English major and successful writer Rachel Louis Snyder ’92 is outstanding alumna

Nov 06, 2015

At its Homecoming celebration this fall, North Central College honored 1992 alumna Rachel Louis Snyder with an Outstanding Alumni Award. Presented annually, the award recognizes one or more alumni who have excelled in their careers and demonstrated service to the community and to North Central College.

Snyder, of Washington, D.C., advanced her journey as an acclaimed writer, professor and public radio commentator when she stepped foot on North Central’s campus. Knowing from a young age she wanted to be a writer, she developed her writing skills by majoring in English and took an opportunity to travel worldwide her senior year with Semester at Sea. She melded her interests in travel and social issues as the focus of her writing. “I found people doing amazing work or living in unusual places and started writing about it and for the Chicago Tribune and that launched my career.”

Her first book, “Fugitive Denim: A Moving Story of People and Pants in the Borderless World of Global Trade,” won an Overseas Press Club Award and was named one of the year’s “best business books” by The Library Journal. Her work immersed her in the culture of Cambodia, where she lived for six years. Her second book, titled “What We’ve Lost Is Nothing: A Novel,” was published in 2014.

Snyder went on to receive an M.F.A. in creative writing from Emerson College and is now an assistant professor in the M.F.A. creative writing program at American University. Her role as a university professor only scratches the surface of the scope of her professional activities. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Salon, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, New Republic and more. She has hosted the nationally syndicated global affairs series “Latitudes” on public radio, and her stories have aired on NPR’s “Marketplace” and “All Things Considered.” She has traveled to more than 50 countries.

Snyder is a strong supporter of North Central College, sponsoring a student scholarship and returning to campus to speak in classrooms and give talks. She recalls that the College took a chance on admitting her: “A lot of people I meet don’t get that chance. My gratitude is boundless.”