16 Sep September 16, 2016 – Mississippi Delta Michael Copperman & Mental Awareness Linda Baron-Katz
Michael Copperman wrote about his two years teaching through the organization Teach for America. He taught in the poorest and blackest part of the poorest and blackest state in the nation. As a self described “mixed-race Japanese-Hawaiian Russo-Polish Jew,” he encountered his own set of challenges–an unfamiliar curiosity from the kids, prejudice and ignorance from many adults. Ultimately, it was as much an education for Michael as it was for his students. He now teachs writing to at-risk students of color at the University of Oregon. He graduated Stanford summa cum laude and was a Presidential Scholar. His nonfiction has appeared in countless publications. Michael is the recipient of the 2009-10 Walter Morey Fellowship from Literary Arts, and Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship, and a fellowship to Breadloaf Writer’s Conference. His fiction has been published in The Arkansas Review, Thirdreader, and 34th Parallel, and is forthcoming from Copper Nickel and Unsaid. His story “Harm,” was a runner-up for the 2009 Sean O’Faolain Prize and appears in issue 17 of the Munster Literature Centre’s magazine Southword.
Linda Baron-Katz -Founder of Surviving Mental Illness
Linda Baron-Katz was raised as a modern orthodox Jew, where mental illness became a factor throughout her life. It had started with her mother when she was in the fifth grade. Her mother had suffered a nervous breakdown and was diagnosed with acute depression. This gave Linda and her family a huge amount of stress. As she was growing up into adulthood, her mother’s illness affected her in ways that she too would become a depressed person. Linda had difficulties making friends, developing positive relationships, and maintaining employment. After she graduated college, she also suffered from a mental illness and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Through the years she was faced with challenges that were difficult to overcome, but worked hard to achieve recovery. As part of her recovery from mental illness, she became active and volunteered for a variety of mental health organizations. Linda became a member of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness or formerly called National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) and published articles about her life in New York City Voices, a newspaper for people with mental illness to share their personal recovery stories. Both of these agencies helped fight against stigma and other issues pertaining to mental illness. Soon after, Linda found employment working for agencies that help others with mental illness reach their goals and dreams.