To The Teacher Who Helped Shape Me

To The Teacher Who Helped Shape Me

A simple 'thank you' doesn't do you justice.
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You didn't know what you were doing, but I sure noticed.

I didn't have the privilege to meet you until senior year. I walked into your class on the first day and not going to lie, I was a little taken back by you. You have such a strong personality and are so outgoing that I didn't know if we'd get along. Boy, I was incredibly wrong.

SEE ALSO: I Will Be A Teacher For All The Right Reasons

You instantly became one of my favorite teachers. I'd look forward to your class every day, not only due to the fact that I had it with some of my best friends, but because I got to learn from you.

You're the reason I'm able to get up in front of a room of people and speak without fear. You're the reason I came out of my bubble and started to be more outgoing. You're the reason I'm not scared to voice my opinion. You're the reason I've taken a new perspective on things and am no longer stuck in my closed-minded ways. Every single day, you were teaching me something more than just English. You were teaching me to find myself. You taught me to enjoy every single day. You recognized the bad days I was having and helped managed to switch them into good ones. You taught me an abundance of life lessons. You didn't realize that you were doing so, but I'm forever grateful I had you as a teacher.

I'm also not the only one who thinks this about you. A few former students had some kind words to say...

"He definitely genuinely cared about us. Not only just us, but he cared about our futures. It was obvious. I appreciated that because being 'just kids' no one ever seemed to care. He was different, he made us feel special. He also brought me out of my comfort zone and helped me become more social with my peers." -Adam Sandage

"He allowed me to write deeply, think complex. He taught me to enjoy every single moment life throws at me. Mr. Bennett helped me prepare for college with how to take notes, study easily, etc. However, the most important thing he taught me was to pursue things I enjoy the most, because eventually life will intervene and you won't be able to have forever. For example, family, current friends, hobbies, etc. In addition, he also warned me to not take a loan out for a car." -Josh Grubbs

"He was one of the best teachers really. He was one of the only ones who tried to get involved and to be 'cool'. He was our friend along with our teacher. I respect him for that. Also, he's a pretty awesome neighbor to have." -Steven Smith

"He influenced my life a lot. Not only by his teaching skills, but how he was our teacher and our friend. He was always so kind and helpful. He took his time with me and he taught me things about life that I didn't know I needed to hear. He had us listen and analyze meaningful music and that opened my eyes. At the end of the year, he sang to us a song about how special life is and it made us, especially me, feel like he was someone we would never forget." -Hannah Craft

"First off, he was young so he was easy to relate to and he was very understanding. He was just really down to Earth about everything. He was one of the few high school teachers that told you 'I'm going to prepare you for college' and actually did it. He didn't lie to us about how 'hard' college would be our first year. He most impacted me in the way that he taught. He taught me a lot of valuable things about writing, thinking critically and just helped me become a better person. Just an awesome guy all around." -Addison Moore

"Mr. Bennett was a teacher that let every student know they were accepted and equal. Students that weren't even his own were impacted by his kind presence and fun methods. Being taught by him has changed many students' outlook on learning. He even made learning about sushi exciting. He prompted us to look deeper into the meaning of everything. He taught us not to see unnecessary differences that separates most of society today, whether that's class, race, gender or anything else. He made everyone feel equal and he wouldn't tolerate anything less. His class was safe and that made it all the easier to learn. Mr. Bennett is truly an unforgettable teacher that incorporated life lessons in everyday scholar education." -Caprese Parks

"My favorite memory of Mr. B was when we would sit in groups and have to talk about The Great Gatsby. I never ever talked and then one day he threw the stuffed heart at me (signaling me to talk) and boom. I had to talk. He asked me what my opinion was and I gave it. His response was just huh okay and then we moved on. No one tried to argue with me. I was worried that he thought I was stupid. He asked me to stay after class and he told me I had a great opinion and that he wished I would talk more in class. I still didn't after that day because I hate group work, but I always think about him thinking I was smart and good enough to talk in class. I always made 100's on all of my tests in there and he picked on me constantly. I remember my favorite day in his class. I was studying for another class and he let me get up and draw a diagram of a heart on the board and he just sat down and let me teach an anatomy lesson. He always made me feel special and smart, and for that Mr. B will always hold a special place in my heart." -Taylor Page

"Mr. Bennett was more than just an English teacher. He was a life teacher. Mr. B taught us perspective that every high school senior needs to take with them into the world. He taught his students to stop looking at things as "black and white" and look at them with flexibility for what they are. Because of him, I have found an entire new, blossoming world of interests that involve various forms of art. I now can look at the world through open-minded eyes and spend more time enjoying life rather than analyzing it. Mr. Bennett is no doubt a person I will always remember and draw concepts from throughout the rest of my adult life. You've taught me numerous things that I've used in just 7 months I've been at college and each time I flash back to sitting in your class." -Matney Davis

I hope this helps you realize the impact you left on all of us. It's been almost a year since any of us have had you as a teacher and we're still this grateful. We will never forget you. You're the teacher that every single student needs to have at least once in their lives, Bennett. I start every single day out with seeing that buckeye and knowing that it's going to be a good day.

To the teacher who helped shape me into the person I have become today, thank you.

Cover Image Credit: Karlee Wright

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Why Your Grandma Is Your Biggest Blessing In Life

Because nobody loves you more than she does.
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There are many people in your life you are thankful for: Mom, Dad, siblings, cousins, best friends, teachers, neighbors, you name it. You are grateful to have people who constantly support you, who pick you up when you're down and love you unconditionally. But the one person who stands out among the rest of them is your grandma.

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Ever since you were little, you and your grandma have always had a special connection. Going over to Grandma's house for the night was something you looked forward to. She knew how to entertain you at your best and worst moments. No matter what you did together, you loved it. Being with your grandma wasn't like being at home or with your parents – it was better. You went to the park, made cookies, went out to dinner, got a “sweet treat" at the mall, played Go Fish, took a bubble bath for as long as you wanted and got way too much dessert than you should have. You did things you weren't supposed to do, but Grandma didn't stop you. Because at Grandma's house there were no rules, and you didn't have to worry about a single thing. Being with Grandma was the true epitome of childhood. She let you be you. She always made sure you had the best time when you were with her, and she loved watching you grow up with a smile on your face.

The older you got, your weekend excursions with your grandma weren't as frequent, and you didn't get to see her as much. You became more and more busy with school, homework, clubs, sports, and friends. You made the most out of your time to see her, and you wished you could be with her more. Although you were in the prime of your life, she mattered even more to you the older you both became. You were with your friends 24/7, but you missed being with your grandma. When the time rolled around, and you got the chance to spend time with her, she told you never to apologize. She wanted you to go out, have fun and enjoy life the way it makes you happy.

Reflecting back on these moments with your grandma, you realize how truly special she is to you. There is no one who could ever compare to her nor will there ever be. All your life, there is no one who will be as sweet, as caring, as sincere or as genuine as her. Even though you're all grown up now, there are things about your grandma that never changed from when you were a kid. She still takes you out for your favorite meal because she knows how important eating out means to you. She writes you letters and sends you a $5 bill every now and then because she knows you're a hard-working college student with no money. She still helps you with all of your Christmas shopping because she knows it's your tradition. She still asks what's new with your young life because hearing about it makes her day and she still loves you to no end. Your grandma is your biggest blessing (whether you knew it or not), and she always will be no matter what.

Cover Image Credit: Erin Kron

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Just Because You Chose A Specific Major Doesn't Mean You Can't Explore Other Passions

Those same passions that you found at whatever point in your life, are not static. They are, for a fact, going to change. And that is completely OK.

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As children, we all grew up with a favorite hobby or activity and kept up with them as we got older. Whatever these hobbies and activities were turned into the things we turned to when we needed a break from all the drama of school and work. These were the things that turned into passions that we live to do and talk about. These are the passions that we wish we could turn into futures.

Well, I'm going to assume that quite a few of us feel that way.

Thought, not everyone is lucky enough to find their passions during their childhood. For others, such passion takes a little longer to develop. But the time that this occurs is not as relevant as the fact that you find something you absolutely adore doing. It is more important that you find something that you love and enjoy, something that motivates you, raises your spirits, and encourages you to learn more.

So, you should go out there and explore everything the world has to offer! There are thousands of things, each more different than the last, that you could be interested in. The things that make your heart race, increase your need for knowledge, or simply make you overjoyed should be things that you pursue. These are activities and hobbies that influence your life from the minute you find them.

Not all passions are created equal.

A majority of the passions we find ourselves in are artistic and creative in nature and not truly suitable for a future job. When brought up to our parents, they are turned down, usually with the phrase "But, can you get a job with that major?" or "How successful are you going to be in a field like that?" Our passions end up being something that we look forward to doing, not forever, but for the time being. However, the opinions of others (even if they are your parents) should never get in the way of you chasing your dreams. If your passion is truly the field and career you would like to pursue, then I say go for it!

My parents said, "While I encourage you to look into computer science, it's not something we're going to push you to do. You can major in whatever, as long as you enjoy doing it and can provide for yourself."

That is the advice that my parents gave me as I entered my junior year of high school, the year most significant to the college application process other than the actual application itself. Before all of that and my entrance into Rutgers, I was just a student within my high school's animal and botanical sciences program looking to study environmental science. But, after much thinking about how I generally do not like bugs and dirt, I listened to my parents' advice and started looking into computer science.

By my senior year and the time when applications roll around, I had decided that computer science was something I was truly interested in! I found coding and everything that came with it to be fascinating to learn, and I looked forward to every AP Computer Science class I got to attend. Looking at the jobs and career fields related to these studies only encouraged me more. At the end of the year, I had already decided that I would like to work an exciting government job in cybersecurity (impressive, I know).

Now fast forward to now, I'm a full-time student at Rutgers and I am no longer interested in computer science. Although, to be fair, I am less interested in the mathematical aspects and courses that come along with everything else. I am currently looking to major in Information Technology and Informatics, with minors in Critical Intelligence Studies and Linguistics. It was a small change, but simultaneously a significant one. While my goal is relatively similar to what it was before, not everything is the same.

The passions and skills that I have developed in my short time at Rutgers have changed some things. I am no longer as interested in coding as I used to be, but rather the analytical aspects of cybersecurity; I would rather be active in my job, constantly interacting with people as opposed to just sitting at a desk as my 9-5.

Those same passions that you found at whatever point in your life, are not static.

They are, for a fact, going to change. And that is completely OK. College is the time for you to discover what makes you tick, the things that push you to be at your very best at all times rather than a fraction of that.

Here at Rutgers, you have the opportunity to explore hundreds of majors and minors, making the combinations and possibilities endless. You have the ability to customize your courses and activities to pursue a specific path, as well. Everything that you do from the moment you step on campus will impact your future. It is simply up to you to figure out what it is exactly you want to do.

Even then, while your passions may not be your future, that does not mean you have to completely disregard them.

You still have the ability to keep them within your life through extracurriculars and free time. Never, at any point in your life, should you being willing to settle for anything less than something you are passionate about even as they change over time.

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