I am UIC: Talking to Adults 101

“Abigail, you did a fantastic job. I can tell you worked very hard on this,” my professor began.

My face beamed. After a semester and the rest of summer revising my research project, I was finally ready to begin the next data set.

“But it is still incomplete,” she finished.

My heart dropped. My defenses rose, my head spinning with confusion. “But I —” I mumbled. “I… I… did everything you said to do…”

“You see, I wanted you to do more than this,” she explained. “For example…”

I was so confused by what was wrong that although she was speaking to me, I was no longer listening to her words. I stared at the papers on the edge of her desk. My eyes blurred. Tears began to silently roll down my cheeks. I quietly grabbed for a tissue across her desk, refusing to look up.

“… and here, I was looking for a bit of something —” my professor paused. “Abigail, are you crying?”

I sat staring at my research project, sitting dejectedly in my lap.

After about an hour of reassurance and talking through everything I need to redo, again, it ended up being OK, and I have all of this semester to get it done right this time.

I laugh when thinking about this interaction now. Never would I have imagined I would be the girl to cry in my professor’s office, but college does things to you. College is such a wonderful opportunity to connect with the veterans and crème de la crème of your career field, but it can honestly be so intimidating. But I have to remember that they were all in my shoes at one point! They can help us to think more deeply and critically, to identify problems, and come up with solutions for a better future.

Being able to work so closely the professors in the CLJ department has helped me to be unafraid to admit my own weakness. I don’t know who I want to be in the future, or where I want to be working. But having the capacity to make mistakes in college, and to vulnerably express my concerns and questions to my professors will help me to successfully rely on the wisdom of others in the future. Through my professors I am learning how to produce better quality work and to communicate in the process of doing so.

Moreover, hopefully you take this embarrassing narrative as an assurance that it is completely normal and OK to make mistakes, but listen to your professors. Ask as many questions as possible, and do not be afraid to clarify anything more than once. Maybe you won’t have to learn this lesson as many times as I have had to.


Abigail Floresca is a junior majoring in criminology, law and justice with a minor in professional writing. Writing is how she connects, processes, expresses and relates to the rest of the world. Increasingly aware of the power of storytelling in bringing about change and reform, Abigail earnestly seeks to find a way to incorporate a perfect blend of writing and social work within the criminal justice system — she dreams of bringing about a positive change, one story at a time. At UIC, she is involved in campus ministry; conducts research with the criminology, law and justice department; interns with the Chicago Justice Project, and loves exploring new places downtown. 

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