She had a reputation for her brilliance, so the first day she did her best to scare as many of us off as she could. That way, only the best would stay.
I knew instantly that I liked her, would eat up every word she taught, would learn more than I’d ever learned in my young life thus far. She was the quintessential feminist hippie, in her broom skirts, long hair wavy hair, and large glasses. She used words like specious and tremulous and prescient in her everyday speech. She had a laugh that filled the room and infected all within. I was smitten.
Turned out, she had the same name as me, Andrea.
I’d landed in community college heaven.
I knew she’d challenge how I thought, what I knew, but she’d also challenge my skills, my words, my writing. Over the next two years, I took every class of hers I could, from literature to writing courses. She’d joke that soon I’d have a degree in her.
She began calling me her namesake.
In her rhetoric class, I sponged up every morsel of argumentative writing and debate technique. My own ideals were challenged fiercely as I learned to sway others to my side with a well constructed argument. I relished loud classroom debates despite to whom victory went. She pushed me to learn the rules of writing so that I could properly break them. On a piece about Indian gaming, she gave me the third perfect score she’d given out in her teaching career. I was over the moon.
I began calling myself a writer.
She convinced me to be a writing tutor.
I was devastated when her World Literature 1 class conflicted with a class I needed to graduate. Math, I think. But the next semester, my last at the college, I was the first to sign up for World Literature 2, which would be my introduction to some of the most powerful pieces of literature and began my love of writers like Dostoyevsky, Baudelaire, and Borges.
As a graduation gift, she gave me her personal copy of a world literature anthology which she used to teach her World Literature 1 class, the one which I had missed. It was full of her own notes and dog-eared pages, which I read voraciously and lovingly.
For two years, I was nurtured and stretched, pushed to the limits of my abilities and then pushed to grow even more. I was praised and rewarded and learned to appreciate my talents.
I was changed wholly and irreversibly.
This was a post for the RemembeRED prompt: Everyone remembers that first inspiration or mentor in their lives that
made them want to be or do something in their lives, whether you
actually followed through with it or not. Tell us about that
inspiration/mentor. How did they affect or change your life!
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