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Education student confronts fear of failure to realize her dream

June 28, 2021
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By Jess Collins

Susan Luu remembers feeling anxious and overwhelmed on her first day at SFU. But the feelings quickly dissipated as she was immediately embraced by the Welcome Day leaders and Faculty of Education community.

“My first impression of the faculty was that it was a small but very tight-knit group of people,” says Luu. “To this day, I think it was that closeness that really helped my transition to university. It took me a while to adjust, but I wouldn’t change my experience for anything.”

Surrounded by her peers and a host of new friends, Luu thrived academically and socially in her new educational “home”. As the semesters flew by, she grew in confidence and became an active member of the community herself, as a student senator and member of the Education Student Association.

“I pursued education because I love helping people and teaching new concepts,” she says. “I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was in elementary school.”

It’s no surprise that Susan’s most rewarding experience was her role as a peer mentor — helping other new and first-year students navigate their transition into the Faculty of Education.

“I love offering advice and sharing my experience with others. My mentees have become my really close friends.”

With her unwavering heart set of pursuing a teaching career, Luu planned to apply to SFU’s renowned teacher certification program, the Professional Development Program (PDP). But with the finish line of her bachelor of general studies in education (BGS) degree in sight, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Up until that point, Luu says school had always “come easy” to her. But with the transition to online learning, she began to languish. Physically separated from her peers and instructors, she became demotivated and lost in the monotony of daily life.

“My room being my classroom and study space was very demotivating. It was difficult for me to focus and allocate time for school work.”

Before long, Luu experienced something that she never expected. She didn’t meet a key requirement of her minor. Shocked and saddened, her mental health deteriorated.

“It was a low point in my life. I got to a point where I actually considered dropping out entirely because of how not passing the course made me feel.”

As shame took over, Susan says she was reluctant to tell anyone. But after “taking a breather”, she reached out to the community that had supported her since day one.

 “After I told my friends and advisors, I knew I didn’t need to face this alone. I realized that this probably wasn’t going to be the end of the world.”

With the help of her advisors, Luu came up with a new plan to cancel her graduation application and enroll in a new course to complete her minor. Although this meant she didn’t graduate with her friends last fall, Luu says it was a small price to pay to successfully finish her degree.

The still-aspiring teacher is now enjoying the summer off—her first break in four years—before starting the PDP in September, as planned.

“I came to SFU because of the PDP, so this is my dream coming true.”