I have always loved reading and writing. I wrote my first story in third grade and kept writing stories and poetry through high school. I worked on my high school newspaper and spent a semester writing for my junior college’s newspaper. I enjoyed being recognized for my writing, but I always struggled with having an opinion about what I read.
At eight years old, I knew that I wanted to teach high school English, and I pretty much pursued that goal as I finished high school and entered college. However, I never really felt that I had anything valuable to say about what I read. My first literature classes were difficult because I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to write for my term papers. The most embarrassing moment for me was in a class on the British Enlightenment when my professor said she wasn’t sure what my thesis was for my term paper. The embarrassing part was that I didn’t know what she was talking about. What’s a thesis?
As I started teaching, I avoided teaching more academically advanced classes because I didn’t think I was smart enough to teach honors and definitely not Advanced Placement classes. However, one of my principals encouraged me to teach AP Language and Composition. I taught the course for five years between two high schools, but I still often felt inadequate in my ability to challenge students who were striving to be accepted to attend prestigious universities.
About two and a half years ago, I realized that I wanted to be able to teach college level courses through the Dual Enrollment program in Virginia. That meant that I needed to get my Master’s degree in English. I found a program that is completely online, and I decided to take the plunge and apply for grad school. During my first few classes, I was terrified that I still didn’t have much to say about the literature I was reading, but over time, I gained confidence in my voice as a literary scholar.
This past week I finished my final literature class in my Master’s program. It was a fun but difficult class about post colonialism. I wrote my term paper, focusing on gender roles in Things Fall Apart. When I received my grade from my professor, he encouraged me to find a conference where I could present my paper. In the academic world, this is a huge honor and opportunity.
I encourage you today to pursue your passion. Don’t give up on the things you want to do in life. I have always loved reading and writing, and now theses passions have come together in my teaching and in my writing. Don’t let fear dictate what you do in life.