When I first came to Memorial in the fall of 2008 I was so excited for a new beginning, especially after attending a high school where I was separated from the majority of my friends. I loved it so much at first that I was considering doctoral studies. My passion is for helping children, either in a health care or school setting, and my dream was to do research in self-esteem, resilience and identity for children and teens with disabilities.
By age 27, I planned to intern either at SickKids hospital in Toronto, the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax or the Janeway Health and Rehabilitation Centre here in St. John’s. All of this I planned to do with the loving support of my future fiancée, two young children and family. Dreamed and planned. None of this came to reality.
Little did I know these dreams would be overshadowed by academic burnout, combined with a myriad of personal events, which led to a diagnosis of anxiety and depression.
It was then that I decided I needed to take a mental health leave from the university in April 2011, after being placed on academic probation. The friends that I’ve met since returning to school are a great help however, I can’t help but feel like essential student services are missing or are ran by overworked staff. This makes students like me feel isolated, alone and unappreciated.
These feelings of isolation have increased since the Liberal government took office and implemented a budget that leaves people with little choice but to forfeit their dreams for a quick buck. This is even worse for those who, like me with disabilities through no fault of our own, face daily rejection and barriers to employment and advancement in our careers and futures.
My average has been in the tank for past two to three years. I feel like no matter which degree I choose, it won’t make any difference because, in the end, I will end up with nothing anyway. I think it may be time for Memorial to close its doors, so that government money used in maintaining it can be applied to the province’s deficit. If it is to reopen, there must be sufficient supports for students, especially those who struggle to thrive in an environment that doesn’t accommodate their needs.