In the course catalogue, Music 236 appeared as nondescript as any other listing. And the course title, "Sounds of Our Century," provided no particular reason to expect something extraordinary.
But when Courtney Adams bounced into the room on the first day of class, bursting with energy and enthusiasm, Bill Whymark '95 knew he would take far more than four hours of credit away from this course.
"She was just so great," Whymark said. "She loved the subject, and she loved teaching it so much that it was contagious to everyone around her."
Whymark was so smitten with music as a result of Adams' teaching that he made it his major. Admittedly not an exceptionally talented musician, his greatest enjoyment was simply attending Adams' classes.
"She was brilliant and very extroverted and friendly," he said.
"She seemed to understand what I was going through as a student, and she always found the time to talk with me about my life and what I wanted to do."
At one point, he told his mentor he was considering going on to graduate school for music, but she dissuaded him.
"She knew it wouldn't be right for me," said Whymark, who instead earned a master's degree in marketing. He now works for Northwest Airlines, but finds continuous rewards from having chosen to major in music as an undergraduate.
"It helped me to be able to analyze structure and form and to see the big picture," he said. "More important, it gave me an appreciation and love of something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life."
He has Courtney Adams to thank for that as well as for another of life's lessons - the strength she displayed during her final illness.
"She had incredible courage," Whymark remembered. "She talked openly with me about the cancer and about how she wanted to feel that she had made a meaningful contribution in life."
He pauses, perhaps hearing her voice above the music playing in his memory, then adds with emotion, "And she really, really did."