Sometimes positive stories are not for college misery.
For those who question the process I used to alter names and details, keep in mind that I do the exact same thing for flakey smackdown posts, yet no one ever complains then.
She began the term with a bang, writing twice as much as I required in our online forums and answering about half her classmates' contributions with insightful replies. I gave her full credit and loved how she pushed our class discussion forward.
Then she began submitting response papers, each one a beautiful synthesis of my lectures, the reading, and our lab work. For a soldier, her contributions were impressive. I scoured each one for plagiarism, but they all came out clean. She just liked my course and loved online learning.
One time she had another obligation and wouldn't make a deadline. Did she flake out and try to make excuses? She emailed me ahead of time, and only asked for a two hour extension. Which meant that I would have her work when I went to grade all of her classmates' work, so no extra effort needed on my part. What a student. I gave her the extension.
Then today I received this email, slightly altered to protect her identity:
I hope you are doing well today. I wanted to email you so I could apologize for having not come to class all week long. I've missed the work, but duty calls and I was on a mission. I'm afraid it was not very successful.
While on the mission, we were ambushed. Our convoy was blown up. I came to a few days later, just this morning, and found out that I am the only survivor of the incident out of a mission of twelve. I know that I am lucky to be alive. I am about to be loaded on a plane to the US so I may have surgery on my legs. I'm trying to focus on the fact that I lived while my friends -- good people, strong people -- have died.
I am looking at physical therapy to recover from my injuries. Once I am out of surgery and able to stay awake through the pain meds, I hope to use my college experience as a motivator to get me through the next few months. Is it possible for me to stay in your course and get a small extension? I have enjoyed your class so much and I believe college would be an ideal distraction from laying in a hospital all day. If you are unable to give me an extension, I completely understand and I will of course accept any points taken off for my lateness. I'm sorry I was unable to email you before Sunday's deadline.
Please keep in touch and I will email you after surgery. Thank you for your support and academic advice.
We talk a lot about misery here, and there is indeed enough misery to share. But sometimes I come across students who are better than I am. Stronger than I am. More aware and polite than I would be in the same situation. She gives me chills. Godspeed.