Knox alumna Mrinalini Chakraborty '12, national field coordinator for the Women’s March, was recently intervi...
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Galesburg, IL 61401-4999
Author and Educator, Loyola University in Maryland
Major in English Literature
How has your Knox experience had an impact on your career?
Knox certainly introduced me to the idea of writing and doing so seriously. It also gave me the confidence and ambition to attempt writing in the first place. Much of this had to do with teachers as well as the other students -- everyone was very good at writing and they were also supportive. Everyone was serious and truthful with each other. At Knox, we learned how to talk about fiction, and we learned to give and take constructive criticism. Most importantly, though, we learned that this was our own art, and we had a duty to pursue it for ourselves.
Describe a memorable class, experience, or professor and the impact on you.
I had lots of fantastic teachers at Knox. I remember amazing discussions in Lori Schroeder's classes, where we really read Shakespeare carefully for the first time. I remember Professor Rob Smith introducing us to writers I still think of as favorites: Poe, Whitman, Hawthorne, and Hemingway. Most of all I remember those evening fiction workshops with Robin Metz. They would start at 7:30 and routinely end around 12:30 or 1.
What surprised you about Knox?
When I look back, I am surprised by how much I learned there. By the time I was a junior and senior, we were basically doing the work of a graduate class. Mostly, though, I was surprised by how amazing the other writers were and how much agency the teachers gave us to produce and improve at whatever we chose to pursue. The teachers were tireless in giving me the guidance I needed; they kept their office doors open; they invited us over to their houses. Most of all they treated us like equals, which is still what I try to do as a teacher.
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