York College Professional Writing grad uses writing as “a means of understanding”
Random thoughts pop into John Paul Capresecco’s ’15 head when he’s doing the most mundane of tasks. He’ll be washing dishes or taking a shower, and the questions just start flowing. Not typical thoughts of errands or weekend plans, but deep, existential thoughts. Like, what would happen if an Evangelical Christian and an atheist sat down to talk with each other?
He can’t talk it through, can’t come to a conclusion in that moment at the sink or in the shower. To really process an idea, he has to write. Writing is how he works through his own thinking, how he organizes all the swirling thoughts. “It’s a means of understanding,” he says.
He developed that system of organization and understanding at York College of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Bachelor’s in Professional Writing before going on to earn a master’s at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).
The honeymoon phase
John Paul compares his relationship with writing to a tumultuous romantic relationship. His time studying writing at York College — those were the early, puppy love, perfect years.
He came to York College as a transfer student from Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC). A bunch of his friends went to York College, and they all loved it. They even brought him to a few of their classes so he could get a feel for the campus. It was a great fit.
The process of transferring, which he was nervous about, went off without a hitch. His credits transferred, and he made new friends in his orientation. Then, there were the classes themselves. He had found where he belonged. “This is where I feel fulfilled,” he recalls thinking.
He loved the focus on rhetorical writing, studying the lenses of Marxism and feminism. It was almost like a branch of philosophy. All the way, he was supported by the faculty. “Consistently, every faculty member that I encountered at York College expressed a genuine interest in wanting to help and wanting to facilitate your development in whatever it was you were doing,” he says.
It happened just as he graduated — a crisis of faith. Was this really what he wanted to do with his life, be a writer? Should he go into academics? What was the next step he should take? Maybe it would be best if John Paul and writing took a break, to figure out what they really wanted. So, they did.
He took a job with Apple to pay the bills (he’d always been good with computers) and stayed there. The work was fine, but it wasn’t his passion. He started questioning himself again. “You know, I can feel my frontal lobe shrinking,” he remembers thinking. “I’m not okay with that.”
And, just like that, he and writing got back together. It was a little rocky, getting readjusted to life in academia, but soon they were clicking, just like old times.
What John Paul really loves about writing is rhetorical studies, figuring out the process of communication and argumentation to share ideas. His classes at York College focused a good amount of time on this, and it prepared him well for his graduate work at CMU. “I can definitely say York College’s program gave me a pretty distinct advantage,” he says.
When his CMU professors would refer to a theorist or concept, he knew exactly what they were referring to, unlike some of his classmates. He graduated with his master’s degree in May, and, once again he’s at a crossroads. He’s looking at jobs in academia, but his dream job would be to work for the government. He took some Russian language classes while he was at York College, and he might try to brush up on those skills.
He’s not totally sure what his next step is now, but he’s okay with that. He’s back together with writing, and, this time, they’re in it for the long haul.