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A Penny for Her Thoughts: An Interview with Erica Snowden

By: Katia Campos (Reporter ‘22)

As we continue to power through this epic pandemic, schools are beginning to open, like spring tulips beginning to bloom after a long winter. And new people are arriving. One new person is Ms. Erica Snowden! For those who don’t know who she is, Ms. Snwoden is the new Director of Equity and Multicultural Education here at FCS. Perhaps some of you may recall her from her unique superhero presentation during orientation.

During her interview, Ms. Snowden noted that, no matter what, she wanted everyone to get to know her. She invites people to do this by dropping by and introducing themselves or just saying hello. The questions below are used to get to know Ms. Snowden as both a person and as a teacher. Hopefully we can all become closer during these difficult times. Here is a little bit about Ms. Snowden:

FOCUS: Where are you from?

Ms. Snowden: I’m from Detroit Michigan.

FOCUS: Do you travel often?

Ms. Snowden: Yeah, I travel pretty often. Since my family is still in Detroit, I travel there four to five times a year. I just like to travel in general. My favorite places are Vegas, Miami, and Virginia beach. I just like really hot places. 

FOCUS: What do you remember most from your neighborhood in Detroit? 

Ms. Snowden: I remember the community most. Growing up in Detroit, my grandparents lived across the street from me all throughout my childhood, until I grew up and left home. It was like everyone that lived on the block also had family that lived on the block too; so you could go to other people’s houses and eat there. Everyone knew everyone. Although, it was a little difficult, because down the street you could also get disciplined for doing something you weren’t supposed to do. 

FOCUS: What about your neighborhood, early life, and family lessons are you trying to instill in the FCS community? What are you trying to strive for most with us that made an impact on you when you were younger?

Ms. Snowden: I would say believing that you can make a change. People used to call my dad the mayor of Fairview. If my dad wanted to make a change in my neighborhood, he did it. He got all the people together to plant flowers and paint the sidewalk and everything. If at some point it felt unsafe, he got people together to make it more safe. You can make a change. He helped me start a little store on my porch, and I sold popsicles and sodas. People came all around the block to buy candy and popsicles. If you want to do something and make a change, you can do it. 

FOCUS: Where did you go to school and when? Would you say that, as an outsider of the campus world, things have changed since college and highschool?

Ms. Snowden: For highschool, I went to Cass Technical High School in Detroit. Things are really different now from when I was in highschool. My highschool was a public school, but you had to take a test in order to attend. I attended Lincoln University in Philadelphia in 1999 and then came back to Detroit to teach.

When I was in high school, we didn't have social media. The way to get to know people and make relationships was to talk with people, go to school events, and hang out. I felt like you could try to figure out who you were and make mistakes without as many people knowing because there was no social media. All we have are memories when we look back, and some photos. There were no videos. Everything was in your mind. It’s not following or haunting you. 

FOCUS: What was an important moment in your life that you wish everyone had the ability to experience at least once?

Ms. Snowden: Well I would say, at the moment I didn’t think it was great, but, failure. I was taking a test for a Biology certification. I took this test 3 times and I failed every time. At the moment I was upset, but I didn't give up. I kept studying more, but then I realized that the test didn’t prove whether or not I was a good person, a hard worker, intelligent, or of high value. That situation taught me that I wasn't a quitter, I didn’t give up, and I can do hard things. It also taught me how to study more and differently, how to be resilient. It taught me real life skills that, if I had passed it the first time, I wouldn't have learned. A test does not define you, and you can accomplish other things in life.

FOCUS: You are the Director of Equity and Multicultural Education. Was there ever a time you were almost swayed to be something else? A teacher? A doctor?

Ms. Snowden: I did teach in the classroom, I taught many grades for many years, mostly 3rd and 4th grades, but I didn’t know I was gonna be a teacher. I wanted to be a pathologist. I wanted to do autopsies on bodies, and my end goal was to own my own funeral home. I had done an internship at the morgue, and it was amazing. It’s super important, but I just ended up going down another path.

FOCUS: Moving away from the school questions, what is your favorite season? Why and how do you identify with it? How does it make you feel?

Ms. Snowden: Fall is my favorite season. The reason is because Michigan always has 4 seasons, and you can see all the colors from the trees, green, orange, red, and brown. It’s so beautiful. I also like fall fashion. You can start layering rich colors. It just gives me the warm and fuzzies, due to Thanksgiving and Halloween. I love everything pumpkin spiced.

FOCUS: What color, do you think, on the many streams of the rainbow do you express and why?

Ms. Snowden: Yellow. It makes me think of joy, and I try to make everyone feel joy.  It reminds me of sunshine. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

FOCUS: As times seem to become more difficult with the virus, would you say that trying to teach others about the importance of equity has become harder, as we are online?

Ms. Snowden: I think that you should never waste a crisis. With the pandemic and this racism, it is a perfect time to have these conversations because people are listening.  They are looking for help, and it's hard to ignore. I also think you can reach so many more people now than before. However, inequity is very present, and the hard work with inequity is easier to do when in closer proximity to people

FOCUS: Lastly, what would you like students to know about you?

Ms. Snowden: I would really like to get to know everybody. If people would like to get to know me or find things to make connections to get to know me, it would be nice.

Well there you have it folks, some words of wisdom and inspiration from Ms. Snowden: failure should always be accepted with open arms to learn and to grow from, crises such as the pandemic should be used for difficult conversations and progress, and it’s okay to change it up when it comes to a career! In the end, it’s what makes you happy that you should strive for, along with company, which makes these hard times a little easier.

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