Eileen Pollack

Eileen Pollack

Professor


University of Michigan - Helen Zell MFA Program

Milestones

My road in life took a while to figure out.
When I was a very young girl, I loved reading so much that I started writing my own books.
When I got to junior high, I was told that girls couldn't take advanced science or math classes.
That first big "no" spurred me to read everything I could about science and study physics.
My college professors got me excited about physics, but as a female, I still felt like an outsider.
I eventually gave up physics and went back to pursuing writing.
Trying to make a living as a writer was hard; I worked some awful jobs just to keep myself afloat.
Despite my inexperience, a friend persuaded her editor to take a chance and hire me as a reporter.
I really hit my stride once I realized I could combine my two passions and write about science!
Keep following my journey

Education

High School
Liberty Central High School
Bachelor
Physics, General
Yale University
Graduate
Creative Writing
University of Iowa

Career

Professor

I teach English/creative writing at the University of Michigan and I write about women in science.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Writing
Education
Being Creative

Day to Day

I get up early, eat breakfast, check my email, and read the New York Times. Then I get to my desk and spend the morning working on my own material, whether it's a novel, short story, or piece of creative fiction. In the afternoon, I switch my brain over to my students: I go to campus, teach a class or two, and hold office hours. On a good day, I don't have too many administrative tasks or meetings and I can spend most of my time working with interesting, enthusiastic young writers.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

I've gained most of what I know through reading—not necessarily assigned reading—and being around wonderful teachers who taught me how to think and what might be important to think about. My training was as a scientist—my undergrad degree is in physics—and then I worked as a reporter; both of those experiences taught me that if you have a question, you have to honor it. Never feel stupid for asking a question; life is about figuring out what you don't know and what you're really curious about.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for college students

If you want to be a writer, it's not always the best idea to get an undergraduate degree in writing or English; of course you should take some creative writing classes, but you should also immerse yourself in something like history or science. That way, you will know something about the world, and you can come to your writing career with a unique perspective. For example, I'm able to write fiction and non-fiction about scientists because I'm very familiar with that realm.

Recommended Education

My career is not related to what I studied. I'd recommend this path instead:

undergrad
Bachelor
graduate
Graduate
doctorate
Doctorate

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Society in General:

"How could a girl succeed in physics?"