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David Bahr

College: Graduate Center
Awards: Tenure-Track Assistant Professorship at BMCC, 2012

Outstanding Student

David Bahr, who overcame personal adversity to earn a PhD in English from the Graduate Center in 2012, has accepted a tenure-track assistant professorship at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.

Born to a single mother battling mental illness, Bahr became a ward of the state and was placed in foster care when he was 2. During his unsettled childhood, he was reclaimed by his mother and briefly left in a children's psychiatric ward before being transferred to a custodial boarding school then returned to his foster family, where he remained until he "aged out" of the system at 18.

Bahr put himself through Hunter and the Graduate Center while working as a temp and adjunct instructor. "I loved graduate school," he says, "yet I frequently felt discouraged about my possibilities of ‘breaking through' as an employable professional."

He left after finishing his coursework and turned to journalism, writing for The New York Times, GQ, The Advocate, Poets & Writers, Publishers Weekly and New York magazine. He received fellowships, from Yaddo and the Albee Foundation, and began to write and publish autobiographical essays and fiction.

When he returned to the Graduate Center to explore his interests in autobiography and affect, he was awarded a writing fellowship at BMCC, participated in the Mellon Foundation seminar on "Emotion" and continued to teach.

"Considering my personal trajectory," he says, "I am particularly happy about getting a job at BMCC, where I can help others striving to make something of themselves."