I had it all figured out when I came to TU in the fall of 2011. I had wanted to be a teacher my entire life—I played school with my little sister and taught her the alphabet, I set my desk up in my bedroom with folders filled with graded assignments that my friends had completed and I turned my back porch into a classroom.
I’ve always loved kids, too, and I enjoy both playing with them and turning whatever activity they are engaged in into a learning experience. I thought it was fitting, then, to declare my major as Elementary Education before I set foot on Towson’s campus.
I took several writing-based courses at TU before enrolling in any education classes. Reading and writing were two of my other favorite activities as a child. I was that kid who read the assigned books for English class as soon as they were given to the students and then spent the time in-class reading other books for fun. I would also write short stories—both in and out of class—and read them to friends and family. The writing-based courses I took my freshman year at TU (which included Creative Writing) brought to my attention that I could incorporate these interests into my college career. I declared English as my second major at the end of the 2012 spring term.
About a month after I committed to being an English major, a post from Towson’s English department appeared in my Facebook newsfeed announcing that there was a job opening as a “Student Writer” in TU’s Division of Administration and Finance. The post described some of the responsibilities involved with this position: editing and writing submissions for A&F’s blog, editing submissions to the Daily Digest (now T3), editing TU’s website, working with the Go Green Initiative and assisting with “big projects.” I was reluctant to apply and almost opted not to—how could a student who had just finished his freshman year get a position with such responsibilities that was advertised to all English majors at Towson?
Much to my surprise I was hired as a student writer for A&F. I was excited but nervous when I walked in to the Administration building for my first day of work. I walked past men and women dressed in professional attire on my way to my cubicle—men and women who I knew play a very important role in the university and ensure that major functions of TU run smoothly. I was in Towson’s headquarters.
One of the first things I noticed, however, was that everyone I encountered was amiable and seemed genuinely interested in how I was doing. I had not expected the members of the division to be aloof or brusque in dealing with me, but I had also not expected sincere friendliness to this degree. It was a pleasant surprise, one could say. My first day was not a rare experience; this sincerity and friendliness is something I now associate with employees in the Administration building.
I must say that my time working in the division is not what I expected, and I mean that in the best possible way. I have made very good friends with both my immediate co-worker, Eric Vanlieshout, and with my boss, Eric Martinez. The three of us not only hold each other to high standards, both professionally and intellectually, but we also respect and trust each other as fellow professionals and friends. (Well, Eric M. holds us to high standards, but Eric V. and I know that he is hardworking and talented; we have naturally come to expect great writing, great ideas, great anything that is a product of his efforts.) The environment of the Administration building, coupled with my friendships grounded in supportiveness with the Erics, have helped me build confidence as a professional and as a future member of the “real world.”
My experience with the division has affected me on a deeper level, though. I am now thinking more about pursuing careers that involve writing more than careers that involve teaching. I did not think that I would end up considering becoming an editor or becoming a lawyer when I first came to TU, but I am now taking the possibilities of such careers much more seriously. Writing frequently and experiencing success with writing—whether it be receiving positive feedback for writing the Annual Report or receiving positive feedback for writing blog articles—has expanded my horizons.
I suppose that the words of Benjamin Franklin are appropriate in closing, then: “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”