The enduring impact of a caring professor or other faculty member cannot be overstated. Without that supportive environment, it is all too easy for students to drift, allowing their circumstances to dictate their future. When I began at Wake Technical Community College in the fall of 2013, my circumstances were not ideal. I was battling both depression and anxiety, which made attending classes immensely difficult. I had initially found some peace in creative writing; however, the black wave of my mental illnesses engulfed me during the next semester, and I withdrew from my courses.
Two months after withdrawing, I received an email stating that my work—which I had submitted during the fall semester—had been chosen for publication in The Wake Review. The magazine was holding a ceremony to honor the published authors and artists, and I was invited to attend and share my work. Due to my anxiety, I nearly skipped the ceremony, but I swallowed my fears, attended the ceremony, and even read my piece aloud. Afterward, I spoke to the Editor-in-Chief, as well as one of the advisors, regarding the possibility of my joining the staff. When I mentioned that I was currently not enrolled as a student, the advisor, Mrs. Mandy Kelly, said that she was excited by my interest, and she looked forward to my joining the group when I was ready to continue college.
When I started attending Wake Tech again in the fall of 2014, I joined the staff of The Wake Review, and soon enough became the Editor-in-Chief. I worked closely with Mrs. Kelly, who always encouraged me to seek out the help I needed – both academically as well as mentally. Mrs. Kelly always extended kind words of encouragement when I was afraid to speak in front of my staff members or classmates. When I began struggling with my anxiety again, she made sure that I found my footing on solid ground once again. Many times, she has offered to help me in any number of ways, some of which are not even academic or literary magazine related. Mrs. Kelly was not simply an advisor; she was a friend.
I doubt that Mrs. Kelly is aware how much she inspired me to become a better version of myself. When I withdrew from classes in the spring of 2014, I had no game plan for my future. Since Mrs. Kelly offered me the position of Editor-in-Chief, I found my passion and my path. Not only was Mrs. Kelly the catalyst for my returning to school, she also helped me prove to myself that I can be a successful student receiving an education while battling mental illnesses, and eventually overcoming them. Mrs. Kelly’s support made me realize that I can do things I never dreamed possible. When I graduate from Wake Tech this May, two years after believing I couldn’t, I will be thanking Mandy Kelly for her never-ending encouragement and inspiration.