Dordt's Welcome Mat

"We're a Welcome Mat, Tori--always willing to work with you."

These were the words of my soccer coach, better well-known as Professor Elgersma, an English prof. He was giving me not only the benefit of wisdom and advice from years of experience, but also the emotional support that I needed as I tried to figure out my schedule for next semester, let alone my entire Four-year-plan--always such an uneccesarily stressful event for me.

His illustration was an odd one to me at first, but it is very accurate: a welcome mat is always there, and always says the same thing. Just so, Professor Elgersma is always, ALWAYS, willing to stop what he is doing and talk--talk about school, soccer, or life. But he was not just referring to himself with this accurate (and humble) illustration; he was referring to the whole English department, and he was right. Every time I have come in to talk to one of the English professors, they have been more than willing to stop and answer any questions I have. 

When I think about it, I have never been turned away by a professor in any department, saying, "Sorry, I'm busy--can you come back later?" The same day that I talked to my coach, I also popped in to talk to my advisor (without telling him what time I was coming) and he spent the next hour helping me on my schedule and my major.

Beyond these professors, all the professors I have had have been more than willing to work with me when I had to miss classes and sometimes tests for soccer, or when I needed help outside of class. Many of them have taken the time to ask me how my season is going, or how a particular game went. But even the professors who don't know me as a soccer player have taken the time to know me as a student and a person. Early this semester I was surprised when a professor that I had last year, for a larger class, greeted me and used my name.

I remember that coming in as a freshman, I felt like just another face in the crowd. Yet I noticed right away that upperclassmen often had personal relationships with their professors. I was not expecting was to have professors learn my name my first semester there, and to see me as a person, not just another freshman. Yet they did, and since then, they have only been more and more helpful and generous with their time and words and wisdom. So what can you take away from this? As an incoming freshman--or someone in any grade--don't be afraid of your professors. They're the Welcome Mat of Dordt college, even if takes a few times of coming and going to notice how much they're worth.