Spotlight on English Students

Joe Lapin


Clinton, Massachusetts, home of the galloping Gael.

Years at FIU

2008 - 2012

Job Title

Instructor and graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing.

Short Bio

I was born in Natick, Massachusetts, on August 15, 1985. My parents are Mitchell and Kathy Lapin. I moved to Clinton, Massachusetts, at the age of two and lived there until I went to college in the summer of 2003 at Stetson University. I was a music major—percussionist—until I switched my major to English. After graduating college, I studied in France and Prague, returning to live in metro Detroit. I was accepted into the FIU MFA program in 2008. I’ve recently become engaged and will be moving to Southern California at the end of the program to live with my fiancé.

Family snapshot

My mother grew up in Long Island and was a singer. My father grew up in Philadelphia and loves to think he can beat me in basketball. My brother attends St. John’s University and is clearly the true talent in the family. My grandparents have passed away, but I still think of them every day. My fiancé grew up in Jacksonville are where she learned to be the amazing and beautiful person she is today. Plus, I have a dog, Hendrix, who is so cool.

Favorite TV Show?

American’s Funniest Home Videos.

What is playing on your iPod?

Philip Glass, The Rolling Stones, “Exile on Main Street,” Claude Debussy, The Black Keys, A Tribe Called Quest, and Mario Cayo.

Proudest accomplishment?

Trying to surf in the Pacific Ocean without freaking out about Great White Sharks.

Your fondest memory of being an English major at FIU?

Playing dueling pianos at a cocktail party at the 2008 Hutchinson Island Writing Conference.

One thing you wish everyone knew about being an English major?

Being an English major or creative writing student doesn’t mean you wake up at 11 a.m., pontificate over the collected works of T.S. Eliot, while eating a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and sipping from a six dollar coffee that you can’t afford. English majors work hard. We learn to think critically, communicate, and use our imagination. And so we are not destined to be only teachers—while this is a good thing—or starving artists. We can be anything we want to be when we grow up.

Joe's nomination, from Les Standiford, Director of {a;creative-writing, Creative Writing}:

Joseph Lapin, of Clinton, Massachusetts, is his third year as an MFA Teaching Assistant in the Creative Writing Program and has distinguished himself by serving as a most energetic instructor and also exhibiting a desire to help bolster a community of writers and writing among his fellow graduate students. In addition to his regular duties in the composition program, Joe has served most adroitly for three years running as Assistant to the Director (Les Standiford) of the annual FIU Writers Conference, an undertaking held in 2008 & 2009 at Hutchinson Island, Florida, and this year, at Camana Bay, Grand Cayman.

He is the recipient of the graduate fiction prize in the 2010 FIU Literary Literary Awards Competition. Additionally, a student in one of his ENC 1101 classes wrote a personal narrative on his experience in the Afghan war, which Joe encouraged him to submit—the student won the Editor's Prize in the Thoreau's Rooster Annual Essay Competition in 2010 ( Thoreau's Rooster is a journal of undergraduate creative nonfiction based at Assumption College).

Furthermore, he has been the guiding force and emcee behind the successful monthly series of student readings at the Luna Star Cafe in North Miami Beach, "The Honest Liars Club." Joe is always around the halls with a smile and a story to tell. He spent first part of the summer in California interviewing with literary agencies with an eye both toward representation and employment after graduation, then the second half holed up at a cabin in North Carolina working on the stories that will comprise his thesis, The Adventures of James Tully. He is the kind of person who has never met a stranger and we are all the richer for our association with him.