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Dr. Alice A. Christie: Lifelong Educator

Video of Dr. Christie's Last Lecture - Coming Soon
Text of Dr. Christie's Last Lecture


My life has been an invigorating journey – an accumulation of countless unique opportunities and challenges that have gradually congealed into a life. I am humbled and honored to be here this afternoon - with all of you - to share a few thoughts about this journey and celebrate my retirement after a forty-one year career as an educator.


I come from a long line of teachers.


Some of these people actually trained and practiced as teachers. But most had other occupations and callings.


However, I think of them all as teachers because they valued learning and always took opportunities to teach those around them. Each of these people instilled in me the value of a good education. Collectively, they encouraged me to learn from:

  • every person I met
  • every life situation that presented itself, and
  • every opportunity I chose to explore.

My parents and grandparents were curious folks - forever asking questions, forever encouraging my siblings and me to learn about the world around us, to solve little mysteries, to find solutions to little problems. Over time, they expected us to tackle bigger mysteries, bigger problems, and to - above all - be independent and self-reliant in our learning and our lives.


They also taught me to have integrity, to live deliberately, and to stick with my principles despite pressure to do otherwise.


From my father, I learned to be a scientist – to stay alert, to think, to classify, to identify - and to be a steward of the environment.


From my mother, I learned that wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine. She modeled the importance of nurturing others - as well as myself. She taught me to trust my own instincts, to make and be a good friend, to appreciate and celebrate differences, and to smile.


From my siblings I learned perseverance and a sense of adventure. I also learned, as we often do from siblings, there is always more than one way to do anything.


Over the years, I had some wonderful teachers and mentors, all of whom helped me become the teacher I am today.


From my elementary and high school teachers I learned to read and write well - and to keep asking questions and wondering why. I also learned that learning is really fun!


From professors, I learned the art of researching and the joy of discovering new perspectives and ways of viewing the world. They led by example and laid the foundation for my life as a professor at ASU.


From friends, far and near, past and present, I have learned much. From them I learned that:

  • Everything is interesting – and that
  • No one is perfect

They also taught me to:

  • Get up early
  • Put my energies into what I really cared about
  • Be myself
  • Speak with integrity
  • Laugh a lot, and
  • Have fun.

I am a firm believer in collaboration and have enjoyed working side-by-side and learning from numerous colleagues. From them, I have learned:

  • that learning is enhanced when you’re learning with and from others
  • that collective thinking often leads to creative and empowering solutions, and
  • that listening is just as important as talking.

They also taught me:

  • NEVER to underestimate anyone, and
  • ALWAYS assume nothing

From my partner, Richard, I’ve learned:

  • the importance of simplicity
  • the art of appreciation
  • the value of focus
  • the joy of living in the moment

From my son, Kyle, I’ve learned that living is joyous, challenging, and full of surprises. In him I see reflected my own love of learning and love of life. The mirror he provides has been – and continues to be - my greatest inspiration.


And finally, as I anticipate my retirement in just a few days, I know that some of the most enduring lessons I’ve learned have come from my students.


From my students, I have learned to:

  • celebrate moments of personal discovery
  • incorporate play into learning
  • accept challenges that seem beyond reach
  • celebrate, not curse, mistakes - as mistakes often lead to new discoveries

From students I also learned to:

  • never take myself too seriously
  • learn from others,
  • preserve a sense of curiosity – and a sense of humor
  • always do my best - and
  • most importantly, keep learning.

My goal has always been:

  • to listen
  • to inspire
  • to motivate, and
  • to encourage.

I’ve strived to make a difference every single day in the lives of my students. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to guide hundreds of students over the years, and each of my students, has, in turn, made a difference in the lives of their students. Even though I will soon retire, my legacy will continue through each of you.


A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. I invite each of you to take a pebble from this basket to celebrate how much we have learned together, and to acknowledge the awesome responsibility and opportunity each of you has to guide and nurture future generations.


You are my legacy.

Thank you for joining me this afternoon. I would not feel the joy – AND sorrow – I feel today without the love and support of family, teachers, mentors, friends, colleagues, and students. Thank you for being here to celebrate the conclusion of my journey as a university professor and the beginning of the next chapter in my life as a life-long learner.


Thank you.