The Difference is in the Details
For 27 years I’ve taught literature at DePauw and welcomed the chance to serve not only as teacher but also as adviser. Fortunately for me, DePauw views academic advising as ‘a collaborative endeavor in which relationships between students and their advisers are central.’ I love brainstorming with my students, listening to the pros and cons of major decisions and hoping that all students will gain confidence as they take ownership for whatever choices they face. When students feel vulnerable, I try to offer support; when they feel triumphant, I celebrate their successes.
Because the student body at DePauw consists only of undergraduates enrolled in either the College of Liberal Arts or the School of Music, it’s easy to get to know one’s students. Friendships have sustained me throughout my life, so I’m always delighted when these connections become lifelong friendships in students’ post-DePauw years.
Often it is not until years after students have graduated that I learn about how a tiny detail in a conversation has made a difference in someone’s life. For this reason, I find inspiration in a passage from Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse: ‘The great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark’ (161). Accordingly, I’m grateful for a lifetime of matchboxes and grateful, too, that the field of literature, which connects me with voices of the past, also provides me with a connection to the future.