Students have that one professor who, for lack of a better phrase, makes them “wake up and smell the coffee.” One such professor has made a drastic impact on my life, and I am extraordinarily thankful that there are individuals like Dr. Sean Connnable, of the Department of Communication, who truly strive to make each students’ learning experience far greater than a lecture in a classroom (in fact, you can easily find him lecturing on the Great Lawn when it’s a beautiful day).
I met “Doc” my first week of freshman year in my introductory leadership course. As student after student filed in, attempting to find the perfect seat so they either will be easily noticed or easily forgotten (which never happens when Doc’s around), I struggled to figure out just who this professor was … he had this smirk/smile on his face like he was about to perform a great speech and instantly capture every students’ attention. Of course, I found myself to be thinking this because I had just come from my Acting 1 class, and performance was obviously on my mind. Little did I know just how right I was as Doc opened his mouth and some strangely familiar words filled the room:
“Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion.”
The class just stared. I think one guy in the back muttered, “…what?”
Doc laughed and asked if anyone knew what it was from. I was scrambling to think but honestly was so caught off guard that I had no idea what the answer was (that and maybe because I hadn’t read The Glass Menagerie in more than four years) and Doc continued to laugh. Clearly a new way of teaching, he utilized Tennessee Williams’ words to make us think and to make us question, rather than blindly follow the professor’s word as gospel. Despite the opening monologue being the only aspect of Tennessee Williams that Doc enjoys, something I do not think I will ever forgive him for, Dr. Connable is the type of professor that completely “gets” his students and wants to see them succeed.
A vital member of the Communication Department and a profound faculty member at CNU, one should easily consider themselves lucky to have such a remarkable and truly unique professor. Hardly a pushover because of his warm and inviting personality, Dr. Connable asks you why you think the way you do and what made you come to such conclusions about the topics at hand. This, on the surface, appears to be an obvious aspect of a professor, right? Wrong. Of course, the faculty want to know what you think the answers may be and how you came to such an answer, but Dr. Connable does not just want any answer – he wants to hear your interpretations and ideas, right or “wrong.” Having this type of education at CNU has allowed me to cultivate my own opinions and ideas without fearing being incorrect; not because I’m never wrong (haha, I’m wrong more than right!) but because I now think critically to support my thoughts so I can better explain myself rather than merely regurgitating facts to pass a midterm. Dr. Connable doesn’t want you to memorize pieces of information and repeat it; he wants you to state why that piece of information is important to begin with.
Now, after three years of babysitting his wonderful children (another way he started his class: “OK, who can babysit my awesome little boy, Gideon?”) I view Dr. Connable as an extended family member. Christopher Newport University’s faculty is honestly one in a million and I consider myself blessed to have had such a wonderful and eye-opening experience here.