After graduation

This is what Fisk Quad looks like the Monday after graduation, after the Class of 2006 has left the proverbial building, underclassmen have moved home for the summer, and workers have removed meticulous rows of folding chairs.

Today my heart feels similarly empty after having learned yesterday that my undergraduate advisor and ongoing mentor, Dr. David Hoch, died in March. When my freshman Readings Conference professor, Mary Sue Cave, died two years ago, I wrote a tribute that Dr. Hoch read at her memorial service. Today, I want to tell you just what Dr. Hoch meant to me, the way his professorial example and the time he took to take a truck driver’s daughter under his wing made all the difference in my academic career, but I find I have no words this time around, at least not yet. Dr. Hoch’s obituary makes him sound like a remarkable guy, someone who loved teaching and took the time to interact individually with his students, but those are just words on paper. If you want a true testament to the power of one good teacher, just consider the “Doctor” in front of my own name: I’m certain I wouldn’t have stayed in school to finish my Bachelors’ degree much less have gone on to grad school and gotten a doctorate if I hadn’t had Dr. Hoch’s ongoing support and example.

Someday, when words return, I’ll write to Julie Hoch to tell her how her husband changed my life, but right now, I can’t find the words. This morning, I walked Reggie up Beech Hill in a drizzling mist, but it wasn’t raindrops that made the trail blur before my eyes. Sometimes you just feel empty, entirely at a loss to describe the impact of a life well-lived.