LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Don’t take professors for granted

By on February 13, 2012

This past Monday when it was announced that Tobias Engel, son of Professor Len Engel, had tragically passed away, a million thoughts circulated through my head: How is Professor Engel doing? What can I do to help? Who will replace him as my new Senior English Thesis professor?

I have known Professor Engel for more three years and could only imagine the kind of pain he was experiencing having to bury his own child so unexpectedly. So naturally when our Senior Thesis class met on the next day, I was expecting to see a new professor taking over for the rest of the semester.

But to my surprise, Professor Engel walked through the doors, composed, pulled out the work for the day, and began. He didn’t think that his personal circumstances should interrupt our most important class as English majors and he didn’t want to rob us of a well-taught course on the works of William Faulkner. As I sat listening intently almost in shock and awe, I asked myself: Would I have done the same thing if I were in Professor Engel’s shoes? Would I have been strong enough and put my students first?

It is more often than not that we slander and mock our professors, outweighing the “bad” professors with the good ones, almost as if we take pride in expressing our distaste for the faculty. We do not take our courses seriously, and as a senior I can identify with the saying: “Well I’m a second semester senior, so these courses don’t matter.” As of last Tuesday, when I witnessed one of the most incredible acts of selflessness by a professor in my four years here, I have decided that EVERY course matters. These professors spend time and offer kindness all in favor of helping us succeed to be whatever kind of person we want to be, and that fact that we take this for granted is disappointing and it is truly only hurting ourselves.

We are here to learn and to prosper and too often does schoolwork fall secondary to the social aspect of Quinnipiac. But this past week has made me reconsider. If I take away anything from my Senior Thesis class, it will be the love and kindness that Professor Engel offers every student he encounters. He has said that he will finish out the semester with us, and to help discover what our writing is really capable of.

So the next time your alarm goes off and you’re laying in bed, contemplating whether going to class is really worth it or not, think about if you share the same tenacity that Professor Engel brings to the classroom each and every day. I know I’ll be there, pencil in hand, eager to learn whatever he has to teach.

Jessica Poe

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