I teach mostly freshman and sophomores, which means that I get to watch them for three or four years as they progress through their degrees. It gives me a broader perspective than I might have if I had met them when they were older, and it also lets me see how they take the lessons they learned in my classes and apply them elsewhere.

Most recently I got an email from a student who struggled in one of my programming classes. I’ve written about him before, because he showed a persistence that impressed me. He became my advisee after he left my class, and he’s now ready to graduate. He wrote the following:

From being a sophomore to being a senior you taught me that even if things take a turn for the worst in a course that if you work hard enough and put in the effort you can come back from any failure.

In just one sentence he showed me that all those hours he spent in my office helped him to learn something very valuable. I hope that sometime five or ten years from now he checks in again because I expect he’ll be doing great things.