I had always wanted to attend Queens College. During my childhood, I lived across the street from campus, spending my early years swordfighting using branches that had fallen onto the Quad. I spent birthdays in the giant egg-like spheres outside of Klapper Hall. So, when the time came to apply for college, it was a no-brainer. However, as I tried out major after major, nothing felt quite right. I turned to writing as my solace, hoping the right fit for me would bonk me on the head out of the blue. In the meanwhile, I started working at the Writing Center at Queens College. I quickly fell in love with learning about others’ writing styles and helping my peers articulate in a paper what they were able to say so well in person. Writing quickly became my life and, although reading was a weakness and insecurity of mine, I decided to take the leap and major in English.
Studying English at Queens College transformed my life in a way that can’t help but sound like an exaggeration; I promise you that it’s all true. Not only did my confidence in my reading and writing skills soar, but I learned how to ask for help and how to explore new ideas. I enjoyed being able to choose the topic of every paper of mine; synthesizing research and performing my own, rather than reciting information from a textbook. I declared my major quite late, and so I immersed myself in performing feminist readings for an entire year and a half. Nearing the end of my year-long honors seminar, I was finishing up my thesis, a twenty-page paper that I never thought I’d be able to write. I had also received a job offer: I was invited to return to my high school to teach sophomore ELA. I was thrilled! Queens College’s English program and honors seminar fully prepared me to bring college-level work and new approaches to my classroom. I taught high school ELA for three years, and it helped me learn so much about myself and even the texts I’ve read time and time again. After working with students and missing the college atmosphere, I decided to continue my adventure and become an academic advisor. I’m currently advising Human Biology students at Hunter College and organizing additional writing workshops that I have the privilege to teach.
Queens College’s focus on inquiry-based learning in its English courses also forced me to look inside myself, helping me explore my values and inner conflicts by critically analyzing texts both within and trapped outside of the canon. During the last semester of my undergraduate English career, I made it my goal to focus on queer texts, specifically examining the experiences of transgender members of the LGBTQ+ community. I continued this work, taking queer literature courses as part of my graduate study in education, and felt a passion for gender studies burning inside me as I pursued teaching. Although I thoroughly enjoyed working with high school students, I’m happy that, like changing my major to English, my experiences have given me the ability to be mobile and chase my interests as they transform. Thanks to all of my English professors that have so kindly pushed me to always explore the unknown, I am looking forward to pursuing my passions in literature, gender studies, and mental health, whether that be continuing in the advising world, becoming a gender therapist, or diving back into the world of English literature. Studying English is not only a study of the past, but involves an analysis of our present and our potential futures. Bringing the methods of literary criticism to younger people has invited me to open my mind, approach situations from multiple perspectives, and make written and verbal communication in English accessible to all those I work with and advocate for.
Connect with Michelle on Linked-In.