Submitted by Ronald Tulley, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts
About 10 years back, I had a student in one of my English 272 classes online. She was having difficulty with a research proposal and came in to see me during office hours. After a few minutes of talking about her project, she said she understood the assignment better, but I could see tears welling in her eyes. I asked her if everything else was ok, and she broke down sobbing. After a few minutes of consoling her, she told me she was terribly homesick and was not happy here. We talked a great deal about her family, and I shared a few family stories with her too. In a little bit, we were laughing. Before she left, I said, "I know it hurts to be apart from your family, but if you think about why you're sad, it's actually a wonderful thing. You have an amazing family, one I learned a little about today. One you look to for support and love. You're very blessed to have people whom you care about that much and who love you back." She smiled and agreed. She did well in 272 and went on to complete her DPT at UF. After graduating, she was applying for a position at a hospital, and she asked me for a reference. I thought, I only had her in English 272 years back, and although we kept in touch, I told her there had to be folks that could better speak to her qualifications.
She told me that I was one of the main reasons she stayed at UF, and my words inspired her to see things differently. She said I really knew what she was capable of. “It was a defining point for me," she said. “I needed help and someone to care, but I also needed someone to provide some perspective. I want them to understand the kind of education I received at UF went beyond my field...and it has made all the difference in how I treat others." I'm sure I had very little to do with her academic success, but I'm proud that I could be there at a key moment in the early stages of her academic career to listen and guide her as she continued on her path to success.