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rocco versaci

Raised in the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, I am the product of an Italian-American family, too many movies, and countless books. In my Midwestern suburban adolescence, I was brought up to root for perennial underdogs--the Bears, Cubs, and Illini. Ever the loyal fan, I left for the University of Illinois in the fall of 1985. I graduated in 1989 and worked for two years before following my dream to teach English at the college level.


In 1991, I left Chicago and headed to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, where I earned my M.A. in 1992 and my Ph.D. in 1997 (both in English). Along the way I cultivated my interests in comic books, contemporary literature, and movies. Somehow, I found the time to work as a film critic for the Bloomington Herald-Times

I came to Palomar College in the fall of 1997, where I have been been happily teaching ever since.


In 2003, at age 35, I was diagnosed with cancer. I spent most of the summer in chemotherapy, and I spent most of the time after that learning the truth of Robert Frost's words that "way leads on to way." My way eventually led to the road; in the summer of 2010, I set out alone on my bicycle--which I named "Rusty"--from Ocean Beach, California and two months later wound up at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My memoir about that ride and other events in my life, That Hidden Road (Apprentice House, 2016), is available HERE).


In October of 2013, I was diagnosed with cancer--again--and once more stepped into the world of the unwell. After two surgeries, one major surgical complication, and twelve weeks of chemo, my treatments are over and my prognosis is good.

So I continue to teach, and read, and remain engaged in my community and its issues. My two wonderful sons are now both of legal drinking age (i.e., grown), and I only occasionally grumble about the fact that they're both taller than I am.

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