Inside Higher Ed
July 20th, 2015
It is safe to say that I would not be here, doing this, if not for the assistance of mentors.
One of the most important of those mentors was my undergraduate
creative writing professor at the University of Illinois, Philip Graham.
He’s been present in just about every stage of my career since I first
entered his introductory fiction writing course.
He introduced me to the amazing pleasures of trying to write
creatively. He helped me get into graduate school. He helped me secure
my first teaching job. He provided a model for me to emulate in my own
teaching and writing. To this day, he is a consistent source of
encouragement when I do well, and solace when things go poorly.
But having gone to an R1 like U. of I, I was also lucky to intersect
with Professor Graham. The number of other professors both inside and
outside of English that seemed interested in me as a human being was