A Moment That Changed Me Forever

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Death is something hard to grasp till someone you were close to is gone. You can read about it, watch it in movies or on TV, but it’s not the same as knowing someone you loved is gone for good. For me, it was my freshman year Global-Studies teacher Kalpna Mistry. She died young and unexpectedly, and it hit everyone around her hard. Students, teachers, family, even people who hadn’t personally known her were affected by the loss of someone so incredible.

I had Ms. Mistry’s class sixth period, the last class of the day. It was always the hardest class to stay focused in; all you wanted at that point was the final bell to ring at 3:15 and to be able to run out and be done with the school day. Ms. Mistry was not a teacher to be ignored by her students. She demanded our attention at all times, and insisted we put much more effort into all our work than any 14 year old would ever want to. My main problem was that I was failing Ms. Mistry’s class. I had a D- which, coming out of an all girls private school, was the worst grade I had ever received in my life. I was mad. And naturally, being a teenager, instead of blaming myself, I blamed my teacher. After receiving my grade, I went and talked to her. I knew I wasn’t a bad student, I never skipped class, I got good grades on the tests, and I hated doing that badly on anything. I couldn’t understand why I was doing so badly. Ms. Mistry claimed I wasn’t working hard enough. She said she saw potential in me, if I tried just a little harder, I could succeed beyond what I believed myself to be capable of. She pushed me and forced me to work harder, and four weeks later, when semester grades came out, I had an A.
At Ms. Mistry’s memorial service at Berkeley High, I was surrounded by so many other people who had been affected by her. People made speeches, played songs that reminded them of her, spoke of how she had changed them for the better, how they would never forget her.
Ms. Mistry had died in the Philippians over the summer while studying with a program to become a better teacher. She had had an unexpected and sudden heart attack. There hadn’t been time to get help. She wasn’t really in need of what she was studying, for I had never had a teacher more loved by those around her. While she was there, she bought necklaces of a fist holding a pencil for all her students back home. It symbolized everything she wanted her students to be, powerful and educated. She wanted only the best for all of us, and would do anything to help us all get there.
In Ms. Mistry’s class, we often ended up in fits of laughter. Ms. Mistry wore these pants - they were like bell-bottoms, only classier. With them, she always wore clog-like shoes that we never saw the tops of because they were covered by her pants. We would make fun of her for them, and laugh when she claimed she couldn’t wear those skinny jeans everyone was into. She would make fun of whoever had brought it up right back, and we all found it hilarious. “OH roast! Nice Ms. Mistry!” We would all yell. She could always make me smile.
After Ms. Mistry’s death, being at school was strange: walking around and knowing I couldn’t go back and visit her like I could all my other old teachers, knowing I could never see her again. I would sit in class, thinking about how all those people in her memorial had gone up and said how she had made them better people. Had she changed me?
I went into school after Ms. Mistry’s death with a resolution. I was going to try harder than I ever had before. I was going to try because when I grow up, I want to be like Ms. Mistry. I want to change people and the world for the better. I want to make other people want to try harder too, like she had for me. I want to succeed like she believed I could, and help others succeed.





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