Hometown: New Milford, Conn.
Major: Professional Writing - Creative Writing Option
MINOR: Conflict Resolution
WCSU Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Writing
Internships: Represented the CT Review at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs meetings in 2009 and 2010
Activities: Black & White (co-editor in chief, one year; senior editor, one year), National Society of Collegiate Scholars, English Society, German Studies Center (summer assistant, professor one year), Writing Lab tutor, Tutoring Resource Center tutor
Honors and Awards: 4.0 GPA, Dean's List every semester, Alumni Award, President's Award, Barnard Award, WCSU Merit Scholarship, Jason & Ellen Hancock Memorial Scholarship, Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Society, Louise Kolb Excellence in Tutoring Award, Associate Honors Student, CT State General Assembly Citation for Academic Achievement, National Dean's List
A lot has transpired since David Strout first applied to WestConn and was only offered a probationary semester due to a less-than-stellar high school record. Now, as he prepares to graduate with a 4.0 GPA, Strout knows his story is often told around campus as a testament to perseverance and pure determination.
Strout says he ended up here because "WestConn was nearby, affordable and an achievement in itself (I was initially rejected)." He stayed here, he says, for "perhaps more compelling reasons. "WestConn's financial aid has been a tremendous help, one without which I could not have attended. The WestConn faculty is a teaching faculty. I once walked into Jack Sikora's office to ask for a grade on a test, thinking I'd be quick and not bother him. He unfurled a smile like a cat stretches, a smile broader than Santa's, and in the giver's same jolly tone invited me to sit down and chat with him. This anecdote has proven the rule, rather than the exception, of WestConn's faculty, their availability, and their desire to engage students. Finally, the experience would not have been the same without the amazing group of students who make up the campus literary publication, Black & White."
Strout decided to major in writing "because it was the convergence of all my interests: philosophy, law, history, journalism, storytelling, poetry... all at once. One can take part in all these areas, incorporate them into one's writing, branch out (with a graduate degree), and, perhaps, leave the world a little more interesting — and even a little better. Writing is the philosophical treatment of the history of the world, its politics, and the human condition; is there a more ambitious discipline?"
Professor Julie Stern and Dr. Edward Hagan were significant role models during his time at WestConn, Strout says. "A list of their contributions (both to my development and the university community) would exhaust an entire field of kittens. Julie's enthusiasm for teaching, her love for the humanities, her compassion for her students and for the needy, as well as her redwood-bound appreciation for education, political awareness and critical thinking are essential components to a useful college education. Dr. Hagan's enthusiasm for teaching, his capacity for awe, humor, indignation, critical thinking, compassion, and especially his willingness to provoke, be it with humor, with spite, with laughter, with hearth wisdom, with playfulness, or with the devil's own advocacy — to challenge the unchallengeable and to say 'bad opinions are not worth having' — are qualities I would hope to emulate if I were ever to become a professor. As many of the faculty did, these two professors challenged me routinely to become a better writer (and a better thinker). Dr. Ryan is easily the best boss I ever worked for. Dr. Baubles is an avatar of the lost art of grammar. Dr. Averell Manes and Professor James Lomuscio are vibrantly and infectiously bold fans of their respective disciplines, and they strongly influenced my appreciation of politics and journalism. I could go on through my transcript; nearly every professor provided guidance and provocation to learn more in all the disciplines in which I studied."
Asked what he will remember most about his WestConn experience, Strout says, "I can't pick one, but isn't that a good thing? There was a tremendous rush when I received several awards, particularly the Merit and Hancock Scholarships that saved my academic career, the President's, Barnard, and Connecticut General Assembly honors that crowned it, and the hundreds of hours of work with the Black & White staff that produced two years of journals (during my time with them) were all very memorable. The AWP conferences with Black & White (in Denver and Chicago) were tremendous experiences as well.”
After graduation, Strout says he hopes to land as high as the New York Times. "If I don't work there when I graduate, I'd like to either travel with the JET or another study-abroad program or scholarship. Graduate school is something I'm sure I'll do, if not immediately, perhaps in the next few years."
Strout’s advice to new students entering WCSU is: “For incoming freshmen, I would say take working seriously now while you can still make mistakes. Join clubs until you find one that sticks for you; don't stop being whatever you hope to be when you leave a classroom. Figure out if you're the sort of person who needs to love what you do — if you are, you'd better make sure you find that job and do it. Above all, if you have a dream to build something, your biggest obstacle may be yourself. Perhaps unique to the college life, it is astoundingly easy to take a great idea, or a valuable mistake, and run with it as far as you can — but you have to come up with the idea and ask to run with it. Start a club. Make an independent study. Chat with professors as well as peers. Do something absurd. Dye your hair. Try on different outfits.”