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Danny Rader: Finding a Place to Find His Voice

English major and writer receives the McKibbin Memorial Prize

Photo of Danny Rader sitting with legs crossed

University of Cincinnati graduating senior Danny Rader had big questions when he transferred to UC’s College of Arts & Sciences two years ago. He knew that, somehow, his future was tied to writing, he says, “but I hadn’t quite figured out the ‘how’.”

Shortly after enrolling as an English major with a concentration in Creative Writing, Rader received an email from the English Department that would help him find the answer to the ‘how’ part.

With that prompt, Rader applied to write for Odyssey, a national social media platform with a branch here at UC. “I was hired to write and, eventually, edit for and lead the team,” he says. “It gave me the space and freedom I needed to refine my skills, flesh out my voice, and embrace who I was.”

In his time at UC, Rader has grown academically, artistically and personally, and this year receives a Robert Patterson McKibbin Prize. The award was created in 1911 in memory of Reverend Robert William McKibbin’s son, who died in 1910. The medal is conferred on graduating seniors in recognition of scholarly achievement, strength of character and contribution to community.

“Rarely, if indeed ever in ten years of teaching, have I had the pleasure of working with a student who has grown…as much and as quickly as Danny has,” says Rebecca Lindenberg, assistant professor and director of creative writing who taught Rader in an Advanced Poetry Seminar and Hybrid Forms capstone course.

Rader’s poetry and prose “brilliantly incorporate both humor and pathos in a compelling and convincing way,” Lindenberg says, adding: “I greatly admire (his) dedication to personal and artistic and intellectual growth, and his relentless good-naturedness.”

For his part, Rader has found UC and its literary community to be a fertile environment in which to grow as a writer: His contributions include writing and serving as Editor-in-Chief for Odyssey, co-founding the Rogue Writers student literary group, and participating in Short Vine, the English Department’s literary magazine. He also has served as a writing lab volunteer, has been inducted into Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and has had poetry published in The Merrimack Review.

“The creative writing courses (at UC) fostered some of my best work and motivation to push forward,” Rader says. “Professors like Rebecca Lindenberg, Chris Bachelder and John Drury are immensely passionate in what they teach, and their passion is as contagious as it is beneficial to the students in their classes.”

In addition to pushing forward in his writing, Rader’s undergraduate experience also helped propel him forward personally, he says. “Professors like Rebecca Lindenberg and the therapy services of CAPS (Counseling & Psychological Services) gave me the strength and encouragement I needed to lose over 130 pounds, come out to myself, friends and family as a gay man, and take control of the direction my life is heading.”

Rader’s next chapter involves another big move: this time a long-term trip to New Zealand, where he hopes to put his degree to work, and potentially enroll in an MFA program. And while he’ll miss “the bustling campus, and half-off Mondays at the Mac Shack,” Rader says, “UC has given me the resources I need to make huge strides forward in my personal life.”

Danny Rader is one of five 2018 graduates from the University of Cincinnati College of Arts & Sciences recognized for their outstanding contributions and achievements.