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(Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

(Photo by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

April 27, 2018

Korbin Jones seized opportunities, left mark on writing department

Korbin Jones will attend the University of Kansas next fall, earning a fully funded seat in its Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing – an opportunity he credits to the mentors and experiences he found at Northwest Missouri State University.  

He completed his Bachelor of Arts at Northwest this spring in writing with an emphasis on creative writing and publishing as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish.

“Every professor I’ve had, every student that I worked with, they gave me something that I don’t think I could have gotten somewhere else,” Jones said. “It just feels like home because it has everything I want and the encouragement that they gave me to study what I wanted, to pursue everything from studying abroad in Paraguay to publishing a book of poems.”

Jones grew up about 20 miles north of the Northwest campus in Clearmont, Missouri. As the first in his family to pursue a bachelor’s degree, he considered attending a larger university, but his experiences on the Northwest campus with its Upward Bound program for area high school students swayed him to enroll at the University.

“I had great grandparents with only eighth grade educations,” Jones said. “My dad couldn’t go to college because he had to help his dad with the farm. My mom’s mom always wanted to be an English teacher, but she was a farmer’s wife and had to raise three daughters. She read to my mom and taught her to write her name before even going to preschool, so my mom did the same for me. Without generations of sacrifices, I wouldn’t be here.”

During his final summer with Upward Bound, Jones interned in Northwest’s Office of International Affairs – an internship that turned into a student employment position when he started as a Northwest freshman.

“I loved the feeling, and there were a lot of people here that I met through Upward Bound that I just wanted to keep seeing for a little while longer,” he said. “I toured a couple of campuses, but Northwest was the one that felt cozy and I could see myself there.”

Working in the international affairs office helped Jones discover his interests in diversity and different cultures, and he began his undergraduate coursework with a focus on international business and media studies. As a sophomore, however, Jones took literature and accelerated composition courses that helped him realize his desire to write.

“I love the academic side,” he said. “I love the creative side and it slowly transformed.”

Jones excelled in Northwest’s Department of Language, Literature and Writing. He joined the staff of the Green Tower Press, was as an editorial assistant of poetry for the Laurel Review and tutored at the Writing Center. He also became president of the English honor society Sigma Tau Delta and presented his writing at its conference this spring in Cincinnati.

Using the skills he learned in a publication skills course and his work with the Green Tower Press, Jones published a book of poems last fall. He also created a literary magazine from scratch, called ”Fearsome Critters,” that features more than 100 contributors from throughout the world and will be published in coming weeks. 

“Green Tower Press was also a huge influence,” Jones said. “I discovered my love of designing books and type-setting, and so I was able to take what I learned from publication skills and Green Tower Press and put into work my own collection of poems and photography. They encouraged my creativity and my art and I’m always going to be grateful for that.”

In addition to heavy involvement in organizations related to his academic work, Jones was actively involved in Northwest’s LGBTQ community as a member of Helping Everyone Regardless of Orientation (H.E.R.O.), Northwest’s queer and ally coalition, and he founded Sex and Gender Equality (SAGE) to promote awareness of inequalities and discrimination based on sex and gender.

Jones said his combined experiences at Northwest have given him pride and comfort in his own identity.

“It made me comfortable with being queer,” he said. “It made me proud to study creative writing. It made me feel comfortable being true to who I am and to fight for what I wanted. It really broadened my horizons. I’ve met so many different people from different countries and different backgrounds and different identities, and it’s made me grow as a person.”

But there was one more thing Jones did that may have had the biggest impact on his growth and educational path. Having taken Spanish classes as a high school student, Jones enrolled in additional classes while studying international business as a freshman and enjoyed them so much that he stayed with it, eventually adding it as one of his majors. As part of his literary work, he translated poems and collections by poets from Spain and Paraguay.

Last year, looking to expand his cultural knowledge, Jones spent the summer trimester at Idipar, a language school in Asunción, Paraguay. In addition to studying at Idipar and teaching at Centro Cultural Paraguayo Americano, Jones earned additional academic credits by completing a travel writing course he created through Northwest Online.

“If I hadn’t had that experience, I wouldn’t have gotten to volunteer teaching and getting full funding to KU,” he said. “I had to have some experience teaching.”

Looking ahead, Jones has hopes of pursuing a Ph.D. and becoming a college instructor. Or he may work in publishing, designing books and magazines.

“Northwest allowed me feel like what I had to say and what I wanted to do mattered, especially in terms of being queer and being someone who is an activist or wants to do things that change the world,” Jones said. “It’s really easy to leave your mark on Northwest, but it’s so much easier for it to leave its mark on you.”


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215