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You don't know what you got 'til it's gone

by Beacon Staff • April 11, 2013

Last week, the National Book Foundation announced its judging panels for the 2013 National Book Awards. Jabari Asim, an associate professor of writing, literature, and publishing, was chosen to serve on the nonfiction panel. In an interview with the Beacon, the executive director of the foundation lauded Asim’s ability to approach difficult topics with humility.

This announcement is only the latest reminder of the tremendous resources that students of all majors have available to them in the school’s faculty and staff.

Each department at Emerson has numerous professors who, in addition to teaching, have successful careers in their respective field. Emerson is expensive, and one reason for this expense is the high caliber of professors and advisors that our school employs. This isn’t high school, where educators are often locals with a vague interest in the courses they teach; the professionals that comprise Emerson’s faculty are often at the cutting edge of their respective disciplines.

But unfortunately, not all students in their classes appreciate the breadth and depth of their professors’ wisdom. People complain about seminars and workshops; hey pound out assignments without taking heed of their instructors’ comments and advice. And that’s a shame, because the opportunity to have professionals with industry accolades critique your work, answer your questions, and share their knowledge is truly priceless. As professionals working in the fields they instruct, Emerson professors can offer a quality of advice and guidance that is nearly unparalleled.

We hear a lot about this college’s “Mafia” — the legion of alumni who we’ll find in the real world and who will guarantee us a job once they see “Emerson” on our resumes. But it’s the people we meet while in school, the ones who are showing and telling us how to best take on our chosen fields, that will actually make us ready for those jobs.

Whether you are a second semester freshman or a final semester senior, time is running out. Once we graduate, opportunities to find accomplished professionals — as instructors, mentors, and friends — will be much harder, if not impossible, to come by. If you leave school as an aspiring short story writer, a freelance journalist, or an actor with a demo reel,

you’ll like spend a lot of time and effort trying to get anyone to pay attention to your work. Right now, Emerson employs top minds who are here to do just that.

So the next time you’re invited to a professor’s office hours, think carefully before you decline. LinkedIn’s one-click connections, after all, can never run as deep as the relationships you can form at Emerson.

Eric Twardzik, a managing editor whose thesis advisor is Asim, did not edit or contribute to this editorial.