Tag Archives: introduction

Introduction

Jon (right) and Arya (left) taking a cat nap.

Hello everyone! My name is Maura O’Neill, and I’m so excited to get to know all of you! This is my first year of grad school, so I’m looking forward to learning from each other this semester. I’m a Spanish teacher at Colonia High School, and I live with my husband (we got married in August!) and our two cats, Jon and Arya (pictured above). 

Originally, we’re all from Scranton, PA (yes, like The Office); I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Scranton at Marywood University, where I double majored in English/Secondary Education and Spanish. After that, I spent a year as a long term substitute teacher in northeastern Pennsylvania, teaching high school and middle school English. When my then boyfriend (now husband) got a job in New Jersey, I followed suit, finding my current position as a Spanish teacher at Colonia High School. 

As you can probably tell from my very Irish name, I’m not a native Spanish speaker; I studied the language not because I wanted to teach it, but because I wanted to learn how to speak it. I also love learning about different cultures, and I hope to someday travel to numerous Spanish speaking countries. (I’ve already visited Peru and the Dominican Republic—Spain’s next on my list.)

As much as I love the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures, my true passion is English. I love the intricacies of English grammar, the beauty of English literature, and the process of writing in English. That’s why I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in English Writing. Still, I hope to incorporate some of my Spanish knowledge into my studies, and perhaps continue the research I conducted in my undergraduate thesis, in which I explored how code-switching works by Latino authors could be taught in high school English classes. Ultimately, I hope to find a career path more suited to my love of writing in English. 

In addition to my academic English writing, I also enjoy writing fiction and poetry. I have other hobbies, too: I like to draw (lately, I’ve been experimenting with Procreate); I collect—and eventually read—used books (I just finished a 1903 copy of Heart of Darkness that I bought for five bucks); and I binge-watch Netflix (currently, I’m making my way through Shameless). 

I look forward to getting to know all of you this semester, and I hope we can learn a lot from each other about the field of electronic literature!

Blog Post 1: Introductions

“Why am I at Kean?” An existential question if I ever saw one. But let’s talk rhetorical for now, because that is much more straight forward.

My background is in psychology, but in a BA way, no BS. I went into the field for a number of reasons:

 1) because it seemed the most ‘practical’ subject I could pursue that would satisfy the expectation that I get a degree that would translate practically into a job.

2) because I genuinely wanted to help people struggling with their mental health.

3) because I felt afraid to pursue my creative interests in a serious way, but psychology felt mysterious and creative enough to fill some of that need.

Unfortunately, after a semester in my program I realized being a mental health provider was not a good fit for me. I let things get to me too much, and I didn’t feel I would be able to manage the impact of other’s trauma on me in a sustainable enough way. Thankfully, my education still created a lot of opportunity for me to explore my creative side. In the end, I went through my undergrad experience as a psychology major in name but a writing and philosophy major in spirit.

Since graduating in 2014, I have worked in the ‘real’ world in higher education and, most recently, in mental health. In that time, I confirmed my undergrad concerns about my ability to manage the impact of secondary trauma on my mental health. But I also solidified that I have a desire to combine my passion for helping others with my creative pursuits and interest in the technical side of writing.

So that is why I am here. I love the combination of the creative and technical that the English-Writing Studies program offers, and I hope to refresh and strengthen my skills in writing so I can help others. My time in mental health instilled in me the value of community support from colleagues, so I also look forward to forming relationships and learning from others who are pursuing creative endeavors.

I felt the need to focus this introduction more on why I am here at Kean than on random facts about myself because I have written a little about myself already in the About section of this blog. If you would like to learn more, go check it out. 😊