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Cleavon Smith

Cleavon Smith

Berkeley City College

Career Roadmap

Cleavon's work combines: Education, Writing, and Being Creative

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Day In The Life

English Composition Teacher

I teach English Composition courses and write prose and plays.

Skills & Education

Here's the path I took:

  • High School

  • Bachelor's Degree

    United States Naval Academy

  • Graduate Degree

    English Language and Literature, General

    United States Naval Academy

Here's the path I recommend for someone who wants to be an English Language & Literature Teachers, Postsecondary:

High School

Bachelor's Degree: Birthing and Parenting Knowledge and Skills

Graduate Degree: English Language and Literature, General

Learn more about different paths to this career

Life & Career Milestones

My path in life took a while to figure out

  • 1.

    First I read a lot and wrote on the side, but put more emphasis on the sports I played.

  • 2.

    Went to the Naval Academy, played footbal, and planned on a career in the Navy.

  • 3.

    Took a creative writing course at USNA and received very discouraging feedback from the professor.

  • 4.

    Served on an aircraft carrier in Japan and introduced to Japanese authors who inspired me to write.

  • 5.

    Took a creative writing course and was further inspired by the professor and my classmates.

  • 6.

    Went to school for my MFA in creative writing and finally got the courage to call myself a writer.

  • 7.

    Taught a community college class and fell in love with the experience.

  • 8.

    Found a way to balance my love of teaching with my love of reading and writing.

Defining Moments

How I responded to discouragement


    Messages from Society in general:

    I should stay in the navy and take advantage of the opportunity I had as an officer. Then when I got out of the navy, people said I should stay in my corporate job because there was no guarantee that I could earn a living as a writer. Then when I began teaching in community colleges, people said I should get my PhD to be a professor at a university because I'd never get a full-time position at a community college. Whew! The things people said...

  • How I responded:

    The first thing that helped me was to realize that a lot of the Noise came from people who really wanted what was best for me and wanted most of all for me to be happy and secure. When I realized this, I was able to have a better reaction to the Noise and maintain good relationships with people who mattered to me. This also helped me create a space to listen to the Hum that surfaced when I was a teenager and wouldn't go away. That Hum was the calling to write and teach writing to others.