Under 30: Natalie Sharp
Under 30: Natalie Sharp
Name: Natalie Sharp '13
Major at GC: English (literature concentration)
Why did you choose Georgia College?
When I started college, I was 17, so it was important to me to go somewhere that I could define myself without getting lost. GC struck that balance for me, and I really enjoyed my campus visit.
Did you have a favorite professor or class?
Definitely. The two classes that stand out for me most now are hip-hop literature and culture with Dr. Beauty Bragg and America’s diverse cultural heritage with Dr. Stephanie McClure.
What is your favorite Georgia College memory?
Once, I wrote a terrible rap over the beat of Childish Gambino’s “Freaks and Geeks.” (I cannot emphasize enough how bad the rap was.) I don’t know if there’s still that recording booth on the bottom floor of Norlin Library, but it was really fun to go into the booth and record it with some of my friends. My choice for favorite memory is tied between that and performing at Poetry Jamz at Blackbird Coffee way back in the day, where I would get a white mocha and pretend it wasn’t going to keep me up all night even though it definitely would.
What have you been up to since graduating?
So much! After a few years out of school, I decided to keep the whole poetry thing going and earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Colorado Boulder. I lived in Denver during the three years of my program, which put me in contact with the robust poetry community out west and a bunch of really awesome multi-talented artists. I started dancing again a few years ago, which I didn’t realize I needed until I was back at it. My favorite recent project I’ve completed was a text projection installation last winter at the Dairy Arts Center. I never envisioned myself getting to present something so strange and beyond what I would consider to be my primary artistic specializations.
You received a Fulbright scholarship with the University of Colorado Boulder. What will you be doing or learning on the trip to Armenia?
While I’m here in Armenia, I teach English at a local library. I work primarily with adult learners (though I have teenagers once a week, and it turns out they’re not nearly as terrifying as My Chemical Romance made me think they’d be). The classes I teach are free and interdisciplinary—for instance, one of the classes I’ll be doing over the next 10 weeks is learning public speaking through the arts. I love this type of work, because I’m enthusiastic about free and accessible (in terms of money/facilities/time) education. Since English skills are considered an asset in many places, it feels like I’m meeting a need. Additionally, I have a lot of creative freedom to design and implement my syllabi, so I can bring in works that showcase modern applications of English and are more engaging for participants.
As for me, I’m currently learning Armenian and Russian and doing my best to be present in this unique experience. My secondary Fulbright project involves investigating methodology to leverage WhatsApp, Viber and similarly ubiquitous chat apps for online education outside of the traditional university sphere. I’m also participating in the National Geographic-Fulbright Sciencetelling Bootcamp, which helps scholars more successfully transmit their research and findings to the public.
How has your education at Georgia College helped you become who you are today?
I think my time at Georgia College introduced me to professors and mentors who lit the fire under me to be better than I was, peers who showed me what friendships actually look like and many phenomenal trans and non-binary people, women and Black folks who stood unapologetically in their power. A lot of that meaningful contact would have been impossible for me in my hometown. GC and Milledgeville at large are the sites of my first real interactions with activism and direct action—lessons that I draw from even now. I think I would have been swallowed in a sea of external opinions that drowned out my voice somewhere larger, but the campus was big enough that I met plenty of people, who didn’t think like me. Its intimacy forced me to define myself in my own terms. That’s really important these days, when it’s tempting to make myself smaller, so that I don’t inconvenience anyone. I learned to think critically, to speak up and to hold the door open when I can. I’m proud of those values, and I’m proud of and grateful to the people who guided me toward them.
Do you have any future plans once you are finished with your MFA?
I’m done with my MFA (whoo, Class of 2019)! But, I do plan to keep making weird art, being loud about injustice, sweating more than everyone else on the dance floor and working to provide open access to education for as many people as possible.
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