John has been on UAB’s campus for seven years. In that time, he received his B.A. in English and is currently finishing his thesis requirement for his MA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. John has focused much of his research on the “outlaw” culture and the study of violence in literature. His poetry thesis focuses on the tensions between the two sides of his family entitled Hell Raisers and the Holy Rollers.

When asked what inspired him to choose UAB for his graduate studies, John explained, “As an undergraduate, the faculty and staff here at UAB, especially in the English Department, were outstanding. They were knowledgeable, caring, and dedicated to making me a better student and a better person. After talking with some of my friends at other universities, I realized how fortunate I was to have such wonderful mentors. I knew that continuing my studies at this university would be a rewarding experience and that I would have the guidance I needed to take my work to the next level.”

Academic awards and honors John has received at UAB have been numerous. He was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta as an undergraduate. As a graduate student, he feels fortunate to be awarded the Gloria Goldstein Howton Scholarship in Creative Writing and the Samuel B. Barker Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies.

John believes his most rewarding experience at UAB would have to be working with the high school students in the Ada Long Creative Writing Program, which is held every summer at UAB. “I have always believed that a good teacher learns as much from his students as they do from him. I definitely feel that this is the case with the Ada Long program.”

John’s two greatest influences at UAB have been Tony Crunk and Dr. William Hutchings. “Tony Crunk has been the biggest influence on my creative writing. He has not only taught me how to be a better writer, he has opened my eyes to why writing is so important. His guidance has been priceless. On the literature side of things, I would definitely say that Dr. William Hutchings has been the biggest influence. He has been pushing me to excel from day one and he is probably one of the most intelligent people I know.”

What’s John’s advice for other graduate students? “Work hard to keep your grades up, but remember that true learning is about more than a GPA. Put your knowledge to use. Participate in events like graduate research day, conferences, etc. In addition, see if you can get involved in your community. It will remind you why you love to do what you do.”

After graduating, John plans to teach for a year while putting together applications for PhD programs and a few law schools. After that, he would like to return to Birmingham and give back to the community that has given so much to him. “There have been a lot of people that have helped me over the years and I want to be in a position to do the same for others. There are a great many talented people living in this city that are waiting for someone to believe in them and give them an opportunity to excel. I hope to be able help some of these individuals get that opportunity.”

John is the recipient of the 2007 Samuel B. Barker Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies at the Master’s Level. For more information about John and the Barker Award, visit the current issue of the Graduate Student Newsletter at http://www.uab.edu/graduate/publications/183-graduate-school-news-and-events.

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