The Power of Encouragment

Gene McIntyre, class of 1960, in the Heart of Oak yearbook. (Photo by Heidi Hoffman)

TODAY HE MIGHT BE CALLED "AT RISK," uninterested in school and unsure what to do with his young life. But Gene McIntyre '60, found unexpected encouragement and used it to fuel a long and successful career in education.

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After the service my mother, not so sneakily as I knew what she was up to, invited them to our home for lunch. To my surprise, they appeared interested in me, telling me in the course of our conversation that I was not to worry about declaring a major because most frosh students took the same courses their first year and that, even though I did not possess a strong academic record, there would plenty of help with studies.

Recognizing that brevity can be a companion of grace, the short of this story is that I enrolled that fall, on a provisional basis mind you, but was able to achieve a 3.5 GPA at the end of my very first semester. Part of that achievement was due to the fact that for the first time since elementary school, staff and professors, like Mr. Trombley, Dr. McVicker, and a whole host of others at Pacific took an interest in me and that made a giant of a difference in basic motivation and general interest.

It worked almost like magic! By the end of my first year I had developed a desire to learn, even found learning fun, and achieved an overall GPA close to 4.0. I never looked back after that; ultimately, I graduated with honors. I taught in a public middle school for a few years after graduation and, with the foundation laid at Pacific, I went on to earn an MA and PhD and to work in education and training positions my entire work life.

In large measure, I owe what I achieved in academics and my professional work to what was fostered and encouraged at Pacific University. My success is a testimony to what a group of dedicated teachers and staff can bring about through a caring, supporting, learning environment.

My experience at Pacific is an old story with a timeless moral: Young men, young women, too, are sometimes not mature enough in high school to recognize the importance of learning and don’t apply themselves. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that while it’s rather easy to write someone off because their behavior leads people to see them as a “lost cause,” that judgment is often premature and inaccurate.

View Gene's Boxer Tale Video

Gene McIntyre earned a M.A. in history from the University of Oregon in 1965, followed by a Ph.D. in Education from UO in 1969. He retired in 1999 after a career as a teacher, staff development specialist and administrator in Oregon public schools. He lives in Keizer, Ore.