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A thank-you to our educators

Sam Baylie proudly holds up a My State sign to declare his transfer to CSU from Front Range Community College in 2019.
Sam Baylie proudly holds up a “My State” sign to declare his transfer to CSU from Front Range Community College in 2019.

Samuel Baylie proudly holds up a “My State” sign to declare his transfer to CSU from Front Range Community College in 2019.

In late August 2020 at Colorado State University, the first day back to classes during a pandemic was an especially unforgettable one. Walking to my class in a button-up, short-sleeve shirt, now tight from the 30 lbs. I gained from quarantine, was anxiety-inducing to say the least.

The entrance to the Clark Building had a sign that said, “NO ENTRANCE WITHOUT A MASK,” which greeted every student who entered the building.

Walking the cold staircase up to the first classroom of the day, I realized just how out of shape I was; along with the additional weight, I had added a green, paisley-patterned mask to my face. I gasped for every bit of oxygen I could get while climbing the cement staircase.

Rows of students sat outside the classroom, separated by pieces of paper that read, “Seat closed due to social distancing” and waited patiently to enter their classroom.

As if this wasn’t a strange enough beginning to the semester, our professor walked out of the classroom donning a colorful cloth mask and full plastic face shield.

“Is this how this semester is going to be?” I thought to myself, “Is it going to be a semester full of adaptation? Of wearing masks, of isolation and stress?” The realization that this semester was going to be tough set in. My mind kept racing, questions kept piling, each breath seemed thinner under the mask, and we hadn’t even set foot in the classroom yet.

One requirement stood out to me: ‘Be creative!'”

Yet, out of all the hazy thoughts and stress, our professor, in a genuine and reassuring voice said, “Hi! I’m your professor.”

After introducing herself individually to everyone in the class, asking deep and insightful questions, her positive demeanor continued into the classroom. Not just for the first day but for every single day of the semester.

The semester flew by in that JTC-326 class — a lecture-lab combination focused on online storytelling and audience engagement. For our last assignment, we were asked to cover a few items:

  1. “Share three skills that you’ve learned, or improved upon, in this course.
  2. “What assignment did you enjoy the most, and why? What was your least favorite?
  3. “Last, what are ways you can apply your learning to the next six months? To the next six years?”

One requirement stood out to me: “Be creative!”

Now, I could simply list my three skills as, “Learned how to create a website, learned how to edit videos on Adobe Premiere and learned how to write stronger articles.” Which assignment did I enjoy? My transmedia story I created on a Vietnam War Nurse, and I detested the fact-checking article. In what way can I apply these skills? Again, I could just list out some simple ways that the skills I learned are going to help me be proactive in the future, like obtaining sources early, how to spot internet bots, etc.

I could write an extensive paper on the Turing Test, or Transportation Narrative Theory to explain all that I’ve retained this semester.

But where is the creativity in that?

I think this article would serve better as something different: A thank-you to all professors and educators who, even in a pandemic, set aside their time to make sure we obtained the education and life skills we need. There are skills they showed us that we can truly use, not only in our careers but in our personal lives.

There are two things I will always remember about our educators from this semester: How they helped us persevere and how much they genuinely cared. So, to educators:

You helped us persevere and did it with us

I took a 300-level composition class last semester. Halfway through the semester, our professor caught COVID-19. I think I speak for most students when I say that we would have been totally ok if she stopped teaching and got a substitute.

Instead, she opted to continue teaching online, all while raising young children and quarantining in her home. And every week, I received my feedback and grades on time. This dedication is more inspiring to students than our educators know.

As students, we tend to forget that our professors go through hardships too. However, we did see them doing everything to make sure we obtained the education we deserved.

Thank you to all educators across the United States who cared, helped us persevere and showed us how to be creative.”

I can remember back in September when we all had bets that the school would shut down in the coming weeks. One of the key reasons it did not is because our educators and administrators stepped up and decided that we would finish the hybrid semester.

This is what I learned from the professors and teaching assistants who persevered: If I apply myself, I will succeed. No matter how hard life gets, I can overcome the obstacles by preparing myself. If I can survive a semester during a global pandemic, I have nothing to fear.

Thank you to the professors who told me to keep moving and take my time on turning in assignments when my grandfather passed away from complications with COVID-19.

You genuinely cared

The amount of work I should have missed this semester is incredible. The workload this semester seemed larger than the semesters before. The quote I heard from other sarcastic students, including myself, was, “I think they are worried we won’t have much to do, so they just added busywork.”

I have now realized that this is because our professors cared; they understood that we were investing in our futures by attending CSU, and I truly believe they want to give us the best education possible, even during a pandemic.

From professors and teaching assistants who cared, I learned how to manage my time and how to have a positive work-life balance. Outside of education, I learned that professors like Michelle Ancell truly cared about my background, and that’s why she individually asked about us. She wasn’t alone; each of my professors did the same.

I also learned that it is okay to give grace to those who might be struggling. If a school administrator reads this, try not to be too rough on the professors who granted extra extensions this semester, it’s because our professors truly care about us.

I could go on about the amazing impacts that the educators at CSU have had on our lives as students.

As I think back to the questions like, “Is it going to be a semester full of adaptation, wearing masks, isolation and stress?” I will never forget how my professors and teaching assistants made the first semester back during a pandemic one of growth, education and genuine encouragement.

Thank you to all educators across the United States who cared, helped us persevere and showed us how to be creative. From all of us at 90.5 KCSU-FM, thank you!