Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A great little story of a single mom and an organic chemistry lecture

I enjoyed this story of an organic chemistry lecture and a small child by Professor Susan E. Swanberg: 
Longer ago than I care to mention, I was a single mother with a young infant. Too poor to afford a babysitter whenever I needed one, I had to bring my young son to the lecture portion of CH226 -- organic chemistry. I saved my pennies to pay for a babysitter when the laboratory sessions were scheduled. I could bring my son to lecture sessions, but couldn't bring a baby to the laboratory where we synthesized and analyzed chemicals that are banned from college labs today. 
This arrangement worked fairly well for a while. I would sit at the back of the classroom with my infant son on a blanket next to me. As he grew older, however, he became more restless. He was no longer satisfied to play for an hour with his fuzzy toy and pacifier.
One day during lecture, my son started fussing. I picked him up and took him out into the hall where I bounced and cuddled him, hoping against hope that he would calm down. Not more than a minute or two passed when I heard my name being called in a quiet, gentle voice. I turned and saw the professor heading my way. 
"Susan," he said, "I took a vote, and your baby isn't bothering anybody. Come back."
It takes a professor with a lot of heart to do that.  


  1. One of my students brought his pre-K son to my recitation. After I asked the class a question, the boy ululated piteously and I said, "No, that's incorrect." The class erupted.

  2. And thus I a) found a new blog to follow, b) filled out a survey around science blog readership, and c) found the follow up entry where the blogger found and contacted the professor again http://www.scilogs.com/tenacious-telomere/my-conversation-with-professor-x-a-stem-story/

    Great story, much better than working this afternoon!

  3. This story warms my cold, cold heart.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20