Thursday, October 19, 2006

Acknowledgments

This morning in my head I began to compose the introduction to a book I hope someday to write. This morning I also walked into a very familiar building, down the stairs to a familiar hallway, only to be reminded that what was once familiar at the end of that hall no longer was there. Something I used to do every weekday morning of my life, I wanted to do again today. Autumn has an unusual influence on my thinking. I suppose it always has. It is my favorite time of year and October is my favorite month, but something about the fall this year is distinct. I feel as if a part of me is departing from the past and embracing the future. I wish I could explain it in more concrete terms.

Last week I had the privilege of attending a lecture at Idaho State University given by a man whose impact on my academic career I have often ignored. Prior to the lecture I spoke briefly with Senators Marley—and I say “Senators” because my first conversation was with the former History professor Bert Marley who served in the statehouse and the second conversation was with my former teacher Bert Marley who also served in the statehouse. In that same audience sat a man who has also had an unbelievable impact on my academic career, a Political Science professor. The only man that wasn’t in the room who has had and continues to have that sort of influence on my academic career was Richard Stallings…the topic of the book I will one day write.

Recently I wrote an article for the local paper on my “insight” into the Stallings Collection. The Stallings Collection is an assortment of legislative files, casework, and correspondence from the career of Richard Stallings spanning 4 congressional terms and filling 266 boxes. The 1600 word article I wrote did not do justice to my feelings on the collection or even Stallings himself. I have come to admire Richard Stallings in a way that I can only compare to my admiration of one other politician—Adlai Stevenson. If you know me, you know the magnitude of that statement.

I’ve also come to deeply respect archivists. It is no easy task cataloguing a congressional collection and in learning the process I have learned how truly gifted archivists are. This project has given me direction academically that I suppose I’ve lacked for most of my time at Idaho State. Never really wanting to teach, I always wondered what I would do with a slew of degrees in History. I now know. I know that after ISU there is graduate school. A master’s degree in some sort of history or archiving and maybe even a PhD await me. I will one day write a book on what I am working on now and maybe even a biography of Stallings. Hence the reason this morning I was contemplating the introduction to a book.

I have come a very long way from being a Special Education major.

The second part of this is my adventure into familiar territory this morning on the path to an office that no longer belongs to a familiar face. As I think about how far I have come from my original academic goals, I can identify the people who have led me down this path. I had an English teacher who spoke to me prior to me walking out of the College of Education and out of the field of Special Education. Her influence is immeasurable. I have had one exceptional History professor who has taught me more about myself than about her respective field. And I had the reminder of two teachers prior to these that gave me hope, strength, encouragement, and support when I needed it most. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am either.

I have come a long way from believing I could do everything on my own.

This evening instead of recomposing the introduction to a book in my head, I was composing the acknowledgments page. If and when I ever do write a book I will have many people to thank—people that today don’t even know how appreciative of them I am.

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