“What I absolutely love about Randolph is that if you want to go the full mile, your professors will meet you and take
you there.” – Grace Gardiner ’15
Senior heads to graduate school as a published author
It was a poem Grace Gardiner ’15 one of my professors was exciting.” major, believes her achievements
tried very hard not to write. But she needed to submit a piece for her writing class, and what emerged was a poem, “Barefoot in Virginia Blue Ridge,” about a recent bad breakup.
Her professor, Gary Dop, challenged Gardiner to embrace the topic without cliché. “I didn’t want it to be a break-up poem,” Gardiner remembered. “Professor Dop really helped me craft it into something that distanced it from my memory.”
She submitted it to burntdistrict, a national publication, as part of the requirements for the writing class. And in April 2014 Gardiner— only a junior at the time— became a published poet. Adding to the feeling of accomplishment was learning that a retired Randolph English professor, James Peterson, was also featured in the publication.
“It was indescribable,” Gardiner said. “It’s been good for grad schools to see that I’ve already been published. And to see that I was published in the same publication as Having a poem published was just one more feather in Gardiner’s hat. She recently was selected to present her work at Sigma Tau Delta’s International English Honor Society Convention. Sigma Tau Delta is the largest English honor society in the world. In addition, the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis presented plays by both Gardiner and Dop this spring.
“My work was seen as serious creative vision, and that was important,” Gardiner said. “It made me feel like I was putting in hard work that mattered and wasn’t just fooling myself.”
Gardiner credits her professors for giving her an added push— and the confidence to pursue her dreams. “What I absolutely love about Randolph is that if you want to go the full mile, your professors will meet you and take you there.”
Gardiner, who earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Randolph and was an English were made possible in part because of professors who took a personal interest in her. “It’s like they never stop working for you,” she said. “There’s so much one-on-one attention, and they will engage with whatever questions are being brought up in class, even if it is not in the syllabus. That’s what leads to the meat of learning. Their ability to adapt and make it a richer experience has been amazing.”
Gardiner will head off to UNC Greensboro’s MFA program in poetry in the fall, though she is still considering her future career plans and whether to teach at the university level or go into publishing. She hopes to one day publish a book of poems.
“Randolph has whet my appetite for what’s to come,” she said. “People here saw my potential. To have someone recognize that and want to support you and work with you, that’s the best thing that can happen to you.”