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How the UB history department just changed my life | READER COMMENTARY

James Fitzpatrick was honored during Teacher Appreciation Week in 2012 at Catonsville High School where he graduated in the 1970s. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun).
James Fitzpatrick was honored during Teacher Appreciation Week in 2012 at Catonsville High School where he graduated in the 1970s. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun). (Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun)

May 3-7 has been Teacher Appreciation Week. It fell a few short weeks before thousands of students graduate from college and high school. I was a graduate of University of Baltimore in 2013 from the bachelor of science program in corporate communications. I went through the motions of the next eight years in jobs I didn’t really love all while wondering what life would feel like if I had just followed my heart. Thanks to one of the worst years in the last hundred, I got that shot. I lost my last job due to the COVID-19 pandemic and thought long and hard about what I wanted to do next.

In August of 2020, I found out that I needed 30 credits in a concentrated subject matter in order to teach and when I looked into my alma mater’s bachelor of arts in history program, I realized I only needed 33 to graduate. My professors, Joshua Davis, Nicole Hudgins and Bo Ram Yi, have been the most incredible teachers of my life. They have taught me how to think about history, both here in the United States and throughout the world, from an incredibly open perspective. They have been compassionate and supportive. They have taught me how to lead the classroom with empathy and courage (”University System of Maryland Board of Regents approves tuition, fee increase for 2021-2022 school year,” May 6).

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It takes a lot of strength to lead a classroom of any subject matter, but in this writer’s experience, especially in history in 2021. Not all liberal arts programs get the recognition they deserve. I hope the University of Baltimore’s history program knows that, to me, they are a truly special team and I would encourage everyone reading to not only follow their dreams, but to thank all their mentors along the way.

Derek M. Chavis, Baltimore

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