image: Single Sisters in University
Interview Topic: Hsndling Academic Failure
In this interview, Christie discusses about the way she handled academic failure as a believer in Christ. Christie’s been a child of God for the past 10 years now and holds a Masters in Health Management. On her free time, she likes trying out new restaurants with friends and watching movies. We pray you’ll be uplifted by her testimony!
How would you define or describe failure?
I think failure is falling down. The term ‘failure’ makes me think of someone who’s walking and doesn’t pay attention to a stone on the path; he stumbles on it and falls down.
It is a common belief that Christians are never to face failures. Especially as students, they shouldn’t get bad grades. Did you feel the same way?
That’s a fair statement! I mean the world, and even Christians themselves, perceive children of God to be these perfect people that should excel in everything. I knew that as a Christian student, I needed to honor God with my studies, thus having good grades. However, when I began to fail some of my courses, it was quite difficult to reconcile the two, i.e. honor God with my studies and having good grades. I was still honoring God by studying hard, going to all the tutorials, studying with classmates and etc, yet my grades did not improve. It was a bit tough there!
Did you blame yourself or God for your bad grades?
None of the above actually! (laughs). I knew that I was doing everything in my power to prepare for those tests and exams, so I couldn’t blame myself by saying that I was lazy or unprepared. I couldn’t blame God because I knew He was in charge despite the fact that I couldn’t understand what He was trying to teach me. I was just upset about the entire situation that I JUST COULDN’T PERFORM WELL !!!!! When I would study I would do exactly as taught by the professors, yet when I wrote the exams and did as I thought it should be done, the results turned out different.
What did it feel like when you failed your tests/exams?
I felt stupid! I felt humiliated because it was shameful to even reveal my grades. I remember I had this friend that I was always studying with for my Chemistry exams. We both started very confused at the beginning of the semester, but along the way, her grades ameliorated. Whenever, we received our grades back she would always ask me what I got and I had to lie at times because I was just so embarrassed of my poor results.
Why do you think you failed the tests/exams?
Because I was never meant to take them. I have never liked science since I was a young girl; I was not very good at it. In college, I wanted to become a doctor, since I couldn’t major in science due to my lack of scientific preparation in high school, I opted for Health Management. I always used to think that I could enter medical school with a ‘hatred’ for science, funny right? Today, I am not a doctor and don’t want to be one, so I realized that I was chasing after a dream that God had never destined for me.
Based on the description of failure you gave us earlier on, is it fair to say that science was your stumbling stone and that you were not paying attention on the road?
Yes, science was definitely my stumbling stone because it greatly lowered my GPA. I would have loved to graduate with honors, but because of my GPA, I couldn’t. I was not paying attention to the signs that if I was not comfortable with science or should I say if I hated science, there was no way I could be a doctor! I prayed that God would help me love chemistry, biology, and all, but there was never any passion for these courses, yet, I continued to be stubborn.
How did you handle this academic failure?
Knowing that God was in charge really blessed me, I continued to press on. When you fall, you have to get back up again and continue walking. God did a tremendous work in me that even despite the fact that I would feel stupid, He still strengthened me by blessing me with good grades in my core Health Management courses, so that was uplifting and made me realize that I was not so stupid after all!
Did it occur to you that maybe God was teaching or telling you something?
At that point, I didn’t understand why God was allowing these failures to happen. I was actually thinking that it was the devil’s plan to frustrate me from pursuing a medical career. It’s just after I went to graduate school, I realized that science was never for me and understood that God was showing me signs I ignored.
What did you learn from these failures?
There is no way one can become a doctor by hating science! (lol). I learnt that some times (not all the times), when you are struggling in a class despite giving your very best, it might be a sign that this class is not for you. It’s good to ask for God’s revelation about the situation.
Any words of encouragement to SSU?
Be strong and courageous. If you are not performing well in a class, before calling it quits, make sure that you’re doing your best (i.e. studying effectively, consulting professors, etc). As I said before, my own academic failure was due to ignorance of God’s signs, maybe yours is not. In that case, don’t be discouraged! Proverbs 24:16 says “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity.” Failure does not mean hopelessness, rise up no matter how many times you’ve fallen. Pursue God and He’ll definitely position you where you need to be just as He did for me.