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Cyn Kitchen Fitch, Associate in Arts '98   

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE CARL SANDBURG COLLEGE?

                In 1994, after being a stay-at-home mother for seven years, I began working for Bright Futures in the Partners in Parenting program. PiP was a grant-funded program administered by Carl Sandburg College and one benefit of my employment was that I could take a class tuition-free. With four young children and a husband recovering from surgery for a brain tumor, life was hectic. Taking a creative writing course was my escape. I enrolled in the spring of ’96 and after early success with my work, Dr. John Pazereskis offered me a talent grant to return full-time in the fall in exchange for editing Phizzogs, the literary magazine. After that, I never looked back.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY OF SANDBURG?

                The first time our class met for creative writing is the moment I will always remember. We didn’t normally meet in the theater but that first January night, Dr. Pazereskis instructed us to gather there. The whole class had, maybe, 10 students tops. We were scattered about in silence waiting for our instructor, and then Dr. Pazereskis appeared from backstage and welcomed us. He explained what we were in for that term, and then he commended us for having the courage to show up. He called us brave. He suggested there could among us, for all he knew, be a Pulitzer Prize winner. His faith in us gave me tremendous comfort, and at that moment I knew I was exactly where I wanted to be.

WHAT DID YOU DO AFTER GRADUATING FROM CARL SANDBURG COLLEGE?

                After I graduated from Sandburg in 1998, I transferred to Knox and earned my BA in English/Writing. Upon graduation in 2000, I was hired in Knox College’s Office of Advancement. I departed Knox briefly in 2004 to finish up graduate school while I ran my own coffee shop. After I received my MFA in May of ’05 I did some adjunct teaching at Sandburg, Monmouth and Knox. Then, in 2008, I joined the Knox faculty full time. In 2016, I was awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor of English. All the while I’ve been writing. In 2010, my short story collection, Ten Tongues, was published by MotesBooks of Louisville, KY. Several of my individual pieces of creative nonfiction and poetry appear in literary magazines both in print and online. Recently, one of my poems was nominated by Poetry South for a 2018 Pushcart Prize. Lately, I’ve been shopping my book of poems, Broken Hallelujah, for publication, and I also have a nearly complete novel, Rainy Moon Rising, that I hope to finish and get out into the world.

DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR CURRENT STUDENTS OR FELLOW CARL SANDBURG COLLEGE ALUMNI?

                I tell my students to stay curious. If they can train themselves to pay attention to the world and to foster their curiosity while they keep reading and writing, then at some point a mysterious transformation begins to happen. Their writing will take off in ways they might never have been able to predict. Persistence is required in the face of rejection, but for those who stick with it, there might one day be a pretty sweet payoff, or like Dr. Pazereskis mused, maybe a Pulitzer Prize.