Don’t Forget Why You Came Here
Annie Adamian International & Multicultural Education EdD ’16 joined the faculty of the School of Education at CSU Chico this fall. Adamian shares how her experience in the International & Multicultural Education community prepared and motivated her for her role as a university professor.
What inspired you to pursue a university faculty position?
Straight up…I remember submitting my letter of resignation to Chico Unified after I signed my contract with CSU–Chico and not being sure if I had made the right decision. After fifteen years of service as a middle school science teacher, I was leaving a contested and paradoxically loving space where day in and day out I learned alongside my students how to strategically negotiate with Eurocentric standards and agitate constricting and oppressive spaces…while we simultaneously worked to cultivate humanizing and healing learning conditions rooted in beloved relationships, theory and practice. Throughout the summer, I contemplated if I had made the right choice. Why was I leaving a job I loved, young people I loved and was honored to serve, and a public school system that I had a deep commitment toward transforming through collective engagement on-the-ground?
It became clear during my first week at CSU–Chico that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I was welcomed with a beautiful reunion for sure! Three of my former middle school students and two parents of students I taught in previous years are in my classes. And so, the clarity came after one of my classes, when one of my former students walked back with me to my office and shared her fears about pulling off the credential program. As we were talking, she mentioned that when she saw my name on the course list, she was sad that other kids weren’t going to have me as their teacher, and said…“but now sitting here talking with you, I get it. You are now here, supporting us to become the teachers that they get to have.”
Her words were timely, and supported me in being able to now respond to your question about what inspired me to pursue a faculty position at CSU–Chico. Ultimately, I wanted to continue to serve in the community that I had developed trusting and loving relationships in even greater capacities. More specifically, the understandings that I gained because of the deep commitment toward my development from loving and dedicated professors and classmates supported me in realizing the ways in which I could serve my community and contribute toward cultivating humanizing pedagogy and practices that would honor underserved communities with an unwavering hope for racial and social justice. I am honored to be back at the institution that prepared me toward becoming a teacher over a decade ago. And I hope to inspire my students, support and love them unconditionally, and work with them to move past their fears…if and when needed…toward embracing their agency. And I hope that together, we create the learning conditions for young people rooted in cultivation, as opposed to dispossession.
What was a highlight of your time in the International & Multicultural Education EdD program?
Whenever I reflect on this, how do I explain this…basically my heart pounds a bit faster and I start smiling. The IME community... my classmates, professors and mentors…I will forever hold deep appreciation towards them…for supporting me in learning to love myself, and in turn, love others even more. I will always be grateful that Dean Kumashiro joined the SOE family and that I had the opportunity to learn from him and at the core of my experiences, the greatest highlight will always be engaging in a process of healing alongside a community of radical healers in the IME program. I literally transformed physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually. For the past couple of years, when I wake up…you know how you can’t really plan what you’re going to feel or think. No joke, I wake up everyday and the first thought and feeling I have is gratitude. Gratitude that I am able to serve in ways I used to only image or dream about. I feel like I am at the right place at the right time and because of my experiences at USF, I am able to work alongside folks and contribute toward cultivating spaces of teaching and learning that young people, and more specifically oppressed communities deserve and have a right to.
What’s your advice to a first semester doctoral student interested in teaching at the university level?
When I was close to beginning the dissertation process, Dr. Fuentes shared with me, “don’t forget why you came here.” I think this is crucial not only in the ways in which you intend to serve at the university level, but also to carry this one-liner with you during your journey as a doctoral student. My advice would be to stay true to your passions and purpose, hold deep gratitude for your mentors, the IME community, and the folks you serve or are intending to serve. Stay humble and hopeful, and be mindful of how you will share all the love, healing, passion, and brilliance that you experienced in the IME program, and the ways in which you will mutually engage with folks toward social justice while strategically working within constricting institutional contexts and systems of oppression. Lastly, embrace the tensions and contradictions…it means you’re teaching and learning toward liberation.