I received an email from FirstName today. She sent me the response she would like me to post. She asked that I give her my opinion of it before I posted it. I emailed my opinion to her and I include it here:
I detect a little bit of “sucking up” to me in your response–but not so much that I’m going to “take points off” for it.
I believe her response will be a worthwhile footnote to her writing career. And for the record, her response to my comment was: “…there was no sucking up whatsoever…I meant every word I said.”
The following is from FirstName:
Imagine you’re on top of the world…an honor student, an opinion columnist, a sorority sister, with amazing friends and a loving family…ready to take on the rest of the world ahead of you with strength and unlimited potential. And then on one ugly day in March, your world comes crashing down…and you learn that you’re unemployed at the only place that ever gave you hope, depth and honor.
I am an avid writer with a crazy passion for words, and I was given the opportunity to share these words, my words, with thousands of listeners. My opinion wasn’t typically respected in College Station, but this only made me stronger and more excited to write.
Needless to say, my time as an opinion columnist was short-lived because I blatantly cut corners. I made one of the biggest, ugliest mistakes in my life, and I undeniably regret it every single day. My facts were not well-researched and my context certainly overshadowed my opinion. I know years from now no one will even remember this happened, but I know it will haunt me forever. I am ashamed, I am remorseful, and I have paid a weighty price.
After much hesitation about emailing Joe about the whole situation, it turned out to be probably one of the most enlightening experiences I’ve had with someone who has contrasting opinions. Joe told me a story about the board of directors at his company who were searching for a new CEO…they wanted someone who had made a major mistake in their life for this poignant reason:
“People that went through life without making any mistakes or without realizing they had made a mistake were more likely to make a major mistake in the future. They tend to think of themselves as “charmed” and/or infallible. They trust their instincts too much. They will charge ahead despite evidence that the path is doomed to failure. They cut corners because they got away with it in the past. If you really have realized you made a mistake more serious than getting caught then you may be a better person for having made that mistake.”
These words of Joe’s (and my other academic credentials) may be the only faith I have to hold on to in hopes of succeeding after graduation. This May, I am moving out of Texas, and hopefully moving on with my life…I am taking this chance to start over in a (hopefully) forgiving world.
I know I screwed up, but I am an honest woman with a good heart…and I have learned an incredible lesson. I appreciate Joe’s constructive criticism and insight, and I thank him for giving me this opportunity.
Update: September 18, 2006. I removed the actual name of the plagiarist and substituted FirstName LastName after she asked me to remove her name, wrote an apology, and I waited what I considered was a reasonable period of time.