Letter to the editor: Open letter to faculty

Whitney Jester, ‘17


Over Jan-Term, I spent time asking fellow seniors about their favorite memories at Whitworth. In response, I heard recollections of meeting soulmates in the coffee shop, joining student government on a whim, crying with residents as they tell heart-wrenching stories from their past, bonding with sports teammates on long bus rides and planting seedlings after the windstorm. We laughed about those Mind & Hearth conversations that last hours longer than intended, teared up remembering the strength of community in times of tribulation and solemnly recollected those we’ve lost in our time at this university.

But, overwhelmingly, when seniors told me their life-changing Whitworth stories, they would tell me about the faculty. This is a letter to them. To the professors who reach out to us, wide-eyed through the uncertain hell of first year seminars and four-year plans only to turn around and reassuringly build anti-homelessness plans through senior seminar four years later with an entirely different group of students because God knows they’ve helped us each fill out at least three change of major forms, too. To the professors who have three doctorates, speak six languages, have written 12 books, wrestle grizzly bears in their free time and have close ties with the prime minister of England—who are basically overqualified in every way but still choose to spend their days being life counselors to 20-somethings in pajamas. To the professors who show up to 8 a.m. classes admitting they don’t want to be awake any more than we do and bring us donuts because there’s no way we’ve eaten anything but coffee for breakfast. To the professors who ask you to get a drink at O’Doherty’s (RIP) with them on the weekends and reassure you that yeah, at your age, they had no idea what they were doing either. To the professors that invite you into their homes to play card games and share a meal and sit around a campfire and tell stories about when they had to poop really bad on that one study abroad bus ride. To the professors who attend our concerts and debates and sports games and performances so we can look into the crowd and know someone believes we can accomplish this. To the professor who held a student’s fussy infant while teaching class. To the professors who help some of us switch classes to independent studies because we’ve spent too many class days in the hospital. To the professor who gave me bus money so I didn’t have to walk home in the rain. To the professor who found me a place to live when I was homeless. To the professor who told me to skip the midterm and go home and sleep because my physical health meant so much more than a test score. To the professor who is literally battling cancer but still checks in frequently to see how I’m doing.

In all of the conversations I’ve had with seniors over the past couple months about what part of Whitworth changed their life, each of them, at some point, has told me the story of when they broke down and cried to a professor during office hours. This letter is for you. To you educators, paper-graders, confidence-givers, humble teachers, world-changers. 

Thank you. We appreciate you.