Dr. Walpole, head of the math department at Roanoke College, wrote a letter to the Statistics Dept. at Va. Tech on my behalf. They offered me a Fellowship for doing graduate work. The National Institutes of Health was the sponser of that fellowship. Va. Tech, at that time, was one of the top four schools in the country for graduate level statistics. There was much demand for statisticians nationwide at that time. Dr. Walpole had been my teacher for several courses during my undergraduate years and he thought I was a good candidate for the Fellowship. He must have written a glowing letter of recommendation. The fellowship paid all my expenses including room and board and there was some left over. I was in awe of the other beginning graduate students in my classes in the fall of 1961. Many of them had come from big name schools like Dartmouth and Stanford and some were from foreign countries. I talked to them and they made me feel so small and insignificant. My background was indeed insignificant compared to theirs. I was very insecure and felt very much out of place.
Now let's get one thing straight! I am not super intelligent. I made good grades in high school and undergraduate college but I had to study long and hard to get my grades. I had friends who studied much less and still made better grades than I did. I have better than average intelligence but I am nothing special. These other beginning graduate students talked circles around me, how could I possibly compete? A "B" average was required in order to remain in graduate school and to keep my fellowship. I thought I would be very lucky to keep that average. I never worked so hard. I tried working in study groups and I was so depressed, I could not understand what they were talking about. I had to hoof it on my own. A high "B" student from little Roanoke College did not have the preperation that an "A" student from Dartmouth did. There was no comparison. I hated that year in grad school. I squeaked through with a "B" average and the posted grades showed most of the other members of my class had "A" averages for that year. I was not sure I wanted to return for a second year but I did not tell anyone at Tech that.
I had always been a shy kid and had great difficulty standing before a group and communicating. I had to do something about that. I went back to Roanoke College one weekend that spring. I talked to Dr. Walpole about a summer school teaching position. Someone had already been hired but that individual learned that he had cancer just two weeks before my visit that day and he would not be available to teach that summer. Dr. Walpole was delighted I wanted to teach. My mouth dropped and I wanted to run to my old chevy and drive away. Was this actually happening? What was I getting myself into? HELPPPP! I agreed to take the position. I was to teach four classes that summer. That is unheard of in this day and time. A max of two classes is allowed at colleges for summer school now. Teaching four summer classes is like teaching eight classes in a regular semester. I taught Elementary Algebra, Finite Math, Calculus I and Calculus II. I approached my first class in June and I was petrified. My knees were so weak that I thought I would collapse. I sat down fast so I would not fall down. Calling the roll gave me some relief. I don't remember how I got through that day, but I did. Actually I was doing very well by the end of the week. I was amazed.
I was not able to test my blood sugar. I don't know if I ran high or low but it was probably high. I did not know until about 23 years later that counting carbs was necessary for good blood sugar control. No hypos, that was the only good thing about running high blood sugar. I was so accustomed to running high that I did not notice anything peculiar. I always felt that way. It was my perpetual state of being. If I was high there was nothing I could do. There was no fast acting insulin like Humalog available then. I took one injection of my beef/pork insulin in the morning and that was it.
I became a successful math teacher that summer. I was doing this to force myself to lose some of my shyness. I did not intend to ever teach again. I did not know what I would do after graduate school but teaching wasn't so bad! How about that!!!
I told my students at the end of summer school that they could call me at home (my parent's home) and get their grades so they would not have to wait so long for report cards to be released. One of the students who called me was Mary Louise. Cute little thing! She made an A in both Calc I and Calc II that summer. She had the highest grade in both classes. I gave her the exam grade and course grade and then we talked for awhile. It was so easy to talk to her. I felt so confident and at ease. I asked her for a date. She was only three years younger than me. She was happy to go out with me. We made a date and after I hung up I remembered I had a date scheduled with Linda the same day. I called Linda and said I was too busy finishing summer school. So, I lied, but I was really looking forward to dating Mary Louise!!!
A little extra. Not only did my parents never drink alcohol or smoke tobacco but they never used inappropriate language. My sister and I were not supposed to use the word "sex". I remenber one time when my sister and I were preschool age and Daddy was gathering turnips from the garden. He pulled an extra large one out of the ground and said "Boy that is a golly whopper!". Mother yelled at him to never talk like that in front of the kids. She was so disappointed in him. I had never heard her scold him in that way. I guess that is why I remember the incident so clearly. I rarely use a curse word now, even in anger. Only my wife and kids have heard me use a few very mild ones. My sister and I always avoided curse words when we lived at home.
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