After attending Mississippi State University part-time my senior year of high school, I attended summer classes in 1988 and started full-time the following fall as a sophomore. I took a standard load of 15 hours and moved into Critz, one of the freshmen residence halls. I met lots of new friends, some of which are still my friends to this day. Things were going well for me until I took my first set of finals in December.
I was having difficulty in one of my communications courses—I was already in over my head and didn’t know it. When I say difficulty, I mean I didn’t have an A. Remember the pressure I was under in grade school? That was nothing compared to what came with having to maintain a certain GPA to keep my scholarship. I was constantly threatened with having to move back home because without my scholarship, my parents couldn’t afford to send me to college.
The day of my final in that class, I woke up with the same old stomach symptoms I had before biology tests back in grade school. I went to a final I had at eight in the morning, a theatre class. But I had to leave four times to go to the bathroom and throw up. The last time I came back, Dr. Durst said, “Why don’t you go home? This isn’t worth dying for.”
I assured him that I would be able to finish the test, and I did. I hoped that I had thrown up everything I had left—but I was wrong. My big final was at one that afternoon, and by eleven o’clock, I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I called my mom to come get me because my dorm had rules about going home when sick. I called to tell my professor I wasn’t coming to the final and got the head of the department, Dr. Hill. I told him I wasn’t going to be there, and he said, “You know you need a good reason to miss a final.”
I said, “I’ve been throwing up since six in the morning. You can ask Dr. Durst about how often I had to leave his final to go throw up.”
I negotiated another time to make up the final and hung up. My mom arrived to come get me, and she commented that the last time I had done this was when I took my chemistry final in high school. I went home and stayed until the day of my makeup final. Then it was Christmas holidays, and I stayed home until classes started in January.