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Student posesses unique passion for literature and music

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Photo credit: Antoine Abou-Diwan, Staff Reporter

Mary Estrada is looking forward to next year.

“By this time next year, I won’t have to take a math class ever again,” Estrada said.

On the surface, Estrada seems like a typical English major.  English classes are usually her favorite classes, although she said that the books that were assigned in high school were usually depressing.

Although she still is not 100 percent sure what she wants to study, she took to heart the recommendation of two of her high school teachers and is going into education, she said.

Estrada is enrolled in CSUN’s Four Year Integrated English Teacher Credential Program. Completion of this program will earn her a bachelor’s degree and prepare her to teach English at the middle school or high school level.

Estrada enjoys reading, music, working at a coffee shop and hanging out with family and friends, she said.  She also loves talking about literature.

“I love the Chronicles of Narnia,” she said.  “It’s so nice to get out of everything I’m doing for a while.”

Estrada said she looks to connect with characters when reading.

“The characters are my favorite thing,” she said. “If you can’t relate to the characters, get inside of them—I don’t like it.”

It is for this reason that she initially disliked George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

“I couldn’t relate to the characters,” she said.  “So, I started to analyze the language, style and literary aspects.”

Her appreciation of language flow and cadence led to a love of poetry, especially Robert Frost’s work.

“I love to write poetry,” she said.  “A lot of my poetry doesn’t rhyme, but it’s smooth.”

Estrada is atypical in many other ways.  She comes from a large family.  She is the oldest of six children.  Her dad is one of seven children, and her mom is one of six children. Not surprisingly, family reunions are crowded and lively affairs.

“It’s great,” she said.  “My grandparents on each side have 34 grandkids.”

Estrada moved to California from Indiana when she was 12-years-old, she said.

Estrada lived in a farm-style house on three acres in Indiana.  She liked the rural setting but did not realize how lonely and isolated it was until she moved to California, she said.

“I like where I live now,” she said.  “We don’t have to drive 30 minutes to get places, like we did in Indiana.”

One thing that Estrada is sure about is her love of music, she said.  She loves orchestra.  She has been playing the violin for 15 years and at this point it’s a vital part of her life.

“I want to keep playing the violin,” she said.  “I might join a quartet.”

She displayed an interest in the violin after she heard family friends playing the fiddle, she said. Her parents signed her up for lessons, and at an early age, the lessons were as rudimentary as they could get, she added.

“You start by learning rhythm and how to hold the violin,” Estrada said.  “And the day I got my first real violin—that was intense.”

Even though her career path appears to be straightforward, Estrada is apprehensive about being a student-teacher so soon after graduating from high school, she said.  She speculates that if she weren’t going into teaching, she would be pursuing something in the arts field.

“The things I’m good at and love, are writing, music, photography and sculpture,” she said.  “I’d like to take more art and photography classes to expand.”

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