Maria Manolias-Educating through Empathy

Faculty Shout-Out by Dr. Steve Rachman: “Maria is the kind of student you look forward to hearing from in class. She is so lively and full of energy and intelligence. I always enjoyed reading her papers and hearing what she had to say. She loves literature and music I recall a terrific little piece she created all about Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” for her “UnderCover” podcast. She is planning on teaching and if I were a student again, I would make sure I got to be in her class.”

Faculty Shout-Out by Dr. Hui-Ling Malone: “Maria is a gem. I was happy to have her in two of my courses this year. She always brings a positive attitude and a seriousness around issues of equity and antiracism in education. Yet, she does not lose sight of maintaining joy within the classroom. Maria is a leader in the community, as shown through her involvement with NCTE, and a light for us all. Maria volunteered to help make our class book a reality, despite how hectic the end of the semester is. I can’t wait to see how Maria transforms the field of Education.”

Faculty Shout-Out by Dr. Emery Petchauer: “Enthusiasm, optimism, consistency – that’s Maria Manolias! She has been THEE student leader in the English Education program during her time on campus. From planning events that drew a national audience to keeping community among students when campus went virtual, Maria never missed a beat. We are so grateful for her and will continue to feel the impact of her legacy even after she walks across the stage at gradation.”

How would you describe your time as an English or Film Studies major at MSU?

My time has an English major has been uplifting. Every person I interacted with, student or professor, has helped me become the person I am meant to be. I grew so much as a person through our English program and am so grateful to all the people who supported me.

Which classes, instructors, or experiences particularly stand out for you and why? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life?

NCTE @ MSU is the standout for me. This organization is the reason for both my personal and professional growth. I still remember walking into my first meeting as a freshman, terrified but excited to finally meet other English Ed people! The group connected me to educators across the world and to amazing people on our own campus. I feel much more prepared to be a culturally sustaining, anti-racist educator.

What advice would you give future English or Film Studies majors, based on your experiences in the department?Get out there and try new things!

Take that 400 level class, even if you’re scared. Join a club (NCTE @ MSU is great, in my unbiased opinion). Get close with your cohort and your classmates: they truly become family. On the whole, maximize your time at MSU!

What coursework-related projects were/are you working on this year, and what interests or excites you about them?

I’m currently finishing up a writing portfolio for English 413. Dr. Malone has encouraged us to write in a variety of styles and I’m so grateful for her support! The class has reignited my love for creative writing and brought me peace about my past. Our class will be publishing all of our work in a book!

What are your hopes and aspirations, post-graduation?

After graduation, I’ll be student teaching at a middle school in Berkley, Michigan! Following that, I hope to teach middle school English, centering my students and my love for Young Adult novels. Empathy as at the heart of who I am, so I hope to instill some empathy in my students (it’s what the world needs!). Part of me hopes to publish something somewhere along the way. I’m unsure on what my Masters will be–educational psychology and library sciences are both interesting to me. Either way, I know my future is bright.

If you’re interested in doing so, please reflect a bit on the strange experience of being a graduating senior during the ongoing pandemic. What resources have been most useful to you in navigating this unprecedented situation?

My time at MSU feels splintered. Freshman and sophomore year me is *much* different from senior year me. The pandemic ended a lot of great things in my life, but also led to so much self-discovery and self-love. My zoom classes, particularly English 302C and English 481 with Professor Rachman, kept me connected to everyone on campus and fostered comforting relationships. Some parts of me feel like I missed out on so much by only really having 2 years of college. But I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason. Without the time spent by myself in quarantine, I would not be comfortable in who I am today.