When I first came to Smith, I was 46 years old. I was working full time; and, at that time, I had 4 kids in college. I promised my kids (and myself) that I would join them as a college student. But college was rigorous, and I doubted my ability to be successful.

I was a Sociology major, and I found Marc to be a wonderful teacher. He was also a compassionate fellow human. I told Marc of my doubts; I was a slow reader and slower indeed at producing papers for class. Marc told me that he too was a slow reader and writer. How could that be? Marc was a successful professor and author. Marc directed me to look up at his office window when I walked around campus at night. I did look, and I would always see a light on there; that was him working late, taking his time to finish.

Marc told me: “It’s okay to be slow, just give it the time that you need to get the work done.” This stayed with me all these years: take the time you need. I took the time I needed to be successful and graduated Smith with honors and went on to graduate school at Harvard University.

As Executive Director at The Literacy Project, I have had the opportunity to pass Marc’s words along to many other adult students: take the time you need to finish successfully. Taking the time is key to educating ourselves, to successful teaching and learning.

Judith Roberts portrait

Judith Roberts, Executive Director, Literacy Project