IU 2020 Series: Doña Eliassaint

A person standing infront of art
As I’m writing this, I can’t help but wonder if I made the right decision of taking an “undetermined hiatus” from college. A lot of my decision came down to one thing – my mental health. Nothing should ever be so stressful that you consider taking your own life.
But instead of focusing on the issues, I’d like to spend some time focusing on the lessons I learned. I’d like to pass down some advice to incoming freshmen. There might be people reading this who are dealing with similar issues. The three main things I learned during my time in college:

1) College isn’t for everyone –and that’s okay.

Although I didn’t graduate in four years as I had hoped, I still met amazing people that I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to meet otherwise. Just because I didn’t finish doesn’t mean I wasn’t exactly meant to be there when I was. Everything happens for a reason. Who’s to say that I’d be better off finishing elsewhere or at another time?
My parents are from Haiti. I was shocked to learn that IU is the only college or institution that offers their native language Haitian Creole.

2) Balance is crucial.

Often times, it may seem best to bury your head in the books, but I’m telling you, your social life and your health are just as important – if not even more important than getting a perfect score on that test. Of course, some people can tolerate it more than others. My suggestion would be to blend your social life with your study life when you can.


Form study groups that meet at certain times each week – even daily if you can. I found that I was actually more likely to open that book, take some notes, or start that assignment if I was around people close to me that were focused on doing the same things. Combining your social needs with your academic needs will help you feel fulfilled. Of course, it can get a bit distracting, but that comes with the territory. Make time to study, but also don’t forget to have fun and take it easy.

3) Do not give up on yourself.

That could apply to more than just not quitting your major or leaving college. In fact, taking time away from college was an act of me choosing not to give up on myself.

It wasn’t an easy decision. But the best decisions are never easy. And who knows, I may return very soon. At the moment, however, I’m feeling a lot happier than I’ve ever been and I would simply encourage people to be brave when making those kinds of hard decisions–because they will come. It’s okay to “give up” if it means that you’re not giving up on yourself. It’s okay to say “No.” if it means saying “Yes.” to your well-being.

I just wanted to take a second to thank all of the kind-hearted souls that I’ve gotten the privilege to know and cross paths with during my time at IU. Thank you to Jessica Sykes, Derrick Beverly, Iris Hess, Harsharn Kaur, and Elizabeth Lewis for being more than just my friends, but my family away from home. I think my experience in college was that much better because you all loved and supported me. You all are the reason why I know my little pit-stop at IU was necessary.

Dona Eliassaint head shot
Doña Eliassaint

Doña is taking time off from her anthropology major in the College of Arts and Sciences. She’s one of 12 Indiana University students featured in the IU 2020 Series, a four-year documentary film produced by student interns in the Office of the Provost for the IU Bicentennial.

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