Jeremiah Henry – A Brief Bio
Looking back, it was a classic cinematic moment when—having decided to leave the police academy in 2008 and return to college to earn a degree—I held in each hand a sheet of paper: in one hand was Fresno City College’s major requirements for an associate’s degree in philosophy; in the other were the major requirements for an associate’s degree in English. I’ve never regretted the decision to pause my pursuit of becoming a peace officer and work toward advanced degrees in English, but at that time, I had no idea how far I’d go. I like to think that it was through a process of academic osmosis that I found a home that has since been immersed in academia, and as I look toward applying to PhD programs after I complete my master’s program, I’m nothing but content calling the academy of ideas my home.
There are a variety of highlights from my undergraduate experience at both Fresno City College and Fresno State. At Fresno City College, on top of earning my associate’s degree in English in 2008, I was honored to be the recipient of the Gary Soto scholarship. The Writing and Reading Center was like a second home to me—as a tutor there, I worked with hundreds of students spread over three years of service. The Rampage, Fresno City College’s newspaper, afforded me the opportunity to mix two of my passions. As the Photography Editor for the entire paper, I was able to cultivate my skills in leadership, writing, and photography, all while working on projects that served the interests of the student body. My undergraduate experience was punctuated by transferring to Fresno State and subsequently graduating summa cum laude with my bachelor’s degree in English literature.
Now as a graduate student and teaching associate at Fresno State, I am endlessly appreciative that I exist in the center of a kind of Venn diagram between the world of professors and the world of students. I have the great pleasure of serving as president of our local chapter of International English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, and I’m likewise honored to be a member of the organizing committee for our university’s Undergraduate Conference for Multiethnic Literatures of the Americas (UCMLA).
I’ve also recently been invited to join the Tablet Task Force, President Castro’s committee for his tablet initiative and the DISCOVERe program. Just recently I attended and presented a paper at the Pacific Area Modern Languages and Literature conference (PAMLA) in Riverside, CA, and I have served as a moderator and responder to a variety of conference panels in the past. With that being said, I see myself as at once a teacher and a student, and this transitory position enables me to see my teaching and my learning from a unique perspective. Existing in part inside and in part outside of both of those structures allows me to critique them in ways I’d otherwise not be able to do. Indeed, when you’re standing in the university, it’s easy to point to the library or the Social Sciences building, but you can’t point at the university unless you’re standing beyond its borders. So I understand my teachers because I am a teacher; I understand my students because I am a student; and I lament that this journey will not always be tracked along this border. That being said, the liminal space of being a graduate student and teaching associate is not without its hardships.
Managing all of the demands on our time is exceedingly difficult. Generally speaking, as graduate students, we have pressures to perform well with our coursework, to read and write with critical eyes and minds, to submit papers to and participate in conferences, and to generate a meaningful thesis that contributes to our field of study. Teaching associates in my department have 25-50 students in first-year writing courses where our pressures are also varied: we must learn the program’s curricular learning outcomes; we must create learning plans that address and fit that curriculum; we must attend required classes, workshops, meetings, and conferences as the program demands; we must read and respond meaningfully to our students’ writing, many of whom come from discourse communities that are in a space far away from academic discourse and truly need our help; and most of us have to have second jobs because our university does not provide tuition fee waivers for their teaching associates. That is why, from time to time, you may see a few advertisements running throughout The Snow of the Universe.