Video by: Samantha Snellings

Photos provided by: Hannah Robinson

I sat in a little classroom in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media looking at my clock and wondering when class would be over.

December had arrived. The boxes that accompanied my to-do list were filled with satisfying check marks. The semester was soon to be a memory.

But before Professor Robinson sent my classmates and I off, he wanted us to watch a 2010 TEDxToronto video.

Inwardly, I groaned. My suitcase was packed and ready to be picked up from my college house on McMasters Street. I was eager to get back to Colorado for winter break.

But, what was five more minutes in the grand scheme of things? I could get through it. I listened.

And I am so glad that I did. Drew Dudley’s words changed everything for me.

“How many of you guys have a lollipop moment, a moment where someone said or did something that you feel fundamentally made your life better? How many of you have told that person they did it?”

“See, why not? We celebrate birthdays, where all you have to do is not die for 365 days. Yet we let people who have made our lives better walk around without knowing it. Every single one of you has been the catalyst for a lollipop moment. You’ve made someone’s life better by something you said or did. If you think you haven’t, think of all the hands that didn’t go up when I asked. You’re just one of the people who hasn’t been told.”

My mind became crowded with memories, all competing for my attention.

I thought back to those acts of kindness that I had received — the ones that had made my weary heart suddenly feel less burdened.

I thought back to the words of wisdom that mentors had given me — the conversations that made me feel fully known and fully loved.

And I felt a sting in my chest as I wrestled with the question: “How many of you have told that person they did it?”

Ever since I heard those convicting words, my heart’s desire has been to celebrate people and remind them of their identity.

I don’t ever want someone to walk around, wondering if they have left a mark on the world and if what they are doing is meaningful.

I collected videos from Professor John Robinson’s past students and colleagues so he never has to wonder if he made other people’s lives fundamentally better.

Here is a message for John Robinson — the catalyst of many “lollipop moments.”

Follow John Robinson on Twitter and keep up with him on his website.

Samantha Snellings

I like telling stories and what makes people tick. What wakes them up in the morning. What gives them a sense of purpose. I want to be let in on their hopes and dreams. I want to understand their struggles. I refuse to live a mundane life where I simply go through the motions, passing by people without truly seeing them. I want to be a voice for the voiceless.