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Skyra Blanchard '05

English—Secondary Education | State College, Pa.

When she first came to Susquehanna, Skyra Blanchard '05 wondered if she could handle an English course on satire. But today she's teaching high school English to college-prep students at State College (Pa.) Area High School. And in many ways she is viewed as a role model for her students of color.

"If we can get students to see that they can be more, then they will be more," says Blanchard, who now teaches juniors and seniors everything from writing to Shakespeare's Othello, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. "Two of my students already have said, ‘Wow! I really can be a teacher because you're a teacher.' If we can get more minorities in education, more young people are going to say, ‘Yes, I can do this.'"

Blanchard believes that a problem with the American education system is that there are too few minority educators. It was this belief that propelled her into teaching. "Susquehanna provided me with a good teaching foundation," says Blanchard, a Lewisburg, Pa., native who recently earned her master's of education degree at Pennsylvania State University.

"And the most valuable lesson I learned at Susquehanna is the understanding that, at the end of the day, you try your best and not everything will be successful. But you don't cry, you don't dwell on your failures; you just get up and do it again because that's what education is all about."

In her senior year, Blanchard, a power forward/center on the women's basketball team, was a first-team selection for the 2005 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars Awards. She also served as the Gospel Choir director and worked as a resident advisor — another valuable training ground for a teacher learning how best to deal with human beings and defuse situations.

Blanchard also worked as an assistant in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, where she, with the office's then-director Brian Johnson, co-authored the book Reel Diversity: A Teacher's Sourcebook. Blanchard praises the efforts of the university and its president, L. Jay Lemons, to create a more diverse student body. "He's awesome," she says. "I feel like Jay really has a stake in helping minorities on campus. He always made me feel very comfortable."

For a young woman who was once torn between attending Susquehanna or the mammoth University of Pittsburgh, she knows she made the right choice: "If you want the personal experience, if you want to know your professors and not be a number, Susquehanna is the place."

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Suhs-kwuh-pee-dee-uh (n): A collection of experiences, topics, and personalities that makes Susquehanna University unique.

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