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Liberal Arts Honors

Isaac Cates

Class of 1994

Isaac Cates

I'm writing from Burlington, Vermont, where I teach in the English department at theUniversity of Vermont. This is my second full-time university teaching job. I taught at and directed the Poetry Center at Long Island University before I came to UVM. I've been able to teach an exciting range of things since I finished my PhD: modern poetry, creative writing, the graphic novel, and other topics. I continue to publish essays and poetry in important places, and I really enjoy most aspects of my job.

 I was valedictorian of my high school in 1989. I knew my parents wouldn't be able to pay for any of my college expenses, so I never applied to more expensive colleges. I determined to get the best education I could in my hometown and enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin. The Plan II Honors program was a big part of that education: It allowed me to cultivate my curiosity and to sample disciplines all across the University. Being part of the first cohort of Dedman Distinguished Scholars essentially allowed me to move out of my parents' house in Manchaca and live closer to the campus; it also allowed me to focus on my studies (curricular and extracurricular) in that I never needed to hold a full-time job after my first summer in college. Without the Dedman Scholarship I couldn't have participated in Shakespeare at Winedale or founded the Broccoli Project (the Plan II student theater group); without Larry Carver's mentorship I might never have wound up doing graduate work in English.

After graduating from UT I earned a PhD in English at Yale University and (during a one-year hiatus from Yale) an MA in creative writing at Johns Hopkins. My career has taken a lot of turns that I couldn't have predicted when I was in college, and I'm happy for nearly all of them. I remain grateful to UT, Plan II, and especially the Dedman Distinguished Scholars program for giving me a broad foundation and the chance to develop my curiosity.