I am a fortunate man. I have this awesome job that never feels like work. As I am walking into work in the morning, I have a spring in my step. Are you wondering what I do for a living? Yes – you guessed it – I teach chemistry at Lincoln Land Community College.
The great thing about my job is that it brings me so much joy, and it does so in so many different ways. This may be hard for some of you to believe, but chemistry deals with some of the neatest stuff there is. Talking about chemistry, and sharing it with others, brings me a tremendous amount of joy. But as much as I like talking about chemistry, doing chemistry is even more fun. I enjoy being able to demonstrate chemical principles in class because they will clarify and cement an idea in my students’ minds like nothing else. Frequently I get to see that proverbial light bulb click on in my students. This brings me a tremendous amount of joy.
In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I am a co-advisor to the Chemistry Club at LLCC. Performing science shows for elementary school kids is one of our club’s favorite activities. These science shows have been held at various schools’ Science Nights, for groups that come to our campus, or at our Haunted Lab that we have hosted at LLCC the past three Halloweens. For these young kids, we focus more on the “wow” factor while still giving a simple explanation of the science going on. The true indication of a good demonstration is the number of “oooohs” followed by “do it again!” The expressions that appear on these young kids’ faces at these moments are beyond compare. Their expressions truly warm my soul. Someday, I hope to find out that one of our science shows helped to spark an interest in science for one of the audience members – perhaps an interest strong enough to pursue science as a major. Doing this sort of community service brings me a lot of joy.
One of my personal goals is to try to get to know my students – either the ones that I have in class or the ones that are members of the Chemistry Club. Some I get to know better than others. Here’s where I get to share with you what I consider to be Lincoln Land Community College’s greatest strength. The people that work at LLCC are a family, and we extend that family nature to our students. I can say with all honesty and sincerity that many of my students at LLCC have become a part of my family. This brings me a tremendous amount of joy.
During my interactions with students at the college, I frequently find myself in a position to offer advice. Sometimes, I am even lucky enough to become a mentor. I find this tremendously rewarding. I’ll joke with my kids about converting them all into chemists, but my real goal is to help them find a career that brings them as much joy as my career does for me. That could be a career in pharmacy, biology, nursing or even physics. The thought of helping someone find their path or their calling brings me a lot of joy.
Maybe someday I’ll have you, or someone you know, in class at LLCC. Maybe I’ll get to share my “Joy of Chemistry” with you. Maybe we’ll get to know each other quite well. Maybe we’ll become family. These thoughts bring me joy and put a smile on my face. I look forward to it.