UWGB Transformed Ami by…

…helping her become more than she thought she could.

Creative Writing is Ami Irmen’s passion, yet her Creative Writing teachers at UWGB — Ryan Van Cleave, Bruce Stone, and Rebecca Meacham — taught her a set of critical lessons that have deeply affected her professional career.

When Ami first set foot on the grounds of the UWGB campus, she was a wide-eyed high school senior who was merely counting down the days to graduation. At first, Ami chose UWGB simply because it was “close enough” to home, and it was a place she could afford. However, UWGB proved to be much more than “tunnels, toilets, and trees,” and Ami asserts that UWGB “turned out to be the luckiest choice I have ever made. The four years that I spent at UWGB — a place that became more than just a great location and price tag, a place that became home — shaped who I am today.”

With her sights set on a career as a Creative Writing teacher, Ami vividly remembers her freshman year and Ryan Van Cleave’s “Introduction to Creative Writing” course, where Ami says Van Cleave “…loved his work and students so much that he took personal time out of his day for no other reason than to simply share that love of writing.” Flash forward to Bruce Stone’s Creative Writing workshop, a course that Ami says gave her a “safe space to take risks,” and she discovered that learning must be a two-way street. For example, Ami recalls a thank you letter penned by Stone, thanking his students for everything he’d learned throughout their time together. Undoubtedly, Ami learned that one must find the time and space to reflect upon one’s writing, a message later echoed by Rebecca Meacham, Ami’s English major advisor.

When it was time to declare her major, Ami says she still remembers the first time she met Prof. Meacham: “She had a real honest talk with me on that day about my prospects of finding a job as a Creative Writing instructor at the college level. The thing is, it was (and still is) an extremely competitive market, and this conversation was necessary. It is rare that advisors are so open and frank from the start, but Rebecca was.”

Prof. Meacham’s honesty never deterred Ami from her chosen path. The moment she committed to the degree, Ami says that Rebecca made the same commitment and did everything she could to ensure her success. Ami credits her professors for doing more than simply helping her dissect literature and learn to revise her work: they “fostered her love of learning and gave her the tools to ask questions, to explore, to ponder, to create, and much more.” Not surprisingly, Ami is now teaching writing at the college level, just as she always planned, asserting that her UWGB education informed what she does in her own classroom.

“It’s about more than just teaching a student how to write an essay,” Ami says, “it’s about giving people like me a chance to be more than what I thought I could be.”

Name: Ami Irmen
Grad Year: 2005
Major: Creative Writing and Human Development

Photo submitted by: Ami Irmen

We’ve asked alumni to either share stories of how their lives were transformed by the UWGB  experience or how they are making the world a better place with transformational work in their careers, homes, or volunteer experiences. As UWGB celebrates its 50th Anniversary, meet an alum each week who has experienced a “UW-Green Bay Transformation.” Stories were self-submitted and then edited by Zachary Taylor, a 2010 English Education graduate currently serving as Interim Associate Director of the Phuture Phoenix program.