One of the best things about being part of the faculty at a small school is getting to know your students, and being in a position to intervene at critical points in their lives.
We all see students who never put a foot wrong, who are organized and hard-working and smart, the students who earn most of the accolades and awards along the way. I value and respect those students, who know their own minds and know how to set goals and stick to them.
But I also have a great deal of affection for another group of students, the ones who screwed up. Sometimes students (particularly first generation college students) really don’t know how to navigate college. Some students just take a little longer to grow up and realize that they are moving in a bad direction; and unfortunately some students think football is going to be their life until they find themselves on an airplane into a war zone.
Being in a position to sit down with young people who have screwed up and have no idea how to turn their life around, helping them map out a way forward, writing their letters of recommendation and watching them go off to graduate or professional school is a privilege like no other.
And yes, some of those screw-ups are now respected physicians in this region, and their patients love them. So do I.
Margie Tucker, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemistry
Department of Natural Sciences
University of Virginia’s College at Wise