My name is Sarah Nicole Fisher Davis, and I am a proud 2009 graduate of Gardner-Webb University. I majored in History and English with minors in Secondary Education and Social Sciences. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, I currently live in Clarksville, Tennessee with my husband, Chad (also a Gardner-Webb alumus), and my dog, Kal-El. The following is the humble tale of my personal journey on the road to become an academic.
From the Pacific coast of the U.S. to the Amalfi coast of Italy, on family vacations and college-sponsored trips, I have learned not only to appreciate the breathtaking landscapes but also to embrace the diverse peoples and languages of our world. Sharing waffles with a Norwegian woman, throwing an Inuit child up in a whale skin canvas, walking on handmade silk rugs with a Turkish man – these experiences have allowed me to learn about different cultures and have led me on a scholastic journey to fuse my love of customs and times past with my adoration of literature.
As a double major at Gardner-Webb University, I constantly built a bridge connecting my two disciples of English and history. Regardless of the class, I always chose to construct any final project relying on interdisciplinary tools. Some of my research topics included: “Shakespeare’s Evil Humpback: The Sources of the Legendary Richard III,” “Iconic Irony: An Examination of the Paradoxical Position of Queen Victoria as Monarch and Woman,” and “To Survive or Not to Survive: An Examination of Class Conflict Within The Inheritance of Loss.” Dr. David Yelton and Dr. Anthony Eastman affectionately harassed me about studying “that creative mumbo-jumbo,” while Dr. June Hobbs and Dr. Janet Land warned me (in jest) not to become “too stuffy and unimaginative.” The inhabitants of both Frank Nanney and Craig Halls consistently challenged me to define myself and my research outside of conventional academic constraints.
And so, I arrived at my final year of study. In addition to Postcolonial Literature, Introduction to Linguistics, Religion and Global Politics, and Critical Approaches to Literature, I was starting the research for my senior honors thesis. I was inundated daily with thoughts from each class that I knew were somehow connected. To avoid intellectual insanity, I had to get everything out on paper, so – at the suggestion of Dr. Shana (Woodward) Hartman – I created a concept web on poster board to bring unity to my ideas. And, what was the eventual result? My thesis entitled, “Dominant Discourse versus Subjugated Silence: A Postcolonial Examination of Language and the Subaltern Identity within Brick Lane and The Intended.” With my thesis research, I sought to answer some burning questions: how does language affect an immigrant’s sense of self? In what ways do novels use language to establish a character’s social class, gender, and relationships? And what does the interaction between English speakers and non-English speakers reveal about deeper prejudices and divisions?
My career at Gardner-Webb lit within me a passion for reaching across curricula (and cultural) boundaries and for adding my own small voice to the buzz of academic conversation. Through exploring, writing, and presenting my honors thesis, I was introduced to the self-discipline and methodology necessary to complete lengthy research ventures. My active participation within the Honors Program and Alpha Chi opened many doors to me, as well. The submission of one historical papers resulted in the honor of a Noelle scholarship. I participated in several scholarly conferences, including the Life of the Scholar Multidisciplinary Conference at Gardner-Webb, a section-winning presentation at the Alpha Chi national conference in Indianapolis, and a collaborative seminar for the North Carolina Teachers of English in Charlotte. Additionally, I served as president of the Honors Student Association, as the undergraduate representative on the Teacher Education Committee, and as the secretary of Sigma Tau Delta.
Even after graduation, this harmony between language, literature, and history has continued. I was hired – and currently serve – as the English teacher within The STEM Academy at Kenwood High School in Clarksville, Tennessee. This specialized program invites selected students to participate in a unique experience, where all of their core classes explore common themes and work to answer mutual questions. I integrate my content with not only World History and other social studies courses but with science, technology, engineering, and math, as well. As a leader on my team of five, I encourage writing, reading, and communication skills in all subject areas. Undoubtedly my undergraduate courses, professors, and research prepared me to become the teacher I am today.
The next step in my academic development requires further study as a scholar and further growth as an educator. Though I matured tremendously as a critical and analytical thinker and writer during my years at Gardner-Webb, I know I still have much to learn. My desire is to teach the postcolonial texts and theories and themes that captured my attention during my senior year (thanks to Dr. Cheryl Duffus), and I cannot achieve the goal of becoming a college professor without pursuing a graduate degree. And so, in the fall of 2012, I plan to participate in the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities at the University of Chicago, after which I hope to earn a PhD and obtain a professorship at a small, liberal arts college, not unlike my very own alma mater. I pray I can one day inspire and encourage future scholars as the people and places of Gardner-Webb have inspired and encouraged me.