Professor Dawson

December 10, 2009

Finally arriving at Stanford University all the way from Saipan for summer school, I had no idea of what to truly expect from both my professors and my schoolmates. It was going to be my first time living on my own, so I still had no idea how I would fend for myself – washing my clothes, staying organized, dealing with the school’s workload, and tending to all the complications and problems that might come my way. It was a time to experience new things and thus also a time for growth.
Participating in my A.P. U.S. Government class on the first day was quite an experience. The professor seemed like an exceptional teacher. His aura of ebullience echoed throughout the classroom as he guided the role playing of two students in an effort to illustrate fundamental Government topics. The professor’s name was Paul Dawson, and I have never been taught by a professor like him. I was motivated by his enthusiastic teaching style, by his capacity to simplify and clarify complicated government concepts for the class, and how he went out of his way to involve each of the students and inspire us to work together as a team in group applications.
So, as the summer school progressed, my weakness in fending for myself began to materialize. I managed to make a couple of friends and take care of the mundane routine tasks throughout the day. But, on the less positive side, I began to inflict more stress on myself, worrying about what reading assignments I should be doing and what friends I should be making. With such stress clouding and weighing down my mind, I naturally resorted to the calm, sweet sensation of music to appease myself.
At this point, I tried to avoid thinking of my problems as much as I could, and after doing this for a while, things started to shift, especially after I heard a little piece of advice from my professor. “The only person that can let you down is yourself,” he said. I pondered this statement over and over. In the subsequent days, I retrieved other life philosophies from his lessons. I learned about the importance of being incremental, the idea that one must take a series of little steps in order to achieve a larger task. By reminding myself of the advice he gave and the concept of incrementalism, I was slowly coming out of my cave of stress into a new world. As I continued through the summer school, I maintained a constant effort to avoid superfluous thinking cycles and unnecessary worries. But the most important thing of all was that I was diligent in being proactive (yet another concept from class) in dealing with life’s problems, like stress. I continually reminded myself to not think/worry so much about school work and my social relationships – that I would keep most healthy just by focusing on the most important tasks of the day and appreciating the little pleasures that came my way.
It is those three great, albeit subliminal, pieces of advice from summer school that I keep as my foundation in life. It is my current goal in life to be proactive and incremental in dealing with life’s problems because “The only person that can let you down is yourself.” In reminding myself of such powerful and empirically true ideas, I am better equipped to overcome the challenges that life has to offer.

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2 Responses to “Professor Dawson”

  1. Devin Yoshimoto said

    Really good post. Those are definitely good things to learn. I’ve found over the past year or so that I’ve gotten really good at not always being caught up in my own thought loops and LISTENING more to things that are happening around me.

    I think I know what you mean when you talk about superfluous thinking, stressing yourself out and always being in your own head. I used to be the same way but i’ve gotten out of it really just by going about day to day trying to keep my internal dialogue to a minimum and really being an ’empty jar’ so to speak, so that I listen and react more rather than being overwhelmed with my own introspections and thoughts – stress.

    By the way, your writing is really really good in this post. I’m impressed. Very articulate. I felt like I was reading a professional writers article in a magazine or something. Keep up the writing.

  2. thanks a lot devin – for the read and relating to it. The reason it was very articulate and stuff is cause I did four drafts on this one and made some edits based on the proofreading edits made by Mr. Tessen, my history teacher.

    And the reason I exerted all this effort is because this is what I used for my Common App personal essay – the essay that all my common app colleges will read when going through my application. Looking forward to seeing ya soon!!

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