A Scholar’s Story Packed Full of Priceless Advice

At a brownbag lunch discussion back in December, Dr. Artiles, lead a conversation about his experiences as an international student. His discussion covered many issues including leaving home, getting acclimated to a new country and the academy, and navigating various programs and levels of learning both during a doctoral degree program and possible post-doc work. Much of what he shared was good advice for not just international students, but also for students at various points in their journey.

Leaving home. This story pulled at my heartstrings.

I did not leave my home state or country for my schooling, but I did leave a home. The home I left was the classroom. I know this move is small in comparison to travelling to another state or country, but home can mean different things to different people.

For the last 8 years my classroom was my home. This was the space where I built relationships with students and families. This was the space where I grew as a person, learning to be patient with all learners, provide guidance, and allow risk-taking to occur. It was a safe place for me. A place that was extremely difficult to leave. Nonetheless, at times I do feel “home sick” for the classroom, but knowing that my studies will lead me back to working with teachers and students in their classroom reminds me of the goodness that will come out of my educational journey.

Dr. Artiles’ discussion was uplifting, honest, and to the point. The stories of his educational experiences, from student to scholar were inspiring, reminding me with each one of his stories, how truly blessed I am to have the ability to continue my education.

From our discussion, I gleaned the following pieces of priceless advice:

*Be true to yourself.

*Create opportunities for yourself.

*Capitalize on your assets.

*Obstacles can be advantages.

*Build networks and relationships.

*Advocate for yourself.

*Treat everyone with kindness—people will never forget how you treated them.Image

And, lastly to “stay in touch with what is important to you; don’t lose focus on why you started.” This piece of advice is what drives me each day and will continue to drive me in the years to come.

 

 

 

 

First Week Bliss

First week of classes are off to a smooth start. This week has lent itself to reconnecting with other students, meeting new professors, and seeking opportunities for continued growth and learning. Wednesday marked the day when all my writing was due. NCTE proposals. Social Justice Teaching stories. And, not to forget, getting acclimated to my new schedule, which included planning time for study and my RAship.

 

All in all, looking forward to a new semester of learning, continued conversations, and growth.

 

Summing up the first week a la six-word memoir: New Semester. Endless Possibilities. 

First Semester Musings

The marathon of the first semester has come to a close. Just five short months ago, I embarked on my first day of graduate school as full-time doc student, leaving the comfort of my very own classroom, and entering the next chapter in my life. It feels like just yesterday I stepped foot into my first class of my doctoral program, excited, but unsure. Not about my decision, but about my abilities. Would I be able to measure up? Did I belong in this new place?

Grades posted, and I feel happy and confident about what lies ahead. I ended the semester with positive grades, but regardless of the letter grade that I earned, I feel like I made tremendous growth as a learner, thinker and writer—and this is truly priceless.

The break from the classroom is by far the toughest aspect of my new journey. For the past 8 years, I had the privilege of working with linguistically and culturally diverse students in 2nd-6th grade. I loved the time that I was able to spend with my students, learning together as readers and writers. During this time, I grew as a person, learning each day, refining my craft and doing all that I could to ensure that my students learned all that they could. Most importantly helping my students to find their voices through writing and expanding their minds through reading.

However, being a full-time doc student at the university has been a blessing, allowing me to fully immerse myself into the daily life of the “academy.” I never imagined that I’d be able to go to school as a full-time student, but due to the blessings and support of Dr. Arias, I was granted a research assistant position that enables me to work and take classes, allowing me to participate fully in activities on campus. Being able to meet other doc students who are in various places in their journey has been the MOST beneficial. To hear their stories and feel their support has meant the world to me. It helped me to realize that I’m not alone on this journey, though the road may be long; it is one that is not impossible to travel.

My classes provided me the platform to grow as learner, thinker, writer, and aspiring scholar. Classroom discussions expanded my mind and encouraged me to think in different ways. I learned to really listen, without judgment to opinions/viewpoints that may be different from mine, finding new lenses with which to view and attack educational problems. Dr. Gee, Betty, Steve and Dr. B. will always hold a special place in my heart, for they were my first teachers during this journey, nurturing me and guiding me along the way. Their support and guidance has been remarkable. I owe them all so much.

As the 2014 semester begins, I remain grateful for this opportunity, not taking a moment of this journey for granted. I’m looking forward to the learning ahead and the opportunities that await. Learning, and continuing my education, taking my studies to the next level is the greatest gift that I have been given from my family and those who are lifting me up and supporting me on this exciting journey.