This September, I start my senior year at Montclair State University. Because I am so close to the end of my college career, I have a lot of friends who have already crossed the finish line and are now in their careers. I decided to speak with them and ask them to share with the world what it’s like to be a young, black professional.
It is not an easy road to walk. I asked them eight questions to help get an idea of what their careers are like and how they got where they are.
My first conversation was with my friend Jocenelle Sarah Alcime, or Joce for short (or as I like to call her, Boss Poodle). Joce is a young advocate for representation and believes in changing the world one smile at a time.
She’s a recent graduate of SUNY Cortland who majored in Inclusive Childhood Education. I call her Boss Poodle because she is a member of the D9 sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho. She just relocated to Indiana for her first teaching job, as a first-grade teacher.
In her free time, Joce is probably singing, blogging or enjoying the simple things in life.
Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher?
Yes, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. But at the time I wanted to do high school, somewhere along the way that changed to doing elementary.
Did you ever consider giving up on your dream?
When I couldn’t afford college senior year I contemplated going to the army or something of that nature.
What does it mean to you to be a young black teacher?
To be a young black teacher it means I’m a representation to a young growing scholar. There are students out there who have grown up not seeing a black teacher and now I get to be a face. There are those students who haven’t seen someone who looks like them in the classroom with the same hair, and now I get to be the face.
Wherever I go to teach I will probably be the first for someone there or can be able to defend and make sure there no bias, or misrepresentation of people of color. No, I’m not the spokesperson for every person of color but it’s better to have at least one person at the table then no one.
How does it make you feel that there are not many people that look like your in your field?
Sometimes it’s scary. During my program, I felt very overwhelmed and scared because I don’t recall seeing someone like me in a classroom with younger kids. I’ve seen people who look like me like the aide, but not head teacher so it was hard wrapping my head around to it and trusting that I am capable of running the classroom on my own.
But now that I have, again it’s just another opportunity for me to make sure that people do not forget about us and that our narrative isn’t one-sided or bias, but represented to its fullest. There are people in my field who look like me, just gotta connect with them, that’s all.
Who has been your biggest mentor and why?
My biggest mentor is this superintendent I met in HS. She was the only black woman… dark skinned on the school board of education and I told myself I wanted to be just like her. She was poised, well-spoken, said what she needed to and truly an advocate.
I emailed her and got her to set up a meeting with me. That was 2013. She’s helped me plan out my life from that day on. I experienced a major drawback that year and she showed me that it didn’t matter how I got into my dream as long as I got there. She was there for my first college and transferring and now graduation and now the first job.
She’s like my mom now, haha, all because I sent an email and said that I was thankful for seeing someone like me in such a place. She’s truly an advocate and mentor in so many ways.
Is there a “typical” day for you? If so, what is it like?
Right now? Not really, LOL, I just left my Starbucks job to move to my first teaching job so I’m sure my typical day will be waking up at 5 to get ready to teach from 7-4… and come home.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Hard question, I’m full of quotes!
Last year in Haiti, my hosting pastor said that we should make sure that each encounter we have with someone, we should make it as if it’s our last. So give our all and use the best of our time because you never know what that person will hold on to or how you can inspire them or direct them to something in their own journey of life.
Our encounters with others are so important and pivotal that if we waste our time or worry about what’s lacking, we won’t give our all.
What is one thing you would suggest current college students do to help them reach to achieve their dream?
Honestly? Break the shell. DO IT! We always talk ourselves out of doing things because of finances, but it’s like we are stopping ourselves from experiences.
My resume is what has spoken for me. I don’t need to tell people anything about my traveling and such because I put myself in positions where I was marketable in terms of jobs and experiences. I challenged myself to not be comfortable and to take a risk. And we don’t have people willing to take a risk because they’re afraid of what could go wrong. But we never think what could go right, because of us breaking the shell and stepping out of our comfort zone.
So that’s my advice… what’s stopping you? Once you’ve said it, walk in the opposite direction and go for it!!
For my first interview, I think this went pretty well. Joce was super dope and honest and I loved it. I love her passion for teaching, I wish every teacher had that passion, vigor, and excitement. She is so excited and passionate to pass on her knowledge and love of teaching she started an Instagram page, MissAppleMinded, everyone should check it out.
This is only the first piece in my new series Young, Black, and Professional. If you want to be featured please contact me on Twitter.
Are you looking for digital journalism training and experience? Are you a journalism major who wants to take your career to the next level? CMN’s Digital Journalism course gives you real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to journalism influencers and mentors, and a great place to display your work. You can get academic credit too. Check out the Digital Journalism Course here.
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