Changing careers for the love of poetry

Once a civil engineer, Zein El-Amine made a career switch 5 years ago

By Marlena Chertock

First published in The Writers’ Bloc.

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Zein El-Amine started a poetry career after working as a civil engineer for 20 years.

Five years ago one poetry professor in the University of Maryland’s Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House discussed paint colors for a fraternity bathroom for 15 minutes with his Residential Facilities supervisor.

“All I could think was do I want to spend my time doing this?” said Zein El-Amine, who worked in Residential Facilities from 2004 to 2007 and was a project manager and civil engineer for about 20 years. “The culture in Residential Facilities was becoming oppressive or it was always oppressive and I just didn’t notice it.”

He knew then he needed to change his career.

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