You don’t have the potential…

From Anonymous:

One day after class in my undergraduate abstract algebra class, I approached the professor to ask for clarification on something. He had said something that seemed to contradict a statement in an earlier lecture. When I began to talk with him on his way to his office, he cut me off and said, “What exactly do you want to do with your degree?” I was caught off guard by this question but answered honestly. “Well,” I said, “I know it’s very competitive but if I could, I’d be a professor.” His response was, “You don’t have the potential for that. You might be able to get a Master’s degree if you’re lucky.”

I wish I could say that this comment didn’t affect me, but it did. He was a famous mathematician and I was a struggling student. At the time, my family was caught up in legal/financial troubles due to a failing business. As a result, I didn’t have access to financial aid and spent most of my time working to pay bills and my tuition. I often couldn’t afford the required books or decent school supplies. Given how my attentions were divided, I felt my goals were quickly becoming a pipe dream. I took that comment to be definitive proof that they were.

Before you start feeling bad for me, though, you should know that I’m now in my second to last year of a PhD program. And I’m doing fine, although I struggle with my tendency to hoard school supplies…

It goes to show you that just because a person is smart in one area doesn’t mean they know everything. What an asshole.

One comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this story. When I was a senior in high school, my (female) English teacher publicly embarrassed me in front of the whole class by telling me that I would never be able to fulfill my life-long goal of working for NASA and that I should just settle on being a high school physics teacher because I’m a cute girl who would get the job anywhere. Those embarrassing remarks killed my confidence and I’ve been struggling to get it back ever since. I haven’t given up yet, though.


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