I left last week’s column as an unintentional cliffhanger. To get everyone missing last week’s issue up to speed, here’s a (hopefully) quick recap:
I began my Australian journey in 2018 when I left the navy and enrolled in the University of Queensland, beginning studies towards a BA in English and journalism. Four years later and I’m more than ready to come home and reconnect with family and friends. Leaving mid-semester proves to be a seamless transition as course content is all delivered online as well as in-person.
I get home and it’s indescribable – I’m with family I haven’t seen in forever all the time and I’m reconnecting with the land and surrounding nature in a way that’s nourishing and healing. I haven’t been able to hunt for a very long time and I realized one of the most memorable hunts of my entire life through a spring archery turkey hunt.
Things were going well on the university work side of things as well. Most of my studies involve writing research essays and similar papers on various topics, which I really enjoy. At this point in my college career, I’m versed enough in these assignments to do them with relative ease, although it always is a stressful process.
I mentioned last week that I’ve always felt supported and heard regarding any interaction with University of Queensland staff and this holds true to the end of this story.
I submit all my final work and when I refresh my results page on the day of grade release, the report comes back showing that I have successfully passed all my courses (including the intense coding class) except for the easiest one: understanding the news.
By the record, I was two units shy of fulfilling my degree requirements. Even more terrifying was the prospect of waiting an entire year for the class to be offered again as they only deliver some classes during certain times of the year.
The reason I had been failed was because of a small technicality regarding in-person attendance. I had emailed the course coordinator upon arriving stateside about attending remote zoom tutorials, but since I had originally begun his course in-person I was advised that this option was not available to me.
Many emails and much escalation later I finally ended up conversing with the head of the school who ended up being a poet who I had taken a class from a few semesters prior. Her communication was professional and outlined the current university guidelines regarding such matters and ultimately sided with my course coordinator’s decision.
Students who end up failing a course sometimes have an additional opportunity to pass the course through a supplementary assessment. Due to the nature of my reason for failure, i.e., non-participation in tutorial-based coursework, the rules precluded me from utilizing this option, or so I thought.
Through her carefully worded email that upheld university strictures and ultimately backed up the decision that was made, she made it clear to me that I was in fact was able to submit a supplementary assessment despite the reason for my initial failure.
I submitted the additional assessment item and passed and I now have (receiving soon) my degree due in large part to a poet who helped me navigate a system that sometimes fails to realize or understand unique circumstances and student well-being.
Although this period was one of the most stressful times of my life, the experience taught me so much. There will be more challenging people and situations to navigate throughout the rest of my life, but I know that poetry has helped me through a lot and will continue to be a close ally during these times.