Name: Connor Uptegrove
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
Year in School: Senior
Minor: Creative Writing
Converse with Connor Uptegrove for just a couple minutes and it becomes obvious that you are speaking with an articulate, intelligent young man. Thoughtful and eloquent yet also refreshingly funny, Connor is someone who draws people to him. But if you can’t make it to campus to engage in a conversation with him, you can do the next best thing – read his writing.
A senior communication student from Kansas City, Mo., Connor decided to pursue writing while taking an introductory creative writing class his freshman year. When a story idea sparked his excitement, the enthusiasm was reciprocated by his professor. This connection, referred to by Connor as his most influential moment at Coastal, encouraged him to become a writer.
Before Connor had his influential moment, he had his “this is where I belong” moment. As is the case with many Coastal students, the campus tour proved pivotal when making his decision. But there was more to it than walking across the beautiful grounds of CCU.
“I saw the buildings and the horticulture and I was just really captivated by its beauty, initially,” explains Connor. “And then I learned about the community it has here, too, and I think all of these aesthetics just really accumulated into me finding my home here.”
Connor has used his new home to develop and thrive as a writer. He contributes pieces to multiple student publications and is a student writer for University Communication. In the latter role, Connor relishes the opportunity to write feature articles on faculty and staff members. He is also an award winning poet and a proponent of focusing on the story of a piece as opposed to the theme. As Connor has grown as a writer, he has taken the time to appreciate the context he is doing it in.
“I think there is really something special about being in the community with artists, researchers, athletes, scholars and academics all in one place,” says Connor. “It sort of forces you to reckon with the question of well, how am I contributing to society also?”
A student who always tries to do best he can, Connor will try to do the same as a professional. Once he graduates, he would like to write for a non-profit that is, in his words, “of real service to society.” We admire Connor’s commitment to making the world a better place and we thank him for already doing so at CCU.
Q&A with Connor
How did you hear about Coastal?: I knew I wanted to head East when I graduated high school, but CCU was far from my radar. I looked at schools in New York and Boston, but none of them were the perfect fit for what I was looking for. Eventually, my mind sort of drifted to the Southeast, and I eventually stumbled on CCU during my research. I remember sending the link to CCU’s website to my mom and saying, “Oh, we’ve got to go visit THIS place.”
Why did you come to Coastal?: I’ve always been rather independent, and I think that moving 1,200 miles away from my hometown actually motivated me because there’s an inherent excitement and sense of discovery that comes with traveling and living somewhere new. It was only once I got here that I discovered the dense network of artists, researchers, scholars and so many more diverse populations of academia. When you see a community like Coastal, where people come together under one university to collaborate and connect, it makes you want to create something new. It makes you want to contribute.
Favorite professor: My first introduction to creative writing came from Colin Burch during my freshman year. Ever since that first class, I’ve tried to take nearly every class he teaches. I think I could instantly jive with him because first, he came to writing from a journalism/public relations background and I do a lot of public relations work. But, really, I noticed that he has an eye for finding the truth out there, in the world. When he speaks about work from other writers around the world, he’s enthusiastic in a way that I can really relate to. He helps squeeze every last bit of detail onto the page because he knows that others are going to find connections in it.
Favorite class: I never knew that I would like Creative Non-fiction as much as I did once I actively started attempting it. But the style really makes you look up, find truth in the world and connect the dots on the page. The art of storytelling has always pulled from real life, and there’s so much beauty to find out there and there’s so many connections to be made. At the end of the day, life is good. The world is full of people doing the best they can, who love passionately and want to live their lives to the fullest. It’s fun to capture that.
Clubs/Intramurals/other extracurricular activities involved in?: I like to help out with the CCU Department of Theatre when I can. I try to always send pieces to the wonderful Archarios Literary Magazine, Tempo Magazine, and I was the winner of the Paul Rice Poetry Broadside Series last semester.
Do you work anywhere currently (either on or off campus)?: I work at the Office of University Communication as a student writer.
Plans after graduation?: I think immediately after graduation, I’m going to take my dog, Mason, for a nice long walk. After that, I’m hoping to get involved in a non-profit organization to do some good in the world. I would love to write content for theater companies, zoos and aquariums, or other organizations that are of real service to society.
What are your hobbies?: Aside from writing, I love to sketch, have a cup of coffee. If it’s nice out, there’s nothing better than going outside with my dog in Kansas City. And of course, I have some of the best friends I could ever find that I enjoy seeing in my free time.
Do you have any hidden talents?: I never really have a good answer for this. Some people have really cool abilities that always put me to shame. I guess I know a lot of random facts about animals—I worked at a zoo/wildlife center as a teenager and you tend to pick up on a few things when you’re running around with rhinos and penguins, lions and giraffes right there.
Bonus Info: Thank you to everyone at CCU who has made my time here incredible!