Ask a Professor: Who inspires you?

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Wearing a hat given to him by a former student, professor Daniel Andresen poses for a portrait. Andresen is a professor of computer science. (Rowan Jones | Collegian Media Group) Photo credit: Rowan Jones

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All of us have been inspired by someone else. Whether that’s our friends, parents, siblings or historical figures, there’s someone we look up to and hope to be like someday.

These Kansas State University professors reflected on who inspires them and why.

1. Family

Marsha Frey, professor of history, easily rolled off a list of people who inspire her.

As newlyweds, her parents both enlisted in the armed forces during World War II — her father in the Pacific and her mother in the Atlantic. Frey also has a twin sister who lives in Montana. Her sister is ill, so Frey visits her regularly.

“She’s very ill, but never complains — she’s always very positive,” Frey said, smiling. “She believes you can’t control what happens to you, but you can control your reaction to it.”

2. Friends

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Wearing a hat given to him by a former student, professor Daniel Andresen poses for a portrait. Andresen is a professor of computer science. (Rowan Jones | Collegian Media Group) Photo credit: Rowan Jones

Daniel Andresen, professor of computer science, reflected on a longtime friendship that inspires him.

“My friend Eric, who listens so well, and asks such good questions,” Andresen said. “Doesn’t hurt that he also loves diving deep into interesting topics that we can geek out about.”

Andresen noted how refreshing and satisfying it was to be heard by Eric.

“[I] started imitating him in my own relationships, and now have multiple students who stop by for talks and jokingly refer to me as ‘Father Dan,'” Andresen said. “Real, genuine conversations are awesome.”

3. Students

Alice Boyle, assistant professor of biology, said her answer was easy.

“My students!” Boyle said. “It is the grad students and undergrads who do research in my lab, the students in my classes and the others that I meet through clubs, biology field activities — including at the Konza Prairie — and departmental events.”

Boyle said meeting new people has helped her understand different points of view.

“Each of these people has a story, a reason they are here at K-State learning and contributing, and each will benefit from different information, opportunities and kinds of support,” Boyle said. “For me, the challenge is figuring out what I can do to help each student thrive. I’m especially motivated to try new things and to work harder at meeting each student’s needs when I learn a bit of the personal stories.”

4. A good community

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Heather Bailey, assistant professor of psychological sciences, poses for a photo near Bluemont Hall. (Rowan Jones | Collegian Media Group) Photo credit: Rowan Jones

Heather Bailey, assistant professor of psychological sciences, said she’s inspired by anyone trying to better themselves in the community, whether that’s students, colleagues or older adults who work in her lab.

“Recently, I was at a teaching workshop on campus and looked around to see some of the strongest teachers here at K State,” Bailey said. “I was very inspired by this because these individuals are great at what they do, but they are striving to be even better. I also love to have students swing by my office when they are struggling with a concept from class or when they have new ideas. Their drive to learn inspires me to be better.”

Olivia Rogers is a community editor for the Collegian, the secretary of the College Republicans at Kansas State and a junior in political science. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and the persons interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.


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I’m Olivia Rogers, a junior in Political Science and Prelaw. I enjoy a good cup of coffee, witty television and acoustic music. I write because: “Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving.”― Madeleine L'Engle