Brief reflections at the end of the academic year

I just graded my ‘final’ final exam for this semester. As soon as I report it, the academic year will end. The graduation ceremonies will be held this weekend and I hope to be there to share the achievements of many of my students, including one of my own Master’s students who sucessfully defended his thesis. Another minion of mine that goes out in the world!

I feel oh, so proud, yet it is bittersweet.

Every year I have a little bit of everything. The really good students, the just fair and, well, the not so good. From time to time I get encouraging notes that warm my heart. These notes and cards say deceptively simple things; what the students don’t realize is that we professors TREASURE these. Especially when such notes say things like:

“Thank you for a great semester”
“I don’t know how can you be so enthusiastic and give such good lectures at 8am”
“I am not a bio major, but I found your class fascinating”

And so on… These students will never, ever know how much I appreciate these thoughts.

As I write this, I look out the window from an undisclosed locat… (Ok, ok, Starbucks, I confess, I am grading at our campus’ Starbucks! Happy!?!?!) and I see students in their caps & gowns on their way to commencement practice. They look so happy!

As it should be.

They will never know how much we cherish their triumphs, how much we enjoy reporting a good grade that we know was well earned, and they will never know our agony when reporting a not so good grade for people who we know could have done better if only they’d done their work.

I, for one, am fair yet I take no prisoners while grading. I always tell them that the part of their education that is on me will be done right. After all, many of my students may become my doctor! Actually, at least one of my former students recently took charge of me as a physical therapist (no, I was not turned into a pretzel) and even more importantly, some of them may someday take care of my wife or kids! I fact, a former student of mine is currently working with my young man with special needs. Who knew?

In a very real sense, they’ll never know where of when our paths will cross again…

They’ll never know how much we are rooting for them, how much we wish them a great life. Godspeed!

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