Greetings from Tampa! I am Dr. Richard F. Gaspar, and I am a full Professor at Hillsborough Community College in Ybor City, Florida. I received my Associate of Arts Degree from Hillsborough Community College in 1990. I was selected as the student commencement speaker, and I promised to come back and haunt my professors as their peer in my speech! I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in English in 1992 from the University of Tampa. In 1993, I completed my Master’s Degree in English Education at the University of South Florida and began the doctoral program the following semester. I received my Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction in 1997, with an emphasis in reading. After completing my Ph.D., I completed two-post doctorate certificates; one in Developmental Education from Appalachian State University in 2002, and a second in English Composition from University of South Florida in 2005. I have also completed graduate coursework in Journalism from the University of Memphis and the University of Missouri. I am also working on a third graduate certificate focusing on Online Course Design from the University of Florida.
I have served as a newspaper, literary magazine and publications adviser for Hillsborough Community College for the past 11 years. I have also worked on numerous publications as a contributing writer during my college years as both a student and professor. I still continue to serve as a publication judge for the National Council of Teachers of English, as I love to see what trends and work the high school students submit and display. I still write weekly. I also try to publish a few chapters, monographs, and pieces of fiction and non-fiction each year, but with four children (ranging from pre-kindergarten to college); it is becoming more and more of a challenge. I also worked very briefly as a commercial and educational television personality when I was a county and state teacher of the year in the 90s. The pieces keep my family and friends laughing and rolling on the ground when anyone gets a hold of the videos!
Interviewing a survivor of the recent Fuego volcano in central Guatemala would be exciting and dangerous. The volcano has resumed activity, shooting lava and columns of ash into the air on Monday. It overlooks the tourist city of Antigua and is one of Central America’s most-active volcanoes. Fuego is located just South of another young volcano, Acatenango; the two make up a paired volcano, like others in Northern Central America (Halsor and Rose, 1987). The two volcanoes have erupted lavas which differ notable in composition – most of Acatenango’s lavas are andesites, while Fuego has recently erupted only basalt. Acatenango also has a much lower level recent activity. The N trending line between Acatenango and Fuego also encompasses the positions of two minor vents, Yepocapa and Meseta. Meseta represents an older, partly eroded or collapsed vent just North of Fuego. It is broadly andesitic in composition (Chesner and Rose, 1984) (http://www.geo.mtu.edu/volcanoes/fuego/geoset2.html).
Survivors not only provide insight, but also represents a group currently in peril. It would be interesting to find out:
1) Where were you when the volcano erupted?
2) How did you hear of the activity?
3) What will you do now that the Fuego volcano is active?
Additional information on the volcano can be found at
This week, you are (hopefully) hard at work on your feature article.
Yesterday, March 15, 2011, I toured a group of journalism students from around the country through the Hurst Tower in New York. By far, the highlight of the tour was a 90-minute Q & A session with the managing editor and his staff. Below, you will find a link to what many writers consider one of the most intriguing feature articles ever published by Esquire: “The Falling Man” (Originally appeared in the September 2003 issue):
Falling Man? (Sept. 2003)
As you read the article, consider the impact of the photo, lead-in and background provided by the writer. Also, consider the “timelessness” of the article.
The following link lists the greatest stories Esquire ever published:
“I went back to my bay area community college not long ago, and found it looking curiously different than when I was a student there ten years before. The rooms seemed smaller than I remembered, and I no longer needed to scurry from floor to floor in desperation to find the classroom of my search. The halls seemed narrower and more constricting than before, yet all the floors seemed to shine like the sun on the bay inlet.
Still, I did not entirely like this new shine, as it tended to preserve the school and freeze my memories like ice. The cold chill of the air conditioner made all of my footsteps seem heavier and seemed to add countless strides to my walk. Nevertheless, I soon concluded my movements and noted the daily journey from the student parking lot to room 314 in the library now appeared longer than I had remembered. However, as I stood outside the doorway marking the completion of my quest, the apparitions of my youth reappeared, and melted through the ice, emanating through my body the warm feelings and memories of being a college student.”
While my return to Hillsborough Community College holds some semblance to Gene’s return to the Devon School in John Knowles’ classic, A Separate Peace, mine is one of sheer celebration. It is the fulfillment of my 1990 commencement speech promise to “return to HCC and work with the teachers who helped me learn so much in such a short period of time.” It is also a return that promises to provide our students with a repertoire of activities filled with high expectations. Perhaps the greatest benefit of attending Hillsborough Community College as a student was that I was fortunate enough to encounter teachers who epitomized the word, “teach”.