by Susan
(Arcata, CA )

One person I will always remember, and be grateful to, was my high school senior English teacher, Mr. Wilson. He was one of those rare educators who routinely challenged us with the classics, poetry and essays, opening our minds to literature and history on a level that I doubt is offered in many public high schools today.

Even as a senior honor student, I hadn't decided on a college track; to the contrary, I was eager to get into the workforce and begin earning money to assert my independence. (I had even taken night courses at a business school to acquire office skills.) Yes, at the wise old age of 18, I thought I could continue learning solely through my own reading; I'd been an avid reader from a young age, you see, and I knew that wouldn't change.

When Mr. Wilson asked me about my college plans and I told him that I'd decided to get a job after graduation, he became very quiet and serious, shaking his head; I could sense his disappointment. He looked at me and said, "Susan, if you don't go to college, you will starve intellectually." His words made a deep impression -- I recall them verbatim to this day -- but I proceeded with my former plans.

After two years I had worked my way up from entry level secretary to administration assistant for a vice president at a large engineering firm. I was making a good salary and enjoying life. One day, however, I had an epiphany: I was making money, to buy clothes, to wear to work, to make money.....and at that moment, Mr. Wilson's words came back to me and inspired me to enroll in college. Even after earning my Master's Degree and having a successful professional career, i will always give credit to that wonderful teacher for believing in me and my potential -- and letting me know it. Thank you, Mr. Wilson.

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