By Nadia Zebrowski
When it comes to global anglophone literature, Dr. Kerry Manzo will educate his students in a way they have never experienced before. However, he is not just a professor to his students; he is a friend and role model to students as well.
“It's the way he actively tries to engage with students, outside of class too,” said student Alvarez Pickett, a first-year student majoring in communications. “He's going to show me his dog; I love teachers like that."
Manzo has taught at Purchase since 2018 in a variety of courses. By stepping away from British and U.S. English literature, Manzo focuses on the use of indigenous, queer, and minority global English literature. “It’s very enriching,” said student Lola Coyle, a first-year cinema and television major. “A lot of what we study wasn’t so much the actual content, but how the content is informed by the context of how it was written and where it was written; that was interesting and something I wasn’t expecting.”
All students know the nagging feeling of watching the clock in class. But for Dr. Manzo’s students this is not the case. "It's a nice environment to be in, class time seems to go faster in this class than it does any other,” said Pickett.
Living in the moment is Manzo's current outlook. He hopes to be tenured here at Purchase, one day, but his current goal is to complete his book for publishing. He is writing a scholarly manuscript on the representation of women in sexual and gender minorities in West African literature. “Instead of taking a cis perspective on this literature, it is taking a queer and feminist perspective,” said Manzo.
Manzo spent his early childhood overseas as his father was a member of the U.S. Air Force. His family was stationed in Guam and Athens, Greece. In his early adolescent years, his mother moved him and his siblings to El Paso, Texas; living just five minutes away from the U.S. and Mexico border. He was able to adjust to this transition with ease. “I wasn’t used to thinking of myself as a U.S. citizen since I had been overseas all of my life, but being in the border community had the bilingual and bicultural aspects that was very comfortable,” said Manzo.
Manzo admits he has also experienced obstacles throughout his adolescent years. He particularly describes the hardships of becoming a homeless teen and entering a group home. “When I was 17, I was kicked out of my family home,” said Manzo. He describes this experience as challenging because, “the group home was not safe for LGBTQ people, so I had to be very very careful.”
Manzo uses a lot of time to volunteer in the LGBTQ community, such as the Loft in Westchester, and a nonprofit called Queerty. In addition, he is living on campus this semester in the Alumni Village to teach a first-year learning community class about LGBTQ resources available at Purchase and in the region. This program “talks about what it takes to build inclusive, equitable, and just communities,” said Manzo.
Manzo enjoys living and teaching on the Purchase campus. He even has a roommate; his dog Kizzie. “She is a mystery,” said Manzo, “but she looks like a cross between an old English sheepdog and something tiny.” He is taking advantage of all the resources on campus while he is a resident. You can find him walking Kizzie around, cycling on the Loop, and using the gym regularly.
Most of all, Manzo enjoys the vibe here at Purchase, both inside and outside of the classroom. "It's a really great campus with a lot of creative energy, which makes it just a joy to teach here.”