Hey there, “real world.”
I’ve been training with Teach for America for about a month now, and it’s only just now starting to feel like I’m anything more than a college student masquerading in teacher’s clothing.
I joined Teach for America to become part of a professional social justice movement. Before graduation I did the vast majority of my work with LGBT Rights Advocacy, Pro Choice Advocacy, Sexual Health Advocacy, Sexual Assault Prevention, and Mental Health Advocacy. All of those different movements mean an incredible amount to me, but I felt like much of the time I was having to shortchange one effort or the other in order to make gains toward a greater good by shifting where I spent my time. Eventually I found education as an outlet by which I could work to use what I already know about advocacy and mental health in order to help those who are legitimately in need.
Reading that last paragraph makes me laugh as I think about where I was four years ago at this time. Then I was sitting at home, wringing my hands in anticipation of what would happen to me in college and wondering how I would change as a person. I had no idea then that I would find a real calling in the service community. Honestly, I didn’t even think I would fit in with a service community until W&M received me with open arms. My alma mater shaped the way I think of myself and the world around me. At one point I thought that I would want to be a doctor so that I could make buckets of money and live the “glamorous” life that my family and teachers all but demanded I pursue. The W&M community held my hand as I came to my own conclusion that there are better ways for me to spend my life; there are better reasons for me to give all of my energy and my compassion.
Now I’m looking at a stack of papers from my students remembering their faces when I showed them a picture of the Crim Dell Bridge. “It’s beautiful. Did you really go to school there?” I’m still just as in awe as they are, but now I’m pouring out my heart and soul so that they too can have the opportunity to grow and change in the most nurturing and welcoming community I’ve ever experienced. All of my students deserve the chance to have their lives altered for the better. All students deserve that.
Four years ago I had no idea that I would be grading papers on a Sunday so that I could be ready to greet my high school students with a firm but caring smile in the morning. Four years ago I had no idea that I could feel such a sense of urgency. Four years ago I didn’t know that I would find myself completely consumed by community service. Four years ago I didn’t know that I could be simultaneously so overwhelmed and empowered by the ability to change futures.
Four years ago I hadn’t yet been a student at William & Mary.