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home : insight & opinion : letters to the editor
November 19, 2018

10/3/2017 2:42:00 PM
Laswell lesson: Step out of comfort zone


On a recent trip back home to Robinson, I passed a sign for Robert Laswell's estate sale. I had not realized that Bob Laswell had passed away, and I write this letter in hopes that his family, or perhaps someone who knows his family, will read this, and will accept my upmost appreciation for the impact Mr. Laswell has made on my life.

I graduated from RHS in 1996. Mr. Laswell taught my sophomore chemistry class. Now, I should preface this story by saying that I was not a student Bob Laswell would remember. I was mediocre at best - just another face in thousands he taught during his long career. I didn't like chemistry. I didn't understand it, and really wouldn't, until well into my undergraduate studies. However, while Mr. Laswell was trying to teach me about valence and chemical equations, he accidently taught me something that I carry with me every day, something that I hope I am teaching my children.

You see, one day, in the middle of a lecture on something or other, Mr. Laswell shared with my class that when he was in high school, he excelled at history and English. So when he went to college, he studied math and science. Several years later, while I was in college, sitting in a comparative literature course, I realized that I needed more. I needed to reach out and find a course of study, find a career that would make me uncomfortable. And I did. Despite being told by my professors, and really everyone, that I was a liberal arts student, I became a nurse.

I am now the Director of Critical Care at a community hospital north of Chicago, and everything I have accomplished is because I learned from Bob Laswell that my time is not well spent being comfortable. Every choice I have made in my career and really in my life has been based upon the idea that once I figure out what I am doing, I have to step away, and do something that I don't think I can.

As I get older, I realize how wisdom comes from the most unexpected places, sometimes with intention, but usually without. I wish I could have told this story to Mr. Laswell, so I am hoping this is the next best thing. He was a great man, a great teacher, and I will always keep a piece of him with me, even though I really was just another student, in just another class.

Emily Watts Jayara


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