Research Writer Interview With Kristen
Life Spent on Helping Students and Writers
What factors in your life involved your decision to help others?
Throughout the early years of my life happiness and ignorance flowed freely, as I was cognizant only of my world and how it operated around my being. Unexpectedly, at the raw age of twelve or so, my life as a selfish entity ceased to exist. Or rather, my life as a helper commenced. This seemingly incongruous transformation was semi-conscious, as I never overtly acknowledged the change in myself. Internally, however, as I watched a television commercial regarding the famine in Ethiopia, I determined to help those children and others in any manner I deemed myself capable.
Did your decision to help others ever decrease?
For the duration of the often-egotistical years of young adulthood my resolve to help others diminished. My aspiration resurfaced, ironically, when least anticipated. In the often harrowing deliberation of selecting a college major, the distant memory of the Ethiopian children from the commercial burrowed into my consciousness. The inclination to minister to others resumed fiercely enough to bowl me over with its intensity.
How did you choose to help others?
In establishing whom I might be able to help the most from my college education, I mulled over a multitude of majors. Yet the one that repeatedly tugged at my heart was elementary education. Without fully comprehending my action, I finalized the appropriate documentation and was on my way to becoming the embodiment of a superlative elementary education teacher.
Did your decisions ever waver while completing your education?
The Elementary Education program at UNCG was relentless and particularly arduous. I thoroughly cherished working with the children, yet the public school system - I resolved - was not explicitly calculated to attain the utmost of educational benefits for the students. The foremost professor of my designated program was aware of and empathized with my misgivings, however it was decided the most constructive course of action would be to see the Elementary Education program through to completion.
As I toiled through the years of the program, my suppressed passion for English began to emerge with each consecutive English course I completed. These courses were my diversion from the often-overwhelming actuality of primary instruction. Regrettably, my fondness for English was soon eclipsed by the meticulous demands of the education program.
Upon graduation, I acquired my degree and license in elementary education. I also received a second full degree in English, in accordance with the Elementary Education program requirements. At this time it became quite evident that I indubitably could not become an elementary school teacher in the public school system. After untold hours of contemplating my strong aversion to this problem, I eventually understood why I could not teach; plainly put, this occupation was just not me.
What happened after your college experience?
Pursuing my now-uncensored aspiration to help others, I was able to acknowledge my true feelings and thus joined the United States Peace Corps. Within one month of graduation I was headed around the globe to my destination of the Philippine Islands. The official job title proffered to me was as an English Language Assistance Volunteer & Teacher Trainer. In layman's terms, I assisted the primary and secondary English teachers toward the enhancement of English curricula for the students in the third-world Philippine island of Marinduque.
How did your experience in the Peace Corps change you?
The gratification of merging my love for English with education in such a vital and unique environment facilitated my understanding that this combination suited my professional capabilities in all respects. Quite unexpectedly however, at the height of my Peace Corps experience, I was forced to end my contentment. The guerilla terrorist activities became prominent in the surrounding regions of my island and it was determined the safest course of action would be to send me home to America.
My youthful ambition of helping others did not weaken upon my return to the United States; in fact, my focus sharpened toward whom I should assist and when. Based on the self-knowledge I achieved while in the Philippines, I finally comprehended that in order to successfully help others it was crucial to first help myself. Whereupon I determined to make my love of English a reality.
How did your life change after the Peace Corps?
Having moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, I applied and was accepted into the English Master of Arts program at The University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Significantly, the program includes the Critical Literacy Option, designed for those who have a keen interest in such studies as: rhetoric and composition theory and pedagogy; community and adult literacy; professional, technical, and electronic communication; community college teaching; future doctoral study in literacy studies or rhetoric and composition.
How has graduate school affected you?
The Critical Literacy concentration at UNCW has been ideal in regards to my interests and future academic and professional undertakings. The amalgamation of literature and theory has been most advantageous for me in the insight attained with respect to English literature, literacy, and their underlying theories. Understanding the importance of becoming critically aware of what we read and how it affects society has also been quite stimulating.
An additional relevant aspect of my master's education has been my graduate internship with UNCW's Community Outreach Services and SpinNC, their online nonprofit web site geared toward assisting other nonprofit organizations by featuring their events and articles on the site. Completing this internship has allowed me to develop countless new skills necessary for success in both the academic and professional working forces of today and the future.
What are your professional/educational goals today?
Having become so immersed in literacy and how it affects our society, I determined to compose my Master's thesis on Emergent Literacy and Technology in Education. This topic has captivated my attention for some time and I hope to persevere with my research, for I believe it essential that children develop literacy skills in tandem with technology in order not to be left behind in future educational endeavors.
Currently, my inclination is to persist on my quest for education in the English doctoral program at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, as I perceive this to be the paramount venue to expand upon my existing knowledge of English literature and theory. While I have yet to generate any tangible designs upon the completion of my doctoral studies, I am certain I will acquire the skills necessary for success in all areas pertaining to the professional world of academia.
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