Thank You For Being Such A Vital Part Of Our Team, Subul. We Look Forward To Sharing More About You So Others Can Get To Know You Better!
Tell us a bit about your backstory and what lead you down your current life path.
I have arrived at my current path after many twists and turns in my academic career. I initially went to college to complete a degree in Computer Science as my interest had been in math and science; but being exposed to history, sociology, and politics created a new love. I was not devoted to the social sciences and went onto pursue a graduate degree in Sociology. Life happened, and I could not complete a doctorate which was my initial intention. After my obtaining my Master’s, I had children, and when they were old enough to go school, I also went back to school to obtain a teaching degree. It is a circuitous journey, with teaching being something I have grown to love.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career, Subul?
To be perfectly honest, I cannot attribute my inspiration to one person but rather a multitude of people, both through action and the written work, who taught me that passion in their profession or craft was something that made them great at what they did: teaching, learning, and writing. Life also taught me that I must also take great care of my family, so the choice of my profession is a combination of choice and circumstances. I constantly struggle with the need to do more and the realization that my time away from home must be balanced with my care for my family.
What is one thing you are most proud of achieving in your life?
I am proud of being a single mother of four and constantly striving to be better at teaching and learning, a crucial part of mothering. I am also proud of the fact that I have accomplished all the milestones I have set out for myself, acquiring not only professional licensure in teaching but also a Master’s in Education. I also constantly reflect on my practice and want to do better for my students; so this pride over academic achievement is not something I think about, as I am more often concerned for the growth of my students and whether my practice is taking them towards their goals.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Like most people, my journey is also fraught with struggles, where I have faced a constant tension between taking care of my children and my personal academic pursuits. My mother has been a bulwark in all my efforts towards learning and becoming independent of my past troubles. She has been there and supported me in both emotional and physical ways; she has given me confidence when I have doubted myself and taken care of my children when I have not been able to do so. Without her I would not be where I am.
What do you enjoy most about teaching/tutoring, Subul?
I enjoy the light that shines in students’ eyes when they finally understand what they have been struggling with. I especially like to see the path of growth that takes place, which is sometimes more evident in younger children, when their literacy and language skills develop, and they become happier and more confident in the learning space.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to read and go for walks in the forest.
Tell about an amazing trip you took. Where did you go and what did you enjoy most?
One of my most memorable trips was in college when a group of students sponsored by the school went on a hiking trip on the Himalayas. We went up to the base camp of Nanga Parbat, called Fairy Meadows, aptly named, as it was a valley full of flowers surrounded by majestic mountains. It truly brought home the realization of the miracle, that is the earth. The trip tested our physical strength as well as constantly showcasing how small we were compared to nature. It was both a lesson in humility and wonder.
Is there something exciting you are working on now? What is it and why did you choose to start it?
I am working on understanding the relationship between emotion, agency, and academic achievement. We are fundamentally embodied beings, experiencing and understanding those experiences through the conduit of our bodies. My focus is on bringing the body and the importance of giving dignity to the body back in schools, where emotions are understood as a crucial part of learning. I am passionate about this research as I find the American school system to be inordinately constraining, especially for students who are either BIPOC or coming from lower SES households. The K-12 educational institution penalizes the child’s natural need to move, and act in ways that are considered non-normative, boxing those with more energy in categories with negative labels often leading to lifelong harm. I find that if we understand and are willing to incorporate emotion as key to learning then we can move towards more just pedagogies.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? What is it and why did it resonate with you?
I have read innumerable books, most of which I remember only when I see them again. In my high school days, my physics teacher gave me Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, which made an indelible impact on me then. At that time I was very interested in studying astrophysics, my first love, but soon realized that the resources I had available to me in my country of birth (Pakistan) did not allow for the pursuit of this goal. So began my journey into history and sociology, my second love. I have no regrets and I am currently reading Ghostly Matters, by Avery Gordon, a powerful commentary on the history and experience of racism, presented through the lens or concept of “haunting,” where the present is haunted by the ghosts of the past in ineffable ways. It is both eye-opening and thought-provoking in that Gordon has a unique understanding of literature and events that most of us are familiar with.
The road to success is difficult and requires tremendous dedication. What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
To know that we always have choices even though they are bound by circumstances. To not give up on the dream, whatever it may be as current failures may lead one to believe that those dreams may not be possible. My life, however, has taught me that when the time is right for certain parts of your dream to come true, then through perseverance and effort they will. To also understand that the dream you may have started out with may not be something you even want after twenty years of growing and expanding your horizons. To always be open to new ideas, to be kind to yourself, and to find meaning in the smallest of life’s joys.