My College:
Student Life

The Incredible Impact of Teachers

Ianni Le

I have been fortunate to have so many incredible teachers throughout my education, and I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I would not be who I am today if I hadn’t had them in my life.

Growing up, I always found myself a little lost in terms of what I wanted to do with my future. All that time we spend in school is supposed to be a way to figure out what we love and what our strengths are as individuals. But beyond our personal growing pains, I feel that our teachers are the ones who help us explore our passions and inspire us to pursue our dreams.

Looking back on my high school years spent in Shanghai, China, I treasure all the time my teachers spent with me guiding me in all different directions to help me find my way.

My teachers before college shaped me into someone who felt prepared for college, something I know I could never have achieved without their help. I had countless life-changing English teachers in Shanghai who I will always remember as the people who paved the way for me to truly embrace my love for literature. Beyond the invaluable lessons in class that taught me English as a skill (and a second language), they also helped me see literature as an escape from reality and found me a lifelong love and hobby.

I am also in awe of all my previous math and science teachers who sat with me for countless hours, walking me through everything I didn’t understand with not only patience but genuine compassion. I consider myself very lucky to have had many teachers with rigid teaching philosophies, as they forced me to push myself and learn resilience. They're the reason I felt ready to tackle my college level classes. They shaped the way I think, how I go about solving problems, and they even managed, somehow, to turn all of these lessons into reflexes that I have used every single day since.

I spent most of my college years apprehensive about the real world. I didn’t know how I was going to find a job, or what to do once I had found one. I simply didn’t have a clue how to begin life after college and it was a constant worry of mine throughout the years.

My teachers before college helped guide me to what I wanted to study, but (clearly) I was still lost and constantly in desperate need of advice. So, my relationship with my professors in college was a little different. My professors helped me figure out a career path but more than that, they were my home base every time life left me confused (and that was most of the time). They walked me through my job applications, assigning me invaluable projects that I used to build connections and prove my abilities (to myself, to them, to potential bosses). They led me toward new passions, new skills, and so many new friends. They held my hand through my first internships and were always, without fail, available to answer my multitude of questions and uncertainties.

Being half a world away from my parents, I valued my professors’ advice and compassion to a degree I still can’t fully comprehend. Asking for help is not something that comes easily to me and my professors, with their readiness to extend a hand to me and encouragement to always consider them as a resource, strengthened me in more ways than I can count.

It’s safe to say that I needed a lot of help throughout college. Being away from home for the first time, navigating the treacherous waters of being a young adult alone, I was met with more difficulties than I could have ever imagined. Though my parents were there to lend a supportive hand over the phone, I was in critical need of someone closer to lean on. There really isn’t anything I can say to entirely express all my relief and gratitude to have been able to find such solace in my relationships with professors. I have no idea where I would be now without their endless support and kindness.

I think we can all agree that the transition during the spring of 2020 from in-person to remote learning has been difficult for everyone. And in the spirit of Teacher Appreciation week, I’m inspired by all the ways people have been reaching out to the teachers and professors in their lives to thank them for all that they do.

I encourage students of all ages — and parents, too! — to reach out to the special teachers and professors in your lives to thank them, most especially during this challenging time, for doing everything they can to help us grow. If you're not sure where to start, here are a few ways to express your appreciation.

If your student has hesitated to reach out to their teachers during this time, share these helpful tips on communicating with professors during a pandemic and help them build a meaningful connection with their favorite professors! These relationships will enrich their lives forever.

Ianni Le is a freelance writer and content creator. She attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, graduating with a degree in Media Design and English Literature. Ianni grew up in Shanghai, China and enjoys her dogs, books and food equally.
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