I, Mackenzie Fielder, and undergraduate English major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, believe that education has an endless amount of powers. It is the cure for ignorance and can better society as a whole because it can lead to advancements in all fields. Fields such as history are important because it teaches us lessons from failures and successes. We build off of such knowledge to keep our communities in tact and further progressive them into a brighter future. Words and literature keep thoughts moving and entertain the vast expanses of our minds. Literature has driven me to increase my knowledge so that one day, I might be able to share my voice amongst the stories. The fight for social justice and equality, especially amongst minorities, brings me to an emotion that yearns to learn more. Knowledge, determination, and a reason to fight fuel activism, something I value highly.
My identity as a student is fairly simple and meager. I give myself a lot of credit as a writer, who has a passion for history, ethnic studies, and activism, especially for Native Americans. I also can’t pass up a good read, even more so if I can get lost in the pages for hours. Often times, I will read something and then turn around and mold my writing to conform in a similar way, while staying in the style that I am comfortable with. I mold these into fresh new thoughts to give my writing some depth. I thoroughly enjoy my ethnic studies classes, and as a student I lean towards enrolling in at least one every semester to get my fill. Even though I am one of the quietest students to set foot into most classrooms, I am full of thoughts, critiques, and answers that I keep almost always to myself, and save them later for papers and journal.
Thus far in my journey as an English major in the past year and a half, I have been pin-balled around by theories, professors, and demanding course work. While these things have discouraged me, I am beginning to find myself in the rubble of it all and have begun picking up pieces to carry on with me as I go. Last semester I read gruesome poetry, and my professor laughed at our horror when we discussed it in class, as she explained that it caught our attention and gave us something outside of the box, like she wanted us to try. As embarrassed as I was by the poem, and the poet for that matter, I pushed my writing into darker, creepier, and altogether, weirder places. The finished result was an alarming, yet attention-grabbing poem that my professor loved. I have also found great joy in Native American literature. I had no idea there was a whole realm of Native authors who were successful as writers and used their literature as activist work as well. This was inspiring for me, it felt like I had finally found a new path to follow in my writing career, and a whole new array of authors to gush over. My English major became something open-minded enough then, that I finally felt the go-ahead to pursue the dreams that I thought were foolish. My English professors my first semester of college scolded me for being unaware of current events, and thinking that each text only had one meaning. I read books on water shortages, shitty prison systems, and education in Africa, while learning that Ernest Hemingway’s work had to be looked at with a Calvanist viewpoint.
Growing up, I read a lot. I found myself scouring the library for others that I had already read before. People like, Lemony Snicket, Nicholas Sparks, and Thomas Kinkade, sparked my interest heavily and I loved the storylines that they came up with. In college, I am now more motivated by authors like Sherman Alexie, Maya Angelou, and Louise Erdrich. These people tackle the issues of race and gender, in some cases, which I find inspiring and has changed my viewpoint on the world and how I perceive others. These authors celebrate differences and strive for social justice.
I’ve had only a few professors that I have felt any sort of connection with in my short time here at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dr. Fran Kaye, Dr. Thom Gannon, and Dr. Regina Werum are included in those few. They don’t accept the standard views of our country and world and they are more than happy to dish out the truth. I admire that heavily. All three could be considered activists, and they have dedicated their lives to teaching their students the knowledge needed to fight for something bigger than themselves. Dr. Werum told us during one of her lectures that she hopes that what she has taught us will encourage us to pick one issue and fight like hell to fix it. I wanted to applaud her for that.
I believe some of my defining strengths are being a great listener, sympathetic, down to earth, and always willing to lend a hand. My mom taught me to nice no matter the circumstance, and she showed me just how rewarding it is to take care of others because they may turn around and do the same. I wasn’t allowed to hate, and so I grew up trying my best to respect others, while resisting the urge to feel any sort of resentment. Of course, that didn’t always work out, but I am grateful that my mother raised me in such a way because I think it allows me to lend myself to activist work much more easily.
My ultimate dream is to fight against oppression of Native Americans, and be a strong activist for them. I want to write and publish novels that tell the truth about their genocide so that people of all ages can read and understand what actually happened. With our country being run by the wealthy, and our government falling into white supremacy time and time again, I think it is extremely important for me to use my talents to aid such an oppressed group of people.