I'm smiling in this photograph for two very wonderful reasons:
- I'm eating pasta.
- I just signed my contract with Lamar University to join their English department in the Fall 2017 semester as an Assistant Professor and Editor-in-Chief of Lamar University Press!
Words can't even express how grateful I am for such an opportunity. But since this is a writing blog, I'll give it a try :)
This position is pretty much my dream job. I really can't imagine a better place to work, a better team to join, or a better job to do. I will be working half-time with the English department teaching poetry, creative writing, and whatever else they need. My other responsibility includes helping with the press, learning the ropes, and eventually taking over as the director. It's a tenure-track position, which, if you know academia, the arts and humanities in particular, English especially, even more so creative writing, and specifically poetry... well, you get the point. When I told current Chair the news, he gave me the warmest hug and told me, "Katie, this is one of those once in a lifetime offers. Go!" And he's not exaggerating.
I will be working with some amazing folks whom I admire greatly. The members of the department have welcomed me and treated me with such kindness, too. I feel like I'm joining a family, and I know it won't be long before I call this new place home.
I am incredibly fortunate. I know this.
The only downside, of course, is having to leave the Rio Grande Valley. UT-RGV has truly become my home. I've been there my entire adult life, and no, this is no exaggeration. I was an undergraduate student. I was graduate student. I was a staff adviser. I've been faculty. I've been a part of this campus community since I was seventeen years old. It's hard to leave but I know it's for the best. And so I'll leave this Eden to create another for myself.
The future looks amazingly bright. When I first started this blog, I was a cute little M.F.A student wondering if I was a "real" poet or not. I've come a long way, though none of this would have been possible without the help of my amazing mentors who have helped me and encouraged me every step of the way. I want to particularly thank four of them who've been especially instrumental to my development as a writer and as an academic: Diana Dominguez, a senior colleague who's shown me what it takes to be a successful, strong woman in academia, Steve Schneider, my former thesis adviser who's become a great friend, Jan Seale, my poetry mama, and Jerry Craven, my former publisher and perpetual source of wisdom, support and encouragement.
No one does this alone. And I will keep that at the forefront of my mind as I journey into this next phase of my career in academia and the literary community. My goal is to one day be able to return the enormous kindness these and countless others have shown me over the years, the people who have helped me find, shape, and hone my voice. It's an enormous debt and one I will spend a lifetime trying to repay.