StellaKalaw_DoreenFernandezIn the light of the recent passing of the great Robin Williams, many tributes to his character John Keating have been coming out. I love John Keating. He is a kind man and an inspiring teacher.

I am reminded of my real-life John Keating, my real-life Captain, my kind and inspiring college professor, Doreen Gamboa Fernandez.

I was fortunate to be in her classes for all of my freshman English courses, and in her Journalism class during my sophomore year.  She was a famous food critic and author. To the Ateneo de Manila University community, she was a well respected scholar and patron of the arts. To a doe-eyed freshman college student like me, she was this motherly figure who taught kindly but firmly about literature and writing. After her little red marks regarding punctuation or tense and before the big letter grades on the end of my papers, she would always scribble a quick note of feedback and encouragement. In English class, she picked the best writing of each student and compiled them into a class anthology so we can share and appreciate each other’s work.

English has always been my favorite school subject. Writing has always been my passion. To have Doreen Fernandez as my English and Journalism college professor, as the one who would not only instruct me in the better ways of writing but also encourage me to pursue it was a joy and a privilege.

Doreen passed away in 2002. To you, Ma’am Doreen, thank you for your prescription at the end of my Journalism paper: “You must keep on writing.”

(Photo by Stella Kalaw/wikipilipinas.org)