Alumni Spotlight: Oliver Brainerd

ACC Alumnus Oliver Brainerd – From the ACC Faculty and Staff Perspective

by Monica Fuglei, Debra Goldberg, Juliet Hubbell, and Josie Mills

FROM PROFESSOR MONICA FUGLEI

ACC Alumnus Oliver Brainerd

ACC Alumnus Oliver Brainerd

It’s been nearly two years since Oliver Brainerd graduated from ACC, but many of his instructors can still remember him fondly. I think my first encounter with Oliver was in a summer Introduction to Creative Writing class, and he quickly became an active presence on campus, taking a wide variety of ACC classes, working with Phi Theta Kappa, and serving in the Student Success Center as a peer tutor. Oliver may have graduated, but in some ways he’s still around: I assign an article he wrote about writing for my Introduction to Composition students to read. He jokes he’s creating a career in reverse: not famous, yet, but being taught in schools. He is currently shopping his novel and continues to write short fiction as well. Recently, he has begun working on a project called Sobremesa. This will be a multimedia publishing engine that includes writing, podcasts, and even videos. Sobremesa is a Spanish word that, roughly translated, means conversation after dinner, and Oliver envisions this project as a curated space that would allow people to take part in larger conversations about academics, culture, or the world at large as well as sharing new creative writing and essays.

Any instructor or student interested in contributing to Sobremesa is welcome to contact Oliver via email or visit the Sobremesa page.

FROM PROFESSOR JOSIE MILLS

A couple weeks before the semester began in the summer of 2012, I got a call from one Oliver Brainerd very politely introducing himself and telling me he would be a student in my English 121 class. Only a few times in the 25 years I’ve been teaching have I received a call of introduction prior to the semester. I pictured Oliver Brainerd as an older man with little round glasses and a bow tie, an upstanding traditionalist who had a special penchant for writing. Only the last part turned out to be the case. Instead, day one of my class in walked Oliver, a friendly young man with hair down to his waist, in no way a conventional guy except in his love of standard English grammar and good writing. Oliver knew his way around a comma like no one else—we would together debate the merits of a parenthetical comma before certain restrictive and non-restrictive phrases. Oliver had great ideas including a plan to bring poetry to local coffee houses. He was a strong writer, an engaging presenter, and a great student. The following semester, Oliver started tutoring English in our Student Success Center, and I was so glad I could refer students to him by name when they needed a little extra help on a paper. Oliver went on to become a professional writer, and I’m so excited for his success.

FROM DEBRA GOLDBERG, DIRECTOR OF THE STUDENT SUCCESS CENTER

For three years, Oliver Brainerd served as one of my most talented Peer Tutors here in ACC’s Student Success Center. He specialized in composition, literature, communication, philosophy, and business. Oliver was an incredible asset to students as he provided a variety of learning strategies, study techniques, and other resources they needed to be successful in their courses. He is an enthusiastic learner who relishes the challenge of understanding difficult material in order to help others. Oliver made sure students did not just memorize facts, but more importantly, understood the concepts. His incentive to work as a tutor comes from a strong desire to help others see their potential and give them insight into new ways to approach problems in learning and life. His compassionate nature, remarkable creativity, and insightful sense of humor made him an outstanding student and role model to everyone he encountered.

FROM PROFESSOR JULIET HUBBELL

Oliver was in my Brit Lit course, and he always had tremendously fresh and insightful remarks to make about works that were over 200 and 300 years old. His writing reflected this distinct and almost quirky view of classic works, and it made the entire class sit up and take notice of what might otherwise have been a dry or flat text. Even more importantly, Oliver always listened carefully to his classmates’ remarks and would take a few moments to reflect on them and later respond with a thoughtful and expansive comment. A young man with long hair (at least back then) disguising a totally plugged-in intellectual.

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