"My enthusiasm for reading and writing followed me through high school and on to college." Sasha Stone
Sasha Stone is an administrative assistant in the UCI Writing Project. Below, she shares her thoughts about her educational journey and her work at UCI.
I love words. I always have. Since childhood, I have had a passion and voracious appetite for poetry, literature, and all forms of literary expression. To say that this enthusiasm for language is innate might be a bit hyperbolic, as I am able to identify a moment in childhood that directly fanned this internal spark.
In fifth grade, my teacher began to read Shakespeare out loud to the class daily—I believe it was Macbeth. After reading a section he would then unpack its meaning for us. I was instantly riveted, and I found that I was quite good at interpreting the metaphor and symbolism within the text. Yet it was not just the reading of literature that thrilled me; I also found that I had a passion for writing as well. And at 11, I won my first award for a piece I wrote for a local contest.
This enthusiasm for reading and writing followed me through high school and on to college. In junior college, I took more literature classes than I was able to transfer with and was given the opportunity to teach small lessons in classes other than ones I was attending. Again, it must be noted that it was a teacher, or rather a professor, who grew this interest and ability in me. Additionally, she exposed me to new ways of seeing myself, others, and the world at large. It is not exaggeration to say that a large part of who I am today is because of that professor and the books I read in her classes.
My literary trajectory led to receiving a Bachelor’s in Comparative Literature, a Masters in English, and presenting a paper at the 2013 American Comparative Literature Conference in Toronto, Canada. The paper I presented focused on the importance of empathy, not only in our individual relationships, but also in the larger structures of our society, such as medicine and government. I included studies that indicated reading literature increased empathy and theory of mind. And with this, I argued the importance of reading literature, not only for critical thinking but also for our collective humanity.
After completing my master’s degree, I began working at the UCI Writing Project. The Writing Project consists of three components: (1) research/grant funded projects, (2) in-services and professional development, and (3) community outreach programs. At the Writing Project, I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact our intervention has on both teachers and students. As such, I am elated that we have recently been funded to take these interventions nationally through the EIR grant and also to establish a National Writing Center here at UCI. I am excited for the work we will be doing and am very proud to be part of such a successful and human-focused organization. As is evident in the above paragraphs, I am a great believer in the power of teachers to inspire, as well as effect positive change in our society.
Sasha Stone welcomed visitors to the UCIWP 2019 Homecoming activity
Creating Valentine's Day Poems - Aldrich Park, February 9