Paul Gallagher

I didn’t always want to be a teacher. As a kid, my bedroom did not have a chalkboard in it (though it was lined with books). At first, I wanted to be an astronaut, which my parents encouraged. Then I wanted to be a Marine, which they did not.

The Marine Corps, though, is where I started teaching, and it started in boot camp where I led late night study sessions for various “Practical Knowledge” tests. It was fun, and I was good at it. For a while in the fleet, my nick name was “Professor” due to my always having a book in the cargo pocket of my uniform. Later in my Marine Corps career, I learned to teach more formally in NCO school, but it was a chance experience off base that laid out a plan for the future I had never really considered.

Having seen all the action movies on offer, I decided the check out something different. Two hours later, I walked out of Dead Poets Society and immediately phoned my mother. “I want to be a teacher,” I told her. I wanted to guide students to literature and help them love reading as much as me, and I wanted to write.

After the Marine Corps, I attended Cape Fear Community College and discovered I had a lot to learn. I took some remedial and transfer classes and had some amazing professors who confirmed my desire to teach. They were patient and kind, enthusiastic and inspiring. They seemed to love what they did, and I wanted that.

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington is where I completed my BA and then my MFA in Creative Writing. I met and befriended faculty in fiction and poetry writing, literature, and mythology who pushed me higher and belayed me if I fell.  

I have been at RRCC full-time since 2002. Over the years, I have taught nearly everything on offer in the English Department and some Humanities classes as well. Study abroad has afforded me the opportunity to share Ireland, Scotland, and France with students. After all this time, I still love the classroom. It is an honor and a privilege to teach. There is nothing else I would rather do.