Loyola University Chicago, Comm 100 students and their flawed but brilliant teacher, Admiral Ralph Braseth (ret.)

my class This is about 25% of my class of 35 students. Comm 100 is a course designed to help students successfully navigate their way through the School of Communication by pointing out key faculty and staff, learn the names of those who provide boots on the ground support to students. And it’s also designed so that students will have a greater degree of confidence upon completion. I make sure those important points are covered as well, but that’s not my only job. I want to infuse in them a passion for communications be it journalism, film and digital media, general communications and advertising and public relations. I dare them to write well, to get up and freely express their ideas with no judgment, to learn to critically examine the world around them and truly pay attention because awe and wonder are everywhere. This class lends itself to departing from a syllabus if something better comes along that is scheduled for that day. Loyola students are strong academically and competitive. I don’t always think that’s a good combination. Some students want to know precisely what it takes to earn an A grade. Because this course is pass/fail, I beat a different drum. For a semester, a grade be damned and instead, I insist we focus on learning in joyous form, learning for learning’s sake. I want them to get to know each other. I want them to establish friendships and long-lasting relationships. People in our discipline are always a bit nervous about employment prospects after school. Teachers may have told them things are bleak. Moms and dads read about the collapse of media. They perhaps spoke to a burned-out professional. The truth of the matter is this: there has never been a better time to be a communications student. The opportunities grow by the month. Many of these students will create their own jobs. By week four they loosen up because they suspect what I tell them is true. Finally, learning should be a kick in the pants. Laughing out loud is always rewarded somehow. Mocking me is fine, too, provided there’s some creativity involved. I aspire to help students to understand that being them is more than good enough. Laugh with each other. Maybe cry about the all-to-real examples of total and complete unfairness others endure. Perhaps stopping to honor an act of kindness from afar. I tend to keep up with my Comm 100 students. When it’s time to graduate, they will be ready for their teachers to unleash them onto the world with the charge of living with courage and serving others. It happens less often than it used to, but damn, I’m not dead yet and I’m as passionate as ever about teaching and learning and hanging out with smart and really fine young adults. I have such a privileged position. I’ve never hid my strongest motive from students. I want to make a difference in their lives. Heck I even want them to owe me something like visiting me in the nursing home when I’m running from the nurses with underpants on my head. I suspect this is going to be a great semester.

Author: N2OO2

Journalist and journalism professor.

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