Manis showcases determination in educational journey

photo of Star Manis

Star Manis embodies the ideas of persistence and determination. The East Carolina University graduate student is a leukemia survivor and first-generation college student who continues to push herself out of her comfort zones.

“Growing up, education wasn’t ever a huge focus among my siblings — they eventually dropped out,” she said. “I decided to make it my mission to break barriers and not become a stereotype.”

During her undergraduate studies, Manis struggled with adapting to the college culture and lifestyle, including the best ways to study.

“As a current graduate level student, I continue to struggle with how much work is too much and how much work is too little,” she said. “I feel as if I have to work twice as hard to keep up with my graduate level peers.”

Manis is pursuing her Master of Education in reading and literacy with a certificate in community college instruction while teaching second grade in Enterprise, Alabama. She credits her current progress in the program to the faculty in the Department of Literacy Studies, English Education and History Education (LEHE) for being helpful and understanding.

“Being a distance education student can be nerve-wracking and it can be scary to think that you might not have any support when times get challenging or tough,” she said. “I have discovered this is not the case in the MAEd reading program.”

In addition to her graduate studies and teaching career, Manis is a graduate assistant for the department. She assists Dr. Christy Howard, the director of LEHE graduate programs, and notes that this role has helped her learn more about the program and feel connected even as a distance education student.

“I also love that I get to connect with fellow students by being a listening ear when they have successes or they have struggles,” Manis said. “I can offer them advice and lead them on the right path towards helpful resources.”

In the future, Manis is looking toward a career path in adult education and feels her graduate assistant role is helping her to understand what that might look like.

“It is helping me see the types of tasks that professors have to complete and the activities that they have to be a part of,” she said.

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