In 2008, I graduated from American University with a degree in history. For my senior seminar, I decided to enrolled in Dr. Griffith’s class because I wanted to be challenged during the year-long process that would contaminate in the longest piece of writing I had yet undertaken as a student. Seeing as he was the chair of the department, I figured my search for a challenge would be met. Indeed it was. In Griffith’s class, I learned how to write. He treated each draft like it was actually going to the presses, even though I was merely a 20 year old student. The amount of care and dedication that he was capable of sharing with me was priceless.
This past fall (August 2010), I returned to American University to earn a Masters in Public Policy. I recently learned that an article of mine is being published in AU’s Public Purpose Journal. Today (March 7, 2011), I began drafting an email to Dr. Griffith to tell him the good news and to say thanks for helping me hone my writing abilities. As I was looking up his email address, I found this site.
Dr. Griffith and I primarily talked about music. For my paper, I studied Appalachian folk music and its effects on popular culture throughout the 20th century. When I approached him with my topic and told him I wanted to analyze the Anthology of American Folk Music, he knew exactly what I was talking about (he told me he even had his own copy). He didn’t talk to me like a student, but rather, another traveler on a quest for knowledge. He inspired me to treat others similarly. He taught me that the journey is the story, not so much the destination. For that, I am grateful. (And, he knew a lot of punk rock, which was quite surprising).
To his family and friends – you were lucky to know such a man.
Michael V. Palinkas