From the moment I walked into her class, I knew something was special. Spanish class was going to be great.
I guess you could say Dr. Laurie Massery and I were set up by one of my other Spanish professors. At the end of Spring semester freshman year, Professor Sicurella had us go around the room and say whether we were taking Spanish the next semester, and whose class we would be in. Most of us – one of my best friends included – said “Massery”.
At the end of class that morning, Professor Sicurella came up to me and said “Massery’s going to like you.” Honestly, I wasn’t sure how she knew that. Yes, I like to think I’m smart and I got good grades, but I barely spoke in class. Even so, I trusted her judgment. If she thought another professor was going to like me, that was probably a good thing.
Fast forward to Fall semester sophomore year. It didn’t take me long to figure out what Professor Sicurella meant – Dr. Massery and I were going to like each other. And from the moment I walked into her classroom I did. I liked her. There was something special about her, but I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time.
As the semester progressed, I fell in love with Spanish and I started to become attached to Massery. I tried to fight it – I’d already decided I was going to be an English major, and I didn’t want to “obsess” over a teacher. But I caved in. I couldn’t help it. Massery had dropped Spanish on me like a ton of bricks, and I just had to run with it.
Towards the end of the semester, I was coming out of a meeting for one of my other classes when I ran into Dr. Massery heading out for the night. She was with her husband. She said something like “Oh, hey Marialena! This is my husband. Honey, this is one of my best students.” I didn’t take the compliment very well. I was like “Oh, stop it!” I was sure I wasn’t even close to the best of her students. Still, I felt privileged to have met him. Not everyone gets to meet a professor’s spouse.
On the way back to my dorm that night, I couldn’t contain my excitement over having just met Massery’s husband. I texted the friend I mentioned earlier to tell her. She was just as shocked as I was.
The next day, Spanish class was even better than usual. We were going over family vocabulary, and Massery brought in her wedding pictures. She handed me one of them with her husband in it. She said “Tú conociste ayer!” Roughly: “You met him yesterday!” I couldn’t believe it; I was speechless. After class though, I was still uncomfortable about her compliment the night before. And I told her as much, asking her why she did it. I think she said something like, “Because you’re really good at Spanish.” Still, I told her not to brag about me.
When it came time to choose classes for the next semester, I knew exactly who I’d be taking Spanish with: Dr. Massery. I was in deep; I couldn’t give her up just yet. It wasn’t until Spring semester that I could finally put my finger on why I cared about her: she reminded me of my high school English teacher.
At the end of that year, I knew Spanish was something I wanted, so I decided to declare it as my minor. I thought I’d be ready for it in my junior year, but I had another thing coming. Spanish Conversation with Massery was harder than I thought it would be. We had to speak Spanish the whole time, which, for an introvert like myself, was like a nightmare. Plus, I was lazy. I thought I knew what I was getting into because I’d had Massery before, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When I first realized I was struggling, I wanted to hate Dr. Massery. It didn’t seem like she understood that I was struggling. However, the more I actually thought about it, the more I realized that the root cause of my struggles was my own laziness. And I hated myself for it; I felt like I was letting Dr. Massery down. It wasn’t a nice feeling – she is one of my favorite professors.
When Fall semester ended, I wasn’t happy with my grade at all. But it didn’t scare me – I still wanted to take the next level of Spanish in the Spring. And talking about that class could probably be its own blog post.
So, while I sometimes felt that she was being unfair, I couldn’t stay mad at Dr. Massery. Because I had to own up to the mistakes I made. The truth is, she lit a fire under my ass, and gave me a love for Spanish that isn’t going to go away anytime soon. I can’t thank her enough for that.