I received something very special in my snail mail this week: a college paper I had written more than 28 years ago when I was a senior at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
My journalism professor, Randy Jesick, sent it to me when he was cleaning out files.
Jesick is an extraordinary professor who cares deeply about his students and their success. He demonstrated that time and time again when he was my professor and even now, by caring enough to keep the work of his students - and return it decades later.
This particular paper was an assignment for a sports journalism class. The class was asked to request sports media guides from several universities around the country and analyze them.
I open the 19-page typewritten piece - wow, I’m feeling old - with noted frustration.
“I knew that I had mailed the request letters out a week ago, so each day I raced down Oakland Avenue, past Sheetz Kwik Shopper, Wyoming Mall, the Newman Center and Arby’s Roast Beet Restaurant to get to my mailbox in Carriage House, and usually the mail wasn’t in. But I patiently waited. When I saw the blue “mail is in” sign finally go up, I’d rush to my box, fling it open and - I’d find my roommate’s (Jody) paycheck from Burger King or Jane’s “Redbook” or Joann’s nutrition club newsletter or Kay’s letter from her friends in California. After shuffling through all this, I’d find that they weren’t there.”
This sounds like an elaborate excuse by a student who waited too long to request the guides and now was trying to explain why I didn’t have enough to analyze. Doesn’t it?
I received guides from Texas A&M, University of Tennessee at Martin and Tennessee Technical University. Honestly, I don’t know why I targeted these schools.
I noted my dismay that the New Orleans Saints never responded.
Randy bailed me out though, lending me guides from the University of Kansas and the University of Louisville.
I clearly knew how to brown-nose.
“I hate to end on a bad note,” I write as I close the section about the University of Louisville’s guide, “but I would be remiss in my duties as an IUP journalism major if I didn’t point out an horrendous piece of writing on page 83. ‘Where information is available their occupations and residence is listed.’ This lack of subject-verb agreement is appalling, but I guess I have to forgive the writer since he never had Randy Jesick for sports journalism.”
There was no grade on the paper, though there were various corrections of grammar and punctuation.
One of the many things I really liked about Randy was that students could be completely honest with him.
I wrote that I didn’t mind doing the assignment, though I found it “time-consuming.”
“I did learn things about football,” I wrote, “but I must admit that I would rather have been drinking Molsons at the two-for-one night at The Brewery.”
What was I thinking?
I definitely should have gone for a merlot.