The core of the liberal arts education is to forge a diverse, well-balanced, and driven student body primed to dominate the vocational and academic world. But this education is only as good as the professors who teach it.
As first-year students, we all go through the dreaded connections seminar. Boring stuff you don’t care about, right? Well, taught by the right professor, it doesn’t have to be. This is my experience with Dr. Christina McSherry.
Dr. McSherry is an adjunct assistant professor at Franklin & Marshall College and happens to be my Connections professor. I am taking ‘Remember Me: Commemoration & Culture,’ with her, even though I’m not particularly interested in commemoration or culture.
Yet, Dr. McSherry makes the class interesting. I’ll be honest, I never read any Shakespeare in my life. But reading Shakespeare’s Richard III under McSherry brought the text greater enjoyment because McSherry made it fun. Aside from my dance with death brought by COVID, I read the entire play front to back.
I could list McSherry’s laundry list of academic accomplishments, from her Ph.D. at the University of Nevada, Reno, to being a rare F&M alumna among the faculty. But more importantly, McSherry is personable and interesting. She brings a lively mood to the classroom unique to F&M that we risk losing if not given tenure.
Dr. McSherry doesn’t have tenure and she also lectures at Gettysburg College. Diplomats risk losing her perspective on campus because another college could give her a better deal, so we should interject first. Are we really going to risk losing McSherry to Gettysburg? Where’s the Diplomat pride in our alumni and quality of faculty? If we can beat them in sports, we can beat them in our academics, too!
But why McSherry?
To keep it short and simple, there are thousands of professors in the United States, but there is only one Christina McSherry. Growing up, there were three teachers in my immediate family, including two Ph.D.s, so it was drilled into me what a “good educator” is: someone like Christina McSherry. The academic reputation of F&M is bolstered by her warm presence on campus. She’s always responsive, in my experience, to the concerns of her students; she offers wise counsel when her students are lost in the maze of the college experience; she provides a joyful introduction to every topic introduced in class.
What makes Franklin & Marshall special is the communal atmosphere on campus. Housing a little over 2,000 students, F&M is not a research university. While Stanford University’s Bishop Hall can seat hundreds of students for a lecture, F&M prides itself in the peer-to-peer experience of learning. McSherry’s time as a Diplomat gives her the competitive edge that academics from the large universities of Boston, New York, and elsewhere can’t: a personal connection with her students. The knowing feeling of wintertime on campus, the inner workings of F&M’s college houses, and the rigorous schedule the bureaucrats of Old Main demand from us.
To end on a lighthearted anecdote, my friend and classmate’s mom stalked Dr. McSherry’s LinkedIn page, which McSherry found hilarious and shared with my friends after class. Withholding their name to avoid embarrassment, it was very funny and an excellent example of the lighthearted approach McSherry brings to campus life.
Franklin & Marshall College should give Dr. Christina McSherry tenure because she is invaluable to the experience of her students. Not only a strong academic, McSherry is a humorous person, mentor, and emblematic of what Diplomats should aspire to be.
Freshman Richie Dockery is a Staff Writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.