Chinelo OkparantaDuring my time at Rutgers, I was enrolled in the graduate program in English, where I worked with faculty members such as J.T. Barbarese, Lisa Zeidner, Tim Martin, Richard Epstein, and Tyler Hoffman. All of these faculty members were essential in guiding me on the road to success. They worked with me, not only in class, but independently, on a one-on-one basis. They were more than generous with their time.

Rutgers-Camden was also the perfect setting for me because it offered (and continues to offer) quite a few opportunities for students interested in creative writing. It was at Rutgers-Camden that I attended my first creative writing workshop, and it was there that I attended my first writers’ conference. All these experiences benefited me, which is to say that the progress I made there led me to where I am today.

Outside of my academic program, I worked at the Learning Resource Center as a French and Spanish tutor. I also worked as an RA and programs coordinator for the Residence Life Office. These jobs helped me to fund my education at Rutgers-Camden. Furthermore, budgeting my time between my curricular and non-curricular work helped to instill in me the discipline and organizational skills that I needed to succeed academically.

Currently, I serve as a professor of creative writing at the University of Iowa. Among other honors, I am the Provost Visiting Writer for Fiction at Iowa. I do not believe that I would be where I am without my experiences at Rutgers-Camden. With its writers’ workshops and conferences, as well as its notable and generous faculty in English and Creative Writing, Rutgers-Camden was indeed very vital to my development into the writer that I am today.

About Chinelo Okparanta

Hometown: Port Harcourt, Nigeria/Edison, NJ

Graduate Program: English

Graduate School-Camden Graduation Date: 2006

Ms. Okparanta is a recipient of the Lansbury Graduate Award for Academic Excellence. Her most recent publications include “America” and “Runs Girl,” featured in GRANTA.