Clarissa Camfield Thomasson

Degree and Year: 
BA 1964
Professional Title: 
Author/Publisher
Employer: 
Self-Employed as Salt Marsh Publications

Professional Background: 
Retired teacher of Secondary English in Clark County, NV and Montgomery County, MD

How has being an English graduate from Duke University helped shape your professional success?: 
At my first job interview in Las Vegas, NV, the interviewer took one look at my resume and said, "Duke University! Why am I bothering to interview you!!" He immediately found me a position. After leaving Las Vegas, I was accepted to the University of Florida where I received my MA in English. I then went on to teach in Montgomery County, Maryland--where I was chosen to pilot a "Reading-Writing Workshop" for eighth graders which entailed two periods of English per day--one with students reading books of their choice and the second with them writing for the period. The course was called a "workshop," which meant that the teacher worked along with the students. At this point, I worked my students up to writing their own novellas of 60 pages, and I wrote in the evenings as well to keep up. The result was three Scholastic Awards and one Maryland State award for my students--and the beginning of my first novel, DEFENDING HILLSBOROUGH, which was subsequently chosen by North Carolina Public School Librarians for use in teaching the Civil War "from the homefront" in secondary schools in that state. During my teaching career, I also sponsored the school yearbook, newspaper, and literary magazine, which led me to magazine writing as well in my retirement. I now have published seven novels, written for three magazines, and have won first place for two full-length plays. I know much of my career could not have been accomplished without that first question from Dr. Randall, my advisor at Duke , who asked, "What subject is it you like best for your major?" and the terrific professors I subsequently had during my time at Duke.