(Courtesy of Sade Lewis)
Dear Mrs. Perrine,
Thank you for failing me. Yes, thank you. I’m not being sarcastic. Maybe slightly facetious, but in all seriousness: I genuinely mean it when I say thank you.
I was going through a tough situation when I was in your class back in 2014. I was part of Delaware State University’s track and field team and was a transfer from Coffeyville Community College (CCC). While attending CCC I made a few life-long friends, worked hard in the classroom and even harder on the track. I made a name for myself as the top 400-metre runner in my conference and as a Canadian, earned my title as a four-time all American. Ironic, right?
When I left CCC and began my new journey at Delaware State, it was a difficult transition. What made my new arrival even more rigid was the fact that I wasn’t running like I used to. It was a new environment with new coaches and a completely new workout program.
Once indoor competition season rolled around, I was sprinting absolutely horrible times. I felt embarrassed, humiliated and pretty much useless to my team. When my dreadful indoor season finally wrapped up, we began to prepare for the outdoor season. Track and field is a mental game, so I told myself to forget about the crappy season I just had and get ready for the new one. I wanted to show my team, but most importantly, my coaches, of my true capabilities, and the sprinter they recruited for a reason.
Exactly one week before the outdoor season began, I twisted my ankle at practice. The pain was unbearable. My ankle was the size of a melon and completely bruised. The athletic trainers were hoping that I broke it, but the MRI results showed that it was sprained. A big sprained ankle with four torn ligaments—my season was officially over.
The day I walked into your class 30-minutes late, with my crutches and hefty black boot, was the first day of my downward spiral. A simple three minute walk to your class turned into a half hour. I was in pain and I was angry. Angry that I would not be able to redeem myself during the outdoor season, angry at my coach for making us partake in an unstable exercise and angry that, once again, I was injured. I wasn’t eating properly, I wasn’t doing my school work and I was skipping out on class—mainly yours.
Your class was a reporting course that required us to go out, walk around campus and interact with people. But I didn’t feel like engaging and trekking myself, my hefty boot and annoying crutches around campus to hunt down subjects for interviews.
When I presented my final piece, it was below mediocre and I received a failing grade. I deserved to fail. But I didn’t realize I deserved that F until I retook your class. By the next year I was out of the boot, had ditched the crutches and was back in your classroom. This time around I told myself I would put in the effort and pass your course. Even though I wasn’t running anymore and didn’t have the opportunity to prove my capabilities on the track, I wanted to have the chance to prove to you that I am better than an F and that I’m a competent journalist—so I did just that.
I received an A the second time around and felt better than ever. Looking back at my first presentation and comparing it to my second one, there really was no comparison. Through it all, you were there to guide me and help me along the way. We sat in your office and came up with a plan to meet each week so that I would stay on track. In the end, you understood my true potential, maybe more than I did. And for that, I thank you.