A Writer at Heart: Jordan Chappell ’20

News Story categories: Art History Classics English Internships Mathematics Student Spotlight Writing

English and art history major. Mathematics, writing, and classical studies minor. World traveler. Intramural sand-volleyball player. Randolph-Macon College student Jordan Chappell ’20 is a Yellow Jacket who rarely passes up an opportunity to learn and grow.

From Campus Visit to Art History Major
Chappell credits Art History Professor Evie Terrono with sparking her interest in Randolph-Macon College—and in art history.

“She was one of the first people I met during a tour of RMC,” says Chappell, a recipient of the Sue and Ritchie Watson Scholarship. “I would not be the student, or the writer, that I am today without her support. I look forward to coming back to visit her as often as possible after I graduate, and I would love to sit in on some of her future classes.”

The Write Stuff
A writer at heart, Chappell served as copy editor for The Yellow Jacket student newspaper and as the fiction editor for The Stylus, a journal of creative writing produced by the English Department. When she did an internship at Creative Media Agency in Richmond, Virginia, she got a writer’s-eye view of what happens at a busy literary agency.

“The experience had a huge impact on my desire to pursue a writing-based career,” she says. “I got an inside look into what literary agents look for in new manuscripts. I also saw the overwhelming number of book submissions that literary agents must sort through and respond to in a short period of time. This new understanding helps keep me from getting discouraged by rejection and pushes me to produce the best work possible.”

Chappell writes mostly young adult fiction—specifically fantasy, realistic fiction, and historical fiction—and is currently working on a historical fiction novel about a female Chinese painter. The novel was inspired by a class she took, Asian Art, taught by Terrono.

“Jordan is the rare student who truly thrives on learning, is enthusiastic about the challenge of learning and consistently surpasses all expectations, achieving excellence easily because of her remarkable intellectual strengths, and her meticulous, methodical and focused preparation,” says Terrono. “A tireless researcher who mines academic sources, books and articles—many often intended for graduate students—Jordan comes up with novel ideas of exploration. Exemplary in this respect is the project that she undertook by creating a landscape in the monumental tradition of Chinese landscapes, as a meditative exercise on the restorative impact of being in nature, a central concept in Chinese art.”

Beyond the Classroom
A January Term (J-term) travel course to Italy and Greece taught by Classics Professors Thomas Rose and Bartolo Natoli was life-changing for Chappell.

“I have loved Greek mythology since I was really young, so being able to visit places like the Acropolis, the Sanctuary of Delphi, and the theater at Epidaurus brought to life places I had only read about,” says Chappell. “I had seen plenty of pictures of artworks like the Kritios Boy sculpture, Michelangelo’s Pietà, and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but on this trip, I experienced these masterpieces in person.”

Jordan Chappell with Bill Bryson and Watsons
Chappell is the recipient of the Sue and Ritchie Watson Scholarship. She is pictured here with Sue and Ritchie Watson and author Bill Bryson.

Future Plans
Chappell, who introduced author Bill Bryson to a standing-room-only audience when he spoke at RMC in 2020, hopes to start working as a writer immediately after graduation.

“It has always been my goal to have a book published,” she says. “I took advantage of any free time I had during my four years at Randolph-Macon to work on my creative writing. I plan to work toward getting some of my completed projects published.”