New Resilience Project helps students put ‘failure’ in perspective

Adina Glickman
Adina Glickman

Students who suffer disappointments that they choose to label “failures” are the target audience for the new Resilience Project, which features prominent alumni and campus faculty and administrators talking about their life experiences. Access is limited to those with a SUNet ID.

The project is the brainchild of ADINA GLICKMAN, associate director for academic support at the Center for Teaching and Learning. Glickman worked with staff from Undergraduate Advising and Research, the Career Development Center and Judicial Affairs to create the project.

During Mid-Year Convocation this week, the group rolled out the first phase of the project on its new website. Featured are written and recorded interviews that feature alumni and campus community members talking about disappointments they have experienced, ranging from bad grades to job rejections. They explain how they learned from the disappointments, persevered and moved on.

“The objective is to show students that failure is not the bitter pill of achievement. It has real value,” said Glickman.

Many Stanford students arrive on campus never having experienced less than an A, according to KOREN BAKKEGARD, associate dean of Undergraduate Advising and Research, who helped with the project.

“At best, students respond to a disappointing grade or rejection as a challenge to do better,” she said. “At worst, they may abandon a field of work or study or become risk-averse in exploring areas that might further tarnish their GPAs. We want to help students know that it’s safe — even necessary — to fail on the way to success.”

Among those featured are SANDRA DAY O’CONNOR, former U.S. Supreme Court justice; STEPHEN BREYER, current U.S. Supreme Court justice; Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education HARRY ELAM; Vice Provost for Student Affairs GREG BOARDMAN; Dean of Freshmen and Undergraduate Advising and Research JULIE LYTHCOTT-HAIMS; TIM WESTERGREN, founder of Pandora Internet Radio; English Professor TOBIAS WOLFF; and chemistry Professor Emeritus CARL DJERASSI.

The group also plans to create a printed booklet for distribution. Future phases of the project will include more faculty, alumni and administrator videos. Students also will be invited to submit their stories to the project.

The Resilience Project was inspired by a similar initiative at Harvard called the Success/Failure Project.