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"Working here is a very different experience than going here," says Bowers. "But at the same time, even though I'm staff, I still feel the same sense of community and creativity that I experienced when I was a student."

"I've been writing my whole life," says J. Bowers. "I didn't really think of going to school to become a writer, I thought of it as an opportunity to hone my craft, be part of a writing community and make contacts."

Mission accomplished. Taken under the wing of Madison Smartt Bell, award-winning novelist, English professor, and director of Goucher's Kratz Center for Creative Writing, Bowers was able to develop her writing, working on 2 novel manuscripts, publishing numerous poems, plays, and short stories, and winning a host of awards, fellowships, and creative writing competitions. Goucher proved to be a place that Bowers could flourish.

Now, her life after Goucher is life at Goucher.

After graduation, Bowers went on to attend Hollins University in Virginia, obtaining a M.A. in English and creative writing in 2003. Not quite ready to go on for her PhD, she returned to Baltimore where she quickly landed a freelance gig writing art and music reviews for Baltimore City Paper and a full-time position as media relations coordinator in Goucher's Office of Communications. At Goucher, she is responsible for providing support in all functions of public relations for the college. This includes internal and external communications, planning special events, and researching and writing stories and press releases.

"Working here is a very different experience than going here," says Bowers. "But at the same time, even though I'm staff, I still feel the same sense of community and creativity that I experienced when I was a student."

Bowers says that a liberal arts education was instrumental in establishing her practice as a working writer, and developing skills that she still uses when working on her fiction in the evenings.

"I found that an academic environment is very conducive to fiction writing," says Bowers. "You're constantly around people who are learning about subjects they are passionate about. You have access to a library and can research anything you want. And I found that working in a liberal arts environment, you find a lot of subjects feeding into your own writing. I was able to get a lot of concepts and ideas from that."

While a student at Goucher, Bowers also developed new passions. She took up fencing, and went on to fence competitively at the University of Exeter in England, where she studied abroad during her junior year.

"Fencing is a lot like writing for me," says Bowers. "There are certain things in life that I feel, when you do them, you just know that that's what you're supposed to be doing."

Still, Bowers says that writing is her primary passion, and credits Goucher for many of the opportunities she's had to improve her craft.

"Goucher was the first environment where I was recognized as a writer," says Bowers. "It was all right, it was respected. That was really life changing for me."

Though her current positions in the Office of Communications and at City Paper present her with many opportunities to explore different aspects of writing and meet new people, Bowers says that a desk job isn't her final destination. She plans to go back to school to become an English professor, and continue pursuing her dreams of publication.

"Working at Goucher, even though it's in a staff capacity, reinforced the conclusion that I came to while in graduate school. I want to be in academia, and be part of the educational community," says Bowers. "City Paper affords me the opportunity to meet a lot of artists, writers, and musicians that I wouldn't necessarily bump into on a daily basis, and sit down with them and talk about what makes them tick, what inspires them. Which I find in turn, sometimes feeds into my own work."

But for now, Bowers is taking life one story at a time, working on a short story collection about twenty-somethings in Baltimore, a novel about hippies living in a hotel, and assorted content for a friend's online magazine, www.beatbots.com. It's a busy life, but she wouldn't have it any other way.

"I cannot remember a time in my life when I wasn't writing, or thinking about writing, or wanting to be a writer," says Bowers." It's just always been. It's what I do. It's what I am."

J. Bowers

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