From the first words of "How a Professor Taught Me to Consult My Stomach," I was captivated by Barbara Bradley Hagarty's admiration for her college professor, Dr. Stocking:
I remember sitting in Shakespeare class, basking in my good luck. The wait list was nearly 100 people, but here I was, a new student at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., watching the legendary Fred Stocking in action. In 1979, Dr. Stocking was a year shy of retirement, an icon to four decades of students in this small college in the Berkshires. He was lean and meticulous, with a bow tie and thick white hair, and he lived Shakespeare — doting on Puck, thundering through Hamlet, and lifting our gaze from the crass pursuit of A's to the beauty of weathered truths.What a wonderful picture Hagarty creates. Of course, this being the age of new media, this NPR story online is accompanied by a portrait of the professor and the audio version features him speaking as well as singing.
He encouraged me to make writing my career, and then unwittingly shaped that career. ...
Yes, I'm a softy for features like this one, and the ending doesn't disappoint. You might want to grab a Kleenex.
Some of my students have achieved similar success weaving their personal connections to their subject into their writing. One student wrote about an experience at a drug rehab center for teens, while another regular writes about family, faith, politics and other topics on his blog.
Their writing succeeds because they didn't settle for sharing "just the facts." Instead we get to spend a few moments in their shoes, experiencing life through somebody else's senses.
As a new term approaches, I'm looking forward to working among another group of students with a lifetime of stories to begin sharing.