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Today is my first day of class teaching at the University of Houston and the celebration of my tenth year doing so.
Each semester is a new adventure. During the last ten years, I have been privileged to teach different courses and meet many amazing, wonderful students. Due to my increased work and life responsibilities, I have only taught one class for the last few semesters.
That class is Women in Politics – 3390. Admittedly, I love this class and the students who enroll in it. The hunger to learn about women’s history of engagement in the political process and the honor to teach it are mutually beneficial to me and the students.
Each semester, society engages in some new activity that also presents endless fodder for the subject matter’s current events discussions and women in the political process. This year, the opportunities for discussion are endless. We’ll be able to focus on individual women seeking political office as well as the mere topic of women as it plays out during the Presidential election. This is that rare semester that comes only once every 4 years where I will have the opportunity to teach as the nation selects its leader.
My absolute favorite thing about teaching at the University of Houston is the students. One of the most diverse campuses in the nation, UH students reflect society’s rapidly changing demographics. The mix of students enrolled in the class always teach me as much as I teach them – about cultural differences around the world, about amazing women who have overcome the odds, and about what is like to be the first generation in your family to break expectations and attend college.
My passion for teaching this class allows me to share with students the importance of having good mentors. As a result, many students reach out once they have graduated and we stay in touch for a long time. Many former students land jobs in the public affairs arena and I then have an opportunity to work with them as professionals. Four of my former students are on the staffs of Council Members at City Hall and I see and talk with them frequently.
During a recent vacation, I connected with a former student in Chicago and his charming girlfriend. He had just finished law school in Illinois and we have always stayed in touch. My son and I joined he and his girlfriend at their favorite pizza place. I posted a picture on Facebook. When I came home, people asked me about it. My response, “Yes, I stay in touch with students who want to stay in touch. I’m so proud to see them succeeding in the world and share their joy!”
Countless letters of recommendations have been sent to law schools and graduate programs and innumerable calls and emails have provided advice on political engagements, jobs and much more.
I can’t wait to meet the class of Fall 2012 today and start our adventure together!