I love writing reference letters. No, I really do. And before you say it’s because you haven’t written that many… no, I really have. Not 30 years worth, but my fair share.
Why? Because when I write students reference letters, I get to think about who they are now and who they are going to become. Sure I write about what that student has already accomplished, but I also write about the student’s potential and what I envision for the student’s life. I write about the best of who that student is. I dream for the student. And I show the student that I truly believe they have what it takes.
When I’m writing for my students I think back to the professors that wrote me reference letters before. I think of how they believed in me and gave me a dream about who and what I could become when I was too lazy to do it on my own. When I was too afraid to. When I didn’t think it would matter because I didn’t have what it would take to make it even if I did dare let myself dream. When I thought what they were writing had to be made up because it sure didn’t sound like me.
When I see students that I’ve written letters for and they appear down or life’s got them questioning whether they can really make it… I email them or recite to them a line or two out of the letter. I remind them that I know that they can do it. And then I tell them that they better make the words in that letter ring true. And I think of those that did the same for me and realize someone did it for them too. It’s a cycle, I guess, and one that I consider it a privilege to be a part of.
And that’s why I love writing reference letters.