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Releasing to the Public: My Plea to President Gee and Provost Reed

I wrote this for the WVU English Department. I have kept it private and now, it will do better as public knowledge. Please speak up. This "restructuring" is happening everywhere. Fight. If you went to West Virginia University--SPAM! So many programs are on the chopping block.

July 13, 2023

Dear President Gee and Provost Reed,

My name is Kimberly L. Malinowski. I write under the name Kim Malinowski. I am alumna of West Virginia University and graduated with a B.A. in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and History in 2005. I was gifted the opportunity to expand to my fullest potential because of the WVU English Department. I was given every opportunity I could have in preparation for my lifelong passion and ongoing career. When I said that my aim was to win the Nobel Prize, WVU’s faculty never laughed. Every other institution since has. WVU’s English department called my goal “lofty” but not unattainable. They have and continue to do everything to help me achieve my aspirations and nothing is left off of the table. I earned my M.F.A. from American University, but I have none of the same contacts or relationships. They severed ties from me when I graduated. WVU’s English department’s faculty and staff still reach out and we have created lasting friendships and mentorships. My career could not be what it is without their preparation.

I was the Sigma Tau Delta president, the English Club president, an intern at the West Virginia University Press where I professionally published four articles in the African American National Biography Project, the Editor of Calliope, the University Literary Magazine, and my English 101 paper was taught as an example in the curriculum for several years after my graduation. If there was an English Department activity, I was connected to it in some way. I was accepted into two M.F.A. programs after applying to nine. I was warned that one acceptance would most likely be impossible and two acceptances meant that the faculty helped me become a worthwhile candidate. I was fortunate to learn from many gifted writers and better, many gifted teachers of writing. I have found that writers are not the best teachers. The trope that you master the activity, or you teach is false. You master craft when you can teach others the skill and have them equal or surpass you. I learned how to teach as much as I learned how to write at WVU, not at American University or with The Writers Studio or any of the hundreds of workshops that I have taken. I found faculty that I wanted to and do emulate at WVU and very few other places. There is no need to put hundreds of corrections in red pen when you want someone to open themselves and relax into writing or understanding literature. Being open and honest with feedback is important but presenting it in a nonthreatening way is crucial not only to teach the subject but also so that the student can enjoy the process of learning. Ideally, this creates a cycle. My professors taught me that my writing mattered and that I, as a person, mattered as well. In turn, I teach and mentor students of all ages and hope that they pass on my passion for words and self-acceptance to someone else.

I graduated in 2005 and around 2008 I lost my ability to read and write because of a medication that permanently damaged my brain. It had been less than a year since I earned my M.F.A. from American University. They did not listen or interact with me in any way. During the chaos, and what I perceived as blankness, WVU faculty met with me and spoke to me. I received letters and cards of friendship, not Get Well Soons, that were written with large print in an endeavor to keep me attempting to read. Five years later, reading and writing came back to me. I was gifted a second chance and I was still supported by the WVU English Department. Letters and emails flew more regularly as I asked for advice on how to keep going because my momentum was gone. I was starting my journey over as if I had just graduated. I did not know how many possibilities and places my experiences would take me and are still taking me. I will have six full-length books by April 2024. I have one chapbook. I have over three hundred publications. I teach at The Poetry Salon and have my own writing and editing business with the Terra Nouveau Lyceum. I am on the staff of The Fairy Tale Magazine. I have also begun a new endeavor into archeology. What is most important to understand is that what I learned in English applies to all fields and communication in general. I am now the editor of the Archeological Society of Maryland’s newsletter the ASM Ink. I use the array of tools learned in literature classes to analyze articles and documents as I earn my Certificate of Archeology Technician (C.A.T.). In the lab, I communicate with professional archeologists and have been rapidly learning new terms and writing techniques. It is no accident that I have developed the ability to absorb and understand new ways of thinking. English and the humanities prepared me for anything that would come on my journey. I am certain that I will continue to excel and with help and determination that Nobel Prize is up for grabs.

I implore you to understand the tenants of my story. That I, as a person, and as an established writer, could not exist without the help of the WVU English Department. I have found belonging, fellowship, mentorship, compassion, knowledge, and general wisdom with each and every staff and faculty member. I will never stop being grateful for the connections and friendships that I have made. I understand that English seems like frivolous degree on the surface, but the long-lasting effects are complex. Skills learned in English and Literature take a student into any field and makes them a better candidate for any position they later want to hold. Science is constantly developing but so is literature. Language is rapidly expanding, and grammar is shifting. Being able to speak about politics coherently and make a persuasive argument is critical now. Far more, perhaps, than even when I graduated. The humanities do not teach about sterile subjects. They teach examples, tell you when you can bend and break the rules, and they show you how to go “beyond the beyond” as I put it in much of my writing. “Small things matter” is a rule that I live and define myself by. The WVU English Department created my thriving career. Small acts like giving up lunches to advise me or buying a slice of pizza to help fund Sigma Tau Delta activities created a home for me. I have always felt at home at WVU and West Virginia and I have always envisioned a homecoming where I present my books and accomplishments and show students that they can do it. I am proof that it is possible to achieve and belong.

Small acts matter. With a keystroke the English Department can remain a home for all alumni and future students. Our choices will create society for the next century. I hope that we all choose wisely. We have lofty goals to attain and many places to go.

Be well and safe.


Kim Malinowski


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