Studying English at Queens College changed my perception of daily life and understanding of how to live a meaningful one. I arrived aimless to my freshman year with minimal interest in education. My framework for success had been shaped by my town in Long Island, a twenty-minute drive from QC, where the criteria was mainly a fancy ride and being “jacked.” My default major, if anyone at the time asked, was Business. Upon the end of my education I graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. and entered the Peace Corps. Since then I have worked for various humanitarian organizations, both domestically and abroad, and earned a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management and Policy. Currently, I am preparing go on my fifth long-term assignment as a Logistics Manager for Doctors Without Borders. What happened?
Reading and analyzing great works of literature and discussing them with dedicated professors and fellow students allowed me to identify my own values and ideas. In that forgiving space of diverse opinions, I was able to analyze the lives of different characters and narrative voices and, through that, create my own narrative rather than accept an inherited one. Books became companions; this has proved essential in the physically and emotionally taxing projects that I work in where I am cut off from most creature comforts along with family and friends. In my case, it has allowed me to live in such interesting places as The Central African Republic, India, Lebanon, Panama, Sudan and Uganda doing work which I am proud of. Before my freshman year I believe the values that define success for me now were already there, but studying literature at QC taught me to think and feel in a way which liberated them.
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