I once taught a student who did poorly on the first exam, then resolved to make change. This student started attending my sections from a different class because he didn’t clicking with their instructor, so he found one from the others whose content was sufficiently similar whose teaching style better matched his learning style.
And I noticed what happened next. I noticed he never missed another discussion. I noticed he went to office hours every day. I saw how much work he put in.
He lost a friend that semester, to unthinkable circumstances. I noticed his fury the next day, and I noticed how tirelessly he fought to keep it controlled. He told me he wouldn’t let the violence take anything else, especially not his progress in that class.
I graded his final. Every correct answer brought me closer to tears, because I knew how many hours had gone into each one. As you can imagine from the fact that he had one of the highest grades in the class on that final, I absolutely did start crying.
I am so, so proud of this young adult who made the decision not to let a single defeat become a final defeat. I am inspired by his resolve, work ethic, and capacity to succeed.
That’s just one of several students who have become my heroes throughout my short time teaching in a university. Job interviews, program applications, etc., all love to ask the question of who inspires you most. It’s weird to be an educator, because (if you’re doing it right) you’ll end up the answer to that question now and then. But what’s weirder interesting still is that your educators (if you’re doing studenting right) may come to look up to you, too.