I had the honor of speaking at the 2017 Shapiro Awards Gala at the University of Toledo, my alma mater. The gala is held annually, serving as an awards ceremony for both the Shapiro writing contest as well as the English department’s awards for student achievements across many categories.
When the department approached me about speaking, they asked me to talk about how writing and literacy have influenced my personal and professional life. As a born-and-raised Toledoan — like many UT students — who transplanted elsewhere in the US for work, I tried to think about what I needed to hear when I was an undergrad, and what advice I could give students who might be worried or discouraged about the future.
Below are my written notes from the original script I wrote in preparation for the Shapiro Awards. Some of my eventual additions are included in brackets.