Teachable Moments

By Jennifer J. McCune

I first met David, at that time Mr. Gies to me, almost 24 years ago, the fall of 1994, when I first began my graduate studies at UVa. He ended up becoming my advisor for both my Master’s Thesis and my Doctoral Dissertation, and yes, he taught me tremendously academically throughout my 6 years as a graduate student at UVa, and he also imparted other incredible lessons that shaped my life in very meaningful ways.

First notable memory and teachable moment with David – he was going to help watch some small children one weekend; I cannot even remember whose, etc. He shared a hysterical depiction of what had transpired that had the whole class laughing to the point of crying. Prior to watching the kids, he planned numerous different activities – puzzles, games, books, so many that we were exhausted just listening to him share what they were. He looked at us with that incredibly sparkly, gleaming look in his eyes and said that once those 10 minutes were up, he didn’t know what to do with the rest of the day with the kids! It stuck with me throughout the years and was that much more impactful when I had my own kids – and oh so true it turned out to be!

Second notable memory and teachable moment with David – I was going through a rough patch during my academic career, and David was nice enough to give me some of his time and advise me through some bumps. As we were talking, he shared with me that he always knew that he would be happy doing whatever it was that he decided upon because that would embrace the decisions he made. That really stuck with me – happiness is a decision and a choice and that we all have options to move forward in life.

Third notable memory and teachable moment with David – live life to the fullest! This has been something I have observed in David and Janna when I was at UVa and since graduating. We are connected via social media and I see him in the community. He continues to be involved in matters which are important to him, he pursues academic opportunities, and he travels and spends time extensively with his incredible wife, Janna, and the kids and grandkids in their life. He is the epitome of successfully having it all, in my mind, and I love seeing that role model.

My list of notable memories and teachable moments could go on and on, but ultimately, I want to thank David for being a mentor and a friend during very critical, formative junctures in my life. I generally choose the road less traveled in most everything I do, and I have David, among other inspirational people in my life, to thank for having the courage to do so.

Jennifer J. McCune, Ph.D.