Friday, August 24, 2012

"Goodbye, Chip" by Eileen Kohut

We interrupt our normal coverage on writing instruction for a bit with a post that reminds us how powerful writing can be and why we value it so much.

Chip Hochstetler claimed with a  name like “Charles Hochstetler” he should be called just “Chip.”  He had graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a BS in chemistry and worked several years at Lubrizol.  He must have realized he needed more people in his life, and after tutoring at Lake Erie and Lakeland, he came to Ursuline College under Director Cindy Russell and tutored chemistry and math.  During that time he sat in on a statistics class and began tutoring stats to students, too. Even though stats wasn’t his field, he was always concerned with the students’ needs. His tutoring style was fashioned in individual or group sessions. Many times he ran two reviews the night before a chemistry exam. He came in at night and on weekends; he would meet students during summer school or breaks. Frequently he stayed later if the student required more time. He made up his own appointment sheet and called students himself to schedule them. In later years, he tutored nursing math, and the faculty gave him quizzes to use so that he could design his sessions to meet their individual needs. From 2001-2006, Chip met an average of 750 sessions of math or science each year. Many students wrote him personal notes about his patient help, his clear explanations and his support, especially in chemistry. Often student nurses claimed they wouldn’t have passed without his help. Chip was respected by the faculty in math, chemistry and nursing. He was a guest lecturer each year for the Women in Science and Math Day and performed a lab about the chemistry of soap. He served on the math search committee which hired Michelle Wiggins at Ursuline College.

Outside of academics, Chip worked in security and maintenance and was full time for several years combining tutoring and with other responsibilities. He loved the campus and put bird feeders outside his windows and took home baby turtles. He knew where the fawns were each spring.  Always concerned with the grounds, he once was reprimanded because he took a truck with a snow plow (which he could work) and cleaned off the roadway for people coming to a winter basketball game.   The basketball team gave him a personalized sweatshirt that he proudly wore when he kept score at basketball games, but basketball wasn’t his favorite sport; volleyball was. While he was at Ursuline College, he helped coach the volleyball team, he built and maintained the sand volleyball court, and played with  the varsity team and faculty members. During the season, he participated as a line judge and score keeper. He welcomed the visiting refs and took personal care of them. When a particularly good volleyball player came to Ursuline, he personally funded a scholarship for her for four years totally $6,000.  When Chip wasn’t able to tutor last year, he came to several games and supported the teams and hall of fame inductees.  During his time at Ursuline, several students invited him to be their “ Faculty” guest at specific games, and Chip was always proud to accompany a student who singled him out as a mentor or teacher. He once told his supervisor that he remembered the teachers who had made a difference for him, too.

While Chip's parents were alive, Chip was devoted to them; his dad died nine years ago and his mom lingered in poor health for several years afterwards. Chip brought in aides and support to keep Mrs. Hochstetler at home. He scheduled a variety of activities during the winter to keep her stimulated and planted flowers everywhere on the homesite. In the past few years, he lost his brother Larry and his mother, and in 2010 took a leave to settle the family estate and prepare the family home in Lyndhurst for sale. He always hoped he could return to Ursuline, and his belongings at the college include a signed volleyball from a winning game, pictures of several basketball teams and posters of Chip at games and team schedules. Tucked inside his papers and chemistry quizzes are notes and thank you cards from many students who were articulate in their gratitude  to him for the help he gave. One note in particular said, “it seems I am always thanking you for something.” Chip spent his life and talent taking care of others.

Eileen D. Kohut is the Director of Ursuline Resources for Success in Academics (URSA) at Ursuline College.

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