Higher Learning and a Will to Overcome

Julie Miller
Community Health Services

I was pulled over at the side of the road one day adjusting my mirror when my phone rang. “Instructor Miller?” an unrecognizable voice bound with heavy congestion said. It sounded as though the person was trying to pull air through a tiny straw as she took a breath. “This is Lisa (fictitious name) I can’t be in class. I’m in the hospital. I just want you to know I am going to complete my assignment and be ready for a test next week.” I immediately felt a great deal of concern and expressed to her that she should focus on getting well. “I will” she replied, “but I am going to do this. I intend to finish.”

Lisa has been an outstanding student and has not only been under the stress of recovery from illness, but in addition has been dealing with personal difficulties. I remember the first days of class after I read her entry in the “getting to know you” type of form I had given everyone, I admired her from the start. I could sense she is very proud to be at LCC and to be working on education to advance her career. This is a new start for her in a sense.

My personal goal has been to help Lisa all I can, and in that way, help to reflect the general mission of the community college. I believe that Lisa is the type of person who will establish successful completion of her program and will strive as “an engaged global citizen.”

I feel that Lisa truly values what LCC offers: High quality education which will aid her in developing life skills to help her reach her goals. With that target in sight, I have seen her push through obstacles to accomplish things and all with a positive attitude and a “this won’t keep me down” mentality. As a teacher, what have I learned from her? What have I gained? Is adversity a barrier or has it served to make her light shine brightly? I will use the experience to encourage others to also see their potential in life as they pursue higher education.

2 thoughts on “Higher Learning and a Will to Overcome

  1. Mary Pacitto

    I love reading an instructors personal account of an encounter with a student that changes their life! It’s evident that “Instructor Miller” came across to this student as an approachable person who would not only listen, but hear where they were coming from. I’m sure this student didn’t expect to have a health obstacle when they registered for the class. Helping this student to be as successful as possible obviously came natural to Instructor Miller, as her first inclination was to offer words of kindness and compassion while she recovered. She continually supported the student in order to help her reach her goals. I believe that both the student and the instructor were impacted in a positive way in this snapshot of one students’ educational journey.


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