My journey as a graduate student is divided into two parts. During the first part, I taught English at Wilmette Junior High and decided to explore the MALS program. Unlike several of my colleagues, I did not want to pursue a master’s in education; instead I wanted to garner more knowledge in my content area.
I had always liked writing and had been fairly successful at it, however, I did not view writing as my strength. I took a language and style class with a linguistics focus and then found the WRD (Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse) department and became hooked, finishing my MALS program with four WRD courses. The WRD courses were challenging, learning and approximating a new discourse, and I believed understanding language and being able to communicate effectively was a necessary skill for students to enter into academic discourse with confidence.
Teaching Writing with Jennifer O’Brien was the last class I took before my Capstone course, Digital Storytelling. Jennifer O’Brien designed the course through various teaching pedagogies like genre, multimodal, critical, ethnography, translingual, and transfer. O’Brien’s class did two specific things for me as a student and professional educator. First O’Brien made me think like a teacher once again with coherence in my pedagogy. Secondly, Jennifer O’Brien became a mentor to me even though I probably surpassed her in age by over ten years. She dismantled the power structure that often exists between a student and teacher and allowed me to think like an educator once again. This class, more than any other graduate class I have taken, gave me the academic freedom and grace to make it my own and define myself through a pedagogical lens that was both theory-based and practical, embodying transfer theory through praxis.
My undergraduate journey was a straight path leading to a career in teaching, whereas my graduate journey was a country mile with curves, pauses, new paths each leading back to where I started. I am an educator, a teacher, … and I am moved by my education and am ready to empower others to be and do the same.