“Ken, this is Carl Sorensen.” A very familiar voice projected from my speaker phone. “How are you?”
I hesitated as twelve years of memories flashed across my mind. I knew what Dr. Sorensen wanted. I expected his yearly August call, but I hadn’t made up my mind yet.
I could picture the MIT graduate and seasoned Capstone Director in his fourth-floor office at BYU; strong voice, prominent chin, caring smile, and excellent teacher.
“Yes, Hi Dr. Sorensen, I’m doing great.” In another shameful millisecond I criticized the truth of my claim. Lately, in my thirty-second year of industry engineering, work has been difficult; tight schedules, hard problems. I didn’t have time for Capstone, at least not enough to be fare to the students.
“Ken, we’d like you to be a Capstone Coach again this year. We like your mentoring.”
Yes, I thought. I’ve been a pretty good mentor to… Let’s see, how many? Twelve years, an average of five or six students per team, somewhere between sixty and seventy students. I feel like I did them some good during their senior years. But, with my heavy workload, how am I going to…
“Yes,” I said. Wait, what happened to that two letter word I was forming? “I’m swamped at work,” I went on, “but I want more than anything to mentor students again. It is a great experience.”
My academic colleague cinched the deal with one word. No turning back now.
“Ken,” he continued, “you’ve always received high reviews from the students, and we know your team will get a great coach. We don’t want you to do their project for them. We want you to help us teach them the principles of product development.”
“I’d be honored to work with the faculty, the coaches, and the students again.”
“Great,” Carl said. “We’ll be having our coach kickoff meeting a week from Friday. It’ll be great to see you again.”
“I look forward to it. Thanks Carl.”
As I turned off my phone, I felt that astounding and familiar mixture of panic and excitement; that exhilaration when you set out on a risky journey, driven by the certainty that meaning experiences will come.
(Image of Carl Sorensen from me.byu.edu)