Remember what’s important

I keep an essay from my first English class on my desk at home, just off to the side.

It’s nowhere near the best writing of my academic career, or even the best work I submitted for that class, but it’s the reason I’m still in college.

Firmly in my senior year at USI, it is quite easy for me to become burned out of the daily college grind. I’m officially in the middle of what some refer to as the senior slump.

For all of the cheesy study tactics, Netflix breaks, and all the other trendy strategies you’ll come across when trying to beat that slump, there’s one that works every time for me: looking at one of the items that changed my life.

Tucked away on the back page is a mess of neat handwriting in green ink, notes telling me exactly what my strengths are and what I need to work on. This might seem like a run-of-the-mill paper, but this is my first essay ever.

I walked into community college a socially awkward 19-year-old with zero aspirations in life beyond “write, I guess.” My English 101 class was taught by a shy novelist/ex punk-rocker adjunct instructor named Joey Goebel.

Every assignment Goebel handed back would come drenched in ink, highlighting everything right and wrong about it he could find, as well as a substantial note explaining what I needed to work on improving.

He did all of this work for every student, every week, and as an adjunct was earning less money for his two classes than my, frankly large paycheck, as an editor at the community college paper.

A cashier job at Taco Bell would’ve earned him the same amount of money for much less effort, yet he stuck around and gave me the help I needed to succeed.

Goebel’s excited Bill Nye of English attitude stuck with me and made me want to be that same teacher for students someday.

So on days like today, when I catch myself researching how much time and money it’d take me to become a cross-country truck driver (spoiler alert: not a lot, and I’d make more money than teaching), I look at Goebel’s notes and remember why I’m here at college and where I can go with my degree.