As a Trinidadian-American, I was raised by two parents who valued three things that they passed along to me: faith, family, and education. The value of education was ingrained in my mind as the most powerful tool that I could ever possess. As early as I can remember, I was drawn to reading and writing. It was therapeutic at first. I wrote because it helped me be seen and gave me a voice. I had thoughts and opinions that never seemed to make sense out loud, but flowed effortlessly onto paper.
August 2008 marked the beginning of my first year at Queens College and I knew from my very first day that I would be an English major. There was no other field of study that I cared to hear about or thought to explore. Publishing was the plan. I would become a writer. This dream was impractical to most. There were family members who thought teaching would be the best route with my degree, while others wondered why major in English as the possibilities were not as lucrative as ones in other fields. I knew in my heart and gut that I made the right decision for me. The professors at Queens College helped shape the critical and creative thinker that I have become. The road to earning my 4.0 GPA was not easy. The essays that were graded in a top bracket at my high school were not so in college. Thankfully, I had professors who sparked an intellectual revolution in my mind. I went to office hours, rewrote several papers before their submission dates, and became an active participant in my classes.
It is not enough to be simply be present or to be grateful for the opportunity to be there as a student. Seek knowledge. Seek different perspectives. Seek another way. Whether it was Victorian Literature, Graphic Novels, Asian American Literature, American Literature, or Shakespeare, there were common themes that continue to resonate with me. These themes include reading between the lines, listening for the unsaid, and challenging ideas. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is simply not true. Words have tremendous power. They can damage you just as easily as they can heal you. They can make you feel understood or leave you unheard. There is a responsibility to humanity and an accountability that cannot be ignored.
As a recruiter for a charter school, I am in the very field that had always been a second home for me whether I wanted to admit it or not. To get to this place, I had to evaluate who I was as a person and determine what made me tick. Quite simply, I want to give hope to others. I want other people to know that there are options that are worth exploring as many wrestle with what they want and what they are told to want. I found myself on the administrative side in Finance and Construction. I was an Assistant Teacher at a preschool. The roles and organizations may not have been for me, but I built bonds with people that am grateful for every day. It is difficult for me to remember the life I carved out in my mind so many years ago. What I do enables me to be a part of something with a purpose beyond me and that is the fire that keeps me going.
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