Monday, May 08, 2006

The Best Friend You'll Ever Have

Yesterday, my husband and I met up with our college advisor b/c he came out to our area for an alumni party. He asked if we could meet up with him earlier, so we'd have plenty of time to talk before the hectic cocktail party in the evening.

I choke up just thinking about everything that man did for not just me, but for all his students. He founded the honors program at my school, and I remember when I was a freshman, the alumnus who hosted the party last night was a senior, and he told all of us freshman, "Doc (this is what all his students call him) is the best friend you will ever have" and that was so true. He was our strongest advocate, the one who would bend the rules for you- he would do administrative overrides for DH to take seven classes in a semester, some of which met at the same time, so he could complete his dual degree program in four years instead of five, he printed out my transcript for me, which I needed for one of my on-campus interviews, when my account was on hold b/c of my financial aid status (so I didn't have access to my transcript), he encouraged his students, who were the best and the brightest of the best and the brightest, to follow their own path, and not to worry what anyone else thought they "should" do.

College was not the happiest time for me. I loved my academic program, but socially, it was really tough for me. (incidentally, I found out yesterday that his own son, who is currently a junior at my alma mater, was having very similar issues) I was burnt out and depressed, and needed to take a semester off. I fought with my mom the whole semester about it (I had asked to take the semester off in the summer before my junior year, and even though my dad was on board, my mom said "Absolutely not!", so I decided to suck it up, and went back for the fall. It was absolutely terrible.). It was something I needed to do, and she wasn't budging b/c she was afraid I wouldn't go back. I went to talk to my advisor about it towards the end of the semester, to see what my options were, and I just remember being so unhappy. I can't remember if I cried in his office- I don't think so, but I definitely was miserable and it showed. He said, "Do you want me to talk to your mother?" In that moment, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders, and I knew everything was going to be okay.

My advisor grew up in Iowa- he was an Iowa farm boy, and he has a special fondness for those kids from small towns, from the midwest, from families where going to prestigious schools was not the norm. He got his undergrad degree from Northwestern, and his Ph.D. from Harvard, and has been at an extremely prestigious school with many former students who are in the highest positions you can imagine, but when we met him at the Ritz-Carlton last night, he commented that the Ritz-Carlton was a nicer hotel than he was used to, and it made me realize that he is still, somewhere inside, after all that education and exposure, an Iowa farm boy at heart. I think that this attitude combining pursuing what you want to do with not forgetting where you came from, is what makes him special.

No comments: