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2015 Diamond Alum: Mitchell Jackson, Author and Professor at New York and Columbia universities

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Mitchell Jackson.

Mitchell Jackson.

Mitchell Jackson is a novelist and essayist as well as writing professor at New York and Columbia universities. He is the author of the autobiographical novel “The Residue Years,” which he started in prison while serving time for possession of a gun and crack cocaine. The book was featured in this year’s co-sponsored Everybody Reads Program through the Multnomah County Library. He began his college career at PCC where he played on the men’s basketball team. Jackson eventually earned an associate degree degree from PCC, taking math, science and history courses at both the Cascade and Sylvania campuses.

“This feels wonderful to be acknowledged by PCC,” said Jackson, who noted that history instructor James Harrison had the most profound impact on his studies at PCC. “I consider it my hometown school. At PCC, I felt like I was being granted a second opportunity to succeed. I consider my time at PCC very much instrumental in whatever successes I’ve accomplished.”

“The Residue Years” was one of the most acclaimed debut novels in recent years, praised by The New York Times, The Paris Review, The Times of London, and The Sydney Morning Herald. Jackson was awarded the Ernest Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for the Center For Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First novel prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award For First Fiction, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Jackson was also chosen as the lone 2014 Fiction awardee of the prestigious Lannan Foundation fellowship. Jackson credits PCC for putting him on an academic track versus an athletics one.

“I loved attending classes as PCC,” he said. “My professor, James Harrison, was a great. In fact, he was so memorable, I modeled a character after him in my novel. In truth, I model many aspects of my actual teaching from my time with him. PCC is wonderful place to launch your dreams. Believe it.”

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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