Winding down his sophomore year, adolescence education major Kenan Bernard can't wait for his succession of placements in high school social studies classrooms to start this fall. He volunteers for and avidly observes the current musical "Fun Home."

Why did you choose SUNY Oswego? 

When I was applying for colleges, I was very up in the air, but a friend of mine went here. So I said, 'I might as well apply and visit to see what it's like.' He took me around east campus and then down to the lake. Once I saw the lake, I knew that this was the school for me. There's just something mesmerizing about it, even on a dreary day with the waves crashing. It's just something so magnificent.

Two years in, what is it about Oswego that has most ratified your decision? 

Definitely the professors. They just care about what they do; they are not just doing this for a paycheck. They are actively engaged and they want to teach instead of just lecture at you.

Have you had a course so far that has particularly intrigued you?

I can name a couple: CSC 103 ("Computer Tools and Information Literacy for Educators") with Dr. David Parisian is one. When I went into the course, I was very wary about it, because I thought, 'Oh, computer science, I already go on to the computer a lot anyway. I think I should know everything about it.' But the way he teaches it and the way he integrates certain things into the classroom, he teaches you how to learn, which is very interesting. One of the assignments for that class, we had to make a slideshow presentation something we were interested in. I chose Kanye West, and I told a story about his life and how he has impacted me through his music. I had little song clips playing. There are things I learned through Professor Parisian's course that I definitely want to apply in the classroom. Another course was "U.S. History Since 1865" with Dr. Kenneth Marshall. He is a fantastic professor, and I loved his course. I'm actually going to take another one next semester with him.

Do you have an advisor in the School of Education? 

Yes, her name is Sandra Kyle. She's really nice. She's helped me with making my schedule and with planning out my schedule until I'm ready to graduate. It is really helpful to have a set plan of courses I need to take. I do have a lot of room in my schedule to take classes I'm very interested in.

What are you most looking forward to during your next two years at Oswego?

I'm looking forward to getting into the (high school) classroom. The blocks are about a semester each. In my case, in Block 1, they place you in Syracuse. Block 2, they put you in a suburban area. Block 3 is in a more rural school. In Block 4, you do your active student teaching. In Block 1, I'll just be observing or my mentor teacher may have me participating by handing out papers or even designing a lesson plan. I'm just really excited to see how they teach and how I can draw inspiration from them into my future career.

Let's back up a bit. Where were you born and raised?

In a small town in the Hudson Valley called Saugerties. I went to Saugerties High School.

What was it about your school years that showed you the path to pursue in college?

In eighth grade there was a social studies teacher I had who geared my interest toward history. Then there was my 10th grade English teacher, who steered me toward education. They not only made me, but the entire class, want to learn and excited to go to school -- like wake up at 6 a.m. specifically to go to their classes. It was really inspiring, to say the least. 

Can you talk a little more about your interest in teaching social studies?

Take a typical history textbook: You start with Christopher Columbus, 1492, and you go to present day. However, "real" history doesn't necessarily work like that. It goes on and on and on, and everyone in the world, basically, contributes to the history textbook at some point. That everyone has a small part in this larger narrative makes me very interested in history. … When you think of yourself in an active role, you know, you can change something. That to me is fantastic. 

What do you think of your fellow SUNY Oswego students?

I think all of them I've met are really kind. I've never had any bad interactions with any of them. They're very hardworking and, at least the ones that I've seen, they all try their hardest when it comes to most if not all of their classes.

What else do you take part in on campus?

I'm volunteering as a house manager for the theatre department. For each performance like the upcoming ones for "Fun Home" (the final weekend is just ahead), each of the student ushers is a volunteer. I would train them about what they should do. 'Here's the seating plan. Here's what you need to do over intermission. Here's what you need to do to get people in, and the rules like no food or drink in the theatre.' I coordinate with the director of the play and the stage manager as to late seating. When to open house, close house. … I'm excited. I was able to see it at dress rehearsal -- they were fantastic. Go see "Fun Home." Do it! (Laughs.)

What interests you about theatre?

In high school, I discovered theatre relatively late, like my junior and senior year. I've always had a knack for a comedic type thing. With theatre in high school, I was really able to tap into that. I feel like with my schedule here, especially coming up, it might be tough to be in an on-stage role, but getting close enough to see the performances is really interesting, especially to compare it from a high school-level production to a college-level production. They've tried to coax me into becoming a theatre minor, for sure. It's something I've thought about. I'm taking a "Fundamentals of Acting" course next semester that I'm excited for. Maybe they'll draw me in; who knows? (Laughs.).

Can you tell us more about your interest in comedy? 

If I wasn’t going to be a teacher, the other plan would be for me to be a comedian. I've been interested in that since 7th grade. There's something so integral about the art of comedy -- how to tell jokes, when a joke just doesn't become funny, then somehow digging it out and making it funny again -- that's very interesting. I find comedy and teaching to be very entwined, because you don't want to be standing there going blah blah blah for 40 minutes, but if you do something to intrigue your students and engage them, that will hopefully encourage more learning. I would like comedy to add value to my teaching.

What do you like to do in your free time or at home?

Sleep -- I've got to catch up as much as I can. (Laughs.) I play video games -- "Super Smash Bros." is addicting and has infinite replay-ability. I listen to a lot of music. I started a vinyl collection of recent albums. I've found that to be very interesting. I'm excited to expand that. I'd definitely like in the future to get older albums like Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye.

What can you tell us about your family? 

I have two sisters and a brother. One sister and my brother are in their 30s; they both have children. My other sister recently moved to Colorado with her boyfriend for work. My dad works in a factory and also in the kitchen of a senior facility. During the summer and winter breaks, I work there, as well. My mom works in home care for people who can't take care of themselves.