Irwin Gonshak '49
I graduated from Jamaica High School in NYC at age 16 in 1943 and looked for a college where the tuition was free. I discovered that the School of Agriculture at Cornell University had free tuition and I enrolled in the Ag. school. I wasn't interested in farming so I majored in bacteriology (which didn't interest me much either). Just before I was 18, I enlisted in the US Navy in 1945. World War II ended in August of 1945 when I was at the Great Lakes Naval Station and I was then assigned to a troop ship carrying the troops home from the Far East. I received an honorable discharge from the Navy after 16 months of service.
During my service in the Navy, I read a book that changed my career outlook-- Mortimer J. Adler's How to Read a Bookwhy the great books were made for the average reader to read and enjoy. I wanted to learn about the classics... and become a writer; so I decided to enroll in Liberal Arts majoring in History and English. I could do this now with free tuition from the GI Bill. But Cornell told me that I had to return to the School of Agriculture and wait a year or more before I could transfer to Liberal Arts.
So I looked around for a school which would admit me as a student in its Liberal Arts Department. Adelphi University was just what I was looking for. GIs were making the college co-educational. The GI Bill would pay for my tuition, my completed Cornell courses were accepted, and I could major in the Liberal Arts... and have many opportunities to become a writer.
The Adelphi professors were great; my education in the Liberal Arts took off; and I wrote for the college newspaper and literary magazine. I wrote a weekly column called "Under the Sun"-- about any subject imaginable (which become the talk of the campus) and won a Newspaper Guild Collegiate Press award.
I graduated from Adelphi in 1949 with a B.A.; went to Teachers College/Columbia for my M.Astill under the GI Billand become a social studies teacher in the NYC Public Schools (my day job). While teaching, I wrote 41 radio drama scripts for NBC's "Eternal Light" series, broadcast live coast-to-coast. The NYC Board of Education radio station WNYE-FM heard about my NBC programs and I was transferred to WNYE-FM as script supervisor. I wrote hundreds of educational radio dramas (many received national media awards), won many grants for the station, and had the best job in the whole school system.
Now I am radio producer for Teachers & Writers Collaborative (with two series on WNYE-FM-- Everything Goes? and Teacher As Historian); and I am also chair of the Writers Guild of America East Radio Drama Committee (where I am now preparing a festival called WGAE College/School Radio Drama Festival... Coast To Coast... 100+ College/School Participating). I hope Adelphi will be one of the colleges producing a half-hour of radio drama for the festival on the subject of "Private Eye on America."
And I owe my success in writing and producing for radio to...How to Read a Book...the GI Bill... and Adelphi University.
|Please Note: Irwin Gonshak passed away in January 2008 at the age of 80. Adelphi University treasures his many contributions to our community and this memory that he shared with us.