INTELLECTUAL JOURNEY LEADS TO NYU*
Shakir Stephen was born in Montreal and grew up in Southeast London, and his intellectual journey reflects a broad set of interests and potential career paths. After working in as an academic coach in Burlington for three years after graduation, he is bound for New York University where he begins an M.A. program in religion.
Stephen was a talented science student, and his interests in high school seemed to lead him towards the STEM disciplines. “The educational system in the UK is different: the choices for undergraduate study are narrower, and you need to make a decision about your path for studies at a pretty young age, around 16.”
Stephen declared physics as his major upon entering UVM, but something was tugging him towards the humanities. In his first year at UVM he took several liberal arts courses and found his home in the religion department.
“I took a course on the bible with Anne Clark and she really focused on writing, which I was OK at but because I was concentrating on the sciences I was a little rusty,” he recalls. “She emphasized how important writing was for success in college and beyond, and that really resonated with me.”
Stephen discovered that religion was an ideal prism that brought together perspectives from other disciplines that interested him, including history, philosophy, sociology and anthropology. At the same time he developed critical thinking, reasoning, writing and presentation skills important for any post-graduate undertaking.
Stephen works as an academic coach at Mansfield Hall in Burlington, an organization offering academic support to college-aged students with learning differences and executive functioning challenges. “These are often high functioning people with executive challenges who need help building skills that set them up for success sin higher education,” Stephen explains.
The job draws on Stephen’s broad educational background, and he’s discovered that he’s a talented teacher. He sought out religion department members Kevin Trainor and Ilyse Morgenstein Fuerst for advice on graduate programs and he settled on NYU. He received a fellowship that covers tuition and fees for the two-year program.
“If it feels right I’d consider going on to get my PhD. Eventually I see myself in the education field in some capacity.”
See a post Shakir Stephen wrote before he left UVM for NYU!
*In this series, we have pulled text from our newly relaunched website–we want to highlight our fantastic alumni in as many venues as possible!