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The Geography Professor, Part 2

June 30, 2010

ASU's Classroom Office Building...where (some of) life's decisions are made

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This is a post that’s the second of a three-part post…to read the beginning of this story, please see “The Geography Professor, Part 1.” and for the final chapter of this story see “The Geography Professor, Part 3.”

So it goes…part of my early return to Tempe in January 1990 involved primarily a search to determine how I was going to make a switch from ASU’s business school to another major.  I think I knew that I wanted it to be Geography, part of the univerity’s liberal arts program…but I needed to interface directly with folks in the department to find out more.

No Small Decision

This was a massive decision, and a seismic shift in my college program of study that would set me back a bit…so I only wanted to make it once.

Part of checking out the Geography department involved an evaluation of the sort of advisement and coaching I’d receive…since my experience in the business school left much to be desired, as I indicated in the first post.  Secondly, I felt that if the switch from Business to Liberal Arts involved a few extra classes as a result of the switch, I wanted it to pay off.  My thinking at the time was that the answer involved figuring out a way to use my degree in a career, which I was undecided on.

Heck, I still hadn’t made a decision on a college major yet!

This represented the beginning of a process of realizing that it was more about following my passion than making money…because, as my folks had advised me prior to my coming back to ASU that winter, “You can’t be focused on the money…that will come.”  I was starting to understand that…I guess I was maturing.

The Final Approach

So it was…I approached the Classroom Office Building on a sunny mid-January day on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.  Mission: to determine if I’m switching my major to Geography.

I was absolutely pumped and excited…because I knew no matter what, any outcome would result in more fulfillment and success than I’d experienced with my college studies up to that time…new possibilities were abound!

The two story structure was partially built into the ground, so I walked up the slight grade of a ramp that took me to the second level.  At the end of a hallway I entered the Geography Department office.  The front office had the dimensions of a medium-sized living room, with rooms at the wings and a couple manager’s offices connected off the back.  The sound of photocopiers whirring about could be heard.

The staff was friendly and helpful as I explained my situation and began asking questions.  While it seems like a small thing, this was really important for me, as my interaction with the staff presented my first impression of the department.

The office staff suggested that I speak with a Dr. Kuby, and glanced at his schedule to see if he was in.  They have made a quick call to his office to see if he was available, and he was.  I was then directed to go downstairs to his office.  When I asked if he was an adviser, the response I got was “Yes, but here the instructors are also your advisers.”

Interesting, I thought.  I thanked them and went on my way to find this Dr. Kuby.

The Introduction

After coming out of the elevator in the bottom level, I entered a doorway that led me through this semi-creepy subterranean maze of halls in this old building built in who-knows-when.  As I looked for the name I’d been given on the office doors as I passed by them, I finally ran into the one I’d been looking for.

It read “Dr. Michael Kuby.”  I knocked.  A friendly voice told me to enter, and I walked into a small office.  A young dark-haired fella, probably around the age of 30, smiled at me from behind a desk.  It was obvious I’d caught him in the middle of working on something, and that he was being nice about it.

“Go ahead and have a seat,” as he gestured to a chair on the other side of his desk.  “I’m finishing something up here, and we can start our chat in a minute.”

I was about to have a conversation that would change the course of my life….see Part 3 for the final portion of this 3-part post.

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