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Professors at UW-Eau Claire changed my life

Dr. Debra Monroe has had a distinguished career as an author, professor, teacher and mentor. She has had six books published and has been honored with the Flannery O'Connor Award for Fiction. Her books have been reviewed in major American newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and others, and have been cited on popular recommended reading lists.

Monroe was the first person in her family to attend college — an achievement she still considers as one of her proudest accomplishments.

Monroe enrolled at UW-Eau Claire but dropped out after one semester because she felt "uneasy, unprepared, tongue-tied and badly dressed." She returned six months later and was encouraged and supported by a number of faculty members, including Bruce Taylor, Dr. D. Douglas Waters and Douglas Pearson (all professors emeritus of English).

"Professors at UW-Eau Claire literally changed my life," Monroe says. "I left a small town where few high school graduates went to college, and I became exactly what I'd dreamed of becoming — a writer."

Monroe, now a professor of English at Texas State University in San Marcos, went on to earn a master's degree in composition and rhetoric from Kansas State University and a doctorate in creative writing and the history of the novel from the University of Utah.

"I had a lot of job offers," Monroe says. "But I wanted to teach at a public university where I could be the sort of professor I had at UW-Eau Claire — one who knows that generous teaching and individualized attention can change the trajectory of a life."

Debra Monroe, a 1980 English graduate of UW-Eau Claire, is one of the recipients of the 2019 Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award. The Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes distinguished service to the community, state or nation in a manner that brings credit upon the award recipient and UW-Eau Claire.