“I am not my grades”

“I spent a lot of time (and still do, sometimes) wondering if I am cut out for my career path, if I am competitive enough. How do you stay ahead of the curve when you don’t feel like you’re even on the graph? From Day One at Duke, I have been playing a game of constant catch up. I was not set up to succeed here.

We’re asked often to package ourselves based only on our successes – our best marks. Here, it has taken quite a number of bad marks and strolls far behind the notorious bell curve for me to get where I want – and need – to be, academically, and I’m not necessarily there yet. There were a lot economic and personal circumstances beyond my control that shaped my learning environment my first semesters freshman year, and the resulting blemishes in my academic life thereafter are a reflection of that. My biggest challenge here, so far, has simply been bringing myself up to the level of rigor that Duke asks of me, especially when my educational opportunities and academic preparation did not even come close to what I needed to succeed right out of the gate.

When I’m asked about what my “biggest/most important/meaningful” challenges have been in college, this is easily one of them, but why would I want to talk about failures that come without the perfect success story? There is no glamour in that. It’s not what we want to hear. Success is an ugly, non-linear, and sometimes disappointing, struggle. It’s a process more than it is an achievement.

It’s something I’m working on.”