Honors Alumna Jaelyn Felder (’18) is a 2018 Teach for America (TFA) Corps member currently teaching High School English at Northeast Guilford High School in Greensboro, NC. While working for TFA Corps for the next two years, she plans to start a media program at her school to give students the opportunity to learn about news and TV/audio production. During this time, she also intends to get her professional teaching license, then go back to school to work in Higher Education. She hopes to continue teaching and fighting for educational equity in Guilford County.
Of her Honors experience, she shared
“I think the Honors College offers a lot of opportunity to grow through the ability to take classes that aren't necessarily traditional topics. My favorite class that I took was Slavery in American Capitalism. This class changed my mindset on the American capitalistic system and ultimately led to my thesis topic. My advice for honors students is to seize the opportunity to take classes on topics that aren't traditional and maybe out of your major.”
As an Honors student, Felder completed her international education requirement studying at the University of Roehampton for six weeks taking two classes. While abroad, she also traveled to France and Italy. She reflected,
“I think the most challenging part about being away was just balancing my life in a new place. Everything was new and it was hard to get in a steady comfortable routine. But going abroad definitely gave me time to learn about myself and test my maturity level. My advice if anyone wants to study abroad is to accept the unknowns and be comfortable with them. But most of all, enjoy the experience and live your life to the fullest.”
For her Honors thesis, Felder worked with mentor, Dr. Newly Paul, assistant professor of journalism. She analyzed television shows with strong black female characters from 1950 to the present, focusing specifically on how the main stereotypes of black women were shown through production values such as script, character development, and camera angles. Her identity drove this research. As she explained,
“I took a class on Minorities in the Media which was taught by my thesis director Dr. Paul. This class basically linked all of the assumptions I had in my mind together. I found that slavery birthed the stereotypes of black women that are still relevant today. These stereotypes are then shown throughout our media specifically television shows that have a strong black female lead. I presented my thesis at NCUR in April 2018 in Edmond, Oklahoma. I was able to present prior to my defense date which made the experience kind of like a practice for me. I absolutely loved it and I had a lot of support from my other students and faculty at the conference. My advice to any honors student is to find a topic that makes you happy but most of all start early on your research and DO NOT wait until the last minute.”
Of her experience at Appalachian State University, Felder reflected,
“As a woman of color at App State is can be hard to find your place or feel comfortable in spaces where you are the only other. I think this experience helped me grow into who I am today and has made me more aware of my identity and how I show up in certain spaces. I found my "group" or home in a sense when I joined my sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. When I became president of the National PanHellenic Council at first I was super shy and worried about every action a little too much. But as I grew and shaped myself as a leader, I became really vocal about the black greek experience at Appalachian and how that needs to be a equitable experience.”
Top photo features Felder during graduation in May 2018. Photo submitted
Story by: Garrett Alexandrea McDowell, Ph.D.