Back in college, I took a women’s health class during my senior year. There was no assigned seating but most of us sat in the same seats for the duration of the quarter. I sat a row behind and one seat over from this girl named Carolyn. She took great notes. I chose not to take notes even though I enjoyed the professor’s lectures. The Lecture Notes for this course and many others could be purchased from a university store. I relied on them whenever it was possible. Carolyn did not believe in them. I understood why. Every now and then, important pieces of information would be missing from these Lecture Notes. I was always willing to take the risk.
Our professor gave us the option of turning in our term papers in advance so that we could make any necessary changes and receive the best grade possible. I declined because I would be happy with any passing grade. Carolyn took the professor up on the option. When the professor gave Carolyn back her paper, I could see red marks all over it. These were the adjustments that had to be made in order for the paper to get the best grade possible.
I saw the back of Carolyn’s head begin to quiver. All of a sudden, she started to moan and cry. The professor came back over to see what was wrong. Carolyn had a breakdown in front of the entire class. She stated that her paper deserved an “A” in its current state. As the professor tried to calm Carolyn down, I was still in shock. After about five minutes, she was visibly okay.
I ended up running into Carolyn after the quarter was over. I asked her how she did in the class. She told me that she got an “A.” I was happy for her. I was also happy for my “B+.” I realize now that even though there may have been more to her breakdown than I was aware of, she regarded her academic career with the seriousness that it deserved. I did not see the need to do so with mine until I had already finished it. I’m Going Down (1976), by Rose Royce, reminds me of Carolyn’s breakdown. I do not know what ended up happening to her. I sincerely hope that her grades took her to wherever she wanted to be.