In Pursuit of the Expressive Arts: An Unconventional Career Path

I’m in search of a greater purpose.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Everyone in pursuit of higher education is trying to change the world, one noble and academic action at a time. We’re all trying to figure out life while balancing a desire to help others, not end up (completely) broke, and do something worthwhile with our hard-earned degrees and bottomless loan payments. It wasn’t until I started my graduate school education at Portland State, however, that I was able to see the bigger picture and recognize that my writing and publishing education could contribute to something greater than myself in a way that I had never before expected: helping at-risk youths through the use of expressive arts.

Alongside my master of arts in writing, I am pursuing a graduate certification in addictions counseling. When I’m not sobbing into a cup of coffee in an attempt to balance my current eleven-credit course load, full-time job, and attempt at a social life, I am finding myself renewed and passionate about this simultaneous pursuit. I have always loved working with children. I have always been passionate about the field of addictions studies. I have always loved books, and more than anything, I have always loved writing. Aside from years of private tutoring and newer work with children with developmental disabilities, I had never recognized opportunities to integrate those passions; that is, I never saw the unconventional career path as an option until now. It was actually through my previous two semesters at Ooligan Press, working with a progressive, truly representative YA novel that I began to recognize the true power of the written word, particularly when handed to the most impressionable of youths.

I believe in preventative medicine. I also believe that medicine can be found in places other than the bottom of a pill bottle. I believe that the power of the written word is a sorely underutilized means of healing, and handed to the right impressionable child, a pen can provide an outlet in that single moment when they need it most. Publishing stories through which children can see themselves represented, while also allowing those children an opportunity to pen those stories themselves, provides an open, honest, and progressive community framework. Representation, advocacy, compassion, and a person-centered approach lie at the heart of helping the most at-risk children progress well beyond what their circumstances may dictate. Given the opportunity to express their thoughts, feelings, and responses to the world around them in an honest way, from a young age, is an effective means to encourage positive progression and healthy responses to these circumstances. It is an effective means of prevention, allowing these children both the permission and opportunity to express their truth. We as publishers, writers, editors, and human beings have a responsibility to create that outlet, while promoting creation over destruction, expression over suppression, and empathy over ignorance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.