Jerakah Greene ’20 Follows Their Passion to Hometown Following Graduation
Jerakah Greene ’20 always knew that writing would be a part of their life, but it wasn’t until they arrived at Columbia College Chicago that Greene discovered their true calling. Greene started at Columbia as a freshman intending to pursue an acting degree. Then, in their first week of classes, a writing class changed their life. The class was Foundations in Creative Writing, it was where Greene learned that writing didn't just have to be a hobby, but that it could be a career. “By the end of my first semester, I hadn't gone to a single audition, but I was attending readings and submitting my work. It felt like a no brainer to switch my major,” they said.
Greene graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and a double minor in Literature and Gender Studies and moved back to their hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Greene loves so much about their hometown. When they came out at 15, the queer community embraced them with open arms. Greene has made deep, lasting friendships. Greene is currently working on a novel that explores the complicated folds of Tulsa's queer community. “It's a love letter to my hometown and the people who live there. I think I will probably write about Tulsa queers until the day I die. They are my community, and I couldn't write about anything else if I tried,” Greene explained.
“I may not have considered writing as a legitimate career if not for Columbia. Before college, it had only ever been a hobby. But Columbia's writing program is so unique and pushes you to your creative limits. My professors showed faith in my work, even when I had none. Writing is hard, but Columbia's Creative Writing program taught me that it's worth it.” Greene was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net Prize in 2019 for stories published in Crabfat Magazine (October 2019) and Impossible Archetype (Issue 6). “These nominations were an incredible honor,” Greene added.
Greene’s work can be found in Crabfat Magazine, Impossible Archetype Issue 6, The Lab Review, and on the F(r)iction Log. They also have work forthcoming in Hair Trigger, where they were the reviews editor in the fall of 2018.
Greene has been awarded a position in the Tulsa Service Year program. The Tulsa Service Year program is a pilot program aimed at pulling recent college graduates from all over the country to better the Tulsa community. As soon as they graduated, Greene traveled home and began working at Tulsa Public Schools. They became interested in arts and education after tutoring art students in English and writing for two and a half years. Of the experience, Greene says “we are working at amazing, life changing organizations, and we have full time jobs right out of college (in the middle of a pandemic)! It is an amazing opportunity that I am proud to be part of.” Greene and their cohort were placed in different organizations around Tulsa based on their interests and experience.
Greene mentioned that it’s a hard time to for recent graduates to be looking for work during a recession, a pandemic and during an election year. “Luckily for Columbia graduates, our careers have already begun. If Columbia taught me anything, it's that my career didn't start when I got my diploma, it started on campus. It started the first day of my freshman year. Prospective students should keep that in mind – Columbia gives you a head start in your field, and you will exit with a body of work you can be proud of,” Greene advises. For current students, Greene recommends making art, “Paint with your friends, sculpt with playdough, do paper mache with your old math assignments. Make! Art!”