Former student of Tracey McKenzie
2009 Outstanding Community Colleges Professor of the Year
Willard Intercontinental Washington Hotel
Nov. 19, 2009
When I was invited here by Dr. McKenzie to introduce her, the first thing I asked her was, "Why me?" Her reply was so simple, yet so touching. It was a reply that illustrates the essence of who she is-an individual with clear vision, a kind heart and a pure soul. She simply said, "There is no one else." It was so automatic. They are simple words, but when spoken so sincerely from the heart, they change lives. They make people feel valued, appreciated and inspired; and she speaks them unpretentiously. I cannot begin to tell you the honor that I felt. Obviously, I agreed, as I am now standing here before you.
Approximately two hours later, I thought, "What have I done? How can I possibly stand in front of so many people and find the words to capture who she is and what she does?" How do you wrap up the quintessence of someone in a few minutes?
A few days later, I read an article from Time magazine that was written in 1989 by Edward Desmond. He had interviewed Mother Theresa and asked, "You feel you have no special qualities?" Mother Theresa answered, in her usual, modest way, "I don't think so. I don't claim anything of the work. I am like a pencil in His hand. That is all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it. The pencil has only to be allowed to be used."
Mother Teresa's answer reminded me of Dr. McKenzie. Within both of them lies a level of humility and raw honesty that few people possess; but for them, it is organic. Perhaps it is innate in all of us, and we just get so wrapped up in ourselves and our own advancements that we bury it. Yet, I believe we all hold the capability to acquire that way of being. I learned this from Dr. McKenzie. She is a true inspiration. She has a way of seeing the world not only as it has been, nor as it is, but as it is becoming. She envisions a world where collaboration will inculcate all of its diversity into an interconnected society, and she instills this vision in others. This is imperative as we continue to evolve universally.
Mahatma Gandhi said, "You must be the change you wish to exact in the world." Dr. McKenzie is that change. With a little humility, a little selflessness and a recognition that, though we should celebrate our individuality and place in the world, we are but a tool, that if allowed, can be used to project this world into a wiser, more connected, more accepting, less judgmental, all-inclusive state. Dr. McKenzie challenged me as she challenges all of her students, to be this change, and I in turn, challenge you to do the same.
It is with immense pride and an immeasurable amount of respect that I introduce to you, Dr. Tracey McKenzie.
Nominate a professor for the 2012 awards program.
View 2014 photo gallery
Purchase 2014 photos
Copyright © 2006-2015 Council for Advancement and Support of Education