One of the new professors at Blackburn College this semester is Dr. Nicole Lawrence, who is part of the English and Communications department. She completed a Ph.D. in British literature, specializing in the late 19th century to early 20th century with an emphasis on LGBT experiences. She now teaches first year writing classes, literature, and gender and women’s studies.
“I think that literature is fascinating. It really opens up important and necessary ways of creatively thinking about how people navigate the world, how we interact with each other, and how we think about ourselves,” Lawrence said. “Particularly, I like to teach literature with concepts of intersectional identities: race, class, gender, and sexuality.”
As a child Lawrence dreamed of becoming a firefighter. Her interest eventually shifted to marine biology, before she finally decided to become an English professor. Her experience with her own teachers largely influenced this decision. “I grew up on low income and without a lot of resources for academic or professional development,” said Lawrence. “The teachers in school, often my English teachers, had a really big impact on me. They helped me to succeed and gave me the additional support I needed. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it to college, which means that I wouldn’t have the job I have now.”
Lawrence now wishes to have a similar impact on those around her. She said, “I would like to be remembered as somebody who added positivity to other people’s lives in whatever way they needed. If somebody needs a supportive teacher, I would like to support them. If they need a friend to be a good listener, I would like to be remembered by that person in that way.”
“I have Dr. Lawrence for Theories of Gender and Sexuality. She pushes for class involvement. That may sound small, and what should be expected from most professors. However Dr. Lawerence’s class cannot function without that involvement,” said sophomore Autumn Wilson, who is double majoring in political science and justice administration. “This is not a class you can skate by in, but I’m thankful for that since I’m able to get a good understanding of the content. She pushes you.”
Junior creative writing major Mercy Daniel adds, “Dr. Lawrence is an incredibly dedicated professor. You can definitely tell how passionate she is about teaching when you sit in her class.”
Helping others and striving to understand them is very important to Lawrence. She is proud of how she continues to work on being kind. “I think that empathy and kindness are skills that aren’t necessarily natural to human identity. They’re things that we have to work at and engage in. Kindness and empathy are things that the world needs very much right now, and so I’m proud that I’m actively working to be kind and empathetic toward others.”