For the past four years I have had the privilege of teaching government and politics, mostly at George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University. I have enjoyed my time in the classroom, helping prepare the next generation of leaders for the challenges they will face. Yesterday, I received the following email from one of my former students:
“While I highly doubt you remember me, my name is ____, a former student from your U.S. Parties and Elections class a few semesters back at VCU. I wanted to reach out to you, above all, to say thank you. When I first registered for your course, I thought it was a fluke after reading the professor’s name. I certainly did not anticipate that my instructor would actually be the former Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. But I was pleasantly surprised on the first day of classes and each day since by the thorough, detailed, yet entertaining way you taught our course. I appreciated how you encouraged us to think independently and refrain from engaging in the kind of senseless hyper-partisanship that seems to stymie so much progress in government today.
“I won’t soon forget your warning ‘Beware the Washingtonization of Richmond.’ Your candid criticisms of the current direction of your party were refreshing to hear – and as a young but more moderate Democrat, we could use more of that ourselves. I just wanted to say thank you so much for the insights you shared with us during your class. I wanted you to know just how much taking your course motivated me even more to want to pursue my dream of practicing law and coming back to work in government here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Needless to say, receiving this note made my day! This is exactly the impact I hope to have every day when I walk into the classroom. And it reinforces the decision I made a few years back to leave the private sector and wrap up my professional career in education.
Speaking of which, the spring semester starts this week! I’ll be teaching two courses this semester at George Mason University – American State and Local Government, and Politics of the Administrative System.
BTW, I’m also writing a book on Virginia Government and Politics that I hope to have finished and published in the next few months.
The point of it all is this – find your passion and pursue it. You will not regret it, and you just might help improve someone else’s life along the way. That’s really what it’s all about!