A Somewhat Belated Introduction

I’ve been the Administrative Coordinator for Writing at Bates for roughly half a year, and I think this post is as good a venue as any to introduce myself to the community at large.  I grew up in southeast Michigan, and attended a small, academically rigorous high school there, which emphasized building core writing competency across strong humanities, social science and natural science programs.  Many of my classmates went on to enroll in colleges much like Bates.  I did not.  For reasons that made a lot of sense at age 17, and to memorably pursed lips of my guidance counselor, I elected to attend the University of Michigan instead.

I arrived on Michigan’s campus notably over-prepared for the freshman experience there.  One of the clearest memories I have of my first semester was in the first week of my freshman writing seminar, when the professor ended the first class with a 2-3 page written assignment for the following session. This didn’t strike me as being notably rigorous, and with characteristic freshman eagerness, I instantly jotted the prompt in shorthand and took a minute to rough in the basics of an outline while everything was fresh.  I looked up to see nearly the entire rest of my class staring at either me or the blackboard in bewilderment and horror.  While it took me several years to find a challenge I was sufficiently passionate about to inspire the effort necessary to complete my undergraduate education, I eventually graduated with a major in philosophy, spending much of my final year focusing on the philosophy of language and cognition.

Since finishing at Michigan, I have worn several hats: cobbler for Birkenstock, management at a small brewery, each for a few years, and then nearly 10 years working for Whole Foods Market in a variety of team leadership positions, including work as a fishmonger, cicerone, cheesemonger, grocer and leading cash operations.  While these jobs seem disparate on the surface, they have all been consistent with some of my most deeply held values – namely community building, sustainability and human potential via empowerment.  In all the work I have chosen to do, and in some of the most unexpected ways, my ability to write has proven to be an asset; in fact, having some degree of writing ability has frequently enabled me to create opportunities for both myself and others, and the act of writing itself has been a constant companion through these years.  Written communications to vendors or customers which clarify concerns in ways that point to solutions for seemingly irreconcilable disagreements.  A painstakingly crafted email that caught the right person’s attention, inspiring them to dismantle unnecessary institutional barriers, allowing a quarter million dollars to be given directly to microloan programs in some of the poorest communities in Asia.  Journal entries I wrote for myself alone, that revealed simple solutions to seemingly insurmountable difficulties.  I am convinced that these are highlight-reel moments in my life, made possible not through any particular feat in reasoning, but rather through the application of my own training in writing. Strong writing education has been deeply empowering, on both psychological and interpersonal levels, and I am convinced that an education cannot be considered complete without enabling the student to express their ability through the written word.

With this in mind, I am thrilled to join Writing at Bates, and to have an opportunity to pay it forward, supporting the program in enabling Bates’ students to express themselves clearly and strongly through the written word.  It can only serve to help them go further, and do more good work in the world.  The campus community has been entirely welcoming in receiving me into this role, and gracious in providing guidance as I adapt to the unique aspects of the college campus as a workplace.  I am truly glad to be here.