Phyllis, a “sometimes-feared but much-loved professor.”

As many of you know, I am a Journalism graduate from Niagara College. I really enjoyed the program. We wrote for and produced the college newspaper. There were times where it got really busy and assignments kept piling on. I never thought I’d say this but I kind of miss production days. The class worked together to create something that would be displayed all around the school and elsewhere, and we took pride in that.

I admit, I struggled. I felt alone. I struggled with numerous areas in my life. My anxiety and depression got bad. My best friend had moved back home. People caused their typical drama. People didn’t take me seriously. All on top of the heavy workload and strict deadlines. But, somehow, I managed. I managed to be a full-time student, never failed a class, and graduated with honours.

I don’t think I would’ve made it as far as I did and got the grades that I got if it wasn’t for the amazing professors, especially Phyllis.

All of my life, I have never liked a teacher as much as I liked her.

I came across a retirement article about Phyllis today and it made me emotional.

She was an amazing professor who taught me a lot. Not only about Journalism, but about life.

As Charlie described her in the article below, Phyllis was a “sometimes-feared but much-loved professor.” She was sometimes tough and hard on her students, but she always meant well.

I always enjoyed her classes. She was hilarious, but serious at the same time. She knew the field really well and was eager to share.

She was very dedicated to her job and helping the students succeed. She would be up until the early hours of the morning answering emails and editing final copies of articles for production day. Speaking of emails, because of her fast replies, she made me feel like she was there for her students 24/7.

Her door was right outside of the newsroom and was always open. This gave me a sense of comfort on days where I was feeling alone. Because of her, I knew deep down that I was never alone.

She did not put up with any BS and never accepted any lame excuses. If it didn’t meet deadline, it didn’t meet deadline. Many would find this to be a negative thing, but I saw it as a positive. It pushed and motivated me.

Even though she was tough on us, she was always there for us if something happened in our lives that was beyond our control. I was always open about my anxiety and depression. When I had a bad day, she knew and went easy on me. But she always motivated me to get right back up and to work!

I remember the day when I sent her an email saying the people on my team were being rude and not listening to me. She replied back basically saying to take care of it myself because I won’t always have someone there to fight my battles. At first, I was taken aback. But then I realized she only said that out of love and to teach me a lesson. I am forever grateful and will never forget it.

I remember the day I got my first big compliment from her about a story I wrote. It felt amazing to get a compliment like that from someone who I look up to in the field.

Phyllis is such an inspiration to me. Her and I are a lot alike. We are very passionate about what we do/did and we are such hard workers. We are both also strong-willed and don’t take any BS from anyone else; that’s what made us such a great team.

I am grateful that I had her as a professor. I was fortunate enough to be one of her last students.

If you’re reading this, this may come as a surprise to you because I never really told you how much you impacted me. Thank you so much for everything. Thank you for teaching me everything I needed to know about the field and about life. Thank you for motivating me to keep working harder and seeing me to graduation.

P.S. Carly says hi! We both miss you. Maybe meet up for a coffee one day?

Journalism prof Phyllis Barnatt retires her red pen

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