06 May 2008

It's What I Do

Whew. What a day. Today was supposed to be easy; I was giving an exam this morning and grading the rest of the day, hoping to finish most of my semester's grades and just wrap things up tomorrow morning. That didn't really happen. I had a student quasi-emergency.

I had typed up most of this student's story, using gender-neutral pronouns no-less to further obfuscate the student's identity, but just deleted it all. I am not sure how much detail I should go into.

Let's just say the student had the deck stacked against him, made some poor choices early on that made it worse, and is now trying to rectify the situation. I am doing my best to help. Some of that stacked deck was financial, and that situation had reared up again. It's made me realize how close some of my students are to just chucking it all and ending up in the same poverty trap that they are trying to get out of. They are one frustrating form, one less than sympathetic professor or financial aid officer, one more parent who is unable or unwilling to offer some support away from some dead-end job in some dead-end town. It frustrates the hell out of me, because college should be about liberation -- about getting out of the chains of circumstance that trap us. It hits me in the gut when I see some kid who has that possibility but is walking that razor line between freedom and failure and so much of what determines her direction she can do nothing about. I really, really want to help push them in the other direction.

So I've got a lot invested in this kid now. I just want to make sure he walks across the stage in a year or so with a degree. That's what I am here for.

3 comments:

  1. I wish I saw more professors and university employees who had your attitude. Too many get so wrapped up in what they are doing, and they forget that the students are why they are there in the first place.

    You're a good guy, and that kid is lucky to have you there for him.

    R

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  2. Aww, what a nice thing to say, R! Prof P is lucky to have you as a friend. Thanks!

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