Quinnipiac professor appreciation video seen by thousands

Melina Khan, Copy Editor

Students in professor Catherine Solomon’s sociology 101 course surprised her with messages of gratitude on Zoom last week during their final class of the semester — leading to a viral video that attracted attention from local news stations Fox 61 and Channel 3.

Juliana Forte, a first-year criminal justice major, filmed the event and shared it on TikTok with the caption, “best professor ever.” It has garnered nearly 950,000 views and more than 190,000 likes to date.

Screenshot from TikTok

In the beginning of the video, the students can be seen with their cameras off. Then, simultaneously, they turned them on to show the written messages of gratitude being held. Some of the messages read, “Thank you, Professor” and “You’re the best.” Solomon appeared shocked and emotional.

“I was totally surprised, speechless,” Solomon said. “It was really unexpected.”

Solomon said the expectation for her students was to have their cameras on during class, so she was confused when she initially saw their cameras off.

“My first thought was, ‘Oh, they’re just taking a little bit longer to get into class,’ because usually when students first log in their cameras are off,” Solomon said. “So, I thought, they’re kind of slow today.”

Forte said the idea came when a student in the class saw a TikTok of a similar expression of gratitude and sent it to the class via group chat.

“The whole class was in on it,” Forte said. “We planned it in the group chat a day before class and made sure everyone had their posters ready. We also had a signal of when to turn on our cameras as well and show our signs.”

Forte said Solomon deserves the recognition because of how much she and the other students in the class enjoyed the semester.

“I wanted to show my appreciation for professor Solomon because she has always been good to me and the rest of my peers,” Forte said. “I know when I say this, I am also speaking on behalf of my peers. She is really such an amazing professor. I can’t stress it enough.”

Forte added that Solomon was understanding of the difficulties of the semester created by the pandemic.

“This semester was really rough with COVID-19 and professor Solomon really tried her best to make the class manageable for all of us,” Forte said. “She really cares about her students, and she shows it all the time.”

Solomon said it’s important to build relationships with her students, especially during remote instruction.

“I think that it’s easier — and I reminded all of my classes of this too — it’s easier to forget that there (are) people in those screens,” Solomon said. “We’re so used to watching TV or being on our phone, and it can lead to kind of a lack of personalization, where it’s just very impersonal. And so, at the beginning of classes — all my classes — I really reminded (them), when we’re talking about sensitive things, remember those are actual people there.”

Forte said she decided to post the video to TikTok because she wanted to remind others to show appreciation for their professors. She said she never expected it would go viral.

“The attention the video got is absolutely amazing because now other students can do the same for their professors,” Forte said.

Forte added that she has been struck by some of the comments on the video.

“The thing that really stuck out to me is how other teachers were commenting on it saying how kind it was, and how as a teacher, if their students did that for them, it would’ve made their year, so that’s why people should continue to participate in this trend,” Forte said. “Overall, I am just so overwhelmed with the love that it is getting, and I really hope this trend continues to move forward as we show some love to some of the best professors at QU.”

One comment read, “As a person teaching college courses on Zoom this year, I guarantee this meant the world to her.”

Another said, “This trend is the best by far this year.”

Solomon said while the attention the video has received is unexpected, she thinks it has resonated with people as a wholesome moment.

“It’s just nice to see feel-good moments to remind you of the good that’s out there in the world and that people still care about each other and want to show that care and appreciation,” Solomon said.

For students who want to show appreciation for their professors but don’t have access to the large scale that her students had, Solomon said a small note goes a long way.

“A thank you email is always nice to get, and we remember those,” Solomon said.