- What first sparked your interest in English?
Since childhood I have always had a natural aptitude for language and literature; I won dozens of spelling bees and summer reading contests, had a high level of reading comprehension, and even wrote a couple books of juvenile literature. However, in my teenage years I briefly drifted away from literature and it took a year of majoring in General Studies until I realized that English is quite naturally the major for me. This realization came as I took an English 1101 course at Georgia State University Perimeter College under the brilliant Dr. Theodore Worozbyt, for which I would like to thank him.
- Have you taken part in any groups on campus during your college tenure? If so, which ones and why?
The campus group I have been most involved with has been Baptist Collegiate Ministries. BCM has been a blessing in many ways, not only surrounding me with a body of other believers in Christ, but also giving me opportunities to serve the body of believers and the Milledgeville community at large. I have made some of my best memories and best friends there, and BCM has certainly been one of the biggest parts of my intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth in my two years here at Georgia College.
- What is your proudest moment at Georgia College, and can you describe the events that led to that moment?
I believe my proudest moment at Georgia College was the morning of December 20, 2018, when the final grades for the fall semester were posted and I saw that I had made all A’s again. Fall 2018 was the single most difficult semester of my college career – I was taking five upper-level courses, including two with one of the most difficult professors in the English department; I was finishing my fourth album (“Visions of Opalescence,” published December 18, 2018 under my pseudonym “Robert Wakefield”); I had begun recording for my fifth album; I had begun serving weekly on BCM’s praise band; I was very involved in the Gamma Beta Phi honors society; and I was working on fostering a number of new relationships as well. In all regards that was the single most ambitious and difficult semester I’ve ever had, but also the most rewarding for that very reason.
- What are your plans after college?
As for my most immediate post-undergrad plans, I have accepted a teaching position at a private high school in Covington, and will begin a MA program in literature Fall 2020. Upon graduating with my MA, I would like to teach at the high school level for a few years and eventually at a two-year college.
- What is the single most important event that led to your interest in English?
The single most important event that led to my interest in English at the collegiate level was taking the aforementioned English 1101 course under Dr. Worozbyt. That course was eye-opening and revealed all the possibilities within English – the course was a synthesis of literature, linguistics, American history, visual art, ethical philosophy, and the metaphysics of language. Every major says that their major is the best because it encompasses all the majors, but taking Dr. Worozbyt’s courses truly convinced me of that in the English major.
- What is the importance of English in today’s world?
I tend to agree with Flannery O’Connor’s assertion that literature serves – or ought to serve – as “a mirror and a guide for society.” Great literature not only timelessly reflects a portrayal of humanity in all our beauty and depravity, but also helps us along in the grand orchestration and our individual odysseys through life.
- Where do you hope to go next?
I hope to go only wherever God leads me. This isn’t any kind of grand arrival – there’s not even a rest stop on this road. I was born a long way from where I belong, and I’m just on my way home. I find it apt to reference the closing lines of “Theme for #20,” a poem I first published in my 2017 chapbook “World in Black and White”: “All I can do is be me – whoever that is – / and play my role. / I’m still becoming who I am; clay / in the potter’s hands, / in the fire, a tempered coal.”
- What did you find most surprising about Georgia College?
Georgia College, in its totality, is quite the polyphonic experience socially, academically, and artistically. To the English and Philosophy departments I am grateful for the unique opportunities to study more diverse and global perspectives by engaging with the ideas of lesser-known writers all around the world. I have had the unique opportunity to encounter a number of literary and philosophical works that I probably would not have read in many other colleges.
- What was your favorite part of attending Georgia College and how do you think that might influence your future?
Doubtlessly a cliché, but my favorite part of attending Georgia College has been the people I have met here – professors and fellow students alike. I think this will influence my future in helping me remember that academia is not (or should not be) all about numbers – essay/test scores, grade point averages, grade percentages, etc. Rather, at its best, academia is about people investing in other people and helping them reach their potential as students and moreover as more capacious, empathetic human beings. I hope to invest in and teach my future students as well as my collegiate teachers over the past 3.5 years have done for me.
- Finally, what advice would you give to incoming students at Georgia College?
I would encourage incoming Georgia College students to take advantage of the liberal arts experience as much as possible. I believe W. E. B. Du Bois was right when he said, “Education must not simply teach work – it must teach life.” I think teaching life is something the liberal arts experience does exceptionally well, but it does require a degree of personal initiative to really capitalize on that. So, take advantage of all the unique opportunities that Georgia College offers.