UP Saga 6-10: Why I did not drop CL310 even though it nearly sent me to the hospital
- First day of classes, prof warned us that she fails (as in 5.0) students and in fact there was a class where only one had passed and that one person was “pasang awa” (3.0). Called herself a terror and really meant it.
- Joyce and I were left standing, refusing to drop.
- Met some CL students and found out that they actually avoided that prof.
- Would get sick almost every week that my colleagues (Ms. Agnes and Ms. Timi) had already urged me to get myself checked. My fever would get worse during her class and sometimes I’d collapse as soon as I get home. This caused me to miss so many work-related events and exhibits by colleagues (namely J, Elvert, and Gelo).
The professor is Dr. Helen E. Lopez. Way scary. But out-of-this-worldly intelligent. Listening to her sometimes-angry-but-intellectually-stimulating opinions was worth earning the ire of my employers. I felt my mind expand in so many ways I couldn’t even begin to explain it. She talked about geniuses never attaining happiness throughout their lives and never having enough money. I was torn between terror and awe (I also silently thanked God I wasn’t a genius because I do aim for happiness…and money). She spoke about how all the other fields could coalesce with each other. Oh, how she closed the gaps separating my backgrounds in Behavioral Science, Information Science, Multimedia Design and Communication Research without even intending to! While WD227: Gender and Sexuality was my favorite cognate for providing me with the therapy I needed at the most confusing time of my life, CL310: Literature and the Social Sciences closed the gap between all the academic knowledge I had acquired and the experiences I’ve gone through.
Then I failed the mid terms: 3.5. I expected that because her mid term questions looked like they could appear in the PhD candidacy exam. The passing grade in UP is 3.0 and the passing grade for PhD is 1.75. I immediately set up a back-up plan of enrolling in an extra cognate to make up for the fact that I could either be getting a 5.0, or best case scenario, a 3.0, in my CL310 final grade.
I was physically suffering but my mind was undergoing a drastic transformation that despite the horrible grade, I couldn’t drop. I just couldn’t bring myself to. Especially when it came to my final project: analyzing my choice of fiction. In “Third Wave Feminism in Literature: A Reading of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead“, I managed to clumsily intertwine politics, sociology, psychology and anthropology. I had never been stretched the way this semester pulled me in every direction — not even when I was doing my master’s thesis. Needless to say, I fought an ominously losing battle with every fiber of my being screaming for survival.
Even at the very end, I expected to get 3.0 at most. Still a failing PhD grade, but at least it passes UP standards. I knew I learned so much. So much. Such a wealth of information. But I also knew that I would never be able to understand that body of knowledge the way Comparative Literature majors do. I wield it the way Bea does, which is a kind of convoluted mix between logic and spirituality.
This morning, Joyce texted me, “I can’t believe Helen gave me a 1.0!” Ok, that would have been a positive message that could’ve given me hope…but we’re talking about Joyce here. She already has a PhD in Literature, but we were too scared of Helen to tell her that. Joyce also happens to be the Chairperson of UST’s Humanities Department. Joyce has gotta be the deepest, most insightful student in the entire PhD program. Beside her, I feel like a bumbling preschooler. Heck!! Asia Pacific College’s English Department uses Joyce’s book in their literature classes!
Helen might have intellectually sparred with Joyce a few times, but they definitely connected when it came to discussions. She would look at Joyce with the calm calculation of someone who was building a framework around a person. After a while, she already knew what to make of Joyce. Joyce is a meta historian. On the other hand, the professor would look at me with a curious expression, which made me wonder if she didn’t think I came from another planet. Or that I was an idiot, though a very determined one at that. We use words differently, the forty-year age gap very apparent. I was sure that even at the end of our class, she still didn’t know what to make of me.
After receiving Joyce’s text, I ran around my condo a few times, yelling, “Shit! Shit! Shit! I’m going to fail!!!!!” before I managed to scrounge up enough courage to open my grades:
I received another text message from Joyce, saying, “We went to hell and back. :)”
I replied with, “Thank God, we weren’t named Persephone.”
But I also thank Dr. Helen E. Lopez. She was one tough cookie, but Joyce was right…it was our destiny as Pisceans to encounter her and her difficult subject. I am now closer to writing my dissertation than I ever was before, albeit…it looks like I now have a completely different trajectory.
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