Whenever I get down in life, I think of someone amazing I have met over the years. Quite often these are teachers I’ve had. To name a few…
I had this physics teacher Mr. Smock. He had an unconventional way of teaching and his enthusiasm about the Grand Unified Theory (GUT) still sticks with me. Quite often I’d get to build things in class to demonstrate physics principals or prove concepts. I love building stuff. Any kind of application drives theory home for me. Otherwise I’m lost.
I was in the first class of a new Magnet school for mathematics, science, and technology. But, surprising enough one of the school’s gems was an English teacher Ms. Beam. If it wasn’t for Ms. Beam, I would have never read one of the most influential books for me, which was Mark Salzman’s Iron & Silk. It was a memoir about Salzman’s experience living in China. I was so inspired by Mark’s infatuation with Chinese culture and determination to go to China to teach English there, learn wushu, learn calligraphy, and play cello, it has encouraged me to go on my journey into medicine.
Another teacher at that school who inspired me was my gym teacher. She looked and sounded like a brunette Jenny McCarthy, but boy did she have brains between those eyes. She knew every single muscle in your body and how to work them. Her knowledge of nutrition and exercise were invaluable to me. And she sparked my love of running. I used to play soccer since I was 10, but what I didn’t understand was what I loved about it so much was the running. One day she said to me, “You know, you could just run.” It may have become a bit of unhealthy obsession. I ran through lunch, I ran in lightning and thunderstorms, I ran in -16 degree weather. I still do. I love running so much, I don’t know what I’d do without it. So big thanks to my gym teacher!
In college, I ended up switching my major from Human Biology to Anthropology. I couldn’t hack Chemistry and I couldn’t afford to be in school any longer than 4 years. My school required you to take classes of all 4 disciplines of anthropology though I was only really interested in the bio discipline of it. I had to take linguistics and had Professor Scatton. I loved linguistics and Prof Scatton so much I took 2 more of his classes! I wasn’t that great at it, but Prof Scatton held little office hour parties in his dorm room. He had his own dorm room on campus since he traveled all the way up to NY from Trenton, NJ every week to teach. He shared all kinds of amazing stories about speakers of all kinds of languages around the world. He was dedicated to linguistics and to his students. I am sure he is an amazing Professor, husband, father, friend and linguist. I am so glad I had the opportunity to take his classes.
I got super lucky in college when I took Calculus. It’s not that I’m bad at math. It’s just a heck of a lot easier to do it when you’re applying it something real. Mr. Procopio was really a Physics teacher, but was teaching our Calculus class. I loved his class. While everyone else grumbled about the real world problems he gave us to solve, I willingly volunteered to get up and demonstrate my work on the board. If it wasn’t for Mr. Procopio wanting to drive home that Calculus can be used to solve every day real world problems, I probably would have failed Calculus and not realized how much I love math. Math is completely awesome and is my best friend even at work today.