Story by Kati Doering, The Saint Reporter
Photo courtesy of aquinas.edu
If you haven’t had a class with Professor Vicki McMillan yet, you might want to think about clearing your schedule to be able to enjoy her cheerful presence. As an Associate Professor of the English Department, she is in high demand among many in the Aquinas community.
McMillan was born in the suburb of Norton Shores near Muskegon, Michigan. She has many wild stories to share from her childhood, ranging from her father driving her on a Harley at the mere age of six weeks old, to her family purchasing a farmhouse that didn’t have a bathroom (even though they visited the estate three times before moving in).The farm located outside of Coopersville, Michigan has also been inspiration for many of McMillan’s memoirs.
After her high school graduation, she attended Grand Valley State University for a short time before working as a paralegal in a law firm. She decided she needed to go back to school and enrolled at Aquinas to major in English. Aquinas, coincidentally, has been her only teaching position, as she has been here for the past 19 years. McMillan said one fond honor she has acquired during her time at Aquinas was when she won the prestigious “Woman of the Year” award. She also works with the Contemporary Writers Committee to bring established writers and poets to Aquinas for lectures.
When asked what she likes to do in her free time, McMillan’s face brightened as she eagerly described her recent writing adventures of memoirs and poetry. She is having difficulty with publishing her memoir on being a cancer survivor, as many other celebrities with the same type of cancer are publishing their own memoirs as well.
“The editors loved it, but the marketers weren’t so sure,” McMillan said.
However, one piece she sent to The New Yorker came back with personally signed rejection letter from the poetry editor, Paul Muldoon. Even though it was a rejection letter, this is a high honor as his team usually reads the submissions for him and she is that much closer to being published.
Outside of the literary world, McMillan enjoys cooking, gardening, and spending time with her husband of 36 years. She also mentioned that her son recently got married and hopes there are grandchildren in her future.
“I could have a terrifically dressed granddaughter following me around,” said McMillan.
When talking about what drew her to Aquinas, McMillan admitted, “The faculty I had made me feel special. They wanted me to succeed.”
She also has some great advice for new and old students, “Go to class. Read the material. Don’t get sidetracked too much… and don’t be afraid to talk to your teachers.”
As a popular and caring professor on campus, she still carries that notion with her in her career.