If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
This tribute is not about 50 years of contribution to the scientific community; or the co-discovery of the Beirut Reaction that greatly impacted the field of pharmaceutical chemistry; or the authorship of 90 internationally published scholarly articles. This is not even about the Davis-Beirut Reaction possibly leading to the cure of Cystic Fibrosis. Although Dr. Makhlouf Haddadin has done all of that and more, this tribute is simply about a professor who went above and beyond his call of duty to reach out to one student among hundreds simply because that student needed a little extra care at that time in her life.
In my first year at University of California-Davis as a transfer student, I had the privilege of taking my second Organic Chemistry course (Chem 118B) in winter quarter with Dr. Haddadin who was a visiting professor on campus at the time. I was experiencing “transfer-shock” and still adjusting to a new campus, a new city, and taking on mountain loads of family responsibilities all at once. On most days, I went to my lectures without getting any sleep the night before. As a result, I failed the mid-term in my Organic Chemistry class.
Terrified, I went to Dr. Haddadin’s office to go over my mid-term so that I could salvage my grade on the final since it was cumulative. Before we began, Dr. Haddadin simply asked me why I did not do well on the midterm. As I answered “because I did not study,” tears came pouring down my face. He sat there quietly with me until I composed myself and we went over the midterm. I never explained why I didn’t study or could not study, and he never asked me more questions. However, following that visit to his office, Dr. Haddadin would make it a point to catch up with me after each lecture and ask if I was okay and if I understood the lecture. He would then extend an invitation to visit his office hours if I had any questions. I must add that there were over 200 students in that class and he was there to do research that would later result in the Davis-Beirut Reaction.
I did not excel in his class. I did not even end up in the field of science, let alone organic chemistry, but I became a better person because I was his student and I experienced his kindness. Seventeen years have passed and I have been a working professional for over 10 years. As an academic advisor, I work with students from all walks of life and from all parts of the world. How I treat my students and the service I provide for them is greatly influenced by Dr. Haddadin’s simple acts of kindness and genuine interest in me as his student.
Thank you, Dr. Haddadin, and belated congratulations on the Davis-Beirut Reaction!