Professor, Advisor, and Supporter: Meet Professor William Orchard

5 mins read

Think about it; most of us will have a professor who pushes us beyond our comfort zone throughout our time in college. Over the course of fifteen weeks we will grow to either be inspired by them or question how they’ve managed to become a professor at all. In Professor Orchard’s case, he strives to inspire students through his thoughtful yet challenging assignments.

Orchard currently teaches the English Honors Senior Seminar “Bad Romance: Fragments, Heartbreaks, and Other Tales of When Love is Not Enough.” It’s a class where students are encouraged to explore how failed relationships can give people the opportunity to visualize a different way of being in this world and connecting to other people. Being in this two semester class requires students to complete a 20 page research project, take an honors examination, and participate in a student conference at the end of the spring semester. While Orchard challenges his students in this intense course, he also offers them support along the way.

Sahar Soleimany, a senior majoring in English and Secondary Education, explained, “Bill’s class definitely requires a lot of devoted time, but I’ve found that the high expectations he sets up for students are only because he believes they have the potential to reach them. His workload is never arbitrary or malicious; rather, it’s to help us grow as writers and critical thinkers.”

Soleimany adds that she would take another class with Orchard, if she weren’t already graduating in the spring.

Besides being a professor, Orchard is an advisor as well. He is an assistant director of the MA Program in the English Department, and can advise students who want to apply to the program or are interested in moving on to graduate school.   

However, there is more to Orchard than being a professor and advisor.

Before coming to Queens College, Orchard lived in San Jose, San Francisco and Chicago. He even worked in a rural part of Maine at a liberal arts college for a while, but missed being in the city. It was at Queens College that he saw how hard working both the students and professors he had to work with everyday were.

The same could be said about Professor Orchard.

Professor Walkden, an advisor in the English Department, stated that “Professor Orchard is a lot of fun to work with. He’s collegial and supportive, always calm and thoughtful, and he has a very dry sense of humor which I’ve come to appreciate.”

Orchard did not think he would become an English professor–he got a C in his Women’s Literature and dropped out for two years to support his family. It was only then that he understood that earning a C in his literature class was not a sign of failure. Instead, that C represented how his mind was adapting to a different way of thinking.

Professor Orchard even began to see that: “Like many, I hungered for books that represented my experience in some way. As a gay Mexican-American from California, I searched out literature about Chicanos and gay men, devouring many classics like John Rechy’s ‘City of Night,’ E. M. Forster’s ‘Maurice,’ Luis Valdez’s ‘Zoot Suit,’ and Sandra Cisneros’s ‘The House on Mango Street.’” This is where his interest in Latina/o literature and culture stemmed from. He recently worked with other faculty members to launch and discuss the book “LATINOS IN NEW YORK: Communities in Transition.”

Students who wish to speak to Professor Orchard can stop by his office in Klapper 637. On May 9, Professor Orchard’s English Honors Seminar students will be having their thesis conference at the Godwin-Ternbach Museum.

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