Pursuing a Career by Merging Passions and Academics in a Liberal Arts Curriculum
Emily Mixon has found a way to combine her talents in writing and art with her interest in helping young people with behavioral challenges.
As an interdisciplinary studies major, Emily — with the help of her adviser — designed a curriculum with courses in literature, creative writing, visual arts, and education to prepare her for a career as a behavioral interventionist. That’s an educator who works with K-12 students to address disruptive behavior and develop social skills to improve their learning ability.
“I’m working on weaving art and literature together with the education component of my degree. How can these areas be used as coping mechanisms? Exploring these areas has allowed me to find outlets that I can direct students to,” says Emily, who will pursue a Master of Arts degree in education on the Johnson campus after she graduates.
Important Critical-Thinking Skills
In addition to poetry and fiction writing workshops and courses she has taken in drawing, painting, jewelry and metals, and education, “the content I’ve interacted with for literature and education theory has helped me think more critically and slow down and analyze,” she said. “I’ve definitely grown as an academic and creative writer during my time here.”
She has also grown from her involvement with the student writers’ club on campus, which gives her opportunities to share and evaluate work outside of workshop classes. As a result of her skills, Emily received the Writing and Literature Departmental Award.
Faculty Support Her Success, Inspire Her as Role Models
Emily is drawn to the field of behavioral intervention because she had friends growing up who had behavior issues.
“Seeing them struggle and not have an adult there to intervene and help them made me want to do this,” she said. “I want to be there for the type of people who didn’t have someone there before.”
Emily’s professors have been there for her, and the relationships she has built with them have been a highlight for her. “They’ve made a huge impact on the path I ended up selecting,” she said. “They helped me get back into the swing of writing and pursuing artwork and finding an academic context for the things I love to do.”
Faculty have shown the care that Emily wants to offer to middle school and high school students she’ll eventually work with. “Whenever I’ve been in times of academic or personal stress, my professors have said, ‘It’ll be OK.’ There’s the emotional support as well as the academic support from most of the professors I’ve had,” she said.
A Campus that Welcomes Everyone and Challenges Students to Stretch
She also appreciates the welcoming environment of the Johnson campus and the sense of community. “It’s very open-minded and nonjudgmental,” said Emily, of West Charleston, Vermont. “The people who come here open you up to different perspectives…I’ve met a lot of amazing people. It has definitely been a life-changing experience with some of them.”
After graduation, Emily will stay on the Johnson campus and pursue a master’s degree in education.
“I’ve enjoyed their classes, knowing them as people, and having them as mentors,” she said. “They genuinely do care about you as a human being … They care about you beyond your time as a student here.”