When I was a graduate student, I was very serious about my work and committed to making A’s and doing my best. While taking a graph theory course, I remember working hard daily to learn and Learnunderstand the many proofs coming at us each week. I knew that I would never be able to reproduce any of these proofs on a test if I didn’t learn them and understand each step involved. To help me with this endeavor, I purchased the poster-sized Post-It Notes and carefully wrote out each proof in different colors. I hung them all over my apartment walls; they became my wall art for the time being. I studied them day and night as I spent time at home. I practiced writing them out on my own to see if I truly understood it and to discover what I might not understand. I think it is safe to say that I put forth a great amount of time, effort, and sacrifice. However, it paid off because I made very high A’s on all four tests and was exempt from having to take the final exam! In addition, I can honestly say I learned the content of the course.
I currently teach college algebra and while helping my students get prepared for their upcoming test, I was telling my students the above story about my efforts in graph theory. I was using it to demonstrate that to learn something we must work and put forth effort. Afterwards, one student even made the comment, “You’re like someone on the Big Bang Theory or something!”. Of course I laughed and took that as a compliment.
It occurred to me, at that very moment, that there are so many students out there who haven’t a clue what it means to work hard. It may sound simple, but for me, it was one of those “a ha” moments—-Learning requires time, effort, and sacrifice and it is every bit worth our time, effort, and sacrifice! The knowledge and experience that we gain and the discipline it takes to acquire it is invaluable and can build our character in ways nothing else could. I look back on my college days of hard work and stress and many moments of confusion and cherish it as a special time that shaped who I am today.
I encourage all students working towards a worthy goal to know that it will all be worth it in the end! Keep going!