Bachelor of English '11
Album - Finding Forever by Common
Book - Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
Film - Clue
Tell us about your time at Duquesne
Some of my favorite experiences were bonding with a whole floor of friends freshman year on the 6th floor of St. Anne's; joining Delta Chi in sophomore year and participating in all sorts of activities in Greek Life; spending time on "Duquesne Beach" aka the stone bleachers by the football field; getting some of my first poems published in :Lexicon; and eating far too much Milano's pizza.
Some of my favorite professors were Linda Kinnahan, Anne Brannen, Craig Bernier, and John Fried.
What have you been up to since graduating?
Since graduating I went to The University of Pittsburgh and earned my MFA in creative writing and subsequently published my first collection of poems, The Drowning Boy's Guide to Water (Autumn House 2017), which won the inaugural Rising Writer contest and was a finalist for the 49th NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Literary Work. I work as a middle school teacher at my alma mater, Falk Laboratory School, and teach social studies and language arts. As I've begun contemplating and working on a second manuscript, I've been fortunate to win an Investing in Professional Artists Grant from The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, and most recently I've been recognized as the 2019 Emerging Artist award recipient for the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Awards, also made possible by The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments.
How do you feel your Liberal Arts education has helped you in your career?
My Liberal Arts education gave me a hunger for understanding of self, which is what is at the core of all my literary work. Being able to study literature and creative writing with the wonderful professors and instructors I had at Duquesne honed my ability to appreciate and look critically at various texts, but most importantly to feel and know that I was capable of telling my own stories and creating meaning out of the many narrative threads that twist together to form my life. Who I am today is very much thanks to the education I received at Duquesne University.
If you could change anything about your time at Duquesne, would you?
I would have gotten involved as a staff member of :Lexicon, not just as a submitter. I also would have gotten more involved with the Black Student Union. I also would have lobbied to make the school keep Take Ten open in the bottom of Rockwell (we all know the food only gets better the further you head down A-Walk).
Plans for the future?
To keep writing, keep reading, keep teaching, and keep enjoying life.
Any advice for current students?
My advice would be the same advice a close relative of mine talks about often, and that is to ask yourself Who you want to be rather than What you want to be in life. It's a far more rewarding outlook on life, though a difficult one to adopt sometimes as a college a student; my advice is to align your goals and efforts with who you see yourself as in the future because what you will be is not always predictable, satisfying, or a sure thing, but who you are is something you can work on and rely on every day.
If you could spend a day with one celebrity, who would it be and what would you do?
Barack Obama. I'd want to just talk with/listen to him talk about his time in the White House and his thoughts on America.