I called his house but no one picked up. After calling a repeated amount of times his friend Ryan was able to get through to his parents. His parents had told Ryan that there was an accident and after we graduate they will tell us where Andrew is at. As soon as Ryan got off the phone he told me not to worry and that he probably broke his leg or something and that he was in a hospital somewhere and that we will know where after we get our diplomas.
Right before we were to stand up and walk toward the stage I got the worst news of my life. I got a call from Andrews frantic older brother. He asked if I had walked yet I told him no and demanded to know where Andrew was.
I dropped my phone and just sat there. After a few minutes I guess you could say it hit me. The tears came rolling off my face. I looked at Andrews two best friends and ran to them, I held their hands as I told them the devastating news.
Right after telling them it was our turn to get our diplomas. No one else that was graduating had known what had happened and they were actually laughing. Retrieved 12, , from https: Graduation Day Graduation Day For most people their graduation day is one of the best days of their lives. And I did not want to leave! I did not want years of hard work to be wasted. I wanted a PhD. I wanted my family, especially my father, to be proud of me.
I wanted to prove to my siblings, none of whom have completed college, that I had done the right thing by staying in school, my passion for learning ultimately earning me a PhD. I wanted to go home to my beloved Cameroon, my childhood home, and paint a beautiful ethnographic picture of it.
I wanted to prove to the parents of my boyfriend at the time that they were wrong when they regarded me with an impenetrable suspicion. Wielding a powerful PhD in anthropology, I wanted to silence forever anyone who dared tell me I was not smart or capable. How could I listen to the voice that questioned my reasons for being in graduate school when I had so many irons in the fire? In May of , I finally listened to this voice and I left. Most days I just want to forget it all happened.
But even as I dreamed of walking away, I knew that I would need to remember what being in graduate school was like. I would need to remember in order to leave. This remembering is what this essay is about. It is my way of remembering why I left. I need to remember why I left graduate school before my reasons become blurry and I begin to doubt my decision once again.
Doubting my decisions, doubting myself, is what I am an expert at. Well, graduate school can be a terrible place for one to turn to if one hopes to gain greater self-confidence. For me, it was not the best place to develop a deep and lasting respect for the things I know. Academia is a place where one learns to digest myriad competing pieces of information, where one is taught to question things and question oneself.
This is especially so for academic social scientists whose job it is to critique things. Am I sick of graduate school or am I just imagining that I am? Is graduate school making me sick or am I making myself sick?
Is it that I was not made for this academic world or is it that this academic world was not made for me? I flounder as I introduce a personal narrative on a topic or choice leaving graduate school that bears a great deal of stigma in the academic world and inspires a feeling of shame and a fear of judgment in students—feelings and fears that the sociologist Eric Plutzer argues are not at all unfounded. To anchor my voice to something truthful, I see this essay as emerging from the heart of my October 10 th journal entry.
Barely a month into graduate school, I was questioning my new life. Eventually, my questioning would turn its critical eye to my reasons for wanting a PhD. I found these reasons to be flawed. I am thankful to graduate school for this, for giving me the ability to question my goals and begin assessing what I need in order to lead a happy life.
I am even more thankful for the opportunities and privilege it gave me to write. I am thankful for this opportunity to share my story with an audience of graduate students. What I am not thankful for is the anxiety graduate school caused me, the very visceral memory of unbearable stress it has left me with. As I write this essay, I feel strange. I am unable to sleep through the night. I am becoming irritable, depressed, weak, and generally unhappy.
I feel sick; perhaps I am coming down with a cold. I feel as if there is a creature with sharp teeth living inside me, tearing at my muscles and gnawing at my bones, making any kind of thought difficult. From labored start to awkward, early finish, this is what graduate school was like for me.
During the last semester of my third year, unsure of who to speak to and what to do, I began a desperate search for things to read that would let me know I was not alone in my desire to leave graduate school. Like a woman peering into a crystal ball, I looked for clues about my future in every book pulled down from my overcrowded shelves.
It took me a while to find a place to start, but eventually, I did. I missed my home in Cameroon. I wanted to go back to this home, and I was using anthropology as a way to get there.
I had not thought of the possibility that there are other ways of going home—less painful ways. Can I go home via my memories and stories? I began to think about writing a memoir.
I began to dream of writing my own journey and not letting anthropology write it for me. Still, I kept looking for clues and for permission. I wanted stories about graduate students in anthropology who had left their programs. Where did they go?
What did they do? How did they do it? I did not find these stories. Here and there, I found books, articles, and websites that helped me and I have included them in my essay. In the end, I had to make my decision, for the most part, on my own. My narrative, a collection of personal essays on my time in and my leaving graduate school, is the kind of writing I searched for during that last semester, the kind of narrative I did not find. It is a narrative that is by no means complete but is one that explores the numerous things that shaped my journey through graduate school and my leaving.
I want this essay to be part of a discussion about the varied and important experiences of graduate students. They want to make a claim for some unchartered time to engage in honest, heartfelt narrative dialogue with [faculty] and with one another.
Ultimately, I hope my essay will give courage to students like me who want to leave and feel alone in their decision-making. I have crafted my essay as a gift to them. And I am walking away from a doctorate that could be mine in another three or four years.
If only I could tough things out, I catch myself thinking, then I could continue to dream of being Dr. I could be a person of so much more authority, power and influence than I could ever hope to be as a woman without those three letters after my name.
Or is this what I had to believe, in order to put myself through the stressful ordeal that graduate school is? Unfortunately—or fortunately, as my mother would say—my body would not cooperate with my academic goals and upon the completion of my MA degree not a terminal degree offered by the department but one PhD students could get after completing their coursework , I chose to leave and to work toward creating a new vision of myself, as a woman who can achieve her dreams without a PhD.
It may seem to some that this is something I could have done without leaving graduate school. It is something I tried to do, but I found it impossible to stop believing in the value of a PhD. Every time I tried to forget about it , there seemed to be no point for me to struggle so much; the PhD gave purpose to my suffering.
A PhD is not everything but breathing is. I know it is an inappropriate word. I did not die. Still, it is the best word I can think of to describe how I felt. Beginning in my first semester of grad school, some form of the sensation of not being able to breathe is what I felt on many nights. I would sit up in bed, listening to my heart pound and waiting for it to slow down, afraid that it might stop beating altogether.
I would rub at my arms impatiently, waiting for the sound to die down, the sound of waves crashing somewhere in my ears and filling my head with water. I would curl up into a tight ball and will my heart not to jump out of my chest. My heart was a red, hot, uncooperative mass of flesh, obstinate and, unfortunately, out of reach. But like a difficult baby who will not go to sleep at night and who wakes its parents every few hours shrieking its complaints, my heart became my own little terror.
It refused to see how inconvenient its nightly tantrums were. You betray me, so who will stand by me? Most of my attempts at slowing my heart down were futile. I tried talking to it. Anyone who knows me will say I have a very soft voice, barely audible sometimes. If any voice can soothe a wild heart, it ought to be my own.
I could not talk to my own heart. My apartment was efficient , just as my journey through grad school was meant to be. It had a kitchenette, a small bathroom, and a room that served as my bedroom and my office.
The tourist market is where foreigners and tourists can purchase fresh flowers and souvenirs like jewelry and woodcarvings. Big and small batik paintings, rich in color and made on cloth with the help of dyes and wax, adorn makeshift stalls on one side of the market.
The deep blue of the painting above my bed filled my room with life. Men and women in colorful clothes, with baskets of fruit on their heads, live in this painting, but as I paced back and forth on sleepless nights, I did not see their peaceful faces. What I saw—and despised—was the inefficiency of insomnia and anxiety, the failure of my own body and mind at coping with the rigor of graduate school. Sad and frustrated, I would pick up a book from a pile of unfinished reading next to my bed and read until I felt brave enough to close my eyes, no longer afraid of death.
When I look at my journal entry now, I recognize what was happening to me. My body was losing its ability to cope with stress. And when this happens the heart is not the only victim.
The mind is, too. What was the cause of all this anxiety? In my first year, it was the amount of reading assigned in my classes; most of the time, I could not keep up. Going to class with unfinished homework terrified me. I was paralyzed by the prospect of speaking in class, of making guesses instead of insightful contributions.
When it came time to write term papers and finals, I feared failure and disgrace. It was a struggle to plow through readings I could not make sense of and write coherent essays based on them. I was ready to collapse after I submitted each term paper. I protested but only to friends and family. For my first year, funding was not a source of stress.
I was fortunate to have a one-year fellowship through my participation, during my undergraduate years, in the McNair Scholars Program, a program that helps students from low-income families or minority backgrounds prepare for and pursue doctoral study. I got into this program not because I was part black but because I was poor. In my second year, however, teaching assistantships became my only source of funding and my next source of severe distress.
I was just beginning to feel confident about my ability to survive graduate school, when I found myself thrust in front of a classroom and unprepared for the responsibility of moving seventy-five undergraduates safely through the introductory anthropology course. I foundered, and when the mid-semester teaching evaluations from my students arrived, I could not bring myself to read them. Eventually, I forced myself to—and proceeded to have a complete meltdown.
It was Thanksgiving Break when I got the evaluations back. I spent the entire holiday weekend bedridden, paralyzed with fear. What frightened me the most was a remark from the list of improvements I needed to make.
How could I teach and expect to be trusted when I did not trust myself? But all I could do was put my face in my hands and weep. I buried the evaluations the same way I buried my journal, under a pile of papers on my bookshelf. I sunk into a deep depression for the rest of the fall of my second year. The world was a place full of injustice and my students were ungrateful beings. As winter drew near, my world and the sky turned gray.
I grew more terrified than ever of my students and their judgment of my abilities. My true nature had been discovered. I could no longer hide my lack of confidence. She was a fellow teaching assistant—a successful one—and the one who collected feedback from my students. I nodded but secretly chose to jettison her advice. This was not a term paper where I could manipulate the tone of my voice and cite many sources. I would only confuse my students and myself or at least run the risk of doing so.
I either knew things or I did not know them and I needed to be honest about this. I battled constant fatigue, but I knew I had little time for anguish and despair. I needed a solution. What if I revealed my vulnerability to my students?
I could let them see that I was not an authority on all things anthropological but a student as well, making my way through a discipline that oftentimes thrives on being obscure instead of being clear.
This is what I did during my next semester of teaching. But first, I had to put that awful semester to rest, and it took an eternity to do so. The nightmare ended two days before Christmas. On December 23, , after grading 75 term papers, each ten pages long, and writing my own final papers, I was ready for a new way of doing things.
I cannot say that my solution worked. I was happy to give myself permission to be imperfect, and some of my students appreciated this. Still, I felt anxious. During the rest of my second year and again during my third year, I continued to agonize over my teaching after every discussion section.
I also continued to feel inordinately exhausted. I never overcame the fatigue that made it hard to face each class meeting. It was frustrating having my own coursework to complete but often feeling the pull to prioritize teaching. I tried to do the things I was supposed to do, all the things that could help me succeed—stay organized, meet with my adviser regularly and inform her of my progress, keep my grades up, apply for grants and fellowships, reflect on a research topic, take courses that would help me frame this topic.
I am not sure if I was shy or if I just wanted to be somewhere else. At the end of a day of classes or teaching, I would make for the doors of the department. You have to rest!
How I used to long to run away, to go home. She worried that stress and anxiety would do to me what they had done to her. I was ready to run away. Before I moved to Michigan, I underestimated the kind of psychological pain cold air and dark skies can cause me to feel, especially when no one is smiling at me. Yes, it was cold, but just about everyone I met was smiling. I stayed at the apartment of a third-year student who was preparing to do her dissertation research in Africa.
She smiled at me, bravely, even when she came down with a cold and looked miserable. I loved her living room, with its simple futon that she opened up for my bed and its large cloth painting that swayed above my head, a painting of a warm, brown African savanna. I forgot the cold. The three layers of pants and sweaters, the bulky down jacket, the useless scarf and hat, the unhappy fingers and miserable toes, the burning eyes and lips and ears, the sting of cold air in the nose.
There was the winter night I left the library and lost the black, fleece earmuffs my sister gave me for my first Christmas as a grad student. I noticed they were missing when I got home. Then, I went home, in tears. My family did not understand why I was so distraught over a pair of flimsy earmuffs. My boyfriend sent me a new pair. I hardly touched my new earmuffs, too afraid to lose them. In Michigan, winter is a horrible guest. He comes early, stays late, and burdens everybody with his harsh opinions.
I thought if I died in Michigan, the best time to do so would be during one of the three winters I witnessed there. It would be convenient if on my way to school, I collapsed in the snow and froze instantly. It would mean I could skip school altogether. I could skip the entire year. I can joke about it now but it is not funny.
Everyone manages with the cold, I told myself, so I will manage, too. I learned to cope. At the end of an ice-cold day, I would rush home to my warm apartment, examine my tired eyes in my small bathroom mirror, and give my reflection my best you-made-it-through-the-cold-like-a-pro smile. I would escape into the cloth painting above my bed, the blue painting of a tropical Africa that I purchased in Douala before my move to Michigan. I would remind myself that I come from a warmer place.
Some warmth crept onto my bookshelves during my second year. I was in love. For the first time in graduate school, I was enjoying my homework. I was thoroughly in love with the different ways of writing ethnographically.
What fascinated me were the genres—fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction—in which one could tell a story about a place and its people, ways that would make the story engaging and accessible to an audience of readers beyond the world of academic anthropologists. Adding novels and memoirs to my bookshelves—shelves heavy with theoretical tomes by central figures in anthropology like Malinowski, Durkheim and Boas—made me feel that there is a place for the story of my family in the ethnography of Cameroon.
If I do not write our story, is there an anthropologist out there who will? For the seminars taught by Ruth Behar, I wrote about my family and my twenty years of life in Cameroon. I workshopped my essays with students who were fiction writers. Anthropology graduate students were conspicuously absent from the ethnographic writing seminars that year; I was the only anthropology student in a cohort of students who trickled in from their creative writing, art, and education programs.
I felt alive being around these students, writing about my family and my childhood, and sharing my stories. But it would take me another year of struggling through books and assignments I did not enjoy to finally consider writing about Cameroon, not as an anthropologist, but as a young woman from this African nation and as a writer.
In early June of , I said good-bye to Ann Arbor. I took a train to Washington DC to visit my brother who had just moved from Chicago to Maryland with his wife and daughter. She is African American and lives in Delaware. She is an energetic woman in her mid-seventies. She is sociable and inquisitive. She delights in asking about Cameroon, and she enjoys interrogating me about African traditions she does not understand.
She loves to tell us about the people from Africa she meets in Wilmington. She refers to Cameroon as Kangaroo. Her daughter and my brother have been married since the fall of but only in the summer of did they succeed in correcting her. I was disappointed once she stopped calling me a Kangaroonian. I ought to have been offended by someone calling me by the name of an animal from Australia. As history would have it, Portuguese traders sailing up the River Wouri from the Atlantic coast in the 15 th century found the river overflowing with large prawns.
They called the river Rio dos Camaroes Neba This is how Cameroon gets its name, with later modifications by German, British and French colonial masters in the late 19 th and early 20 th centuries. So it is a country named after a crustacean—not a kangaroo, of course, but a member of the animal kingdom, nonetheless.
Yes, we are from Cameroon! Oh, Cameroon, Thou Cradle of our Fathers We are Anglophone Cameroonians, people from that sliver of land, that is really a place fat with thick trees, rolling hills, rich soil, and delicious food. We are Anglophone Cameroonians, squeezed between Nigeria, the West African giant we hold at bay with a very porous border, and the giant we cannot hold back and must contend with everyday, Francophone Cameroun.
We—my two brothers, my two sisters and I—call this home, this sliver of land populated with English-speakers. Well, we have the British to thank for that. English, French, and some Cameroonian Pidgin English. But I enjoy trying, like a true anthropologist. We were born and raised in Cameroon, but mostly, we are Cameroonian because our father is Cameroonian. This fact of our paternity resolves much of the ambiguity we have to contend with now that we live in the United States, the place our mother hails from.
We do not really know what it means to be Irish or Welsh or German, even though these are our mother's ancestors. It is our father and his family that we are bound to; his family and his people claim us. We are children of the Allo family. And because colonialism complicated and expanded the place we Allos come from, we are not just Allos.
One must be aware of what group of people one belongs to or can be claimed by, the people one can represent. This is what all education is about—learning who you are, who you are to become, and what groups of people you can speak for. This, too, is what anthropology is about. I wanted to be beyond their reach. So far, I am the only one of his children with a college degree three college degrees, actually! It was the duty of every capable Cameroonian to ensure that this evil presence was kept at bay.
I sensed that those without a solid education lived in constant danger of being robbed of what little they possessed in the way of objects, knowledge, and peace of mind.
Having failed at their national duty and lacking the protection a formal education could provide, these individuals were the truly damned. I knew for a fact that my father was not one of these vulnerable souls. My father has a PhD. College educated in East Africa and the US where he met my mother , my father came of age during the s, the independence era for many African nations, Cameroon included, and the era of development through universal primary education and higher education in the West, preferably in the sciences.
While he was a student there, the African Wildlife Leadership Foundation gave him a scholarship to continue his studies in the US. He has a PhD in ecology. He has proof of this academic achievement, too: He has bad dreams, as well.
He is sixty-five years old. In the past, I have had a hard time seeing my father in me, but I know that I must truly worship him, because unlike any of my siblings, I set about acquiring my own room full of books, a strange sleep pattern, a pair of red eyes, and a good collection of school-themed nightmares. Perhaps I left just in time to be spared.
What I dream about is another school I could not escape from. If you go to boarding school in Bamenda, my hometown, there are certain things you cannot live without.
This is why, before you come to the campus, the school gives you a prospectus. If you go to Our Lady of Lourdes Secondary School Lourdes , the only all-girl, Catholic boarding school in Bamenda, there are a few things the school will provide for you, such as meals, textbooks, two sets of the school uniform a creamy, yellow blouse and a red, pleated skirt , a PE dress, a counterpane, and a narrow bed.
The prospectus outlines almost everything else you will need: What the prospectus does not tell you is that you will need some heavy-duty matches for burning down the school!
Or a sledgehammer you can use to pound away at the tall, concrete fence that separates the campus from the outside world. Over the years, escape has become more of a possibility. Built in the early s and named after Saint Bernadette and the pilgrimage site in France, Lourdes is one of the top secondary schools in Cameroon, and it became my second home from age 12 to If it is not what you are used to, five years is a long time to wake up for mass every morning, bathe with cold water, eat bread with watery tea for breakfast, eat rice and beans almost everyday, see your family once or twice a month, expect to be quizzed in class without warning, and expect to cut grass or wash the pit latrines for being tardy or disobedient.
But what am I complaining about? I was well on my way to becoming a member of the Cameroonian educated elite! My father desired this—I know I did, too. I was blessed to be learning from some of the best teachers in Cameroon. I was lucky to be in a very sheltered environment; for many girls at Lourdes, the campus was a safer place to be than the outside world, sometimes safer than home.
For many of us, Lourdes was home, a place where we spent most of the year, and our classmates and dorm-mates were family, the people we spent most of the year with. Halfway through my tenure at Lourdes, I became very depressed.
He dwelled in the surrounding parish, convents, chapels, and solemn sculptures of Mary and Jesus. I reached out to God in prayer.
High School Graduation Essay example - Graduation Epidemic My high school graduation was one of the saddest moments of my life. Although I was excited about graduating, I did not know what I was going to do with the rest of my life.
For most people their graduation day is one of the best days of their lives. No more high school, and for some it means that they are now able to move out on their own and embark on the independent journey of college. In my case my graduation day started out to be a great day but turned out to be.
Narrative essay high school graduation - Use this company to get your valid custom writing handled on time Essays & dissertations written by professional . Graduation narrative essay 1. Tatianna BaileyEnglishNarrative Essay Graduation Everybody in high school looks forward to graduation day.
A Personal Narrative on Graduating from High School PAGES 1. WORDS View Full Essay. More essays like this: highschool, highschool experience, highschool life. Not sure what I'd do without @Kibin Sign up to view the complete essay. Show me the full essay. Show me the full essay. More essays . Free Essay: Graduation Day It was one of the most exciting and nerve racking days of our lives. Although we were finally leaving high school, the feeling of.