Mia: Shaken Not Stirred

The true life stories of a NYC female.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Wanted To Say...But I Didn't

“See me after class.” The note attached to my ungraded paper read. I sighed and ran my finger over the note feeling the tell tale pin prick of tears swimming behind my eyes. Here we go again. Suck it up. No matter how mad you are you will not cry.

I’m tired of this, tired of having to defend myself over and over again just because I can string my thoughts into words, words into sentences and sentences into comprehensive paragraphs. I go through this every so often.I hand in my first paper of the term and a professor will question my work, in essence they question me. I wonder what is it exactly that people see when they look at me? I must come across as dumber than a door nail. Maybe I should just dumb my papers down so I wouldn’t have to go through this hassle repeatedly.

I approached the professor after class and he took my paper from me.

- What’s this about?

He looked disappointed as if I’d done something wrong.

Oh yeah here we go again.

-- Mia, this paper looks like you purchased it.

Oh no, he didn’t, oh hell no he didn’t just say that to me. I chuckled. I have a tendency to chuckle when I’m nervous or angry. Hey, at least it was keeping the tears at bay.

- Are you serious?

I laughed again and he glared at me.

- This isn’t the first time this happens.

-- It’s not?

- Nope. Last semester Dee accused me of the same thing the first time I did a paper for her.

I didn’t bother to tell him about all the others or that I’d chased away their doubts after consistently turning in “A” papers.

- Scan the paper if you want. It’s not plagiarized and it is my work.

Judging from the condition of the paper he’d already scanned it. Having found no evidence of plagiarism he assumed I’d paid someone to write the paper for me.

-- See this here this is a red flag

He pointed out a chart I’d created breaking down data

-I created that chart specifically to make it easier for you to interpret the data.

He stared at me incredulously.

-- You did this?

- Yes.

His comment stung as if he’d slapped me. I wanted to retaliate with a smart assed comment but this wasn’t the time. I didn’t want to embarrass him in front of the students who’d hung back to talk to him after class. After all he is the one who ultimately decides if I pass or fail the class.

-- This is a grad level paper

I looked into his eyes defiantly and laughed.

I get it, because I’m a BA student I shouldn’t be able to work on a grad school level. I wanted to kick him yet I felt a flush of pride.

- Are you serious?

What I actually wanted to say are you FUCKING bloody serious?! I didn’t because there was no need for me to be rude. I’m better than that…sometimes.

- I should be a grad student by now. This is my second BA.

A look of surprised skittered over his face, he arched an eyebrow at me.

-- Really?

- Yeah, I got my first BA from John Jay.

-- John Jay?

- Yeah

John Jay has a great academic rep I’d impressed him. Big whoop.

- The subject really interests me. I plan on doing my masters thesis on this.

-- Are you working on your masters now?

- No, but I will be next year. I believe in being prepared.

-- Still…

- I took this class at John Jay

-- You did?

- Yeah

-- Why are you taking it again?

- The head of the social work department here insisted I take it again.

I explained to him that if he’d asked when I submitted my topic for his approval I would’ve told him that I’ve been researching the subject for a year now. My topic was on the stigmatization of mental illness in women of a specific religious community and the reluctance of the afflicted individuals and their families to seek outside help. There’s very little research being done in this area and as a result I’ve been using my ties to that community by reaching out to women in here in the United States and abroad and conducting my own studies and surveys. I’ve been compiling my own data. He stared at the paper and then looked at me. I think I unnerved him.

-- Mia, don’t take nothing bad out of this.

-What am I supposed to take from this then?

--It’s just a well written paper. Too well written, it looked professional. The format… I thought you purchased it. What was I supposed to think?

- I don’t know whether to take that as a compliment or an insult.

I stared at him and held in what I wanted to say. I don’t know what you were supposed to think. I only know what you obviously thought. You thought that I wasn’t smart enough, that I didn’t have it in me. No sir it’s not like I’ve dedicated every free moment I have to my research. Surely I would never be that dedicated towards my educational goals. I wanted to say all that but I didn’t.

-- Mia, I’m giving you an “A” for this paper. I don’t give any higher.

I nodded my head and took my paper from him and turned to walk away. I know I should’ve felt vindicated but I didn’t, I felt hurt. Maybe he expected me to thank him but I didn’t feel like I owed him that. I busted my ass on that paper, I’d earned that grade. He called out to me softly and it was all I could do not to give him the middle finger.

-- Mia, You never talk in class, you’re always so quiet.

- I don’t talk because I’m always thinking.

I wanted to say I don't talk because I know this stuff already and want the other students to get a chance to ask the questions they need to ask and to learn. I wanted to say don’t think I’m stupid just because I don’t speak in class but I didn’t.


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