One of the most special things about Grinnell is the professor-student relationships we have the chance to build. The best way to talk about this is to simply recount the relationship I have with my advisor. At Grinnell, every first-year student must take a tutorial; every student chooses his/her tutorial from a list given out over the summer. I chose to take Mapping the City, taught by Gemma Sala. One night over the summer, before I left for Grinnell, I was talking to my dad, who happens to be a professor and has had many advisees of his own. During our discussion, we talked about the relationships my dad has built with his former advisees. After years of meeting his advisees -- I have stayed at their houses, been to their weddings, met their children -- I realized that, without a doubt, that was the sort of relationship I wanted to have with my advisor. I was looking for someone who would have a genuine impact on my life.
Insert Gemma Sala.
During tutorial, Gemma was energetic and enlightening. She helped me to grow as a student by creating a safe learning environment that allowed me to make mistakes while always pushing me to be the best student I could be -- on one of our papers in tutorial she gave me an A----. She actually wrote three extra minuses after the A, just to tell me that this was not my best work and she knew it. That is so Gemma. That push and the safe environment she created in class helped me to acclimate into the college learning atmosphere.
Over the last year and a half Gemma and I have built up a great relationship; she is, in some ways, my mom away from home. I meet with her at least once a week to talk about everything from classes to politics to the struggles I have. I know that she is there for me when I need her and it means so much to me. In college you are an adult, you are on your own, but that doesn't mean you are all alone. At Grinnell one of the amazing resources each student has available is a faculty advisor, or any professo, really. All of the professors who teach here like college students and they want to see each and every one of us succeed. Whether you have a question about what class to take, what abroad program to do, or just need to cry, there are professors here that are up to the challenge.