Suzanne was awarded a BA in English with a minor in psychology in 2009. She has gone on to forge a career in early literacy.
This is Suzanne’s Northeastern story…
Suzanne entered Northeastern knowing that she wanted to be an English major. She was following her passion, and though she didn’t have a grand plan for her career path, she knew her time at Northeastern would be fulfilling.
“I just had this kind of dreamy vision of going off to Boston and reading lots of books, and having lots of interesting discussions. And so, I wasn’t really thinking, What am I going to do with this down the line? And I’m kind of glad I wasn’t, because that might’ve scared me off, and needlessly so…. I’ve been really pleased with where I’ve gone since getting the major.”
Some of the best classroom moment she had as an undergraduate occurred when professors turned a preconceived notion about an author on its head. Sometimes a lecture would simply make the importance of an author’s work “click,” and the text would become much more meaningful.
Suzanne recalls that during her first semester, she took a course on Shakespearean tragedies, which was incredibly challenging for her as a first semester freshman. The class introduced her to the Boston art and theater scene and showed her that she could learn and thrive in challenging courses.
Suzanne’s first co-op at Harvard’s Lamont Library was a perfect fit, because she had previously worked in her hometown public library. Her experience with her supervisors and off-hours reading in the stacks gave her great memories. Ultimately, this co-op experience helped her realize that a career in library sciences wasn’t the right path for her. She wanted to find a career in which she could be more directly involved in the community.
Suzanne’s second co-op involved working with infants and toddlers at MGH Children’s Center. The empathy and communication skills that she developed as an English major were very useful for her when dealing with concerned parents and the kids themselves.
After graduating from Northeastern, Suzanne moved to Spain and began teaching. She increased her fluency in Spanish, had a global experience, and pieced together what it was that she cared about: books and reading, teaching, and Spanish. After Spain, she returned to her job at MGH Children’s Center until she found a position that incorporated all of her passions.
“When I returned to Boston, I went back to my old co-op until I got the job that I have now. They were definitely connections that were really helpful to make.”
Suzanne now works at Raising a Reader Massachusetts, a non-profit organization that promotes early literacy in gateway communities. It provides families with books and educates parents in turning reading with their children into a conversation. She feels fortunate to hold a paying position where she can “preach the value of reading” and figure out how to make reading fun for young children. Suzanne uses her communication and writing skills in managing partnerships and working with administrators. The ability to write succinctly and clearly has been an important and useful skill in her career.
The large canon of literature she read as an English major introduced her to a diverse range of voices and experiences. Suzanne likes to think that listening to all those voices molded her into a more empathetic and sympathetic person. This has been important to her work because she spends so much time speaking with people from different backgrounds. Her job requires humility and an appreciation for other people’s stories, which is precisely what she gained from being an English major.
“I work with families that are very different from me. They’re recent immigrants. They’re from cultures that are new to me, and I’m constantly learning, so you’ve got to kind of be humble and be able to step outside of yourself and have an appreciation for other people’s stories. That’s what you’re doing the whole time that you’re an English major. You’re analyzing other people’s stories and parsing them for meaning.”
Suzanne’s interview is part of a series produced and edited by Sebastian Alberdi, Elizabeth Kennedy, Elana Plimack, and Maxwell Jackson, with assistance from Chelsey Meyer, for Spring 2016 ENGL 2740: Writing and Community Engagement, taught by Dr. Ellen Cushman, Northeastern University’s CSSH Dean’s Professor of Civic Sustainability; Professor of English; Director, Civic Sustainability, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives.
Northeastern Department of English