Jay Parr, M.F.A.

Jay Parr

Liberal Studies, Humanities



M.F.A., The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2004
Creative Writing: Prose Fiction

B.A., Guilford College, 2002
English — Minors in Fine Art Photography & East Asian Studies

Academic Experience:

BLS Program Manager, 2006–Present
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Academic Advisor: BLS Program, 2004–2006
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Lecturer: English and Humanities, 2004–2006
North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Graduate Advising Assistant: College of Arts and Sciences Advising Center, 2002–2004
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Professional Affiliations:

AWP: The Association of Writers & Writing Programs
NACADA: The National Academic Advising Association
NCDLA: North Carolina Distance Learning Association

Community Service:

Board of Directors, Often Awesome (ALS charity), 2011–Present
Caregiver, Often Awesome Army (ALS caregiving group), 2010–2011
Testing Proctor, Triad Mensa, 2005–2010


I barely graduated from high school (with a 1.58 GPA), and I was twenty years old when I took my first college course. It was an evening creative writing class at the local community college. Just like me, most of the other students in that class were not degree-seeking students at the time. We just liked to play with writing stories. A year later, after being put out of my factory job for most of the summer with my hand in a cast (and a lot of time to think), I finally enrolled full time as a pre-bachelor’s student. I followed a girl to a nearby university the year after that, then took a year off before following her to yet another university. We attended there for a semester and a half before dropping out mid-semester (wasting two months of classwork and a whole lot of tuition money). Life had intervened, in that nasty way that it has a habit of doing. Having gotten married between semesters in the midst of a recession, we went broke, dropped out, moved into her parents’ basement, and I enlisted in the Navy. Time passed; I got out of the Navy early, got divorced young, and worked a long string of low-paying industrial jobs. All the while I promised myself that — someday — I would go back and finish that degree.

It was almost ten years before I returned to school. I had just quit a long-haul trucking job when I matriculated at my fourth college on a whim. I went back in as a junior (barely), and completed my bachelor’s degree three years later, graduating with honors and a 3.58 GPA. It had been nearly 16 years since that first class at the community college. I was 36 years old.

I put this story here because the BLS program is designed for students who are impatient to finally finish that degree, just as I was that second time around, but who don’t necessarily have the same luxury to drop everything else and go back to school full-time. Aside from that little detail, my story isn’t terribly different from that of many of the adult students in the BLS program.

After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I went straight into the MFA creative writing program at UNCG. My graduate work-study assistantship in the College of Arts and Sciences Advising office led into my position as the academic advisor for the fledgling BLS program, and then on to my current position as program manager. I had never taken nor taught an online class before then — boy, that has changed — but I had a couple of years’ teaching experience and, more importantly, I had been that adult nontraditional student who was a little nervous about getting back into college after all those years. It can be done. I am proof.

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