Sunday, May 2, 2010

Who Inspired You?

I got up this morning with nothing in mind, but to make some cinnamon rolls for my wife, drink some coffee and head off to church. After all of those things were done I was home looking through some junk mail and saw the new issue of Madison sitting on my kitchen counter top. Madison is the official magazine of my alma mater James Madison University. A university that I am so deeply proud and grateful to have graduated from with my Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Kinesiology. I'm sure like many former and current JMU Dukes, they read the magazine with a great sense of pride and loyalty to such a wonderful university. This is a university where students come first and professors truly foster meaningful mentor-ships with students so they can go out into the world to foster meaningful lives for themselves and others. This leads me to what really struck me about this particular issue of Madison. In this issue I was struck by the emphasis on headline that read..."Professors You Love."

As soon as I read that I was taken back to my time at JMU. I think I can honestly say that I truly loved all of the professors who I had classes with in the Kinesiology Department at JMU. Dr. Goldberg was my first introduction into the department and his kind personality immediately made me feel comfortable there. He still makes me feel comfortable whenever I visit JMU today. I also loved talking to Joyce Plymale who was the first person you saw when you went to request a meeting with Dr. Goldberger. She was always so kind and caring.

Dr. Keller helped me understand motivational techniques and theories and how to integrate them into everyday life. She also challenged us to teach the material to each other to make it mean something more than what was in a book.

Dr. Saunders instilled in me a love for the physiology of the human body and everyday exercise in some way, shape or form. I also remember how he had us volunteer our time at a nursing home in the town next to Harrisonburg, called Bridgewater. It was for a class called Exercise and the Older Adult. My volunteer experience in that nursing home helped me fall in love with serving others.

Dr. Ham provided me with knowledge of recreational facility development and management. He also provided me with confidence when asking me to write a graduation poem for his wife.

Dr. Williams pushed me to become a better teacher by pouring into me the principles of curriculum development and trusting my abilities. Dr. Williams also was a professor who comforted me tremendously when 9/11 happened and I didn't know if my Dad was dead or alive in the Pentagon.

Dr. Slattery's philosophy course gave me new perspective on how I approached the things I ought or ought not to do. Her courage through health issues also gave me strength to push on during tough times during my collegiate studies.

Dr. Flohr...well Dr. Flohr made me believe that I could apply for Doctoral Studies. I asked her one day in her office if she thought I was smart enough to get my doctorate and without blinking she said "of course you are. All it takes is perseverance and you have that."

Dr. Carr pushed me very hard in our sports and exercise law class to look outside of the box in our profession and he praised me when I came to class one night after studying my butt off all night to answer his very difficult sports and exercise law questions.

Dr. Todd took me aside in one of his classes and told me he wanted to reward my efforts of paying attention in class and sitting in the front each class. He told me that effort meant so much to him. To this day I reward effort with my employees because of him. Dr. Todd believed in my love of writing poetry and confided in me in his love of writing as well.

And Professor that I connected with most and whose voice still resonates deep within my soul everyday is Dr. Challace McMillin. Dr. McMillin was one of my professors, my mentors and to this day still a dear friend. Dr. McMillin fired me up every class with his passion for coaching and life. He breathed motivation, determination and commitment. I give the "focus and refocus speech" to my employees and colleagues today. Dr. McMillin changed my life and helped me become the man I am today. He took me under his wisdom and shared with me the wisdom of his incredible experiences in academia and sports.

Oh and while this person was not one of my professors, he was also pivotal in my development as a person. Bill Walton was my track and field coach for four years at JMU and was taught me how to respect myself and others through my participation as a track and field athlete. Coach Walton saw my leadership capabilities and made me team captain and him doing that gave me more confidence in myself than he will ever know.

All of these wonderful people are me and I am them because they inspired me to want more for my life. They were the people who took care of me when I left home for college. When my parents released me into the world they picked up the tab and said let's see what kind of person you can become? They helped to guide me both personally and professionally.

As I finished reading through Madison I knew exactly what I was going to write about today for my blog. Sometimes writing comes to you in a blink of an eye and sometimes it is a long journey to get the words out. However, this one came easy because the people who inspired me are a part of my everyday thoughts and actions. I just wanted to share with you, the readers, how much they touched my life and how they still do. I know that in your life that someone or many people inspired you along your professional and personal path.

That's how James Madison University was for me. It fostered my love of life and pushed me to become a better citizen of the world. And in particular, those professors during my time there lit a flame in me that still burns incredibly bright today. I do my best today to instill in others the joy and respect that those professors instilled into me. They...inspired...me and still do.

Who inspired you?

I'd love to hear your feedback. Until next time....

Dr. D
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