"Guilt or Resentment: Hmm... Which Shall I Choose Today?"
Depression: Before You Reach for the Prozac

Students' Lives: Giving New Meaning to Daytime Drama

Students To the Student Sign

I love teaching Psychology at a large urban community college. Somehow, the best college students in the city manage to get registered for my classes. It's uncanny. I have been amazed by the trauma and drama that they encounter in their complicated lives. And yet, they manage to work around weekend incarcerations, eight hour waits in Emergency Rooms, restraining order violations, pregnancy complications, car thefts, sudden deaths in the family, relationship break-ups, cancer diagnoses, and house fires - to hand in that two-page paper on time on Monday morning. Truly, I have been amazed by their resilience and determination. Sometimes I wonder if they have had so much chaos in their lives, that they have become accustomed to crisis being the norm. They seem to take it in stride with such casual acceptance.

I will never forget the phone call from one of my students who had just missed her morning class. We exchanged pleasantries at first and then she matter of factly asked if she might be allowed to hand in her paper later today. I asked what had caused her to miss class. She calmly explained that the SWAT team had surrounded her apartment complex, and in fact, she is still on lock down and can't leave until the all clear is given. Apparently, the shooter is still in the area, and everyone is advised to lock their doors and stay close to their phones. So obviously, the thing to do is to call your Psychology instructor and see if you can hand in your paper a bit late after this pesky little incident gets resolved. Coincidently, I had watched this incident unfold on Breaking News that morning, so I knew this was not just a creative excuse to miss class. She got an A on that paper.

Drama Sign

I remember being a college student, though I attended a midwestern four-year residential college in the early 70's. I know how Life can conspire to make some semesters more emotionally difficult than others. The most I ever had to deal with was probably the occasional relationship break-up. But this is a different time and a different place and a whole different demographic. I am humbled by the adversity that my students overcome in order to achieve their dreams.

Just over a year ago, I turned on the morning news to recognize one of my recent former students being interviewed in front of the smoldering ruins of her burned out apartment building.  It was February, during that awful two week freeze that much of the country endured. She and many others escaped with just the clothes on their backs. She was now homeless; she lost everything in the fire. About a week later, I ran into her in the hallway at school. Astounded, I asked, "Are you still in school this semester? I saw you on TV." She smiled and cheerfully exclaimed, "Of course! I need to finish my program; I graduate in May!" Apparently, the Red Cross had placed her in another apartment building and no, she didn't want to ask her adult kids for help; she would be just fine.

No doubt. With that attitude, she will accomplish whatever she wants. I just know that I want to be like her when I grow up.

Megaphone with Words Special Announcements
Make this easy for yourself! Let me come to you!

When you become a Subscriber, you will receive an e-mail from me a couple times a week whenever I publish a new post. You just click on the link and you're here! Just go over there to the right side bar, under my picture and fill in your e-mail address where it says, Subscribe.








Matt Cordova

Wow of all the blogs that I have read, this is by far the one that pulled at my heart strings. I (Thank God) have not had to deal with any sort of traumatic experiences that would cause me to drop out of school. But I have spoken with many students in my class, hallway, SRC and just waiting in line for anything and was blown away by some of the stories they have to say. It's amazing to see how much most people have to say if they just have a sound board to talk to.
In my English 1102 class, on the first day we did an exercise call “Icebreakers.” It was a fun class activity where all the students answered some questions about themselves: Where are you from? What degree are you pursuing? How long have you been in school? The last book you read? And last, a wild card question? Which meant another student could ask an appropriate question about anything. I found that it was a great team building exercise and I feel that a lot of us classmates have come closer and are able to talk in class and share more ideas openly without an awkward feeling.
Outside on a break from a 3 hour class, I was talking to a guy who is in my English 1102 class. He mentioned in the icebreakers that he had 3 kids. He looked really young, so I asked him how old he was. I was shocked to find out that his oldest is 5 and he has a set of twin girls 2 years old. The guy is 21 and is raising the kids on his own. The mother of the 3 ran off because “it got too hard”. This guy amazes me that he is in school, raising 3 kids on his own, and works to support them all. I hope to be that strong if and when I have to encounter such a hard time.

Kristin L. Roush, Ph.D.

Hi Matt,
I am glad you were touched by this post. Yes, our students are truly inspirational. It reminds me that everyone - everyone - has a story and that the majority of our students really are trying to succeed and be responsible. I am sure you fall into that group. You have a good heart.


WOW! That was an incredible read. It definitely highlights the kinds of traumatic events a student faces in day-to-day life. Most importantly, it emphasizes will power and when something is important, nothing can bring them down or hold them back. This just reminds me to be extremely grateful for not having to face such horrific circumstances and to avoid making excuses for petty situations. This was an eye-opener.

Kristin L. Roush, Ph.D.

Hi Soiba,
Thanks so much for leaving your comment. I appreciate your humility in recognizing others' strengths. I know what you mean - great perspective for when I want to feel sorry for myself. Thanks! I'd love to hear from you again sometime!

Danielle Kanuho

I understand how people’s misfortunes can interfere with their schooling. In college, all I see is my goal, and anything interfering with what I want in life is removed. Everyone goes through phases, but one thing I’ve learned is that emotions are short, and in minutes you can have different feelings. I believe that is what helps us college students get through college.

Jessica Chavez

I found this post to be very motivational and easy to relate to. I have recently gone through something traumatic, and now am having a hard time focusing in class and with school in general. Your post helped me realize that there are many of us out there going through rough times, and that it is possible to stay in school and get through it. If they can do it, so can I!

Kristin L. Roush, Ph.D.

So sorry you are going through a difficult time. I am glad you found some inspiration in this post. Hang in there!

Kristin L. Roush, Ph.D.

What a great observation, to realize that feelings are not the Truth and that they, too, shall pass. Thanks so much for your comment!

don graber

When people are focused on a goal (like school), nothing can deter them from achieving that goal unless they let it.The whole city could be on fire and I bet some of your students still come to class. The obstacles faced on your educational journey are not par for the course, but just hiccups in the heavy breathing race for higher education. I like that perspective. It works.

Kristin L. Roush, Ph.D.

Hi Don,
I really agree with your "hiccup" perspective; it helps us to not take ourselves too seriously and to not over-react. Thanks for your comment!

Natalie Uttaro

Hi Kris,
I'm enjoying reading some of your posts, however, I particularly liked this one. Being a student, I can really relate to this. Last year I had to do some medical treatments. The doctor recommended I keep a light schedule, but what can I say, I've always been a busy body. I had school, work, dance; I was coaching cheer at a middle school, and attempting to maintain a social life on top of the groggy side effects. It was hard. But as difficult as it was for me to keep up, it was more important that I continue to do the things that are important to me. I'm happy to say that today I am healthy, and a stronger person because of it! For everyone else, never give up (I know it sounds cheesy)!

Kristin L. Roush, Ph.D.

Hi Natalie,
Nothing cheesy about the encouragement to never give up!
I am glad you survived your choices! Thanks for your comment!

The comments to this entry are closed.