Dear Professor,

As I walked into your Biology 109 class, I did not know what to expect.

The class was about 50 some odd students that filled the lecture hall with MacBook computers and print-out PowerPoint notes. It was the largest class I've ever been in and the fears of a large class size seemed to be apparent. The attendance took three to five minutes since you went off of rosters, not clickers. To those who sat in the back of your lecture hall, it was tough luck. You're naturally soft spoken, and listening was difficult to those who didn't bother with the subject.

As a matter of fact, you are so soft spoken that you need a PERSONAL headset microphone for assistance. However, that didn’t really matter to me. I sat up in the front, along with three or four other brave souls, and soaked in every piece of biological information that came out of your mouth.

You made me realize that being in the front is important in establishing proper engagement to an instructor. Eye contact was easier. I can ask and answer your questions on a more personal level. I was able to stay awake and alert (although I was almost victim to slumber MANY times!). Most importantly, YOU REMEMBERED MY NAME (after a couple of Jeffrey’s, a Dylan, and three George’s).

You made me change my study habits and do real work in the library.

“Make sure that you read to understand, not memorize.”

“Keep going over the material down to the T. Make sure that you know it so well that you can just spew it out no problem.”

“Make sure you study for 30 minutes, then TAKE A BREAK, then go back to studying.”

During my time with you in Biology 110, some of the most important pieces of advice I've ever heard from you came up during a conversation with a struggling student.

“You have to be obsessed.”

Why was I doing so well in your class? You taught me to simply be obsessed with what I'm learning, obsessed with what I'm going to hopefully make a living out of. When you're obsessed, you can't stop thinking about it, reading it, or seeing it. I joined the Tri-Beta Honor Society and Biology club because of you. I got to do college research for the first time, and I don't regret it at all. You told me to apply to internships everywhere, and I finally got into the S-STEM program at Stony Brook after getting rejected from two other programs. Thank you for believing in me.

You taught me that mind will always be over matter.

“They may take away your house, your clothes, your reputation, but they must never take your mind.”

You were right. You still are and it helped me graduate Nassau Community College within two years and earn an associate degree with a 3.5 GPA. I couldn't have done it without you.

Whenever I hear students say "Professor Jones is so hard on us” or “Her exams are so difficult,” I just laugh. I know that in the end, you care about the students you teach, but hold us accountable for our school work in and out of the classroom.

Thank you for everything you've done for me not only as a professor, but as a human being.

You've changed my life.