Post submitted by Matthew Aycock, Development Assistant. 

This morning the nation awoke to the news that we had lost Renaissance woman and civil rights icon Dr. Maya Angelou. While most know of Maya Angelou as a poet, I have the amazing fortune of being able to call her my professor and mentor.

Without a doubt my favorite class while an undergraduate at Wake Forest University was Dr. Angelou’s seminar, World Poetry in Dramatic Performance. Every week, my classmates and I were invited to her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she welcomed us without pomp or pretense and addressed each of us as her colleague. Though our curriculum was based in the poetry classics, the theme that permeated the course was Roman playwright Terence’s famous quote, “I am a human being; therefore nothing human is foreign to me.” Dr. Angelou gave freely of herself every class session, pausing throughout the lesson to share her seemingly endless wisdom. She always emphasized the commonality of the human experience. Though we may appear different from one another on the outside, each of us shares the same capacity to hope, fear, dream and aspire to live our lives to the fullest. Through the power of her example, Dr. Angelou imbued in me the courage to live an honest, authentic life as an openly gay man. For this reason, I will forever be indebted to her and her mentorship.

Rest in Peace to a truly “Phenomenal Woman,” Dr. Maya Angelou.

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