I grew up in a family where education was dreamt of but never found everyday life. My father dropped out of school when he was twelve to work in the sugarcane fields in Puerto Rico. My mother, at eighteen, never finished her schooling after she became pregnant with my oldest brother. By the time I was old enough to attend school, my parents had managed to save up enough money to leave the housing projects in Spanish Harlem, but no amount of blue-collar work could replace an education that they were never able to receive. Growing up, an academic education seemed not just difficult but mythological, a special type of knowledge reserved for people who were nothing like my Puerto Rican family. Many years later, when I started working as a writing tutor at Valencia College, I saw the same fear and unworthiness that I had growing up in the students who came for tutoring. It was at the tutoring center that I met a young Hispanic woman who needed help with her English class. When we worked together, she was insightful about the work she was doing. When I asked why she didn't put this into her writing or voice them in class, she quickly grew quiet and withdrawn. I realized it wasn't because I was a "better" teacher than her professor but because she felt comfortable to be a student around me in a way that she didn't in the classroom. She was, the way I was growing up, academically lonely. I keep these experiences in mind now as an English and Creative Writing teacher at the University of Arizona. I do my best to keep in mind how lonely education can be and strive to provide a home for any and everyone who comes into the classroom.
What Drives You to #AchieveMore?