By Mary DiPipi
Last October, I had gotten an invite to join a Facebook group from an old friend from musical theatre camp. We hadn’t talked in years, liking each other’s posts here and there. At first, I was skeptical. Most times you get an invite to a Facebook group, it’s usually someone trying to sell you something. But this wasn’t like that. Instead of a Facebook group (mostly women) trying to selling me something, I saw a group of people who cared about the educational advancements and struggles of college students. The group was (and remains) focused on graduate alumni and supporting graduate students. I was intrigued. I had just graduated with my Masters in Creative Writing, and had struggled balancing a job, and graduate school, and my Thesis–my completed novel.
My final thesis–that was a half-assed version of the story I really wanted to tell–I was able to pass and that was what I cared about. I made plans to work on my novel after finally leaving the toxic environment my job had become, but for months, I couldn’t find the motivation. I was lucky to have been able to find ways to support myself, but I wanted to write. I wanted to make my novel–my thesis–what it was always meant to be.
So, I joined and was compelled to share my experience as a graduate student on the Facebook page. Something about this Facebook group made me want to share my experience. It made me want to help out other graduate/college students and offer support. Extra support I wish I would have had during my time in my master’s program. Something about this Ivory Tower Boiler Room group just felt right. Soon after, I got a Zoom invite from my musical theatre friend (Andrew). I was nervous, but excited. We hadn’t talked in years but I knew we had common ground based off of the posts he shared on facebook about his activism into social justice and equality/equity.
There were four of us at first, but then gradually more and more people joined. What started as a few days per week became every day. I was making progress with my novel and finding a community of writers that I could share my thoughts, feelings, and struggles with (I know that sounds so cliche) in the process.
This group has saved me mentally and emotionally. I can think of at least 2-3 occasions when I would have had a meltdown (no, that is not an exaggeration) if it weren’t for the support and motivation from this group. So if you’re a fiction writer who needs help getting through writer’s block, or a grad student working on your dissertation, or a poet trying to gain confidence, or any type of writer looking for support, check Ivory Tower Boiler Room out, give the pod a listen. Because we’re here for you.