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Remembering Chris

14 Feb 2014 1:27 PM | Stefan Zonia

                When I met Professor Peterson I was an undergraduate student that tended to be both aloof and angry. I didn’t know what my direction was, and frankly, I was afraid of discovering it. I happened to take a research methods course that Chris was teaching that semester. Through his warm and welcoming style of teaching, I began to truly open up and engage in class. I became a regular at his office hours, and we would talk at great length about many things (although rarely about research methods). We developed a wonderful rapport. I took his seminar on Positive Psychology because I knew that a course taught by him would be engaging. As it turns out, this course opened my mind in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

                Chris was constantly encouraging me to push myself, and he assisted me in achieving things that I never thought were possible. He imparted to me a sense of self-confidence that had previously been lacking. However, Chris’ greatest gift to me was that he developed into much more than an academic mentor. He had the ability to play the part of both a kind and attentive social support, but he also served as a sage and consoling father figure when I truly needed one. Chris was a true friend to me, in all senses of the word.

                Anyone who ever spent time with Chris knew that his mantra was “Other people matter”. Most of us think that this is a wonderful sentiment, but we often do not truly take it to heart. Chris really lived those words. He was a humble and gracious man who took much more pleasure in shining the light on those around him than receiving any attention or accolades himself.

                What I will always remember of Chris was that on our last day of our Positive Psychology seminar, in what was otherwise a day full of smiles and laughter, Chris had one sobering moment. He looked around, and his voice grew quiet and he said “It strikes me that this is the last time we will all be together here in this classroom; but that’s alright. We were all here, and it was wonderful”. Thinking back on this, I am filled with emotion. Positive emotion coming from all the fond memories I have of the time we spent together. Negative emotion from the loss and grief I will always feel for not being able to say goodbye to him. I will deeply miss Chris for the rest of my life. But I know that it’s alright, because we were both there, and it was wonderful.

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