(fifty seven) or saving professor nolan

I’ve talked about Professor Bridget Nolan before on my blog, but now I’m dedicating a whole post to her. She’s been at Bryn Mawr for three years, each year having been told she was only going to work for the year. Well, students have fallen in love with her, and she’s fallen in love with us right back. Since her initial hire, she has been offered two more 1 year contracts. Unfortunately, the end of this year is approaching, and as a senior I really am nauseated by the idea of losing another amazing professor because of factors outside my control.

Let me begin by telling you about how I met Professor Nolan- my junior year, one of my friends told me that she had just had the best class taught by the best professor, and I needed to take a class with her. Apparently, she was only here for a year, so I needed to sign up FAST or my chance would be gone forever. Having always wanted to take a sociology class, my decision was pretty simple, so I signed up for an intro level course taught by Nolan.

The class was amazing, but what really blew me away was Professor Nolan’s dedication to her students. She was accessible in ways that other professors wouldn’t even consider (TWO office hours?? Times picked by STUDENTS?? unreal). She would take time out of her non-working times to come and help students who were struggling learn in ways that made sense to them. She made classes interesting, but also made classes hands on in a way that helped students who would have otherwise fallen silent be able to participate. Plus, she really cared about the personal lives of her students. When I was anxious in class, she made a point to talk to me afterwards to see if she could do anything in the classroom to help me out, or outside of it.

As time progressed, she was offered another one year contract. Students would FLOOD to her classes just to try to get a course taught by her. Yes, she taught basic intro level sociology classes, but she also taught classes such as “Sociology of Harry Potter” and “Sociology of Terrorism and Counterterrorism.” I was lotteried out of her classes because so many people wanted to take them. Classes are always filled to the brim with her, and she always handles the classroom with poise and grace.

PLUS she used to work for the CIA which is pretty cool. She’s super open about her career choices, and her life path. As a stressed out senior, I appreciated being taken into her office, given a piece of chocolate (gluten free and vegan options also available) to talk about the stress of the future and what the sam heck I can do about it. She’s always been a strong supporter or me, but she’s been just as strong and active in other peoples lives.

I love Bryn Mawr, but BMC won’t be the same without Professor Nolan. I’m happy that she was here for my senior year, but I want to be able to pass on the same learning and networking opportunities I had to other students. Part of me is really sad, but the other part of me wants to be able to help Professor Nolan, and maybe pay back 1/2 of what she’s given to me.

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