Professors at Jacksonville University strive to make a difference on campus no matter how unorthodox the need.
Professor Rody Borg has been teaching economics for over 36 years. He has interacted with many students, but he never had a student ask him to officiate their wedding until Joseph Babadi ’13 came along.
“Honestly, our relationship formed through ongoing conversations about economics and other things,” said Borg. “He’d always stop by my office.”
Borg said this is why he values when students make it a point to get to know their professors inside and outside of the classroom.
“It’s so funny how those small interactions we had with each other really impacted how he viewed me,” said Borg.
Borg said it’s an honor to know that a student thinks so highly of him.
“I went to a small college myself, but I didn’t connect with my professors that way,” said Borg. “I don’t know too many professors that have been asked to officiate a wedding.”
In August, Borg and his wife met Babadi and his fiancé, Blake Lewis, who extended a wedding invitation and proposed that Borg officiate the wedding.
“Naturally, when I thought of the people who I might ask to perform this part of an important ceremony, I immediately thought of him,” said Babadi. “Even without speaking to him in 3 years, I had no problem calling him up and asking this huge favor.”
Though they have created a strong relationship, Babadi didn’t begin taking courses with Dr. Borg until his senior year. The relationship continued to develop while Babadi pursued his master’s degree. Babadi was an economics major with a minor in mathematics.
“I met Dr. Borg 7, almost 8 years ago, in the spring of 2012, while I was working on an interdepartmental undergraduate research paper between the English and Economics departments,” said Babadi.
“Dr. Borg was a large part of the economics program, and eventually was the thesis advisor for myself and my thesis partner Illiana (Tidd) Foster,” said Babadi. “We spent the better part of those two years working closely together, and with that amount of time you begin to see people for more than face value.”
Babadi said he knew Borg vicariously through economics students he tutored in the Academic Learning Center. He developed a positive image of Borg through the students’ consensus that he was a great professor.
“I saw not only how he cared for the pursuit of knowledge, but his deep care for his students, family, and communities,” said Babadi. “That kind of selflessness is something I strive for.”
Babadi will marry his fiancé on March 29, 2020, at The White Room in downtown St. Augustine.
“Whether or not he realizes how he impacted my life, I met him at a time when I needed guidance,” said Babadi. “When you’re in need, you don’t always notice your surroundings, but upon reflecting, I couldn’t have asked for a better person to be inserted into my life to help me find my way.”
By Christina Sumpter