Author Archives: Kirsten Wright

How Did This Happen?

Kirsten Wright
Assistant Professor, Geology and Integrated Sciences

On the first day of class, she was in a seat at the back of the classroom, and I had no idea that she would teach me a powerful lesson.  I recognized her from the previous semester, and I hoped that this time she would complete the course.  She did well when she came, so all she really needed to do was to show up and pay attention.  Is that so hard?

This time she attended class farther into the semester than she had before.  It happened again, though.  Most of the way through the semester, she pretty much disappeared from class.  This time, LCC had support for her.  I asked an Academic Success coach to talk to her, and it worked fantastically.  She was in class the next day, and I was glad to see her.  I was hopeful for her success in the course, but she disappeared again.

After contacting her, we arranged a time for her to take the final exam.  She did okay, and she had done just enough work to pass the class.  However, was this a success? She may have passed my class, but I wondered about her other classes, her academic program, even her home life.  Was she on track to succeed outside of my class?

I asked her, and she chose to share her struggles with me.  She came from an inner city high school, and was offered the opportunity to attend LCC.  This was life changing for her since she never expected to be able to pay for college classes and the program was free to her.  She chose a challenging major, but stayed undeterred from it, because this was the only time she would ever have a chance.  The classes proved difficult, the course load was too much, and she couldn’t keep up.  Now, she was so far behind that she barely hoped to get her diploma.  She had given up on a degree.

“How could this have happened?” I thought to myself.  “An offered opportunity has indeed changed her life, but not for good.  She may not even graduate high school, now.”  For her, coming to class was not as easy as I had imagined.  For her, paying attention was not as easy as I had imagined.  For her, desperation was real.

LCC is the land of opportunity for students from a wide variety of backgrounds, but that also means they have a variety of challenges.  Each of those challenges can interfere with learning.  I have learned to watch for struggling students, and to show them concern.  I will always consider that each student could have challenges that I cannot imagine.