Tuesday, December 30, 2014

From: Jessica R. M. Schley

From: Jessica R. M. Schley (jschley@novanthealth.org)

Dr. McGavran was a kindred spirit. He was a precious man and certainly honest. He sat me down when I was in grad school and in the sweetest way possible, told me: "Jessica, you aren't an academic, but you're certainly a creative writer." I was still so bent on getting a PhD, and it would be years before I let go of that dream and focused more intently on my writing. I took three classes with him over the course of my undergrad / graduate days at UNCC, and one was a directed reading on Jane Austen. You gotta love a man who loved Lizzie Bennett as much as he did.

I wrote a screenplay for him, a modern adaption of Sense and Sensibility. Maybe other teachers would have scoffed at the fact that I set it in West Virginia. Dr. McGavran loved it. He would often say: "Others might think you're ditzy Jessica, but I just think your brilliant." I loved this though I never considered myself ditzy. Maybe it was because I was always trying to write about "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in his Romantic Era Literature class. In any case, for a man like him to say something like that to me, well, it gave me so much confidence to continue working on my writing.

Just a few months back he was kind enough on his summer vacation to look at some chapters of something I've been working on. His feedback was honest and helpful. He always made time to meet, even just to sign his book for me that I read and cried through because it was such a touching reflection of his childhood and of losing his parents which I can relate to. He was not afraid of being a sensitive man. He often cried in class when he was reciting certain lines of literature. The first time this happened it was so difficult for me, someone very use to keeping my emotions tightly wound up and hidden. But then I learned to really admire him for his ability to feel his emotions so openly, especially in relation to the written word which has always been and always will be so important to me. Dr. McGavran I love you so and I'll miss you. You encouraged a girl from West Virginia to own my experiences and use them as a means to find language that would help all of it make sense. I can't wait to continue our conversations of Charlotte Smith, Wordsworth, and Austen when I am in heaven someday.

Jessica R. M. Schley

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