As the semester begins, we’re all trying on new shoes

By Amy Roganthoughts with prof

I have a six-month-old granddaughter who is in constant motion. She has been wanting to walk for months now.

Not crawl. Walk.

She gets in her little activity chair and jumps and jumps and jumps and jumps some more. It’s fun for her but it’s also building her leg strength. Soon she will be off and running. But for now, she doesn’t often wear shoes. (Or even socks for that matter.)

As I watched her play the other day I started thinking about the shoes I got my own children when they were just babies—hard-soled shoes with sturdy ankles to help them keep their feet flat on the ground and balanced.

You don’t see that kind of shoe much anymore, though there is an endless supply of cute little baby shoes in stores. (Trust me–this grandma can’t resist those cute little sandals or boots.)

As cute as they are I worry they won’t provide enough support for her when she finally gets strong enough to take those first few steps. And I imagine a lot of college students have parents who have similar thoughts about their child’s first steps into adulthood.

As they trust the employees of the University of Findlay with their child’s first step they wonder, will they have enough support? Will they be able to balance?

As a professor I have seen some wobbly students but I’ve also watched those students mature, learn and grow; they gain their balance and before long they’re running. The support systems for that growth are built into the campus community. From caring professors ready to talk when a student needs them, to the actual offices put in place for the students, like the Oiler Success Center and the Center for Career and Professional Development. From the Writing Center to the ITS Help Desk to the housekeeping staff, it’s all here to support the student.

One of my speech classes recently asked me what I like about teaching, and I told them that honestly, it’s watching that process in students. It is so cool for me to see them bravely take those first few steps, then gain confidence in their stride, until they aren’t even thinking about it anymore and they are moving at a fast, even pace towards their career and life goals.

Over the summer I saw several of my former students post pictures of their weddings  or make major career announcements, and I’m truly so happy and proud for them. I know what shoes they wore when I first met them. And I watched them try on different shoes over the years until they found what really fit—what they needed to succeed.

Sure, we all struggle to find that strength and balance sometimes. But I delight in watching past, current, and new students trying on their shoes and finding the right fit and the right balance.

Until then, just keep jumping.

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