Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I'm finishing up Tuesday classes--one of my long days during the week when I have class, more or less, from 11 to 4--in my senior seminar, bending my head back every five minutes to see the clock. This isn't unusual, but I haven't finished reading Daniel Deronda so I feel particularly useless while waiting out the remaining twenty minutes, and a little ashamed about calling attention to myself with a question after class when I haven't contributed much to discussion.

I wait around for another student to finish asking about not getting her paper back and then ask my professor how to cite a quote from a book, found in an article, which I wouldn't have found if I had not read the article--which means I should give credit. He says something about putting the article and page number in parentheses (to be honest, I don't think he was quite certain) and then gets up to accompany the other student back to his office to look for her paper. I am going in the same direction.

Then he asks me whether I am graduating this year, and I say "yes" with the some awkwardness, qualifying it with the fact that "this is my first year at this campus". He looks disappointed and says that he tried to find me on some sort of list or system to do with the Honors program because students sometimes get "left out". He didn't know that I am a transfer student--as if this is something like a note of misconduct on a transcript or something. On our way out the door he says that he had looked me up but that my GPA wasn't quite good enough. I reply that Russian has killed my GPA (one can't get B's you know) and really wanted to say that I haven't gotten less than an A- for a long time in an English course (only a couple of B pluses when I first began). It didn't seem appropriate.

Walking past Lind--where I go my own way-- he mentions, perhaps as a kinder parting gesture, that I have been writing very good papers. I say that I wish I had had the opportunity to be in the Honors program.

On the way home I feel that this sort of thing is endemic to me. A small recognition of success always comes when I can no longer take advantage of it. When I left Morris last year, a professor told me she would like to nominate me to take a select (for Morris) English course on writing and become a tutor in the Writing Center. Nobody had ever given me any academic recognition before, so I was inordinately upset that I had to turn her down... because I was transferring.

And now this--when I can't do anything about it. I would at least feel good about the recognition if I hadn't heard the part about my GPA. I can't change it now, and I really did the best I could. I feel deficient anyways.

I am successful now, but I am not sure that it is actually sweeter having come after years of failure. That is probably why this incident bothers me--I've worked hard and can't take the failure anymore.

In the professor's eyes, I am a failure.