Barbara Jo Scott
Principal Consultant. Speaker. Executive Coach. 2BE Consulting, LLC
I was the first person in my family to complete both an undergraduate and graduate degree, and I did so with high honors. As my academic advisor, mentor and professor, Dr. Ruth Ellen Porter was a major influence on my academic choices and professional career. She is an accomplished, passionate and intelligent professor and role-model. She was also the first person to see small-town me—thus, helping me to see myself—as an academic with exceptional intelligence and talent. Her personal interest in my studies, ideas and opportunities inspired me to work incredibly hard to achieve my goals. She also encouraged me to believe I was capable of much more than I dreamed possible.
Learning to write well is learning to think well: critically, clearly and reflectively. Effective communication is one of the most valuable skills you can hone, but the ability to communicate is only as valuable as your ability to think before you communicate. Dr. Porter is as much a philosopher as she is a gifted writer and teacher. I have never met anyone like her in all my years and travels. I reflect upon and apply the lessons learned in her classes (decades ago) to this day and envy those lucky enough to work with her today. Great teachers are rare gems. Make the most of your time and studies with her.
Mark Ezra Stokes
Ruth Ellen Porter reignited within me a passion for education that had first surfaced in my toddlerhood. That passion would eventually fade from years of trivial memorization, along with my own obsession with meaningless numbers on report cards and standardized tests.
In college, however, in a very specific classroom, synapses began to reignite.
I was required to enroll in a critical theory course taught by my division chair, Dr. Porter. This, I assumed, had nothing to do with my intended goals as writer, though it seemed I had no choice if I wanted the fancy new “creative writing” degree.
Within days, I found myself sitting across from her desk after each class, feverishly scrawling titles of recommended scholarly works. I bombarded her with questions that—no matter her workload—she always seemed to have both time and the enthusiasm to address. (As an educator myself today, I see just how difficult it can be to maintain such a mindset in the midst of endless obligations.)
Without exception, Dr. Porter made her students top priority, and it made a tremendous impact on my life.
Not only did she guide me toward philosophical titans who would fill in the gaps of my critical thinking, but Dr. Porter was the driving force behind my decision to pursue graduate school.
With her urging, I took the ideas discovered from her classroom and infused them into my grad-school application for my top-pick university. I soon found myself in that university’s classrooms, blazing further down the path I’d started as an undergraduate on the other side of Dr. Porter’s desk.
Though I entered grad school not knowing as much about cinema as my graduate-level peers, I offset my ignorance with the foundation of critical theory. I soon soared to the top of my class for both my M.A. and my M.F.A. degrees, and I found successes in multiple roles in the film industry.
Ruth Ellen Porter has a genuine and contagious passion for human excellence. As I scan my shelves today of Porter-vetted texts, I’m elated to hear that she’ll continue to spread that passion to a new generation of would-be influencers.
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