When PSUC student Michaela Cahoon went to Chazy High School, she was inspired to pursue English through her teachers.
There was three different teachers that helped her grow, including her 7th grade English and AP Literature teacher, Mrs. Brown.
“Because we had such a small school, we had a couple teachers twice, so she kind of bookended my high school career in English,” she said. “She was always about finding your voice as a writer, and she was like a mother figure of the department. She called her students her kids.”
However, when Cahoon started her college career, she opted to major in Communications Sciences and Disorders instead.
“I came in as solely a CDS major, and I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but that was during the time when teaching wasn’t really the profession to go into, so I just went with CDS and figured I could work with kids still.”
During her sophomore year, she missed taking English classes, so she picked up an English language arts major and the following semester, she applied for the education program. Cahoon started the education program her junior year, but still manage to finish up her CDS major with a Bachelor’s degree.
At first, Cahoon wasn’t sure if she was going to be a good teacher.
“I think it’s something you learn by doing. Like you might want to be a good runner, but that doesn’t mean you are a good runner,” she said. “So I wasn’t really sure until we went for one of my classes to local high schools and they gave us a chance to interact with students.”
What really solidified her passion for teaching was when she coached for 7th, 8th and 9th grader’s basketball teams. She said for her, it was a defining moment of “OK, the girls are actually learning something from what I taught.”
Besides being heavily involved with her majors, Cahoon is also the Front of House Manager for the Theatre Faculty. When she applied, she thought being a theatre usher seemed like a part-time job that was manageable.
When she applied for the job, she saw her old English teacher Mrs. Brown in the office she was applying to. It turned out that her new boss, Production Manager Barry Brown was Cahoon’s former English teacher’s husband.
“It was almost awkward and funny at the same time. I had heard about Barry, but I just brought my application in the office, and Mrs. Brown was there,” she said. “He was like this elusive, mythical creature she used to talk about in class, but we never saw him and they had like one wedding picture and so I didn’t even know what he looked like.”
“I’ve been working with the department for 29 years, so I’ve been fortunate and gifted to have a lot of students to work with her, and I’d put her in the top one percent hands down,” Barry Brown said.
As Cahoon settled into her role as a theatre usher, her managers thought she would be a reliable house manager, so they promoted her halfway through her first semester working as an usher.
“She sparked a curiosity in the technical aspect, so we have inside jokes about her handling a microphone when it’s not plugged in, but again she has a curiosity about her,” he said. “ So now to come full-circle, she’s taking a one credit seminar on being a mastery electrician for the musical.”
Cahoon said she was nervous at first, especially working in Hartman Theatre in Myers. She said during her first time managing that theatre, she snapped a key in her manager’s door, and she went into a panic. However, Cahoon said she got the hang of working as a house manager. In addition of working as a house manager, she was also given more responsibilities, such as interviewing potential employers and sitting in on faculty meetings with Michael Carabello.
“I like the fact that I can talk to so many different people. I can talk to incoming families for admissions, and then there’s events like Gospel Choir and Night of Nations,” she said. “These different people. The staff all have different majors too.”
Cahoon also continued her leadership role through her classes. She was also a teaching assistant for her Democracy and Education.
Cahoon is also a part of three different honor societies, including Omicron Delta Kappa, Kappa Delta Kappa and Sigma Tau Delta.
“The nice thing with them is that you can sit around with people who like the same things as you,” Cahoon said. “So for Sigma Tau Delta, you can talk about your love Victorian era literature.
There’s not that eye of ‘Do we have to talk about Dickens again?’ like we can all talk about it because we all love it.”
Cahoon reflects on her time at PSUC and said she’s a lot different from the person she was as a freshman.
“I’m very vocal now. I talk to a lot of people now. My freshman year, I was very much someone who went to class, went to work and then went home,” she said. “And I had my friends from high school that I talked to.
Cahoon even recalls times when her professors would pull her aside and tell her that her work was great and she has all these ideas, but she should share them in class.
“And now, I go everywhere with all these people I’ve met on campus or through work. I actually talk in class now,” Cahoon said. “ And I’ve been a TA. I never thought I had the courage to go up and teach people my age.”
PSUC theatre major Sarah McNally, Cahoon’s best friend, since they were two years old also noticed a change in Cahoon.
“Well, I know that as a freshman. She still had the high school mindset. She was used to having a set schedule, and we were both freshman. We were in the same college. We always felt like we had a set schedule,” McNally said. “Now, we text each other and we’re like ‘hey, are you free?’”
Cahoon said that McNally also happened to be the first person she came out to. McNally said they were sitting in the car and Cahoon was kind of nervous when she was talking.
She said ‘So I’ve been hanging out with so and so for a bit. I really like her. I really like her,’ and I was like ‘Yeah, OK,’ And she’s like ‘We might be going out,’ and I was like ‘OK’ and that was it,” McNally recalled.
Cahoon said she’s learned a lot through her experiences thus far as she’s expecting to graduate in December of 2018.
“I’m sure my first year will be a roller coaster of successes and failures.”My advice is to actually talk to people, and be open to everything.”
Email Kavita Singh at firstname.lastname@example.org