The traditional thoughts of the many things to be thankful for came rushing into my mind. I have seen a lot of Facebook postings on this subject over the last week or so. Something my brother-in-law James asked me awhile ago while we were out celebrating my sister-in-law’s birthday. He asked about what was one key memorable moment, difference making moment in our lives, besides our wedding and the birth of our kids was a key point too.
My wife and I along with James and Michelle, all took turns telling our stories. It was very interesting, emotional and defining for each of us. Mine was the difference maker a college professor was to me in my life. Dr. Wells Cook at Central Michigan University was a man who I can really look back at meeting him as a defining, difference making moment in my life. Sophomore year at CMU, not really knowing what career I had in mind as my first three choices of Sports Medicine, Broadcasting, and Hotel / Restaurant Management were not going to work since I
found out more details about each of those careers along with the fact of not having much faith in myself at that time.
Dr. Cook came into that Intro to Business class and I remember that moment after about 10 minutes of him introducing himself and telling his story on how he got started in life that the light-bulb went off in my head. Combining a business degree with teaching! That was going to be it for me. I remember calling my parents and telling them about it. They were excited and happy for me, surprised a little bit, but very supportive. Dr. Cook connected with me and I remember something inside of me telling me to get to know him and ask him questions. I introduced myself and it was amazing what happened from there. I noticed other students that he had connected with coming around and asking him questions and he took the time for each of them. I noticed how much he put other people first. He pushed people to do their best in everything they did. He believed in his students, he believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself. I spent so many times in his office talking about life, family, the future, etc. He took me to lunch so many times so we could keep talking and I could keep learning; truly an amazing man. He came to our wedding and we stayed in touch for all the years after up until he passed away from cancer about 6 years ago. I remember thanking him so many times over the last few years of his life for what he did for me. Next to my dad, he was a man that I told him that I loved him for what a difference he made in my life. I’m sure glad I told him many times before he died.
From the time he took with me, and he was a lead connecting piece in helping me get my first teaching job after I graduated; I have focused my teaching career to follow the principles that he taught me. It’s all about your students he would tell me over and over again. I’m not where I want to be as a teacher, (or as a father, husband, etc.) but I’ve been working at it over the years to get there. Dr. Cook has given me a great target to shoot for as I continue to try and be a difference maker with my students, both past and present. So, as I sit here with my delicious cup of coffee, in the silence of an early Thanksgiving day morning, I think about Dr. Cook and how I can be more like him.
What is a key, defining moment in your life? What is a key time that you can share to maybe help others, and really, help yourself? That key question that James put out that night for all of us to share, really got me thinking about not only other key moments in my life but mainly how many people might be able to say that I was a key, difference making moment in theirs?? Let me and others know about your thoughts on this. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families too.