Here are four happy, short stories from the last few days.
1- I came into my office the other day and found a bag of freshly-roasted coffee beans along with a note. They were left by an alumnus from several years ago for whom I recently wrote a letter of recommendation. I'm drinking a cup of this coffee now, and as I sip it, I remember the great experiences this alumnus and I had during his undergraduate studies and think of all the great things he will do during his career.
2- A more recent alumnus recently contacted me to ask if he could have access to the assignments he did in one of my courses. He wants to use them to hone his skills as he continues his job search. It's great to see these assignments find utility beyond the initial constructed learning experience.
3- Yet another alumnus just announced that he got into the doctoral program of his dreams. I had worked closely with him in his undergraduate years and have great faith in his potential, as I mentioned in my letter of recommendation.
4- In the morning, a team working in Unity3D described a software design problem that—unbeknownst to them—is perfectly solved by the state design pattern. I pointed them to my blog post on the topic, and after they read it, I provided a bit of design help. By the end of the day, they had developed an understanding of both the state and observer patterns by incorporating them into the project.
There are a lot of places to read about the problems in higher education. I know—I've spent a lot of time reading them. For today, though, I want to share these more uplifting stories. These kinds of stories make me proud to be a professor.