This is Deb, and she is one of my favorite people. I’ve studied under her for three semesters, and it squeezes my heart to think that this, the fourth, will be the last. I first met Deb when I was considering changing my major. She headed the BSW program then, and so I had to meet with her to arrange for some substitutions and get all my prerequisites qualified. I thought when I left her office that I had rarely met someone less interested in a student. She didn’t seem to want to listen to a thing I had to say! I made up my mind to avoid having her for any classes. And I managed that for my preliminary semester. But for the first semester of the actual program, all social work students have Deb. She teaches all the sections of the core course. (I’m convinced now that she does that on purpose.) By the end of the second class, I knew that I wanted to pick her brain for every bit of knowledge in it, but I still didn’t like her very much. By the middle of the semester, she was my favorite instructor of the five I had, and by the end of the semester I doubted anyone would ever affect my life again as profoundly as she had in 2.5 hours per week for 15 weeks. I rushed to get in to her section of the core course for the second semester of training. And the third. And this last one.
See, I was partially wrong about Deb. I can see now that it’s not that she wasn’t interested in students. It’s that she’s not interested in bullshit, and I was pretty full of myself that first day. She didn’t call me on it (out loud), but she saw it, and she didn’t want any part of it. I said I was partially wrong. Because I still think that Deb is NOT interested in her students. Deb is INVESTED in her students.
This lady has more wisdom in her than I could have gotten by reading a library of books. She’s warm, she’s witty, and she is very passionate about social work. She believes in us. And it has been such a wonderful thing to soak that up for these past 18 months– to hear, consistently “You can do this. You know this stuff. Now go do it.” There is very little she has not done, and what she’s not done herself, she’s seen done. I learn as much from her asides as I do from her lectures.
I’ve been overheard at school saying, “When I grow up, I want to be Deb.” I think the other students think I am joking, because we all laugh when I say it. But the thing is, I’m not joking. If 20 years from now, I am as loving, vibrant, energetic, enthusiastic, passionate, and generous as this woman is, I will have lived well and rightly.
I will share this link with her, because I told her I would. And here is one more thing I know about Deb. She will like the pretty words I said about her, but they won’t impress her one bit. The only thing that is going to impress Deb, the only thing that matters, is that I get out there and I do good social work. And because of what she has taught me, I have no doubt that I will.