Gifts of an Eagle: The Remarkable Story of a Bird and Her Family

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The gig was ideal: It was tenure-track, it was in her field—her official title would be assistant professor of history and non-Western culture—and it was close to New York. But the sheen of the job wore off quickly. Her friends told me that Hunter would wake up around 5 a. She would often arrive on campus early, around , for office hours.

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She would get settled into her office and sit down. She was a black woman in a largely empty building, and people would come by and inquire about whether she was the janitor. Then she would teach classes. Her students loved her, but their parents would call the school questioning whether she had a doctorate. Waking up started to get more difficult. She would cry over her breakfast cereal before her commute in, her friends said.

She loved her students, and her research, and teaching, but the slights built up until they became too much to handle. She knew that leaving the university and a tenure-track job meant leaving security, or at least a modestly defined path toward it. It also meant losing her health insurance.

But she was principled; so, in , she left. Jim Downs, her friend from graduate school, suggested that she join him at Princeton, where he was working on a three-year teaching appointment.

The school had an opening for a professor to replace Colin Palmer, an acclaimed historian of slavery and the colonization of Africa, while he was on medical leave. The position was a perfect fit for Thea, who was hired to teach his classes. It was her dream job, but it lasted only a year, until Palmer returned from leave. She began teaching five to seven discussion sections a semester as a teaching assistant, Downs said.

The time she had for research grew scarce. Her life needed steadying, and she needed companionship. It was time: She was going to get a dog. She had always wanted to get one, she told her friends in an email. Cooper was roughly eight months old, a rescue fostered in Connecticut.


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Thea asked her friends for help getting started with Cooper, perhaps a gift certificate to cover some of the costs of basic obedience training or supplies such as food from the Petco on 92nd and Broadway. By , her contract at Princeton had run out. The recession had set in, and faculty jobs in and around New York City were even harder to find than before. Thea, who did not have time to adapt her dissertation into a book, had not published in a while.

She taught at the New School, where she was nominated for a distinguished teaching award. She taught at NYU. She taught art history at Montclair State University. She taught at Manhattan College. She even went to teach at a private high school. As the temporary positions piled up, she was still angling for another tenure-track position, a place where she could thrive. Henderson had known Thea for roughly a decade at this point, but the two grew closer after she got Cooper.

The sun had finally come out and warmed the park. The eagles were flying. Cooper had just gotten some new dog biscuits. But their conversations would turn, and they would talk about the perils of being an adjunct. S ometimes trouble and pressure and sadness and pain bond together and beat you down before you can shake them. She had a number of ailments that bothered her—her asthma, her heart—and the rigors of being an adjunct added to them.

Had she been tenured, she would have experienced a sort of security that tenure is designed to provide: a campus office of her own, health insurance, authority and respect with which to navigate campus bureaucracy, greater financial stability. Thea and Henderson would message back and forth about the toll that work and life had been taking on Thea. She had been teaching at the City College of New York, where she worked part-time in the black-studies department and part-time in the history department.

The course enrollments were too high. Two deaths occurred back to back. First, Cooper, her companion. Then, a few months later, her mother, Grace. Thea was changing, her friends said. She began retreating from them. But she was still working, still teaching. On December 17, Jim Downs received an anonymous call on his cellphone. He reluctantly answered to hear the voice of a social worker from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital on the other end of the line.

Thea had been brought to the hospital by an ambulance a few hours prior, the social worker told him. She was in intensive care. Over the weekend, she had thought her asthma was acting up. A neighbor of hers said that she had gone through an entire can of albuterol trying to suppress the flare-up. The social worker was looking for a blood relative. I understand that when it's time to die, the eagle positions itself so that it faces the sun and dies with the light in its eyes. I believed this all until somebody referred me to a websitewww. Pse answer me.

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What a wonderful lesson. Surely i am going to apply all the seven leadership skills i learnt from this wonderful bird of prey in my ddaily leadership experience. Very much informing. I am writing this reply in Hawaii University, as a Leadership Fellow.

The girl who gets gifts from birds

We learning so much and I am fired up to continue growing my business asn helping out in the community as a leader. I am glad you found the article useful. Eagles inspire me and that's why i keep studying their positive habits. Wonderful animal. Good to emulate in life. That is why for my school the motto is Swerve, Spiral and Soar.


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This is explained to the pupils in the context of the eagle life. It encourages the children. The school anthem has similar message. Very impressed when read about the Eagle's behavior and its techniques of hunting down other inferior birds. It teaches us something to learn from. Well described Mr. Wow, thank you Ian for this I have heard people talk about the eagle and got interested to find more.

Thank you so much. Owerful about eagles. God's design to us likens the eagle way. Its time we change and get renewed.

The girl who gets gifts from birds - BBC News

What an amazing bird with plenty lessons to teach i have learnt from its xtics im just impress. Thanks Lan, this is inspiring. Even God appreciate the qualities in the Eagle. This bird is outstanding, please continue the good job. I had no idea how powerful Eagles are, but I always had a fear of the bird. Thanks so much Ian for the Hub pages.

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Thanks so much for all others that have commented. Indeed, I have learnt a great deal of knowledge about eagles. One thing that I want to share with others is, study the simple law of nature and change your life and the surroundings. God created the natural and physical world and placed everything first, then created man.