Where Are They Now? What Are They Doing?
Robert Polito (English major ’73)
Appointed President of the Poetry Foundation in Chicago
Robert Polito, Boston College English Major ’73 and poet, author, and critic, will receive the 2013 Boston College Arts Alumni Award. He will be on campus to participate in special programming at BC’s annual Arts Festival from April 25 to 27.
In January Boston native Polito was named president of the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, whose mission is to “discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience.” In particular, the Poetry Foundation publishes the monthly Poetry Magazine. Polito, who will begin his tenure as president in July, was previously the founding director of the creative writing program at The New School in New York City, where he’s taught since 1992.
After his Boston College education, Polito went on to study at Harvard University, receiving his M.A. in 1975 and his PhD in English and American Language and Literature in 1981.
Prolific poet, essayist, and literary critic, one of his most notable works is Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson, which was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award and an Edgar Award. He has also published the poetry collections Hollywood & God (2009) and Doubles (1995), and is the author of A Reader's Guide to James Merrill’s The Changing Light at Sandover (1994) and At the Titan’s Breakfast: Three Essays on Byron’s Poetry (1994). His areas of expertise include American literature, biography, film noir and noir fiction, and English and American poetry.
Mary Reda (double eagle - B.A., 93 and M.A., 95) is currently an Associate Professor at the City University of New York's College of Staten Island. The September 10, 2010 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education contains her essay which was excerpted from her recent book, Between Speaking and Silence: A Study of Quiet Students. Mary first started researching this subject as a teacher in BC's First Year Writing Seminar program.
Erin Dionne graduated from BC in 1997 with a double major in English and Communications. Creative writing is her passion, and she took numerous classes with Elizabeth Graver to develop my craft. Professor Bonnie Rudner introduced her to Joseph Campbell and the hero cycle, and was the instructor who inspired her to teach. Erin went on to receive her MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College in 1999, where she concentrated in Writing for Children, and is now an Assistant Professor in the Liberal Arts department of Montserrat College of Art, in Beverly, Mass. Since receiving her MFA, she's published several short stories, including one featured in the Rose Metal Press anthology BREVITY & ECHO, have written for the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, and been named a winner in the Center for Arts in Natick's annual short story contest. Her first novel for young readers, BEAUTY BINGE, won a PEN/New England Discovery Night Award in 2006, and will be published by Dial Books/Penguin in spring of 2009. Erin credits her experience in the department with giving her a strong foundation as both a reader and a writer--She developed critical reading and analytical skills that she uses every day, and tries to pass them on to her own students.
Kate Kreinbring (B.A., 2005) After graduating in 2005, Kate sought to combine her two interests as a student at Boston College: reading literature and tutoring Boston Public School students through BC’s service program 4Boston. In order to do this, she joined Teach For America, a nationwide program set up to place recent college graduates as teachers in high-need school districts across the country. Because of her experiences at Boston College, Kate wanted to help further the mission of Teach For America: to close the achievement gap in our nation’s public school system between high and low income school districts. Kate is currently in her second year of Teach For America and teaches 9th grade English in Chicago, IL. She works in a community called Little Village with a population of mostly Mexican American students who are extremely motivated to achieve and to go on to college. Kate’s work in English at Boston College has helped her to bring the excitement of discovering literature to her classroom and school community.
Janet DiLeo (B.A., 1983) Janet graduated in 1983, and after short stints in advertising, marketing, and retail, she landed rather accidentally in the field of Human Resources, where she has spent the last 20+ years. Besides being the person called upon to help write and edit company and employee publications, Janet worked on a variety of corporate projects where the skills she learned at BC have served her well. Along the way, she also earned an MBA from Clemson University. Janet is currently living in South Carolina and working part-time for an electronics manufacturing firm, managing their Affirmative Action programs and editing technical reports from the Quality department.
Jim Cody (B.A., 1983) Jim is a member of the class of '83' and has been teaching English at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ since 1995. He started his teaching career back in the early 90's as a high school teacher at Paterson Catholic and Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ, preceded by a a stint working for a research firm after he graduated. Jim teaches Composition, World Literature I and II, American Literature II, and The Short Story. He also have recently designed the online version of my department's World Literature I and II courses. Recently, Jim was in touch with one of my favorite professors from my BC days, Professor John Mahoney, whose cd, Poetry of Faith, he got permission from him to use in his World Literature II online course. Jim is married with three children ages, 14, 13, and 8, and is an active in his community as a board of education member and little league coach.
Timothy Gillane (M.A., 1975) Thinks of Professor Mahoney’s beginning-of-the-semester recital of “Dover Beach” almost every time he takes the ferry from New London to Orient Point (“The sea is calm tonight…”). After finishing the work on his degree, he worked in a warehouse, sandblasted a building, worked as a telephone Santa, worked at a college bookstore (and later managed one), acted in children’s theatre, sold housewares and furniture and worked as a paralegal. In 1983, he started law school at night, and was admitted to the legion of the damned (c.f., P.C. Wren) in New York in 1988 (it’s surprising how some of the analytical skills one applies to literature can be applied to law, not to mention how the Pre-Raphaelites and Arthurian legends can be worked into a conversation after hours). He practiced in the area of negligence defense (jobs in First Amendment and copyright law being rather scarce then and now) until 2000. He then took about a year-and-a half-off (with some impetus from his wife’s sage and elegant advice, “Quit the f______ job”), intending to do some writing. With the exception of a small book for his granddaughter, that didn’t gel. However, he did do some pro bono legal work with his wife on a toxic tort case on “The Rez” and got to meet some unique people and see some places that he never dreamed he’d see. He now does “contract attorney” work in the securities and antitrust areas. He met his wife, Pat, in the 1980’s and they got married in 1990. He has three stepdaughters (an ugly and inaccurate term if there ever was one) and two preternaturally interesting and enjoyable grandchildren. Tim and Pat lived in Manhasset, NY until 2007, when they moved to northeastern Connecticut. They both work as lawyers (electronically and contentedly) from their house in the woods. One of these years (assuming that the garden looks decent), he will finish reading Moby Dick (and will again try to learn Irish).
Bill Rozanski, (B.A., 1973) as an English & Philosophy Major. Bill had a succession of jobs with an employment agency and two executive search firms before enrolling in the Suffolk Law School Evening Program. During Law School, he worked for an insurance company in personnel. After graduating from Suffolk Law School in 1981, Bill relocated to Southern New Jersey where he has been practicing law, primarily criminal law, land use and real estate. Bill is the former President of the Gloucester County Bar Association and currently holds public positions as the Solicitor of the Borough of Pitman and Solicitor of the Gloucester County Improvement Authority. The greatest teacher he ever had was Prof. John Mahoney. Critical reading and writing skills that he learned at BC are tools that he uses every day.
Caitrin L. Dunphy, (B.A., 1998) Caitrin graduated as a double major in English and Communications in 1998 and moved to Los Angeles and then New York City. She worked a total of 4.5 years in advertising—primarily as an account planner who conducted qualitative and quantitative research with the purpose of strengthening advertising messaging and strategy. Three years ago Caitrin moved back to Boston and is currently a Assistant Director for the Boston College Fund. She is also pursuing her MA in Higher Education Administration with the Lynch School. As she sees it, she is still in advertising, but now her brand is Boston College! Caitrin loves being back at BC, and is confident that her training as an English major prepared her well for every job she's held since graduating. The many classes that she took with Mary Crane were my most-memorable and valuable.
Michael A. Ellis, (B.A., 1982) Since graduating from Boston College in 1982 with a double major in English and Speech Communications, Michael Ellis has worked in the communications field, first as a news reporter, then a sales representative for a national radio firm, and then as a manager and morning broadcaster for MetroNetworks, providing weather reports for between 30 and 40 different radio stations from Portsmouth, NH to Louisville, KY. In 1995, Michael entered graduate school and earned, in 1997, a Masters's of Social Work Degree from Boston University. Since 1998, Michael has worked for Boston University School of Social Work, serving as training specialist, curriculum designer, research associate, and organizational development specialist.
Lou Sorrentino (B.A., 1976) MAT in Secondary English (1983). Lou has been high school English teacher for the past 18 years and had the good fortune to have taught a variety of different types of courses that he developed (the short story, the literature of war, philosophy, etc) . He taught a college level composition course for 15 years and for the past 4 years have taught junior Advanced Placement (Language and Composition) and a college accredited senior honors British Literature course. He has also taught a year-long science fiction elective for the past 9 years. He was an editor at "Merlyn's Pen, the National Magazine of Student Writing" for 8 years. He has also been the recipient of two NEH Fellowships (one in Nietzsche and one in Aristotle) and has published in a number of national periodicals, am an inveterate bibliophile, and hope to study Yeats in Ireland this summer ('06).
Kathleen Dunley ('02) Since graduating in 2002 Kathleen kept busy working on her PhD at the University of Colorado at Boulder and will be ABD this spring. She taught literature and composition at CU, as well as a variety of English courses at Red Rocks Community College. In the 2004-2005 academic year, Kathleen received the CU-Boulder Provost's Fellowship for Teaching with Technology that enabled her to begin building a web resource guide for professors using visual rhetoric in their classrooms (http://visualrhetoricresources.info). Recently, she has received a full time position as a professor of English at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, AZ.
Jonathan Farina ('02) is Assistant Professor of English at Seton Hall University, where he teaches courses on nineteenth-century British literature and culture. He has taught English at Vanderbilt University and New York University, where he earned his Ph.D. in 2008. Much of this he owes to BC English, which gave him wonderful things to read, taught him how to write, wrote on his behalf, and most of all modelled the best of professions. The irreproachable architecture of Carney Hall and afternoons of reading well-jammed in booths of the Eagle's Nest still haunt him.
Timothy Haskins ('83) For the past twenty years, Timothy has been teaching high school and middle school English at Groveton High School in northern NH. His students have benefitted from material he first covered at B.C. with the likes of Paul Lewis, Kristen Morrison, and Richard Schrader from the English dept., and P.J. Kreeft from the theology dept. He is also active in coaching at Groveton; where his teams have taken state titles in softball ('89) and girls soccer (2004).
Anne Marie Borrego ('98) currently writes for the Chronicle of Higher Education on a range of issues. Though she admits she is "not necessarily quoting Milton or Morrison in [her] daily work," she finds that the analytical and organizational skills she honed as an English major serve her well as she writes for university administrators and faculty, who are, some "very close readers."
Wendy Prygoda (A&S 1998) is an editor at LIMRA International, a financial services marketing research company in Connecticut. She is also a part-time graduate student at the University of Hartford, pursuing a master's in Communication. She recalls the enjoyable "challenge" of her English courses at BC and "can't imagine where [she'd] be without" them.
Kim (Annick) Mitchell ('93) went on to a career in advertising at N.W. Ayer & Partners, NY where she works on accounts from Thermasilk Shampoo to Folgers Coffee. She claims her English major serves her well in both the written and oral communication her clients demand daily. She also enjoys leading pro bono accounts, such as Dress for Success, which provides business suits for needy women seeking professional employment. Mitchell took her family to visit Hatch Hall, the dormitory where she stayed while studying with the Abbey Theatre program and was surprised to find the BC 2000 class there.
Sarah MacKay Nunnery graduated in 1994 with an English major that was inspired by her first English core class. She went on to earn an MA in higher education administration from BC in 1996 and is currently the Associate Director of Admissions at Emerson College, where she meets "wonderfully creative and talented students every day."
Justin Chura graduated as an English major in 1996, which gave him a unique background for medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. He notes that, though his lack of extensive background in the sciences made his early coursework more challenging, his English major helped prepare him for the work of patient care. As Justin puts it, "Medical histories are stories the physician needs to interpret. Everyday that I care for patients, I use the critical skills I developed as an English major at Boston College."
Shawn Cassedy Perkins (A&S 1995) is currently an Account Manager with Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising in New York. She claims that the oral argument and critical writing skills she learned as an English major have served her well in a position that requires constant communication between the different viewpoints of clients, the creative team and strategic planners.
Amy Woodbury (A&S 2001) currently works as an editorial assistant in the children's book division of Harper Collins. She works with authors and illustrators from picture books to young adult fiction, including Newbery Honor Winners (Bruce Brooks and Gail Carson Levine), the "Little House" series, and most recently, Joyce Carol Oates on her upcoming YA novel. Though Woodbury loves her work in publishing, she hopes to enter a PhD program and go on to a career in college teaching.
Anthony Gabriele ('98) graduated with an English/Ed. major and currently teaches 7th and 8th grade English outside Philadelphia. He runs a monthly "coffee house" for his students, similar to those he attended at BC. He also runs peer editing workshops and uses revision strategies based on the First Year Writing Seminar.
Bill Yetman ('72) transferred from the Passionist Fathers Seminary mid-semester to become a BC English major in 1967. After graduation, he went on to the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA where he trained as a Special Agent. After more than thirty years with the Bureau, Yetman now works independently as a private investigator.