Rita Falcon, February 2011
When did you participate in Odyssey?
I participated in the first Odyssey Project Class in Chicago-2000.
What made you enroll?
FREE!!! Caught my eye!!! I saw the posting for the Odyssey Project at my daughter’s Day Care center. It stated that there would be FREE Childcare; Bus fare; Books; and Dinner if I enrolled in this class to earn college credits- how could I pass that up?!! I was already thinking I should go back to school. The Odyssey Project helped guided me closer towards that goal.
Have you done anything Odyssey-related since?
After completing the first course, I did enroll and finish The Odyssey Project – Bridge Course. After completing that, I did enroll myself at Daley College. I felt I needed more of a challenge so I then enrolled in an accelerated college course at Roosevelt University. I completed my semester there. Got engaged, bought a house in the suburbs and began a new journey in my life. I am short credits for my associates.
Was there anything in particular that grabbed you during class? A particular book, poem, etc.?
What “grabbed” me was the generosity of the University of Chicago Professors! Their dedication, enthusiasm and encouragement were what many of us were looking for. The experience of going back to school was intimating enough, but to be taught by professors from a prestigious university such as University Chicago, could have been overwhelming, but they put us at ease and we all appreciated that. We were a family.
After working a full day- for many of us- the professors as well as students had one common goal: to endure and ensure that we complete this course with pride and a feeling of accomplishment. I believe we did just that!
Do you write? How long have you been writing?
I am an avid reader and writer. I have written poems all my life. I enjoy writing short stories and have journalized much of my life as well. Currently I am working on my memoir. I am a member of “The Lansing Public Library Writer’s Group” and we are working on publishing our second book. It will be a collection of our works.
How would you describe your style?
I am a hopeless romantic and an enthusiastic storyteller- or I’d like to this so! My writing depicts all of what life has to offer- the good as well as the bad; the happiness including the sadness. In beginning the process of writing a memoir, I find that pain reigns through and through. You can’t escape it, you shouldn’t avoid it. Through it all- how you manage your heartache or sorrow and begin the healing process, undoubtedly helps mold you into the person you are today.
Malvin Jeffries, December 2010
Our first column, A Few Questions, highlights one of our North side graduates, Malvin Jeffries.
by Erika Dudley
ED: When were you in the Odyssey Project?
MJ: I came to the project in September or October of 2006 so please check with Howard area for the exact date.
ED: Was there a particularly meaningful work or discussion during Odyssey that you could share?
MJ: It was my first day at orientation when they discussed how this could broaden my view of the world and how this was an opportunity for me to pursue my dream of a college education. I figured it was a start again for I had attended Malcolm X City College in the eighties.
ED: Have you gone back to any readings or notes since you finished Odyssey?
MJ: I was just looking at some old notes from my philosophy class on writing abstracts; this information came from instructor Charles Elder and I use it today in my paper writing for my classes in psychology.
ED: Is there ONE thing that you miss most about being in Odyssey?
MJ: The Instructors. They are so in touch with the learning process.
ED: How have you stayed connected to Odyssey?
MJ: I am connected through Amy Thomas, Erika Dudley, and Charles Elder through email and Facebook. I have run into Adam Davis, my poetry instructor. I am in touch with a few of my classmates.
ED: Tell us something about yourself that most people would be surprised to know?
MJ: I am very sentimental, caring and sensitive. This is something that I didn’t even know–I am a life long learner.
ED: Is it a good time to be an intellectual right now?
MJ: Most definitely this is the best time because we are here and can learn, teach, console, understand, and show our passion for intelligence.
ED: If you could change something, what would it be?
MJ: I would not change a thing because I wouldn’t have learned about me and all of the good and not so good things about me.
ED: What would you tell the current Odyssey students?
MJ: This is your time to learn, to shine, to be or become, and to find out about yourself, to make your contribution to the intellectual community.
ED: What question would you ask yourself? Give us the answer, too.
MJ: If you could master anything what would it be?
The answer is me for if I learn about me I can accept you.