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.

Alumni Spotlight: Yu Jung Choi

Former ACC Student, Yu Jung Choi

Former ACC Student, Yu Jung Choi

“Fifteen hours of sitting in the flight to USA on May 2008 with blooming ambition, I finally landed with both feet to an unfamiliar place where it was a 16 hour time difference from my homeland…”
–Yu Jung Choi

Former ACC student Yu Jung Choi came to America from Seoul, Korea in May, 2008.
A few months later, she was sitting in my ENG 060 Language Fundamentals class, and I could tell from her first days in class that she was an exceptional writer, student, and individual.

Here is a small sample of Yu’s writing from that first English class she took at ACC:

“Especially in summer a class is humid, and there is rainy smell because summer in Korea has a spell of rainy weather. Whole classes are silent except for the teachers and the light, which is winking. After all classes are done, every student goes back home. A class is empty, and what I do and hear during the day is like a dream. Lights are turned off, and chairs and desks are arranged in a row. The blackboard is clean, and there is no sound. It feels lonely.”

Yu laughs when she looks at this paragraph and says that at this point, she barely knew how to describe things in English. To me, Yu’s early writing in English already showed signs of her strong powers of observation and her skill at conveying a unique perspective.

Yu took ENG 060, ENG 090, ENG 121, and ENG 122 at ACC along with a wealth of biology and chemistry classes.  Her chemistry professor Kim Stasiewicz remembers Yu as an exceptionally intelligent and hard-working student.  Stasiewicz comments, “Yu was so curious about the material she studied, and it was a delight to have her in class.”

Yu transferred to University of Colorado at Denver in 2012 where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. She now works in a lab at the University of Colorado at Denver with Dr. Marino Resendiz.

I tried to convince Yu to become a writer because of her command of English and her poetic spirt, and she does hope to write in the future and has even talked of doing a translation into English of the  modern poetry of Korean poet Han, Yong-Un.
Yu is now a published author in the field of chemistry: her article, co-written with Dr. Resendiz, “Biophysical Properties and Thermal Stability Oligonucleotides of RNA Containing 7, 8-dihydro-8 hydroxyadenosine” was published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Yu hopes to go to medical school and also eventually to earn a Ph.D. in medicine. She hopes to work in a hospital laboratory this year and has previously volunteered at Swedish Medical Center serving as a comfort to patients and their families and helping the medical technician and the nurses.

Eight years after she first set foot on American soil, Yu Jung Choi has made many of her ambitions a reality. She has earned a Bachelor of Science degree from a great institution and been able to work in the field of her dreams. She has also found many friends, warmth, and love in our country. I’m glad to have been one of Yu’s first teachers, and I’m inspired by her achievements. I wish her success and love!