First appeared in NCTE Council Chronicle in March 2006
Although novelist Bebe Moore Campbell started out as a teacher, she always knew she would end up as a writer.
That knowledge was about all she had to sustain herself in the beginning. She struggled for five years in the wilderness of rejection letters before her first short story was accepted. The Shopping Trip, a story about a mother who shopped at three different grocery stores in order to make ends meet, was published in 1976 by Essence magazine.
First appeared in National Council of Teachers of English Chronicle in November 2005
Frank McCourt has become rich writing about being grindingly poor. Arriving in America as a teen, having survived a harrowing, poverty-stricken childhood in Ireland, McCourt, who never went to high school, enrolled in college to become a teacher. Many people will be familiar with at least part of his story, told so movingly in his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, Angela’s Ashes (1996) and his second memoir, ‘Tis (1999).
When Mindy Conover Meads ‘74 ACES looks at a shirt, she’s probably not thinking about how it will look on her but how it will look on you.
That’s because Meads, recent president and CEO of the clothing chain Lands’ End, has spent her entire career in the retail clothing industry. Starting out as a 16-year old store clerk, at her latest post she ran a company earning $1.6 billion a year in revenue.
It is a late September afternoon. Eighteen-year-old Johniesha Deberry is in labor. Her child wasn’t growing as expected, so birth is being induced. A fine-boned woman, with beautiful clear, black skin, Deberry wears a well-worn hospital gown. Her black hair, tinged with red, is tied in a high ponytail with a bright plastic hair elastic. She looks tiny and scared.
First appeared in Illinois Alumni magazine in March 2003
Barry Bearak, MS ‘75 COM, doesn’t like to talk about himself.
“It makes me self-conscious,” he said. “I get flustered.”
On the other hand, he is very good at telling other people’s stories. Bearak, a New York Times staff writer who received the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting for his coverage of the devastation of Afghanistan, has been telling other people’s stories for close to 30 years.