Paradise Valley Community College boasts a robust creative writing and women's studies program, complete with certificates and a visiting writer and scholar lecture series, thanks to one professor: Lois Roma-Deeley.
Roma-Deeley "expands students' understanding of what is possible for them as well as the social and economic forces that have shaped their lives," wrote a colleague in her nomination letter. To that end, she holds essay-writing contests and an annual creative writing competition that culminates in the publication of the Paradise Review anthology.
"She also leads students to think well beyond the classroom—to see themselves as citizens of their community, nation and the world," her colleague wrote. Former students have gone on to earn master's and doctoral degrees, and some have even formed their own writing groups.
"The several months I spent in the presence of Lois Roma-Deeley unequivocally transformed my perspectives on literature, education, passion and humanity," wrote a former student. "Through reading, writing and empathetic engagement, she encouraged us to explore our worlds which, in turn, gave us a new perspective on ourselves and others. Rather than living an unexamined life driven by difficult circumstances, we learned that we had the freedom to choose our attitude towards our circumstances and live a life of meaning well worth living. In the process, she created a community of students who took pleasure in encouraging one another and seeing the other succeed."
And even though she has already transformed her campus, Roma-Deeley continues to develop initiatives to improve the student experience-whether that is "writing an opera with her colleague in the music department, bringing in speakers and artists or working on plans for a fine arts center," said an English professor at the University of Wisconsin Waukesha at which Roma-Deeley lectures.
Fulbright Specialist Roster
2010 Samuel T. Coleridge Literary Prize, Benu Press
2004 National Book Award nominee
2005 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards
Distinguished Nominee for Leadership, Innovation and Service Contribution to Women
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