Photo courtesy of Hannah Combs
To President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, Chief of Staff Joshua Merchant, Provost Britt Rios-Ellis, and the Board of Trustees:
My professors at Oakland University have taught me not only how to be an educator, but an advocate, and it is only right that I now advocate for them.
My name is Hannah Combs and I am going into my fifth year as a music education student.
Before even starting the fall semester of my freshman year, I already felt wholeheartedly welcomed by my professors. Through the Music Major for a Day program, I had toured the building, sat in on music theory and flute studio, and even had the opportunity to sight read with the Wind Symphony as they prepared for their concert. I sat in on a flute lesson and got to play for and speak with the flute professors. I will never forget the outpouring of support I received from every faculty member involved in this experience. I wasn’t a “fly on the wall” during class, but an individual who was allowed to participate and encouraged to have a voice.
This support has remained constant throughout my entire undergraduate experience. My professors in the music department have pushed me to better myself, helped me create and reach my own goals for my education, and have encouraged me to step up to the plate to accomplish things that would kickstart my career before even graduating college. Some of my most emotionally vulnerable moments of the past year have been in zoom calls with professors after class. I am always met with understanding, care, and genuine human connection. In the wake of virtual learning as I struggled to keep up, my professors sat down with me to create a game plan that worked best for me. When I was unable to attend flute lessons due to overwhelm in my personal life, my professors made sure that I knew I was heard. This is the level of commitment that OU professors consistently display for my colleagues and I. I am not nearly the only one with stories like this.
None of the above is required of them to be quality professors. The selflessness that is constantly modeled for me inspires me as an educator.
I carved out a place for myself in Varner Hall my freshman year, and have steadily grown into who I would like to become as an educator and human being. I absolutely would not be on the path I am right now without my professors. Their commitment to my wellbeing, growth, and pursuit of my passion is the reason I am proud to be a Golden Grizzly.
This is not an “internal affair”. I hope that you will consider the students’ point of view.