Jarmal Desire guides students on their academic paths as well as their personal journeys

By Olivia Cameron

Jarmal Desire is a first-generation American citizen, and he acknowledges his gratitude toward his position in life.

His upbringing in Belle Glade, Florida, allowed him to learn about his Haitian parent’s immigration as young adults. He is proud of his heritage and of Haiti—the first Caribbean country to fight for and establish its own independence.

“The younger me rejected the culture, but as I grew up, I realized how unique it made me,” he says.

Desire is a Florida State University alumnus who graduated in 2015 as a double major in psychology and criminology. He started out as an economics major before realizing his lack of interest in mathematics and finding more suitable majors to study.

Biology classes he took at FSU sparked his interest in science, and that guided him toward becoming a high school biology teacher in Belzoni, Mississippi, after spending most of his life in Florida. He worked in Belzoni from August 2015 until May 2018, when he worked his way into higher education, starting his advising career at FSU and with the English department at the beginning of the Fall 2018 semester.

“My experience in the classroom really molded my decision to continue working and supporting students,” Desire says.

When advising students in the English department, Desire not only guides students in the path they want to take for their future, but he also advises them to look outside their schooling. With Advising First information, he is often prepared to make students aware of the different resources available to them.

During his time at FSU, he did just that. Desire was part of the organization Progressive Black Men, Incorporated, but he wishes he would have spent some more time getting involved outside of his academics in order to take advantage of the school’s resources and opportunities. Still, Desire says he “made lifelong friends at FSU. The college experience helped me redefine my life goals and realigned my sense of identity.”

Despite not enjoying the English curriculum in his distant past, he has grown to love the major and the department he works for. When he first took the job as an academic advisor for English, Desire admits that the position was out of his comfort zone, because the teacher-to-student dynamic is different than the advisor-to-student scenario.

However, he enjoys listening to students of the department based on their variety of aspirations for their futures. He now views his position as a way to advocate for the students and their specific needs.

Part of his career involves learning about people, the aspect of his work he enjoys the most.

“Students in the English department have many different interests,” which allows him to see the multiple sides of the degree, he says.

As a fan of comedy, video games, and comic books, Desire keeps many conversation pieces in his office, which can help him relate to the students’ many levels of interest.

“When meeting students for the first time, it helps to find common interests to build rapport and make the student feel comfortable,” he says.

What he learns from the abundance of students he meets makes his job rewarding. Desire believes in guiding his students toward success, and states that “people have a story that isn’t just on paper.” While he works as an advisor for English students, Desire is completing his own work toward a higher degree, as a graduate student, possibly of public administration.

His walk-in office hours are Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Olivia Cameron is a senior who is majoring in English, with a concentration in editing, writing, and media.