My Inspirational Professor: Dr. Brem

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Victoria Bankowski
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As I sat in Professor Toni Brem’s Microbiology class I kept asking myself, “what did I get myself into?” Taking this class was sure to be a challenge for me. Up until that point I managed to breeze through the classes at my community college without much difficulty. Walking into Professor Brem’s lecture on that very first day of class intimidated me, making me sick to my stomach. But through this challenge and perseverance I managed to learn a significant life lesson.  

I was afraid to breathe.

Microbiology is rumored to be the most difficult course within my major. I feared I was destined to fail with an instructor who had a reputation of being tough. I studied her mannerisms and took note of the softness of her voice and her delicate facial features. With her hands in her lab coat pockets, she tapped her leg patiently waiting on the attention of the class.  In those first few moments I came to realize that Professor Brem had a great deal to offer through her demeanor.  Without saying a word, her posture and actions demonstrated that she demanded the full attention of her students. She took pride in the knowledge she had to offer for those who were there to learn.

Facing Fears

I was very intimidated by her stature, as was the rest of the class. When Professor Brem spoke, we listened.  However, I had a difficult time comprehending the technical lingo of Microbiology. One morning I found myself walking past her office where she sat quietly working on her lesson. She asked me if there was anything that I help with.  I managed to tell her I was scared to death of her class, and what she was teaching was so difficult to comprehend.  She shared ways for me to learn the material and promised her door was always open.  

Gaining Confidence

After that talk with Professor Brem, I began to interact with her more during class, lab and after class. It was nice to know that she wanted me to succeed and her mannerisms were evidence that she was a professor who truly cared about all her students.  I began to celebrate the possibility of making it through her class. One day after lab I stayed to talk to her about applying to transfer to several universities.  Professor Brem thought I should apply to her alma mater, the University of Michigan.  I thanked her for believing in me, even though I questioned even being eligible for such a prestigious university. Professor Brem encouraged me further by telling me it would not be an easy task but she felt I had the makings of a good student.  Apparently I reminded her of a time when she was in the same place.  I walked away with a smile on my face. I was determined to cherish the kind words she offered to me.  

She pushed me to believe

Not only did I survive Microbiology that semester (I earned an A in the course!), but Professor Brem also inspired me to apply for a college I would have never even thought to consider due to its prestige.   I am pleased and proud to share I am a University of Michigan Wolverine.   Professor Brem’s patience and guidance over the semester helped me to take pride in the direction I was heading.  It was her belief in me that pushed me to believe in myself.  Her words of encouragement will continue to manifest in my head.   I could not have done it without her.   I pray that I make her as proud of me, as she has managed to make me proud to be a part of her path.

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