I will never be able to forget my freshman year at college, even if I try. I was the first person to come to North Greenville from my hometown, since the ‘60s. I was a tall, skinny kid with a bad haircut, who knew absolutely no one and had no idea what he wanted to do with his life.
I was actually succeeding in not having anyone notice me, that is until I stepped into British Literature I with Dr. Dee Bielecki. She wouldn’t let me or anyone else blend in and not be noticed. She noticed and cared about you.
My goal for the class was to sit in the back, not talk to anybody, and make good grades. She helped with the good grades, but she also helped me not to be a wallflower.
On two separate occasions, she focused the entire attention of the class on me. Once we were studying a poem that mentioned, “raven hair,” and she told everyone to turn around and look at my hair.
The other time she was telling us to get with other classmates and form study groups. She then told the class that if they were really smart they would want me in their study group because I had the highest grade in the class. Her saying that made me think, “You know what , maybe I can do this college thing.”
After that class my freshman year, I never had the opportunity to have Dr. Bielecki for another class, but I learned a lot in that one class. She helped me develop a love for English and a love for writing, which helped to deepen our friendship. I took my passion for writing to The Skyliner.
I started stepping into the light a little on my own, by writing an opinion column for the paper. I could always count on her honest opinion about my work. After one column, she flatly told me that my ideas in it “were stupid.”
Regardless whether she agreed with my opinions or not, she always encouraged me to keep writing. Our opinions often were opposite of each other, but I have never had so much respect for someone that I disagree with so much. I know her heart. Her selfless, Christ-like love was a tremendous example to me and to countless others who sat under her as students and walked beside her as a friend. North Greenville will lose a tremendous person this spring when Dr. Bielecki retires after 15 years of teaching at NGC.
I am not the same boy that came to NGC. I’m still tall, but I think I have taken care of the other two for good or bad. The other things that have changed are a direct result of Dr. Bielecki’s impact on my life. She wouldn’t let me get by without knowing anyone. If I didn’t know anyone else, I knew her. I left her class, confident enough to no longer avoid the spotlight. I made friends, met my wife, and now speak at churches near my home. She forced me to be seen, forced me to make myself heard. She also helped me discover my love for writing and expressing my opinion. Still today, she encourages me to work on a book I am writing. That is just who she is, a constant encourager. She cares intimately about each student and wants to see them succeed. This is just my story, one of the thousands of stories, of how Dr. Bielecki changed a life.
Article written by Aaron Earls (’01), North Greenville College Magazine managing editor, for the Spring 2004 issue.