“I just don’t get it, if your stupid it is OK..you know but the problem is..YOUR NOT! You guys are intelligent but then when you guys give me work like this……arggh “

Anyone listening to this conversation would think that I was really getting it bad with the person in question, but in the contrary the person in question is not only one of the most respected persons in my books but also a man I totally care about and love. He often reminds me of my father. If I were to use any words to describe how he is to me, it would be “tough love”.

The man in question is my professor. I met him in 2002 when I first entered University Sains Malaysia to purse my undergraduate studies in Communication. Not liked by many due to his hard exterior and sarcastic comebacks, students would stay away from him. I on the other hand thought he was brilliant (yes and extremely sarcastic!)

Sitting in one of his first classes, the moment he started talking.. I stopped and listened attentively (why it was such a big deal? Simple… because I hardly listened, instead I would normally draw cartoons and what-nots when a lecturer speaks.. most of the time as I my attention span was minimal). But the moment the man opened his mouth, brilliance just came out so effortlessly. It was so clear. Another thing that I liked about him was that he did not give a damn about what people thought about him. He was smart and he knew it. He did not let anyone step on his head or give him crap. Admired that.

I used to drop by his office and see him off and on, for no particular reason. Back in university, I was a public relations major, so off the grid for someone like me. Hence, it meant hardly any dealings with prof because he was the journalism head but somehow I was drawn towards journalism and their lecturers. I was more in-tune to anything related to journalism or these lecturers and who would have thought that I would purse journalism in my postgraduate studies, but that is a different story altogether.

As I admired him to bits and thought he was of such brilliance when I decided to purse my postgraduate studies, naturally he became my supervisor. Trust me it was hard being his student. He expected nothing but the best and anyone who knows me academically, as a student knows that I have a million ideas (working, productive ideas) but sadly my organization skills when it comes to putting those thoughts in order was awful. He had to deal with that throughout my 2 years of doing my postgraduate studies in the area of new communication technology. I wanted to quit many times as it was really tough. But having him on-board was one of the reasons I stuck on- I knew he would ensure I gave quality.Conversations like above would always occur and every time I call him I feel like I’m walking on glass as I was nervous (I always wanted to please him and sound smart), hence I would make even more mistakes and blunders than normal.

As the years have passed, I have gone through so much academically and work wise. In my classes, I mirror him in many ways with the way I teach and I always tell my students about his brilliance and how he has mentored me all this years. Everything I do academically largely relates to my prof and his ways of teaching, his ideas and thinking..I owe the little parts of brainy me…to him ….how he has developed how I think critically.

He has always been there to support me and I notice that during every big decision of my life, I’m always either consulting my parents and prof. What he as taught me in class, during my post-grad and even the life lessons, as I entered the working world has been priceless.

I never really knew the depth of his influence on me and what I have achieved… till last Friday, as I walked down the hill in USM after meeting my current supervisors… I remembered his email recently also asking me if I was okay as I had resigned and started my own business, I mean my time lecturers could not be bothered about you let alone what you do after you leave their class but prof was always different.

I realized that I have never really thanked him for being there for me. For being my mentor all these years…for being the one who believes in me. He is one man besides my father than makes me cry, proud and happy with my achievements and progress. He makes me strive and be all that I can and I’m forever thankful and blessed to have such an influential figure in my life. My mentor 🙂

Thank you, prof.

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