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Editor's note: Anonymous Thank Yous is a website that allows people to submit notes of gratitude to strangers who anonymously gave service. Michael McCarlie, its founder, contributes every other Wednesday. SALT LAKE CITY — Ellie shared a story with anonymousthankyous.com about her first semester at college. It wasn’t going well; she was failing in her stats class but then a stranger came to her aide.
This is what Ellie said:
"One of my best grades I have ever received in college was in one of the hardest classes I had ever taken and it wasn’t because of me. In fact, I was a breakdown away from just dropping the class and giving up, if not for the kindness and care of someone else.
"It was my first semester in college and I was terrified. Coming from a small town of less than 500 people and then hurtled into a campus full of thousands of people was a huge culture shock. Not only did I have no clue what I was doing, I had no one to be clueless with.
"The class was statistics and it was not going well for me. I simply did not understand the material and was still too sheepish to ask questions aside from recitation. As the first exam date came closer we were given quizzes in recitation. Needless to say I was not prepared. It was quiz day and I stared agonizingly at a paper full of equations and questions I didn't know how to figure. And the ones I did know how to start couldn't be completed because I had forgotten my calculator.
"Mortified, I sat. The only things filling my empty jack-o'-lantern brain were words of self-loathing. I waited as people filed out hoping to beg the professor for a calculator after everyone had left. Eventually there was only me, one other student and five minutes left of class. I had no choice but to embarrass myself in front of this one student by getting up and admitting that I had no calculator. The professor gave me her cell phone to use the calculator and I scrambled to finish the equations the best I could. I handed in the quiz with such shame; shame for waiting until the last second of class, shame for forgetting a calculator like a dunce and shame for not being prepared in general. I left fighting tears thinking in finality that I would drop the class.
"When I looked up through slightly blurry vision I could see the student who was in class with me till the very end. He was in the hallway and looked back. Was he waiting for me? He walked with me out of the building and asked how I was doing in class. I admitted it was gutting me and I told him I was going to drop it. To that, he looked straight at me and said, 'Don’t do that. You’re smart enough for this class. It’s definitely hard but you just need to study with the right people.' He then told me about a study group he was in and invited me to come to the next session.
"It would have been easier to just drop the class and not go to the study group. I went! I met an amazing group of people and realized I was actually good at stats. We studied together and sat together in class. I didn’t feel dumb anymore, I didn’t feel so anonymous anymore and I was excelling in class.
"This student had to have noticed my sulking that day and decided to wait around to talk to me and invite me to try harder, join a study group and to just be a friend. It completely changed my attitude, helped my grade and lifted my self-esteem. He actually cared about me and how I was doing. Even after I became a part of the group, he still cared; he would text me when I missed class to tell me what I missed and ask if I was all right.
"I am sure he has no idea the impact he has made on me or the repercussions his influence has on my confidence even now as I am working on my sixth semester of college. He was kind enough and selfless enough to notice my struggle and reach out. It would have been easy for him to overlook me, hand in his quiz and never say a word to me. It truly touches me that he was mindful enough to even notice me much less offer to help. So to you, I want you to know how very grateful I am for your thoughtful aid. Thank you for befriending me, as simple as it may have been, it was a rough time for me and your influence helped me then and it helps me now. I owe you a lot more than just my grade."