Matt McKinney, Knox Class of 2013, is part of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize-winning team at the Pittsburgh Post-Gaz...
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Associate Professor of English, Poet, and Author, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Major in French
How did your Knox experience affect the course of your life?
I have enduring friendships that began at Knox, whether with my classmates or teachers who became my colleagues, like Robin Metz, Philip Sidney Post Professor of English at Knox. Knox was the place that I began to really take myself seriously as a thinker -- not only as a writer, as a creative person, but as a thinker. I got a lot of confidence, but also I was challenged there, and I know I grew. Where I am now has everything to do with Knox. Certainly, being in a community there with young people who were amazing artists and amazing thinkers and had all kinds of projects that they wanted to pursue, that was infectious. It did light something within me.
Describe a memorable Knox class, experience, or professor, and the impact on you.
Near the top of the list would be my experience in the study abroad program and living in Besancon for a school year. That was the biggest decision of my life at that point. It was such a big leap for me. I'm very close with my parents and my sisters, and the thought of being away -- away and unreachable, physically, for that school year -- was a daunting notion. But I really wanted it. I think I knew that it was going to change me, and it did. It gave me a different sense of who I was as an African-American, as an American. It gave me a different appreciation of language, of literature. It was life-changing. I don't think I can do it justice in trying to explain it.