I'm waiting for my first journalism class to start and this old guy - furrowed brow, straight mouth, really mean looking - walks up to the classroom with very deliberate steps. His shoulders are pushed forward, not hunched, but just enough to show the subtle seriousness in all his movements.

He unlocks the classroom door, walks in, and the students waiting (including myself) follow. There is silence as he unpacks his briefcase onto the desk. The air is chilly enough to be slightly uncomfortable, but maybe that was just the awkward Freshman-ness that we were all radiating.

"Oh, shoot!"

We all look at our professor.

"I forgot the syllabus."

No one knows whether to laugh or look indifferent when suddenly, the solemness of our professor's expression dissolves with a shy grin. There is nervous laughter, but I'm giggling sincerely.

He begins class anyway, pacing slightly as he talks. He speaks softly, but not too softly. Deliberately, but not intimidating. I notice that he taps the tips of his fingers together nervously when he's thinking of what to say next. And he smiles a lot.

He begins to tell a story, but not before telling us that he has a lot of them, about a girl he once had in one of his beginning journalism classes who failed her final exam - and the class - because she forgot her books and notes (which are allowed to be used). Four years later, she's back in the same class with the same professor (him) because she can't graduate with her upper division journalism classes because his class was a prerequisite to all of those. This time around, she aces the class and graduates.

Moral of the story: Take class seriously? No. Be more responsible? Kind of. Bring your books and notes? Exactly.

This year is going to be a great year.

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