I graduated from Queens College in 2018 as a English and Secondary Education double major. When I graduated I owed a massive debt to this institution. Not a physical debt, I am endlessly grateful to the access to quality affordable education from Queens College. I owed a debt to the English professors who opened up my worldview. I attended a college approximately 6 miles from my home, but I felt as though I was able to travel the world. All of this, I owe to receiving a quality education in the field of English at Queens College. Literature is liberating, it is an art form that allows us to not only look inward at ourselves and see our own reflection but it is also a means that we get to look outward and see the perspective and history of others. All of this is a tool for radical liberation in the classroom, I know that studying literature was a vehicle to my own autonomy. I was a working class woman, from a small industrial town in Queens. I suffered from imposter syndrome believing that all others knew better than me. I found my voice because of Queens College, and was able to truly feel as though I could take up academic space. But what does it mean when you leave the halls of Queens College and step back into the workforce? We all have to pay bills and sadly, just taking up academic space doesn’t always do that. And what about other students, sitting in a classroom, feeling like their theories and thoughts don’t hold weight?
I have been lucky to work in education for about 5 years now, and currently am employed as a middle school ELA teacher working in Coney Island. I strongly believe I would not be an effective teacher had it not been for the rigorous and rewarding work of the English department in Queens College. Every single day I am a more culturally competent teacher for my own students because I was taught nuanced history and perspectives through the lens of literature. I get to pass on the gift Queens College gave to me. With every new year, people learn more and more about the history of our nation and of colonialism. And every year people say “why weren’t we taught this?”. I get to say that I was, as a Queens College student, and now my 5th grade kids are able to receive that education as well. Intergenerational radical change is possible due to the dissemination of information that reflects my students individual and cultural experiences. This year, a brilliant 5th grader I work with wasn’t showing her full potential. She said she felt like she couldn’t truly do the work, she was scared that she would be seen as stupid for sticking her neck out in class. By the end of the year she was one of the top students in the class, and states that because of the work in ELA she was able to feel more confident and proud in herself. If you are reading this, you are considering this undertaking. Do this for yourself, and for the change you can enact on an individual and holistic level no matter the career you choose. To study English at Queens College allows you to learn best practices in studying historical context, the ability to communicate complicated texts and concepts, and to persuade others in a professional and compelling way. No matter where you go following this field of study, you will be a better person and professional because of it. And along the way you may be able to empower others how you have been empowered and leave this world a little better than you found it.