Meet Galesburg High School North's new principal: Knox alumna Mindi Ritchie '99! GHS North is an "alternative...
Major in Creative Writing, Minor in English Literature
Please tell us what you’ve been doing since graduating from Knox.
After graduating, I decided to stay at Knox for another year as a post-baccalaureate fellow. By continuing to work with the Office of Communications, I gained some more experience with photo and video production and social media management. Taking design classes with Professor Tim Stedman has also been a highlight for me this year. Working with him both inside the classroom and on outside projects has really allowed me to explore my interest in design. This year, I was also a marketing and publicity intern for middle-grade author Lindsay Currie '98, and I've done a little bit of design work for Knox County Brewing Company.
Describe your time at Knox and the impact your education has had on your after-Knox life.
I had a rough start at Knox. I didn’t know what I wanted to study or what I wanted to do after. But the good thing that came out of that struggle was that I got to explore so many different fields. I took everything from biology to philosophy to French, before I realized that creative writing was for me. And that, in a nutshell, is why I wanted a liberal arts education. The support and resources that were available to me during my first two years at Knox also really showed me that I could succeed here.
As a creative writing major, I loved taking late-night workshops and working closely with my professors on my craft. Some of my favorite classes were with Professor Cyn Fitch and Professor Nick Regiacorte because our conversations about writing often got me to think more about the world around me and the kind of person I wanted to be. I was always grateful for the small class sizes at Knox because it meant I could really connect with my professors like this.
Having such a supportive writing community at Knox also means that you get to explore literature and creative writing outside the classroom. During my senior year, I got to explore two very different paths that helped me make a decision about life after graduation: editing and communications. I was the fiction editor for Cellar Door, one of our on-campus magazines. Workshopping fiction and talking to my peers about craft in such a comfortable environment really allowed me to apply what I had learned in the classroom to our discussions. I was also able to get my writing published in journals both outside and at Knox, so I got to see both sides of the coin. Working with Lindsay this year took this further as she gave me an insight into the way book marketing works.
At the same time, I was also a student writer for the Office of Communications at Knox. I started out not knowing how to write a news article or use Photoshop. But under the guidance of Cheri Siebken and Adriana Colindres, I really came to love writing stories and interviewing the Knox community. I liked it because it wasn't just news reporting, it was also a mix of public relations and marketing. Being in the office environment also exposed me to what everyone’s job in Communications was. Learning from them and seeing what they did on a daily basis really confirmed to me that this was a field where all my interests intersected. That’s why I stayed on as a post-baccalaureate fellow—so that I could gain some more experience in media production and design.
My background in English literature and creative writing has undoubtedly given me a strong foundation for writing concisely and being bold with my ideas. Stretching boundaries to the limit and bending the rules to see what works best is something that I try to employ in almost everything I create. It has also taught me to not be afraid of criticism. Having workshopped my creative work so many times, I’ve gotten accustomed to it being a part of the process.
Why is Knox important to you?
I was unsure about what I wanted in life, but the people I’ve met at Knox and the experiences I’ve had have really put me on a path. The willingness to help each other out and the feeling of community is very unique to Knox. I’ll always be grateful for my mentors at Knox and the opportunities they gave me.
Anything else you’d like to mention about Knox?
The chance to explore so many different expressions of art—from ceramics and photography to design and creative writing—has been immensely enriching to me. Experiences in those mediums have made clear to me over the years that I am more artistically inclined. I chose advertising because it would allow me to explore two of my biggest interests—design and copywriting. Working in communications & marketing, and taking design classes this year at Knox really helped inform this decision.