As the applause died down, several students’ voices emoted from the front rows of the Rackham Auditorium: “We love you, Shelly!” The largest crowd in the 23-year history of the Golden Apple Award greeted Psychology lecturer Shelly Schreier as she delivered her “last lecture” in front of her family, faculty and students on Thursday.
The Golden Apple Award — sponsored by the University of Michigan Hillel — was inspired by the teachings of a third-century Jewish scholar named Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurkanos, who believed everyone should live each day as their last. The Golden Apple is meant to honor professors who teach as if every one of their lectures is their last, and strive not only to impart their knowledge, but inspire students as they go. It is presented annually by students to one such outstanding faculty member nominated by students.
Schreier, a third-generation University graduate, has strong ties to the campus and has been leading lectures full time since 1999.
“It is the students affirming that I have made a difference in their lives,” Schreier said during her lecture.
Schreier’s “last lecture,” a term used to mean the address she would give as if it were her last, was titled “Make Good Choices.” Named after the advice she instilled in her daughters, she shared 12 recommendations on how to make the best decisions possible, including do more than the minimum expected, use all of your senses to explore the world and make someone’s day.
“I hope I’m inspiring my students to love to learn, to challenge themselves, to learn not to be satisfied with finding the answer, but instead to find the next question to ask,” Schreier said.
Schreier drew inspiration for her lecture from the various psychology classes she teaches.
“Teaching psychology has taught me so much about making good choices,” Schreier said. “The knowledge, research and theories we learn about fit together so well with how we desire to lead happy, healthy and productive lives.”
As a part of her award, Schreier was also granted $1,000 to donate to the charity of her choice. She chose to contribute to a program that allows children in C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital to visit Camp Michigania — a Alumni Association sponsored-camp in northern Michigan — a for a week with their families.
LSA junior Kayla Walters is in Schreier’s social development class this semester. She said Schreier’s note to “protect your permanent record” resonated with her.
“I was expecting her to say, ‘Don’t send weird things on the Internet,’ and, ‘Don’t cheat,’ but I thought it was cool that her real focus was that your permanent record is what you see in the mirror,” Walters said. “That is the key: whether you can look at yourself in the mirror or not and know that you made good choices. I don’t think you can go too wrong as long as you’ve got that.”