April 20, 2006
Letter to Support Barbara Hoffman’s Nomination for the CASE Award
Before I even went to Marywood University, my mother told me to make sure I had Barbara Hoffman as a professor while I was there. She knew that Barbara’s creativity and uniqueness would complement mine, and I would feel right at home in her class. From the first day of Writing Skills in fall of 2003, I knew my mother was right.
On the first day of class, a small woman wearing white face paint stood at the door of classroom 115, waiting to greet me and welcome me into her dungeon. She described to my class that day about how she was a clown, a harlequin to be exact, and then she walked on the tables gracefully and delicately. I had never before experienced such a fantastic display by one of my teachers, and I would not soon forget it. That semester I wrote down every word she wrote on the board, everything she had to say, and I listened attentively to every presentation she made during class. A field trip to the graveyard further impacted my impression of her, especially after she described the funeral once given to her by former students, as well as the gravestone they purchased for her. I had never met a professor who was so creative and hands-on with her students, bringing them right into the piece they were writing, so they could not just write it but feel it, too. I made up my mind, from that point on, to take every class of hers that I possibly could so that I could share as many of her experiences as possible.
From Writing Skills to Introduction to World Literature and from Creative Writing to Mid and Far Eastern Literature, I’ve done it all. But no one, not a single professor at Marywood University, could do it like Barbara Hoffman. Throughout each of these courses, she has brought in more historical artifacts, relevant books, and miscellaneous pieces than I have ever seen in my life. I feel as though she has taken me around the world with her and back many times over, without the airsickness. It is because of her that I long to travel to India. After we studied that nation and its culture and literature and discovered what a gem of a country it truly is, I wanted to make it a part of my life. It is also because of Barbara Hoffman that I have a broader look on our world, a greater sense of what goes on, and a deeper respect for cultures other than my own. If she had not taught about China, Japan, or India the way that she did, I would still be living in the dark, wondering why those cultures are as they are, rather than relating them to my own culture and beliefs in a civil manner.
In short, Barbara Hoffman has made an impression on me that no other teacher could ever touch and has brought out skills hidden within me that I never knew I had. I have been able to express myself through writing, painting, and even acting thanks to the variety of ingenious assignments and projects she has allowed me to do. On occasion, I have been able to see her outside of class, in her natural habitat, doing what we all do best: eating. Moments like those I wouldn’t trade for the world, and I have been known to plan my life around a class outing with her.
In my eyes, and the eyes of so many before me, Barbara Hoffman is the greatest living relic ever to walk the earth, being able to share so much with so many people in her short lifetime. To be considered for the CASE award is a great honor, but as I have shown, she has already received the admiration and appreciation of hundreds of students who have had the privilege of being in her class. I hope my opinions are regarded heavily in the decision for the winner of this award and that Barbara Hoffman’s name will remain high on the list. Thank you for your time and consideration, just as we thank her for coming into our lives.