Di Kivi


"Unfortunately, my mother became terminally ill and passed away when I was in my teens; I am one of three and had two siblings that needed to be cared for. So, I left high school and went straight to work, because somebody had to pay the bills. I never really consi dered that college would happen for me, and the further I got into working, the less it truly was an option. I had an incredibly intelligent brother, so in comparison I really didn’t think I was college material, and quite frankly I wasn't encouraged to look into it either; few girls of my generation in England went to college.

I had a real passion for English and a real passion for writing and reading; I had always thought that I would love to put that passion to work as an English teacher, but of course I needed a college degree for that.

I can’t even remember how I started writing for newspapers. I pitched some stories and they picked them up and started running them. After that I had multiple assignments a week, but it wasn’t enough to be a full-time job. In my thirties, I pitched a book about wedding planning to a publisher. It was the 1990s, so the market for wedding planning wasn't nearly as saturated as it is today, and amazingly they agreed to it. It was called Budget Brides and was released at Book Expo America in Chicago, which is the biggest book expo in the country. I found myself sitting at the autograph table with Sophia Loren on one side of me and Peter Jennings on the other; Dr. Ruth and George Stephanopoulos were there as well.

Here were all of these people who are so well known and then there was me in the middle of them. I felt like I was a fraud in some ways. How was I sitting in the midst of all of this? It was pretty amazing. I thought no one would come to my table for an autograph, but they did. The book turned out to be pretty popular.

I always felt that I would not be taken seriously as a writer, because I didn’t have a college degree, but I didn't enjoy my regular job and writing was my passion. I was having a mid-life crisis  -- I really wanted a baby and we had been trying for years, but it wasn't happening. So, my husband said, “Go apply to college ... What are you waiting for?”

So I did; I started out here at SUNY Adirondack. I was terrified, but once I got here and started taking classes, I found it was really fantastic. I didn’t stop until I got my Master’s ... and then I kept going after that, too. I received my Associate at SUNY Adirondack, my undergrad in English through Empire State and I earned my Master’s in Teaching English at SUNY Plattsburgh. I was able to do everything between Queensbury and Wilton; it felt like home. It still does!

Three weeks into my first semester I found out I was pregnant! My son was born two months prematurely, the week before finals of my second semester. I had a full class load and finals that I had to miss and retake, but the professors were so understanding. It was a challenge, but it all worked out and now here I am, teaching English at SUNY Adirondack -- a dream that has come full-circle.

It is extremely important to me as a professor here that we try to understand all of the stress and struggles that our students may face. I can relate. I have been where they have been. When my son was very young, I also lived through my husband serving two different military deployments, each lasting many months at a time. I think we have to be very understanding of students and the circumstances they find themselves in. Everyone has a story.

My advice to students is: don’t be afraid to ask for support. It is there for you. Don't let fear stop you and hold you back."

Di Kivi
Wilton, NY
Liberal Arts: Humanities & Social Sciences, Class of 2003
English Division