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Clarissa Epps

Clarissa Epps provides a great example of how literacy can become the foreground of identity. Ms. Epps began the interview with a specific example of her work with a group of illiterate elderly. This train of thought triggered a personal tale about her grandmother, who was also illiterate. From this moment on, Clarissa spoke mainly of her individual growth through education, "this influenced me later in life because I wanted to help other adults who wanted to read." This desire to educate others drove her to volunteer her time; helping others read. These interactions took her on a journey with an elderly man she was helping, changing the course of their future. After four months of working together, she describes how she "sadly" moved away, her emotion highlighted by her change in tone. This signifies the strong attachment she developed to this man; a connection that heightened her passion to educate others through service. Ms. Epps explained how this man utilized his newly acquired skills, calling the process of teaching him to read "rewarding". Her job today now reflects that the word illiterate is applicable, not only in terms of literacy, but in terms of citizens' rights as well. Her choice to work in a public office, and help the unfamiliar understand their rights, is a continuance in her service with literacy.

Observed here is how literacy slowly led Ms. Epps to become a volunteer educator through an unwavering faithfulness to the uninformed in her communities. Unlike her grandmother, she had a powerful tool in her disposal, the ability to read and write. When asked about literacy, she recalled using her skills to teach her grandmother to read, then volunteering to teach other individuals to read and apply their new skills in their faith. Ms. Epps decided to include these examples in her narrative; however each personal narrative can be interpreted in many ways, in this case to politics. "The personal narrative is political," and this could be seen based on her choices in helping others, which defines her political ideals in serving the community (Langellier). Her innate desire to serve and educate others trickled to her career in teaching people about their rights. Ms. Epps uses her literacy to voluntarily educate others about the law, providing a unique twist on education through literacy.

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