An image of Monroe, the History building at UMW with the school colors depicting hashtag UMW 17 with 6 days below it

Class of 2017, Graduating in Six Days

It’s down to the wire, just six days until graduation! All but one of these professors I’ll never get the pleasure of taking a course with again and I’m completely gutted about that. Possibly unluckily for them, I am the type of student that koala clings and they will be forced to endure visits and emails for advice or checking in to see how things are going. These are the poor professors that will now have to endure my younger friends, as I have repeatedly recommended your classes to them.

6 Days to Grad: The Most Influential Professors

Dr. Krystyn Moon

Dr. Moon has been one of my favorite professors since I began my studies UMW. She quickly let me know that I didn’t have to be a mouthpiece for all brown students just because we were talking about immigration. She pushed me to put in the extra work to make my research projects better than I thought they could be. Then, even after I was out of her classes, she was pushing me to submit my thesis for conferences or finding ways for me to get involved and get “out there”- even when I was nervous about it. She never hesitated to let me interrupt her office hours, even when I wasn’t her student and even walked across campus with me just to talk and get some air. Most teachers are approachable but not really connected on to their students, but Dr. Moon got me right away. I appreciate the hugs through the hard times, the friendly conversations, and the unending support. I would have missed out on so much without you.

Dr. Susan Fernsebner

Like most students, poking in to see a professor feels extremely intimidating. Dr. Fernsebner was always encouraging it but made herself equally available through email. I am quicker to use email or social media than to turn up on campus for a meeting, mostly because I’m a commuter but also because I was taking too many classes with work, practicum, and clubs. That never stopped her from inviting me. When I finally made it over I was in a wheelchair (that story is coming) and could hardly move through the office halls let alone poke into an office. You still took the time to scoot to the door and talk to me. Later, despite having places to be, you took the time to walk with my royal gimpy slowness from the HCC to Monroe, talking about your future courses. I don’t know if you remember that little conversation but it meant a lot to hear a professor get excited about a class and genuinely tell me they hoped it would work with my schedule. I’m glad it did. History of Childhood not only taught me so much, but my research project is one that will continue to grow and be useful as I move on to teaching. Thank you for supporting me, always letting me know your door is open, and for all the food and tea. I hope Thor can continue on as the HoC mascot.

Dr. John Broome

I can’t wait to carry on in grad school with this professor! Dr. Broome is constantly pushing his COE students out of their comfort zone. I’m pretty sure a lecture even started with, “If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not learning.” It may sound harsh but that’s the truth. We all need to step out of our comfort zones and he is there with advice, recommendations, resources, and a mountain of receipts. Probably one of the coolest things about Dr. Broome is his fearlessness. He’s not afraid to be a vocal activist, to shut down hate, or be an emotional person. Moreover, he was there to listen when I didn’t think I would make it through school, always telling me to stop making college harder for me than it needed to be. Then, some of my most amazing experiences at UMW would not have happened had he not thought that I deserved those opportunities (they’ll be in another post). I’m looking forward to learning so much more from you, but thank you for getting me through undergrad first.

Dr. Victoria Russell

Without Dr. Russell, I would have actually fallen apart several times over throughout my undergrad. She would just look at me and tell me to take a deep breath. It wasn’t condescending, she knew I was one of those people that took academia way more seriously than both I needed to and than I could handle. I learned so much in her classes and what never ceased to amaze me was her ability to make herself available for a small army of questions. Honestly, I don’t think there wasn’t a single class where there weren’t three or more hands up at any given time. It could have been stressful, all of us trying to cram in as much information as possible into a tiny window of time, but she handled it with grace. Also, I hadn’t really seen a teacher go over something in a new way to help their students better understand the material. That was something always talked about but never really seen. I’m just really thankful for her because I didn’t just learn how I could have a more inclusive classroom but how to work well in a group, be a better listener, and to be a little more silly. Thank you for accepting me, my fandoms, and my memes. Your unending patience with me stopped me from having anxiety attacks and I know that I’m not the only person that has a million great things to say about you. I look forward to keeping in touch.

Dr. Will Mackintosh

One of my greatest UMW regrets is that I never took a class with Dr. Mackintosh. My aversion to American History combined with the very strict checklist of courses I needed for my BA and M.Ed. left me with little availability to take one of his courses. The hatred of American History stemmed from growing up saturated in it. Everything had to connect back to the Civil War and I never bought into it. Dr. Moon looped me into a work study with Dr. Mackintosh and I was excited to put some of my hobby skills to work in the realm of history. With no idea what I was getting into, I became saturated in this bubble of work by Early Americanists and I the more I read the more interesting I found it. Then, I sat through his Talking History presentation, that’s where the faculty talks about what they are working on, and I realized that I had shortchanged myself. I knew he was easy to talk to and always clear about telling me what he wanted, trust me clarity is something you want from a professor, but I had no idea how engaging he was as a speaker. I’m not completely finished working on The Panorama, but there won’t be another opportunity to take one of your classes and that’s my loss. On a non-academic note, I’m really glad to have gotten to know you. You’ve always been easy to talk to and I appreciate you checking in on me through the chaos of the last 107 days. I really appreciate your advice to not give up on teaching in the United States and to continue fighting for equality. You’ve taught me so much in just the one year I have gotten to know you and I think that speaks volumes to what you are doing in classrooms with these young people you spend much more time with.

Dr. Bruce O’Brien

Who knew the medieval could be so hilarious? He got stuck with me because, as chair, Dr. O’Brien took on all the new students and I was somewhere between too lazy and too indecisive to change advisors. I don’t regret the decision for a second, honestly. Those meetings he somehow managed to remember that I was planning to be a teacher, some of the classes I was in, and who some of my friends were. He would advise me beyond the courses I was registering for, he made sure I took care of myself. From not being able to finish an exam on time because the table top didn’t work well with a wheelchair to pulling me aside when I bombed a midterm, he was always looking out for me and I have no doubt that he did that for all his students. I know I wasn’t the best in the class, but I did the work, participated, and he acknowledged the work I was putting in. So, if you happen to cross this page, I’ll leave it with that video I promised to email you and never got around to doing it.

I think what this day’s reflections show is one of the best things about UMW, most of the professors can get to know you because it’s so much smaller. However, I selfishly believe that nothing compares to HIST/AMST or the COE.

Leave a Reply