“Pay attention to your life and your history because that’s where your stories are.”

It’s not every day that you get to meet a highly acclaimed and renowned poet. And it is certainly even less frequent that this poet, Michael S. Harper, will shake your hand, look you in the eye, and offer a piece of advice that you carry with you throughout your life. But Pablo Peschiera ’93, who is now an English faculty member of 10 years, had this impactful moment as a Hope student attending a Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series event.

“That’s where your stories are,” Harper told Pablo, “Pay attention to your life and your history because that’s where your stories are.”

About the Hope People Series
Some work directly with students; others behind the scenes. This ongoing series highlights the
dedicated faculty and staff who help provide the acclaimed Hope education and community,
sharing not only what they do, but why.

What 21-year-old Pablo didn’t know was that he would someday be living out his own story back at Hope College. In fact, continuing his education in graduate school in order to teach had not crossed his mind until his English professors began encouraging him to do so based on the quality of his work and dedication to writing. “My professors said I had what it takes to be successful in graduate school when I didn't see that in myself,” Pablo said, noting that he lacked the self-confidence to pursue higher education.

But be successful in graduate school, he was. From childhood efforts to write stories, raps and poetry, Pablo has come a long way, now teaching courses in poetry and creative writing and having his own poems appear across a variety of publications. Pablo doesn’t take the power of a story for granted. Stories, after all, are the means that he has long used for connection and expression. His passion for poetry and the written word originated long before he was an English major. “I was always a reader and a writer before I started taking classes at Hope,” he said.

Due to Pablo’s experiences as an undergraduate and becoming aware of the enormous amount of opportunity available to him and potential that he possessed, Pablo has made it his mission to give his students the platform to realize their own passions and potentials. Every semester, he is intentional in designing his courses, which range from First-Year Seminars to upper-level poetry-form classes, for students to finish the course with a sense of purpose and closure. “It’s possible to get straight-As in a course and forget everything or hate the experience,” Pablo said, “But for me, the student’s experience during the course is really important: how they feel at the end of the course and how they’ve grown as a writer or reader.”

Even though Pablo has been teaching for a decade, he hasn’t stopped learning. He is constantly digging into his own subjects to improve his curriculum or to influence his personal works, which have recently focused, unsurprisingly, on the stories nearest and dearest to him: those of his family.