By Sally Doyle — In May 2013, I graduated with a Master of Education degree from Marquette University.
Dr. Jody Jessup-Anger is at the top of a long list of individuals to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. Without her support, wisdom, guidance, advice, and care for me as an individual, I would not have remained in the Educational Policy and Leadership program.
In fact, I almost left—twice.
For the past four years, I have been a nontraditional student. As a full time working professional, I returned to graduate school after many years of educational hiatus. My classmates were young; many were fresh out of college and some were probably half my age. Needless to say, finding common ground and integrating were very difficult for me. I felt neither connected to, nor a part of, the class. I did not feel as though I belonged. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was a minority.
Beginning with the first day of class, Dr. Jessup-Anger, or Jody, as she is known to her graduate students, took an interest in me as a person. She took time to ask me how things were going, how I was feeling, and whether I was having any difficulties. She noticed that I was struggling—not with classwork, but personally. She worked to develop a strong bond with me. Rather than simply encourage me to stick with graduate school, Jody patiently explored the sources of my discomfort, inquired about my thoughts, offered perspective, and ultimately, encouraged me to remember the reasons why I began graduate school.
As a result of her kindness, I felt comfortable seeking her out for discussion and counsel, even in semesters where she was not my professor. She always welcomed me to her office with great enthusiasm.
Jody understands that teaching goes beyond the textbook and the classroom—it involves touching the lives of your students. As I studied student development theory, I began to realize that Jody is a living example of applied learning. She embodies the Jesuit principle of cura personalis (care for the person) that is part of our Marquette culture. I’m not certain she knows that her gestures, both large and small, made such a positive difference in my life. She has been a role model and a mentor. Because she made me feel special, I persisted to graduation.
If I had to guess, I would say that I was not the only student impacted by having her as a professor. I venture to say that she touches almost every student in her class. I wrote many papers in my graduate program, yet I struggle to find the right words to summarize what Jody has done for me. She not only made me a better student—she made me a better person. I am now challenged to make my students and colleagues feel as special as she made me feel.
Both of our graduation speakers, Dr. Bill Cosby and Dr. Cynthia Ellwood, reminded the Marquette community that we can make a difference in the lives of others — and it’s often about the small things we do every day.
The ultimate goal of a Jesuit education is to become men and women for others. As graduates of the College of Education and as graduates of Marquette University—educators, teachers, counselors, and student personnel administrators—we are challenged with making a positive difference in the lives of our students. Dr. Jody Jessup-Anger made a positive difference for me.
SHE is the difference; she is Marquette. She has taught me to never underestimate my ability to positively impact the life of a student or a colleague. I challenge all of you to do the same.
Thank you, Dr. Jessup-Anger. You have changed my life.
Sally Doyle is the Director of Academic Business Affairs for Marquette University. She has earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Marquette University.