Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


From time to time, one of my former students gets in touch with me. More often than not, the emails or phone calls come from alumni of the Nameless Summer Program I worked for during the five summers before this one. The program's intensity and focus on community-building help to form teacher-student bonds that are a bit stronger than average for Big City U.

Today, a woman I taught three summers ago--a first-generation, community-college transfer student who's also a single mother--called the scholarship center where I work to iron out some financial logistics. She asked me for some advice about her post-graduation plans.

During her time at Big City U, this woman has helped other community-college students make the transition here, has been able to study abroad, and had the world opened up for her. She has a job as an educational counselor lined up, plans to work toward a Master's degree in Education, and wants to teach at a community college to help people who need better access to the educational system--in her words, "just like the summer program; just like you."

Folks, that just feels so damn good.

That's what I'm here for. That's what this whole durn shootin' match is about. The research and the writing make it possible, and they're as necessary, for me, as breathing. But that--helping someone change her world for the better from the inside out, then watching her go on to do the same thing for somebody else--well, that's just the Real Stuff.

And you know what? All the doubt and debt and exploitation are worth it. Grad school should've been easier; it should've been better; it did not need to grind me down the way it has. But today, I feel like I'm made out of Teflon: today, none of it sticks.

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