How I Learned the True Value of Determination

A high level of determination is vitally important in achieving success.

Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate, I knew I wanted a graduate degree.  I didn't know in what, but I did know I wanted to get at least a master's degree in something.  In order to do that, I knew I had to get good grades no matter what class I had or who my professor was.

In one of my Sociology classes, Treatment of Law Violators, I really had to test my determination and push myself.  Dr. Dennis D. Loo, a brilliant Ivy League educated professor, taught this class.

By the way that he lectured, you could tell he was very intelligent and witty.  His vocabulary often went over our heads and his notes/diagrams on the chalkboard looked like advanced physics.  I constantly rushed during class to keep up. 

On my first midterm for the class, my grade was a C.  It was a test that most of the class, including myself, considered to be difficult.  Cs aren't grades good enough to get into grad school.  If I really was to go to graduate school, one of two things needed to happen: either the class would get easier or I would have to work much harder.  Since the first option wasn't going to happen, the second one needed to happen.

The next day I walked into class with more determination than I've ever had before.  I walked right up to the front, sat down, took out a college dictionary, and was ready for business.  Dr. Loo gave me a puzzled look.

I looked right at him and said, "I'm not going to let you be my grad school dream killer." 

He then started laughing hysterically and responded, "Grad schools won't reject you just because you get a C on a test."

"Well, I want to increase my chances as much as possible." I replied.

So throughout the rest of the quarter I worked and studied harder than I ever had before.  I took notes furiously in class and transcribed them later in detail.  Whenever there was a word in the lecture that I didn't understand, I instantly looked it up in class.  There was even an instance when Dr. Loo asked the class, "Do you know what (insert high level Sociology term) means?" and everyone in class looked at me because they knew I would look it up.  If there was a topic or theory I didn't fully understand, I discussed it with Dr. Loo during his office hours.

After an intense 10 weeks, my final grade was a B+ (although it really should have been an A).

I learned from this experience that in order for me to get to where I really wanted to go in life, I had to do whatever it took to get there.  This is when I really learned the value of determination. 

Years later, I went to grad school and earned an MA in Education.  As an educator, I strongly believe that all my students, despite their various backgrounds, can be successful given the right circumstances, maybe some luck, and a whole lot of personal determination.



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