Karen A. Hawkins, classes of 1986 and 1989, began work as an adjunct instructor in political science at Gainesville (Ga.) State College after earning two degrees from ETSU. While there, she was accepted into the Ph.D. program at Georgia State University. During that time, she realized her creativity was being stifled. As a parent of two small children, a full-time instructor, and a student, her time was spread thin. She began blocking off an hour of each day to write. A year and a half later, she had finished an entire book. On a lark, she submitted her work to several national publishers, which led to an offer from Harper Collins.
Hawkins made the difficult decision to leave the Ph.D. program, and now has 24 historical and contemporary romance books to her credit, along with five awards, seven solid New York Times appearances, and over 15 weeks on the USA Today best-selling list. She is a full-time writer and supports herself and her family with her writing. She attributes her success to three skills learned at ETSU: fantastic typing skills, a love of research, and the art of lucid organization.