As my high school graduation loomed over my head and the words of my friends, excited about their college choices, echoed in my ears, I thought, What’s next for me? I was going to UNF, but I was clueless as to why I chose the school or what I would do there. If only I was the star in a hip 80s film and could have a montage of the next four years played to ease my anxiety! Then I would have known the greatest experience of my life was at my fingertips. The small class sizes and community drew me to UNF – the professors in the Department of English kept me. On a brisk January morning I walked into Dr. Pam Monteleone’s drama course. She was the most passionate person I’d ever encountered. I was inspired by her love of English and the sheer joy as she shared it with students. Before college, I thought that classrooms and education must function within the four distinct walls of a classroom. Sure, I thought, field trips or outdoor discussions may help morale, but learning only occurs with a pencil in one hand and a book in the other. UNF taught me that I was wrong. Learning can occur at any time in any place. For me, that place is the theater.The Playwright’s Project – a course where students write and produce one-act plays – gave me the opportunity to write a play that explored women’s issues in society. After writing my play, I received the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Council Transformational Learning Scholarship to put my play on the stage and hold a panel discussion. I finally had a voice and people who were listening. After graduation, I’ve continue to work with the drama program for the Playwright’s Project and Shakespeare productions. UNF gave me the ability to express myself and the place to do it – surrounded by people who care. When I wake up each day and walk into the classroom (now as an English educator at a school for students with learning, social, and behavioral differences), I hope that I can do the same for my students.
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