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Writer, painter set to graduate, join Teach for America


May 05, 2011

Eclectic is a word that comes to mind when describing Sarah Stevenson, who is set to graduate from ASU this spring with a bachelor's degree in English – and a lot of dabbling in disciplines such as Art History, Religion, Dance, Sociology, Architecture, Women's Studies, Language Studies, Design and Photography, to name a few.

"I felt I received a pretty well-round education," says Stevenson, whose degree also includes an emphasis in Creative Writing, an area that informed her honors thesis. 

"I chose to write and illustrate a children's book … because it was the best combination of my two greatest joys – art and the written word," says Stevenson, who also is formally trained in fine art. "I have always loved the illustrations in children's books, and often lamented their absence in adult literature."

Stevenson worked on the project for the better part of her senior year as a student in Barrett, The Honors College at ASU. Titled "Finding Colors," the book contains 25 watercolor paintings by Stevenson and is the story about a little girl who frequently moves to new, foreign places; each time she moves, she loses all her colors and then gradually regains them.

"She is very lonesome in her black-and-white world until she discovers that if she looks closely, she can see sparks of color among her new peers – color that means she has found a friend," explains Stevenson, who also frequently moved with her family to new places throughout her life. It is a life experience, she says, that taught her much about herself and about human growth, and ultimately has influenced her writing and her outlook on life. 

"The moral of the book is a lesson I learned a long time ago – a lesson I still find useful today – that new experiences are always an opportunity for bigger and better things: to meet new people, make new memories and grow as a human being," she says.

Such things are on the horizon for Stevenson, who recently accepted a position with Teach for America and will be teaching as part of the 2011 Corps in the Phoenix metropolitan area after graduation.

"It is an amazing opportunity, and I am very excited to join Teach for America. I come from a family of teachers so I have always been involved and interested in education."

She says the people and memories she will take with her from ASU are nothing short of wonderful.

"I was blessed with an incredible roommate my freshman year, who is my roommate to this day," she says. "I have also been fortunate enough to have some very competent, inspirational and wonderful professors over the years. Attending such a large university also allowed me to take a great many classes in a variety of disciplines." 

One could argue that it takes an artist's eye to be able to step back and see all the elements that form a bigger picture – a sort of harmonious, colorful tableau. Stevenson has done just that, and in this way, she is not unlike her book's heroine.

"Each time she moves, she takes a little bit of her friends' colors with her, until she has a plethora of colors, memories and friends," says Stevenson in regard to her protagonist.

Her upcoming departure from ASU not only will be a celebration of all of her hard work, but the culmination of her various skills and passions which she has cultivated over the last four years. 

Written by Britt Lewis, ASU News