This is where we learn our dreams cannot live without passion, so we put our dreams into action. Photo and quote credit: Megan Cahill-Assenza
Spring 2012, I started my first semester at Suffolk County Community College. I reached out to a friend who I went to school with in my hometown, asking about her thoughts and experience at the school. She really liked it, and she gave me great advice, such as suggesting I enroll in the honors program because I’ll be with students who care about learning. I followed her advice, taking Honors Introduction to Literature with Dr. Joseph Inners and Honors Creative Writing with Eliane Preston my first semester, professors that my friend highly recommended.
Engaging classes, like-minded students, and caring professors revived my love of learning. Unknowingly, my eyes opened when I read and analyzed literature, as well as when I began to write creatively again with more of a sense of purpose.
For each new section we would cover in Honors Introduction to Literature, Dr. Inners gave us theme sheets, which provided ideas to think about while reading the selected short stories, novellas, poems, plays. Dr. Inners brought meaning to the works and pointed out what the authors are trying to teach us readers about life. I began to see that I, too, was trying to earn a sense of meaning in my life. On one theme sheet, entitled “Ourselves,” Dr. Inners wrote, “The search for self-knowledge can never end, but it can have many beginnings. To the reader who is awake…” When I read these words, I felt myself light up and gasp with excitement. Before I continued reading this aloud to my friend, Amal, whom I had met in my literature class, I said, “This is me!” I never read anything that made me put pieces together about myself before. I continued to read aloud: “…who lets himself learn easily…” I paused again.
“That’s me, too!” I exclaimed.
“Through the insights of others who have learned painfully, the world of literature provides many opportunities for making beginnings. This is one of your opportunities.” I was given the opportunity of a new beginning, a new beginning of developing a voice.
My Creative Writing class helped put me back in touch with my lifelong passion for storytelling. It felt right to finally do something I loved. I remember accidentally leaving my first assignment—a short story intended to capture the feeling of melancholy—in my home printer, and my mom found it and asked who had written it. It was the first time I felt like my writing was viewed as something more than just a student’s work. My creative writing class became a family; we were all very supportive to one another. I made a friend, Mercedes in that class that I’ve kept to this day.
For our final project, we were asked to design a creative project of our choice: a poem, a story, a play, or anything else that excited us. Inspired by watching performances of Audra McDonald on YouTube, I had musical lyrics come to me and decided to try writing a song for my final project…
With all that heart and glory
We still have a lovely story
A story that will last
A story we can rely on
It’s won’t shatter
into pieces of broken glass
I worked with a composer, a friend of my piano teacher, to create the melody and wrote a short story to accompany the expanded lyrics he helped me write. When it was finished, I performed it for the whole class—the first time I’ve ever sang in front of a crowd.
By the end of the spring semester, I had a very strong gut feeling that Suffolk County Community College had that something more I had been searching for. I didn’t want to leave after just one semester. I made friends that I connected with and we supported one another. I also had professors who loved teaching and shared the same passions as me.I was slowly beginning to realize that maybe, maybe I am an English Major. I decided to stay at Suffolk and earn my associates degree in Liberal Arts.