Derek Gayle '11
Randolph-Macon College student Derek Gayle ’11 rarely sits still.
The English major (with minors in
journalism, film studies and
history) hit the ground running as a freshman—and he hasn’t slowed down
a bit. “R-MC offers a ton of opportunities to make connections,” says Gayle, a Caroline
County, Virginia native. “It was easy to get involved right from the start.”
Gayle joined the staff of R-MC’s Yellow
Jacket newspaper as a freshman and was soon named news editor. “Last
year I was promoted to managing editor,” he says. “I really feel that I’ve been
given a great opportunity to leave my ‘footprint’ through my work at the newspaper.”
A theatre buff, Gayle has performed in many R-MC drama productions. “I made my debut
in The Crucible, but my first major role was part of an ensemble cast in
The Boys Next Door,” he explains. “Since then I have had roles in The Importance
of Being Earnest, The Collection, Othello, and Indoor/Outdoor.
I also had what I jokingly refer to as a cameo role in Beyond Therapy,
and I will be working on the publicity for an upcoming show, Fences.”
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Gayle is a member of Alpha Phi Omega,
a co-ed service fraternity, which has been “a fantastic experience. I’ve been able
to connect with great people as well as have a hand in helping my community.” At
the end of his freshman year, Gayle co-founded the R-MC Film Society, which promotes
film studies and filmmaking. And in 2009 he was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta, the
English Honors Society; he currently serves as the Society’s public relations chair.
In addition, Gayle is a member of the Drama Guild and the Washington Literary Society.
He also finds the time to work as a supervisor in the Butler Language Lab and as
a tutor in the Writing Center.
Whenever possible, Gayle attends the college’s OSMA (Organization for Sexual Minorities
and Allies) events. “The events that have dealt with issues surrounding self-confidence
and self-awareness have helped me discover myself, and I am grateful that I took
part in them," he says. "I am known as the guy who wears the Superman backpack with
a cape. My time at R-MC has helped me realize that there’s nothing wrong with that,
because that’s who I am.”
A New Outlook
The Honors Program includes some of the most
interesting classes I have ever taken,” says Gayle. “My favorite was ‘Monsters and
Modernism,’ taught by Professor Jack Trammell, which combined sociology with literature
and pop culture. The class introduced me to a massive amount of sociological concepts
and amazing literature, films and even graphic novels. I felt like the class was
made for me—it took all the things I didn’t expect to have in a college class and
managed to cram them all together.”
Professor Marissa Cull’s “King Arthur in Literature” class was another of Gayle’s
favorites. “I was introduced to a world of literature that is jam-packed with intriguing
stories and mysteries,” he says. “It gave me a better understanding about many of
my favorite stories, which I didn’t realize had a connection to King Arthur. The
final project also allowed me to discuss one of my favorite cartoons and comics,
Gargoyles, something I doubt I could have done in any other class.”
Gayle is excited about an upcoming Honors course, “Zen and Creativity,” which will
explore the connections between Zen and the notion of creativity commonly used by
visual and conceptual artists. The J-term 2011 course will include a weekend trip
to a New York monastery. “I’ve heard great things about the class, and I look forward
to learning about a new outlook on life,” says Gayle.
In summer 2009, Gayle completed what he considers a “dream”
SURF (Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship) project. “My project was
titled 'The Artist’s Kryptonite: Marketing and the Representation of Death in Superman',”
he says. “I spent the summer reading Superman comics, watching Superman TV shows
and movies, and reading dozens of articles and books on Superman, both scholarly
and from the media. I studied various portrayals of death in the Superman franchise
across numerous media, connected them to the marketing strategies involved, and
argued how much of the creative and artistic side was influenced by marketing and
corporate interference. It encapsulated major interests of mine—superheroes, the
entertainment industry, and PR/marketing.” Gayle’s project culminated in a 51-page
paper that he considers one of the best texts he has written. “I hope to eventually
update it, expand upon it and get it published,” he says.
As Gayle looks ahead, he reflects on his experiences at R-MC. “When I look back,
I realize just how many leadership positions I’ve had at R-MC, and how many times
I’ve had to step up and do ‘professional’ and ‘adult’ things that I never expected
to be able to do,” he says. “I have grown in so many ways because of my involvement
in campus organizations, and I feel confident that I can survive in the world after
For information on R-MC’s Honors Program, visit http://www.rmc.edu/academics/honors.aspx.
For information on R-MC's English Department, visit
For more information about the breadth of programs and opportunities available at
Randolph-Macon or to schedule a campus visit, contact our Admissions Office at (800)
888-1762 or at email@example.com.