A Decade in the Reflection: From Freshmen to Professor

On Tuesday, January 11, 2005, at 8:00 am, I had my first class as a freshmen college student. I had just graduated from high school (home/self-schooled) on Friday, December 10, 2004.

I had no clue what to expect. I remember wondering if there would be bells between classes and announcements at he beginning each day (and super glad to know these don’t exist in college). I enrolled in college because “it was what you are supposed to do” and because I needed to be officially in college full time to maintain my health insurance and because in order to be a Chick-fil-A operator you have to have a college degree. I remember just hoping I would not flunk out! 

I had Business Computer Applications from 8:00-10:00, Composition & Rhetoric I from 11:00-12:15, and Intermediate Algebra from 1:00-3:00 every Tuesday and Thursday. I continued to work at Chick-fil-A on Fridays and Saturdays. The first day of ENGL1301 we were assigned to write a research paper due in one week about online learning and the other classes had a ton of homework. (Click here to see this paper! I ended up being able to use the basic groundwork in this paper for several projects over the years.) I came home, wrote these papers, and to my surprise, discovered I loved it. I remember thinking while researching and writing one day in the computer lab that first semester that I would love spending my life doing this.

I was quickly invited to the Honors Program and worked closely with my professors. The first semester flew by, and I loved it. It got to where any time I wasn’t studying–reading, writing, researching, practicing something–I longed to study. In the Summer 2005, I took Chemistry online. In the Fall, I took History, Sociology, Art Appreciation, and C++ Computer Programming. At this point, because of severe leg pain and my love of learning, I decided that I didn’t want to be a Chick-fil-A operator. I wasn’t all that sure at this point. Since I was little–and you can ask anyone this–I have always wanted to teach. Even when I wanted to be a Chick-fil-A operator (which I still kind of dream about sometimes!), I always thought about it in the framework of teaching people how to work hard and enjoy a job. 

Before I knew it, my time at Brazosport College was coming to an end. I ended up completing 69 credits with an “A” in every course. 43 of these 69 credits were Honors credits. By this time, I had decided I wanted to teach college. I knew I was going to get an MA in History but didn’t know much more. Everyone encouraged me, told me to get a Ph.D. in History. I was accepted at the University of Houston Clear Lake. My time at UHCL flew by, too. I was only there from January 2007 to May 2008.  It was during this time that I began my teaching career by working with students needing developmental education. It was also during this time that I fell in love with the critical analysis of culture using the past as a framework. My classes with Dr. Barbara Hales transformed how I saw and thought about the world and have shaped how I teach. I greatly value what I learned in her classes! Before I knew it, I was applying for graduate school and starting my first semester as a graduate student. 

My time in graduate school has been fun, surprising, and stressful all at once and tangled together! I had my third major surgery my second semester in graduate school. For me, I have learned far more outside of the classroom than in it during my graduate school days. My years in graduate school and all that I have discovered have really given me new perspectives on the world that have truly transformed almost everything about me. No one professor, no one book, no one class did this. This was the on-going cumulation of years and years of formal education and being in environments dedicated to supporting and creating free, critical thinkers. Hopefully, I’ll be fully done with the Ph.D. this year (before I turn 29!) and thus done with graduate school; although, my learning will never stop. 

So, we are in 2015. Ten years ago, I had no clue I’d be where I am today. I am in my 11th year as a college student and 8th year as a college instructor (I’ve blogged and published about teaching so much I won’t rehash those thoughts here at this time). Ten years ago, I didn’t know anything. Now, I know how much I don’t know. My list of “future research” and “to read” could take up several life times. I look forward to the next ten years, academically and otherwise. 

   Loch Alsh - Reflection