Friday, September 7, 2018

The Beginning of the End

On May 04, 2008 I graduated with a masters degree in Communication and Rhetorical Studies.  I was optimistic , here I was  a black woman in Americans and I had achieved the dream. At least I though I did. My peers were either leaving for PHD programs, looking for jobs or heading to teach as instructors. I decided to head into higher education, with the hope of getting my PHD eventually.

There was no way for me to go directly into a PHD program, I was married with a almost 3 year old.
Daycare costs were astronomical and there was no way I could get into anymore student loan debt. Even with graduate assistantships the expenses required loans. So I took a job with a one year contract at a southern university that one of my peers was working at. During my two years as a graduate teaching assistant I fell for in love with teaching. Standing in front of the classroom became my passion. It was amazing to see how students transforming from the beginning of the semester to the end. I eventually earned the title Dr. and solidified my place in academia.

Over the past eleven years I have spent countless hours with students, planning, teaching and encouraging. I love teaching and standing in front of the classroom is my safe place, believe it or not. The unfortunate thing is that tenure track positions these days are few and far between. Some of them    are in locations that are not culturally diverse. Some even if they are in a metropolitan area are full of political issues that make teaching difficult. A few years ago as I looked at my children and goals I knew that my time in front of the classroom was coming to the end.

I had begun to lack the desire to play the game, to pretend. I wanted to just be me and I did, in the classroom, in meetings and amongst my peers. What I learned during that time was that my authentic self was threatening to some people in the academy. I saw it develop in so many ways both  blatantly and in secret.

I asked myself did I want to fight this battle, as I evaluated myself the answer was NO. So slowly I extracted my self from the position I was in. It was very strategic and I planned my exit so that I could still provide for my family. You will still see me in the classroom but it is no longer my full time job. I have returned to corporate America. I am of no delusion about what I will face in that world but I know that I will be judged on the quality of my work and I have job security.

I am working on some projects that I hope to share with you in the future. Now, I am not saying I will never return to teaching. I am just saying I won’t return unless I am able to be my authentic self. I will not enter a position where I am an “only”. Only woman, only Black person, only person who understands the “isms”.

I am currently teaching one class at a local community college and I love it. My corporate job, although busy is for a wonderful company who appreciates my value. Right now that is enough for me, when it is not. I will  do what I have to do to make a change.


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