Kathleen Kelly-Wilson leaned casually on her desk and watched the students for the new fall term file raucously into the massive auditorium. In her tailored, gabardine suit with crisp, white blouse and her auburn hair swept neatly into a chignon, she wore the title of Professor of Biological Science with poise and dignity. Her students would have been shocked to know that their distinguished professor had practically skipped all the way to class this morning.
“This is, hands down, my absolutely favorite time of the year,” Kathleen had reminded her husband this morning over coffee. “This year, I have 375 students in my intro class alone. Can you imagine?”
Alan had stirred his coffee thoughtfully and smiled tenderly at his wife. “The possibilities for influence are endless. Hundreds of opportunities to shine the light in some very confused young minds. And who knows? There might even be another Kathleen and Alan sitting in your midst.”
Kathleen smiled as she recalled her husband’s comments. As the clock struck ten, her teaching assistants fanned out among the students checking the roster, handing out the syllabus, making introductory remarks and answering questions. It would be at least a quarter of an hour before she would begin the lecture.
“Another Kathleen and Alan…” Yes, forty years ago, they could have passed for any of the bright, young people that were now sitting in front of her. I looked so much like the girl in the fifth row with the tie-dyed shirt and faded jeans, Kathleen thought. The young man taking notes in the third row with the long, dark pony tail and sandals definitely bore a resemblance to Alan at that age. Kathleen was amazed that the fashions of her era had returned to haunt her classroom.
Kathleen would never forget the day that Alan Wilson had entered her life and changed it forever. The professor had just concluded the lecture in the Biology 101 class that they were both taking. Kathleen was busy jotting down the assignment for the following week when the good looking fellow next to her had abruptly shut his book and remarked, “I don’t buy it.”
“What do you mean?” Kathleen had asked, startled. “You don’t buy what?”
“Why, this whole evolution business. Let’s see,” he had replied, looking down at his notes. “Time, space and matter came into existence by themselves. Plants and stars formed from space dust. Matter created life by itself. Early life forms somehow learned to reproduce themselves and then, change into other species…fish to amphibians, amphibians to reptiles, reptiles to birds or mammals. Does that make any sense to you?”
Kathleen had gazed at him, speechless. Kathleen had never thought to question anything that her professors taught her. Her parents, yes. Their opinions were always up for debate. But her professors? They were the ones with the higher education and not subject to sentimental, traditional and religious viewpoints.
“Well, I don’t know,” she had responded, confused. “Evolution is a fact, after all.”
“I know that evolution is presented as a fact in every science course on this campus, but evolution is only a theory,” the young man had replied, evenly.
Noting Kathleen’s skepticism, he had added. “What are you doing this weekend? Want to expand your mind a bit?”
“I don’t even know you!” Kathleen had exclaimed.
“Alan Wilson, at your service,” he had said with a bow, making her giggle. “I know your name, Kathleen Kelly. Why don’t we have lunch and get acquainted? After that, you can give me your answer.”
They had spent the next two hours at the Student Union Building, where Alan had opened a whole new world to Kathleen, over black bean burgers and milk shakes.
Kathleen had learned that Alan didn’t buy “The Big Bang Theory” either. He didn’t even believe that the stories about Jesus were myths similar to Greek myths, like her English professor had told the class.
On Saturday, Alan had taken Kathleen for a tour of the Creation Science Museum in a nearby town and on Sunday, she had attended church with him. Then, came the Campus Crusade for Christ meetings. Gradually, Kathleen’s eyes and heart had been open to real truth.
And now, here she was, ready to offer yet another freshman class much more than her old, college professors had ever offered her – the opportunity to explore all sides of the scientific issues of the day, without rancor or prejudice. Dr. Kathleen Kelly-Wilson was shining the light in Biology 101.
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