Why My Professors Are Really #1

By Olivia French, a junior communication major

High Point University is my home. This breathtaking campus is where I go to class, where I sleep, where I work and where I eat. For three-quarters of the year, I have the privilege to spend all of my time here. But what is a home without a family? Most students would definitely agree that the friends they have made during their college years have become their family, but I believe that my family here in North Carolina also includes my professors at HPU.

HPU has been ranked #1 by U.S. News and World Report for three consecutive years, as well as being recognized for a Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching. What does that mean? To me, it means that the world is recognizing what I already knew to be true – our professors are second to none.

As HPU students, we get to know our professors very well in the classroom because our class sizes are so small. One of the first classes I had as a freshman, a first-year seminar titled “The World is Flat: Globalization of Economics,” was with a handful of close-knit students.  I am a journalism major with an English Writing minor, so economics and any other science or math often feels like a foreign language to me. When I saw how small the class was, panic set in. It would be too easy for the professor to call on me and make me answer the tough questions that racked my brain.

But Dr. Suryadipta Roy not only managed to help me understand globalization and economics (a feat in itself), he also managed to become one of my favorite professors throughout my time at HPU. Even now, a year and a half later, he remembers my name and asks me how I’m doing if I see him on campus. More importantly, he helped me to step outside of my comfort zone—a skill that is necessary for a journalist—and gave me the opportunity to understand concepts that I wouldn’t have explored on my own.

As I grow in my major, amazing opportunities have been presented there as well. It started with three journalism classes that opened my mind to how an effective newsroom operates. The classes were all with Dr. Nahed Eltantawy, a professor who once worked as a Reuters correspondent in Cairo. She gave everyone in the classes a “beat,” or a specific topic that we report on throughout the semester. The combination of our beats helped to produce a virtual class newspaper. Instead of having lectures every day, we were expected to come in to class and work as if we were employed at a real newspaper. We were responsible for writing stories and headlines, meeting deadlines, contacting sources and editing our stories. We tackled our assignments both inside and outside of the classroom.

That experience proved invaluable to me this summer when I was selected as the sole intern at Scholastic Parent & Child magazine in New York City. I was given the responsibilities of contacting sources, calling in products, writing stories, headlines, and decks, among many other assignments. Because of the format of Dr. Eltantawy’s class, I was confident in my ability to complete my assignments without my editor having to hold my hand. I walked into the office and knew what was required to get the job done – all thanks to the experience Dr. Eltantawy had orchestrated through class.

I will be entering the working world as a confident professional because my professors have invested time beyond a lecture. They’ve mentored, prepared, shaped and guided me. They say hello at Starbucks and stop what they’re doing to provide extra help with a project. They give you opportunities for research and real-world experiences.  They cheer you on when you land that prestigious internship, almost as if they had landed it themselves. All because the truly care.

If I had to fully explain the dedication to undergraduate teaching at HPU, I’d write a novel instead of an essay. But the point is that my professors are #1 to me, too. They’re why High Point University is one of my favorite places in the world.

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