I have never wrestled with God more than I have these past four years, and I am undone because of it. He has taken my limited view of reality, childish dreams, and self-ambition, and crushed it into a million tiny dust particles. I’m in awe of what He has done and see His hands in every little thing, but if I am honest- my soul is re-learning how to breathe. While I wouldn’t want to walk through this again, I’m overcome with gratefulness that I did.
Texas Wesleyan University takes pride in their “Smaller. Smarter.” mentality. They hire educators who do not only teach but are champion relationship builders. They invite their students to step into their education with wholeness and excitement, but beyond that, they extend a steady hand ready to lock arms with you as you embark on this journey.
It’s difficult to communicate how profound this is to most people I encounter, but I refuse to walk away from this experience without honoring the educators who have and continue to pour out so much into their students. This one’s for you Dr. G, Dr. CJG, Professor Colley, Dr. Akinro, Dr. Ferman, Dr. Colley, and Dr. Carroll. I am forever indebted to you for making these four years the very experience I didn’t know I needed.
Dr. Greg Gullion (Dr. G),
I have so much to thank you for. If I had not taken your introduction to sociology course when I did, I’m 100% certain I would have dropped out of college. You spoke to my strengths and made me believe I was capable of doing so much more than I dared believe myself. You’re the one who threw me into the university honors program, and that was the most significant game changer for me regarding my experience at Wesleyan. Thank you will never be enough, but thank you for opening up my eyes to endless possibilities, and creating a foundation for a mountain of confidence to be built in this once painfully insecure 17-year-old. You are one of a kind, and I am so inspired by you.
Dr. Carroll Johnson-Gerendas (Dr. CJG),
Sweet Dr. CJG! Your presence brings so much peace to a room. Your life has cultivated a space for students to be honest with where they are at and who they are. You may have taught my introduction to speech, and communication and rhetoric courses, but what you really imparted to me was a fearlessness to speak my mind with grace, compassion, and confidence. You are one of the most beautiful individuals I have ever had the privilege of knowing, and I am endlessly grateful for my time with you.
Peter Colley (Lord Hypuba),
Professor Colley aka Lord Hypuba. I get teary-eyed writing about you as you are retired and gone now, but man am I overwhelmed with gratitude for my time in your honors humanity course (and whatever art course I had with you my freshman year?). Haha! Bless you and your patience with my sarcastic attitude. I really do hope you find this letter as I still have the one you wrote to me- your intentionality was greatly treasured. Your classes were colossal breaking points for me- I cried, I wrestled, lost sleep, and learned to find comfort in the uncomfortable. It was during those courses that I truly felt a shift in my mind take place as I learned to think critically about reality. I have never met an educator that had the gift of objectivity like you do. You have this ability to suspend your bias and open up an honest discussion, unlike anyone I’ve ever known. Thank you for challenging/pushing back on everything I hold dear in the kindest most gentle way- it has fortified my faith and opened my eyes to so many inconsistencies in my life that needed addressing. I am forever grateful.
Dr. Ngozi Akinro (Mama Akinro),
Dr. freaking Akinro. You!! I love you!! I am overwhelmed with gratefulness that our life paths crossed. You are full of so much wisdom, patience, and joy joy joy. You have brought a much-needed sense of laughter to my education. It sounds so simple in writing, but it is so profound in my heart. When my thoughts were too weighty to bare (like all the time?), I always felt a sense of clarity and freedom in your presence. I am so thankful for the passion you bring with such force to every class I’ve had with you. You have welcomed me into your life beyond the classroom and taught me so much about perseverance, endurance, patience, and hope. Your love for the Lord is a breath of fresh air, and so evidently effects every area of your life. Thank you thank you thank you for being such a bright light in this place. I can only hope that my life will be an open door, and a warm, safe, home for those I encounter to come as they are, just as yours is. Oh, and thank you for making the name ’S.O.’ stick around campus. I think it's hands down one of the best nicknames I've ever been given.
Dr. Ferman (Dr. Dfer),
Dr. Ferman, D. Fer, The Fermanator, you’re just the best. Terrifying and savage at first, but really just a total softy. I will never spell a name wrong because of your writing across media course. Dr. Fermman, haha! Just kidding. Dr. Ferman, thank you for the incredible amount of patience that you give to your students as they learn to write, interview, and create all sorts of editorial content. I was reminded of how much I loved to write and tell stories because of you- and that has meant everything to me. You have brought so much fun and humor into my time at Wesleyan- like when you say ‘just 5 minutes, just give me 5 minutes’ when you actually mean 30 minutes. Thank you for every revision-session in the Rambler office, and encouraging me in the one thing that makes up a huge part of who I am- writing.
Dr. Kay Colley,
Dr. Colley, honestly- you just rock and that really sums it up. First off, thank you for putting up with me because of any professor in this university you’ve had to see and deal with me the most. You exude so much grace and patience to your students, and like I’ve written to Dr. Akinro, it sounds so simple, but it really is profound. Of any professor I’ve met- you simply do not give up on your students. You are always advocating for our success, and to be able to see and know that about you has brought so much peace and space for me to create, try new things, and learn. Thank you for being the backbone of the communications department and making it the environment that it is.
Dr. Linda Carroll,
Dr. Carroll! Good gosh. Praise God for your wise mind, kind spirit, beautiful smile, and warm presence. Your office feels like home to me- any walls I ever felt like I needed to put up to protect myself came crashing down around you. You are such a blessing and the most excellent listener. You have encouraged and challenged my thinking in a way that is truly unmatched. You do not settle for anything less than excellence, and I am endlessly thankful for the knowledge and understanding I became acquainted with during my time studying underneath your guidance. You are feisty, relentless, and bold in your beliefs in a way that inspires me. Thank you for encouraging me to stand up for what I believe in with a humble-boldness and confidence.
This post wouldn’t be complete without thanking Mr. Charles Martin, and Jerry in the media lab. You both contributed to this experiences just as much as anyone. Thank you for always being a kind smile, and a friendly hello in the one location I spent most of my time! Your work doesn’t go unnoticed.
Thank you all (and so many others) for making this experience the very thing I didn’t know I needed.