I have had the privilege of working with many talented and motivated students at Lansing Community College. They are highly dedicated, interactive, and determined to succeed. One student in particular was in two of my classes more than ten years ago.
Her first day in class was unforgettable. After reviewing the syllabus, I invited students to introduce themselves and to share whatever goals they had that are related to studying history. She said that she is a returning student and a single mom. She mentioned that she has a passion for the humanities and loves to travel. My student informed us that she is very inspired by politics and wants to be a social worker to make the world a better place.
Throughout the semester, my student participated in class discussions and challenged her fellow students on important topics that we were discussing. She was witty and expressive in her comments. During one discussion, for example, she decided to let the class know how she felt about George W. Bush and his policies in the aftermath of 9-11. My student said that she would prefer her daughter “to be a lesbian than to be a Republican” because of Bush’s policies. When asked why she felt that way, she responded by discussing the historical development that led to Bush’s policies and the consequences the United States will suffer because of the decision making that occurred in the White House at the time.
On multiple occasions, this student challenged the popular perception of other political leaders regardless of party affiliation. Her determination to think for herself and to question the assumptions of others stimulated class discussions on a variety of topics. She argued, for instance, that Abraham Lincoln was not solely motivated by virtue when he freed the slaves; instead, he acted with a consideration of political forces designed to bolster his presidency and his historical reputation. She also critiqued President Kennedy’s policies even though it was clear that she admired him as an historical figure.
This student believed that democracy requires that citizens celebrate diversity. Her travels demonstrated that commitment. Since I met her, this student has traveled to such countries as Ghana, India, and Malta. She enjoyed sharing her experiences with others. She often spoke of the cultures in faraway places and talked about how our common humanity can help solve the problems that the world faces.
This student was a brilliant and inspiring one. She exemplified all of the values that we promote at Lansing Community College. She presently works as a social worker in the State of Washington. Her life is an amazing success. I’m confident that she will continue to be the inspiring and brilliant person that she demonstrated so well when she took my history classes more than a decade ago.