People of Literacy Mid-South is a column that takes a close look at the folks that make our organization tick.
This week, we’re talking to Dominique DeFreece, Summer Service Fellow for Literacy Mid-South’s Adult Learning Program. Dominique is from Delhi, New York and is a sophomore at Rhodes College. She is an International Studies and History bridge major, with a minor in Urban Studies. We’ve only had Dominique around for a short while, but she’s already proven herself a wonderful addition to the organization!
How did you start working with Literacy Mid-South?
In the fall of 2015 I saw that Literacy Mid-South was having a training session for new volunteer tutors. I decided to sign up to be a volunteer tutor because I was interested in helping adults learn how to read and write. Many people forget that things we do every day like understanding streets signs and filling out a job application involves literacy capabilities. After going through the training I was super stoked and decided I would take on two English Language Learners. I wanted to help Literacy Mid-South more, so I suggested that I be taken on as a Summer Service Fellow.
What kind of work do you do for Literacy Mid-South?
I am currently working on a literacy toolkit to be used with learners whose reading grade equivalency levels range from the 5th to 12th grade. I am looking forward to getting the toolkit to a point where we can test it out and see how learners can use it. This is super exciting to me because it’s something tangible that can benefit others. I’ve also been performing some other duties like revamping the handbooks that each adult learner receives. I’ve been attending the intake sessions for new learners as well.
What do you do on a typical day off?
There is no typical day in the life of Dominique–or as the people at Lenny’s Sub Shop like to call me, Dominam. [This really happened. We have receipts. – Ed.]
But seriously, I usually wake up at about 9:30 and get some brunch: my favorites are pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Then I might read a book or listen to some music. I like exploring Memphis, so then I might catch an Uber down town and window-shop or listen to some live music. Then I would have a snack and take an afternoon siesta. At night I would probably go for a walk through Overton park, hang out with friends, go bowling, or catch a Levitt shell concert.
You’ve only been working with Literacy Mid-South for a little while. What has been your favorite thing about the job so far?
My favorite part has been hanging out with Troy! No, I’m kidding.
So far I have enjoyed the office atmosphere at Literacy Mid-South. It’s really laid back, and I get to work independently. Also, everyone has been really nice. My favorite part of my work so far was sitting in on a meeting with a student who wanted to develop a middle school/high school reading/mentorship group. Before that I was unsure of who could use and benefit from my literacy toolkit. After that meeting though, I am really seeing the need for literacy resources that focus on middle school and high school level readers. I hope that my toolkit will benefit these individuals.
Describe your dream career. What would you be doing?
In my dream job, I would be the Secretary General of the UN. Watch out Ban Ki Moon! I would be responsible for holding the UN general assembly accountable, and trying to implement goals and projects that would benefit the entire planet. One of my main foci would be the education of girls and women around the world.
What is the last book you read?
Dear White America, Letter To A New Minority by Tim Wise. It’s a great book that EVERYONE should read.
What do you like most about living in Memphis?
I like how Memphis feels like a small town with big city resources. You can go almost anywhere and Memphis and see kind and familiar faces. Last week I was at the Shell and saw at least ten people I know. Unlike bigger cities, Memphis feels very open and accepting no matter where you are.
You have to live the rest of your life as a fruit–what fruit would you be and why?
I would be a Durian because no one wants to eat a Durian.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
……I’m vertically challenged.
Is the book better than the movie?
Yes. Movies always let me down.