Original Text: You are human. You are bound to make a squirrely choice here and there. I know I have! The good news is that poor choices are great learning experiences. Take responsibility for your actions and do whatever it takes to make that decision “right”.
Commentary: I served my first full-time faculty position at Baton Rouge Community College. It was an experience to say the least (where else do you get time off to celebrate Mardi Gras?)! As a neophyte faculty member, I certainly had a lot to learn. Fortunately, I was surrounded by incredible colleagues, mentors and friends who taught me a great deal about the higher education system. More importantly, these same individuals taught me a thing or two about life.
My friend and colleague (I'll call her Laci because that's her name), wore something of a "scarlet letter" when I first met her on campus. She had a mysterious and sordid history with the other colleagues, although I couldn't quite make heads or tails of it. Eventually, I confirmed that she was indeed branded with a scarlet letter "A". However, in her case, the letter "A" didn't stand for "adulterer". The scarlet letter "A" stood for "addict".
Prior to my arrival at BRCC, Laci had been a well respected English professor. She was, and still is for that matter, incredibly bright and talented. But, even the highly capable have weaknesses. Her only vice was the pursuit of love. She was absolutely in love with the idea of being in love and threw all logic and reasoning to the wind when in the midst of it. In the thick of a whirlwind relationship, she gave into the temptation of drugs and alcohol. Not surprisingly, she was eventually arrested and thus terminated from the college as a result of substance abuse. She lost her job. She lost her good name. And to be sure, she lost the one that she loved.
Thankfully, hitting rock bottom was the wake-up call she needed to get her life back on course. She served her court mandated community service at a crisis intervention call center. She embraced the opportunity to serve and trained to be a credentialed crisis intervention counselor. She volunteered well above and beyond the time required. She was good and what she did and she made a difference in the lives of many.
After a period of therapy, personal growth and sobriety, she was given the opportunity to reinstate her faculty position at BRCC. I have often marveled at her bravery in doing so. It would have been so much easier to start anew where she had no history, no scarlet letter attached to her name. But, she chose to face the very people that had branded her with said scarlet letter (who could blame them?).
Although it took time and an infinite amount of effort, she proved herself yet again as a well respected professor and colleague. She proved that she was indeed that professor with an uncanny ability to inspire and connect with her students. She proved that she was indeed that kind of professor that students would never forget. Laci also proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is human…fallible, imperfect and susceptible to temptations. She undoubtedly made a wrong decision. But, I so admire her tireless efforts to make that decision "right".
Laci still wears a scarlet letter. The “A” stands for “admirable”.