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.

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