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Junior Michael Steck Plans to Study Latin American Literature in a PhD Program

Michael Steck was 16 years old when he first read 2666—the last novel Chilean author Roberto Bolaño wrote before his death. Since then, he's read the 1,200-page bestseller roughly 22 more times. The literature major—a junior who's amassed enough credits to graduate one year early—will spend his final year at Purchase delving even further into the novel for his senior project.

Steck's intellectual exploration extends beyond words and pages. Last June, he traveled to Japan to represent Purchase at Technos International Week, a program organized by Technos International College of Japan to promote international exchange. "It was amazing, and I was struck most by the welcomeness and hospitality of our hosts. We were treated with a level of respect I've never experienced before," he says.

Last year, Steck also discovered the rewards of sharing his knowledge as a teaching assistant in Professor Kathleen McCormick's college writing class, as a peer mentor, and a writing tutor in the Learning Center. As secretary of the Literature Society, he helped increase attendance at monthly open mic nights and produce two major events, the Night of Many Tongues and the Literature Senior Project Dinner.

Steck plans to continue his study of Latin American literature in a graduate program, but admits he wants to take care of some unfinished business first. "I think it's ironic that I'm so interested in Latin American literature, but I can't speak a word of Spanish," he says. He'll spend next summer in a Spanish-language immersion program in Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, or Bolivia before entering grad school.

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