Dawn Papandrea on Stephen King and Being Kind

Noodle Expert Dawn Papandrea tells us what she'd want to learn from Stephen King, why she would send a student to Europe, and how a calculus class derailed a future in a math-related field.

Who would you pick, alive or dead, to be your teacher for a year? What would you want to learn?

Stephen King. I've always aspired to be a novelist, and he's among the best storytellers of our time. I'd want to learn more about the craft of writing from him.

What is one small piece of advice that has had a big impact on your life?

When in doubt, being kind is always the wisest approach. You'll meet a lot of people throughout your career — on the way up, and on the way down — so how you treat people matters.

Where would you send a student who hasn't traveled before?

Europe. There's so much rich history, culture, and art there. Truth be told, I haven't been there yet myself, but as a literature lover, it's a dream of mine to go someday.

When was a time that you failed academically, and what did you learn from the experience?

There was a time when I thought I was on a math-oriented career trajectory. Then I took calculus. Although I did manage to squeak by, I realized that I'd be better off using my mind for writing instead of complicated formulas.

Why did you go into your field, and how is it different from what you expected?

I've always loved reading, writing, and journalism, and I came to learn that I had a knack for it in high school, college, and beyond. My expectation was that I'd be a "struggling artist" type, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that writing and storytelling are skills that are valued.

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