Literacy extends much farther than being able to accurately read and interpret the great works, and Maria DeLucia-Evans (MA 2007) deals with a new kind of literacy every day: financial literacy. Maria now works as a Community Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension Albany County, “teaching financial literacy to low income families. My days are often spent working with folks at homeless shelters, rehabilitation centers, parole to work programs, and other community based organizations.”
How did Maria go from English studies to helping the less fortunate with their personal finances? It certainly wasn’t where she expected she’d go with her degree when she graduated in 2008.
“I would never have guessed this career path for myself,” she says. “Before I went back to graduate school I was the executive director for the NYS Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee. After dealing with some difficult health problems, I had an awakening, so to speak. I realized my current work wasn’t fulfilling and I needed to make a major career change. I needed to do something I loved. And so I quit my job, and went to Saint Rose to work on a master’s degree in English, with a concentration in writing.”
Maria credits her current career path to an independent study she did with Dr. Megan Fulwiler. “Titled ‘The Theory and Practice of Second Language Writing,’ I looked at how the construction of second-language identity affects writers and ultimately writing pedagogy. In the practical side of the study I worked with a Burmese refugee family who had just moved to the Albany area from a camp in Thailand. Language was one piece of the puzzle, they needed help navigating the social services system, acclimating to the cultural and practical differences of their new life, the list goes on.”
For students who might be thinking about leaving English after graduation, she says, “When the job opportunity came up with Extension, I realized it offered a nice combination of what I’d been practicing in my independent study and my master’s degree. Having a degree in English was definitely a plus on my resume. I write and provide editing assistance for my colleagues.”
Maria hasn’t left writing behind, however. “My work schedule is flexible, so I still find time to write creatively as well.” She is a member of the Java Poets, who have recently put out a book entitled Java Wednesdays, and she’s currently working on a poetry chapbook and a collection of short stories.
Developing a good relationship with your professors and finding a topic that’s truly engaging when going about writing papers is something that is incredibly important when it comes to deciding your future career. Your interest in literature or creative writing could lead you to a job that you love even outside of your field of study. Maria leaves us with this, “When I quit my job to go back to school in an entirely different field, I had no idea how I would land. But ultimately it was the best decision I could have made. And I thank Megan for agreeing to take on my independent study, encouraging me throughout the course, and inspiring me to find a career I love.”