Published: Dec. 6, 2016 By

Third-year CU student Louise Vazquez makes it a priority to get to know her professors. The political science major aims to be prepared for first impressions – but things don’t always go according to plan.

 “I remember when I first talked to Professor Ferguson in one of her classes, I was really, really intimidated,” said Vazquez. However, she was determined to make a connection with the political science professor, who was teaching her Survey of Western Political Thought class in the spring of Louise Vazquez2016.

“I asked her: ‘do you have any children?’ She was very polite, but she asked me why I would ask that,” Vazquez said. “I froze. I was like, I asked the wrong question!”

As it turned out, Professor Michaele Ferguson reminded Vazquez of her own mother, who teaches as well. The two got to talking and began to build a strong relationship from there.

It wasn’t until the next semester that Vazquez found out about CU’s Women Who Make A Difference Award. The award celebrates women on campus who have made CU a better place. Nominees are recognized at an award ceremony, which was held this year at 5:30 pm on Monday, December 5th in UMC 235.

Vazquez learned about the award from a flyer. “I thought of Professor Ferguson and I was like, I need to do this,” she said.

The nomination process consisted of filling out a Google Form and writing a letter explaining why the nominee was chosen.

“[Professor Ferguson] is here to really inspire students and do more than is asked of her,” said Vazquez. “As a student and as a woman, I’ve gone through a lot in my college years, and she’s grounding. She’s intelligent, she’s driven, she’s an amazing human being. I’m really just proud to have her in my life.”

After filling out the nomination form, Vazquez sent Ferguson an email with the date of the awards ceremony. She also included a link to the form she had filled out, wMichaele Fergusonhich contained the letter she had written.

“When I read that, I honestly started crying,” said Professor Ferguson. “She talked about how I challenge my students, but I challenge them to be who they want to be. It was touching because she was calling out qualities in me that are the qualities I want to have.”

The letter included an explanation as to why – despite the fact that the professor insists Vazquez refer to her as Michaele – she continues to call her Professor Ferguson.

“She said she thinks I’m worthy of respect and she wants to show me that respect,” said Ferguson. “It was an incredibly moving nomination.”

And for Ferguson, the award is ‘just as much about Louise’ as it is about her.

“She went out of her way to nominate me for this,” said the professor. "She didn’t have to, and to me it signals tremendous qualities in her that she’s willing to take the time to recognize somebody else.”