Life Lessons Taught To Me By ‘Miss June’*

Life Lessons Taught To Me By ‘Miss June’*

John Mark Carter

My life crisis began in the fall of 1966 as a first semester freshman at Campbellsville College.  My problem was what to do about college and the Vietnam War.  I had heard rumors of draft dodgers who decided to resist by crossing the Canadian border.  Others I knew had proudly enlisted.  Term papers were fast coming due, and upcoming test to take.  I was struggling.  Then my close friend received a “Greetings” letter from the local draft board.  This was the “kiss of death.”  He had been drafted. “Will I be next?”  I agonized.

      She was affectionately know by her students and colleagues as “Miss June.”  Her accepting smile and sparkling eyes made her a confidant to the students who knew her.  But could I trust Miss June with my weighty problem?

      Sharing my dilemma with Miss June kept me from feeling threatened when I expressed my anger at the work expected of college freshman.  “How can faculty members expect so much of a student?  Isn’t college supposed to be fun?”  Miss June listened with great intensity then she smiled warmly and gave me some lasting words of advice.

      The days passed and I found myself seeking out Miss June for other after-class conversations.  She had become a friend I could trust.  A true listener.  An empathizer.  A mentor.

      Several years passed when I visited Miss June in a Louisville hospital.  She was enduring the last stage of inoperable cancer.  Even through the veil of pain her trademark sparkling, accepting eyes of joy amazed me.

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*This short essay appeared in College Faith: 150 Christian Leaders and Educators Share Faith Stories from their Student Days (Andrews University Press, 2004).  In 1998 Dr. John Mark Carter established the Miss June Winslow Carter Memorial Scholarship Fund at Campbellsville University to honor “Miss June.”

Miss June passed on in July 1971.  Life moved on for me as well.  I finally did heed Uncle Sam’s call by volunteering for the United States Navy.  After completing my service, I completed a second master’s degree, earned a doctorate, and have taught at three universities.

      Then I found myself once again on the (now) Campbellsville University campus.  I had returned to my alma mater as a professor.  With misty eyes I purposely walked Miss June’s path to class and clearly recalled her words: “John Mark, put your education first, leave the rest to God, and all the rest will work out in the end.”

      On the first day of each semester as I peer into the faces of new students I recall Miss June, my mentor, whose smiling, unconditionally accepting face and twinkling eyes changed my life.  Miss June, did I ever tell you I wanted to be like you when I grew up?