Of course, I became the best student at my department and collected every possible award and distinction at the graduation ceremony. My Senior Essay got published as an article in Anales Galdosianos, a very prestigious journal in my field. I became a graduate student at McGill, and that was when I discovered what true happiness was.
Our department offered the kind of environment that every grad student in the world dreams of encountering. We stayed there every day after classes ended to grade papers, prepare classes, debate, order pizza, drink, listen to music, and dance.
Once, our Chair, a prim and proper British lady and also the first queer woman in Canada who addressed the Supreme Court to argue that gay couples should have the right to adopt children (she won her case and adopted several children with her partner), stopped by my office.
“Clarissa, you have to know that the faculty members of our department really appreciate you being in your office at all hours,” she said.
Appreciate it? The department was the most happening place to be. I wouldn’t go home if I were paid to do so.
In terms of money, I was doing very well when I was in that MA program. The tuition was very low, I was teaching, getting two research assistanship salaries, and receiving a very generous grant from the government of Canada for my MA dissertation research. Altogether, I was making about $50,000 per year, which is not bad for an MA student.
Every day, I was learning something new. I was reading like crazy, doing really good research, and life was incredibly, unbelievably, impossibly good.
And then something happened to bring this joyful intellectual journey to a screeching, crashing, horrible stop. (I’m so enjoying these cliff-hangers, people.)
(To be continued. . .)