Keep Smilin’ with Rosie Preston – Don’t ever sell yourself short


By Rosie Preston

The year was 1980 and I had registered to attend Gadsden State. Unlike in high school, I sat as close to the front as close as possible. My English teacher, Dr. Glenda Selman, explained what would be expected of us in her class while informing us that she never gave a student an A because that was perfection, which it could not be accomplished. I took notes as quickly as I could write them down. Truthfully, she scared me to death!

One of the first assignments was writing a research paper after looking at a list of books to read.

Keep in mind that these assignments were before a computer was in everyone’s home. I chose a book by Graham Greene called “The Heart of the Matter.” It did not take long to read, but the act of putting a paper together was another matter. At that time, everything had to be recorded on index cards. Every reference found had to be included with a quote from the book, the person who had written a review, and on, and on, and on.

“The Heart of the Matter” was a short love story but my research had me going into a much deeper meaning than just reading for enjoyment. I do not think I had ever put the amount of time into what turned out to be a huge task. But I was determined to do my best.

After a few weeks, I finally finished the essay and rested. I wondered if I had done well. A few days later, I received a call at home from Dr. Selman, who asked me to come to her office. I didn’t know what I had done wrong. Had I committed the sin of plagiarism?

I was shaking in my shoes when I arrived at Dr. Selman’s office. As I sat down, she greeted me as she slid a paper across her desk and asked me to sign it. Oh, my word! I just knew I had failed. After I signed it, she sat back and asked me if she could teach from my research paper!

Sighing relief, I told her that she indeed could do so. We spent a short while together as she tried to convince me to major in English and not just become a high school teacher but a college professor like herself. And she offered me a scholarship, to boot! By this time, I was over the moon!

I explaining to her that I could not accept the offer because I could not go to college full time since I owned a pair of childcare centers and had two children who needed my attention. Turning down Dr. Selman’s offer was not a tough decision, because family had to come first. But since then, I have not forgotten her words, her compliments and her vote of confidence. It felt good to think that maybe I was smarter than I had ever given myself credit for!

I have that first assignment in my cedar chest where I keep the most important things I’ve saved during the years. My hope is that someday my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will find those belongings discover my time as a student who received an A- in Dr. Selman’s class. I hope that someday they will be proud of my legacy that their Nana was a writer/author. I’m happy to say that I have been recognized while I’m out and around town, something like, “Aren’t you the Rosie who writes for The Messenger newspaper?”

Yes, I am indeed that Rosie. I am also that little four-year old girl who copied my neighbor’s schoolwork by placing a blank sheet of paper on top of hers. I am also that Rosie who has loved to read and write since the third grade. I am also that Rosie who, somewhere along the way, became a shy and nervous girl who did not believe in herself.

I remember when I regained my confidence when I opened two daycare centers at the age of 30. My shaky voice and knees were no longer defining me, and for the first time in my life, I spoke clearly and felt proud of my accomplishments. Even though I had not earned a college degree, I had achieved many situations to be proud of. To this day, my goal is to inspire my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to believe in themselves. If they can do that, they will be capable of achieving anything they want in life!

Keep smiling, Rosie

Contact Rosie Preston at

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