My most unforgettable student

December 7, 2009

The Reader’s Digest used to run a feature called My Most Unforgettable Character. I’m borrowing the idea.

My most unforgettable student (MUS for short) came in to my office today to chat.

He is either the most interesting student I’ve ever had OR the biggest bullshitter going.

I’d believe that he was bullshitting about things that happened in his life–except that equally crazy things have happened in mine. So who’s to say what’s real and not.

He’s an older student, just over his mid-20s. He’s out of the ghettoes of LA. And soo bright. Really bright. MUS makes me laugh, he makes me think, he makes me listen. He is really a caring guy.

But he has that chip some young African-American men have on their shoulder that tells me that he’s seen things I can’t even imagine. And a very blustery front end.

“I only know 10 people at this school who are smarter than me, and you are #2, Prof. That’s because Day 1 in class I insisted on something and you challenged me. I’m used to intimidating people with my size, my bravado, my blackness.. but you didn’t back down. That got my attention. I respect that.”

He IS a big guy. Big and weighs 360. But he never scared me. I saw who he was from the very first day. I knew he’d challenge me. Make me dig deep. What I didn’t know is that he has a 3.8 average. And aced my class.

He did some of the most interesting writing I’ve seen.

About Tampa: “LA is racist but it’s out there. Obvious. It’s easy to see. Tampa is a racist town. It’s hidden. But I have the racist glasses, and I look around and see it everywhere. But I looked at you and didn’t see racism at all.”

He’s right. It’s a racist town. And a sexist one. Subtle. But there.

MUS is crying out for a male mentor. A strong, black male.

I’ve talked with him about his jive front end. About how he doesn’t have to do it. How he can lead with his brain in more productive ways.

He pushes back, but he hears me. I can see that he does. But he needs a smart man to show him how to be a smart man. To do it without the jive front end.

He tells me he’s been accepted at several really big name grad schools. I hope that’s true and more than that, I hope he goes to one. He wants to teach at the college level.

And he’d be damn good at it, too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Follow Carol


Here you’ll find my blog, some of my essays, published writing, and my solo performances. There’s also a link to my Etsy shop for healing and grief tools offered through A Healing Spirit.


I love comments, so if something resonates with you in any way, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on my blog. Thank you for stopping by–oh, and why not subscribe so you don’t miss a single post?


Subscribe to my Blog

Receive notifications of my new blog posts directly to your email.