Professor Farye and the Freshmen English Test…

In an age of mass media and an incessant celebrity culture full of reality shows and instant stardom, it’s easy to dismiss the impact of  a solitary individual who isn’t a celebrity or have access to mass media.  The narrative that culture pushes is that if you want to have a lasting impact, you have to have a platform; if you don’t have a platform, you cannot have a lasting impact.   That’s not always so.

One afternoon – sitting in my mom’s office in Plymouth, MI – she began to tell a story I’d never heard before, a story about one of her college professors who had recently passed away.  It was the final semester of my mom’s senior year at Bryan College in Tennessee.  Years ago she was called into one of the academic offices – en-route to the caravan of vehicles about to whisk their senior class off on a final trip –  and informed that there was no record that she had taken an English course that was apparently required of all Freshmen students during their first year.  Therefore it was unlikely that she would be able to graduate at semester’s end, which was four days hence .  Mortified, Mom went to visit with Professor Farye to explain the situation and see if there might be a way out.  As she was telling this, I imagined this as a “Death Star Trash Compactor” moment in her life; she was powerless to resolve it herself, so someone else had to do it for her.

And so, my Mom and her academic adviser walked back to the academic office to inquire  of a solution.  Arriving at the office, Professor Farye began to ask questions and seek a solution.  Quickly, two answers became apparent: either Mom had to take the class or if she could pass a test given to her right then and there, the class requirement could be bypassed.  (At this point in the telling I was having flashbacks of a similar moment of my own at Cedarville involving a math requirement that I had to test out of in my final days there…)  Considering the constraint that she didn’t have the time to take this full semester Freshmen level class, only one option would allow her to graduate on time:  take that test right then and there.  It was at this point that things got interesting, because the Professor didn’t leave.  Instead, looking right at Mom as the proctor administered the multiple choice test, he slyly helped her with the answers while the proctor’s attention was on Mom and not on Professor Farye.  Somehow, if the Professor hadn’t been there I think the situation would have turned out differently and Mom might not be the success she is today.  What’s more, that success is part of what enabled me to fulfill my dream of working on Capitol Hill and living in Washington, DC for the last handful of years.

No platform needed; no Twitter, no Facebook, no YouTube, no reality show, and not a celebrity…just someone who cared about a student he was responsible for.  This is part of the legacy left by a man I will never meet in this life.

What legacy are you leaving for others as the year closes out?



Posted on by Aaron in Cedarville University

About Aaron

Author, Speaker, and Super Nerd. Aaron Welty speaks and writes regularly connecting the dots of life, faith, and science fiction. Originally from Michigan, he now lives and works in the Washington, D.C. Metro area.

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