The world’s largest drive-in restaurant and also the location that sells more Coca-Cola than anywhere else in the world is located in Atlanta, Georgia, the hometown of Ruth Nelson. “My older brother Micah started at King when I was 9-years old. I fell in love with the campus when, as a family, visited him. I felt so at home that one I turned to my parents and said, ‘I want to go to college here someday,’” Ruth said. Right before her sophomore year of high school Ruth and her family relocated to Massachusetts. But Ruth never forgot that small, friendly southern school tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains.
Years later, Ruth is a junior in high school and an excellent student. “My parents and I were exploring options for me to skip my senior year and go straight to college,” Ruth said. “I was young and had been sheltered so I was looking for a place where I could feel comfortable and safe, but also somewhere that would challenge me and help me grow,” she said.
Ruth visited a few schools and when they inquired about her interests and she explained that she wanted to double major in English and Music and participate in the theatre. “How many years do you plan to be here?” More than one of the school’s representatives asked with a snarky tone. It was disheartening that they didn’t share in her enthusiasm. “But then I went to King. I shared my education dreams with Dr. Flannagan, and he asked me, ‘How hard do you want to work?’ I was sold. Dr Flannagan would go on to be a huge part of all my growth and activities at King over the years.”
Being a small, close-knit community with a manageable campus provided Ruth with the feeling of comfort and safety. “King nurtured me,” Ruth said. And also, being on a smaller campus provides more opportunities to do more activities than a larger school wouldn’t, as there would be too many kids competing to do the same things. Ruth joined the Performing & Visual Arts department. “I was able to participate in every part of the production process: writing, design, tech, conducting, directing, and performing,” she said.
Ruth was always striving to improve and took private voice and piano lessons. For her senior directing project, she wrote her own play. She also participated in various performing choirs and conducted some of them. She traveled abroad and studied at Oxford and even wrote a novel about her experiences. King opened up so many doors for Ruth to explore the world of arts that she loved. And she took these opportunities and thrived. “The faculty empowered me to take advantage of every opportunity and learn every skill they could teach,” Ruth says. “The quality of King’s art education helped me get into a graduate acting program at the University of Georgia. The foundational skills I learned at King paved the way for my success in grad school to earn a Master’s of Fine Arts degree. It opened so many doors for me including full-time teaching jobs.”
The novel that Ruth had written at King, for a grade, went to become her first published novel. “I signed a contract with OakTara Publishers in 2007 and ended up publishing two books with them,” Ruth said. In 2017 Ruth and her husband decided to pursue writing full-time. Ruth quit her teaching position and he helped her establish “R.A. Nelson,” as a brand. It has been extremely rewarding and fun to branch out on her own. “I am enjoying the learning process as I explore different angles of the book business, and I am continuously thankful for the work ethic and desire for ongoing growth built into me at King!”
If you are interested in reading Ruth’s books please click on the link www.ranelsonwriting.com.