Faculty Profile: Dr. Annet O'Mara

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Dr. Annet O'Mara
Dr. Annet O'Mara

Dr. Annet O'Mara's inspiration to write came while growing up in the jungles of Malaysia. "I saw monkeys sharing papayas or bananas with their families. That bubbled up poetry within me long before I even knew how to pen a line. There were also graceful kingfishers and venomous king cobras. Nature's harmony and contradictions inspired the muse within me."

O'Mara would come to the United States to pursue a college education in writing. Her experience with a professor at Los Angeles City College confirmed she was on the right path. "My freshman composition teacher, Professor Laurie Drechery, really encouraged me in my writing. I wanted to be like her someday. She had gone to Harvard and eventually I would too."

While working her way through a graduate degree, O'Mara taught at multiple schools in California. Eventually she made it to the east coast and earned her second master's degree at Harvard. During her time in Boston she met a man online who would become her husband, and their relationship brought her to Central New York.

O'Mara landed at OCC in 2008 where she now teaches Freshman Composition, Creative Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Poetry. "I felt it was time to give back to the community. OCC is where we find real students with real lives. Our students bring a diversity of cultural experience and thought to discussions and writings. It's great to see how students help each other fine-tune their thinking and writing skills to become better writers."

The Catholic faith is a central part of O'Mara's life. She had written two devotionals, then went on a volunteerism trip to poverty-stricken eastern Kentucky where she assisted with home repairs for a week. "It was totally out of my comfort zone but I really wanted to do it. I put in subfloors and drilled in screws. It was physical labor and I was grateful for the experience. I learned so much more from these people than I could have ever given. They exuded virtues of simplicity, docility, sacrifice, and mostly thankfulness."

Stories from her trip as well as other real and fictional stories are included in O'Mara's third book published this summer, Avalanche of Grace: Growing in Christian Virtues. Her companion journal, Avalanche of Grace: Virtues Journal, is also available for readers to write as they grow in different virtues. "I wanted to capture ordinary lives of those I know who have been filled with grace. Their lives have touched my heart, spirit, and soul. Avalanche of Grace! is my 'heart print.' I'm happy to be able to leave a legacy."

With the new semester underway, O'Mara continues to bring her passion into the classroom every day and help students improve their craft. "I empathize with my student's struggles in writing because i was just there, writing and revising my books. I know what it is like to be in their writing shoes, and I want to inspire my students to stay the course and not give up. I tell students that when a thought germinates within them, write it down and let the pen flow."

Avalanche of Grace
Onondaga Community College