In high school, I felt like I was always making connections with my teachers. That may have been the nature of the school I attended, but I felt seriously supported, stimulated and challenged by my high school teachers. In college, although I’ve met some wonderful mentors, few of them have been my actual professors. With the exception of one, a Ms. Lori Carlson Hijuelos. Professor Lori is that college Professor I always dreamt of having– falling somewhere between an educator and a friend. Someone who wants to discuss life and books and love with me.
I find it fitting that Professor Lori instructed me in Young Adult Fiction. It seems like a very symbolic final chapter of my own adolescence, given that I graduate in the Spring. (Nobody writes YA books about college grads. It’s more of a high school through college type of thing.) I believe that I will always feel a special connection with YA readers. I so get how important an escape can be during the challenging transition from childhood to…something not quite child-like and not quite adult.
I think that’s why adults continue to read YA well into their fifties: it perfectly captures transition, the unknown and the unknowable. Whether or not you’re fifteen or forty-five, change is difficult, and the comfort of a nice book always offers a positive solution. Professor Lori, I know, will be a lifelong friend of mine moving forward, and I appreciate her role as an usher through this genre. The turmoil of YA writing particularly moves me these days, as I dip my toes into lots of different pools, and ask myself: Who do you want to be?
I loved getting together with my class and Professor Lori for an “hasta la vista” brunch. After all, we’ll be seeing each other soon, Professor Lori and I.
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