profile by Jaquay Dee-Hardmon
Dr. Collins loves to read. As a child she wanted books for any special occasion like birthdays and Christmas.
She went to high school in New Brunswick, NJ and attended Rutgers University as an undergraduate. Before choosing English as a major she studied biology, political science, pre law and pre med. In her junior year of college, Dr. Collins decided English is what she enjoyed most. She then double majored in English and political science:
“I decided to follow my heart on it and do what I loved most rather than what seemed most practical.”
After being asked if she was discouraged by anyone with her choice of majors she mentioned she was not discouraged nor encouraged. She went to a large state university where she felt students were on their own. Neither of her parents went to college so they did not have much advice to give her.
Finding Her Path
Dr. Collins did not go to graduate school right away after completing her bachelor’s degree. She was more interested in taking care of herself financially and figuring out what was next for her.
One of her first jobs was with publishing. She then went on to teach in public schools for two years in New York City. While she was teaching, she studied Chinese. She looked for a teaching job in China because she had a love for traveling. She was given information about traveling to Japan to teach by a coworker. So she applied to teach in Japan and went there to teach for a year. After a year in Japan, she went backpacking around Asia for six months. Some places she visited were India, Thailand and China. After six months she came home to take a break and began waitressing and bartending job in Manhattan.
After waiting tables, she continued on to graduate school, entering the doctoral program at the City University of New York and earning a Ph.D. Right before she completed her Ph.D., she started teaching at Pace University.
Life at Pace
Dr. Collins has now has been teaching at Pace University for twenty three years and enjoys staying current and innovative:
“What I most want to teach students is a love of reading and a love of words.”
One of the things she loves most about reading fiction, non-fiction, and poetry is the way it gives access to the lives of people who are not the same as you.
“Emotional access that literature offers is something that is a gift for everyone to be able to imagine the lives of other people.”
Words of Encouragement
Dr. Collins reminds us:
“The most important thing to remember is that being an English major helps you build a flexible brain that asks questions, that sees connections, that uses language to make sense of the world, and those are really valuable skills and practices….You’ll find the way to use them to make your own way and figure out your own path in life.”