Alumnus Spotlight: Owen Bailey

by Jilly Horaneck
Elm Staff Writer

Alumnus Owen Bailey has had a long history with Washington College.
He transferred from McDaniel College to WC in 2004 and graduated in 2007. Before he decided to major in American Studies for his Undergraduate Degree, Bailey had switched from History to English.
While attending WC, Bailey’s favorite class was Earth Physics, a subject that had nothing to do with his major.  “Professor Charlie Kehm taught two sections of Earth Physics when I was a junior, and I very much enjoyed both of those classes. I had always loved science and he made it interesting, engaging, and taught in such a way as to make a complex subject more easily understood, which I think is key when teaching a science,” Bailey said.
After attending WC for his undergraduate degree, Bailey stayed and received his Master’s in English.
“In graduate school, my favorite [professors] were Professor Corey Olsen, who taught a section on JRR Tolkien, and Professor Kathryn Moncrief, who was the first teacher who got me to enjoy reading Shakespeare. To this day, I still pick up and read parts of the Tempest and Macbeth when I want to enjoy the beauty of the language,” Bailey said.
While in graduate school, he traveled and also worked part-time at the Rose O’Neill Literary House.
“I met my wife while studying abroad in Cork, Ireland. She’s from Denmark and we traveled back and forth while both attending our respective graduate schools. We married in 2009, and she became an American citizen last year and was able to vote in her first American election this past fall,” Bailey said.
Since then, Bailey has worked for the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) as the facilities and administrative coordinator.
“We work out of a 15,000 square foot, newly renovated office building in downtown Easton. ESLC is a land trust, working to preserve land in the upper six counties of the Eastern Shore. We also work on town development and revitalization, as well as coastal resilience,” he said.
Coastal resilience is one of the most important issues facing Maryland’s Eastern Shore today. Due to rising sea levels, the state will lose some percentage of its land by 2050.
Because of his job location in Easton, Bailey has yet to come back to the Literary House since he left it two years ago.
“Before I left, I worked seven years at the Literary House helping to organize author events. It was a great job for someone who loves books, and I was lucky to meet authors like Neil Gaiman, Jacqueline Woodson, Marie Rutkoski, Colum McCann, and Dick Davis,” Bailey said.
Even though he has not been able to come to any events at the Literary House, Bailey thinks back to when he heard both Karl Rove and David Axelrod speak at WC, which he believes helped him in his life.
“Though my personal opinions on policy and governance lean more towards Axelrod, I appreciated the opportunity to hear from two people who served similar rolls under two very different presidents. I believe both came as part of the Richard Harwood series, which has also brought many other great and interesting people to the College. It made me feel fortunate to be able to attend, and was one of the few times I really took advantage of what the college had to offer,” Bailey said.
Bailey advises all current students to go to events whenever possible and to learn as much as they can from their professors because they are there to help students succeed.
Bailey finds it most important for students to read and become good writers, as those are the two best skills for anyone looking for a job.
“The most important thought I came away from my time as a student, as well as when I was a staff member, is “I don’t know everything, but I will always like to learn more,”” Bailey said.

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