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Owen, left, in red and yellow buttoned shirt, sits next to friend in green button-up with bird print in front of a wooden library table with two stacks of books on each side.
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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Owen Hamlin

Kansas, Illinois

Major in Creative Writing, Minor in English

SPARK mentor uses their experiences to connect with first-year students and help them feel included.

Owen, left, in red and yellow buttoned shirt, sits next to friend in green button-up with bird print in front of a wooden library table with two stacks of books on each side.

As a student who participated in the SPARK (Student Preparation and Readiness for Knox) program, Owen Hamlin decided to become a SPARK mentor, dedicated to ensuring that current and future SPARK students feel as supported as Owen was during their first year. Alongside their creative writing major, Owen used the skills they learned in Beginning Playwriting toward submitting an original play to the New Plays Festival. The festival offers an opportunity for Knox students and alumni playwrights to see their plays performed on stage. 

Where do you see yourself after graduation? How do you see your creative writing major aiding you in your future career goals?

I am going to pursue publishing and editing. I am a creative writing major, and I like to write. I hope to publish my own stuff and be an author. I like editing and helping authors to further their own work, but I also would like to write my own work. 

How did the SPARK program support you as you found your place at Knox?

It helped me integrate myself into the College and make connections during SPARK with faculty and students. I feel that they are still there and we have each other’s backs. I work with Kelly Wallenfelz, who is the head of SPARK and who encouraged me to be a writing tutor. Kelly ignited my interest in the Denver Publishing Institute. That one meeting in SPARK led to what I want to do with the rest of my life. 

What advice do you have for new Knox students and prospective Knox students? 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I was afraid to ask for help and felt alone my first year. Even if professors and staff members seem intimidating, start a conversation with them because the more they know you, the more they can help you out.  For prospective students, introduce yourself when you come visit and say hello to somebody like a professor. When I came back for my second visit, my admission counselor still recognized me. Knox is a place where people will remember you and want to work with you.  

What resources at Knox have you benefited from that you think new students should explore? 

First, the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), which covers most courses. It not only helps academically but also is great for the social aspect and familiarizing yourself with the Knox environment. Working with upperclassmen and starting that relationship early on also helps you feel more comfortable with the environment at school overall. 

Second, counseling services are beneficial. You can talk to counselors about anything, not only mental health. You could visit them when you need help finding balance at school, for example. 

What do you consider special about Knox? 

The community. In high school, I did not stand out despite it being a school of only 100 students. Even with 1,200 people at Knox, I feel like I have a good relationship with professors. I feel more comfortable, trusting others with who I am and who they are. 

Photo above: Owen Hamlin, at left, and Jasmine Lamb, at right, during a tutoring session in the Red Room as part of CTL (Center for Teaching and Learning).

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Printed on Friday, December 1, 2023