As the majority of the Simpson campus has heard by now Steve Shafer passed away on Sept. 1. Just last semester, he was one of my teachers.
Unfortunately, I was not one of the most gracious students. I was easily frustrated with his failing health, and too focused on passing the class to see how sick this man truly was, and how dedicated to the students and the school he must have been to have remain teaching in such a delicate time in his life.
I’m writing this on Sept. 2. I was in Brian Steffen’s office when I got word of Professor Shafer’s death, and as News editor, I was assigned to this breaking news story since I was available. For the first time in my career of writing, I sat down and just stared at the screen. The words were in my head, but my fingers wouldn’t move. My heart was aching for his wife and the children he left behind, but I had to write this story. The newspaper was counting on me. My advisor was counting on me. The students needed the news. Fight back the tears, push aside the emotions, and write the story. But wait, you can put emotion in the story, but no bias.
For those of you actually reading this, I’d bet that you think being a journalist is easy. I challenge you to do what some of my writers did this week. Wake up, go to class, go interview President Byrd, go to class again, then go interview the Mayor of Indianola. Not challenging enough for you?
Try having three classes, and then running six interviews and taking pictures for all of those people you just interviewed. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. It’s my passion, but it’s not easy. Having to write a story, quickly, about a person you know who has just passed, is one of the hardest things I’ve encountered yet in my career.
I am the first person to admit there are things I take for granted in life. The fact that Professor Shafer still had office hours and was willing to meet with students when he clearly needed the rest is probably the biggest thing I took for granted. Another thing was the fact that he came to class when many of the students, myself included, felt the need to skip because we were so frustrated.
I challenge you again, all of you, to not take your professors for granted. Go see them during office hours. Let them know that you appreciate their time and effort. Believe it or not the teachers at Simpson want to see us succeed, and some of them are more passionate about our success than most of us are about our own success.
I will admit to all of campus right now that I do not tell anyone in my life enough how much I appreciate them and the work, love, joy and passion that they bring to my life. It is truly a blessing that they keep me afloat in my darkest days, and for that, I am truly sorry.
So go out and surprise the people you see today. Go tell every person that you encounter who has every made even the tiniest bit of impact on your life that you appreciate them. Whether you’re still in touch with them, or whether you haven’t spoken in years. If you see them, or happen to stumble across their name, drop them a line. Make it count because you never know what could happen. Spread the love, and make your appreciation known.