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Professor Kenan was a light in a school that made me feel so lost. My first semester of my freshman year, I was struggling. As an honors student from a rural area, I had no idea what I was in for and even less of an idea of how to navigate it. I was signed up for Professor Kenan’s introduction to fiction writing course for first-year students, and if I’m being completely honest, I was dreading it. I am a pre-health major and was not interested in taking this class in the slightest bit.

I still remember the first day of class; all of my other courses were these lectures and assignments that took the rug out from underneath me. I walked into the classroom and noticed there were only 14 other students, already such a major difference. Rather than beginning with content, he had us draw a picture of a horse on the board in front of the classroom while introducing ourselves. He made our class feel like a community that we could all express ourselves in. Professor Kenan had a way of pushing us to grow not only as writers, but as students with each assignment he gave. He made us feel comfortable enough to read our papers to classes with peers we barely knew.

Our final assignment was a short story about anything we desired. When it was first assigned, I remember feeling overwhelmed because I had never written anything of that nature, in length or style. Professor Kenan guided and mentored us in every step along the way and made it to where the assignment was something to look forward to rather than a chore. He was honest and kind and careful in the way he mentored us. I soon realized that when I was having a rough week, the time I had with Professor Kenan would always put me in better spirits. His class was my saving grace first semester.

I want to express the gratitude and joy I feel when I reflect on my time with Professor Kenan. My only regret is not getting to experience his wisdom and pure love for teaching longer. Thank you Professor Kenan.