I graduated from Michigan State University in 2014. My four years there expanded my world and softened my heart. My training in the College of Education opened my eyes to the privileges I was blessed with in my childhood, and the duty I have as a person of privilege and power to be an ally and advocate for those whose voices are too often forgotten, silenced or ignored.

By the time I completed my Intern Year in Grand Haven, I had been in urban, rural, international, suburban, and introductory college classes. Despite (or maybe because of) the fact that I had grown up in a white, upper-middle class, small town bubble, I had a hunger for new experiences and cultural knowledge.

The summer of applications and interviews was drawing to a close, and after turning down a job in Arizona that just didn’t sit right, I applied for a job I didn’t quite understand. The conversation I had with my boyfriend (now husband) went something like this:

“So, I applied for this job, and I got an interview. But…it’s kind of crazy and I don’t really understand exactly what I would be doing.”

“What school is it for?”

“Well, it’s a district, but I don’t know if it’s a school. I think I’d just be teaching kids who need an education but are in, or have been in, the juvenile system.”

“I was hoping you’d do something extraordinary.”

So, I got the job and moved to Colorado 6 days later – on his birthday. I’m now in my second year as a School District employee, teaching English Literature and Creative Writing to an ever-changing milieu of 10-17 year olds with abilities ranging from Kindergarten to AP. I see between 300 and 500 residents per year, many of them multiple times in a matter of months. Some come from lives more privileged than my own, others managing to survive in homeless villages on their own.

I have yet to wake up and dread going to work. I am not afraid of my students, and no, I’ve never had a hand laid on me – except for a high-five. They are children, they are humans. It is my job to teach them, it is my mission to guard their dignity and restore their sense of self-worth.

I hope reading this brings you at least an ounce of the knowledge and joy I get to encounter every day.