Meet English professor Dan Platt

Dan Platt is a new English professor here at DMACC. Platt was born and raised in New Jersey near Philadelphia.

He spent his teenage years there and went to the College of New Jersey and grad school at the University of Oregon. 

“I like New Jersey. I feel like it’s an underrated state. There are parts of it that are very pretty. I kind of grew up hiking in South Jersey.” 

When asked about why he chose English he said, “I feel like I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing and watching movies from a young age. And so, that was kind of an opportunity to like, really spend more time doing that. And I think it was one of the places where I got validation as a kid, you know, my teacher was like, ‘Oh, you’re good at writing,’ or that sort of thing. And so, I kind of leaned in that direction.”

He remembers reading “Lord of the Flies,” as a freshman and feeling like it opened up some interpretive possibilities for him. He was excited by the possibility of the allegory of that story and the idea that it could mean more than just some kids on an island. He grew up in a pretty religious household and was surrounded by Bible stories that interpret the significance of things, and liked understanding metaphors and how that all works. From a young age, Platt was surrounded by stories that have this sense of possibility.

 Platt was teaching at Graceland University in Lamoni, but left the college due to a new opportunity, one of his friends is Vice President at Southwestern Community College in Creston and offered him a job during the pandemic. He ended up moving from Lamoni to Des Moines, where he bought a house there. He was commuting there which is an hour and 15 minutes one way and it was a nightmare according to him. During his drives to work, he listens to a lot of audiobooks. But eventually, he realized he was spending a lot of money on gasoline and the commute was kind of killing him. So there was a job opening here at DMACC, he jumped on that opportunity. “People have been super kind and friendly and I’m grateful for the opportunity”.

 Platt also picked up the opportunity to become Phi Theta Kappa Advisor while here at DMACC. He was involved in PTK at Southwestern. 

“I got roped in by someone who was really looking for another helper and she was also retiring at the time. Super great person who was really helpful to kind of like guide me in Phi Theta Kappa stuff. And so I got a chance to be the advisor of SWICC and kind of get invested in the organization.”

He says for more of a complex answer why he is invested in PTK is he was always really invested in honors education. He was involved in the honors program as an undergraduate, and he also worked at the Honors Program at Graceland. 

“I really like some of the opportunities that honors programs create for people to just do a little bit more. Also with PTK like I like getting kids money, like it makes me feel good to know when they can get scholarship money for being awesome, and I know that like someone who has student loans into pain to pay for college, and so having the opportunity to like help students make that a little bit more affordable by tapping into some of the scholarship money that’s available through Phi Beta Kappa that makes me feel good, you know, knowing that I can do that.” 

“I care a lot about people who like making their lives better,” replied Platt when asked why he teaches. He hopes that he can accomplish that to some degree. He worked in the nonprofit sector for a period of time, doing environmental work. 

“I felt like I got more done working directly with people and inspiring them than like, I could try to create, like, social change through the nonprofit sector.” The biggest challenge as a teacher for Platt is, problems that are bigger than he can solve, like when he sees students who are struggling being able to pay for college or like mental health issues. He feels like it can be demoralizing to see. 

Platt hopes to accomplish it with co-advisor Katie Gallagher, just to build Phi Theta Kappa. His goal here is to help to build that organization and create opportunities for students. There’s a lot of potential to make that a really strong organization that creates cool opportunities for students. 

Another goal of his is to show students that there’s value in good writing and good communication. The humanities and the arts are facing a kind of crisis right now, there’s a push against funding for arts and humanities. 

“I think those programs are a threat and just kind of resetting the value of those kinds of programs, right, good writing, good public speaking, you know, reading books and watching movies in the value of that kind of thing for a complete education for a person.”

 His last goal is sustainability, making connections with students who are motivated by environmental issues. 

Platt is definitely DMACC biggest supporter when asked what his favorite metro restaurant is he said 

“I gotta give it up to the culinary students because this ICI is the best restaurant in Des Moines.” 

According to Platt Proof used to be the best restaurant in Des Moines. 

Platt also loves cooking, during the pandemic he made sourdough as seen on Tik Tok. 

If you are ever in need of coffee, Platt has your back. Platt takes his coffee black and makes it very strong. 

“When I was in college, my roommate, Dave would say, Dan you gotta make me some of that rocket fuel.” 

“So please do come by; I grind the beans myself and I use a French press which I think is still the best way to make coffee.” 

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