Christina grabbed her things and left the dorm. She didn’t wear a bra, but she didn’t think anyone would notice.
The early morning office meeting with Professor Kelly was scheduled for 9 am sharp. Christina waited in front of the office. The professor wasn’t there yet.
By 9:13, the professor walked briskly down the hall carrying a stack of papers and her purse. Professor Kelly was a tall voluptuous woman that moved gracefully. Her presence was commanding. She could be stern if necessary, but she was mostly friendly. Even in her middle age, the students considered her to be the ‘cool’ professor on campus.
“Sorry I’m late,” the professor said.
“No problem at all.”
Professor Kelly struggled to reach for her keys while her arms were full, but she managed to open the office door.
“Please, come in. Make yourself comfortable.”
The professor put her stuff down in the messy office and she sat behind her desk. Christina sat across from her.
“You seem busy this morning,” Christina noted, looking at the mess.
“I’m always busy,” the professor replied. “Try grading midterm essays for over a hundred students.”
“Yikes. I can imagine.”
Professor Kelly leaned back in her seat to relax from the already busy morning.
“So, what can I do for you, Christina?”
“I was hoping to get your advice on some things.”
The professor nodded. “Let’s hear it.”
“I’m almost finished with my degree in English and a minor in Women and Gender Studies. I’ve already spoken to my parents and I want to pursue a Master’s in Literature.”
“You sound like you’ve made a firm decision.”
“I have,” Christina replied. “I want to become a full-time novelist someday. I think a Master’s degree would help improve my credentials and writing abilities.”
“Don’t you know that most novelists live tortured lives and are destined for poverty?” the professor joked.
Christina gave a faint smile, “I’m aware of the potential consequences.”
“What kind of novels do you want to write? Any ideas?”
“I have some ideas that I’m working on. Stories about women’s lives. The struggles they experience. Different cultures. Things like that.”
“So how can I help?” the professor asked.
“Well, to be honest, you’re my biggest writing influence. I’ve read all of your novels. I love your writing style and themes of female empowerment.”
Professor Kelly gave a faint smile and nod. “That’s very kind. Not many students have read my novels.”
“That’s unfortunate. You’re amazing.”
“And I’m assuming you need some tips,” the professor said, eyebrow raised.
“I was hoping you could give me some pointers on a possible thesis paper.”
“So you want me to be your mentor.”
“Something like that,” Christina nodded.
“I don’t have a problem with that. You’re a wonderful student and a great person. I enjoy mentoring students.”
“I hope it’s not a burden, though.”
“Not at all,” the professor replied emphatically. “I became a teacher for this very reason. I feel like this is my contribution to the world. You’ll know exactly what I mean when you become a successful novelist someday.”
“You’re the best. Seriously, you have no idea how happy this makes me.”
“I’m glad. But I have to warn you, I’m always busy. I teach a lot of classes and I mentor a lot of students.”
Christina nodded. “That’s fine. I understand.”
The literature class had an emphasis on women of color.
It was a mid-sized classroom with over 50 students. Most of the students were white females. The professor gave a lecture on the assigned reading, and the students simply listened.
“Pecola is a very complex character, as you’ve all read,” the professor lectured. “She is someone with a deep longing to become something. Perhaps one of you could share your thoughts as to why Pecola wishes to have blue eyes.”