written by Temoca Dixon, a former student
Jeesh, she was nuts! Western Traditions was my first class back into the swing of college and I got the nutty professor for a semester. Dr. Giddings hurled ideas at us, she weaved in and out of cramped college desks flapping her wings at the grand ideas of the universe, and she asked us, “Why?” for heaven’s sake.
I plugged along and loved brimming over with intellectual knowledge that is usually reserved for lunch at the square in San Francisco. The first writing assignment was a response to Gilgamesh. I wrote insightfully and offered new ideas I was sure would become standard form in Literature classes across America. I turned in my paper confident I belonged among the great thinkers in higher level education.
Red loops, red slashes, red question marks, red running all throughout my paper as she handed it back to me. Dr. Giddings didn’t even give me a grade. She wrote, ‘See me after class.’ in fire-engine red. I stumbled back to my seat and told my Dad, who had just gotten his paper back, “I’m not cut out for college. I don’t belong here.”
I wanted to be a good student but was feelingI met with Dr. Giddings and she gave me the usual advice, go to the writing center, get a tutor, look for a book on MLA writing…etc. I teetered, and then finally asked if she would have time to meet with me to explain her expectations. We met at Starbucks on a Saturday afternoon and Dr. Giddings inspired me to learn, experience everything and more.
My final paper came back scribbled on in red.
Temoca, after I pull myself together I must tell you honestly, this is a catharsis. In all my years of teaching I can tell you, you have a gift for writing. Write a book. Help others. Never stop learning.
Thank you, Dr. Janet Giddings. You have inspired me. And I don’t know how you did it, but you spoke my dreams out loud when I did not have the courage to do so myself. I can only hope I will one day do as much for someone else.