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"It's Not Right, But It's The Way Things Are"

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"It's Not Right, But It's The Way Things Are"

Oct 01, 2020

Sometimes, you just need people to tell you the truth, even if the truth isn't something you might want to hear. A good mentor not only points out your strengths but also helps you correct weaknesses as well. In this mentor moment, Bushra remembers a hard, but important, piece of advice from her first year of undergraduate.

Episode Transcript

Freshman year of college, I was taking this bioethics class led by Dr. Carolyn Bliss. This class was very engaging and very interesting. And we had a lot of writing assignments that went along with this course, more writing than I probably have ever done. I remember liking the work that we were doing, and I remember enjoying writing those papers. But the problem was when I got those papers back and they were graded, I would just see the page just marked up. A lot of grammatical mistakes, a lot of sentence structure mistakes. And I think to me it was very frustrating because I thought that my thought content was very good. I thought it was exceptional, but I would always miss marks for just grammatical sentence structure, that kind of stuff. And I just remember being super frustrated by it.

And I went to go talk to Dr. Bliss during office hours one day, and I was, you know, obviously very frustrated that I wasn't getting all the points that I thought I deserved. And she basically sat me down and said, "In academia, you need to be able to convey your thoughts in a way that is more refined, in a way that isn't so distracting by mistakes that you make when you write." I just remember thinking, "Well, if you understood what I'm saying, should it matter what grammatical mistakes that I make or where I put the comma versus where it should be?" And she says it shouldn't matter, but in academia, people will be distracted by that, and then they will write off your thoughts as invalid. She said it's not right, but it's just the way that things are. And she basically said that she would coach me and teach me how to refine my writing skills.

And you see this throughout academics. This certain set of rules that we are meant to abide by because somebody made those rules and no one's ever challenged them. What I realized is that I have to be able to play the game in order to have a shot and fulfilling my dreams and, you know, getting through college. Most importantly, this was my first year, and I was already struggling.

So she gave me these extra lessons. She refined my skills. She would check all of my work before I submitted it for grading. And I will say now, at this point, writing is one of my stronger capabilities in terms of being able to express myself. I think it's I do that better now than I do even speaking. And I can only thank her for that piece of such important advice. And I think sometimes you just need people to tell you the truth, regardless of whether you like it or not, but also not only tell you the truth, but also help you navigate and kind of correct those things, those "mistakes that you're making." And it's one of my strong points now, precisely because she took that time to teach me.