I was chastised by a student last week. She had been told that I didn’t like for my colleagues to tell students I had a doctorate in English. “You should not be ashamed,” she said. “It’s an important thing.”
She then told us a bit of her story. Her grandfather was a medical doctor in Argentina who fled the country during the Dirty War to ensure his family’s safety. He accomplished that but was never able to practice medicine again. Like many students from immigrant families, she felt proud of her grandfather’s sacrifice and duty bound to make something of herself to prove worthy of it.
Of course, not all people’s stories are awe inspiring. Some folks don’t make it. Some become angry, bitter, resistant to instruction, or afraid to try. In our line of work, we see those people as well. But instead of judging them, let’s take a minute to think about the journey behind the person we see in front of us. When we know the story about the appearance, we still may not like the person, but we’re often a little more empathetic.
And for the record, I’m not ashamed of my doctorate. I was just making the point that a doctorate in English doesn’t necessarily mean I know every comma rule by heart 🙂