When I was a junior in high school, my boyfriend made the decision to enter in our State's NJ STARS program and do two years at our local community college before going on to a college or university. Dimwitted and naive as I was, I looked down on this choice of his, for not wanting to aim higher and reach his potential I knew he could. I thought to myself, that when that next year came for me, I would definitely be going to a college or university.
Well, that time came. I no longer had a boyfriend (I wonder why) and it was time for me to decide what to do after high school. I had gotten into a couple universities in addition to also qualifying for the same NJ STARS program. Being a little less dimwitted and naive , and a little bit smarter, I chose to do the program and stay behind at home instead of travelling to a college. To be perfectly honest, I was scared and not ready to go away to a college just yet...
To say the least, I was still naive and dimwitted. I thought community college was going to be easy. Granted, it was my first "collegiate" classes, but man, I thought, how hard could it be?
I first met professor Brian Bradford during my first semester at this college, and he taught me not only English but what teaching had the power to be. He got through to us. As if I didn't already love to write and read enough already, he made it 10 times more enjoyable. He made it so enjoyable, that he made me feel like it was actually possible for me to pursue creative writing as a career. Prior, I thought it was just something in my past that I did in the fifth grade but I could never actually pursue. So, the next semester I took his creative writing workshop. My writing needed a lot of work, but had a lot of potential. My grammar was and still is, a major weakness of mine. My strength was writing dialogue. In this class I got to learn about famous writers and their unique styles, how to better my writing and also performed the art of critiquing other's writing as well.
I then was offered the chance to be a part of a brand new and very advanced creative writing class, with what I thought were the "big-time" writers of the school that I had heard of. There was only about eight of us. Also, the class was also going to be "Advanced Poetry" in addition to creative writing. Normally, in order to get into this class you would have needed to complete the prerequisite of the Beginners Poetry workshop. Not only had I not completed that, but I had never met the famous teacher, and I knew that my poetry was definitely something that needed a lot of help. But Professor Bradford had faith in me that I would still do very well in the advanced course regardless. To say the least, I was extremely nervous.
It was a lot of hard, but rewarding work. The workshop was taught by both Professor Bradford and BJ Ward, the man featured in the article above. Upon entering the course, Professor Ward took me under his wing and gave me one-on-one lessons on bringing my poetry up to an acceptable standard. To say he helped me with grammar would be an extreme understatement. With his help, I was suddenly popping out poetry left and right that was significantly better than I ever thought I could do. During that same time, I was writing many short stories with Bradford's portion of the class. I was also inspired by all of this to work on my novel's at home, as well.
I was so happy. I was surrounded not only by my writing every where, and my characters and plot lines, but every week I got the utmost privilege of going to this class with these amazing writers and professors. We got to know each other, we got to know and effectively critique each other's work, we all became friends. It was magical.
I can honestly say that because of Brian Bradford and BJ Ward, going to my community college changed my life forever. I was happier there as opposed to my current college, I was happier with what I was doing. I can not imagine having not attended this college. Although the article is not written about Bradford, (he is mentioned), Bradford has many other achievements and accomplishments, but totally deserves an article as well. A blog will have to do, for now.
Community college was not easy. These professors were not easy.
They were amazing.
If either of you ever stumble upon this, Thank you, for an amazing education that I will never forget.
- A (Creative) Writer in a Nurse's Body (or as they know me, "Jules")
|BJ Ward was recognized as a poet on the rise by The New York Times. (Photo by Nancy Wegard) |