Manswell Peterson is an instructor and program coordinator of criminal justice at Darton State College. But that’s just his day job.
In his off-duty hours, Peterson has penned seven novels, is a budding screen writer and producer and thinks his creative life is just beginning.
He wrote his first book “One Last Cry” in 2007. It is a compilation of short stories. Since then the prolific writer has written six more books, and is currently planning to turn his latest tome, “Tracks of My Tears,” into a movie.
Terry Lewis recently sat down with Peterson for a question-and-answer session.
Q. What was your first job?
A. Subway on North Slappey Boulevard making sandwiches.
NAME: Manswell Peterson
OCCUPATION: Instructor and program coordinator of criminal justice at Darton State College; writer
FAMILY: Wife, LaTonya. Children, Manswell II, 14, and Braylen, 1
EDUCATION: Monroe High School, University of Florida, Troy University, BA in Criminal Justice and MA in Criminal Justice, Nova University, doctoral candidate in Education
Q. What was the first thing you bought after you got your first paycheck?
A. Groceries. You have to read “Tracks of my Tears” to understand.
Q. Who was your role model or mentor in your current job?
A. In education, Dr. Jeff Lee of Troy University. This man would always push me harder and higher than anyone I have ever seen. Even though I knew the material for class, he would also want more and that made me better as a student and now as a professor. In writing, author Treasure Blue. He has shown me, that with so many others writing books, how to shine and always have people talking or thinking about my next projects. In the movie industry, E. Roger Mitchell has taken me under his wings and shown me the ins and outs of the movie industry.
Q. How has the recession affected education budgets?
A. It has taught all of the educators that I know how to do more with less. Here at Darton we have trimmed our budget ... but we still give all of our students a world class education.
Q. If you could turn back the clock on one aspect of technology (email, Internet, cell phones, etc.) what would it be?
A. I would have to say the Internet. With a 24-hour news cycle now, it seems as though every story has to be reported. I also would make it safer for kids, less bullying and more education geared.
Q. I am up and going by ...?
A. Six every morning. I do my best to think about a new book or project that I am working on to give it some time before I start my daily activities. Right now, all of my focus is on my movie “Tracks of My Tears.”
Q. Favorite hobby or activity outside of work?
A. Writing and watching TV.
Q. If you could take back one decision in your career, what would it be?
A. I like every decision because all of them have made me who I am today. No regrets.
Q. What’s the best thing about your job?
A. Teaching the students about the law and watching the light come on once they start to get the world of Criminal Justice.
Q. What’s the worst thing about your job?
A. Seeing so many talented students not really push to be their best. They just want to slide by and enjoy life.
Q. The most beneficial course you took in school?
A. It was World Literature. It opened my eyes to new places and allowed me to see the world as a better place. This has helped me when it comes to writing books. I now know that the world is not just a central place with main characters, it is full of mystery and wonders that people can only imagine.
Q. What would be your dream job?
A. To become an Academy Award-winning producer of movies and television shows. I always sit and watch and wonder how I could have done that scene better or that story line.
Q. Finish this: “On the first anniversary of my retirement” I see myself ...
A. Penning just one more book.
Q. What is the one trait an educational leader cannot be without?
A. Ethics. You have to maintain a certain level of it when dealing with students and co-workers. Once you lose this in their eyes, it is the hardest thing to get back.
Q. What do you see as Albany’s biggest education challenge?
A. Showing the students that if they dream big and work harder than they have ever done in their lives that anything is possible. They just have to believe it.
Q. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in education over the past several years?
A. The shift to online classes is the biggest. There was a time when you had to walk in a classroom to get your education. Now with work schedules and families, you see the shift to make it more convenient to obtain those goals.
Q. What was the best vacation you ever took?
A. Went to Jamaica with my wife. Such a wonderful and beautiful place.
Q. Any parting words of wisdom?
A. I would tell anyone that has a dream of becoming anything in life, you have to never give up, never give in. Work harder than everyone, and never let anyone take your dreams away from you.