Two Profs
Off the Wall, June 18, 2009

Why we remember some parts of schooling and not others beats me. For instance, grade and high school stand out vividly in my mind, but I have very few recollections of college. My knowledge of courses is faint, and I know of two girls I dated.

But, there were two professors that continue to surface in my mind. The first, Professor Snyder was a journalism teacher. He was a bit scary, but one of class. I liked that.

Not realizing my career would be photojournalism, I had no intention to sign up for this course. However, I had to have so many elective subjects to graduate, so I opted to sign up for his class. It was worth so many credits that I needed to graduate. Professor Snyder’s classes were anything but boring. He kept us thinking and inspired. His assignments were motivational and we always looked forward to gathering the next class session to compare results.

One of the first things he asked us to do was to circulate a paper around the room asking each person to complete a thought another classmate had started. Then at the end, he would read what was written. It was more than fun. The more he read, the more humorous it got. Here it is 44 years later, and I am still smiling when I think of the class.

In his second project, we were all required to buy a book. In it were pictures, no words. He would tell us to turn to page 56, for example, and our homework assignment would be to write a story about what we saw. He would then grade us on grammar, structure, and whatever else that I can’t remember. The pages of that book still stand out vividly.

The other professor, Professor Moore, was an English teacher. I can only guess, he was somewhere in his 80’s. He made two statements I will never forget, the first while teaching, and the second, as an assignment.

“I really love pain,” he told us, “because it indicates something is wrong in the body.” I can just hear someone out there going, “Duh…….” At that time, I was healthy and never thought much about it. Now those words echo in my mind as life can be challenging from day to day.

Equal to this haunting statement was a paper he requested us to write. “I want you to go into detail on the subject, ‘My Country, Right or Wrong.’” I don’t know what I wrote, but I know I did the very best I could.

I wasn’t into politics much then. I guess I thought the government had everything under control, and it was the least of my worries. My priorities were making good grades, helping the housemothers on campus and writing my campus newsletter that would eventually land me a job with the Ashland Times Gazette.

Everyday, now that we are digging ourselves deeper into a recession, I now feel very strongly that what I originally wrote for Professor Moore and my conclusions today would be as different as apples and oranges. I have convictions on which I stand. I know the difference between right and wrong, and will not easily be swayed on stances contrary to my beliefs even though some may say I have to live according to times.

When I was going to college, the two parties that stood out in my mind were Republican and Democrats. I can’t remember words such as radical, left, liberals, right, conservatives, all referring to political parties. I no longer sense a working together for the good of the country, but a clashing of liberals against right-wingers. And not long ago, I was advised to log onto the Rachael Maddow website for a cross-section of a two-party view, and not one television news program that favors the Republicans, and another that is Obama-centered (I’m told).

In closing, I realize each of us is always going to take sides. One may be led by his heart. As for me, I believe God’s ways are my ways, and no one can change that!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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