In 2011, Newman University student Jayson Palacios was in an Introduction to Literature course with Associate Professor of English Susan Crane-Laracuente.
“I remember when he came up after class one day to speak with me, and I was not sure what he was going to say,” Crane-Laracuente recalled. “I had given him a lot of feedback on an essay that was a very rough draft. Instead of the more usual, ‘I used to get A’s in high school,’ or ‘This class is not part of my major,’ and similar responses, he told me that no one had ever given him much feedback on his writing.”
The way he said it struck Crane-Laracuente.
“I sensed he was not merely expressing resistance or even much dismay; instead, he was intrigued and seemed to be deciding in that moment to take action to develop his range of skill in writing,” she said. “And then, he did it.”
Crane-Laracuente witnessed him learning not only from her, but from classmates’ examples and feedback as well, while also reciprocating that thoughtful feedback.
“I was proud of him because of how he took pride in his work through determined attention each day,” she said. “Then, as often happens, I didn’t see him around campus or in another class.”
Not until last semester, when Palacios walked into her College Writing II course.
“Even with his mask on, I recognized him and remembered his name,” Crane-Laracuente said. “It had been about 10 years since I had last seen him.”
She was thrilled to see him again and hear more of his story.
Returning to life at Newman
Palacios was initially drawn to attend Newman in 2011 when he heard great things about its bowling program and esteemed education.
He attended the university for a short while before moving back to his home state of California. Years passed, but then this past year, the timing and his life circumstances worked out where he had the chance to return to Newman. Palacios inquired about re-enrolling, and he also connected with Head Bowling Coach Billy Murphy about joining the team again.
Both opportunities came to fruition. Palacios returned to Newman during the spring 2021 semester and is currently a sophomore in biology with a focus on pre-physical therapy.
Palacios loves that Newman is a small college, which enables him to develop more personal relationships with his professors. Among these professors is Crane-Laracuente, who remembered Palacios from when he first attended.
“He remains the thoughtful young man I first met over a decade ago, and at the same time, one who has learned many things with time and experience,” she said. “In College Writing last semester, he wrote a memorable profile essay about a man he looks up to as a lifelong learner. He himself is one of these.”
A lifelong learner at heart
Palacios channels his interest in learning into his pursuit of becoming a physical therapist, helping athletes recover from injuries or get stronger and attain their goals.
“There are a lot of people in the world who recover from an injury, and they recover nearly 100%, sometimes better than they were before,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to see how they can bounce back. I’d like to see if more people can do that and return to the person they once were, at least physically, so that they can still live the life they wanted and the life they had.”
Part of this interest stems from his passion for bowling, which he developed at a very young age.
“It’s part of who I am,” he said.
Because of this, Palacios is grateful that he’s had the opportunity to return to Newman and be on the bowling team. The camaraderie among his teammates adds to the welcoming experience.
“It seems like we click pretty well,” he said.
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