American Studies provides students with a multitude of skills thereby allowing them to pursue a variety of fields after graduation. This
quarter, we want to provide insight into the experience of AMS alumna who have moved into the teaching profession. Libby Massa graduated
from DePaul in 2012. She double majored in American Studies (with a concentration in Politics, Institutions, and Values) and
Women’s and Gender Studies (with a concentration in Social Justice and Public Policy). She is now participating in a two-year Teach for
American program. She responded to a few questions included below:
How did you know you wanted to pursue a career in teaching?
When I was a sophomore at DePaul, I participated in a Service Learning internship through the Women’s and Gender Studies department’s program Take Back the Halls. Over the course of the year, I planned and facilitated lessons on violence prevention and restorative justice as part of an after school program at a Chicago Public High School. This experience was eye opening to me because I worked with so many talented and driven students who were not given the opportunity to realize their full potential. Around the same time I found out about each for America and knew that it was what I wanted to pursue when I graduated because it would allow me the opportunity actively provide those opportunities to students. After graduation I was accepted into Teach for America and taught Kindergarten at a St. Louis Public School for two years.
What are you up to currently, and what are your plans for the future?
Currently I work for St. Louis Public Schools in the Office of Institutional Advancement. My responsibilities comprise mainly of volunteer coordination, partnership facilitation, and teacher recognition. Ideally I will continue to work for a public school district in St. Louis to advance the resources for our students.
How do you feel American Studies prepared you for your teaching career?
As an AMS and WGS major I was prepared with the right mindsets and research, but not necessarily technical teaching skills. Still, having the right framework to understand institutional inequalities and systematic oppression that influenced the lives of my students daily was invaluable in the classroom. Additionally, as an AMS major I made sure to research the history of public education- particularly pertaining to St. Louis and the political landscape that influenced the current state of education in St. Louis and trends nationally.
How would you recommend AMS to undergraduates?
I would recommend it to all students who are self-motivated and naturally curious. I was very indecisive about which major to declare - I went between Political Science, History, Sociology, English, Geography, Film Studies, and many more, unable to commit to any. Once I stumbled upon AMS I realized that it would give me the opportunity to pursue all of my interests. I think any student who has a variety of interests and loves learning for learning’s sake would benefit from majoring in AMS.