If recent current events have you wanting to pull-up the covers and stay indoors, make time today to read this short op-ed by Sinthia Shabnam, a poli-sci and sociology student at NC State. Shabnam has been inspired throughout her life by the people she has met while attending public school. That inspiration has sparked a passion to be involved in her community, and it’s what makes Shabnam a pro-education voter this fall. Today we continue our #NCEdVoter series:
Perhaps my favorite thing about public education is the factor of authenticity. Private schools, charter schools, religious schools, they all at some point have a method of filtration from the rest of society. The authenticity of public schools allowed me to discover the most authentic version of myself, and I’m proud to say that I’m a product of public education. I attended Hope Valley Elementary school in Durham County, and moved to Wake County since my family really valued the quality of education in this region of NC. Since then I have attended Cedar Fork Elementary, West Cary Middle, Carnage Magnet Middle, Panther Creek High School, and now NC State University.
Beyond my classes, extracurricular opportunities, social life, access to affordable lunches, service and leadership programs, the fact that holds the greatest impact on me today are the relationships I was able to foster with my teachers, especially in high school. They believed and invested in my ability to grow as a leader one day, helped me clarify my thoughts and ideas, and respected my values and lifestyle choices. They helped me recognize my skill sets, made extra time for me when I struggled to perform well in difficult classes, were prompt in communication, and avid listeners. They did more than just instruct me. My French teacher from 8th grade, Madame Nordquist still keeps up with my endeavors as I navigate the work force and politics. My Sociology and Law and Justice teacher from high school is why I’m a Sociology major today. My AP Government and Politics teacher is why I’m a Political Science major today.
I come from a background where my parents taught me that education is the number one determinant of your success in all fields of life: your open mindedness, how much people respect you, your ability to make a stable income, your ability to have affordable housing, your access to social groups of like-minded people, so I listened. I committed to my education and my teachers helped me perfect my resume, read my poetry, told me I had great public speaking skills, encouraged me to seek leadership positions, encouraged me to read books and watch documentaries. They expanded my drawer of knowledge, but they were also my mentors when often I did not find that mentor figure at home. They filled all the gaps in my life that I didn’t know I need filled. My English teacher from 9th grade gave me an award and listened to my story, and even let me tutor his future students, my Sociology teacher gives me advice to this day on navigating Politics and Law.
Going to a public school made me recognize the ups and downs of my intersectionalities, but my teachers made me proud of them. I wouldn’t be attending NC State today if it wasn’t for them teaching me to read, write, think, and speak critically, intelligently, and honestly.
Sinthia Shabnam is studying political science and sociology at NC State.