A study was conducted amongst the students in one of my research classes in the commencement of this semester. This study investigated common traits undergraduates students yearned for in a professor? Conclusively, when the results were analyzed the overriding traits which stood out were: enthusiasm, genuinely passionate about their work or concentration of study, engaging, creative, challenging, and when the professor realizes they are teaching to individual not just students. Sam Richards epitomizes what students long for in a professor.
The first time I met Sam Richards was in 100 Thomas in a class of about 5 to 6 hundred students. I had heard great things from other students which pried me to take the Soc 119 course, but as I walked into the biggest classroom on campus (let’s be honest) I had my doubts. How can one little guy captivate the attention of a boisterous assembly of 600 students for an hour and 15 minutes? The ambience was set with music playing in the background and students trickled into 100 Thomas. Well 2:30 hit and it was time to listen to this mysterious man I had heard so much about. Astonishingly, it was the quickest hour and 15 minutes I had had yet in college, and yearned for more each and every day. Sam, spoke about things I never even knew I had the permission to speak about, he pushed me in ways that were foreign to me until the time I had taken soc 119 course.
Due to all this fascination and self-exploration I felt it was is essential to go to this professor’s office hours and thank him personally. So I did. Just once, for a brief 20 minutes I got to speak this man, he shared and was ironically genuinely interested in who I was. In a class of 600 students you think a professor would disregard one moment a Haitian student named Chrivi came to visit him, especially given the number of students which bombard his office within his office hours. But that would be average. To describe Dr. Richards as average would be hysterical, and I am certain all who have met or taken his class would agree. That summer, a whole semester after the completion of the Soc 119 course, I received an email from my mysterious professor with interests of visiting my home in
! I knew this man was cool, but I didn’t know he was crazy. Given that fact I had only briefly met with him once almost six months ago, I was shocked he even remembered me and then traveling to what media describes as one of ‘poorest country in the western hemisphere’ and putting his life at risk due to the insecurities and riots which had been going on at that time was unbelievable. He later explained our conversation had evoked his curiosity and he wanted to visit, so he did! I must admit felt pretty special having a professor come visit my home thousands and thousands of miles away from the comforts of State College PA. Haiti
Since that day, my relationship with Dr. Richards has only continued to grow. I was a TA for Soc 119 that following fall and am currently a facilitator on the Race Relation’s project where I have the privilege of disposing the keys of opportunity, challenge and fascination Dr. Richards bestowed upon me. He has served as a mentor, a man of wisdom, sincerity , diligence and dignity. I am honored to have such a wonderful friend. He is my family.