I base a lot of life off the way I feel. I let my emotions take a hold of me. I know I shouldn’t, but sometimes I do it without noticing. And sometimes, I just feel things. I get vibes: about situations, about things and even about people.
Thats the N.
Sometimes I’m able to connect with someone without having to say much to them. My spirit connects to their’s and I just love that person. I feel their energy, their experiences and even their pain. I ignore it a lot, because it’s weird and uncomfortable. I say this often, but it’s a blessing and a curse: to feel so deeply.
Never in my life had I been able to connect with someone to like I have her before. Never have I been poured into so much, while I said so little. There was never technically a personal connection, but such a deep emotional one. One where I know my life has been impacted forever.
This one goes out to you, Jackie –
It was my first semester of grad school, I didn’t know what to expect. I was scared, but then I walked into your classroom. I had you as my professor for the first time in diversity &oppression. You made the class fun, but spoke on such deep topics that permeated my soul and made me think so deeply about what it meant to be who I am today. What it meant to be where I’m from. With such deep topics, such as racism and privilege, you provided a safe environment. You brought laughter and compassion into a classroom and made students feel safe to share their deepest pains. I sat in the back and observed. Little did I know you’d be someone I’d never forget.
I debated on taking you again next semester. Did I really want you to teach me psychopathology? You’re kind of nuts, and you know it. I took a chance, I took your class. It was the best decision I could have made. Because of you, I’m confident in diagnosing and treating. No one else in the program knows their stuff like like the people who took your class. You were strict in this class, but you did it with love and humor. Making me laugh so hard with each role play every time as you dance and always say your alternate ego’s name is “Alexandria Stone.”
It was during that time that it felt as if my life turned upside down. Little did I know that yours was too. Your husband was just diagnosed with cancer. And everything from my childhood/adolescence was coming up. We all know that social work school will bring out the worst in you. It’ll force you to work through your own issues. Typically, if I have to cry, I’ll cry silently in class. I did that in your class. The topics of that one day hit me hard. You didn’t brush it away and ignore it like maybe any other professor would. You stayed after class and asked me to join you. You felt there was too much going on with me to be ignored. You sat with me as I shared my story. You cried with me and held me.
Maybe you cried because your own personal life was falling apart. Maybe you’ve done this before with other students. But no one have ever done that with me. I’ve never felt safe enough to share my story like that. Some people know bits and pieces, but no one knows all of it. I don’t trust people enough. It meant the world to me that my story hurt your heart enough to bring you to tears. That you would sit there and hold me as I cried. And like I said, maybe you do that all the time. But you were the first person that ever told me that it wasn’t my fault. That I didn’t deserve it. That you understood why I am the way I am today. You encouraged me and gave me advice.
I’ve never heard any of that before. You would think I would? But on the contrary, I’ve heard opposite things that has made my heart closed off to people in general. Yet, you supported me and you called me strong. You said all the right things.
I was excited to take spirituality and social work with you. I know you’re a strong, spiritual woman but I was interested to see how you’d teach a curriculum on that. You exceeded my expectations. You stood your ground and let everyone know “I’m a black christian woman from the south” quoting the bible left and right. However, you were inclusive and understanding extending compassion to students of all religions and spiritual backgrounds.
In response to an assignment using the meaning of our name. Nicole, meaning victory of the people:
“You are a star. I admire your ability to love beyond your pain. You use it to fight for others, but you fight with love. You are your name.”
You always have a sense of things. You knew when I was having a bad day and you called me out on it, speaking words of encouragement and hope into my life in front of everyone. You did this even without knowing it. When feeling suicidal the night before, the next morning you taught on suicide and spoke life into my life. You knew just what to say when addressing love, abuse, relationships, death and life. You wrote endless notes on all my papers, saying how you admired my strength and my faith in God. When in reality, it’s yours I admired.
I gave you my favorite book in our last class. I hope you love it as much as I do. I wrote a little on the inside cover, but words cannot express my gratitude towards all that you are. You gave me so many hugs. Reminding me to find people who love me, who respect me and who care for my safety. You told me to keep fighting with a heart full of love for myself and for others. I took the flower you gave me and with tears in my eyes I left our last class together, keeping your words close to my heart forever.
You have made an everlasting impact on my life. My grad school experience would be nothing with out you. Thank you for believing in me and providing
me with safety. Thank you for teaching not only with your brain, but most importantly, with your heart. There is no possible monetary compensation for that. I admire you and look to be like you.
Jackie Phillips, you are a world changer.