My Heart is Broken

The man behind the scenes of Running in Silence (helping me to bring it to life and starting the editing and revising process) passed away Tuesday night and I can’t believe how much it hurts to write that.
Dr. Brent Chesley–my adviser, my professor, and my friend of enormous quality.
From the first time we met at my college freshman STAR date back in June 2010, Brent and I felt what he called a “kinship” due to our similar passion for creative nonfiction. I remember feeling surprised at how much Brent praised the small things I was doing at the time–writing each day as well as writing for Michigan Runner magazine. It gave me confidence and joy to realize I had potential–and to hear it from a COLLEGE PROFESSOR! Who knew that in the following years he would continue to help me develop that potential.

Brent spent countless hours reading and rereading the Running in Silence manuscript when we worked together for an independent study class we set up, giving me fantastic feedback and always believing in my potential. He read some of my dark, perhaps uncomfortable pieces without judgment, and in a way that allowed me to continually open up and get my thoughts out there before I exposed them to the world. There were areas I felt wary about writing and sharing, but I felt like I could take the chance with him. He helped me learn what worked and what didn’t.
Brent also allowed me to read the chapters he was writing for a comical book he hoped to publish about his cat Dexter. I laughed myself to tears reading that material, and I was in awe that he wanted me to edit his fine work!
Brent went above and beyond what anyone would expect from a professor. His dedication to helping his students and wanting them to succeed in life showed in every way, and I am so thankful to have had as much time as I did with him throughout my Aquinas College career. Sam Rinkus, I believe we established that I now hold the record with having had the most classes with Brent, capping it out at eight. ;)
Brent not only made his students feel appreciated by reminding us what “quality” people we are, but he also brought enthusiasm, comedy, and passion to his classes. There is a hole in my heart upon hearing of his passing, as he has played a huge, critical role in my writing career and gave me the confidence to pursue my publishing dreams. I can’t even imagine how many other lives he has impacted.
Brent–I am going to miss you and your humor, cat stories, and words of wisdom enormously.
The last writing feedback from the wonderful Brent Chesley for the first chapter of book #2. He taught me well, and this is the moment I really found myself applying everything I've learned from him. Brent, I'm "keeping it up."

The last writing feedback from the wonderful Brent Chesley for the first chapter of book #2. He taught me well, and this is the moment I really found myself applying everything I’ve learned from him.
Brent, I’m “keeping it up.”

About Rachael

Rachael Steil is a graduate from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts. Steil an author, speaker, and a recipient of the Spirit and Outstanding Runner award for the Aquinas College cross country team and has received 6th place All-American accolades in cross country as well as 7th place in the NAIA track nationals.

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One Response to My Heart is Broken

  1. Sharon says:

    I’m reading it months late… as per my style… but Rach, this is bringing a humongous lump to my throat. I’m so sorry.

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