last semester, me and a handful of other students and community members went to her house to sip homemade tea (I mean the real deal-- no tea packets, just straight plants and hot water mixed together) and learn about alternative medicine in the comfort of her living room. Jen is a chiropractor in town, but her knowledge about health and wellbeing extends well beyond the scope of straight chiropractic work. She has served as one of my main role models and sources of inspiration here. Some describe her as a mystical being because she is so insightful and intuitive. I'm hoping to take her class again, because it was that good.
Ann Cooper Albright
Ann is the wackiest teacher I've had by far. She is the chair of the dance department and is known for teaching Contact Improv (which I'm taking next semester). This semester, I took her class called Somatic Landscapes. Whenever anyone asks me what my most exciting class has been I immediately respond, "Somatic Landscapes!" to which I am met with the inevitable question, "Uh...what is that?" I generally say that it is a class in experiential anatomy and connecting with your environment, which includes both your own body and the greater landscape we call earth. Ann is super cool and zany and true to herself. She is a straight shooter and sometimes calls people out, which can be a little scary, but is ultimately rewarding. I agree with most of the opinions she has expressed to our class about bodies, technology, writing, spirituality, connection, food, and well being. Her most memorable piece of advice is to eat a peppermint patty before taking a test or writing an essay because it will make you smart. Last week for May 1st, she insisted we all meet her at a nearby pond at 6 am to watch the sunrise. Then we went to her house and had berries and tea. Not surprisingly, she has many cats and related paraphernalia (pillows, mugs, bowls, etc.). One eccentric similarity we share is that we both collected a wasps' nest and brought it to our respective homes at one point or another.
This woman is dynamite. She taught my contemporary dance class this semester, and dance we did. She is so dynamic and full of energy all of the time. Elesa is great at giving feedback to all of the dancers and creating an engaging environment where everyone wants to do their very best. She is rather petite, but don't let that throw you off-- she's got a very commanding voice.
Professor Whelan intimidates me by how cool she is. She double majored in Chemistry and English, so basically she's good at everything. She is crazy smart but also very approachable and can break any concept down into layman's terms. She never talks down to her students, no matter how basic the question or how many times she is asked to repeat herself. She always thinks the absolute best of her students, which makes us all that much more eager to succeed. She even cracks jokes in class, and her demonstrations are awesome (check out the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction and Resonance Squares on YouTube).
Eric was my yoga teacher for half of my first semester. I wrote a different blog about that, which you can read here. He's a very kind, and sometimes unexpectedly funny, man. I enjoyed his class a lot, and I still enjoy going to his yoga studio every week to man the sign-in station for classes and just hang out in the studio. It's definitely become one of my all-time favorite spots.
Deb is my advisor, which I'm thrilled about. She is very much a kindred spirit to Jen Shults, but she resides in the world of academia. She teaches in the dance department, but most of her classes are more geared towards body awareness and functional anatomy. Every single person I've ever talked to about her not only likes Deb, but LOVES Deb and attests that she has absolutely changed their lives. I feel very honored to be her advisee, and I can't wait to take her Body Re-Education class next semester.
The only people I have left out are my psychology professors (because the class was fairly large and I never really talked with either of them) and my archaeology professor, because I actually didn't like her at all. Needless to say, she was only a visiting professor and I was in the last class she taught before she left the school forever.
I want to say that I've been extremely grateful to have encountered all of these amazing professors/role models/mentors over the course of this hectic first year of college, but that in having done so, I have not been at all lucky. That is to say, you don't need luck to do well and to find the people who are going to help shape your time at Oberlin College. You'll definitely find them, luck or no. And when you do, they'll be just as excited and eager to help you find your way as you will be to be finding it.