An unlikely path: The Dr. Nick Robinson story

Oct 16, 2023

Dr. Nick Robinson

The saying “no paths are the same” is evident in Dr. Nick Robinson’s journey to Claflin University.

For the last seven years, Robinson has taught as an English professor at Claflin, where he is also the editor of the Edisto River Review, a cross-university literary contest.

“I never wanted to be a college professor. Ever,” Robinson said.

Just recently he found himself on stage in front of hundreds of college freshmen, sharing a glimpse of his life story.

“I’ve endured some struggles too,” Robinson said to students during the Matriculation Day ceremony.

He grew up at Junior Village, a “notorious D.C. government-run orphanage.” Junior Village was shut down in 1973 after a series of exposés revealed the traumas children endured in the hostile environment.

The added pressures due to the circumstances of the orphanage ultimately led to Robinson failing the ninth grade multiple times and dropping out.

At 21 years old, he passed his General Educational Development test and earned a four-year academic scholarship to American University.

But the freedoms that came with college proved to be overwhelming and caused Robinson to flunk out.

“I got completely consumed with living life to its fullest,” he said.

The desire to be something pushed him to successfully complete the undergrad program at the University of the District of Columbia, a historically Black university.

“There’s something that’s beyond this place, and I want it. I have failed so much in my life,” he said.

“I’m just afraid of failing and that’s been a motivation to me. In addition to the fear of failure, I wanted money and success.”

Growing up in the orphanage, Robinson linked success to “the guys in the suits and ties.”

He believed he accomplished his dream after securing an executive position at Microsoft.

But he soon realized, “your dreams never stop.”

Dr. Robinson felt compelled to write a memoir about Junior Village.

To strengthen his English writing skills, he studied at Florida Atlantic University and received his master of fine arts in English literature, creative writing.

He then received his doctorate degree in English literature, creative writing from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Now he shares his knowledge with students in the English department at Claflin.

“Your life can take turns that you never expect when you’re driven by dreams,” he said.

Section Navigation
Support the next generation of Claflin Leaders
Your support provides educational enrichment through student scholarships, loan funds, instructional classroom equipment, preparing Claflin's students to be leaders of the future.