Students’ tribute to professor goes viral

December 10, 2020

Professor Catherine Solomon

Professor Cathy Solomon’s students struggled to find a fitting way to say “thank you” for being such an incredible presence in their lives during such an unprecedented time. After some soul-searching, it occurred to them — they’d surprise her by making signs and kicking off their final class with a vivid display of love and appreciation.

“I was and still am so touched by the students’ thoughtfulness,” Solomon said. “It was such a sweet moment – one that I will remember forever.”

Juliana Forte ’24 decided to film the unveiling and post it to TikTok to share the impact Solomon has had on her sociology class – the video which has since approached 1 million views around the world!

Several news organizations also reported on the tribute.

“Professor Solomon is such a kindhearted professor,” said Forte, a criminal justice major. “She is one of the best professors I had this semester at Quinnipiac. She cares about her students so much and she shows it, too. I have learned so much from her class, and she never fails to make the class interesting and fun.”

Solomon said the students’ generosity could be explained by the subject she teaches: sociology.

“Sociologically speaking, experiencing the pandemic has made everyone more aware and more grateful for others’ contributions to their lives,” she said. “I think about all the signs people have in their windows thanking essential workers, etc. Even though what I do is nowhere near as amazing as what essential workers do, I think people are overall more intentional about letting others know they are appreciated.”

Over the past 16 years, Solomon has worked diligently to help students not only understand the material, but to really succeed — both inside and outside the classroom, Forte said.

“I hope she understands how good of a professor she is, but not only that, I hope she realizes how much of an impact she has made on me and my class, as well,” she said. “I want her to understand that I will not forget her as a professor and what she has taught in that class – especially during this time, it’s hard to learn online, but she managed it very well and helped us all succeed.”

She said she was surprised by the reaction the video has received, but also feels grateful for it.

“I am happy that Professor Solomon is getting all of this recognition,” Forte said. “She definitely deserves it!”

Solomon said she teaches for a very simple reason — the betterment of others.

“I teach to make the world a better place,” she said. “Teaching is a form of social activism to make the world more just and equitable for everyone. Knowledge is power. I also really love working with people. I find teaching, mentoring and connecting with students as they learn about sociology, as they develop their sociological imagination and as they grow personally and professionally incredibly rewarding. I feel blessed to be in a career that truly is my calling. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

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