Barbara's Random Thoughts

Friday, April 15, 2005


I got an invitation in the mail last night for a retirement reception honoring one of the English profs at Biola. Turns out it's next Friday--when I'll actually be in La Mirada. I'm excited that I'll get to go.

I only had Dr. Doland for one class, but she always intimidated me. I never wanted to talk in class, because I didn't feel like my contributions were thoughtful enough or valuable enough...she was tough. She challenged me and made me talk anyway, though I often felt like I was barely keeping my head above water in class discussions.

One of my favorite Dr. Doland memories is from that Lit Theory class. One afternoon, Juan Sanchez was extolling the genius of Wordsworth and the Romantic poets, and Dr. Doland cut him off by saying that loving Romantic poetry was a phase he was going through, that she went through that phase in college, and that he would get over it eventually. Ah, Juan...I wonder whatever happened to him?

At the end of that semester, at the English department senior dinner, I was extremely surprised to be one of the recipients of the annual "Excellence in English" awards. I never felt like my academic contributions were very impressive, and I knew other friends who had higher GPAs than I did. So getting that award came out of the blue for me, and it was actually one of the things that prompted me to go for my M.A. a year later.

Dr. Doland presented the award to me that night, and she said some very nice things about my work in her class that semester. I did get one of those hard-earned A's without a minus that I hear were so very rare to receive from her, but I never expected to hear praise from her in that way. Praise from Dr. Doland meant a lot.

A year later, she wrote me a very nice recommendation letter when I applied to grad school, and I had her listed as one of my references on my resume when I was applying for publishing jobs. Just after I got my current job, she emailed me her congratulations. I still have that email, in which she said: "My assessment is that not only will you 'figure things out,' but also make us very proud."

One of the things that I regret about my time in college (and in grad school, for that matter) is that I didn't take more time to interact with and learn from my professors outside of class. It wasn't until the end of my time at Biola that I realized that my professors actually did value my contributions to their classes. And I didn't let them know how much I valued the impact they made on my academic (and personal) growth. So many of my professors meant a lot to me--even if I was hugely intimidated by them, as with Dr. Doland.

I'm sad that Dr. Doland is retiring. Her teaching definitely influenced my studies in literature for the better. In spite of how tough she was in her classes, I'm sure she'll be missed at Biola. But I'm glad I'll be able to go to the reception and be part of honoring her for the contributions she's made to the English department at Biola. I'm glad for the opportunity to at least tell her briefly that her teaching made an impact on me. Something I should have said long before.
| posted by Barbara | 9:28 PM