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Professor Spotlight: Paul Kirpal Gordon brings his life’s journey to the classroom

Paul Kirpal Gordon, known as KP to his students, defies the maxim that those who can’t do, teach. He is a model of what an educator should be. Gordon has taken his life experiences to the classroom in efforts to shape young minds into fully developed souls. Gordon is a writer and educator, but beyond both of those titles, he is an inspiring human being who serves as a reminder that the few hours we spend in a classroom with our professors do not do them justice. 

Gordon’s love for writing started in grade school. He explained it began “when [the teachers] kept kicking me out of the classroom and sent me to the principal’s office.”

Each 200-word essay he was forced to write as a deterrent for future infractions only prepared him for the whirlwind of a career he would build for himself. He explained life as a story, and said, “It’s so much easier to explain when you go through it and can tell a story about it.” 

Like most writers, his characters are people he meets in real life, which teaches a valuable lesson many are missing in this day in age – every human has something to offer. 

Gordon teaches Writing Studies and Composition 002 here at Hofstra. The students who take his course have the opportunity to not only grow as writers, but also as people. 

He encourages young minds to examine if their beliefs are their own, while stressing that as young creators, students “only need to share when they’re ready to.”

His students also have the opportunity for an essay to be published on his blog, Taking Giant Steps, which gives students the chance to work closely with the professor. 

Gordon’s goal is to help students “take feedback and not focus on who is giving them the feedback.” 

Gordon’s passion to help individuals discover their potential extends beyond the classroom. He dedicated time to teach inmates at a local Arizona prison, close to where he was furthering his education at the time. Gordon didn’t see felons. Instead, he says he felt gratitude because he realized, “This could’ve been me.”

Fortunately, he was introduced to people early on in his life who affirmed his refusal to conform and helped him grow into someone who could remain true to himself while positively contributing to society. 

This is the same gift Gordon extended to the inmates. He fought to get them a library and worked closely with them as they built a newspaper and simultaneously raised their spirits.

Gordon’s biggest advice for his students is to unite. “The strength is in the union. I grew up in a generation of people that saw the strength in being united,” he said. He recognizes that there will always be a difference in opinions, but says the antidote for that is “to get underneath the ideology.” 

“We think ideologies solve something in our lives, but let’s instead think about what we have in common.” 

Gordon has worked relentlessly to inspire students to “own their education,” but stresses that the classroom is not the only place to learn. In his eyes, the world is our classroom. 

While working in the prison, he was initially forced to jump through many hoops to make a difference. He accepted this struggle, saying, “Everything that came up missing, we created.”

He has lived a life of adventure and acquired valuable lessons that he continues to share with those he meets. Because of all that he has done and continues to do, Gordon believes that he has the ability to truly teach. 

What I learned about the power of forgiveness

Humans of Hofstra: Leon Jaggan

Humans of Hofstra: Leon Jaggan