Keith Mitchell, English
Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
“I hope that my students remember the importance of giving back.”
Keith Mitchell’s search for a university that challenged him as a teacher and scholar, as well as offered a diverse campus community ended when he visited UMass Lowell in 2004. “I remember coming to UMass Lowell for my campus interview and seeing a student with a blue Mohawk,” he says. “I immediately thought to myself that this was definitely the place for me.”
Mitchell’s specialty is African American literature and American literature. He feels a connection to a lot of students at UMass Lowell. “The fact that most students are from working class backgrounds, like myself, appeals to me,” he says. “I also find that many students were first generation college students, also like myself, and that makes me feel really comfortable about being here.”
For the students in his classes, Mitchell is also hoping to impress on them lessons beyond just literary ones. “I hope that my students remember the importance of giving back to whatever community that they find themselves in,” he says. “One doesn’t have to cure cancer or come up with a solution to stop world hunger in order to make a difference. Mentoring a young person, whether through academics, sports, or as a big brother or sister, can make all the difference in the world.”
As for anyone considering becoming an English major, Mitchell has a strong pitch. “The Internet and all of the new electronic gadgets have allowed us to communicate more quickly, but not necessarily more effectively,” he says. “It is vitally important that students know how to communicate with both strong writing and verbal skills. A degree in English affords the kinds of skills that are readily translatable to all other aspects of life.”