Elsie M. Hendricks, 2021
What are your academic or career goals?
I just began working for the Pittsburgh Latino Community Center, an organization that advocates with and for the Latinx community and provides social and educational programming for children and families. In my role as the Education Specialist, I oversee our tutoring program, and I am an assistant in the SOY (Supporting Our Youth) elementary school program that provides Latinx students with cultural and academic programming after school. It has only been a short while, but I already love my job! My colleagues are inspiring educators and community advocates, and I feel so honored to be contributing to the empowerment of a diverse multilingual community. I did not expect to immediately work in a job that is so aligned with my personal language equity and multicultural lens, and I am so excited to see what the LCC does next!
What did you especially enjoy learning and studying in this program?
My Mason courses were crucial to preparing me for this position. The pedagogy courses that I took prepared me for nearly all the aspects of my training to work with English Language Learners (ELLs) and heritage speakers. The Hispanic sociolinguistic courses were an amazing way to explore language ideologies, biases, and raciolinguistics, and my classes (in Spanish and in French) about mass media, race and film, and comparative and postcolonial literature taught me valuable critical analysis skills and a more global perspective that will be vital for approaching all of the work that I do.
If I were to choose a single aspect of my time at GMU that had a lasting impact on who I am, it would probably be the courses in sociolinguistics. I never realized how prescriptive the language ideologies that I had grown up with were, and the sociolinguistics courses at Mason gave me new perspectives and the ability to deconstruct and reframe how I want to express myself and be a model for my language students. Once you open your eyes to racial and linguistic ideologies, you become hyperaware of how they impact people’s everyday lives.
Do you have any advice for future applicants or students?
My advice for current students and applicants is to really explore all of the resources that Mason has to offer! Not only are the MCL professors spectacular, but student life, the library, and all of the different offices in Sub 1 have lots of amazing resources. I would especially recommend the GMU Writing Center. I was lucky to work there for a semester, and all the tutors are incredible. It is an amazing resource for all students at Mason. I would also recommend taking as many different types of courses as possible! All the professors are wonderful!