Here at Whitman College, we are so lucky to have such incredible professors. Not only that, but the size of our school makes so many brilliant minds (and wonderful people) extremely accessible. I have already met some great folks who have enriched my time here and ignited my passion for learning, as the best of them should (and do).
Professor Ana Maria Spagna (pronounced like lasagna) is one of these aforementioned folks, and is absolutely wonderful both as a teacher, and as a person. She is a visiting professor, meaning she’s only here for the year (which is such a bummer), but I have had the privilege of being in her Intro to Creative Nonfiction class this fall. And let me just say, she is SO cool. She works for the Forest Service, and teaches and writes on the side from her little log cabin in a tiny town in the North Cascades. She’s an author of many personal essays, and a young adult novel, to list a few, and was recently spotlighted as a participant in Whitman’s annual Visiting Writers Reading Series that brings established and emerging writers to campus to share work with the community.
In the days leading up to her lecture, she joked with our class, “You all better come so I won’t be speaking to an empty theater”.
I was not about to miss this lecture (or leave my lovely professor to speak to an empty room!), and literally ran over from lifting weights to arrive just in time. Professor Spagna introduced herself and her work, then launched into a statement on how happy she was to be teaching great students at Whitman. She thanked us, her students, for sharing our stories with her in class, and said that now it was her turn to return the favor (a few other people just happened to also be in the audience). It was so incredibly sweet and I felt so connected and lucky to be in her class and know her as a person. And her writing was wonderful. So after the lecture, my friend and I found her and told her what a great job she had done and how lucky we felt to be her students. Her reply: “No, I’m lucky to be your teacher”.
It’s things like this that make it special to be in college, and specifically here at Whitman. There are so many amazing opportunities and chances to really connect with professors and students that aren’t possible in any other environment. The people here are all so multifaceted, and it was really special to get to blur that line between the classroom and the “real world” with Professor Spagna.