Amherst Magazine

See Me After Class

Daniel Cluchey ’08, in his Commencement speech

Early on in the spring [freshman year], I managed to sleep through my Russian Literature course a large number of consecutive times. I’m not going to say how many classes I missed, but it’s the sort of number where if you flipped a coin and it came up tails this many times in a row, you would call CNN.

My absences resulted in an e-mail from Professor [Stanley] Rabinowitz asking me to drop by his office for a chat. I was absolutely terrified and assumed he was going to tell me that I was on an inalterable path toward failure in the course. I walked into his office after having slept through the class again that day, sat down and prepared to take my hits.

But instead of lashing out at me, Professor Rabinowitz just started asking about my family: where I came from, what my parents did, what subjects I was interested in, why did I choose Amherst. I kept waiting for him to start yelling at me, but it never happened, so I started to relax, and for about 45 minutes we just talked about our lives.

And eventually he said, “Okay, thanks for coming in,” and I got up. And then just as I got out the door, he said, “Daniel, there’s one more thing.” And I said, “Yes?” And he said, “If you miss one more of my classes, I’m going to kill you.”

And so I spent the rest of the semester sharing my pillow with my alarm clock, and I didn’t miss class again, and Rabinowitz gave me an A+. And the point of that story for the underclassmen here is: you should take a class with Professor Rabinowitz if you haven’t yet, because he’s awesome.