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Although he had been a gifted athlete since his junior year in high school, he had also found an outlet in writing. Featured in an April 2014 piece in The Atlantic, Burke explained how a line from Carter Godwin Woodson's The Mis-Education of the Negro helped give him the confidence to turn from sports to literature.

Woodson wrote that "... every man has two educations: that which was given to him, and the other that which he gives himself. Of the two kinds the latter is by far the more desirable. Indeed all that is most worthy in man he must work out and conquer for himself."

So with the help of mentors like Marcinek, Professor of English Tom Bailey and Lisa Scott, vice president for student engagement and success, Burke embarked on his own education.

It was not easy freeing himself from a basketball network that pushed him to remain a player. "People [interested in his basketball career] would say, ‘What do you need to make you happy?,' but they did not want to get to know me." Growing increasingly disenchanted, Burke decided he wanted to break free of the path he was on, but moving away from basketball to writing was scary.

"Dr. Bailey made a big difference in terms of anchoring me during the journey. He put so much faith and trust in me. Frank [Marcinek] took the time to know me, and Ms. Scott never let me off easily. She was like my mother at Susquehanna," Burke says.

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