University of Rochester, BA in English and Classics, 2009
Current Occupation: Upper School Latin and Greek Teacher
Current Residence: Falls Church, VA, USA
When and how did you choose your major?
On Ash Wednesday, my eighth grade teacher wrote, "Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris." (Remember, man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.) That was the moment I knew dead languages were for me. My high school didn't offer Latin, so it was the first course I signed up for freshman year. I majored in English and Classics and loved every minute of it.
What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?
Go to the career center. Just schedule an appointment and go. I didn't have a clue about how to apply for a teaching job, what to say on an interview, what to do after the interview, but they coached me through it all. I got my first job offer one month before graduating, and I give a lot of the credit to the career center. They also taught me how to write and format a resume- and I still use that format three jobs later.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path? / What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
Life after graduation has been chaotic and wonderful. I went to Arizona to teach English and Latin in a charter school. Next, I became a field guide for about a year in a wilderness therapy program for young adults in Asheville, NC. I am currently teaching secondary school Latin and Greek in Virginia. I've just been accepted into the M.A. in Comparative Literature at Harvard for English. My plan was always to take some time, teach, and then apply to graduate school. I ended up taking more time than I thought I would, and I certainly didn't see wilderness guide in the mix, but I have learned and experienced more than I could ever imagine in the past three years by staying flexible and trying scary things. And I've had a fantastic time so far.
What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?
Plato taught me that perplexity is the beginning of knowledge, and my Plato professor told us, "Being content with yourself is delusion." I developed a lot of specific skills and tools while studying English and Classics, but these two lessons developed a mindset that keeps me moving forward. Answers are just the byproducts of a more meaningful process, and I like to think that a healthy amount of dissatisfaction inspires me to be a better person going onward to better things.
How do you balance your work and personal life?
I don't believe in the concept. If you don't try to separate them, there is nothing to balance. As a field guide, I lived with groups of clients for eight days at a time while backpacking through the woods. As a teacher, I stay late and commit my weekends to Latin tournaments. I'm single, young, and still idealistic enough not to choose a career that I want to separate from my personal life.
What advice do you have for current students?
Find opportunities; don't wait for them to find you. Apply for things for which you are not qualified. If you start to feel competent and confident, it's time to go outside of your comfort zone again. We can be comfortable later, when we have real responsibilities like a family. Students are expected to be awkward in college; now is the time to grow.