You don’t have to make headlines to have a lasting impact

Over the last few days I’ve listened to people talk about notable women in history who made a difference and I agree, they are all awesome. But what about the women whose contribution to the world is done in subtler ways? I am fortunate to have been mentored by two women over the course of my college career and yet, you likely won’t read about them in a prestigious magazine, nor will they be recognized by the President (although they should.) I want to tell you about the impact these two women have had on my education as well as thousands of other students:

Dr. McCormick is a full-time Professor of English at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA. I met her in 2011 when I enrolled in her “English Critical Thinking” class. She terrified me, not because she was awful, but because she was honest. When it came to grading our work and giving input she told us the truth. She never graded a paper with the word “good” or “great,” but rather she gave solid input and direction. She also offered her time to anyone willing to stop by her office – I didn’t always like the feedback I received during office hours, but it was exactly what I needed in order to improve and succeed. Furthermore, Dr. McCormick placed responsibility on her students: both on an academic and global level. She told my class outright that we could not complain about the condition of our country because none of us were doing anything to improve it. She was right. Since then, several of us have improved ourselves in order to “be the change” we hope to see in our country and world. Dr. McCormick gave me the agency necessary to gain confidence in my work, and in life outside of the classroom as well. She cared about me when I didn’t even care for myself. She might not be a leading name in education, but her work is leaving a mark on history through each and every student that attends her classes, pass or fail.

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Dianna with Dr. Caldwell

More recently, I connected with Dr. Caldwell, a full-time Associate Professor of English at California State University, Fullerton. To say the least, she is a saint. Dr. Caldwell is a devoted educator and mentor to many of her students. Her door is always open (even when it isn’t,) office hours are always busy, and she responds to e-mail often. Despite the responsibilities she carries in her personal life, she is constantly available to help. For me, Dr. Caldwell is the professor who has kept my passion for teaching alive. Through her example I am inspired to teach and mentor as she has done. Her teaching style is fun and effective while also remaining professional. Her mentorship is, like Dr. McCormick, based in honesty. If she thinks you are taking on too much (which I always am,) she will tell you and make suggestions as to where you can cut back in order to reduce your stress. Furthermore, she is an advocate for the diverse audience she serves: nontraditional, disabled, underserved, or traditional – it doesn’t matter, she will give you the same amount of support, because she believes in your potential. Dr. Caldwell cares deeply for her students and I can only hope to be half as amazing as her when I become an educator.

Neither of these professors have made national headlines. They won’t be in a history book a few hundred years from now. They won’t have a national day to celebrate them exclusively. But what they do and will have is a legacy of educating in such a way that prepares students, not only for a career, but life in general. So, for Women’s History Month, I am celebrating these two amazing women.

Do you have a female professor you would like to honor this month? Please share with us in the comments and please be sure to thank them as well!

Dianna Blake

Dianna is the Pearson Students Blog Editor-in-Chief. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton with her Bachelor of Arts in English in May 2015 and is remaining at the university to complete her Master of Arts in English. Once she finishes her degree she plans on teaching college-level English and literature at a community college. As a mother of three while attending college, Dianna works to balance her school and family life but finds great joy in both. This year she will be writing her book, College Success for Moms, which she plans to publish in 2016.