Interview with Andrew Anastasia, Class of 2006



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Oral history interview with Dr. Andrew Anastasia, Class of 2006. The interview was conducted on July 12, 2023 by Rexton Jones, then a student employee at Milner Library.

Anastasia reflects on his upbringing in the southern suburbs of Chicagoland. He characterizes his hometown as being fraught with racial tensions and toxic white supremacy dynamics. Anastasia shares his early passion for music, which initially led him to pursue a degree in music performance and conducting. Anastasia auditioned at several Illinois universities, and although ISU wasn't his first choice, he acknowledges the pivotal role it would come to play in shaping his academic and personal journey.

As a student, Anastasia was a member of marching band, PRIDE, and Women's Coalition (later renamed Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, now FLAME; Feminist-Led Activist Movement to Empower). He recounts organizing an event called Rush to the Left with author David Foster Wallace, as well as iterations of Take Back the Night and the Clotheslines Project. Anastasia also highlights the support he received from faculty and staff like Mark Vegter, Barb Dallinger, Tom Gerschick, and Alison Bailey, who encouraged him to persist in his studies despite setbacks.

Between his parents’ divorce, mother’s declining mental health, and own struggles with gender and sexuality, Anastasia had difficulty maintaining his grades and failed out of school twice. After leaving ISU in 1998 he took a job at an agency that provided support for clients with developmental disabilities. Anastasia also worked as a 911 dispatcher for McLean Count for a time and volunteered with local organizations such as The Baby Fold.

Anastasia eventually returned to higher education at Heartland Community College. There, a faculty member encouraged him to finish his bachelor’s degree at ISU after earning his associate’s at HCC. Anastasia wrote an appeals letter and was readmitted. During this final stint at the university he participated in multiple student research exhibitions and had his senior capstone project profiled in Newsweek magazine.

After graduation Anastasia elected to pursue a master’s degree and PhD in English at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Initially drawn to transgender studies and queer theory, Anastasia's focus shifted to teaching once he discovered a passion for it due to his graduate assistantship. His research interests encompass trauma, adverse childhood experiences, and their impact on learning in composition studies.

Interview Date



  • Introduction; Anastasia’s childhood and high school years: 00:00-04:12
  • Auditioning for colleges as a music major; preparing to attend ISU: 04:12-07:42
  • Difficulties in school: 07:42-10:01
  • Working in Night Operations in Watterson Towers: 10:01-11:12
  • Participation in student organizations: 11:12-16:35
  • Notable faculty: 16:35-16:42
  • Atmosphere for queer students at ISU: 16:42-21:34
  • Local and national events while Anastasia was a student: 21:34-23:49
  • Take Back the Night and Clothesline Project: 23:53-26:11
  • Involvement in Bloomington-Normal community: 26:11- 28:15
  • Recovering from academic dismissal; pursuing graduate degrees at University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee: 28:15-32:56
  • Graduate research interests: 32:56-36:06
  • Staying in touch with ISU as an alum: 36:06-39:33
  • Reflections on ISU experience; conclusion: 39:33-41:37

Interview with Andrew Anastasia, Class of 2006