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Graduate Student Profile

Interview with the Center for Research and Creative Activities

Joseph O’Day is a Masters of English student with a specialization in Creative Writing, and will be graduating from his program this December. His graduate thesis is a collection of personal essays titled, “From the Inside” that focus on his life; everything from work, to writing, reading, and his family and relationships. Several of the pieces in the collection have already appeared in publications such as Adelaide Literary Magazine, Biostories, Focus on Faulkner, and The Salem News.

O’Day began his MA program in the fall of 2018, though his journey with Salem State started long before that. O’Day originally studied at SSU as an undergraduate, and graduated with his degree in Biology in 1976. He then went off to pharmacy school and began his career as a pharmacist. However, the passion for English and his desire to study writing always remained. In the spring of 1984, O’Day decided to audit a course at Salem State called “On Essays,” which was being taught by Professor Ann Taylor. O’Day says that with his full-time job he wasn’t confident that he would be able to make every class on time, or handle the class load. But he enjoyed the experience so much, and gained so much from it, that the following fall he enrolled officially in the “Writing the Essay” course, which was also taught by Professor Taylor.

Over the next few decades O’Day took several courses at Salem State, often having to rush to class after a long day at the pharmacy, and trying to finish homework on the weekends, but even though it was difficult, O’Day claims it was a “labor of love.” He says he enjoyed every single minute of every course. He also participated in the Salem Writer’s group led by SSU Professor J.D. Scrimgeour, which meets the first and third Tuesdays of every month. O’Day says this experience helped him grow as a writer and become more confident in his work. But after retiring in early 2018, O’Day decided it was finally time to enroll full-time in the writing program at SSU.

O’Day says he is very lucky to have the opportunity to study at Salem State, and is so grateful for the incredible professors in the English Department. He says he is constantly “struck by their dedication and really appreciates the time they put in.” O’Day credits Professor Taylor, Professor Scrimgeour (who also served as his thesis advisor) and Professor Kevin Carey with encouraging his writing and making him a better, more confident writer.

Now that he is graduating O’Day hopes to keep writing and hopes to see many more publications in his future.

Congratulations Joseph, and best of luck with graduation!


Learn more about the Center for Research and Creative Activities. All Salem State University students, faculty, and staff are invited to email their research to be featured by the CRCA:

Evea Raye
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