The Professor

| October 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

Let me tell you about a woman called Diane Allenberg.

Professor Allenberg, from the outside. She’s in her 60′s and can’t hear much out of one ear, but you wouldn’t have know by the way she moves. Already blessed with a healthy marriage and plenty of grandkids, she alternates her week by teaching three college level writing courses and taking care of her ailing mother. And if she isn’t doing any of that, you can probably find her on 100 Bay State, crossing off one student appointment after another until the list is done. This often goes past her office hours. But she doesn’t mind – just as we promise to walk her over to the parking lot afterwards because it is late and she doesn’t like to be alone at night.

Professor Allenberg, the speaker. Maybe it’s because she physically can’t do so, but her voice can only oscillate slightly above a whisper. Yet she manages to control and capture our attention. All sixteen of us in the class, and keep in mind that it is 2pm on a Tuesday and we are tired, naive, and probably not in the mood to learn anything at the moment. Whenever she speaks, we lean in to listen.

Professor Allenberg, the instructor. She assigns us a paper due in three weeks three sessions into the course. The prompt: Compare the moral issues presented in the film Lincoln with William Carlos Williams’ The Use of Force. Did each respective protagonist make the moral choice? The right choice? Use evidence from the text and the movie. 1500+ words, double spaced. MLA format. Go.

Professor Allenberg, the hardliner. I’m sitting in her office. It’s eight o’clock, past her office hours. She’s reading my draft.  Massacres the page in corrections with her bright green pen. Not good enough. Slides it across the desk and starts rattling off improvements I could make: “I don’t think this flows very well…” “You need to be clearer with where you’re going here…” “I like this quote but I think if you move it here…”

Professor Allenberg, the caretaker. Bless her, she’s carrying two trays of cookies and our papers. She passes the plate around. Take one, no two. This one’s made with coconut, this one has nuts so if you’re allergic watch out. This keeps moving throughout the class, grammatical rules mixed in with chocolate chips. She sees the half-emptied plate. Passes the plate around again and begs us to eat more. I made them myself, she says with a smile. How could we refuse?

Professor Allenberg, the hardliner. Again. She passes back the papers. “If I didn’t give you a grade, I believe you need to re-write it. Probably because you’re so close to getting to the next letter grade. I’ll be in the office if you want to talk about it.” I get my essay back. There’s no grade on mine. Before I leave, I make another appointment.

Professor Allenberg, the devotee. Six drafts of the same people, rewrites upon rewrites and still no grade. The paper was assigned in January. It is now March. “Don’t give up – I don’t care how many rewrites you hand to me, I just want you to get the grade you deserve.” I would end up with an A-.  Her only feedback to me was that “this is really good.” I knew she meant it.

Professor Allenberg, the constant. You can feel the gravitas around, the presence she carries as a teacher. She sends us a email saying that our portfolio is due by Monday night by her office door and the exact contents that are needed in it, and she ends it with “you make me gasp and laugh and wonder and use words I can’t put in this email.”

And I replied back: that makes both of us.


Featured Image Credit: Nic’s events via photopin cc

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Campus Culture, featured, Poetry, Prose and Comedy

Mike Chan

About the Author ()

Mike graduated from BU in 2016 with a Elementary Education major and Mathematical Statistics minor. He is from Washington (the State) and a avid football fan, so don't be surprised to see him bunkered down by the television on Sundays. He's likes music, long naps, movies, Doctor Who, video games, and making people feel great (and sometimes altogether at once). If he is not writing here, he's probably busy rambling on Reddit or cooking something exotic. Follow his Twitter @karatemanchan37. You have been warned.

Leave a Reply