edu180atl: ritu lohtia 9.27.11
Today, I received an email from a student who I taught recently. Even though it was a large class, I distinctly remember her – she would always sit in the front of my class, and was very proactive in class discussions. While she never missed a class and seemed to be paying attention, it did not translate into a high grade. I assumed that she was not working hard enough.
I just learned from her email that she has been battling cancer for a while and is working hard to complete her undergraduate degree. She is looking to transfer to a different school (to be close to her fiancé as she goes through her medical treatment) and some grades she received may prevent her from transferring. She asked me if she could do extra work for an opportunity to improve her grade.
I learned a few things as I reflect upon her request and decide how to respond. One, don’t reach any conclusions without getting the true story. Two, never say never. In my two decades I have been disciplined to ensure that I am always fair and give all students the same opportunity at all times. But, I am now faced with a specific situation where I am exploring how I can make an exception. Three, having seen her determination and attitude, reinforces the need to be positive.
Don’t jump to any conclusions, be flexible, and stay positive!
Ritu Lohtia is an Associate Professor of Marketing at Georgia State University, where she has been teaching for 21 years. She loves to cook and travel with her husband and two daughters.