Writing a new normal

Undergraduate student breaks tradional mold

By Kaitlin Trujillo
On April 27, 2018

Contributed photo

 

Historically, most college students walk the graduation stage around the age of twenty-two. 

One the students participating in the May 12 graduation, Bonnie Kennedy, will receive her diploma at the age of sixty-one.

Kennedy is an English major with a creative writing specialization and an art minor. 

“I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I actually started an English degree about forty years ago,” Kennedy said. “My first husband and I had just divorced, and I found myself as a single mom with two kids.  Things got pretty rough, and I ended up dropping out with a promise to myself that I would go back to school some day to finish.” 

Kennedy spent the next years occasionally taking correspondence courses and going on writing retreats. 

“I even created and developed a creative writing workshop for children called Painting with Words: The Creative Writing/Creative Thinking Workshop, which I taught through the Texas Commission on the Arts Arts-in-Education Program for about ten years,” Kennedy said. “Schools ran into a money crunch in the nineties, and the literary workshop opportunities dried up.”

Kennedy’s love of writing was a constant theme in her life.

“I remarried and had my youngest daughter, Jamie,” Kennedy said. “Her dad was a  drummer, so I got into writing songs for a while, but when we divorced, I had to go to work, and the writing and dreams all got put in a box and shoved under the bed. In 2013, I lost my job of eight years, and Jamie was getting ready to graduate from ASU that December. I just decided that someday had finally arrived, so I applied to the college and for financial aid and started in January of 2014.  It seems like such a long time ago!”

Kennedy said she has loved her time at ASU and will begin the MFA English program here in the fall. 

“I’ve made some good friends both with the students and with professors,” Kennedy said. “It makes me feel young to be in class with these young people; they’re amazing. And I really appreciate the fact that they’ve accepted me; I don’t feel the age difference much at all, unless we have to do something physically strenuous. Then I feel it. I am reminded from time to time that I’m not twenty years old anymore and haven’t been for quite a few years.”

Through her time at ASU, Kennedy has been involved with Sigma Tau Delta as president and Tau Sigma, Alpha Chi and Phi Kappa Phi as member.  In 2016 she won the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers undergraduate poetry award.

“I was honored to have the opportunity to read my work at the ASU Writers’ Conference in 2017, and I’ve published thirteen original poems in nine different professional literary journals so far,” Kennedy said. “So I have to say that my time here has been truly successful. I have achieved my goals and realized my dreams in ways I never imagined!”

Kennedy is especially thankful to the professors who have played a role in her education.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed every class I have taken, and the professors have all been so good to me,” Kennedy said. “One of my goals when I started back to school was to find my writing “mojo” again, and develop my knowledge of literature and my writing skills. I’ve had creative classes with Dr. Musgrove, Dr. Dalrymple, and Dr. Gates. I plan to pick Dr. Ellery’s brain in grad school. Dr. Jackson, who is the sponsor for SigTD, and Dr. Kornasky are both wonderful teachers of literature. I have learned so much. I am especially grateful to Dr. Julie Gates, who took me under her wing and mentored me in an independent creative research project. She taught me the finer points of writing poetry and how to submit my work for publication. She continues to mentor and support me in my writing aspirations.”

Kennedy is excited for life post-undergraduate.

“One thing I’ve realized is it’s not too late for me to have a career—good Lord willing, I still have a good number of years left,” Kennedy said. “I would like to get into some freelance writing and editing, and of course continue my own personal goals in writing.  I think there’s a good possibility that after I get my Master’s, I could teach lower-level English at the college level, and maybe one day even be able to get a Master of Fine Arts degree and teach creative writing.  I don’t know what the future holds for me, except I know it holds possibilities, and that’s a great thing to look forward to at my age!”

 

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