Lane students place as semifinalists in Norman Mailer competition
By Bonnie Henderson
A painful memory from adolescence powerfully recast as fiction. A dizzying romance gone terribly wrong. The first-person hallucinations of a dying patient. A bucolic day at the lake that takes a chilling turn.
With these short stories, Lane Community College students Bradley Rockow, 26, and Kaitlyn Worman, 19, were recognized in September as semifinalists in the 2012 Norman Mailer/National Council of Teachers of English College Writing Awards for Fiction in the two-year college division. The two were among 16 semifinalists chosen from among 130 entrants from around the country.
"It's something I love, and I'm planning to make a life of it," Rockow says of writing. It's a pursuit that allows him to marry his eclectic interests, including the sciences; after Lane, he plans to attend university, possibly majoring in biology. Meanwhile he's making the most of the course offerings at Lane and is serving on the editorial board of Denali, the college's literary arts journal.
On paper, Worman is a pre-med major, but that may change. Writing has long been a passion of hers, she says. "The contest gave me the confidence to know I can stand on my own merit as a writer." Meanwhile she's active in the student honor society student Phi Theta Kappa, this year serving as Western District Executive Officer for the Rocky Mountain Cascade Region while carrying a full load of classes and working part-time.
Both students are quick to credit their writing teachers, including Margaret Bayless and Michael McDonald, for their encouragement and guidance. "The teachers are so supportive," Worman says of the college. "They'll always find time to meet with you and help you. It's so refreshing to have professors who seem to genuinely care about what you're doing."
Those same teachers credit the students' own initiative and creativity.
"Lane students always delight me, because they sometimes have no idea how smart they are and how gifted they are," says Bayless, who has spent the last 21 years of her 38-year college teaching career at Lane. "It's such an honor to help them recognize and develop their writing skills."
Even the beginning composition classes at Lane are typically taught by instructors with advanced degrees, many years of teaching experience, and a dedication to fostering student engagement, McDonald says.
"I'm so pleased for these students," he says. "And I'm very proud of our department."