Assistant Professor, Marketing
When you start teaching, there is this sense that you’re going to make the world a better place. That there are kids out there, who need guidance and a gentle expert hand to show them the way. For many, those thoughts quickly evaporate when you have a classroom of 30 students who are there because the course is a requirement and to be frankly honest, they don’t care all that much about the lesson you’ve prepared. But don’t fear, the moments are out there.
About a year into my teaching career, I was surprised to find that student who wanted more than just the credit, he tried to understand and grow. In our marketing class, Don (as we’ll call him) was engaged in a class discussion about how the material of the day can be beneficial in their future endeavors, Don said he didn’t know how to answer because he didn’t have a plan or any idea of what his future would hold. There was a different look in his face one of sadness and despair that I had never seen before, and I knew that I needed to get more involved.
After class, I asked Don to stay and chat. I asked him about his past, his current hobbies, hopes, and fears, trying to gain insight. Through our hour’s long conversation, he told me of his passion for cars and clothes and extreme outdoor sports. Don was new to the area, had just lost his dad to cancer and was lost as to what he should do with his life. He began classes because he knew that’s what his dad would have wanted, but he didn’t know what to do or how to look forward. I asked him if you could do anything what would you do? His answer was simple and profound. “I want to be me and also make my dad proud.”
The next week, he came back to class with an energized look and was quick to tell me of his new plan. He wanted to use his unique skills to sell t-shirts he was designing as a hobby and open a clothing/skate store. I said it sounded good and we focused many discussions over the next few years on those dreams.
After graduation, I received a postcard in the mail from Denver, Colorado inviting me to the grand opening of a new skate & ski shop. It was Don’s logo; he did it, in the corner, there was a hand-written note that said: “Thanks Mr. Freeman, without you, I’d still be lost.”
That is why we teach at this level.. to light the way and guide the students in the direction of success and self-sufficiency. I’m proud to play that role, and every success they have feels like one for me as well.