Setbacks are a part of the Journey

Emma-Leigh Barfield

Professor Weaver

ENGL 1102

4 May 2021

Major Project 5: Setbacks are a part of the Journey

Being an online college student among a pandemic is never something I imagined for myself. Although past Emma would have wanted things to be much different for me, I believe I am right where I need to be. This semester has been my most challenging one yet, but the experiences and the lessons I have learned will stick with me through the rest of my semesters here.

Our first assignment in this class was to talk and describe our academic selves. At the start of the year, I was prepared, eager, and ready to start new classes. I described myself as dedicated and organized; however, as the semester went on, I fell apart. I quickly lost motivation and faced some difficult challenges in my life among my mental health, family health issues, and career difficulties. My academic self was not the same anymore, at least I thought. I felt unprepared and useless. I felt as if I was letting down my academic self because of the struggles I was facing in my life. 

Along with feeling like I let my academic self down, I quickly felt like my values for my academic self were also not valid anymore. In my IP5, I picked patience, creativity, and ambition for myself and my goals. Yet again, as the semester went on, I felt as if I was letting my academic self go and was not representing the values I had set for myself. I had no patience in myself by getting upset with myself when making a mistake, I lost all creativity by not having any good ideas for when I needed to create one for a paper or a discussion post, and I had felt like I lost all ambition when I could not find the motivation to succeed. I thought I was not going to be able to pull myself out of the hole I had dug myself in; however, I was wrong.

Although this semester did not go the way I wanted it to, I still learned more about myself, especially my academic self. I overcame many obstacles and challenges that I was faced with and took lessons from them. I first learned that even though I thought I did not live up to the values that I had given myself, I actually did live up to them. Two weeks before finals week, I had to dig myself out and prepare for my exams so I could succeed. I had the patience to sit down and really focus on what I needed to study so I could pass. I had the creativity to reteach myself the many lectures I had just gone through. Most importantly, I still had the ambition that I thought I had given up. I had the ambition to succeed in my classes even with the struggles from the semester. I then realized that I did not give up on my values, I simply altered them for the experiences I was going through.

Within this semester and this class, I also learned more about how to be a better, understanding person and how to make connections. One of our readings from this year, Student Parent Voices Are Critical To Colleges Civic Engagement Plans by Nicole Lynn Lewis, honestly hit me the most. I realized that many students go through day-to-day struggles in their lives and a minor setback does not determine their future. Every day student parents struggle, whether it is balancing their kids with work and school, financial problems, or not getting the recognition they deserve, these students still continue to represent their values and academic selves. I connected this to my academic self by not giving up on myself just because of a minor setback and continuing to strive to represent my values. This reading and pandemic have also helped me understand that people struggle every day, so stay kind and compassionate. This reminds me of the first time I talked to Manasvi about our project. She had told me that it was her senior year and things were not going the way she planned. During a time like this, I have learned that everyone is struggling so being there for one another is important right now. I also thank Professor Weaver for being one of the most understanding professors I have ever had. Especially during a time like this where I am not able to physically meet Professor Weaver, I still managed to learn about myself in the class.

This semester did not go how I wanted it to at all, but it still taught me more about myself and life in general. Just because I had many struggles and setbacks does not mean that my future is ruined or I am not a good student anymore. A setback is just a part of the journey and success moves at different speeds for everyone. This lesson will stick with me for the rest of my life. So, as I move on to the next chapter in my journey, I will remember to stay patient, creative, and never give up on my ambitions.


Research Paper: How Has The Pandemic Affected Student Mental Health?

Emma-Leigh Barfield

Professor Weaver

ENGL 1102

27 April 2021


School has always been a challenge whether it is taking a difficult class or learning how to time manage; however, no student is ever prepared to change everything they have ever known about school. When students entered the 2020 school year, the difficulties ahead would change the way they attend school for a while. With this, students began struggling with their mental health while trying to adapt to this different school environment. 

No student or professor expected to live and go to school during a global pandemic. No one was prepared for the way classes would be shifted to online or taking extreme social distancing measures. Many elements were taken into account that affected the mental health of many college students and professors during the pandemic, such as relocation, social distancing, financial issues, personal health, family matters, struggles with online school, the list continues. In a study by the Journal of Psychiatric Research about college students’ mental health, the many factors, especially with relocation, caused students to suffer from loneliness, depression, anxiety, and PTSD (Conrad, Rachel C). With approximately 26 million U.S. college students that faced a change with school during the pandemic, the numbers of mental health struggles skyrocketed. Many college students did not have ways to cope with these struggles and with the transition at their colleges, those students struggled to find help. By not being able to find help, students faced life struggles while also having to live with the stress of the new era of school. According to a study by Erick Baloran, 48.3% of students constantly stress about their classes during lockdown while 62.64% worry about food or their financial status. (Baloran, Erick T). With this information, we can see that some college students did not only struggle with just challenges at school but also life outside of school. Relocations put some college students in financial struggles. With the overwhelming elements that have affected students’ mindsets during the pandemic, the only way we can all get through it is together.

Every student faced some sort of change during the pandemic. Some may have even felt alone like no one understood them; however, this pandemic taught many people that this is not the time to ignore one another, but to help one another, socially distanced. An article by Nina L. Komar and Suniya S. Luther states “Moving forward, it will be more important than ever for all schools to remain highly vigilant about their school community’s mental health and to keep a pulse on the well-being of children as well as adults.” (Komar, Nina L) Schools and communities need to come together and focus on the mental health of students and faculty during this time. Many schools have taken these opportunities that would help improve the mental health of students, such as mental health days or turning school weeks into four days instead of five to let students catch up on work. Komar and Luther also discuss how we need to alter schools and communities by keeping constant communication, prioritizing mental health, giving frequent feedback, and moving forward (Komar, Nina L). Some students, however, might not be in the presence of a community that can do this. There are some things that struggling students can do to ease their mental health. 

With some students not having the support or resources for their mental health, they are left feeling stranded and alone. Some of these students do not know where to start. In the article “The Ultimate Guide To Mental Health For College Students” stressed out students can take these measures to improve their mental health. First, students need to Embrace Your Vulnerability starting with “be okay with not being okay. You may be facing challenges with your mental health. And that’s okay” (“The Ultimate Guide”). The first step to change is to identify what the problem is and how you need to improve that part of your life. The article then moves on to the second step, adding Self-Dialogue in Your Day-to-Day Life. By changing the way we think and tricking our minds into loving the feeling of change, students can improve their mental health difficulties by telling themselves they need this change to grow. The third step, Cover The Basics, is suggesting to students that their well-being is the most important in their life and to take time for yourself so anything thrown at you can be tackled easily. The Ultimate Guide To Mental Health For College Students states “A healthy diet, 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and at least 30 min of moving your body each day will keep your body more prepared to handle whatever comes your way” (“The Ultimate Guide”). Moving on to step four, Reach Out To Your Support Group, whether it is a close friend or an actual support group, the article suggests engaging with these people that want to help you because they might need your help as well. Lastly, Guided Journaling can help improve mindsets and mental health problems. I think guided journaling is very beneficial. Everyone’s minds are constantly filled with the many things we remember throughout the day and sometimes it can become a bit too much. Taking this time to relax and write down the problems or situations in your head so you can see them. I always thought of it as I can not see what it is in my head so when I write it down, I can see it and know how to feel about it. This article, The Ultimate Guide To Mental Health For College Students, gives a great five-step guide on little things students and even faculty can do to build up their mental health.

Many factors were put into the stress on student’s mental health during the pandemic. If we start prioritizing mental health in schools and communities, we can come together in a time of need and help those who need it. Students can even follow some steps to add to their daily routines to improve their mental health for the future. No one planned on student mental health struggles being at a peak while going through a pandemic, but the only way we will get through it is together, socially distanced, of course.


Works Cited


Baloran, Erick T. “Knowledge, Attitudes, Anxiety, and Coping Strategies of Students during COVID-19 Pandemic.” Journal of Loss & Trauma, vol. 25, no. 8, Dec. 2020, pp. 635–642. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15325024.2020.1769300. Accessed 19 April 2021.


Conrad, Rachel C., et al. “College Student Mental Health Risks during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Implications of Campus Relocation.” Journal of Psychiatric Research, vol. 136, Apr. 2021, pp. 117–126. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.01.054. Accessed 19 April 2021.


  “The Ultimate Guide To Mental Health For College Students.” DiveThru, 29 Mar. 2021, Accessed 24 April 2021.

KOMAR, NINA L., and SUNIYA S. LUTHAR. “SEEDS OF RESILIENCE: Insights from School Surveys on Student and Faculty Mental Health during the Pandemic.” Independent School, vol. 80, no. 1, Fall 2020, pp. 62–67. EBSCOhost,,shib&db=a9h&AN=146355236&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Accessed 19 April 2021.

Manasvi Gaddam: Academic Profile

A driven, flexible, and innovative student with determination and passion describes the academic profile of Manasvi Gaddam. Being a high school dual enrollment senior during a pandemic has had it’s challenges for Manasvi, but she is determined to position herself into the lifestyle she desires. 

Born in Illinois, moving to Georgia at the age of 2, attending a private school, charter school, and then 2 public schools, life always moves pretty fast for Manasvi. Between studying, dancing, and a close bond with her family, Manasvi is able to balance a busy schedule and still give her best effort with anything thrown towards her. She started dual enrollment at the beginning of her senior year this year. Starting with a Government class last semester and now an English class this semester, she is set on starting college to take some steps closer to her dream career.

With her ability to adapt fast, achieve many goals, and have different perspectives of situations, she has earned a spot at Georgia Tech for her freshman year of college. As a hands-on learner, Manasvi struggled with being faced with online school during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, through all the struggle and hardships she faced, she still stayed focused on her goals. A source that has helped Manasvi through her online college experience so far is the GSU informational videos that give organization tips, how to communicate with peers and professors, and how to tackle online school. Her first goal was to get into a college, which she achieved. Now, she is ready to tackle college and is ready to grow into the person she was born to be. 

Life has many paths set for Manasvi and with all of these paths presented, she is willing to get into the world as quickly as she can. She will be attending Georgia Tech in the fall and plans to be a computer science major. Along with her life always moving pretty fast, Manasvi is currently taking as many AP classes and dual enrollment classes as possible so she can go through college with a breeze. After graduating college early, Manasvi has many paths she could decide to take. She could go on to law school and become a patent lawyer or continue her path with computer science and dive into machine learning for a master’s in Artificial Intelligence. 

Whatever path Manasvi decides to follow in her future, she will excel and continue to stay driven, flexible, and innovative. With these academic standards she has set for herself, you can plan to see her take on a patent law position, step into the world of computer science, or even a part of an Artificial Intelligence team. You can also plan to see Manasvi travel the world she has dreamed to see and start to have many connections with people outside of her close-knit circle of family and friends. She is comfortable in her close-knit circle, but she is ready to become the person she has set for herself and create her own life experience. The future for Manasvi is bright, with many high standards and a passionate attitude, nothing will hold her back from exceeding her own expectations.


Gaddam, Manasvi. Interview. Conducted by Emma-Leigh Barfield.

GSU Keep Learning: Resources for Learning “What Organizational Strategies Can Help You in Your Online Course?”, February 2021