It was a Sunday afternoon and I was sitting comfortably in a chair that was on display at Ikea. I noticed an older, tall, lanky gentleman pushing what I assumed to be his grandson in an Ikea shopping cart. He looked over at me and we both took a second to register that we knew each other. It was Dr. Ingle!! One of my favorite professors from graduate school. My memories of Dr. Ingle are:
- His raspy and labored voice. I always thought he sounded like the male version of Carol Channing.
- On the first day of his class, the first thing he says to us was, “A week ago today I was surfing off the coast of China,” and he really had been!
- He taught the Leadership class and him and I and only one other person in the cohort shared a leadership strength that not many people in the cohort possessed. It is called Woo. Woo stands for winning others over. You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and getting them to like you. Strangers are rarely intimidating to you. On the contrary, strangers can be energizing. You are drawn to them. You want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that you can strike up a conversation and build rapport. (Check out StrengthsFinder, its pretty interesting to find your individual strengths)
I was impressed that Dr. Ingle had remembered me because I graduated over four years ago and I was just one of the many students in his long career of teaching. We chatted for a minute and he introduced me to his cute little grandson and his daughter. Then he brought up Shenice (this isn’t her real name but for anonymity, I am using this name).
The story behind the story:
I met Shenice at work about a year and half ago, she was the friend of my coworker in the next cube over. We began chatting eventually because I would join them in their conversations about work, gossip, shopping, etc. Shenice learned that I had earned a graduate degree in Public Administration. One day she asked me about it and I explained to her what a great experience it was and encouraged her to apply. She is the mother of two boys, works full time and has a supportive significant other (sounds familiar). So she applied and got accepted! I was so excited for her. I was excited that she would become friends with others in her cohort, she would get a trip to Washington DC and trip to either Seoul, South Korea or Vietnam (her choice) and that she would probably learn things about herself and more about the world around her (as I did).
She has now completed the first class. It was hard and she second guessed herself wondering if she could do it. She struggled writing the papers and struggled with understanding the material. I get it. During my first class I literally thought to myself, “What the f**k am I doing here?!” My cohort was made up of people that worked for the mayor of their city, a nurse, a lawyer, a police officer, assistant deputy director of a county health department, a leader for charter schools in Portland and the list goes on! What work was I doing at the time? Literally, inputting UA results of parolees into a data base system. I felt I was waaaaay over my head. I thought maybe I was the program’s “project student.” The following Monday I called my professor and told him I didn’t think I could do it. He assured me I was right where I was supposed to be and connected me to the “den mother” who was actually a man named Davis. Davis’s position was to offer support to students when needed. I received an email from Davis encouraging me to continue and that I was more then capable of completing the program just as everyone else. His letter was so sweet and so supportive it brought me to tears!!
Back to Shenice. She struggled with the first class, I edited a couple of her papers, listened to her as she vented about the difficulty of the class and I empathized with her completely! Shenice is now in Dr. Ingle’s class which brings us back to Ikea………..
During my chat with Dr. Ingle he brought up Shenice, knowing that she also works for Multomah County parole/probation. He talked about how she is struggling and feels like she is over her head. He said he wants to give her all the support she needs and encouraged me to give her support as well. We both agreed that she can do the program, she is smart, capable and has such leadership potential. We parted with our hands in the air, saying “Let’s help her do this!” I was touched by Dr. Ingle’s care and concern for Shenice and I was reminded that sometimes we may have an idea or goal that we want to reach and may feel like we can’t do it. Life is too short not to do it. Face our fears, take one baby step at a time and we may be surprised at the support and encouragement we receive from those around us and surprise ourselves with what we can do. The student who was just doing a data entry job when she started the program ended up earning an achievement award for outstanding professional development.
It was a good reminder.
For more information on Portland State’s Executive Master’s of Public Administration program visit: https://www.pdx.edu/cps/executive-master-of-public-administration