If you notice, I don't divulge much of my life often on the blog. For the most part it's because I don't like to make this where it centers on me and my life where I waste your time. Additionally, I don't like to talk about myself much.
Today is different.
A few posts ago, I mentioned I had training and jokingly said it was ninja training. Truthfully though it was for working in a psychology youth depression lab. I learned about it through my Abnormal Child Psychology professor - pictured above. I had his class this past Fall.
1 week ago, I arrived at our lab meeting and sat down in the room.
I found out he passed away the Friday before. I knew him less than a year.
1 year has passed since I started this blog. Here I am with 99 other posts written. Today, post #100 is for him and everyone else who's taught me.
After I came home from the meeting last week, I wrote this and sent it to our lab manager:
"I remember seeing the class listed for Fall ’09 and of course I looked him up on ratemyprofessor.com. It shouldn’t be a surprise he had nothing but good reviews. I was so eager to be in his class that 2 weeks before the semester started I ordered the textbook and read the first 4 chapters. When I got the syllabus at our first lecture, there was hardly any focus on what I read. But, I didn’t care because he spoke with so much energy that first class it didn’t matter if he assigned the entire book to be read.
A few weeks in, one day I wanted to make an announcement before he started. He was more than happy to give me a few minutes to speak. I was very nervous and after I finished, I handed out flyers for anyone interested in the program I discussed. As I was walking around giving each student a flyer, he said, “…and whoever does this will get extra credit at the end of the semester.” It was a pleasure to see so many hands fly up and to have his support.
After class that day, students went to review their exams (me being one of them). While we all headed to his office, the way in which he spoke to us was very casual. This was something always present in his voice. When he spoke, he articulated himself with a great deal of energy that you just couldn’t help but be interested in what he had to say. When he spoke, he expressed a feeling of warmth and love. He just made you feel good. We never discussed life after my undergrad, but I felt when he spoke to me it naturally encouraged learning even after I finished up here at Rutgers.
I recall the last time I visited him was near the end of the Fall semester. He told the entire class he had a holiday gift for all of us. When I asked in his office what the gift was, he said “Oh I was going to bring in cookies, what did you think?” to which I replied, “I thought you might drop an exam grade.” The next lecture, he dropped our lowest exam grade.
If you couldn’t tell, he was my favorite professor and I always talked about him to my roommate. I’m sure Professor Abela didn’t know, but he opened up a lot more choices to me. I never considered a Ph.D., but it got my attention as a possibility. Hearing his stories and seeing his current students, they look so happy and I would have loved to been able to continue working with him. He mentioned the field of Positive Psychology to me once and I wanted to learn so much more about it.
I always called him Professor Abela instead of “Doctor.” I felt the word carried more meaning and significance for the fact he was always teaching everyone around him. I truly don’t believe there is anything higher than one giving back to others in their life. He did just that. Professor Abela embodied what a professor should be in every sense.
Two quotes strongly echo in my mind. The first being, “It is not how a person has died that matters, but how they lived.” Professor Abela is a true testament to those words and never has there been a truer example than his life. The second quote is more for all of us. It goes, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” While I did shed tears, I find comfort in the fact I was able to know Professor Abela. I smile because I was able to know him."
The memorial service last week showed how one individual can have an extraordinary impact on so many lives. To give you an idea of how many people he's touched, one of his colleagues and friends created this video as a tribute to him.
Ironically the Friday he passed away, I wrote this post where I said,
"I didn't know I would meet all these people in my life. I didn't know I would lose so many people in my life."It was by chance I happened to write that post with him in it. He asked me where do I see myself in 5 years. I don't know what I answered, but it doesn't matter. At 15 years old, I had no idea 5 years later I would meet such a remarkable person.
I'm glad I had the opportunity.
To finish this off, here's a video for you guys from me. (I could use more practice.)