~ Sharyn ~

Monday, February 29, 2016

Sharyn is the one in pink :)

I can't think of a better way to celebrate the extra day in February than to post about beloved Sharyn. It's been a couple of months and due to student leader training, I wasn't able to attend her services, so I wanted to write a post dedicated to Sharyn as I have been in a reflection mode as I transition into my next role.

Sharyn was the program director/faculty member for the graduate program I graduated from a few years ago. This was her formal title, but many of us referred to her as a second mom, homie, mentor, friend, and role model. She was incredibly kind, spiritually wealthy, and a norm breaker.

When I was doing my grad school search, this particular university wasn't on my radar.  I mean, I could barely pronounce the school name...

I spoke with Sharyn on the phone the summer going into my senior year of college and she was convincing, but I was not convinced enough to apply. Then, December rolled around...and I was panicking that out of the 6 universities I applied to, I was only feeling at peace with 2 of them. I kept thinking I wasted money on application fees and that maybe I should defer a year.

After a nudge from a mentor, he told me to look back into this particular university because he knew former employees who loved this grad program and they were similar to me in values. Sure enough, I talk to Sharyn again and she encouraged me that it wouldn't hurt to apply and that if I wanted to, she could talk through some of the other programs I'd applied to...

WHAT?! I kept thinking...shouldn't this person be convincing me that THIS school is where I should go?! Instead, Sharyn offered to talk through EVERY school choice I had and why I thought it was a good fit. From very early on, Sharyn has and always made it about the student. 8 months later, I ended up moving to East Los Angeles for this grad program.

I could go on about small meaningful interactions with Sharyn, but when it came down to the go big or don't graduate portion of this story, Sharyn was my number one advocate.

I was the type of person who loved my graduate internships, but I was never the best student in the classroom. I was an A & B student...and didn't obsess about the A+. Shout out to my High School AP English teacher Mrs. Ballenger who taught me about the breadth of my learning, not the letter grade.

 I love learning, but I am an experience based learner - I learn by doing, creating, moving, etc.. Sitting in a classroom for 5 hours was a S-T-R-U-G-G-L-E. So, to summarize this, Sharyn was the ONLY reason I graduated on time and submitted a capstone I could be proud of. The day I turned in my capstone, she emailed it back to me and told me I was capable of producing a better final product and that I am underselling my experiences...UMMM...WHAT?!

Initially, I was upset, like temper tantrum upset, it's a little embarrassing looking back. All I wanted was to be done and I wasn't about this whole re-doing my capstone that I had been working on for months.

But being the Educator she was, she saw the potential in me that I never saw. She saw my strengths and abilities and encouraged me to utilize them. That is what an ally does. This is what an Educator is. Telling you what you need to hear even if it upsets you.

In the end, I ended up presenting a capstone I was incredibly proud of. 
 I can't say enough grateful things about Sharyn. I owe her my career, diploma, and my love for sharing Jesus with my students. She also ACKNOWLEDGED my struggles as a womxn of color. She gave me credit for my work and didn't undercut my achievements or take credit for them. She was an ally. A radical, progressive ally.

She will be missed, very very missed.

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