Brian Ascalon Roley ’85
“I remember classes and techniques that still influence how I approach my work decades later.”
Crossroads encourages its students to be well-rounded, a trait exemplified by Brian Ascalon Roley. An author and associate professor of English at Miami University of Ohio, his educational and career choices reveal an individual of seemingly endless talents and interests.
“I came to Crossroads in ninth grade with a math and science orientation and developed a new interest in literature and the arts,” he says. “Crossroads planted a lot of seeds. As a liberal arts teacher, I believe in a balanced education. Crossroads laid the foundation for that.”
At Crossroads, Brian played on the tennis and golf teams, discovered a passion for history and acquired a love of writing. He was a philosophy major at Wesleyan University and considered becoming a philosophy professor. After graduating, he spent a year in London working as a psychology research assistant and at one point taught skiing in Austria, writing creatively on his own time. Thinking he’d enter the nonprofit sector, Brian earned a law degree from UCLA.
Despite the many career paths he could have pursued, Brian committed to his passion for words when he entered Cornell University’s MFA program on a SAGE Fellowship, teaching writing, film and literature to undergraduates.
“As an instructor, you’re influenced by the teachers that you had, and there were some really excellent teachers at Crossroads,” he says. “You think your students forget completely about you, but I remember classes and techniques that still influence how I approach my work decades later.”
In 2001, W.W. Norton published Brian’s award-winning first novel, “American Son,” about two half-Filipino brothers struggling with issues of racial identity in Southern California. Brian, who is himself of multiracial Filipino descent, recently finished “The Blood of Jose Rizal” while a visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge. The collection of stories centers on the real-life 19th-century Filipino doctor, author and activist and his (fictional) descendants, who are part of the extended family that Brian depicts in “American Son” and other works.