It’s about 5pm right now. In two and a half hours I will be taking my last final at UCSB. In five and a half hours I will have completed that final. Unbelievable how time flies.
Really, truly- time does fly. It feels like just yesterday that I was trekking from my dorms on campus to IV Theater for Keith Hess’ PHIL 3 class at 8 in the morning. I was so excited, so grateful to be able to have the opportunity to learn from an entire faculty of distinguished scholars. Since that day I have completed over 40 classes here at UCSB. I have been instructed by and worked with countless professors. I switched my major four times. I’ve made the honor roll, failed classes, done research, and made a difference on campus. After three and one-third years here, I am proud to say that I made the most of my time as a Gaucho.
All week I’ve been thinking about that first class with Keith. Keith Hess was, and is, one of the best teachers I’ve ever had in my life. He was able to get a room full of hungover, naive, sleepy freshman excited about the logic of philosophy for an hour at 8am three times a week. Not only did he make the topic seem relevant and interesting, but he demonstrated a level of concern for the well-being of his students that I have rarely seen repeated. All the way back in freshman year Keith was the first teacher I made time to go to office hours for, not because I needed help, but because I found him intriguing, and the material he studied very cool.
We talked for about an hour that day about his work, his path as an academic, and what I could expect for the next few years as an undergraduate. I came back to his office several times during the quarter for such talks. Keith became a mentor for me, putting me in contact with colleagues in areas I was interested in, and constantly going above and beyond to find answers to the dumb questions freshman Andrew peppered him with.
Besides helping me so much to find out what to do with myself that year, Keith provided me with a standard of excellence that I came to expect from all of my teachers. And while I can’t say that every teacher I’ve had lived up to this standard, many have, and thanks to Keith I realized that professors are the single most important resource you can take advantage of as a university student. After that first quarter with him I made it a point to make personal relationships with almost every professor I’ve had in college, and it paid off immensely.
Before I return one last time to my bittersweet, final routine of pre-test cramming, I want to give a sincere thank you to Keith, and every single teacher at UCSB who has changed my life in immeasurable ways. Without these professors and graduate students working as role models, mentors, teachers, and friends, I would not be the man who I am today, full of knowledge and ambition that I can be proud of.
So here’s to you Keith; if I never see you again in this life, let’s hope you’re right about metaphysics and Ill see you on the other side.