Creative Writing Spans Genres for A&S Outstanding Graduate

English major Tom Lubben is named Outstanding Graduate of the Palm Beach Atlantic University School of Arts and Sciences for 2016-17; with him is wife Shana Terra.

Tom Lubben loves the written word — whether it’s reading the great classics, writing a short story, or collaborating with brothers Joshua and Michael on a musical. Over the course of his PBA career as an English major, his skills earned him not only accolades but recognition as Outstanding Graduate of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. David Athey, professor of English, said, “Tom is a calm and mature presence, a deep thinker. When he speaks, people listen, including professors, because he always has insights into how literature can be interpreted within a profoundly Christian worldview. His writing is extraordinary, a dazzling mix of artistry and ideas.”

Lubben considers his ability to think creatively and poetically as his greatest strength. “I love to integrate folktale, music, and my Christian spiritual experience into what I write,” he said. His poetry has appeared in a number of national publications, including The Rectangle, the fiction journal of the International English Honor Society. At PBA he served as chief editor of Living Waters Review, which features the writing and artwork of PBA students and alumni.

Lubben began his studies at PBA as a double major in English and music. Part of a musically gifted family from Warroad, Minnesota, he said, “I play viola, violin and piano classically.” He soon realized, however, that majoring in both wasn’t feasible. “I didn't have enough time to invest in the literature and writing required for an English major,” he said. Choosing his first love, he switched his music degree to a minor. “I still performed and practiced just as much, maybe more, but had fewer classroom requirements keeping me from focusing on my English studies.” 

You might say that choosing English over music made Lubben the family renegade. His brothers Joshua and Michael, at PBA with him (yes, they are triplets), both majored in music composition. Prior to that, in 2013, brother Joseph also graduated from PBA with a music degree in composition. Time will tell the direction that younger brothers Isaac, 13, and Levi, 6, take.

In the course of the Lubben brothers’ studies, their creative energies combined and a musical was born—with dialogue and lyrics by Tom and musical score by Joshua and Michael. Titled The Luck of Roaring Camp, it is based on the Bret Harte short story of the same name first published in 1868.

In fall 2016, an informal performance of the musical was presented in the Helen K. Persson Recital Hall at PBA. The brothers continue to hone the work, hoping to one day premiere the finished version at PBA’s Fern Street Theatre.

In the meantime, Lubben is set to begin a full-time job at the end of July teaching music at Renaissance Charter School in Wellington, with plans for graduate school in a year. At his side is wife Shana Terra (Griffin), who graduated from PBA in May with a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies — and who plays the saxophone and piano. The two married in 2015 and are expecting their first child, a son, in September.

“PBA will always be proud of Tom Lubben,” Athey said. “His devotion to being a first-rate Christian scholar, artist, and teacher will benefit many people in the future.”