Guadalupe McCall Joins GFU English Faculty
Reported by Alicia Pacheco
Guadalupe McCall began writing poetry as a demonstration for her eighth grade students in San Antonio, Texas, and is now an award-winning author. Her next big step is taking on the role of professor at George Fox University (GFU) and using this platform to encourage young people to use their voices for change.
McCall has joined the English Faculty at GFU after 20 years of experience teaching English to middle and high school students. “I want to create more people working towards a better world,” said McCall.
Although McCall has published four successful novels, she did not originally set out to write. It was a challenge she gave her eighth grade students in San Antonio that led her to begin writing her first book. As she was teaching these students how to write poetry, she began writing poetry alongside them.
“I wrote a poem. They wrote a poem. At the end of the unit, they had a poetry book and I had a poetry book,” said McCall.
After 10 years of teaching poetry through this method, McCall found she had a large collection of poetry, many about her childhood. These poems eventually came together to create her first book, “Under the Mesquite.”
It was in the editing process of this book that McCall began to feel that writing was God’s calling for her.
McCall alludes to her mother’s cancer throughout the book. When her editor asked McCall to speak more openly on the topic, McCall was confronted by an incredibly difficult decision.
“At this point I was mad. I barely survived it the first time. I just thought, ‘I can’t relive that,’” said McCall.
As McCall prayed for peace, she began to see her purpose was to write this book for children going through loss just as she had. With this realization, McCall began to take her writing more seriously and understand its importance.
McCall describes this time as a “journey of understanding that as a writer I did not come to the world to get published. I came to the world to help others.
“I don’t fight it anymore. This is God’s gift to me. I just do his work,” said McCall.
After publishing her first book, “Under the Mesquite,” McCall began traveling to colleges across the U.S. to speak. “When I was doing public speaking I spoke a lot about purpose and giving a voice to minorities.”
McCall speaks about social justice issues and advocating for children. As she was visiting universities she met many other writers, and most were working as professors.
“They came and said you belong up here and we need you here,” said McCall about being coaxed by her colleagues to consider teaching at the university level. Convinced that God wanted her working at a university, McCall went on to receive her MFA from University of Texas El Paso.
McCall was attracted to GFU because of its mission statement and its focus on diversity and encouraging students to engage with the community.
McCall is already making an impact on students at GFU.
Helena Ducusin, a sophomore currently taking Studies in Writing with McCall, recently switched her major from Elementary Education to English largely because of the encouragement she received from McCall. “She says ‘when you get published.’ She talks with so much certainty about us. It’s so rare to have someone believe in you that much,” said Ducusin.
With McCall, students have access to a mentor who has been through the process of getting published. “She can speak from experience and that’s a really valuable thing,” said Gary Tandy, chair of the Department of English and Theater.
Not only is she a great mentor for those who hope to be published writers, her experience as an English teacher allows her to also be a mentor to the English students who hope to teach. “She’s one of those professors who is really inspirational. She makes me want to be like her as a teacher, with her passion,” said Kailey Newkirk, a freshman English major.
McCall believes with all these roles she plays, as mentor, writer, and teacher, that her purpose is to encourage students to speak up for themselves and the issues they feel passionate about.
“We’re not going to change everyone by speaking but we’re not going to change anyone by staying closed up,” said McCall.