Faculty Shout-out by Dr. April Baker-Bell: “It was a pleasure to have Greg as a student and co-conspirator in ENG 413. Every Monday and Wednesday before class, I looked forward to walking down Wells Hall and being greeted by Greg’s inspiring talks with their colleagues about education, justice, and activism. Greg was instrumental in shaping the community we built in our class, a community built on transparency, vulnerability, truth, and accountability. Greg is a passionate leader, creative visionary, incredible writer, avid listener, and thoughtful teacher. I look forward to the change they are going to make in the world and in the lives of their students!”
Faculty Shout-out by Dr. Lamar Johnson: “The freshness, rawness, and passion that Greg brings to the classroom situates them as a phenomenal and transformative educator and leader. It has been an absolute pleasure teaching Greg—a courageous and radical educator who fights in moments of contentment and comfort but also at times of trials and challenges. Greg is committed to racial justice teaching and making a difference in the field of English education. Greg’s brilliance and presence are needed in classrooms.”
Faculty Shout-out by Dr. Kristin Mahoney: “It has been such a pleasure to read and think with Greg over the past few years. They bring such curiosity to the texts they encounter, and they were a true asset to the discussions in my courses within the English Department. Greg’s thesis on queer temporality in the works of Mina Loy and Richard Bruce Nugent demonstrates their skill as an astute and thoughtful reader of literary texts. I am consistently surprised and impressed by Greg’s insights into their writing. I will truly miss working with Greg.”
How would you describe your time as an English or Film Studies major at MSU? From the 2016 presidential election to the movement supporting survivors to countless instances of racial injustice, being anything at MSU these past four years has been a strange experience. I often say that I’ve protested my own university more times than I’ve been to a game, but I know that I’m not alone. Often I stand in solidarity with classmates and faculty members from the English department. Being an English major has meant that I’ve had a community just as willing to change the world as I am. I’m not always proud of MSU, but I’m always glad to have been a part of this community.
Which classes, instructors, or experiences particularly stand out for you and why? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life? There are many people I’d like to recognize, but someone would probably have to edit this response for length and clarity. Working for Dr. Jyotsna Singh for the first two years of my college experience taught me invaluable time management skills along with postcolonial critique. I carry both of these with me. I credit Dr. Stephen Carl Arch for humbling me in ENG 211H in fall semester of freshman year. Without those biweekly reality checks, some call them grades, I most likely would have continued to turn things in without reading them. I carry this along with a healthy level of sarcasm and dry humor. Dr. Lamar Johnson’s ENG 408 will stay with me for quite some time. A good chunk of that course was spent out in the community, mapping resources and interviewing members. The opportunity to spend time with some close friends learning about the growth and change in Southwest Lansing is something I still cherish. I carry with me the knowledge that being an educator brings responsibility outside the classroom. Identifying needs, becoming a part of causes, fighting for what he believes in, Dr. Johnson modeled what an educator should be. I could not write this without mentioning Dr. Kristin Mahoney who I have worked with for the past five semesters through various courses and an honors thesis. The empathy and passion Dr. Mahoney teaches with is palpable, and I hope to emulate these to some degree in my future teaching. I often explored the avant-garde under Dr. Mahoney’s tutelage, and nothing could have felt more like home. I used to meet weekly with Dr. Mahoney during the height of the sister survivors movement to discuss the importance of intellectual work in the face of crises and injustice. I carry with me these conversations and a healthy appreciation for decadence.
What advice would you give future English or Film Studies majors, based on your experiences in the department? Go to protests with your classmates. It’s a great way to form a community and to make your future classes not feel so lonely. This is going to sound cliché, but people should go to office hours.
What coursework-related projects were/are you working on this year, and what interests or excites you about them? My English education capstone is “Writing to Save Our Lives” taught by Dr. April Baker-Bell, and I’ve been working on an honors thesis with Dr. Mahoney for the past year. These experiences work in tandem for a wholistic approach to education. In Dr. Baker-Bell’s course, I am constantly amazed but never surprised by the vibrant community we were able to build and carry over from previous courses. I haven’t had the opportunity to write creatively much in college, so it was incredibly exciting to be able to create with such purpose and fervor. A community of writers is an incredible thing to behold. My thesis work has been able to act as the culmination of all the literary ideas I’ve had throughout my time here. I’ve been writing about queer temporality, and it’s just exciting to get the opportunity to be writing about something I chose.
What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation? My hope for the immediate future is that middle schools and high schools will be open for the next school year as I intend to complete my student teaching internship next year. Beyond that, I plan on putting all my energy toward becoming an antiracist educator.
Please reflect a bit on the strange experience of being a graduating senior during this moment of local and global crisis. What resources have been most useful to you in navigating this unprecedented situation? Strange and contradictory feelings arrive every day. I miss in-person classes. I hope I’ll still be able to physically graduate at some point. Having my honors thesis be about time feels especially cruel at the moment. Time has simultaneously been given and taken. I’ve already had my lasts as an undergraduate, but at least I have some time to reflect now. My capstone has never felt more pressing than now. In that course, each student selects a topic to write about for each project. I have been writing against capitalism and thus far have written a manifesto (a scary word, I know) and a collection of poetry. It is still important to do this individual work because we must take care of ourselves during this time. There have been moments where I have questioned the purpose of these assignments or the purpose of anything at all. In those moments, I return to the conversations I had with Dr. Mahoney two years ago to find my purpose. I have been donating to the best of my ability in order to help people affected by this crisis. I’ve also been taking time to do nothing. Resisting productivity and giving myself the space to process all of this.