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Student Spotlight May 2012

“Mark Williams has distinguished himself as graduate student at UofL almost from the start of his time here. Not only did he win the English Department's highest creative writing award for a graduate student, the Sarah-Jean McDowell, he is also the current winner of the most recent Metroversity Award for a Graduate Student in Poetry. If you've read to this point, let me tell you what's remarkable. . .Mark is a Ph.D. student in Rhetoric and Composition. Creative Writing is a second field. Mark is about to embark on completing his dissertation in his primary field.”

-Professor Brian Leung, Department of English


Mark Williams



Mark Williams received a B.A. in Communications from Wheaton College and an M.A. in English Education from Appalachian State University. Mark is currently a Ph.D. student in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Louisville where his research focuses on communication across religious differences.






Specific areas of research (how you chose this research, why it interested you):
In my research, I’m looking to find out how religious and non-religious individuals, or individuals from two different religious backgrounds, can do a better of job of listening to one another. Particularly, I’m examining how this might work in a college setting. I’m interested in this topic because in America and across the world, failures to handle religious differences are resulting in catastrophe. Better solutions are needed.

Awards, honors, publications:
In the past year or so, I’ve published poems in the Tulane Review, Stirring: A Literary Magazine, and The Honeyland Review. I’ve also received an Honorable Mention for the Sara Jean McDowell Graduate Poetry Award at UofL, and won First Place in the Kentuckiana Metroversity Graduate Poetry division.

Long term goals/ aspirations:
I want to write a lot of poetry, and I want to keep working on the problem of communication and religious difference. Those both seem like projects that could consume a career.

How would you describe your area of study/ specific research to your grandmother?
People (including my grandmother) ask me all the time what “Rhetoric and Composition” is. I say, if it has to do with writing, that’s us.

What accomplishment, academic or otherwise, are you most proud of?
I think I’m most proud that my parents, brothers, sisters and I are still an incredibly close-knit group—an accomplishment for which I can claim (at most) 1/7th of the credit.

What was your favorite part of the graduate school experience?
I think grad school is great because it assures you (sometimes for the first time) that you’re not as strange and idiosyncratic as you thought you were. In fact, there turn out to be a lot of professors and fellow students who “get” you.

What do you feel is the greatest challenge that graduate students face and how have you dealt with this challenge?
Figuring out how to be healthy—physically, emotionally, relationally—while working under years and years of constant high stress. It takes a toll. So I have made a point of committing myself to maintaining a few close friendships; to participating in teams and organizations outside the university; to keeping a workout regimen; to borrowing money so that I eat well and can take trips and get some distance; and to constantly reminding myself that graduate school isn’t that important in the grand scheme.

Fun Facts

A talent you have always wanted: I’ve always wanted to be a movie star. So “acting,” if that’s what we’re saying Robert Pattinson really does.
Favorite book: Marie Howe, What the Living Do.

Favorite quote:
 "We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are" (Anais Nin).
Role Model: Emory Griffin, my Communications professor at Wheaton College. A good, good man and teacher who also built airplanes, owned an island in Lake Michigan, and wrote wonderful books.
Pet Peeve: People who line up too quickly in construction zones.

If you weren’t in graduate school, what would you be doing now? Making enough money that I wouldn’t have to split the check with my dates.
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