Modern Thanksgiving 2013 - to my teachers

If you can read this, I should thank my teacher.

This year’s Gallery of Gratitude thanks two of my college faculty members who influenced my life so many years ago.


What’s a modern thanksgiving?

Every year, I take Seth Godin’s suggestion we adopt a modern thanksgiving. This recognition celebrates "the people in our lives who give us the support and love we need to make a difference, and the opportunity to build something bigger than ourselves, something worth contributing." I call it my Gallery of Gratitude.


My 2013 Gallery of Gratitude

I never thought much about writing until Dr. Jan Haluska got a hold of me. I only took creative writing for the credits. It seemed like it might be fun and made sense for a Communications degree.

Gallery of Gratitude 2013

Some decisions seem so innocuous at the time but in hindsight prove to be life changing. 

The details are cloudy. I remember trudging up to the third floor of a new building. A tall thin man with an enthusiastic smile welcomed us. He instructed his new students to banish mediocre words from our vocabularies. No longer would we describe anything as “nice.” We would search for an adjective that was more specific, unambiguous, accurate. 

And so began my love affair with words. Dr. Haluska’s classes were some of the most inspiring moments of my life. 

Right after my first assignment, he summoned me to speak with him.

“You’ve got talent,” he said. “I want to you to talk to the editor of the school newspaper. Tell them I sent you.”

With Dr. Haluska’s recommendation, the newspaper hired me on the spot. The editor then assigned me the biggest story of the week, the school’s presidential inauguration. 

It was my first professional high. 

For the next 20 years, I would seek out career opportunities that afforded me the opportunity to write.

Writing was not something I wanted to do, it was something I had to do.

Across campus, I got my first photography job. I poked my head into the public relations office to see if they had any openings.

“We need a photographer. Can you take pictures of pretty people for us?” Doris Burdick asked. She was wicked smart with a dry sense of humor.

Of course, I thought. I’ve been taking pictures all my life. 

Before I knew it, I was entrusted with a couple Canon AE1s, my own darkroom, and what seemed like an unlimited supply of photo paper and chemicals.

Doris didn’t just employ me, she mentored me. She taught me how to take photos that were pretty as well as strategic.

Thanks to key influences, I was taking photographs for the school’s brochures and writing for the paper. I found my purpose thanks to the encouragement and guidance of Jan Haluska and Doris Burdick.  To them and all the other teachers who instructed and inspired me, thank you. You have earned this year’s modern thanksgiving.

What about you? What's on your modern thanksgiving list? Share them with me in the comments.