Faculty Profile: English

Carol Tyx, English

From the cell block to the bookstore, Professor of English Carol Tyx is not just a professor; she’s an author, advocate and a strong believer in making the world a brighter place. Through classroom lessons in literature and off-campus opportunities, Tyx believes each student should develop his or her own voice on the page.

“Mount Mercy offers you a chance to develop skills that will serve you your whole life,” Tyx said. “Our small classes lead to lots of individualized attention. You’ll be an active participant in your own education. If you are an English major, you will have opportunities such as internships, job shadows and publication options that will help you transition to the work world after graduation.”

An example of these opportunities is the highly successful Anamosa Prison Book Club, which Tyx started with fellow Professor of English Mary Vermillion. Under Vermilion and Tyx’s guidance, Mount Mercy students facilitate discussions with inmates regarding a book that is chosen and assigned, much like any other book club.

“I’ve worked with Mount Mercy students to facilitate over twenty sessions of the Book Club and I always come away from a session saying, ‘Wow that was an awesome discussion.’” Tyx said.

Prison, and the torments it represents—isolation, loss of freedoms and the deprivation of individuality—play strongly into her recent creative works as well. Tyx used a 2015 sabbatical to visit and study the history of Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana, and she published a book of poetry on the subject.

Life lessons have proven to Tyx that an individual is never too old, or too stuck, to change one’s life; she didn’t complete her Ph.D. until she was 50.

Tyx also believes that internships are another great opportunity that, thanks to deep rooted relationships in the community, allow Mount Mercy English students to gain unique experiences and put their skills to good use. Tyx said the local humane society always needs writer to provide persuasive copy to entice people to adopt shelter pets. Students also have the opportunity to work with the African American History Museum in constructing exhibits and designing educational programs.

Tyx herself never thought to be a teacher, but when she had the opportunity to teach college writing, she realized it was a calling that spoke to her heart. She found interacting with her students was quite rewarding.

“I love seeing students who thought they did not like poetry having a lively conversation about a poem with a group of peers,” she said. “I love moments when my students see something in a piece of literature that I had not seen. I love seeing students grapple with complex moral issues. I love working one on one with students in writing conferences.”

When not teaching, or volunteering, Tyx finds herself writing. She teaches creative writing on the Hill, and is an author in her free time. Professor Tyx has written two books of poetry, The Fifty Poems and Rising to the Rim. She has also written many personal essays, and has had her poetry published in different literary publications. Not only does she teach and shape the minds of college students, she is also pouring out her thoughts and emotions for everyone to see. Professor Tyx is making an impact on the world around her as a teacher and as an author, and she is teaching her students to do the same.